The Year of Moving Forward

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

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Full moon, blue moon, lunar eclipse...bring on 2010!

If you read my column this week, which follows this post, you will see that I am optimistic about 2010.

"Twenty ten," that just has a good sound to it.

We also get to experience a full moon, a blue moon, and for some, a lunar eclipse, on New Years Eve. How rare is that? Pretty dang rare. Blue moons, which means two full moons in a month, occur only once every 2.5 years. For it to occur on a certain day, December 31, must have special meaning.

Nancy Joy thinks so. Especially regarding the eclipse. She says it is an indication of the positive things that will happen in 2010. Among those, previously opposing forces will come together, integrate, in support of positive changes both within and outside of ourselves. I know, "blah, blah blah," but that's what I get from her message.

She says we are moving into an age of peace, a time of change. The biggest change is that all the energies that were rejecting this shift in 2009 will be supporting it in 2010.

Watch, and listen.

Western Tribune column December 30, 2009 Happy New Year

This column appeared in the Western Tribune on December 30, 2009

Has it really been 10 years? We were all Y2Krazy in December, 1999, wondering if the world as we knew it would end when the New Year began.

Glued to our televisions, we saw the fireworks from cities that celebrated before our clocks struck midnight. Airplanes did not drop out of the sky, elevators did not trap people in skyscrapers, and those on cruise ships did not return to ports devoid of people.

We are nearing the end of the aughts (or the zeros or however this decade will be remembered), and it is going out with a whimper.

Not as bad as it could have been, had the president not instituted policies which have helped turn the economy around. The job market is stabilizing and manufacturing reports indicate the beginnings of an economic recovery.

But the most encouraging news is that both houses of congress have passed historic legislation which recognizes that all Americans have the right to affordable health care. No longer will access to health care depend on one’s financial status or the whims of an insurance executive, assuming the kinks are worked out and a bill is presented for the president to sign.

This indicates a maturing of sorts of our democracy as we become a country that recognizes how important health care is to the economy and to our national welfare.

While ten years ago we welcomed the New Year with relief, 2009 was greeted with hope. Some have spent the past year fighting everything our president has tried to do, with no regard as to the merits of the issues.

They ask, “How’s that ‘change’ you voted for working out for you?”

Much better, I believe, than the negative change we were experiencing before Barack Obama became president.

Then they grade the president on the basis of what he has accomplished during his first year, as if all of the promises he made during his campaign had to be completed during that time period. There are three years left in his first term and another four years might follow.

As 2010 begins, the positive feelings that filled the nation a year ago are returning. Just as the country is being lifted, we can begin to expect a better community as well.

Birmingham will soon have a new mayor and later in 2010 Bessemer will have the opportunity to elect new officials as well.

Happy New Year.

Tuesday, December 29, 2009


Remember almost a year ago I said I had not been sucked in to Twitter?

Well, now I have.

Follow me

I still have to learn how to shorten URL's and such to make my tweets better.

But that aside, I only have three followers so far. That does not bother me, I am not Ashton Kutcher (but I will paste a picture of him on here) and am not seeking a million followers.

But who found me?

Yoko Ono!

She posted an affirmation for 2010 that I liked, so here it is.

by Yoko Ono

I would like you to share an affirmation with me.

Think it, say it, with firm belief, knowing that we are all one.

In the name of truth, peace and love:
Thank you, thank you, thank you.

Our planet is healthy and whole,
We, the people of Earth
See clearly, Hear clearly, Think clearly.

Make the right judgement, right decision and the right move
For the benefit of our planet and others.

We are now bathing in the light of Dawn,
Standing in the Heaven we have created together,
Sharing the Joy With all Lives on Earth
And of the Universe,

As we are all one, united with infinite and eternal love.

For the highest good of all concerned, So be it.

Happy New Year

love, yoko

Yoko Ono Lennon
December 2009
New York, USA

Monday, December 28, 2009

Decatur Daily on Parker Griffith - precisely correct

This editorial appeared in yesterday's Decatur Daily. Of course, they don't want people to read it, otherwise they would allow it to be seen without subscribing to the paper on the web site. For your benefit, I have typed it out. I hope they don't mind.

Often I change key points to bold type, but if I did it here, the entire column would be bold. So just read it with that in mind.

Sunday, December 27, 2009 The Decatur Daily

Rep. Griffith joins the party of 'no'

We like our representatives in Congress to have their fingers on the pulse of their constituents. Maybe U.S. Rep. Parker Griffith has been watching too much Fox News Channel.

It didn't take long for Griffith, R-Huntsville, to pick up the GOP talking points.

"We're watching (Democrats) pass a health care bill that basically two-thirds of Americans are saying, 'Don't pass it; leave it alone,' and they're completely ignoring the American people at their own risk," Griffith said Tuesday at a press conference announcing his jump to the Republican Party.

In fact, Fox News - the channel where news producers were caught on camera cheerleading at a Washington, D.C., "tea party" rally opposing health care reform - is about the only place where one hears that kind of rhetoric recited as fact and sees hourly loops of House Minority Leader John Boehner, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell or former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin saying that many Americans oppose health care reform.

Yet, a majority of Americans voted for Barack Obama for president - in large part because he promised to reform health care. Just because a minority of Americans took to the streets, hijacked town hall meetings and received disproportionate media attention during Congress' August recess does not mean the national mood has changed.

By now, the GOP talking points are all too familiar: The bills comprise too many pages; nobody has read them; the program is too expensive; Medicare will suffer; government bureaucrats, not doctors and patients, will be making medical decisions; "death panels."

Griffith says health care reform will take America down "the wrong track." Yet the Huntsville physician, of all people, does not tell us specifically what is wrong with the proposed legislation.

No Republican has presented a serious alternative to the unacceptable status quo, where those who have insurance subsidize health care for 30 million Americans who do not.

Here is what we do know about the proposed legislation: It would end the insurance company practice of denying coverage to those with pre-existing conditions. It would slow the rate of health care inflation. It would prohibit the use of federal funds for abortions.

Most important: It would extend health insurance coverage to at least 30 million Americans who now have none.

According to the rhetoric, not a single Republican believes those changes are good for the American people.

The truth is that Republicans cannot politically afford for President Barack Obama's No. 1 domestic priority to succeed - even if that means trying to kill a measure that would benefit everyone.

Rep. Griffith: Welcome to the party of "no."

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Western Tribune column December 23 2009, Merry Xmas

In Gardendale a business had written on their sign, “Not Xmas. Keep Christ in Christmas.”
Every year undereducated Christians rant about liberals trying to remove Christ from Christmas. Others defend the use of the word.

Even Martha Stewart got in on the act, as she attempted to educate her readers in an article titled “Traditional Xmas Breads” in the December issue of her magazine. In describing the recipe for Christopsomo, a Greek bread with strips of dough across the top that form a cross, or “X”, she writes, “The Greek letter X, or chi, is the first letter of the Greek word for Christ and was used as an early abbreviation. Hence the word Xmas.”

So, Xmas was not some term dreamed up by solstice worshipping heathens or bottom line worshipping retail moguls. It’s a valid, shortened word with the same meaning as Christmas.
Instead of arguing about words, we should all be thinking about the message of the season, “Peace on Earth. Good will to all.”

It’s really quite simple. Since Jesus was born on that cold morning, the world has had a path it could follow that would lead to peace.

But right now our country is involved in two wars and other skirmishes are occurring across the planet. Arguments can be made both for and against these conflicts.

And we are at war among ourselves as well. Racism, sexism, homophobia and class warfare keep us at odds with our family members and neighbors.

“Let there be peace on earth. And let it begin with me,” a popular Christian song begins.

We have a decorative piece sitting on a mantle, a faux stone with the words “Peace on Earth” inscribed. A metal turtle is crawling up the stone, as if to indicate that peace might be slow in coming, but will get here nevertheless.

As Christmas approaches, remember the lonely soldier in the deserts of Iraq or the cold mountains of Afghanistan. Think about the homeless person who because of unfortunate circumstances, poor judgment, or mental illness has little hope. And consider the young people in our community who may be surrounded by family but feel unloved and lost.

We can spread tidings of comfort and joy by reaching out to these people and in doing so we will bring peace on earth a little closer.

Peace on earth, and merry Xmas to all.

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Health care reform; polls and such

Brief note. AL-05 congressman Parker Griffith announced his intention to switch from the Democrat to the Republican Party.

This switch will have little effect since he votes like a Republican all the time anyway, and the Democrats will still have a substantial majority in the House.

Health care reform

Support for health care reform is stronger than has been reported. Many of those polled who indicated they do not support the current plan, said so because they feel it does not go far enough.

This memo shows the results of several polls, all graphed with cute graphics that I couldn't copy. So I will describe. You can click on the link to see the graphs.

An Ipsos/McClatchy poll from November showed that 34% support the bill, 35% oppose, saying it goes too far, 12% oppose saying it doesn't go far enough and 20% are unsure. That means that 46% really support it, if it comes down to it.

A CNN poll from November showed that the public strongly supports individual components of the plan. 75% support expanding Medicaid, 73% support a large and mid-size employer mandate, 67 % support income tax (increase) on the wealthy, 76% support subsidies for the middle or lower class, 60% support banning rescissions, and 60% support banning denial due to pre-existing conditions.

When the entire plan is presented, support is strong. This statement was presented:

This plan would require every American citizen to have health insurance
and require large employers to provide coverage to their employees. It
would require insurance companies to cover those with pre-existing
conditions and prevent them from dropping coverage for people who get
sick, while providing incentives for affordable preventive care. Individuals
and small businesses that do not have coverage would be able to select a
private insurance plan from a range of options sold on a National
Insurance Exchange. Lower and middle income people would receive
subsidies to help them afford insurance, while those individuals who like
the coverage they already have will be able to keep their current plan.

Louisianans supported this 57 to 38%. Seniors in Maine supported it 54-36.

All this leaves us feeling pretty good looking ahead to the 2010 elections, when more progressives need to be elected to avoid the effects of lone wolf types like Ben Nelson and Joe Lieberman.

Monday, December 21, 2009

Learn the facts about Health Care Reform: The Manager's Amendment

Progress is always incremental, and as progressives, we have to accept that the changes we seek may come in stages.

Such is the case with health care reform.

The Senate is poised to pass the amended bill this week, and then after the holidays a conference committee of House and Senate members will reconcile the bill into a form that hopefully both houses will pass.

But every day I run into people who do not understand the bill and its provisions. Oh, there are those who don't care that they don't understand it, they just want to defeat it. The Waterlooers, I call them.

But most Americans want to understand the bill that the Senate will pass, and when they do, they are for it.

So here are some facts about the Senate bill which was modified with the Manager's Amendment.

According to the Congressional Budget Office, the bill, as presented in the senate, will reduce the deficit by $132 billion over the first 10 years. Further, during the second decade, the bill will continue to reduce the deficit up to one half of one percent of the GDP, or up to $1.3 trillion.

The bill will also increase coverage with up to 94% of all Americans under age 65 covered.

The bill provides for an immediate ban on excluding children with pre-existing conditions from coverage, and for all Americans in 2014.

Health insurers will have to abide by a set of provisions that protect a patient's choice of doctors.

Annual limits on benefits will be restricted beginning in 2010 and completely prohibited by 2014. Lifetime limits are immediately banned (within 6 months).

Health insurance tax credits for small businesses begin in 2010 which make providing insurance benefits more affordable for employers.

Nationwide plans, at least one of which will be non-profit, will be administered by the Office of Personnel Management, the same agency that oversees the health plans for members of congress.

The quality of care for seniors will improve, as additional health care providers are reimbursed for services based on quality not quantity of the services they provide.

More children will be covered under CHIP (Children's Health Insurance Program).

Community Health Centers will be expanded providing access to care to where it is most needed.

Funding for rural health care providers will increase.

New programs will be funded for fighting cancer, diabetes, children's heart disease, and the Indian Health System, and will provide support for pregnant teens and victims of domestic violence.

These are not all of the provisions that progressive Americans wanted, but its a start.

And it shows the strength of Harry Reid that he was able to bring this about.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Homewood blowing out the candles

In nearby Homewood the fire chief said that if you want your church to hold a candlelight service on Christmas Eve you have to get a permit and pay four off duty firefighters $100 each to stand guard.

That's $400 that could be going to help feed the poor on Christmas day, or buy blankets for the homeless.

The law has been on the books for over 10 years, and in the past Dawson Memorial Baptist (for which $400 is a drop in the bucket) has been paying for the permit and the firefighters.

But smaller churches like Edgewood Presbyterian are just learning of the law, and to them $400 is a lot of money.

All Saints Episcopal Church holds a candlelight service where the candles are lit for about a minute and a half while the people sing "Silent Night," Rev. Glenda Curry said.

Trinity United Methodist pastor Andrew Wolfe said, "The church has been doing this hundreds of years. I can't imagine that all of a sudden we're not able to do a candlelight service."

The law requires the churches to hire firefighters from Homewood, so there may not be enough off duty firefighters to go around, and the city says they will deny the permits in that case.

Here's a suggestion. Hire these guys and let them work for tips.

Surely attendance would increase if these firefighters were there to monitor the situation.

Instead of paying them directly, pass the plate around and let the firefighters split the take.

Seriously, this is about the stupidest law I've ever heard of. The Homewood city council should hold an emergency session next week and repeal this law.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Security does not come without a cost

The following was written by a friend of mine, who gave me permission to reprint it here.

Recently, a few of our leaders have called for "war taxes" to help support our soldiers in the field and their efforts in the two wars in which our nation is involved. Typically, most of us don't like taxes but we as Americans should stand behind those calling for such taxes because by so doing we will provide vital support for our soldiers who are serving, on our behalves, in dangerous places to defend our nation.

George Bush should have initiated those taxes when we went to war in Afghanistan and Iraq (instead he cut taxes) and Barack Obama and all Americans, particularly those who are for military action in these two regions, should be for them.

We say we are for our military. We say we want to defend America. We say we appreciate all who are sacrificing to defend our nation from enemies domestic and abroad. We say we want to stand by our soldiers who have paid painful sacrifices on our behalves. But when we are asked to make a personal sacrifice to help pay for the cost of all of that we say "No!"

What hypocrites we are.

Yes, I know we've got to pay for our groceries and housing and car repairs and medical care. Those are necessary. But are we willing to do without that 50" TV - or 60 to 300 channels of cable TV - or going out to eat two or three times a week - or upgrading our computer to something with all the bells and whistles - or taking a cheaper vacation - or making our car last longer? Are we willing to sacrifice some of the "comforts" of our lives to pay for what we declare that we are for? Or are we going to pass those bills on to our children and grandchildren?

Shame on us! Shame on our leaders! Paying taxes, particularly those that provide for the vital and essential defense of our nation, is an act of patriotism!

Richard B. Hanna

Monday, December 14, 2009

I'm a Saints fan, but...

First, I don't bet on football. Not on Auburn, not on Alabama and not on the Saints.

Second, I don't drink to the point that I say stupid things (I may say some stupid things from time to time without drinking, however).

Third, I like our TV.

Fourth, I don't allow people to shoot semi-automatic weapons on my property.

But Wayne Spring is a different kind of football fan. He didn't think the Saints could beat the Redskins, so he posted on Facebook that if the Saints won that his FB friends could come shoot up his TV.

After the Saints won 33-30 in overtime, people began arriving armed, drunk and dangerous.

Goodbye 60 inch flat screen. "A bets a bet."

"That ain't nothing compared to what I lost to the bookie"

Thursday, December 10, 2009

A cooking lesson

I love the smell of cooking Cajun or Creole foods. The seasoning mixture, the onions, peppers and celery cooking in olive oil, a bourbon pecan pie, fresh from the oven (and fresh from John Besh's cookbook, featured in the Birmingham News yesterday).

I use Emeril Lagasse's Creole seasoning recipe. Let me stop here for a minute. I am not a purist. Cajun and Creole foods are often confused, and I make no attempt to keep it straight which foods are which. So my Cajun pork tenderloin, for instance is actually seasoned with this Creole seasoning.

Anyway, I made up a batch of seasoning this morning. Here are the ingredients. They are: paprika, fresh ground black pepper, cayenne red pepper, oregano, garlic powder, onion powder, thyme and salt.

Here is the finished product. Yum!

This can be used in a lot of dishes, but I especially like to coat pork or chicken with it. Pork tenderloin can be brushed with melted butter, then rolled in the seasoning (or sprinkle it on). Line a shallow pan with aluminum foil (for easy cleaning), and place the tenderloins in, separating by 1/2 inch or so, and roast at 375 for 1 to 1.25 hours. This smells so good while cooking, but tastes even better.

Or, take some boneless chicken breasts and wash them, then cut into strips about 1/2 inch wide, and skewer them on wooden skewers that have been soaked in water. I skewer the strips by folding them back and forth, like an "s" pattern. Then sprinkle generously with the seasoning mixture. Grill for a few minutes (depending on your grill and such) until done. Yummy.

You can also skewer peeled shrimp, brush with melted butter and season with this mixture and grill them.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Western Tribune column December 9, 2009, Mayor here and there

I wrote this knowing that the paper would come out after the Birmingham mayoral election, so there is a bit of vagueness in the column. But, as expected, Patrick Cooper collected the most votes, it just wasn't enough to avoid a runoff. Let's hope he doesn't go into the runoff with 40% or so of the vote and then lose, like a certain Alabama house district candidate did in a recent special election.

As Cooper said on Fox6 this morning, this is now about the past vs the future. Atlanta's mayoral race was too, it's just that both of the candidates in the runoff there were about the future, since that city left the past long ago. Birmingham should be so lucky.

Langford/Bell v. Cooper. That kind of reminds me of Bush/McCain v. Obama. The same old versus the fresh new.

Western Tribune column

Atlanta elected a new mayor this month. We may not know who it is yet, because the results were so close, a mere 715 vote difference, that a recount is inevitable. Former state Senator Kasim Reed, who is black, leads white councilwoman Mary Norwood.

Atlanta billed itself as the “City Too Busy to Hate” during the civil rights struggles, and while cities like Birmingham suffered from hatred and violence that continues to influence our politics and impedes our progress, Atlanta grew and prospered.

Atlanta has a more racially balanced population than Birmingham, with 56 percent of their population being black and 38 percent white. Birmingham has almost 75 percent black and around 23 percent white residents.

Because Atlanta is what one may call a progressive city, their population has actually grown during this decade. More whites than blacks have recently moved into the city.

Political observers of Atlanta politics say that black political power is weakening there in part because blacks are shedding their civil rights-era sentimentality.

In Birmingham and in Bessemer as well, that mindset continues to hold us back. While we should continue to celebrate the advances made in the 1960’s and honor the heroes of the movement, we have to get past the idea that race is a more important characteristic than education or vision or experience when selecting our leaders.

Atlanta’s rejection of hatred is further evidenced by their embracement of the gay community, and in the mayoral runoff the candidates courted the gay vote with each trying to convince the voters that they were the greater friend to the GLBT community. More than 12 percent of Atlanta’s population self identify as gay, lesbian or bisexual, according a William’s Institute report.

Think of the talent that is accumulating in Atlanta as educated individuals flock to the city. Remember, their population is growing.

Birmingham’s mayoral hopefuls, at least the frontrunners, were gay friendly, in contrast to the recently convicted former mayor. But we didn’t see them trying to out-gay each other as happened in Atlanta.

In Bessemer, the contributions of the GLBT community have never been acknowledged by city leaders, and race most certainly plays a role in the selection of our leaders. We might say that Bessemer lags behind even Birmingham.

That’s pretty sad, considering the current state of Birmingham politics. The good news is, for both Birmingham and Bessemer, I guess there’s nowhere to go but up.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Stories from the Bham News

If you live in Birmingham, vote now, before the rain gets any worse!!! Patrick Cooper!!!

These snowman salt and pepper shakers have nothing to do with the news, but aren't they cute!

News Flash! I agree with Joe Reed. Speaking of Artur Davis, Reed said, "But because he is now running for governor he is looking out for himself and not the people."

Reed was referring to Davis's votes against health care reform, but the poor people of his district are not the first voters that Artur Davis has thrown under the bus. His republican votes on gay issues (hate crimes, ENDA) are nothing but a play for the homophobe vote in his run for governor. Since Davis's aid told me when he was running for congress (the second time) that Davis is a friend of the gay community and even had a lesbian on his staff (that's what I was told) then it's clear, he is voting the way he does for his own interests, not the interests of his constituents. Same with health care.

Today the Birmingham News is just full of encouraging news.

1. Greenhouse gases now a threat

(Article) That headline is a little misleading. The gases have been a threat for years, the EPA is just now admitting it, after 8 years of ignoring or re-writing science. It will be interesting to see what comes out of the World climate conference in Copenhagen.

Rising sea water is part of the reason for the flooding in Bangladesh. The people living there and being forced from their home probably don't understand climate change and its effects, but they have an excuse. Republicans and other doubters in this country don't have an excuse.

But while Bangladesh needs help now and this conference won't produce any immediate results, it is still encouraging that we have an administration that believes in science and understands the urgency of the situation.

The EPA said that America's health is at risk from climate change.

2. Medicaid, Medicare expansion sought

(This story is not available on yet). Democrat Senators are seeking to expand Medicare and Medicaid to near-retirees age 55 or 60 who would be able to purchase coverage. They probably won't be able to include this in the current bill, but at least they are talking about it.

3. President praised for pumping cash into arts

(Article not posted on but available here) President Obama has "marshaled the largest infusion of cultural funding in decades."

So, these are a few of the major issues (yes, arts is a major issue) that were reasons we voted for Obama and democrats in general.

Monday, December 7, 2009

One eskimO and the Nostalgia Train

One eskimO, out of London, with lead singer Kristian Leontiou has a great sound, plus Kristian is pleasing to the eye. Listen, and watch this video.

And this is kind of neat, especially if you will be in the Big Apple during December. NYC Transit is going to bring back the Nostalgia Train.

This is a picture from last year, via J.reed on Flickr .

MTA says:

The Nostalgia Shoppers' Special is made up of subway cars in service from the 1930s to the 1970s, running along the lettered lines from the Grand Concourse to Coney Island. Ceiling fans, padded seats and incandescent light bulbs were state-of-the-art when these cars were first placed in service.

The cars were removed from service 30 years ago and replaced by the stainless steel, climate-controlled trains that our customers have become accustomed to. Many subway riders have never experienced the charm of wicker seats and ceiling fans, but they are back for four Sundays of service, beginning Sunday, December 6. The holiday "Nostalgia Shoppers' Special" will operate on Sundays only, between the hours of 10 a.m. and 5 p.m., on December 6, 13, 20 and 27.

Sundays only. Who's up for a trip?

Sunday, December 6, 2009

Arlington Tennessee - what can i say?

Bessemer Conservative should move to Arlington Tennessee. Surely you have heard how Arlington's mayor, Russell Wiseman, fired off at President Obama on Facebook for holding his Afghanistan announcement at the same time as Charlie Brown's Christmas.

Ok, so, this is total crap, we sit the kids down to watch 'The Charlie Brown Christmas Special' and our muslim president is there, what a load.....try to convince me that wasn't done on purpose. Ask the man if he believes that Jesus Christ is the Son of God and he will give you a 10 minute disertation (sic) about it....w...hen the answer should simply be 'yes'...."

I guess we can say that Russell is not so much of a Wise Man to have written something so idiotic on his Facebook page.

My favorite part of the quote is "try to convince me that wasn't done on purpose." Oh yeah, like the president looked at the TV schedule and found Charlie Brown and said, "attack!"

Listen, Russell, our president has better things to do than that.

He also wrote this, " obama people need to move to a muslim country...oh wait, that's America....pitiful."

Is Arlington such a backward place that they would elect this person? And he has kids? Poor children.

Please Arlington, do better next election.

Friday, December 4, 2009

This is bewildering

Falling is love is a wonderful experience. For some, it leads to long-term relationships or even marriage (for the privileged majority).

Rick Warren, the purpose driven pastor, did it differently. He married someone he was not in love with and was not attracted to, asking her to marry him on their second date, because "he said he heard God clearly tell him that this is who he will marry." His wife did not love him either, but she agreed because "she recalled hearing God say, “I’ll bring the feelings.”

This story, via JoeMyGod and originally at Christian Post, is more than a little strange.

"Through interviews with Sheler, Rick and Kay Warren disclosed that they were not attracted to each other nor had feelings for each other when they agreed to be married. Instead, they believed that God had spoken to each of them saying this is the person they should marry."

I'll let you come to your own conclusions, but can't offer too much respect for someone whose marriage began more a like Britney Spears relationship than a love story. Especially when he, as Joe said, has "no problem at all interfering with the relationships of other people who are madly in love with the person they want to marry."

On a completely different subject I just have to share this picture of Glenn Shadix and Johnny Depp. Glenn was attending an event honoring Tim Burton at New York's Museum of Modern Art last month. Read about it at Glenn's blog. Johnny Depp! People magazine's sexiest man of the year!

Thursday, December 3, 2009


We saw the movie "Precious" this past weekend, and I think everyone should see it. It exposes a reality that too many people face - the horror of physical, emotional and sexual abuse. But it also shows what can happen when someone cares.

The movie has an outstanding cast including Gabourey Sidibe as Precious. Sidibe was raised in Harlem, and was pursuing a degree in psychology when she was cast for the role. Lenny Kravitz plays nurse John, and Mariah Carey plays the social worker Ms. Weiss. Mo'Nique plays Mary, the mother of Clareece Precious Jones. Paula Patton plays Ms. Rain, the teacher that cares.

Watch the trailer. See the movie.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Supporting the Pres re Afghanistan

Here's proof that I'm not in lock-step with the left wing of the Democrats. Of course, those who claim I blindly follow president Obama will use this as evidence. But that notion has been disproved on numerous occasions, they just aren't paying attention.

The picture above is of Marine One leaving the south lawn of the White House carrying the president to Andrews Air Force Base for the trip to West Point yesterday (official White House photo). The president can be seen reading in the 'copter.
I listened carefully to the President's speech last night. I was more attentive than many of the cadets in the audience, or maybe they just do their best listening with their eyes closed, I don't know. I missed an event that I really, really wanted to go to (World AIDS Day at WorkPlay) so I could hear the president.
Just in case you were in a cave, or at WorkPlay, the president announced he will send an additional 30,000 troops to Afghanistan. Quickly. They will do their job and leave, beginning deployment in July 2011.
Obama, purposely or not, is following Powell Doctrine, named after Colin Powell. The Powell Doctrine includes having a plausible exit strategy, something the Bush Doctrine and the person it was named after never thought of.

If you have followed me from before the time I started this blog you would have read letters in the Western Star and elsewhere and know that I supported the invasion of Afghanistan soon after 9-11 to rid that country of its Taliban leaders.

You would know that I was 100% opposed to the invasion of Iraq as that was an unjust war of choice.

It was a huge mistake to reduce our presence in Afghanistan and refocus on Iraq. President Bush did not finish the job he set out to do, that the American public supported him in, and that would have saved gobs of money and countless American and allied lives.

President Obama was handed a hornet's nest (one of many) when he took office.What would have been a relatively easy completion of the task in Afghanistan now is a much more complicated situation. But that does not mean we should just throw up our hands and leave to them to deal with.

There is still the problem of Al-Qaida, and the resurgent Taliban, and Pakistan, and India.

India? Yes, they will play a role and must be considered in the solution. What do you think the president was talking about with their leader while he was in Washington? Party crashers?

We cannot rid the world of Al-Qaida. But we can take away their ability to function effectively where they are (now). They will try to regroup somewhere, no doubt, but I believe that in many countries (including Afghanistan) that the people are beginning to realize that terrorist violence does not make their lives any better, and they will pressure their governments to resist the terrorists and that gradually Al-Qaida and their like will have a difficult time getting funding and finding places to hide.

That may sound simplistic, but I am an optimist (sometimes).

Now, about this "arbitrary deadline" that Richard Shelby and others have decried. The date set is not "arbitrary." It was chosen with careful consideration, not by throwing a dart at a calendar. Any task, from planting a rose garden to restoring a kitchen or building a highway to Memphis to fighting a war should have a timetable including an estimated time of completion. The timetable can be modified as conditions change (highway to Memphis).

"Oh, but now the Taliban knows our plans and they will see us focusing on one city and respond to that by going to another, and..." Like they wouldn't be doing that anyway?

"The Taliban will just wait until we leave and then resurge." Not if they are dead!

The president said last night that we were united in 2001 behind the decision to go into Afghanistan.

"It's easy to forget that when this war began, we were united -- bound together by the fresh memory of a horrific attack, and by the determination to defend our homeland and the values we hold dear. I refuse to accept the notion that we cannot summon that unity again."

The hall erupted in applause after this line. I agree. We should unite behind this president and his decision. (Photo - Reuters)

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Fair and balanced

Well, fair, anyway. And balanced most of the time.

In a move that will surprise many, I plan to listen to the president tonight before fully deciding my views on the course our nation should take in Afghanistan. I am leaning toward supporting his decision to send in more troops, but I want to hear more about exit strategies and timetables.

Contrary to what some think, I listen to both sides of an issue before making my decision. In doing so, I can express my opinion in an educated manner.

Sometimes an issue is decided, and I no longer feel the need to listen to the viewpoints of those who disagree with my position. An example is the science of evolution. Intelligent design is not science, so I don't listen to those arguments. This is not to say that people cannot believe in intelligent design or even creationism, and that doesn't bother me, until they try to pass it off as science and incorporate it into our educational system. This wastes valuable teaching time, and does nothing to prepare our children for higher education and life in the real (scientific) world.

I feel the same way about the origins of homosexuality. It is not a choice, and I won't waste my time arguing with people about that. But on occasion, I have to address the issue when somebody says something really stupid.

As for Afghanistan, there are certainly national security issues, and the very real question as to whether success is actually possible or not. American lives are at stake. So I am very interested in hearing what the president says.

I hope this does not become a daily thing, but BC (Bessemer conservative) has made some more statements about me. It doesn't bother me that a conservative is expressing his views, but when he writes something that is wrong, I will correct it.

He wrote this:

He (referring to me) also points out that democrats did not remove prayer from schools or take the Ten Commandments from government buildings. He points out that the Supreme Court did this. Really, they just came up with this idea and ruled on it? No, democrats cried and whined that it offended them, got it to court and it was then ruled on by democratic judges and the like.

Technically, that may be correct, but it is misleading. The composition of the Supreme Court that ruled on Abingdon School District v. Schempp (which consolidated with Murray v. Curlett), the 1963 case which is associated with school prayer and Bible reading, included 5 justices appointed by a democratic president and 4 appointed by a republican president. Eight of the justices, including Chief Justice Earl Warren (an Eisenhower appointee) agreed or concurred with the majority, and only 1 justice , Potter Stewart (also an Eisenhower appointee), was in dissent.

So the decision was a pretty balanced one with 3 Republican appointees and 5 Democrat appointees in agreement.

He also says this about me:

He also finds it necessary to point out that Jefferson County and Bessemer were won by obama during the election. Maybe that is why Jefferson county almost went bankrupt... Since the democrats have taken office in the area, both city and county governments have taken a turn for the worse.

Actually, Jefferson County "almost went bankrupt" while Republicans held (and still hold) a majority on the Commission. You can't get much more republican than Jefferson County Commission president Bettye Fine Collins.

And he's one to talk about taking a turn for the worse, after his hero George W. Bush led the country into the worst economic downturn since the Great Depression.

About me, he says this:

His beliefs undermine "his equality for all" stance that he is always preaching. What he does not get(because he is lead by guilt, sin and the misgivings of those in power) is that the progress he is for will never come from taxing anything and everything we Americans buy, use, do and say.

Never mind what he is trying to say (?), I am concerned with this phrase - "he is lead (sp) by guilt, sin and the misgivings of those in power."

I am led by "guilt" and "sin"? I am really trying to understand what he means by this. I hope this is not going where it appears to be. Even though we disagree on the issues, this seems pretty judgmental to me, and I thought he at least believed in the common humanity of man. Maybe I was wrong.

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Blog Battle

Just south of this post is my Western Tribune column from last week. I wrote it after reading the "Voice of the conservatives" in Bessemer's blog.

Now he has responded.

In my column I noted his frequent misspellings, and he now claims he did it on purpose. That makes me laugh, because he wrote this: (he calls me "Bob, Bobb and Boob in his post)

"Bob criticizes my spelling or lack there of. Really, you wrote about that? Bob, has it ever occurred to you that I might take the time to spell a persons name correctly if I respect them and maybe I just don't give a damn to spell it correctly if I have no respect for that person or what they stand for?"

Ok, that's his excuse, but then how does he explain this:

"Two Wars-obama has met with General Stanley McCrystal 1 time in 11 months and refuses to take action or even respond to the call for more troops."

So I guess he lacks respect for the general who spells his name "McChrystal." (Giggle).

He also responds to my "mocking" of his fear about religious holidays being done away with by "democrat constituents."

"They have already taken prayer from schools, the Ten Commandments from all Government Buildings and are pushing to use the term Holiday Tree or Holiday ornaments. instead of using the word Christmas."

I was a student during the 1960's when school prayer was "removed," yet all through grade school, junior high, senior high, college, vet school and grad school, whenever I felt like offering a prayer to God, I did so. Prayer has never been removed from schools. Furthermore, what he calls the removal was done not by the democratic party but by the Supreme Court.

Ten commandments? Courts, again. Not the dems.

As for the substitution of the word 'holiday" for "Christmas," again it is not the democrats doing this, it is corporate America who want to make a buck. They would like to sell their products to Muslims, Buddhists, Hindus, Wiccans, Atheists, Deists, Shintos, Agnostics, as well as Christians so they try to appeal to all.

He says I read his blog daily and get "pissed off."

No, I read it for comic relief. Then I think about how misinformed and misguided he is. Fortunately, we live in a community that voted heavily for Obama and still supports him. And our county (Jefferson) also voted for Obama in the presidential election, so the "Voice of the Conservatives" is in a minority.

In the meantime, the "progressive voice of Bessemer" continues to root for the success of our president, the success of our country, equality for all and for peace in the world.

Western Tribune column 11-25-09 Conservative blog

This column appeared in the Western Tribune on November 25, 2009.

There are no guarantees in politics but by a vote of 60-39 the Senate voted to move the health care bill forward. There are still hurdles to cross, but we are one step closer to controlling skyrocketing insurance costs and increasing access to health care for all Americans.

Shortly after the vote I visited the recently established blog of another Bessemer man who claims to be the voice of conservatives in Bessemer, and noticed there was more of the same old anti-Obama, anti-healthcare reform, anti-American rhetoric as before. With all the problems our country faces – two wars, economy, health care, environment – he has yet to offer any solutions.

This is the way of the current Republican Party. Oh, they may say they have a health reform bill but when one looks at it, one finds that it doesn’t address the problems facing the industry or the people who are served.

The Party of No spends more time in attack mode than problem solving mode.

There is the silly argument that President Obama embarrassed the nation by bowing to the Emperor of Japan, and that no American president has ever stooped so low. But the blog fails to mention Presidents Nixon and Eisenhower. Just because Nixon was a crook is no reason to forget his bow to Chairman Mao. And let’s not forget Eisenhower bowing to the Pope and (gasp) Charles De Gaul, the leader of that socialist European country France!

And the “voice of the conservatives” also lives in fear of the future. “All the religious holidays we celebrate and the freedom we have to speak up about what we believe in are being threatened by the democratic regime lead (sp) by Barak (sp) Hussien (sp) Obama and his czars at the White House,” he writes (without using spell-check).

Easter and Christmas, and to some extent Thanksgiving, are religious holidays. I don’t see them going anywhere, even if some of those around us are celebrating whatever they “wanakkuh,” as the Gap clothing store commercial rhymes.

And while in the Thanksgiving mode, besides being thankful for the leaders in congress who were able to move health care forward, let me say that I am thankful to live in a country where I am free to express my thoughts and opinions, and where those who have only thoughtless opinions can do the same.

Happy Thanksgiving.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

When was 9-11?

I don't have time to write much today, but I have to share this video, of right wing Dana Perino stating "we did not have a terrorist attack during president Bush's term."

WTF? Sorry, but seriously, WT?

And nobody on the Faux network corrects her?

They are all nuts!

You all have a Happy Thanksgiving.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Mayoral stuff

Well Birmingham has another new mayor. Roderick Royal was elected City Council President so he is automatically the interim mayor until a new mayor is elected on December 8, or if there is a runoff, in January.

Birmingham is fortunate. They get several new mayors within a period of 3 months. Bessemer is stuck with the one we have. I have some thoughts, but I think they will be in my next Western Tribune column.

In the meantime, a video supporting Patrick Cooper for Birmingham mayor has surfaced, but its not the kind of video he necessarily wants, and definitely approved by the candidate. NSFW

But Cooper is right. He can't control what people post. Jody Trautwein called it "inexcusable," and that it (vulgar jokes) are "detrimental to the hearts and minds, and therefore to the future of this generation. You remember "Bruno."

Anyway, Trautwein is a believer and supporter of ex-gay ministries, which are all a fraud and in themselves are "detrimental to the hearts and minds" of the vulnerable kids and adults who fall for it. I'm glad he doesn't have a snowball's chance of being elected.

Recently an Ex-Gay conference was debunked here in Birmingham. Read here here and here.

Monday, November 23, 2009

Good Bye Sarah

I'm so glad I have better things to do than go to Brookwood Mall today.

Sarah Palin, (remember her?) is there. To honor the occasion, I will print this cartoon by Dan Darrow at the Ester Republic (he gave me permission in the comments of this post from when Palin was picked to help defeat John McCain).

"Good bye Sarah"

But Dan, why did you have to send her down here!!! Take her back. No wait, on second thought, please let her run for president in 2012. she's doing such a good job for the democrats now, I can't imagine the fun we will have for the next 3 years if she runs.

Friday, November 20, 2009

Newspapers...who needs 'em?

Last night I attended the monthly meeting of the Alabama Stonewall Democrats and heard Kyle Whitmire speak. Kyle writes for Birmingham Weekly but is a former reporter for The Western Star, and said his first interview there was with the mayor of Fairfield about a proposed theme park. Larry Langford.

He has covered Langford ever since, even providing moment to moment updates during the trial.

Kyle covered many subjects last night; Artur Davis and his dance around health care, Larry Langford,the Birmingham mayor's race, Larry Langford, the ever shrinking Birmingham News, Larry Langford...

No he really didn't spend that much time on Langford, but after years of focusing on the former mayor of two cities he couldn't stray too far.

The Birmingham News was discussed and the changes occuring there in the next few months were considered. The consensus was that all newspapers are suffering and that most people get their news from other sources. So who needs newspapers? Some of us still like to hold the paper in the morning and read it, but really most of my news still comes from internet sources.

But another interesting issue was brought up. The Birmingham News has never adequately acknowledged the role they played during the Civil Rights movement during the 1960's and the type of reporting they did. In that conversation ( the event was a discussion more than a lecture) he said he wondered why the Birmingham News (and I guess other newspapers as well) allow gays to be spoken of as less than human and in such derogatory terms (mainly in letters and opinions) when of course they would never allow race to be used in that way with the opinions that promoted slavery or such.

And it's true. It is a fact that one's sexuality is inherent, yet people are still allowed to proclaim that it is a choice. It is fact that everyone in our country is guaranteed equal rights by our Constitution, yet letter after letter say that we are less than equal. There are people out there who believe blacks are less than equal, and of course they don't print those letters and opinions. Why do they allow gays to be tossed around like they do?

(Those who read this blog know that I do not allow senseless comments about sexuality or any other subject to be published.)

And let's bring it closer to home. I feel fortunate to write for a paper that allows me to voice my opinions, and there is an agreement that allows me to submit my column on a weekly basis. I have a place in that newspaper.

For the past two months a reader has been submitting letters, long letters, some of which attacked me personally, some of which attacked the LGBT community, and some of which attacked our president. Then a letter appeared that was different. It thanked the paper for allowing him to express his views. In the weeks following that, long letters have been printed describing the founding of our nation, and the writing of the Constitution. We know where this is heading. This writer has accused me and other democrats and the president of being communists, and has stated that we are working to destroy the constitution and the country, and has done so in an almost prophesy like manner.

His latest history lessons are just a prelude to how Obama is destroying the country and a rant about healthcare. We know what is coming. The letter writer's views are McCarthiest, and he is a radical. He is known in the community and is not respected.

Why would the newspaper allow itself to be used by such a person? Even though the issues are different, it is almost like allowing a known KKK leader to publish week after week his radical and hateful views. But the letters keep appearing.

The funny thing is that when a letter does appear in support of me, the letter has been edited, shortened, and the full message is not allowed in print. That letter was just one paragraph long, yet the McCarthiest's letters are 10 or so paragraphs every week. Plenty of room for McCarthyism, little room for me.

Each week when I see his letter opposite my column I wonder whether I want my work that close to such senseless and radical drivel. Seriously. The man used personal slurs against my name and character yet the paper just continues to support him and refuses to print the letters in my support in their entirety.

Well, keep reading, my latest column follows this post. Meanwhile, I have to come up with something to submit for next week.

Western Tribune column 11-18-09 Churches closing

This column appeared in the Western Tribune on November 18, 2009.

Churches have themselves to blame

The closing of First United Methodist Church should come as no surprise since we live in a city whose traditional major denomination churches have been abandoning their historical buildings for years.

First Baptist Church and First Presbyterian Church downtown and South Highland Baptist Church on Southside are examples of churches that have moved or announced plans to move. It was inevitable that the Methodist Church would do the same.

These churches closed their doors because of dwindling attendance. The large buildings are expensive to maintain, and without the financial support from a giving congregation, keeping the doors open becomes impossible.

Older people recall the days when the churches were filled with worshipers each Sunday with children squirming in the pews and fried chicken and pecan pies served afterward. Their children grew up and fell in love and got married in the church and all was good.

However, the children who had only recently filled the Sunday school rooms moved away, leaving only their aging parents to continue supporting the church.

One of the leaders of South Highland Baptist Church told me that the community had ceased to support the church and the people in the community no longer did anything for the church.

My belief is that a church’s mission might be to serve the community, not the other way around, and that somehow the people of South Highland Baptist, as well as the other churches, had missed the boat.

All of this could have been avoided, had the churches taken the opportunity during the 1960’s to erase the segregation in the pews that was, and still is, so common. Of course, many in the churches felt that desegregation was being forced upon them in their schools and neighborhoods, so they held on to the only bit of segregation that was out of the reach of the government, making no effort to bring worshippers of different races together.

Had the churches in the 1960’s and 1970’s followed the lead of the government, and the teachings of Jesus, their local leaders would have reached out to the communities around them and made a concerted and purposeful effort to integrate their pews.

Instead, they moved to areas where their neighbors are more like them and the children are less needy.

As my momma used to say, “You made your bed, now lie in it.”

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

The Good, the Bad and the Ugly

Magazine covers have been in the news, or close to the news, lately. I present three covers, and will let you choose which is the good, which is the bad and which is the ugly.

I was listening to Glenn Beck on the radio the other day and heard him say he was on the cover of Playboy. Something was not right. That just doesn't compute. Ah, silly me, his name is on the cover, not his picture.

Playboy trashed him. Rightly so.

To write a serious critique of Beck is almost a waste of time. After all,
the man has referred to himself as a “rodeo clown” and a “recovering

Last night I heard about Newsweek's cover, featuring Sarah Palin, with a shot that originally appeared in the August issue of Runner's World.

Palin wasn't pleased and wrote about it on Facebook:

The out-of-context Newsweek approach is sexist and oh-so-expected by now. If
anyone can learn anything from it: it shows why you shouldn't judge a book by
its cover, gender, or color of skin. The media will do anything to draw
attention -- even if out of context.

Newsweek did not do her any favors.

Finally, People magazine is out with it's sexiest Man of the Year. Johnny Depp.

I've seen some questions about why they chose this picture for the cover. But here you can see more pics of the sexy guys in People, including Depp. Oh, and read the articles if you like.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Responding to right wing rhetoric is a never ending job

They never give up.

But the truth always prevails.

Earlier this morning I got an email that criticized the World War II Memorial in Washington, DC, saying that the words "so help us God" were left out of FDR's quote which is engraved in stone.

"It is very scary how subtle these things are allowed to happen," the email began.

"On the Pacific side of the memorial, a group of us gathered to read the words President Roosevelt used to announce the attack on Pearl Harbor: Yesterday, December 7, 1941-- a date which will live in infamy--the United States of America was suddenly and deliberately attacked.

One elderly woman read the words aloud: 'With confidence in our armed forces, with the abounding determination of our people, we will gain the inevitable triumph.' But as she read, she was suddenly turned angry. 'Wait a minute,' she said, 'they left out the end of the quote. They left out the most important part. Roosevelt ended the message with 'so help us God.'"

The email claimed that "People today are trying to change the history of America by leaving God out of it, but the truth is..."

No, here's the truth. The words they claim the woman said are not even on the memorial!!! This is another right wing idiot trying to gin up opposition to the left. Here is the real quote (the part engraved on the wall is in blue, the part they claim is on the wall, but actually isn't, is in green, and the part they claim is missing is in red.

No matter how long it may take us to overcome this premeditated invasion, the American people in their righteous might will win through to absolute victory.

I believe I interpret the will of the Congress and of the people when I assert that we will not only defend ourselves to the uttermost but will make very certain that this form of treachery shall never endanger us again.

Hostilities exist. There is no blinking at the fact that our people, our territory, and our interests are in grave danger.

With confidence in our armed forces -- with the unbounded determination of our people -- we will gain the inevitable triumph -- so help us God.

So the "so help us God" is not even a part of the quote which is engraved on the wall. Good try, righties, but facts always prove you wrong.

The email was discredited on Snopes.

Then I see on a right wing blog (by a Bessemer resident) a picture from Veteran's Day at Arlington showing President Obama and several military on stage and they are saluting and his hands are by his side. The blogger claims it is during the National Anthem and Obama is showing disrespect.

Often pictures like this are snapped before one person has moved their hand over their heart, or maybe it really wasn't during the National Anthem. But, President Obama honored our Veterans that day. This video shows parts of his speech and describes the day well.

Respecting the flag and such reminds me of 10 year old Will Phillips who I wrote about here the other day. He's the young man who refused to say the Pledge of Allegiance because our country does not offer "liberty and justice for all." He says until gays and lesbians are allowed to marry he will not swear to it (by reciting the pledge).

Hooray for Will, hooray for his dad, Jay.

The following is not right wing rhetoric, rather it is about patriotism.

Finally, I was taken to task by a comment on this blog for leaving my flag up during the storm and allowing it to be destroyed by the winds and rain. Even though the US code states the flag should not be flown during inclement weather, I often see flags in yards, on homes, and even on government buildings flying during storms.

Two comments:

The code also states "the Flag Code does not proscribe conduct, but is merely declaratory and

Second, in the Frequently Asked Questions of the CRS Report to Congress it says this:

The Flag Code states:
The flag should not be displayed on days when the weather is inclement, except
when an all weather flag is displayed.

The language of this section reflects the now-popular use of flags made of
synthetic fabrics that can withstand unfavorable weather conditions. It is not
considered disrespectful to fly such a flag even during prolonged periods of
inclement weather.

My flag was 100% Nylon, thus was considered an all weather flag.

Friday, November 13, 2009

Lemon coconut cakes

Every year I make a couple of these for parties and family gatherings between Thanksgiving and Christmas, I also make a few for friends (for a small fee).

If you want one, let me know.

They are three-layer cakes, with a lemon-coconut filling separating the layers. Fresh grated lemon peel and fresh lemon juice is used.

Here the three layers are ready to be frosted.

I spread a cream cheese frosting on the cake which is then covered in flaked coconut.

Here is the finished product. Call or email me if you would like one for your holiday gathering.

Western Tribune column November 11, 2009, Gay kids get a break

Western Tribune November 11, 2009

Gay and lesbian teens in our community may finally be getting a break this fall.

Over the past few days several events took place which offer hope to gay youth and their families. Two religion based groups, Focus on the Family and Exodus International returned to Birmingham with their harmful Love Won Out conference, which attempts to coerce parents into forcing their gay and lesbian children into programs whereby which they must conform to their heterosexual parents’ expectations.

Advocacy groups came together to protest and brought in nationally renowned speaker Wayne Besen, founder of Truth Wins Out. In addition, a peaceful demonstration was staged prior to and during the conference, with creative signs indicating both the fallacy of the programs and the truth that God loves us all, including Adam and Steve who were there with signs indicating such.
Every medical, psychological, counseling and scientific organization has agreed that sexual orientation is inherent and cannot be changed. Further research shows that efforts to do so are harmful and may put a teen at higher risk for depression and can lead to increased chances of homelessness, drug dependency and even suicide.

Studies show that up to forty percent of homeless teens are gay. Some are forced out of their home when their parents learn they are gay. Others leave because they sense rejection, knowing that who they are is not acceptable to those they expect love from.

Much publicity was created because of the conference and protest, and hopefully kids and parents were enlightened and realized there is an alternative called loving your child just as he or she is. Our hearts broke as we saw obviously upset children being driven to the conference, certainly against their will.

(Go here to read about what happened inside the ex-gay conference.)

The other occurrence of note was the recent enactment of the Harassment Prevention Act which will require local school boards to develop anti-bullying policies. Suicide is the third leading cause of death among 15 to 20 year olds, and legislators took this into consideration in passing this statute.

The Birmingham Board of Education has already passed an inclusive policy that covers sexual orientation and gender identity as well as race and other characteristics often cited when teasing and hazing others.

The gay and lesbian students at Davis Middle School and Jess Lanier High School (and yes, they are there), would benefit from an inclusive policy.

Some important developments, as every child deserves acceptance at home and protection at school.

Western Tribune Column November 4, Langford's conviction

Western Tribune November 4, 2009

No one was really surprised at former Birmingham mayor Larry Langford’s conviction last week on 60 counts of bribery, wire fraud, mail fraud, false tax returns and money laundering. Much was said and written about what a sad day it was for Birmingham, as people realized that once again, a local politician had been found to be corrupt.

What does this say for the city, which lies in a county struggling to stay afloat (I’m being generous, as I don’t think the County Commission is doing a damn thing to help the situation) and teetering on bankruptcy?

I understand that when one emerges from a courtroom with a guilty verdict that emotions are running high. I also recognize that Larry Langford can’t resist a microphone, and in this case, it was a bad situation for both him and his wife, Melva.

He started to stop her from speaking, knowing, it seemed, what she was about to say.
“He is not guilty. Only in Alabama can a black man not get a fair trial.”

The former mayor concurred, arguing that the jury was not made up of his peers. Of course, he is the one that requested the change of venue, and his attorneys had just as much say in the jury selection as did the prosecution. Three of the twelve jurors that decided the case were African-American.

It’s sad that racism was charged, that our entire criminal justice system was questioned, and that blame was shifted to the media.

But the chance for new leadership is certainly nothing to be sad about. Acting Mayor Carole Smitherman is not the answer. She is part of what I call “tired, old leadership,” because I am tired of the old leadership. Patrick Cooper seems like the candidate who, if elected would look beyond race and geography as he tries to bring the region together. Bessemer is part of that region.

What would really have been sad would have been an acquittal.

Had Langford been found not guilty, think of the message it would have sent to future candidates. The temptations are already bad enough for politicians. If Langford’s actions had been justified, office seekers could have practically campaigned on promises of “Slip me a little something and you’ll see your business increase.”

Sadness will soon give way to spirited campaigns as Birmingham elects a new mayor. Let’s hope for a truly, new beginning.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Info meeting today in B'mer and the CMA review

In Bessemer today Norfolk Southern makes their case again by teaming up with the Alabama Department of Transportation for a second informational meeting regarding their planned Intermodal Facility in McCalla. The event will be held at the Bessemer Civic Center from 4 - 7 this afternoon.

Nominations for a community group will also be taken. Norfolk Southern will not have a role in selecting the members of the committee, which will be their primary community contact.

Let's hope the folks from McCalla can be a little more serious in their approach to the informational meeting this time. Remember August?


This was not your daddy's Country Music Awards.

For one thing, Darius Rucker won new artist of the year.

But even better, two songs that were performed, two(!), included lyrics referring to Rosa Parks and Martin Luther King, Jr.

Brad Paisley performed "Welcome to the Future," and Tim McGraw performed "Southern Voice."

I can't embed the video for "Future," but Watch the video for a lift. I really wish I could have embedded this. Paisley won Male Vocalist of the Year.

Here is Tim's video,

The highlight of the evening had to be 19 year old Taylor Swift winning Entertainer of the Year, after winning Female Vocalist and Album of the Year and Video of the Year. Here are her three acceptance speeches. She gets in a dig at Kanye without mentioning his name.

I think that the country music industry is a little more forward thinking than many of their fans. I don't think I have to explain that. Now if one or two of those closeted performers would come out and take a stand...

Oh, and you teabagging Republicans, the future that Brad Paisley is singing about is here, and there is nothing you can do about it.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Shocked...and more shocked

This is a sad casualty of the storm yesterday. Ida destroyed my flag.

But it is Veteran's Day, so I will leave it up until dark. It looks kind of like a war time flag, huh? Thanks go out to those who have served in our armed forces. I won't name names, but family members and know who you are...thanks.

Shocking. I am really shocked that Claire Mitchell lost the district 56 election yesterday. Congratulations to Lawrence McAdory. He will have to defend his win soon, however, as the election only fills the seat through the unexpired term of Priscilla Dunn, who won the Senate district 19 seat earlier this year.

I have my own opinions as to why this election turned out the way it did, but (believe it or not) I am keeping those to myself.

Even more shocking. Teabaggers are defending their use of Kelly Ingram Park for their rally. An anonymous person sent a comment to my post that linked to one of the teabagger organizer's blog. Regarding the Kelly Ingram Park rally, he says:

"Names like Bull Connor and Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. are attached to the horrible events there."

Isn't that a little degrading to MLK, Jr., to have is name "attached to the horrible events" as if he bore some responsibility for the fire hoses and dogs. No, that blame is not shared by Bull Conner and Martin Luther King, Jr.

Then after showing historic pictures of the four girls who were killed nearby, he writes this:

"Could there be a better venue to celebrate our freedoms and rise to the defense of civil rights for all? I hope that the symbolism is not lost on people but what happened there today would have to make Dr. King and the victims of Bull Connor proud."

"The defense of civil rights for all"? From the stage I heard a birther arguing against the credibility of the Obama presidency. I heard the right to health care being compared to communism and socialism.

If they wanted civil rights for all, they would have been promoting GLBT equality and same sex civil marriage.

"...but what happened there today would have to make Dr. King and the victims of Bull Connor proud."

Some of the victims of Bull Conner were there, and they were proudly standing against what was coming from the stage.

Read what Kathy wrote. This was nothing more than a modern day "Klan-lite" gathering and a slap in the face of what Kelly Ingram Park and the Foot Soldiers stood for.

Shockingest. Well not really, but somewhat shocking that Republicans could be handing such a gift to the Democrats. In Florida, the Tea Party political party has registered as a valid political party and promises to run candidates against Republicans and Democrats. Thank you thank you thank you. After the success they had in NY-23 (laugh, laugh), right wing conservatives are going to try the same strategy nationwide.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Teabaggers invade Kelly Ingram Park

The remnants of the Republican Party in Jefferson County gathered yesterday in Kelly Ingram Park to rally around the U. S. of KKK. All that was missing was the white sheets.

Most of the teabaggers have a very narrow view of things. This is representative of some of the Christianist love that was being spread around the park.

The McCarthyists were there.

There were a few people there who were protesting the protesters. The woman holding this sign had been denied a procedure by Blue Cross Blue Shield, and now she doesn't have insurance. The man standing next to her was threatened by one of the teabaggers, who told him he could "make him need some healthcare" after making fun of his weight. Classy.

While no one suggested that the teabaggers did not have the right to speak, some questioned the wisdom of selecting Kelly Ingram Park for the rally.

Let's not forget what happened there in 1963.

A group of people did remember, and were there to remind the 'baggers of the history associated with the park.

The prayers of the men in this sculpture at the entrance of the park in 2009 would most likely be, "Dear Lord, please don't let it happen again."

With all the talk of "taking our country back" and such, let's remind the teabaggers that Obama carried Jefferson County in 2008, and that for the majority of people in the county, and in the country, the country was taken back from an ineffective party with an inept leader just a year ago.