The Year of Moving Forward

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

Monday, August 31, 2009

Bessemer Mayor contributing to neglect of shelter animals

Update: The city council meeting will be at 6:00 today (Tuesday). Be there if you want better animal care.

Two years ago the city of Bessemer had a problem in their animal shelter. As a not so gentle reminder, here are pictures of two animals that were under their care.

Soon after this happened, "we" tried to address the problems before the city council, and as I was speaking the Mayor (Ed May) stopped me right as I was describing specific abuses and said my allegations were not true and that Bessemer did not have an animal problem.

My response in a column printed in the Western Tribune was that he was right. The animals were not the problem. The problem was with the people responsible for their care.

I think the Bessemer pound cleaned up its act, and though things might not be ideal, neglect has not been an issue.

At the time "we" recommended oversight and training by an outside agency.

Today neglect is occurring again, but this time the buck stops at the very top. The shelter was out of dog food. A sizable donation was made to buy food. A volunteer went to Walmart to buy food. She ran into city employees who were purchasing food. I assume they were on a tight budget because they decided that they would put their food back and accept the donation of food. I am told Rev. Eades OK'd that.

When they got to the shelter with the food, the employees were eager to feed the dogs, but they were told that the donation was being refused. Donations of that magnitude have to be approved by the mayor, they were told. The mayor refused to let the city accept the dog food.

The donation was in the form of a check from Robert White who runs the Anchor Club Charity Bingo. The mayor, who said "Something like this, quite frankly, it reminds me of Sodom and Gomorrah," when bingo was passed, would rather see dogs starve and die, I guess, than accept a donation.

There will be council meeting Tuesday evening, I am told, where this can be brought up. People are being asked to pack city hall at 6:00. Check back here on Tuesday to confirm this meeting time. I was told there would be two meetings tomorrow and that seems odd to me, so we may be getting the runaround.

At any rate, any animal neglect currently going on falls directly onto the lap of mayor Ed May.

"We" may attempt to get the shelter closed. If the city cannot affort to feed the animals, and will not accept donations of food, they should not be taking in animals.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Secret Service are you listening???

Some of you saw my post on the Examiner about Steve Anderson, the Baptist preacher who prays each night for President Barack Obama to die and go to hell.

Some of you saw my post about people bringing guns to town hall meetings. After that post, another man carried a big gun to a meeting where the president was speaking.

Now it's beginning to come together.

The guy carrying the gun goes to the church pastored by the man calling for the death of our president. He says so on a radio broadcast in this video. In the video the gun toter kids about "watering the tree of liberty." The pastor advocates "melting" Obama like a snail and "breaking the teeth" out of his head. Someone needs to "abort" Barack Obama. Should be done on television. This is your Baptist preaching, where only men are allowed to speak in his church (on the tape).

This preacher should be arrested. And the gun toting tree waterer. Just my Bessemer opinion.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

A short tribute to Senator Kennedy

Be sure to read my Western Tribune column about the Norfolk Southern informational meeting which follows this brief tribute to Senator Edward M. Kennedy. May he rest in peace. I particularly like the way the media has portrayed Barack Obama as the successor to the Kennedy role in politics.

I have read a lot of hateful comments while looking at videos and tributes about Senator Kennedy. Let it rest, hatemongers.

Did you begin voting when you turned 18? Thank Senator Kennedy. Do you participate in or enjoy women's collegiate athletics? Thank Senator Kennedy. Glad Bork got "borked"? Thank Senator Kennedy. Senator Kennedy was a champion of gay rights, women's rights and fairness all around. He will be missed, especially as we move toward health care reform.

Comments are welcome, but I will not allow hateful ones.

Western Tribune column August 26, 2009 NS Hub meeting

My column from this weeks Western Tribune.

I learned a good bit at the Norfolk Southern informational meeting last week, even though the format was not what many of the McCalla residents who came expected. I believe they expected a “town hall” style meeting where they could have used a more accusatory and confrontational approach, since they were not interested in finding common ground.

“They don’t want to hear what we’ve got to say. They know we are right and they are wrong.”

It sounded similar to the discourse at some of the town hall meetings dealing with health care.
When people are seeking a solution to a problem, whether it’s health care or land use and quality of life concerns, both sides should come with a calm approach to dialogue. If one or both sides are unwilling to do so, a satisfactory outcome will never be reached.

Norfolk Southern offered the most elaborate community information event in their history to inform us about the proposed intermodal hub and what its effects might be. In addition, information about their facility in Austell, GA, built a decade ago, was available.

In Austell, similar concerns were voiced before the facility was built but the mayor of the town realized that it was better to talk to company officials than to try to fight the railroad giant. Some compromises were worked out, and in the years since the facility was completed, the resident’s fears have not been realized and no complaints have been heard, according to the mayor.

One of the disadvantages of being unincorporated is that there is no official community leader such as a mayor to deal with such issues. There seems to be some distrust with the county commissioner (around this as well as other issues). The Jefferson County School Board may be the best agency to deal with the situation, and they have approved a resolution to do a study of traffic, environmental and other issues related to the project. Norfolk Southern has done those types of studies, but an independent study might reinforce their claims on a number of issues.

In Austell, the city received some money but again, McCalla is not a city, so it’s hard to anticipate what kinds of deals might be reached. Community ball fields, improvements to the school, firefighting equipment; those are just some of the things we might see if McCalla residents are willing to negotiate rather than argue.


Watch this Norfolk Southern intermodal climb a hill. Actually, its in someone's basement, but this is a long train for a model, and how he keeps it from derailing I don't know. And the music is good.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

A changing community

In 1887 Bessemer was founded by Henry F. DeBardeleben. DeBardeleben is being honored today by the Kiwanis club of Birmingham as it inducts him along with three others into the Birmingham Business Hall of Fame. His credits include (for Birmingham) forming the Pratt Coal and Coke Co. and the DeBardeleben Coal and Iron Co., which later merged with TCI.

As for Bessemer, the King of the Southern Iron World, as he was known, Henry DeBardeleben came here around 1887. (History - Bessemer Chamber of Commerce)

At age 30 he came to Birmingham and they soon had acquired a controlling interest in the Red Mountain Iron and Coal Company, which was later renamed the Eureka Mining Company. Debardeleben was the general manger of this company. It was during this time in 1886 that he proposed to buy a site consisting of 4,040 acres of land that was located about 13 miles to the southwest of Birmingham for approximately $100,000. Debardeleben's plan was to build eight furnaces and to add two additional railroad outlets to the city within two years. He believed that the future of this city and the surrounding areas depended on the success of its iron and steel resources. This became the key part of Debardeleben's organizational structure for the city. Debardeleben even renamed the city to reflect the resources in the area that it could offer. The original name of the city was Brooklyn; however Debardeleben decided to rename the city Bessemer in honor of Sir Henry Bessemer, the British scientist who was famous for his contribution to the steel making process.

"His descendants have made a mark in the Birmingham area...." the release about today's award says.

For instance, I guess, his son, Charles DeBardeleben? According to Diane McWhorter, in Carry Me Home, Charles DeBardeleben identified himself as "one of the greatest believers of White Supremacy" and proclaimed his contempt for an organization (labor union) that let whites "mingle and associate with Negroes." It gets worse.

But this is not about Charles. It's about the positive changes that Henry brought to our area.

Another positive step toward change is the announcement from the Economic Development Partnership of Alabama that the Jefferson County McCalla Industrial Park is being designated as an "AdvantageSite," the first such site in Jefferson County.

This site is next to the proposed intermodal facility to be built by Norfolk Southern. Being designated an AdvantageSite helps to "take away much of the guess work for a company looking to locate or expand in the state. Industrial sites earn the designation after an extensive process that verifies all types of information, from the ownership to environmental studies and zoning and other essentials."

In other words, it helps in recruiting development. This should help to bring the type of development that Norfolk Southern is predicting alongside their hub.

By the way, if you were unable to attend their information meeting last week,
has the answers you are looking for. This site provides most of the information that was presented at the Bessemer Civic Center. (Without being under the watchful eye of the Bessemer Police whose presence offended so many of the McCalla residents).

There are other changes coming to Bessemer. There is someone thinking outside the box, with a vision that can help our urban neighborhoods get out of the rut we are in. More about this later.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Twilight at the Castle in Bessemer

Be sure to read my Western Tribune column that follows.
On Saturday, August 29 from 8:00 until 12:00 a benefit will be held at the "Original Castle" in Bessemer with proceeds going to Birmingham AIDS Outreach.

"Twilight at the Castle" will feature a stellar line-up of entertainers. Scheduled to perform are Tasha Long, Yosmein Campbell Starr, Trinity Taylor, Obsinity, Genesis, Racquel Scott, Ginger Nicole Richardson, Bambi Kira, Kelly Alexander, Opal Senior, & Sha Sha Glamour.

The historic Scott-Vines house in wintertime

Spread the word. This event is being hosted by Jonathan Edmondson and Kyle Pugh, at the historic Scott-Vines house at 422 Owen Avenue in Bessemer, AL, and is open to the public.

If you have been to Christmas at the Castle, then you can imagine what this Summer Spectacular will be like. If you have not been, you will be amazed.

A suggested donation at the door of $10-20 will be appreciated by the folks at BAO.

This information was posted yesterday on Birmingham Gay Examiner.

Two of the performers that will entertain are Ginger Nicole Richardson and Obsinity.

This event will help raise money for Birmingham AIDS Outreach. Please support this cause.

BAO's mission is "to enhance the quality of life for people and families living with HIV and AIDS and to prevent further spread of the disease through age-appropriate prevention education programs."

Billy Cox was a person who did that. Billy was from Bessemer, and died 15 years ago after battling HIV/AIDS for several years. Read about Billy in the post that follows.

For more info: Birmingham AIDS Outreach

Western Tribune column August 19, 2009 Billy Cox

This is my column from the Western Tribune this week

Billy Cox was a hero to many then, and is still a hero today.

In 1987 Billy received a diagnosis that at the time signaled an almost sure death sentence. He tested positive for HIV. Within a few years he had developed AIDS, and by 1994 Billy had passed away.

During those early years of the AIDS epidemic most patients were silent about the disease and felt marginalized by their community.

Not Billy. He became a crusader and those who knew him saw him as energetic and optimistic, even when most would not be able to find that kind of spirit.

Shortly before his death, determined that a change was needed in the way AIDS patients and gay people were treated, Billy offered his final disability check to start a foundation in his name which helped to direct community resources and talents to help those with HIV/AIDS.

By sharing his experience and teaching those around him how to care for him, he changed the way people with HIV/AIDS were treated and a new dimension in caretaking began, as care teams of volunteers formed to assist those in need. The 1917 Clinic at UAB developed networks of teams that have helped people all over the state.

Now Billy has been honored by having a scholarship dedicated in his name at the UAB School of Public Health. The scholarship will go to students with an interest in Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender public health issues.

The dean of the school, Dr. Max Michael, says the scholarship may be the first of its kind in the nation.

This comes at a time when the achievements of LGBT persons are being recognized across the country. Just last week, tennis legend Billie Jean King and former San Francisco supervisor Harvey Milk were presented the Medal of Freedom, the nation’s highest civilian honor, from President Obama. They received their awards, along with 14 others, not because of their sexual orientation, but because they were “agents of change.”

Billy was an agent of change as well.

Bessemer can be proud of Billy, a 1975 graduate of MacAdory High School and president of his senior class. How many can say that they helped change the way a disease is looked at and the way those with the condition are treated? And now he has an endowment in his name that will help future public health providers make advances in fighting it.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Freepers and Hubbers are much the same

Conservatives incapable of learning? Or unwilling?

"Trying to have a conversation with you is like trying to argue with a dining room table."

Who does this describe? Town Hall meeting protesters? No Hub 4 McCalla protesters? I believe they are pretty much the same.

First the Town Hall. Barney Frank let's this woman have it.

The woman obviously resists all attempts to educate herself, she just has a hateful attitude and refused to find out what health care reform is all about. Like all of the freepers.

It's the same with the No Hub 4 McCalla crowd, who showed up wearing surgical masks (who's going under the knife?) at an informational meeting yesterday sponsored by Norfolk Southern.

Here are comments I heard from people wearing the group's shirt.

"Referring to the Norfolk Southern people: "I wouldn't spit on them if they were on fire." Now I believe that most of the people in McCalla are Christian, and I know some of the leaders of this group are church leaders. Good job, fine Christians. You've taught this woman well.

"They(Norfolk Southern) don't want to hear what we've got to say because they know that we are right and they are wrong." That may be her opinion, but there was a lot of information made available, and if she had actually absorbed some of it, she would have a different opinion.

"To have police here is an insult (to the No Hub people). I don't trust them (the police) either." Why not? Because they are "Bessemer"? Because they are black?

The idiocy continued with questions they had in today's Birmingham News.

"How can you guarantee me a truck driver won't come to the school, snatch my kid and carry him away?"

Oh my god. I am about to go crazy? Listen, show me some reports of truck drivers snatching kids. While you are looking, consider this. A blogger friend of mine documents "This week in holy crimes" each week. Last week's account included 10 cases involving at least 54 victims. Here you can look at several weeks worth of holy crimes.

So maybe you should be more concerned about allowing your child in church, where it seems abuse of children (and adults) is common.

"My son is 14. what will you say to him when one of these trucks hits him and kills him?

Why would your son be on private railroad property? Your son is not old enough to drive, so he must be walking. Tell your son not to play in the road!!!

"Will you buy my house when it gets foreclosed on?" (referring to her errant belief that property values will go down).

Foreclosure occurs when you don't pay your mortgage. There is such a disconnect there, I can't even draw enough lines to try to make sense of that. Is the presence of Norfolk Southern going to keep you from paying your mortgage? You are more likely to lose your home because of the current health care system (which you are probably against reforming) than because an intermodal facility has been built nearby.

If the McCalla residents had come to learn, they would have discovered this.

Norfolk Southern produced a virtual three dimensional model of the area using LiDAR data which produced very accurate detail. With this technology, you could view the proposed facility from above, from any angle, from ground level on the school playground, from a nearby barn, from anywhere! What you saw was a landscaped berm protecting the school from noise, truck activity and pollution, or a 17 foot (I think) sound wall near the entrance to the facility at the other end of the property.

You could also learn that Air Quality studies have been done. The facility meets EPA's definition of a "minor source" of pollution. EPA models were used to predict the "worst case" impact on air quality, and those impacts are well below the EPA air standards. Enlarge this picture and you can read about particulate matter, carbon monoxide and nitrogen oxides.

"Facility emissions are not expected to be noticeable at any off site location, at any time."

You could have learned from a real time virtual model of existing traffic with anticipated truck traffic added that a truck only entered or left the facility every couple of minutes or so, depending on the time of day and other factors. The trucks would only be allowed to leave the facility at designated intervals, so there would be no line of trucks leaving at one time. If you stop by an interstate, and watch traffic for a few minutes with a watch (that's a timepiece with a second hand), you may see trucks pass by at 2, 3, 4 or more per minute. And you don't think anything of it. In other words, 400 trucks in and 400 trucks out in a day is not that much.

You also could have looked at a chart with current traffic counts and with the trucks added, and learned that the increase is barely noticeable, and does not surpass the maximum capacities for the roads.

You might have learned that natural resource surveys have been done.

You could have learned that total tax benefits of this economic development through 2020 could be over $153,000,000 with $24,000,000 going to schools and $21,000,000 going to the counties in the area.

It's a lot easier to respect the opinions of others when they are educated opinions, even if you disagree. I have little respect for people who refuse to educate themselves.

You should appreciate Norfolk Southern's attempt to educate you. This was the most elaborate community information event the company has ever done for this type of facility, and experts in several fields were there to answer questions. I spoke with Norfolk Southern spokeperson Rudy Husband before the public was allowed in and during the event. We noticed that the people were crowded around the displays, but Husband was concerned if they were actually absorbing the information, and knew that some people there had minds that could not be changed.

My informal exit poll showed that among some, the information was appreciated and their minds were not yet made up. And several had come in support of the facility, but to gain more information.

You (No Hubbers andTown Hall freepers) could learn a lot if you would only allow your brains to receive information and process it. A well informed citizen is a more productive and responsible citizen.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Highlights from last night

If you read nothing else, scroll down to the bold print and read it and what follows.

I was unable to attend Spencer Bachus's hatefest, uh, excuse me, Health Care Town Hall meeting last night, but I heard enough on the radio this morning to know that:
  1. I would have been in the minority, by far.

  2. Spencer Bachus is a liar.

  3. If Republicans can link any issue to immigration, they can justify their opposition to the issue with their hatred.

1. Progressive/Liberal bloggers have estimated the freepers outnumbered the progressives 200 to 1, but that would be expected, in spite of Over the Mountain Democrats being a fairly large organization in the area. By the way, OTMD are sponsoring a candidate forum with Ron Sparks and Artur Davis tonight (!) at Birmingham Botanical Gardens at 6:30. Free and open to the public. Why does it always happen? I have another meeting I have to attend. Grrr. But my peeps will be there and I will get good info.

2. On the radio this morning, on the Matt Murphy show, I heard that Bachus said last night he voted against TARP and led the fight against it. That is a lie, but there are many other reasons to be against him.

3. Julie at Left in Alabama gives a good report of the Town Hall. Here are some highlights she gathered from:

People in attendence:

Health care for illegals is particularly galling. I cannot stress enough how angry they are over the thought that some might receive treatment for free, while they themselves 'worked hard all their lives'. The hatred is palpable. You really have to have attended one of these things to know what I mean. You come away feeling in need of a long, hot bath.

Another big point was "no government control". People are also combining this one with a mantra I heard more than once about "Let them fix Medicare and Medicaid, THEN maybe we'll see if they can expand it." It was repeated almost word for word several times, so I assume it's a line they have been fed for a while now. (Well done, GOP - they have it memorized.)

From Bachus:

His breakdown of the uninsured:

11 million eligible for Mediaid but not taking it

9.7 million illegal immigrants

4.7 million students

9.1 million income > 75k

13-16 million remaining

Blames Medicare for higher costs of insurance, due to government's 'inability to pay a fair price' which is then passed on.

Contradicts himself several times, but the crowd just loves him more :)

While blaming Medicare for increased cost, he makes a big point that Insured are paying 113% to cover uninsured.

Well, according to one of the People, the Insured aren't paying squat for the uninsured, because Insurance companies set a price per procedure. According to this man, who works in Hospital Administration, the hospital simply eats it all. When asked if it is still profitable, he assures me that, despite the uncollected debts, the hospital is still showing a healthy profit.

Bachus gave a real virtuoso performance on Illegal Immigration. He was able to work it in solidly to Health Reform, and get the crowd really whipped into a frenzy of ill-disguised racism, selfishness and xenophobia.

CONTROL THE BORDERS drew huge cheers. At least there were no suggestions of sewing the Mexican flag onto immigrant's clothing, but I can't swear that this crowd would've objected to the idea.

Southerners haven't changed, nor do they look likely to in the foreseeable future. It's still the same bunch who used to beat Bibles on Sunday and slaves on Monday.

Thanks Julie!!! and thanks to your readers too.

From the comments:

Did you notice how, on the couple of occasions that a person of color spoke, they started screaming, "Where are you from?" When the woman who is waiting for a lung transplant spoke, the idiots behind me started in with, "She sounds pretty strong to me." It was all I could do not to turn around and show them the oxygen tube that was clearly visible in my zoom lens.

from another:

but I finally lost it when The Three Weird Sisters behind me started in on the person who spoke about their bout with cancer.
"Accountability!" they kept saying, until I finally couldn't stand it any more and whipped around to see three middle aged, obviously pretty well-to-do housewife types. I asked them, "Do you really think a person is accountable for cancer?" and, as I looked into their dull, piggish little eyes, all three nodded in unison.

from another:

During one of several immigrant-bashing rants, Spencer said that no one here illegally should get any health care. Cheers and applause from the "Christian" crowd. Ed Savela, sitting next to me, called out, "Just let them die?" and a guy in front of us said, "Let them work." I responded, "They do work, dumb*ss!", which is now immortalized on the videotape.

From another:

They surely forget that Jesus said:
"For I was hungry and you gave me nothing to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me nothing to drink, I was a stranger and you did not invite me in, I needed clothes and you did not clothe me, I was sick and in prison and you did not look after me.

They also will answer, 'Lord, when did we see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or needing clothes or sick or in prison, and did not help you?

He will reply, 'I tell you the truth, whatever you did not do for one of the least of these, you did not do for me."

How hard is this to really understand???

Monday, August 17, 2009

Advice for President Obama and Spencer Bachus

There's a nice video to original music here about the Great American Kiss-In.

Count me as one of the progressive/liberals that believes that health care reform does not happen unless there is at least a public option. In fact, I am in favor of a single payer system, but I know that won't happen for another decade or so, so a government run public option is the next best thing.

Of the Americans who have insurance, what percentage do you think have government insurance now? You may be surprised.

Here is what President Obama needs to consider:

The Republicans will not be voting for health care reform with or without the public option.

The Republicans will not be voting for health care reform with or without end of life counseling.

Now, consider this, Mr. President.

You campaigned on health care reform (and other things) and we progressives supported you. Do I need to start listing the things you have fallen short on? A public option was one of the planks in your health care platform.

Let me quote from "Renewing America's Promise" (page 10), the Democratic Party platform from 2008.

"Families and individuals should have the option of keeping the coverage they have or choosing from a wide array of health insurance plans, including many private health insurance options and a public plan."

On your Health Reform web site web site, on the Alabama page, you say this:

Guaranteeing Choices: The largest health insurer in Alabama holds 89% of the market, which limits the choices that you have for finding coverage. With a competitive public insurance option, you will have more choices and increased competition that holds insurance companies accountable.

Don't give up on the public option!!! If you are going to give up on something, give up on believing that bipartisan participation in reform is a possibility.

Spencer Bachus is hosting a Town Hall meeting tonight at 7:00 at the Cahaba Grand Conference Center. I was planning to go, but just don't feel it would be the best use of my time. I have been going back and forth with an anti-health care reform buddy of mine, and finally got to the root of the matter. He doesn't like the "messenger" so he is against "the message." In other words, he is anti-Obama so he is anti-reform, ignoring the facts and what is actually in the proposals. Most of the people who will attend feel the same way, and they are not going to be convinced to change their mind.

But Bachus needs to do what is best for the country, and for the people of Alabama.

I hope Bachus takes these things into consideration as he bows to the birthers and deathers that will probably crowd the room tonight. References for these figures are here.

Since 2000 alone, average family premiums have increased by 95 percent in Alabama.

28 percent of middle-income Alabama families spend more than 10 percent of their income on health care.

16 percent of people in Alabama report not visiting a doctor due to high costs.

Alabama businesses and families shoulder a hidden health tax of roughly $600 per year on premiums as a direct result of subsidizing the costs of the uninsured.

13.6 percent of people in Alabama are uninsured, and 63 percent of them are in families with at least one full-time worker.

Choice of health insurance is limited in Alabama. Blue Cross Blue Shield AL alone constitutes 83 percent of the health insurance market share in Alabama, with the top two insurance providers accounting for 88 percent.

Choice is even more limited for people with pre-existing conditions. In Alabama, premiums can vary based on demographic factors and health status, and coverage can exclude pre-existing conditions or even be denied completely.

The overall quality of care in Alabama is rated as “Average."

Our nation's health care is rated number 37 in the world, and our part of that is just "average." I can't believe the people of Alabama would be satisfied with that. But I guess that is part of Alabama's history. Satisfied with the status quo and mired in mediocrity.

Friday, August 14, 2009

Stories that caught my eye

To see Bill Clinton get heckled (sort of) and his response (and explanation of DADT and DOMA) visit Bham Gay community Examiner.

Major press problems delay B'ham News But our paper arrived around 8:00. At least they were up front this time about the delay, unlike the numerous problems we had a few months ago.

Chris Todd named starting QB Kodi Burns supports. War Eagle.

Michael Vick named back up for Eagles Now, you all know that I am all about people getting their chance after they have paid their dues. But...

Pitino story gets weirder every day Why can't guys keep their pants zipped up? Really. Anyone?

Bessemer council approves withdrawal from Colonial Bank You mean Bessemer has $144,000???

Rickwood plan for museum honoring Birmingham's baseball heritage This is my favorite story of the day. I love Rickwood field, used to go there as a kid. Haven't been back in decades, but this is big.

Some Negro league baseball players were in the front row at a symbolic groundbreaking that was held outside of historic Rickwood Field in Birmingham, Ala., Thurs., Aug. 13, 2009 for a baseball museum dedicated to the city's baseball heritage. The museum will feature the history of the former Negro League as well as that of the Southern League. Both the Birmingham Barons and the Black Barons played at Rickwood. The City Council in May approved spending $7.5 million to restore the century-old ballpark and build the museum. The Birmingham News/Bernard Troncale).

Thursday, August 13, 2009

House 56 candidates growing in number

Be sure to check out Bessemer Science because this is really weird.

Qualifying to finish the term for Alabama House district 56 (Priscilla Dunn's former seat) is open until August 14. So far 4 people have qualified, and all I have to say is: boring!

The candidates are Clare Mitchell, wife of former mayor Quitman Mitchell, Lawrence McAdory, Louise Alexander, and LaBrenda Marshall Jones.

Other than Mitchell, haven't we just seen these names in election after election?

There are sure to be others to qualify.

Now I know these candidates and I like them all, but I don't know what they bring to a house seat. Well, McAdory, maybe, because he's been there.

We need a young person, or at least a progressive middle aged person. Are any of these candidates what you would consider "progressive?"

Let's see what they say.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Guns and Town Hall meetings don't mix

My Western Tribune column from today's paper, which follows this, is also about the Town Hall meetings and misinformation that Republicans are falling for.

There is an ugly pattern emerging. At Portsmouth yesterday there were protesters lined up along the street, Pro-Obama on one side and Anti-Obama on the other. Listen to what this guy says:

“Why are we bankrupting this country for 21 million illegals who should be sent on the first bus one way back from wherever they come from. We don’t need illegals. Send them home once. Send them home with a bullet in their head the second time. Read what Jefferson said about the Tree of Liberty — it’s coming baby.”

Two things. First, 21 million bullets in the head is not the way to solve the problems of immigration. (neither is causing them suffering and death by denying them health care but that is for a different day).

But more concerning is his reference to Jefferson. Here are Jefferson's words:

"The tree of liberty must be refreshed from time to time, with the blood of patriots and tyrants."

This man says "It's coming, baby."

When read in the context of what they are saying about the president, this is a call for violence.

Then, this guy shows up at the President's Town Hall.

He was legally carrying a firearm at a public event about health care. He was interviewed by Chris Matthews, and besides believing he is living in 1777, the guy is another whacko.

His sign also referenced the tree of liberty quote.

So here is a guy with a gun, advocating spilling the blood of leaders he disagrees with.

Thank God for the secret service.

Western Tribune Column 8-12-09 Town Halls

“Sometimes I get a little frustrated.” Those were President Obama’s words in response to a health care question at an AARP sponsored event, before the staged disruptions at such events began to take over the headlines.

I’m with the president, but I get more than “a little frustrated.” I mean, I have a personal stake in the matter, as do almost all other Americans who have private or employee funded health insurance, or no insurance at all.

We have seen our premiums rise and medical costs rise and have also seen rankings which place American health care at number 37, behind such countries as Dominica and Costa Rica.

So when I see staged disruptions at Town Hall events where representatives are trying to discuss the issues, I get frustrated. When I consider that these protesters are fighting to keep us at number 37 in the world, and to keep our premiums rising while insurance company bureaucrats make medical decisions that help their bottom lines, I get more frustrated. But when I see these same protesters holding signs equating our president to Hitler or the Joker (from the Batman series) or holding up the Bible, well then I get angry.

I don’t support mixing religion and government and I think that using the Bible in the fight against universal health care is laughable. What would Jesus do? I hardly think he would sit in an office and direct health care providers to deny coverage for certain people to increase company profits, which is what your insurance company does now.

The protesters argue that the president is promoting a single payer system. This just shows their ignorance, because he is not, but if he did, would it not be similar to the system in place that provides health coverage for our seniors? We should demand that these protesters opt out of Medicare when they turn 65, if they are so opposed to government run healthcare. Or perhaps they should look at the Veterans Administration which provides for our service members when they return, often for life. Do these same people advocate doing away with the VA, which is pretty much socialized medicine?

Look at some of the countries ranked above us in health care. No one, including citizens of those countries or Americans living there, wants to trade what they have for American style health care.

So debate the issues, yes, but use facts, not lies.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

End of life issues

We all get these crazy emails forwarded by our Republican friends who accept what they say on blind faith without checking things out and forward them to everyone they know. One such email I got said this.

"ON PAGE 425 OF OBAMA’S HEALTH CARE BILL, the Federal Government will require EVERYONE who is on Social Security to undergo a counseling session every 5 years with the objective being that they will explain to them just how to end their own life earlier. Yes...They are going to push SUICIDE to cut medicare spending!"

So I looked at it. In the health care bill (which is not in its final form) are these words on page 425:

Advance Care Planning Consultation

Subject to paragraphs (3) and (4), the term ‘advance care planning consultation’ means a consultation between the individual and a practitioner described in paragraph (2) regarding advance care planning, if, subject to paragraph (3), the individual involved has not had such a consultation within the last 5 years.

it goes on to explain:

‘‘(A) An explanation by the practitioner of advance care planning, including key questions and considerations, important steps, and suggested people to talk to.

‘‘(B) An explanation by the practitioner of advance directives, including living wills and durable powers of attorney, and their uses.

‘‘(C) An explanation by the practitioner of the role and responsibilities of a health care proxy.

‘‘(D) The provision by the practitioner of a list of national and State-specific resources to assist consumers and their families with advance care planning, including the national toll-free hotline, the advance care planning clearinghouses, and State legal service organizations (including those funded through the Older Americans Act of 1965).

‘‘(E) An explanation by the practitioner of the continuum of end-of-life services and supports available, including palliative care and hospice, and benefits for such services and supports that are available under this title.

Two things need to be said.

First of all, if your doctor is doing what he or she should be doing, they are already discussing these things with you.

Advance directives, living wills and health care proxies are good things, and they make life (and death) much simpler when the end of life comes. If certain things are decided in advance, the wishes that were determined by the person in question can be carried out without the emotions and rivalries of the survivors coming into play.

If you have not taken this step, you need to. Information about advance directives in Alabama (state specific resources, as described in the bill) can be found here. An advance directive for our state that you can download, print and use can be found here.

Second, if you think that the government is turning your life into a math equation trying to figure out who's going to die when and putting a dollar mark on your life, this is already being done by the insurance companies.

Insurance companies want to make money, and price their products so that they do. To do this, and to ensure solvency, they develop projections of future insured events such as death, sickness and disability. They develop mathematical models of the causes of death or particular illnesses and the timing of the events.

They produce life tables (or mortality tables) with rates of surviving or death and morbidity tables with rates or a disease. From these tables they can predict the probability of you dying at a certain age, or how many more years you should live, etc. Here is a sample life table. These can be developed for the entire country or for any group or cohort of people.

Then they add other risk factors such as smoking, age, etc., and using math and statistics they predict when you will die. Then they can figure how much to charge for their product based on how much will need to be paid out when.

This is easiest to understand when applied to life insurance and end of life. But the same type of statistics are used in determining health insurance rates (that generate huge profits).

So, while insurance companies are very interested in when you die and whether they should pay for certain treatments for particular individuals, there is nothing in this bill that indicates the government would be a proponent of ending your life earlier. However, the government is interested in making the end of your life easier for both you and your love ones to endure.

So, there is no forced euthanasia or suicide of the elderly in this bill.

Again, spreading such misinformation is not only malicious, it shows the ignorance of those doing so.

Monday, August 10, 2009

A call for violence?

Are these looney people who are disrupting the town hall meetings unknowingly (or knowingly) calling for violence?

Sarah Palin is right in there with them, with her completely made up "death panels" comments.

Here, Frank Schaeffer, son of evangelist Francis Schaeffer, says there is a coded message, "leaving a loaded gun on the table, the first person who wants to come along and use this, be our guest..."

And when it happens, as he says, it will be too late.

A sign at one Town Hall meeting said this: (h/t to Left in Alabama )

African American President
Latina Supreme Court Justice
Get Over It!
One thing I realized over the last few days is that there are rednecks all over the country. These particular rednecks are angry because their white world has been rocked. They have always been about violence to get their way, remember the KKK, so why would we not think they are advocating violence now?
However, we just have to wait and see how this plays out. In the meantime, the foolish racist republicans are making a laughing stock of themselves. A little therapy or medication could help to control some this immature acting out we are seeing. And their party continues to shrink...I mean, would you want to join a group that has no self control, and is angry all the time?

Thursday, August 6, 2009

Breaking news: Republicans diss Hispanics

If you missed it, here is video of the final few votes in the Senate today as Judge Sonia
Sotomayor was confirmed as Justice Sonia Sotomayor.

At risk of losing even more Hispanic support in upcoming elections, the majority of Republicans in the Senate voted against the confirmation, yet at the same time confirming their racist and or sexist views.

This is a positive happening for President Obama, who in recent days has seen some slippage of support due to the lies and rude, almost unbelievable behavior of the ignorant anti-health care people. More on that in the Tribune.

At any rate, if you are Hispanic or believe in the equality of all people, remember this in 2010, 2012 and beyond. They (Republicans) don't like you, they never did, they only want to use you. Oh, and they don't want you (women) making decisions when you are menstruating.

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Western Tribune column August 5 2009 Jefferson County mess

Months ago in this column and elsewhere the day or reckoning was predicted, and here we are. On Friday many Jefferson County services were stopped or reduced as up to two thirds of the county employees were laid off.

My greatest empathy is with the laid off workers who not only have to live with the diminished services in the county but must do so without their income.

We can live with decreased road maintenance. Anyone who drives in Bessemer is accustomed to washboard road surfaces and pot holes large enough to break an axle since our own elected officials have been unable to address this problem for at least the last seven years.

And we can live with longer lines at the courthouses which are, after all, just inconveniences.

But more serious effects are looming. Without the services of the county coroner’s office bodies may lay at crime or accident scenes for days, we are told. As usual, the elderly and indigent populations will suffer the most, as services are curtailed. Even the county nursing home will be affected; what will become of their residents?

If you are fortunate to sell your house or want to buy one, you may face a delay as title searches will take longer. Processing of wills and commitment of the mentally ill will be delayed in probate court.

The true effects of the layoffs will be seen over the next few weeks and beyond. The county legislative delegation may come together and a special session may result in some money being returned and some employees being called back.

But that won’t solve the problems. Jefferson County’s credit rating is lower than any municipality in the country, according to Moody’s Investors Service. One of their directors said that outside of Detroit, they have not seen any place in America with the severity of problems that we face.

As a county store owner said, “The big dogs ate all the bones. Now we are all out of bones.”

Some of those big dogs are in prison. Some may be headed there soon. But there are still five big dogs on the Jefferson County Commission, and it’s time that their bone eating stops.

As embarrassing as the situation is for Jefferson County, the biggest embarrassment of all would be to return the current commissioners to office. Remember that next year.

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Alabama leaning red and Kings of Leon

Gallup has released a poll that shows how blue the country is becoming.


Alabama is categorized as "leans Republican." In 2008 Alabama was "competitive," which means we are a little more red than we were a year ago.

The state certainly leans Republican, but was it really "competitive" in 2008?

Their numbers are based on responses to which party an individual identifies with. In Alabama 46% identified or leaned Republican and 40% identified or leaned Democrat, giving Republicans a 6 point advantage.

I think democrats will continue to make gains in the state. That is based on demographics...younger people are getting involved every day. They lean blue.

Here's a bit of a surprise from another poll. Overwhelming support for the Norfolk Southern Intermodal Facility, according to a recent poll by the Western Tribune. The numbers will probably be in this week's paper.

Kings of Leon. Notion. Love these guys. They were on the Today Show the other day. I didn't see them, but someone said they attracted the largest crowd of any of the morning concerts they do.

Monday, August 3, 2009

Movie news and Bessemer courthouse

I spoke with Glenn Shadix over the weekend. Glenn is in Maui filming Finding Gauguin. Read about it at

The headline on is Bessemer courthouse overrun as satellites close so I went to see. A bit of an exaggeration, although I am sure the people waiting feel inconvenienced as hell.

I've seen more people than this in the past months on certain days. Of course, I didn't go inside to see the line in there, but I know how they usually limit it.

I told you I was going to order The Fall from Netflix. Here is the trailer.

However, before I can get The Fall, we had to watch another movie to send back. Before Night Falls, is the story of Cuban writer Reinaldo Arenas. It was good.

Here are some of the Johnny Depp scenes, mixed up, as he plays two roles, Bon Bon and Lt. Victor. Johnny Depp is hot, male or female.