Archive for September, 2005

See No Gayness, Hear No Gayness

Friday, September 30th, 2005

Jennifer at Intous pointed me to this story. Seems an ad for “Come Out Knoxville” caused trouble for the Fountain City Focus.

The original ad purchased by the Rainbow Community Awareness Project to appear in the Fountain City Focus contained the words “gay” and “lesbian” printed several times.

The ad said “Come Out Knoxville, a national coming out day celebration.” It included a listing of the bands playing and the address of the organization’s Web site.

The ad the newspaper agreed to run has all the language referencing gay and lesbian removed.

Instead, it contains just one picture of an artist and a listing of where and when the event is taking place.

Shortly after the first ad was presented to the Fountain City Focus, the paper received pressure from special interest groups to not run the ad.

So publisher Steve Hunley and other representatives at the weekly paper agreed to sit down with Gary Elgin, director of the Rainbow Community Awareness Project.

“Steve Hunley is a very kind man and I think he has made steps to embrace us as a community,” said Elgin. “He’s not going to run the ad as we had designed it, but he has agreed to run an ad of one of our events and that’s a step. That’s building a bridge, board by board.”

Hunley was out of town and unavailable for comment, but released a statement Thursday saying, “The Fountain City Focus is a community newspaper. Our focus is on the positive aspects of community. We choose not to involve ourselves in controversial social, cultural or religious issues. We prefer to leave that to the mainstream media.”

I guess Mr. Elgin is right; running the ad at all is a step in the right direction, although I’d say it’s a bit overdue for 2005. I’d also like to know which “special interest” groups complained.

Too bad community newspapers think they still have to pretend there’s no such thing as gay people.

Cross-posted on Alabama Chronicle.

These Stories Require a New Category

Friday, September 30th, 2005

Racism is alive and well around the world. I know that’s not a surprise to anyone, but the manifestation of the racism is horrific:

White South African farmer sentenced to life in prison for throwing black worker to the lions

Bill Bennett just can’t understand why anyone would be upset that he thinks we could cut the crime rate by aborting black babies

So one kills them after they’re born, and the other (who is supposed to be anti-abortion) thinks life would be better if we made sure they weren’t born? I’ve been so horrified by Bill Bennett’s remarks that I have found myself speechless. It is just unbelievable that anyone would say this in 2005, even as a hypothetical or whatever other excuse he uses.

I’m sure Bill Bennett will never make this connection, but the torture and murder of a black farm worker is the logical outcome of accepting comments like his and making them acceptable. I will defend forever his right to say what he thinks, but he can’t possibly expect civilized, thinking people to excuse his racist stupidity.

And I certainly hope that Mark Scott-Crossley enjoys his time in prison.

Boeing Apologizes for Mosque Attack Ad

Friday, September 30th, 2005

Boeing and the National Journal have apologized for publishing an Osprey aircraft ad showing a simulated attack on a mosque. It’s good to know this ad was published “inadvertently” and that everyone involved is really, really sorry. But why on earth would Boeing have approved the concept in the first place? What would they think about an ad showing the bombing of a church or a synagogue?

Check Out Blue Gal

Thursday, September 29th, 2005

Cool! There’s yet another liberal suburban housewife blogger here in Birmingham. We need all the progressive voices we can get. Check out Blue Gal and leave some comments so she’ll know you’ve been there.

Thursday Funnies

Thursday, September 29th, 2005

Here’s an indepth interview with Bush’s speechwriter (wink, wink). Enjoy!

And for all of you who have been worried about damage to the Bush’s Houston home, fear not! Cleanup will be easy, as long as Barbara doesn’t strain herself bending over.

Thanks to Lindsay and Lisa for the pointers.

Shakes Sis Needs Your Help

Thursday, September 29th, 2005

Those of you who have been checking in here for a while may also have had the pleasure of clicking over to Shakespeare’s Sister and reading brilliant prose along with biting political commentary. Shakes Sis and Mr. Shakes have just received the double whammy of a 100% increase in their property tax and Sis being laid off from her job.

I’m a great believer in writers being paid for their work. It takes time and effort, research and creativity, and it adds value to the lives of readers. Surf on over to Shakespeare’s Sister, make a donation if you can, and pass along any job leads (in marketing and advertising, preferably in the Chicago area) you may have.

Roberts Confirmed as New Chief Justice

Thursday, September 29th, 2005

I hope he’ll be better than I’m afraid he’ll be — if that makes any sense. Now it’s on to nomination #2. Any guesses as to who will get the nod?

SEC Opens Full Probe into Frist Stock Sale

Thursday, September 29th, 2005

Don’t worry, Dr. Frist. This won’t hurt — much….

WASHINGTON (AP) — While insiders at HCA Inc. were selling millions of dollars of their own stock this year, they were also painting a sunny picture of the company’s outlook for investors. Federal prosecutors and the Securities and Exchange Commission are investigating the sale of HCA stock by Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist, R-Tenn., whose family founded the company that grew into the nation’s largest for-profit health care chain.

The SEC turned its initial inquiry into a formal investigation of the company, HCA announced Thursday. The company said it is cooperating with investigators.

Frist’s office said Wednesday that he had gotten notice of a formal investigation, which grants subpoena powers to investigators to obtain information and documents.

On June 14, the day after Frist ordered his shares sold, HCA officers at a Goldman Sachs health care conference in Laguna Niguel, Calif., spoke optimistically about the company’s prospects.

Victor Campbell, HCA’s senior vice president of corporate communications and government relations, soothed investor concerns about unpaid patient debts and worries about patient volumes. He also advocated for a still-pending Senate bill that would limit the establishment of physician-owned specialty hospitals and called Washington “my favorite place … where I spend at least a day or two a week.”

In the month before the speech, Campbell sold about $12 million worth of stock. It was part of a massive insider sell-off at HCA that totaled some $112 million between January and June 2005.

HCA shares peaked about a week later, closing at $58.40 on June 22. On July 13, they tumbled 9 percent following the company’s announcement that it would not meet earnings expectations.

Bill Frist says he only sold that HCA stock to avoid the appearance of impropriety. I think he wanted to avoid the appearance of red ink on the income statement of his “blind” trust.

When all this is over, maybe Bill Frist can get his own talk show. I just hope he won’t try to make long-distance diagnoses.

Maybe Michael Brown Can Get a Job with Carnival

Thursday, September 29th, 2005

Here’s an example of fine corporate citizenship. In the aftermath of Katrina, FEMA, desparate to obtain housing for people displaced by the storm, got itself into a no-bid contract to pay Carnival Cruise Lines $236 million for the use of three ships. The cost is more than double what you or I might pay for a seven-day cruise — every week for six months.

To critics, the price is exorbitant. If the ships were at capacity, with 7,116 evacuees, for six months, the price per evacuee would total $1,275 a week, according to calculations by aides to Sen. Tom Coburn, R-Okla. A seven-day western Caribbean cruise out of Galveston can be had for $599 a person — and that would include entertainment and the cost of actually making the ship move.

Government negotiators defend the deal, saying Carnival only charged “market” rates.

Government contracting officials defended the deal. “They were the market,” Capt. Joe Manna, director of contracts at the [US Military] Sealift Command, said of Carnival. “Under the circumstances, I’d say we’re getting a pretty good value.”

Carnival, based in Miami, is incorporated for tax purposes in Panama to shelter its income. And shelter it does:

The Carnival deal has come under particular scrutiny. Not only are questions being raised over the contract’s cost, but congressional investigators are examining the company’s tax status. Carnival, which is based in Miami but incorporated for tax purposes in Panama, paid just $3 million in income tax benefits on $1.9 billion in pretax income last year, according to company documents.

“That’s not even a tip,” said Robert McIntyre of Citizens for Tax Justice. U.S. companies in general pay an effective income tax rate of about 25 percent, analysts say. That would have left Carnival with a $475 million tax bill.

So, let’s see. Carnival sees a chance to take advantage of a natural disaster and charges what actually appear to be well above market rates to provide temporary shelter for evacuees. Carnival, a US-based company, does everything possible to avoid paying US taxes. It’s a win-win situation for Carnival. And lose-lose for the rest of us.

Roy Blunt To Become House Majority Leader

Wednesday, September 28th, 2005

Rep. Roy Blunt (R-Missouri) has been elected the interim House Majority Leader. He will share responsibilities with David Dreier of California. Early reports had Dreier moving into the Majority Leader position, but he is widely perceived to be a bit too circumspect about his sexual orientation. In other words, he’s 52 and single, and he refuses to confirm that he is straight. Given the homophobia of many Republican officeholders, and the religious right, you’d think he’d be proclaiming it from the rooftops.

The Family Research Council is thrilled by Blunt’s election. That gives me the shivers.

Meanwhile, Tom DeLay expects that he will soon be back in the saddle.

“If the Democrats think we’re going to go crawl in a hole and not accomplish our agenda, I wish they could have been a fly on the wall and seen these members come together for a bold and aggressive agenda,” he said.

“What I told the members basically was, we all know what this is — a political witch hunt,” he said.

Tom is, of course, innocent till proven guilty of these particular charges, but he is far from pure. He has been rebuked repeatedly by the House Ethics Committee. He tried his best to change the ethics rules in order to prevent further investigation and to allow him to remain Majority Leader in the event of his indictment, but public outcry and pressure from Democrats stopped him for once.

The Republican spin on this story may make Katrina look weak by comparison. I have two words for them: “Terri Schiavo“.

Hold on; it’s going to be a bumpy ride.