The Year of Moving Forward

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

Friday, July 29, 2011

Some thoughts on the debt

Do you think the national debt is a new thing?

John Adams entered the presidency in 1797 with a national debt of $82,064,439. This equaled around $15 per person with a population of 5,308,483.

His son, John Quincy Adams began his presidency in 1825 with a debt of $83,788,433. The population had increased to 12,866,020, so the amount per person was $6.50. I wonder how many people in 1825 could afford $6.50.

By the time his successor, Andrew Jackson, left the office in 1837, the debt had decreased to $336,958, around two and a half cents per person (I don't know the population in 1837, this is based on the 1929 population.)

None of that has anything to do with today's debt; it's just to show that we have always run the country in the red.

What about our current debt?

This chart is from the New York Times.

It may be hard to see, you can see a larger pic at the link. But let me summarize.

All but 1 trillion of the $14.3 trillion that we owe comes from Reagan forward.

Republicans: Reagan (1.9 trillion), George HW Bush (1.5), and GW Bush (6.1) are responsible for 9.5 trillion of the debt.

Democrats: Clinton (1.4) and Obama (2.4) are responsible for 3.8 trillion.

In other words, Republicans are responsible for two and a half times as much of the national debt as Democrats.

The Tea Party house members are acting reckless in this "debate." They forgot that they came to Washington to govern. They do not realize that change is always slow in coming. Obama ran on a platform of change but could not come in and create all the change he wanted immediately. Likewise, extremist Republicans can't either.

We hear so much about those "freshman" legislators and their new found power.

But Alabama has a freshman legislator too, who speaks sensibly about the Boehner's bill.

Watch freshman legislator Terri Sewell speaking on the house floor yesterday.

As for the 14th Amendment and the possibility of the President invoking it to raise the debt ceiling...

Remember, this is the Amendment that allows persons born in this country to be citizens, and that contains the equal protection clause that will eventually be used to allow same sex couples to marry across the country. Right wingers already want to do away with the 14th amendment, and they will go crazy if the president uses this option.

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Teaching your kids to hate

I took these pictures off of this web site.

This drives me crazy.

Parents took their kids to protest the marriages in New York. It was pretty much a hate rally.

They are teaching their children to discriminate. And to hate.

It is no coincidence that most of the pictures on the web site are kids of color. The point is that their parents have faced discrimination, and now have some degree of protection from discrimination (although institutional discrimination still is prevalent), yet they think it is OK to teach bigotry to their kids?

Do you really want to teach your child that it is worse for me to love somebody and to commit my life to being with that person than it was for that man to murder the young Jewish boy and cut him up?

Do you realize that this is what makes people like Steve Mullins and Charles Butler think its OK to murder someone like Billy Jack Gaither in 1999 in Sylacauga, AL; or Chris Gaines and Robert Porter and Nichole Kelsay to murder Scotty Joe Weaver in 2004 in Baldwin county, AL.

Father, what if this child is gay?

These women took this child by the hand and are see nothing wrong with showing him how to discriminate.

Like I said, it just bothers the stew out of me to see people teaching their children to hate. This is 2011. We should love one another.

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

I've been busy

You may think I've fallen off a cliff or something since I have not been posting on Bessemer Opinions lately. But my writing has taken me to different sites. If you have not been following, Here are some links.

Equality Alabama staged a "takeover" of Full Moon Bar-B-Que in Hoover earlier this month. I covered this for Examiner.

The Western Star printed an article about Bessemer pride that I wrote.

Then they printed a letter from Snuffy Garrett in response.

I spent some time writing responses to Garrett's ill-informed letter.

The Western Star printed my 1700 word response (here, on Scribd) to his challenge that I find support for my "lifestyle" in the Bible.

And I wrote another article for Examiner regarding the Human Rights Campaign bus tour that is coming to Alabama in October.

And all the while my thoughts on the debt ceiling crisis and the unwillingness of the Republicans to compromise are swirling around in my head. Coming soon.

Tears Dry On Their Own, by Amy Winehouse.

Saturday, July 16, 2011


In Alabama each year 820 lives are lost due to second hand smoke.

Bessemer has a weak anti-smoking law, passed in 2008 (that was largely ignored when first passed).

Fultondale has now passed the gold standard of smoking ordinances.

Bessemer needs to strengthen its smoking ordinance to prohibit smoking in all public places, and may be the city to watch, according to those who monitor such things.

They are wondering if public support is behind the move. Not sure, but the ones who vote are the city council members, and 5 of the 7, along with the mayor, were at today's Smokefree Bessemer Soul Walk.

There were 820 pairs of shoes, donated by individuals and representing other individuals who had died from second hand smoke.

Of course, some of the shoes were worthy of donation for other reasons, but I digress. (And actually, I think the shoes are kind of cool).

But seriously, this is an important issue and the Progressive Bessemer Coalition supports it. Now its up to the City Council.

"Everyone Has the Right to Breathe Smokefree Air"

Unfortunately, there is no safe level of exposure to secondhand smoke. The only way to protect yourself is to avoid it as much as possible. When out in public, choose to spend time at smokefree venues and try to stay away from those who are smoking. If you smoke, do so outdoors and in open areas away from others, especially children and other high risk people. Also, try quitting :-)

• Smoking kills more people than alcohol, AIDS, car crashes, illegal drugs, murders, and suicides combined.

• There are 4,000 harmful chemicals in tobacco and 40+ known components that are responsible for causing cancer.

• Poisons in tobacco include arsenic, cyanide, formaldehyde (which is used to preserve dead bodies), and ammonia bromide (the main agent used in toilet cleaner).

• Approximately 7,400 Alabama adults die each year from their own smoking, and more than 820 Alabama adults nonsmokers die each year from secondhand smoke..

• Over time, being around secondhand smoke can cause chronic lung problems, lung cancer and heart disease in non-smoking adults and lung and ear infections, asthma and Sudden infant Death Syndrome (SIDS) in children.

• People who use smokeless tobacco are 50 times more likely to get cancer of the cheek and gums.

• Secondhand smoke kills 40,000 people every year.

• 76.8% of Alabamians DON’T smoke

• Smokefree policies encourage smokers to quit and discourage youth from starting.

Friday, July 8, 2011


I absolutely love visiting places where early civilizations lived and transferring myself into their realm, dissolving any knowledge of science or modernity and imagining what I would think of stars, the moon, poison ivy, storms, my attraction to men, and other things. How would we deal with those things without our knowledge, amassed over thousands of years?

Moundville is not far from Bessemer, and I visited there this week. If you don't know, Moundville represents a Native American culture that inhabited the area hundreds of years ago. Much of what we understand about this "prehistoric" city is by representation of what has been learned with our modern idea of what was.

Photo Credit University of Alabama Museums

This is a reenactor in costume. This is what we suppose a man of ancient "Moundville" looked like. Nice. But I digress.

Moundville was occupied from around 1000AD to 1450 AD. It was a hubbub of activity, spreading over 325 acres with 29 earthen mounds and dwellings for thousands of people. It was a center of political and religious activity. The decline and eventual abandonment of the center remains a mystery.

What did these people believe about nature and cosmic forces? This three dimensional eagle emerging from the clouds in the museum makes me wonder.

In some areas we are more precise in our knowledge.

Known as the "Moundville Duck Bowl," in 1906 this carved piece was touted as the most remarkable piece of sculpture ever discovered north of Mexico on the American continent.

This painted ceramic bottle is typical of the type of vessels found at Moundville. Sorry my picture is not of good quality, but I will come back to this picture in a minute.

There are life size representations of daily life, also in the museum.

The museum at Moundville is world class. Take a day and go visit.

But, did you know, that even closer, even older Indian mounds have been found. The Bessemer Mounds were once located in what is now Bessemer city limits and were occupied as early as 800 AD.

There were three mounds; a ceremonial mound, a burial mound and a domiciliary mound. You can read about the discovery and excavation of these mounds here. You can also learn there that the mounds no longer exist.

The actual mounds were destroyed during the excavations. Recent development, including a theme park, an outlet mall, and the Jefferson County Sewer and Garbage Disposal Plant, have destroyed a large part of the Indian village site.

Future development threatens to totally destroy what is left.

It is sad that so much of the site has been destroyed, but what remains could still become an archaeological park that would be an asset to the city and state. This would require some common sense and foresight.

Here is a picture of a bowl and a bottle found at the Bessemer site.

Picture credit University of Alabama Museums

Compare these bottles with the one from Moundville, which was probably made hundreds of years later. The structure and the decoration both seem to be more primitive in these Bessemer bottles. That is a layman's observation based on nothing more than photographs, but it makes one think about progress.

It is a shame that forward thinking (or backward appreciating) people were not successful in preserving the sites around Bessemer. We might have had a nice historical attraction of our own.

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Gay Pride in Bessemer!

The following article appeared in this week's Western Star. This is evidence that equality events can and should take place in small communities as well as in large cities.

Jonesboro Community Garden turns into brightly colored beacon of equality

On Saturday, June 25th, Jonesboro Community Garden in Bessemer turned into a brightly colored beacon of equality, as Gay Pride was celebrated for the first time in Bessemer. The event was sponsored by Bessemer Equality, a Facebook group, and Equality Alabama, a statewide advocacy organization for the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community.

Several dozen people representing the racial and sexual diversity of Bessemer attended the event, and the park welcomed them with a rainbow of colors. Letters in the colors of the rainbow flag spelled out “Bessemer Pride!” and a rainbow flag and a historic U. S. flag flew from the gazebo.

Just like an old time church social, the event was pot luck. Those in attendance shared barbecue ribs, potato salad, fresh fruit, bacon cheese bread, pizza, cinnamon bread, cup cakes and more. Toddlers chased bubbles being produced by a bubble machine. Music played from a system set up in the gazebo. “New York, New York,” sung by Liza Minelli, was played several times to commemorate the approval of marriage equality in New York state, which had happened just hours earlier.

In addition to Equality Alabama, Alabama Citizens for Constitutional Reform, had a display. ACCR is a nonprofit group seeking to draft a new state constitution.

Bessemer Historical Homeowners Association also had a display, with large photos of historical homes in our areas, and promoted home ownership with displays and literature of homes that are for sale in the city.

Surprisingly, they also featured a photo display that portrayed economic development in Bessemer. The new DHR building, the Norfolk Southern railroad hub, and the Dollar General distribution center, were pictured.

One of their displays featured a poster sized reprint of an article from USA Today titled “Gay-tolerant societies prosper economically.”

An artist and jewelry maker rounded out the displays.

One of the aims of the event was to bring the gay community and the straight community together. An estimate reveals that two thirds of the people there were straight, so it certainly achieved that goal.

Thanks to all who helped put on this event, and to those who came. Bessemer is on the move, as evidenced by this recent article in the Birmingham News. As the article in USA today said, gay tolerant societies prosper, and here is the proof.