Archive for February, 2007

Cheney Survives Assassination Attempt In Afghanistan

Tuesday, February 27th, 2007

Twenty-three other people weren’t so fortunate.  This doesn’t sound like the most competent of operations:

The incident took place at the outermost security gate of the sprawling base, far from where Mr. Cheney was staying at the time.

The Taliban claimed responsibility for the bombing and said Mr. Cheney was the target of the attack, news agencies reported. Qari Yousef Ahmadi, who claimed to be a Taliban spokesman, told the Associated Press: “We knew that Dick Cheney would be staying inside the base.” He said the bombing was carried out by Mullah Abdul Rahim.

Maybe Cheney would be safer if he just stayed in his “undisclosed location”.  I know our democracy would be.

Okay, I’m being jokey about this, but I’m glad he’s okay.

Jeff Sessions: In His Own Words

Monday, February 26th, 2007

Kyle Whitmire at Mixed Media has a post highlighting quotes from a recent speech by Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-AL).  Kyle refrains from editorial comment, and it’s really unnecessary in this case.  Jeff sounds like he might be channeling George W. on a bad day, particularly here:

“It’s [Alabama] a place I enjoy trying to represent with sanity and common sense. I try to promise that I would bring those values to the United States Senate. I don’t apologize for the values that we were raised with. I think they are valuable as we try to analyze the difficult choices the nation faces and I try to bring those to bear. Sometimes I think I must be crazy. Other people don’t agree with me.” [I'm not so sure about that. :)]

and here:

“CO2 is not a pollutant. It is what plants breathe. If there is more CO2 in the air, plants grow faster. They suck it out of the air. And we need to reduce CO2, the main greenhouse gas.”

For some reason, Jeff’s words bring to mind the old adage:

“Better to remain silent and be thought a fool than to speak out and remove all doubt.”

Libby Juror Out; Deliberations Continue

Monday, February 26th, 2007

Hmmm.  The judge in the Scooter Libby trial has dismissed one juror, saying she was exposed to some sort of trial coverage over the weekend.  The eleven remaining jurors continue to deliberate, as permitted by federal law.

I don’t know what this woman could have seen or heard that had anything to do with Libby or the trial.  The only news coverage I’ve seen for the past two weeks has concerned Anna Nicole Smith’s death or Britney Spears’ hair.

Medical Leave

Monday, February 26th, 2007

Sorry for the light posting around here, but we’ve had more upheaval in the medical field.  My mother-in-law went into the hospital early last week with a veritable u-pick of symptoms and possible diagnoses that finally settled on kidney infection.  She started treatment but wasn’t getting better as quickly as expected, and then Thursday morning she had what the doctors in her small-town hospital thought was a heart attack.  Lacking the facilities to treat her there, they sent her off to Big City Tennessee Hospital, where she was promptly placed in — no, not ICU — a room in the outpatient surgery area, the only one available at the time.  Dear Husband, my SIL, and Oldest Daughter all scooted up to see her, only to find that it was almost impossible to shoehorn even one extra person into the room.  She’s in a regular one now.

The BCTH docs didn’t think she’d had a heart attack after all, but they ordered a bunch of tests, which turned out to be a very good thing.  After various scans and, I’d be willing to bet, enough blood draws to feed a vampire for months, it was determined that she has a stone blocking the exit to one of her kidneys, hence the infection and, possibly, the breathing problems and other symptoms that led to suspicion of a heart attack.

She also has cardiomyopathy.  This is not a happy diagnosis, but it beats the hell out of the undiagnosed variety.  She had a cardiac catheterization this morning, which showed no blockage, so my limited knowledge (and Google searches) lead me to think there will be lots of medication and monitoring in her future.  I haven’t heard the doc’s report yet.

The kidney infection is clearing up, but she will need a couple of procedures to break up the stone — including an exciting visit with a lithotripter.  Back in a previous life, I wrote several Certificate of Need applications for lithotripters, and the name still makes me laugh.  It sounds like a fake high-tech device on Star Trek.  Having seen someone suffer through passing a stone, however, I’ll take the funny-name machine any day.

So, now we know something, even if it isn’t the best news.

Mixed Media

Friday, February 23rd, 2007

The Birmingham Weekly, my favorite local paper, has launched a new blog, Mixed Media.  Kyle Whitmire, the Weekly‘s excellent political writer, tells me they’re still tweaking the format, and I’m sure they would appreciate (constructive) feedback from more experienced bloggers.  And plenty of comments from their readers.

I enjoy reading the Weekly for its fine writers — Kyle, Courtney Haden, and others — and I really appreciate the analysis and perspective that come from having the time to dig into stories without the pressure of a daily (or hourly) deadline.  That said, news these days moves at the speed of broadband, and the blog can fulfill the need to cover breaking stories more quickly.

So welcome to the blogosphere, Mixed Media.  As your writers already know, there’s no shortage of blog fodder in Alabama.



Thursday, February 22nd, 2007

An anti-gay pastor who was busted for propositioning an undercover cop is claiming that his prosecution is unconstitutional — because Lawrence v. Texas legalized same sex activity.

The Rev. Lonnie W. Latham had supported a resolution calling on gays and lesbians to reject their “sinful, destructive lifestyle” before his Jan. 3, 2006, arrest outside the Habana Inn in Oklahoma City.

Authorities say he asked the undercover policeman to come up to his hotel for oral sex.

His attorney, Mack Martin, filed a motion to have the misdemeanor lewdness charge thrown out, saying the Supreme Court ruled in the 2003 decision Lawrence v. Texas that it was not illegal for consenting adults to engage in private homosexual acts.

He has a point.  Everyone agrees that there was no offer of payment, so this wasn’t a prostitution bust.  The activity, had it taken place, would have been within the confines of a hotel room, so there was no threat of public lewdness.  Just two consenting adults having fun.

And anyway, I’m sure the Rev. wasn’t really planning on getting a blow job — he was going to counsel the undercover cop to give up his “sinful, destructive lifestyle”.  Yeah, that was it.


It’s a Thick Book

Thursday, February 22nd, 2007

Have you been wondering why I frequently rant about the need for constitutional reform in Alabama? Here’s one way to find out: attend a showing of “It’s a Thick Book” when it comes to your part of the state — and invite your friends to join you. This documentary was created by Homewood High School graduate Lewis Lehe, and it looks to be quite entertaining as well as informative (see trailer here).

Film Schedule as of February 22, 2007: In Birmingham, Sunday, March 4, 3pm at Workplay (Contact: Amy Sedlis,, 205-910-7801). DOWNLOAD FLIER.

In Mobile, Monday, March 5, 7pm at Spring Hill College, Byrn Hall (Contact Leigh Ann Litwiller Berte,, 251-380-4499). DOWNLOAD FLIER.

In Huntsville, Monday, March 5, 7pm at Church of the Nativity (Contact Bill Goodson,, 256-536-7535). DOWNLOAD FLIER.

In Florence, Tuesday, March 6, 6:30pm at the Shoals Theater at the Corner of Seminary and Mobile Streets (Contact Barbara Nash,, 256-764-5961). DOWNLOAD FLIER.

In Montevallo, Wednesday, March 7, 7:00pm at University of Montevallo, Harman Building, Room 201 (Contact Jennifer Phillips,, 205-665-6180). DOWNLOAD FLIER.

In Tuscaloosa, Thursday, March 8, 7pm University of Alabama, Ferg Theatre, (Contact Matthew Lewis,, 334-462-5868). DOWNLOAD FLIER.

In Marion, Friday, March 9, 1:30am Judson College, Adams Armstrong Lecture Hall, (Contact Fightress Stallworth,, 205-393-5351). DOWNLOAD FLIER.

In Anniston, Friday, March 9, 7:30pm at Zannie Theatrein the Buckner Center (Contact: Amy Sedlis,, 205-910-7801). DOWNLOAD FLIER.

In Montgomery, Saturday, March 10, 2pm at Capri Theatre (Contact Rebecca Jackson,, 334-546-1549). DOWNLOAD FLIER.

Please visit the “Events” section of our web site ( in the future to find out when other venues have been scheduled.

After you see the film, you may be even more motivated to contact your state legislators and urge them to call a constitutional convention, or at least allow the people to vote on whether or not to have one.

The Libby Perjury Case Goes To the Jury

Wednesday, February 21st, 2007

The jury must reach a unanimous verdict on five charges.  If Libby is convicted, he could face up to thirty years in prison, although it’s unlikely the sentence would be that long.  The burning question?  If the jury finds him guilty, will Libby go down alone?  Or will he manage to take Karl Rove and Dick Cheney with him?

The other burning question?  Given the media’s obsession with Anna Nicole, Britney’s haircut, and diaper-wearing astronauts, does anyone in this country still care that the Bush administration outed a CIA agent for political revenge?

Coalition of the Willing? Not So Much…

Wednesday, February 21st, 2007

Prime Minister Tony Blair has announced that Britain will begin pulling its remaining 7,100 troops out of Iraq, just as Bush is sending 21,000 more US troops into the fray.  Our last major ally has wised up.  When will we?


Leonard Pitts: Good for Tim Hardaway

Tuesday, February 20th, 2007

UPDATE:  I cross-posted this piece at Pam’s place, and she added an interesting juxtaposition with Michael Medved’s analysis, which seems to be that a gay man in a locker room is the equivalent of an ugly fat woman.  Sexist and homophobic — two for the price of one. 

Ummm, wait a minute — that doesn’t sound like my beloved Leonard Pitts.  And actually, it isn’t how it sounds.  Mr. Pitts points out that Hardaway’s honest, in-your-face homophobia helps to rip the socially acceptable veil off this particular bigotry, just as Bull Conner and his dogs showed the true face of segregationism.

Let me tell you a story. It’s about a man named Bull Connor. In 1963, he was the police commissioner of Birmingham, Ala. Back then, Birmingham was pleased to be considered the most segregated city in the South. Then civil rights demonstrators under the leadership of Martin Luther King Jr. came to town. Connor directed the city’s response.

When you see those famous images of dogs attacking unarmed marchers and firefighters directing high-pressure hoses at men and women singing freedom songs, you are seeing Connor’s work. He was a hateful cuss, but there was a useful purity in his hate: The sheer violence of his response to the civil rights movement brought international condemnation and irresistible pressure for change.

Segregation was, for many people, still socially respectable in that era. Politicians defended it with honeyed euphemisms like ”state’s rights,” and preachers assured their flocks that it was God’s will. So you could be a segregationist and still feel good about yourself, still feel moral.

Connor inadvertently made that impossible. How moral can you feel when a guy is loosing dogs on children in your name? Connor stripped segregation naked. He made people face it for what it was.

And perhaps Tim Hardaway and others like him will do the same for homophobia.  It’s easy to hold onto casual disdain and erroneous assumptions when the people around you support your cruelty and self-deception.  Who’s being hurt, after all?  As long as the victims are invisible, unknown Others, it’s no big deal.  Anyway, why can’t those blacks gays keep to their place and stop demanding equal rights flaunting their “lifestyle”?  Their lives aren’t that bad; they just like to complain.  Right?

But then the world sees Bull Connor siccing dogs on children, spraying them with high pressure hoses, treating them as less than human while they respond, as they’ve responded for so long, with dignity and courage.  Much the same way the world heard Tim Hardaway go after John Amaechi, who had done nothing more than publicly acknowledge that he’s gay:

”I hate gay people,” he said, “so I let it be known. I don’t like gay people and I don’t like to be around gay people. I am homophobic. I don’t like it. It shouldn’t be in the world or in the United States.”

This wasn’t some socially acceptable expression of discomfort — it was flat-out “I hate you, and I wish you didn’t exist.”  And it’s the true feeling that lies behind a lot of the “hate the sin, love the sinner” crap that gets dished out by people like James Dobson, who insist they only want to “cure” a “disorder”.

There is something bracing in the matter-of-fact clarity of Hardaway’s declaration. He cut through the clutter of weasel words and half-truths that traditionally surrounds homophobia, showed us what lies behind honeyed euphemisms (”traditional values”) and claims to speak for God.

…So often, we use words to distance ourselves from what we feel, to hide our true meaning, even from ourselves. Hardaway used words to say exactly what he felt, and it is possible to abhor what he felt and yet appreciate that he does not make you guess or infer.

Think again of Connor, screaming obscenities under an Alabama sun. To hear him, to hear Hardaway, is to know that you have finally come down to it, finally met the beast that lives behind euphemism and weasel words.

And you — all of us — can fight it.