The Year of Moving Forward

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

Thursday, December 29, 2011

My hope for 2012

There are still a few days left in 2011, but this will be my final post for this year. I hope to be posting more frequently in 2012 than I have over the past few months, and as presidential politics heat up, I probably will.

But my number one hope as we enter 2012 is for the city of Bessemer.  The Marvel City has its problems, and we have a mayor and council now that is working together to solve them.

We have seen economic development in 2011, highlighted by the completion (!) of the DHR building in downtown Bessemer, the groundbreaking for the Norfolk Southern intermodal facility, and the Dollar General distribution center being constructed on Lakeshore Drive.

We have heard economic analysts time and time again speak of the advantages Bessemer has as far as future development goes, including ample undeveloped land, the airport, the hospital, a theme park, developments at Academy Drive and at Tannehill Promenade.

But there is a sign of a symptom in Bessemer that I must be taken care of before our city can progress in perception.

"A sign of a symptom? What does that mean?"

It's a play on words. In my opinion, the fact that this has not been taken care of since it was first brought to the attention of the city, first on this blog in 2009 and soon after in the local newspaper, speaks volumes.

Are we really this "dumb downed" that it doesn't matter?

In case you don't see it, the correct spelling is "Dartmouth," not "Dartmouht."

This misspelling of a street name is a symptom in our city. A symptom of not caring. We hear a lot about people caring, especially as city elections approach. But if they really cared about our city, about the perception of our city, and of ourselves, they would do something about this. 

I would hope that the Mayor is embarrassed by this. I would hope that the City Council is embarrassed; Sarah Belcher should be embarrassed (it's in her district); the School Board, the Chamber of Commerce, and the Street and Sanitation Department should as well. I would hope that parents of the children who live near this would be embarrassed. I am embarrassed.

And until this sign is corrected, we have no reason to believe that any of the people listed above (other than me) care about the education of our children, or what others think of our city.

Bessemer can soar, there is no doubt about that. But until we care enough to spell the names correctly on our street signs, or to correct them once the mistake is known, we will limp.

I hope that early in 2012 we will have a corrected street sign. My perception of Bessemer will then improve greatly.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Lowe's sinks to new lows

Lowe's Home Improvement has succumbed to the pressures of right wing fringe groups and cancelled advertising on the TLC show "All American Muslim." The Florida Family Association (which obviously does not think much of Muslim families in their state) pressured the retail giant into pulling its ads and not re-instating them.

If you are not familiar with the show, here is a trailer.

The group said that the program was "propaganda that riskily hides the Islamic agenda's clear and present danger to American liberties and traditional values."

In other words, Lowe's fell victim to the same type of stereotyping and  hate mongering that the show is trying to dispel. California Senator Ted Lieu stated,

"We want to raise awareness so that consumers will know during this holiday shopping season that Lowe's is engaging in religious discrimination."

"Lowe's is engaging in religious discrimination." Think about this when you need a piece of plywood or a new light fixture for your front porch.

And I say that the Florida Family Association is engaging in spreading the type of hatred and intolerance that gets people killed. 

Lowe's is already on thin ice with progressives because of their lack of LGBT awareness. The Human Rights Campaign gives them a rating of 15 (on a scale of 0 to 100) compared to The Home Depot, which has an rating of 80. The rating is a measure of the level of support for LGBT persons in a company's policies.

I'll drive a little further to shop at Home Depot now, unless of course the toilet springs a leak and the bathroom is flooding and time is of the essence.

Here are some Home Depot employees from Sacramento at an event in Stockton, CA having some fun. Michael Jackson?

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Honestly, I don't understand it

I’m not sure I'm still in the country I was born in. Growing up in the heart of “the” civil rights struggle in Montgomery and later Birmingham, Alabama, I developed a sense of the good that the public can offer.  I recognized that society was wrong and that good people were doing something about it.

Fast forward half a century and my views have broadened. As a child, or even a teenager, I had a limited ability to understand the scope of history. I totally ignored that it took over 100 years for black people to gain their freedom after winning it as a result of the Civil War. I missed out on understanding how segregation was put in place for the purpose of keeping black people inferior, how interstates were built with the intent of destroying black communities, how voter laws were passed that made it difficult or impossible for black people to vote, how industries targeted poor (mostly black) communities for their polluting plants.

Here it is 2011 and I have been observing politics for years. I think politics brings out the worst in people (religion being a close second). When I hear the rhetoric of the (mostly) Republican presidential candidates, and (mostly) Republican members of Congress, and Republican governor Robert Bentley, and members of the Alabama legislature, I wonder what has really changed in the last 50 years.

In the 21st Century, with the technology we have, the ability to help others (especially overseas), the ability to develop green resources and abilities, the ability to understand science, the increasing understanding that we are not alone in this universe (and my personal disappointment that we won’t meet the real aliens in my lifetime), the awareness that we are all people of worth and all deserve life liberty and the pursuit of happiness (and health insurance); with all of this, I can’t understand why politicians and others are still arguing about the things they do.

How can people hold a belief that gay people are less worthy of equality than straight people? How can they not care that LGBT kids (or those perceived to be gay) are killing themselves?  Honestly, I don’t understand it.

How can people not care about the environment, given the knowledge we have about dwindling resources and climate change? Honestly, I don’t understand it.

How can people not want everyone to have equal access to health care? Honestly, I don’t understand it.

How can people still demonize people because of their race, considering the history of our state?  Honestly, I don’t understand it.

I do understand that people can have differing opinions, but there are some things where opinions don’t count. Like equality, for example. It doesn’t matter if one’s opinion is that gays are not worthy, or that it’s OK that teenage LGBT persons are still committing suicide. The fact is, in spite of an individual’s opinion, equality should be the norm, gays should be treated like everyone else, gay kids should be encouraged to be who they are, every individual should be allowed to marry the person they love and there should be no debate. Yet we spend decades arguing about it.

Here is one of many posts from this blog on suicides of young LGBT people, Deaths.

Or take climate change and the environment. Science indicates that the activities of man are contributing to a general warming of the planet. Scientists tell us that the climate change resulting from this will be expressed in various ways; that some areas may actually have colder temps, that weather extremes will be more common, that storms may be stronger. Yet others, who are only interested in their own profits, or the profits of the companies that fund them, are willing to ignore this and use our resources at whatever rate with no regard to preservation or the future.

Here is a post from  the past about Contrarians, those pesky climate change deniers.And here is a post I wrote on April 28, the day after the tornadoes here, about why global warming may have been the cause.

Now let’s look at health care. All the debate about health care was really about insurance, which actually is a completely different thing. Those who control insurance companies should have nothing to do with health care, and how it is administered or to what degree it is applied. There is no denying that thousands (or hundreds of thousands or millions) of people have benefited under the advances in health care administration since President Obama took office. Children can no longer be denied insurance because of pre-existing conditions, and in 2014 this will apply to adults as well. Young people can stay on their parent’s insurance until they turn 26. Over 24 million Medicare patients have received free preventive care benefits, and over 2.65 million have saved over $1.5 billion on prescription drugs. Alabama’s S-Chip program has been expanded and many more kids have insurance as a result. (S-Chip is not directly a part of Obamacare, but Republican president George W. Bush vetoed its reauthorization twice, while Obama expanded it after he came into office. Republican Tea Party member Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer has eliminated it in her state, giving us an idea of how Republicans feel about insuring the poor).

What I don’t understand is how Republicans can spend so much time and energy trying to take insurance (and access to health care) away from people. What I do understand is that if you are a senior, or have a young adult child, or a baby who is insured through All Kids (in Alabama), then there is no way you should vote for the Republicans in any office because they all want to take your insurance away.

Among my previous posts about health care are this one, Nurses, Doctors and "Real Christians" Support Health Care Reform; this one, Health Care Reform in Alabama - the facts; and this one, Is Health Care a Right.

As for immigration, everyone agrees that immigration reform is needed, and that border security needs to be enforced. But in Alabama, and in Georgia, Arizona and some other states, Republicans have passed legislation that makes second class citizens out of Hispanic people. We’ve tried that before; it was called segregation and Jim Crow back then.  Now it’s immigration and Juan Crow. The law was written by a racist legislator, Republican Scott Beason, and he still defends the entire law, even as the rest of the country and the world are laughing at us while pitying us because of it. Because of the current and future economic damage resulting from HB 56 some Republicans in our state are calling for changes to the law (recognize that this is because of money, not human dignity or worthiness).

And here is a post I wrote about immigration in Alabama, and a murder in our history related to it.

Anyway, I’ve been rambling, but what I really want to say, is that if you vote for a Republican (and some Democrats), then you:
  • Think it is OK to bully gay kids and others to the point of suicide, and OK to deny gay people a life equal to your own.
  • Think it is OK to abuse the earth, to poison our rivers and our air, and to do so to benefit the few at the expense of the many.
  • Think it is OK to deny health care benefits to seniors, and young adults, and babies, under certain circumstances.
  • Think it is OK to demean people because of the race, their color, their real or perceived immigration status, and OK to tear families apart, deny kids an education and make people live in fear.
I have no respect for the GOP. Oh, you may say there are good Republicans. No, if they were good, they would leave that party and stand up for what is right.

And now I have to throw this in. Jennifer Parsons Champion and Benny Watson are two local elected officials who recently changed from the Democratic Party to the Republican Party. I have no respect for either of these people, they have sold their soul to the devil as far as I'm concerned, and I will do what I can to see that they are defeated (after urging people to support them in the last election). If you don't understand why I said this, then refer to the bullet points above.

Now watch this video by Bon Iver. It will get you back into a good place. Holocene: we are living in it.

Monday, December 5, 2011


I've written about camellias before, and since that time I still haven't learned much about them. I will reiterate that I love them because they open after roses and most annuals have ceased their blooming.

This year the weather was a little odd and those who have visited us this year noticed that fresh roses and fresh camellias were both on display in our home during the end of November. That's a consequence of climate change (and the unpredictable weather that results) that I can live with.

My attention is now turned toward the camellias. There will be one or more varieties in bloom in our yard until the azaleas bloom in the Spring, so Winter will not be without fresh flowers outdoors, some of which will make it into our home.

Here are some photos of the ones that are blooming now.

The plant that these pink flowers came from is in the back yard, and is covered with blooms. This simple arrangement was used on the altar at church.

This plant is in front of the house. It has the largest blooms of any camellia plant in the yard. It is doing very well this year.

These two blooms are the same variety, under natural indoor light. The photo above was taken with a flash.

Just for comparison, here is the scene above using a flash. I prefer the natural (artificial) light.

The plant that produces these blooms did not do well last year, but is covered in buds now. It traditionally blooms during Christmas time, and reminds me of peppermint.

This pretty pink blossom is actually from earlier this year. This one doesn't bloom until February, but I thought I would include it just to show how they bloom regardless of the weather.

Anyway, for those of us who enjoy gardens and natural beauty, the camellia is one of the things that keeps us going through winter.

Friday, December 2, 2011

Holiday Tour of Homes - Bessemer

On Saturday, December 3 and Sunday, December 4 the Bessemer Historical Homeowners Association will present it's 2011 Lakewood Estates Holiday Tour of Homes.

Historic Lakewood Estates was established in 1925 by Mr. William Harper Lewis, a Bessemer banker and civic figure. The "Original Seven" homes were built between 1926 and 1929. Several of these are among the homes you will see on display.

Here are three of the Original Seven homes that will be on the tour.

I don't think there will be any snow this weekend, but the pictures of the homes in the snow are Christmasy.

Lakewood Estates is just off of 4th Avenue (Old Tuscaloosa Highway) in Bessemer. Google Lakewood Drive, Bessemer for a map.

The tour is from 1 pm to 5 pm on both Saturday and Sunday. Tickets $10 and are available at the tour.

The tour is sponsored by the Bessemer Historical Homeowners Association; Summer Classics; Milos; Brown Consulting, Inc; David Smith, Keller Williams Realty; and The Bright Star.

Monday, November 28, 2011

Suddenly things are better

All we've heard form Republicans is gloom and doom for the last three years. The American public apparently bought into it, and elected a bunch of Tea Party Republicans in 2010. But anyone with any sense knew that the recovery from the GOP induced recession would be a slow process.

Things were bound to get worse because of the election of Barack Obama as president. During the last few weeks of his campaign in 2008 I remember hearing callers on radio shows like Rush Limbaugh saying they were employers and were letting people go (i.e. firing them) because Obama was going to be elected.  In other words, they wanted things to look bad after his election. Limbaugh said he wanted president Obama to fail.

Apparently, they still feel that way. This sign is in Georgia.

I think Americans have opened their eyes to the Republican agenda (which is a spectrum of bad policy): do anything to keep Obama from getting re-elected (Mitch McConnell), even if it includes destroying the economy, and since it is no longer fashionable to hate black people, let's spread the hatred to brown people and gays, to point out a couple of things.

But of course all along we've been seeing signs of a recovering economy: stock market moving up, joblessness decreasing. Now, however, it's undeniable. Black Friday showed huge increases this year compared to last year, and predictions for cyber Monday (today) are the same.

Small business Saturday seemed to have good results also.  Even the president went into a small DC bookstore with his kids shopping on Saturday, at (gay friendly) Kramer Books on Dupont Circle.

So, if sales around the Christmas holiday are any indication of the mood of the country and the willingness of the public to forget the GOP hype and resume normal living, then this season may just be a turning point.

It's hard to imagine any of the Republican presidential candidates actually winning the general election after the things they have said and done (or denied doing). Even so, Democrats must realize that they can't take anything for granted, but with these indications that things are improving the wind will be let out of the sails of the GOP ship of fools.

It's not even December yet, but I am predicting a happy holiday season, and success for the democrats in 2012.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Early Bessemer

On Thursday, November 17, the Bessemer Hall of History will host Jason Burnett, author of "Early Bessemer," in celebration of the publication of the book.

Early Bessemer is a history of the city in pictures and should prove interesting to all of us in Bessemer. The pictures came from the Hall of History's collection, and date back to before the city was founded in 1887.

The celebration will last from 5 to 8 pm. 

Thursday, October 27, 2011

My soul has been restored

I visited the loveliest village this week, and in spite of what I saw at Toomer's Corner, my soul has been restored.

I was in Auburn for a book signing at the Gnu's Room, for my novel, Those Others. While there, I visited the Jule Collins Smith Museum of Fine Art, and saw an exhibit of Audubon works of birds and mammals, among other things. Oh, and this Dale Chihuly chandelier that hangs in the lobby.

At Toomer's corner, of course, I saw the once mighty oak trees now fighting for survival.

But while on campus I also discovered this tree.

Tucked in a corner of the campus Arboretum, (one of my favorite haunts when I was a student) is this tree, called the Founders Oak.

The plaque you see in the picture reads as follows.

This post oak started growth in 1850 and was 6 years old when East Alabama Male College was established. It was 33 years old when the Alabama Agricultural Station was established, 91 when the nation entered World War II, and over 100 when this site was made an arboretum. In 1975 Hurricane Eloise wreaked havoc in the arboretum but the Founder's Oak  withstood the storm. It was 150 years old at the start of the twenty-first century and is expected to be here at the start of the next century.

Also in the arboretum I saw this beautiful Pond Cypress and observed its "knees" between it and the pond.

Beautiful flowers were blooming.

I spent some time in Samford Park, of which I have fond memories. Here is Samford Hall, behind a burst of fall color.

I enjoyed the most wonderful fresh squeezed lemonade on earth.

These were the places I went to regain my sanity when college life seemed to be overwhelming. I'm glad that they are mostly unchanged (other than the oak trees on the corner) and still there for unwinding by current students.

War Eagle.

Friday, October 14, 2011

Occupy Bessemer (actually Birmingham)

Remember how when the Tea Party was being, I'm sorry, I won't take you back to that time.

Now we have the Occupy Wall Street protests spreading around the country.

Picture credit Diane on Facebook

This is Diane and her three rescue dogs, on the tundra near Bethel, Alaska.

She said, "The day is chill. The sentiment is solid. Find your spot. Occupy it. Even if it is only your own mind. Keep this going."

Locally, the effort started last week with just a few people.

Picture credit Occupy Birmingham on Facebook

People in Birmingham (at least Birmingham people on Facebook) have been waiting for years for something like this.

Oh yeah, what I was going to say about the Tea Party; remember when they were forming and people complained that no one knew what they stood for?  Well, I had my theory, but others determined it had to do with taxes.

People are saying the same thing about the 99% and Occupy; that they don't know what the movement stands for. Well, Rich has explained it in this Occupy Birmingham blog post.

Editorial: "What IS the 99%,  Exactly?"

I’ve seen a significant amount of misunderstanding on the concept of the claim that “we are the 99%”.  Most of the misunderstanding seems to come from skeptics as to the movement’s purpose and effectiveness (which is rather annoying, actually).  So, to combat the confusion, I thought I’d take a little bit of time to explain the concept in a little bit of depth.

Simply put, the wealthiest 1% is placed on one end of the equation, and the remaining 99% is placed on the other.  Why go after the top 1%?  Why not the top 3% or the top 10%?  The graph to the right shows that the top 1% is significantly different in terms of average household income (before and after taxes).  Their income has risen dramatically over the last 30 years while everyone else’s (the 99%)…. hasn’t.  As you can clearly see, the 1% is… special.  In effect, they made themselves “the 1%”; not the occupation movements which have sprouted all over the planet in recent weeks.

The editorial continues

We function as individuals.  Those that you see marching, protesting, and occupying have elected to do so on their own accord.  Those who are against the protesters and disagree with the occupiers are still a part of the equation and therefore the movement.  Their ideas are taken in and reviewed on the individual level and are considered just as important as everyone else’s.

Now I think that most of us understand that part of the problem lies in Washington.  For example, recently Alabama Senators Jeff Sessions and Richard Shelby both voted against President Obama's Jobs bill, thus voting against 18,800 jobs that would have been created in Alabama. Of course, the Republicans have their hands in the back pockets (where the wallet is) of corporate America, so it's all related.

Many of the occupiers have a problem with corporate funding of elections. The Supreme Court ruling in Citizens United in 2010 was the final straw for some of us.  This case held that the First Amendment protects corporate funding of political ads (and films).

Justice John Paul Stevens dissent summed up the feelings of many. Here is the conclusion of his dissent.

At bottom, the Court's opinion is thus a rejection of the common sense of the American people, who have recognized a need to prevent corporations from undermining self government since the founding, and who have fought against the distinctive corrupting potential of corporate electioneering since the days of Theodore Roosevelt. It is a strange time to repudiate that common sense. While American democracy is imperfect, few outside the majority of this Court would have thought its flaws included a dearth of corporate money in politics.

Others are upset at the financial crisis and resulting unemployment caused by the financial industry. And that no one has been held accountable.

Now the media is more interested in covering things like the disagreement over moving protesters out of parks (in New York) for cleaning rather than focusing on the real issues.

Regardless, there will be a protest in Birmingham (not Bessemer) Saturday at 2:00, at Railroad Park. And more than just a few people are expected. Here is part of the crowd at another Occupy Birmingham event.

Picture credit Occupy Birmingham

If you don't like your government being bought and paid for by corporations, and if you are concerned about the state of the economy and unemployment, and even if you are just concerned about the injustice caused by HB56, you should be there. After all, you ARE part of the 99%

Monday, October 10, 2011

By the grace of God

This morning I heard Joe Scarborough say, “Born Southern, by the grace of God.”

Well, I fall under that grace, I guess, having been born in Montgomery, Alabama.  A year later Rosa Parks refused to obey a bus driver and a movement was started in that city.

In 1959, we moved to Birmingham, actually to a suburb of the Magic City. A few years later, dogs and fire hoses were keeping black people at bay and churches were being bombed and little girls being killed.
And we are supposed to feel fortunate to having been born here?

“By the grace of God” is a phrase that has its modern roots in the legitimization of Christian monarchs who through Divine Right ruled over their subjects. So the phrase as applied to Southerners might infer that we have a Divine Right to the “rich heritage” and “way of life” that we Southerners enjoy.

That way of thinking is aristocratic; in fact,  it’s offensive.

Did the young black men whose lives were documented by Douglas Blackmon in “Slavery by Another Name” feel that they were “born Southern, by the grace of God?”

 Picture credit Slavery by Another Name

Are the Hispanic middle school students who were born in Marshall County and now being withdrawn from public schools convinced that they, too, were “born Southern by the grace of God?”

 Picture credit Huffington Post

Being born Southern might have some advantages, among them the good food that we enjoy, but even that has left many of us obese. By the grace of God, I guess.

 Picture credit Joe

And what about the 522 infants who died during the first year of their life during 2010 in Alabama? Yes, our infant mortality rate has improved during the past few years, but still, for over 500 babies whose mother could not access the resources to have a healthy pregnancy and child; it doesn’t seem that the grace of God was enough.

 Picture credit WAAY

The 1901 Alabama Constitution begins by “invoking the favor and guidance of Almighty God.”
Is it God’s favor that has brought Alabama to where it is today;  ranking near the bottom in education, ranking among the most obese, ranking among the worst in toxic air pollution, ranks near the last in internet access. In fact, Alabama ranked 48th in overall quality of life for children, which includes issues like health care, education and poverty.

No, it is not by the grace of God that we are born Southern. In fact, it is just by chance that any of us are born anywhere. There is no divine guidance in the race of the sperm to the egg.

And that one’s place of birth should determine their chance of making it through their first year of life, their chance of receiving a good education, their chance of developing obesity (and all the health issues that come with it), the chance of living in an area with clean air and water; is unfortunate, if not immoral.

Don’t insult God by implying that what we have in the South, and in particular Alabama, is the best he has to offer.  If that were the case, I would expect our state to rank highest in quality of life issues, and we are far from that.

Friday, September 23, 2011

Clown fest 3

Republican presidential candidates held their third debate last night.  I watched.

For those who missed it, here is the debate in 100 seconds.

Remember how President Obama was criticized for not holding his hand over his heart during the National Anthem? This picture was taken during last week's debate.

Can we assume that Rick Perry is un-American?  Is his patriotism questionable?

And Joe My God points out what we've heard from the three debates.

CHEERS for the death penalty.
CHEERS for letting people die without insurance.
BOOS for active duty gay soldiers.
I cannot believe that Republicans would boo an active duty soldier who is putting his life on the line every day for our nation. Of course, last week I couldn't believe they cheered for letting an uninsured 30 year old man in a coma (hypothetical) die, or that they would cheer because Texas murders a lot of it's citizens.

Seriously, though, while the president is out promoting his jobs plan around the country, his foes are not offering any solutions to the problems the country faces. All they can do is bash the administration. And they can't even be honest while doing it.

Some statements from last night's debate; there are more from this source.

BACHMANN: "President Obama has the lowest public approval ratings of any president in modern time."

THE FACTS: That's true, if you leave out Harry Truman, Richard Nixon, George W. Bush, Jimmy Carter, George H.W. Bush, Lyndon Johnson, Ronald Reagan, Bill Clinton and Gerald Ford. All of them at some point in their terms dipped lower than Obama's low point of 38 percent job approval, according to Gallup's comparison.

ROMNEY: "I don't support any particular program that he's describing," he said, disputing Perry's claim that Romney favors some of President Barack Obama's education initiatives, specifically the Race to the Top program.

THE FACTS: Romney was reluctant to tell Republican primary voters he doesn't hate every Obama policy. Romney does indeed support some of the specific policy changes encouraged by the Race to the Top program and said as much earlier in the week. Speaking in Miami on Wednesday, he praised the president's education secretary, Arne Duncan, for the program. And during the debate, Romney acknowledged supporting elements of the initiative, including teacher evaluations and charter schools.

BACHMANN: "I didn't make that claim nor did I make that statement," she said when asked by a moderator if she stood by her comment that the HPV vaccine against cervical cancer was "potentially dangerous."

THE FACTS: Bachmann can't escape the tape. Bachmann used that exact phrase during the last debate when she criticized Perry for trying to order pre-teen girls to get the vaccine in Texas. "Little girls who have a negative reaction to this potentially dangerous drug don't get a mulligan. They don't get a do-over," Bachmann said then. Bachmann has tried to distance herself from remarks she made after the debate linking the vaccine to mental retardation — a claim debunked by scientists. She said then and now she was relaying the story of another mother whose daughter had the shot.

PERRY: It's not the first time that Mitt has been wrong on some issues before. And the bottom line is, we never said that we were going to move this (Social Security) back to the states."

ROMNEY: "Well, it's different than what the governor put in his book just, what, six months (ago), and what you said in your interviews following the book. So I don't know. There's a Rick Perry out there (who) ... says that the federal government shouldn't be in the pension business, that it's unconstitutional. Unconstitutional and it should be returned to the states."

THE FACTS: In his book Perry heavily criticized Social Security, advocated states' rights and suggested federal entitlements were unconstitutional in general, but he never tied these beliefs together as succinctly as Romney claimed.
Even so, he danced close to branding Social Security as unconstitutional. He called Social Security the best example of a program that tosses "aside any respect for our founding principles of federalism." He also lamented: "If only the New Dealers had been kind enough to allow workers to make their own choice about whether to participate." And he said the program was introduced "at the expense of respect for the Constitution and limited government."

Republicans will have to choose one of these clowns as their candidate (or someone who has not entered the race yet). But American's will have the final choice, and surely we will not be fooled.  We must re-elect President Obama.

Thursday, September 22, 2011


No, gays are not the barbarians, as Michele Bachman's husband infamously said.

State governments that continue to execute citizens are barbaric.The individuals that sanctioned these executions, and that did nothing to prevent them from happening (i.e. SCOTUS, governors, boards of pardon) are barbarians.

This is 2011. We live in an educated and supposedly civilized society, yet today, in the Birmingham News, are at least 4 stories that reflect our culture of government killing its own citizens.

The most heart wrenching story is the execution of Troy Davis by the state of Georgia, who by most accounts is not guilty of the crime for which he was killed, and by all accounts had reasonable doubt established as to his guilt.

In this country, in which a vocal segment of the population claims to be "pro-life," isn't it odd that many of those same people are "pro-death."  And isn't it even odder, that so many of those same people claim to be Christians, yet their book of inspiration speaks of forgiveness and loving your enemies and commands us not to kill and not to seek retribution.

Last night  in Texas white supremacist Lawrence Russell was killed for the dragging death of James Byrd Jr., an African American who, along with Matthew Shepard are recognized in the name of the Matthew Shepard James Byrd Hate Crimes Prevention Act which strengthened the existing law and added LGBT protections. Governor Rick Perry, who gloats over his states record on killings to wild cheering from supporters, is probably dancing today.

In Alabama Derrick Mason is scheduled to die at 6:00 pm today. Mason apologized to his victim's family years ago and gave his life to God. The state (or an employee of the state) will insert a needle into his vein, and inject a liquid into his body that will kill him. How can a person do that?  Are they any better than the person they are killing? Even if it is rigged so they don't actually push the plunger, or know who starts the process, whatever they do to try to absolve their role in killing another human, it fails.

Also in Alabama the lawyer for a man charged in Shelby county of killing 5 people is asking for the trial to be moved. This is a death penalty case, and the prosecutor will ask the jury and judge to let the state kill him.

It may be hard to imagine how one might feel if a loved one was murdered. But that doesn't matter. We need to take the emotion out of the picture, and step back. Look at the process. The state does not like a citizen, or what he did, so the state kills him. That is sick. Again, this is 2011, and we live in a society that claims to be civilized. It's hard to make that claim, however, today.

Friday, September 2, 2011

Rally for Alabama's Future: Photo Essay

These photos were taken at the Rally for Alabama's Future: Repeal HB56. They are self explanatory.

Leviticus 19:33-34 - When a foreigner resides among you in your land, do not mistreat them. The foreigner residing among you must be treated as your native-born. Love them as yourself, for you were foreigners in Egypt. I am the LORD your God.

Friday, August 26, 2011

Do you want the berms or don't you?

Work has begun on the Norfolk Southern Birmingham Regional Intermodal Facility near McCalla. One local resident (who was admittedly against the facility) is sounding alarm bells because "large equipment" is mesmerizing the kids on the playground. Pat Breeden is the PTA president for McAdory Elementary School, and she says the "dust, noise, traffic and distractions" are "harming the children."

On a radio talk show the other day she said children (more than one) are coming home with "nosebleeds" and respiratory problems.

If you remember, in the plans we saw a berm that would be landscaped and have fencing to hide the facility and cut down on noise.

However, current plans include barriers or earthen berms, which will provide a variety of mitigation benefits including aesthetic improvements, security, and noise suppression, along much of the access road and around part of the Automatic Gate System (AGS) area. These barriers or landscaped berms, combined with existing vegetation and the distance between the road and residents in the area are expected to reduce sounds from the trucks to near ambient levels for those residents.

Norolk Southern is not Disney. They cannot wave a magic wand and create the berms. Earth must be moved. This is August. It's 100 degrees. The ground is dry. Dust is going to fly.

Breeden is quoted in the Birmingham News, "reports from children being so curious that during P. E. when walking or running the track they stop and stare at the large equipment. Again, we were very concerned about the distractions and proximity in the playground and how it could and does affect the students."

The kids need to get out more. They apparently have never seen large equipment.

What a teaching opportunity this could be. Kids, especially the boys, love big yellow construction equipment and this could put their pretend play with Tonka toys into reality!

The classes could study methods of transportation and how our nations goods are moved. Some history could be included regarding trains and how they have progressed from steam engines to modern diesels. This is a cool video of a steam engine barking up a hill.

The importance of the environmental study that was completed could be taught in science class. Here is an example of elementary kids studying the environment. It would be so easy to incorporate the environmental work leading up to the railroad hub into an elementary school project.

That is how it could be.

Instead, the kids are hearing (and they do hear and know what goes on) that Norfolk Southern is evil and causing sickness and dirtyness. How sad.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

End of the Bessemer!

In today's mail was a flier touting "End of World Prophesies" Coming to Bessemer. There is a picture of a winged lion and a five headed cheetah with wings a dragon and bear on the cover.

The event will be at the Bessemer Civic Center this weekend! There are daily meetings for 9 days.

"Beast from the bottomless pit"

"When a woman will rule" (this could actually be true if Michele Bachmann wins the presidency).

"The rise of the beast with the number 666"

"Born Half Dead"

"Prophecy of the Sundial"

OMG. I just looked at the back of the flier; this actually continues into September.

I want to know where in the bible it says a five headed cheetah with wings will usher in the end times.

What a crock.

I think I will just continue to live my life for good things, helping others, loving my neighbor, and take it as it comes. Nothing to get all hyped up about.

Monday, August 15, 2011

Rick Perry!!!

All excited about Rick Perry? Here in Alabama he created a stir when he breezed in and made a speech and then won the straw pole for the state Republicans.

Of course, in many cases, serpent can come in, make a fancy presentation, and win over the hearts and minds. Look what happened in the Garden of Eden.

And you may not recognize him as such, but Rick Perry is a serpent as well. No offense to my slithering friends (I sort of like snakes), but lets look at some facts.

He has a horrible record on the environment, as this Washington Post article shows us.

He "prays daily" for the EPA to fail, and has filed a lawsuit against them. He (and many Republicans) don't give a rat's hiney about the environment. Not if it interferes with drilling and spilling. I mean, he did make the claim that the Gulf oil spill was "an act of God." In other words, hating the Environmental Protection Agency, and claiming that a man made disaster is an act of God gives license to call anything that happens an act of God and release his or his cronies from responsibility of what might happen under their leadership.

I'll highlight a few other things here that Perry might not be so proud of, from Think Progress.

Rick Perry wants to do away with Medicaid and Social Security, or at least let states drop out of the social programs.

Rick Perry wants to do away with Federal Income Tax (from his book).

Rick Perry cut child services by $10 billion even though 1 in 4 Texas children lives in poverty.

Rick Perry wants to re-criminalize sodomy and advocated keeping the law on the Texas books even after the US Supreme Court ("nine oligarchs in robes") struck it down.

Rick Perry is a (this is where the slithering comes in) hypocrite that accepted billions of dollars in Federal stimulus money to balance the budget in Texas and fund highway projects, while criticizing the recovery program, saying that "we (Texas) can take care of ourselves." Sneaky snake.

Rick Perry says Texas might need to secede from the Union.

Rick Perry lies (more snake like activity) saying that Texas has "the best health care in the country." Texas also has the nation's highest uninsured rate. More than 25% of Texans lack health insurance, as opposed to a national average of 15.4%. Is that the "best health care?"

Rick Perry has that "I'm better than you" type of handshake/greeting and smirk, that is too, too much reminiscent of George W. Bush.

Ugh! Texas smug.

But listen, Perry and several of the other Republican candidates for president want to turn our country into a theocracy, but the majority of Americans recognize the separation of church and state. Perry even believes that God has "anointed him" to run (and if he wins, God will have anointed him President too, I'm sure).

Let's hope the majority of Americans also recognize the danger of electing this man as president.