Archive for July, 2006

This Is Getting Ugly

Monday, July 31st, 2006

I posted on Friday that losing candidate Gaynell Hendricks’ mother-in-law has filed a challenge to the runoff results in Alabama House District 54. Today, there are more details available, and they constitute a nasty attack on Patricia Todd, who won the runoff by 59 votes.

In the election challenge, [Mattie] Childress claimed that the release of a campaign finance report by Todd was timed to prevent voters from knowing that Todd received a $25,000 contribution from the Gay & Lesbian Victory Fund. Voters also didn’t know that Todd made payments of $12,750 to two primary opponents who endorsed her, according to the challenge.

The contest claims Todd received illegal votes, and it challenged the way Jefferson County elections officials handled the returns.

“I want this controversy settled,” Childress told The Birmingham News. “This is happening like when Bush and Gore were running for president. I don’t like it.”

The article doesn’t define “illegal” votes. There was a problem on election night with a memory card at one precinct, and it was resolved at the time. Unfortunately, given that it’s fodder for the conspiracy theorists among us, the precinct was in Crestwood, which has a high percentage of gay residents.

And The Gaytm seems to be the core of Ms. Childress’ objection. She thinks voters wouldn’t have supported Patricia if they had only known she was — * gasp * — a lesbian. There’s a tiny problem with that assumption — Patricia has been out for years. Every news story I saw on her runoff victory mentioned that she would be the first openly gay legislator in Alabama history. This wasn’t a big revelation to anyone who was paying attention. And if the majority of voters in District 54 don’t care that she’s gay, why would they care that she received money from the Victory Fund? The Victory Fund offered to match all contributions to her runoff campaign that came in within a set 3-day period. I expect many of those voters gave money themselves. (Full disclosure: Husband and I did, even though we don’t live in her district. So sue us. Or not.)

Gaynell got herself into trouble with some voters that I know with her last minute appeal to “family values”. Now her mother-in-law is challenging the election with yet more veiled appeals to homophobia. I have a message for both of them: GET OVER IT!

Happy Second Blogiversary…

Monday, July 31st, 2006

…to Pam’s House Blend! Pam is one of the best in the blogosphere, and she’s been an inspiration for me. Head over and give her your best wishes.

What’s Happening?

Monday, July 31st, 2006

It’s a slow Monday around here. Kids and Husband are out of town, and the dogs are camera shy today. We’re keeping 26-Year-Old Daughter’s sweet Dalmatian mix, Meg. She and Prissy are the same age and have been best buds since they were tiny. She loves our big dogs too.

So — what’s happening in your part of the world?


Meg & Prissy


Prissy on guard


Freud & Rose with their short summer cuts


Meg busily not looking at me

Fighting Continues In Israel and Lebanon

Monday, July 31st, 2006

Israel has resumed air strikes after a short lull today, and Hezbollah continues rocket attacks and fighting on the ground. Israel had agreed to a 48-hour break in bombing while it investigated the civilian deaths in Qana, but apparently not everyone is on the same page.

I cofess I don’t understand Hezbollah’s motivation for forcing this confrontation. Yeah, it’s a chance to make Israel look bad, but the damage to Lebanon will take years to repair. Surely Hezbollah’s leaders know that, despite its wishes, Israel is not going to be wiped off the face of the earth.

And I wish Israel didn’t feel the need to go to war with the Lebanese people in response to provocation by Hezbollah. I can see its reasoning a bit better, but I’m afraid the appearance of overkill is just making more enemies.

Oh, for a simple answer to this mess. Too bad the international community can’t just send each side to its room to think it over. I can only hurt for the civilians who are caught in the middle and pray for cooler heads to prevail.

Weekend Kitten Blogging

Saturday, July 29th, 2006

Sleepy babies.

Gaynell Hendricks’ Mother-In-Law Contests District 54 Results

Friday, July 28th, 2006

The headline on the news flash cracks me up; it says a “voter” is contesting the results, as if some random person had stepped forward to file the papers. Instead, it’s the losing candidate’s mother-in-law. The Alabama Democratic Party plans to certify the vote totals today, and a hearing will be held on the contest within 10-20 days.

Wheeler at Alablawg has some good commentary on the racial dynamics at work in the race. He includes a link to Kyle Whitmire’s column in the Birmingham Weekly about the race. Here’s a snippet that blew both of us away:

At the end of a press conference Tuesday, I asked the mayor [Birmingham mayor Bernard Kincaid] his thoughts on the runoff elections that were underway. The mayor refused to answer questions about his previous comments on the radio, but he did say something that took me off guard: The mayor said he believes that white voters in Birmingham are conservative Republicans, particularly in Forest Park.

After the press conference, I asked [Birmingham City] Councilor Valerie Abbott, who represents those affluent Southside neighborhoods, which political party holds sway there. Without hesitating she said, “Democrats.” I told her that the mayor didn’t share her opinion.

“The mayor thinks that all white people are Republicans,” Abbott said. “What he doesn’t know is that all those people he’s thinking of moved to the suburbs about 20 years ago.”

From all appearances, Gaynell Hendricks wrote off the white vote, assuming — wrongly — that she couldn’t get it. She also did some last-minute phone call campaigning that stressed her support for “family values” in order, one presumes, to remind voters that her opponent, Patricia Todd, is a lesbian. Not a good idea in a district that includes the most vibrant gay neighborhoods in the city. If she hadn’t already turned off potential supporters, she certainly lost the gay and gay-friendly vote with that move.

I hope the citizens of District 54 can get this contest behind them and move on. No matter what the results, they will have a new representative in Montgomery, and that person will need their support and their input.

Happy Birthday…

Friday, July 28th, 2006

…to Dan at Between the Links, who gets to spend his big day packing and moving.

My Email To MSNBC

Thursday, July 27th, 2006

Taking the high road, for all the good it will do…

I have seen the ads hyping Chris Matthews’ interview with Ann Coulter, and they ask, “Has she finally gone too far this time?” I think a better question would be, “Has NBC management lost all sense of decency?”

Ann Coulter went too far when she began advocating the murder of those who disagree with her. The first instance I recall was in 2001, when she advocated the killing of Muslim leaders and forced conversion of Muslims to Christianity. She may be popular with a certain element that celebrates violence against the “other”, but she is not a credible commentator on current events and politics. However, rather than dismiss her on the basis of her hateful, almost unhinged rhetoric, NBC has seen fit to showcase her recently on the Today Show, The Big Idea, and now Hardball.

Ms. Coulter certainly has the right to express her opinion, as do I. But my right to freedom of speech does not come with the privilege of national television coverage. Neither does hers.

Ms. Coulter likes to say that she’s just joking when she makes her provocative statements. I believe she is either a huckster or a person in need of intensive mental health treatment. Either way, NBC’s ongoing coverage implies that your management believes her viewpoint worthy of respect. Please reconsider your ongoing promotion of Ms. Coulter and her “humor”.

Thank you.

If you’re interested in sending an email of your own, the address is hardball@msnbc.com

Abbas Says Release of Israeli Soldier Held By Hamas “Imminent”

Thursday, July 27th, 2006

UPDATE: Never mind.

Good. Maybe this will turn down the temperature in the Middle East just a bit.

Because We Don’t Really Need To Know What They’re Saying

Thursday, July 27th, 2006

An Arabic linguist has been discharged from the Army for being gay. Not only is this stupid, but it seems to violate even the stupid “Dont Ask, Don’t Tell” policy.

JOHNSON CITY, Tenn. – A decorated sergeant and Arabic language specialist was dismissed from the U.S. Army under the “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy, though he says he never told his superiors he was gay and his accuser was never identified.

Bleu Copas, 30, told The Associated Press he is gay, but said he was “outed” by a stream of anonymous e-mails to his superiors in the 82nd Airborne Division at Fort Bragg, N.C.

…An eight-month Army investigation culminated in Copas’ honorable discharge on Jan. 30 — less than four years after he enlisted, he said, out of a post-Sept. 11 sense of duty to his country.

So he wasn’t asked, and he didn’t tell. And he’s an Arab language specialist. Why on earth was he discharged?

The policy is becoming “a very effective weapon of vengeance in the armed forces” said Steve Ralls, a spokesman for the Servicemembers Legal Defense Network, a Washington-based watchdog organization that counseled Copas and is working to repeal “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.”

Copas said he was never open about his sexuality in the military and suspects his accuser was someone he mistakenly befriended and apparently slighted.

The Army wasn’t able to identify the accuser, but officials speculate it was a jealous former lover. So this man, with an exemplary service record and skills we desperately need, is no longer in the military, while the coward who sent anonymous emails goes unpunished.

…the GAO also noted that nearly 800 dismissed gay or lesbian service members had critical abilities, including 300 with important language skills. Fifty-five were proficient in Arabic, including Copas, a graduate of the Defense Language Institute in California.

Discharging and replacing them has cost the Pentagon nearly $369 million, according to the Center for the Study of Sexual Minorities in the Military at the University of California, Santa Barbara.

Wow! That’s a mghty expensive way to protect our soldiers from The Gaytm. And there was absolutely nothing stereotypical about the questioning that Sgt. Copas endured. Uh huh.

On Dec. 2, investigators formally interviewed Copas and asked if he understood the military’s policy on homosexuals, if he had any close acquaintances who were gay, and if he was involved in community theater. He answered affirmatively.

Gay acquaintances? Community theater? Highly suspicious. Because, as we all know, The Gaytm will rub off on you if you get too close to it.

It is time for the military to dump “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” and to start judging soldiers by their performance, not their sexual orientation.