Archive for November, 2007

Breaking: Bloggers Meet F2F — World Doesn’t End

Friday, November 30th, 2007

Co-blogger Del made a trek to Birmingham today, and we finally met for real. We spent a couple of hours chatting over margaritas and chips, and she’s just as delightful and funny in person as she is on the blog and in our frequent email exchanges.

One of the coolest things about the Intertubes is meeting — online and f2f — people I never would have known otherwise. It’s a small world, and I’m glad I get to share it with so many talented, intelligent, and downright fun people.

Another angle on Trent Lott’s sudden decision

Thursday, November 29th, 2007

There was something new in today’s paper. Dickie Scruggs, Katrina, bribery. Gosh, there are just so many possibilities. Maybe he was accepting bribes, passing them on to judges, and enjoying the services of “rent-boys”!

Another One Bites the Dust

Monday, November 26th, 2007

Sen. Trent Lott (R-MS) plans to resign his seat effective at year end according to sources in Congress and the Bush administration. Those sources aren’t giving any reason for his resignation other than to say it has nothing to do with his health. He’s going to pursue “other opportunities”. Hmmm. Lott was elected to a fourth Senate term in 2006, and he’s leaving now? Curiouser and curiouser. He’s the sixth Republican to resign this year.

Mississippi’s Republican governor will appoint a replacement who will serve until a special election in 2008. Former Rep. Chip Pickering, who recently retired from the House, is considered the top pick.  Stay tuned.

It’s Personal

Sunday, November 25th, 2007

My pal Hill Carmichael, Coordinator of the Constitutional Reform Education Campaign at Greater Birmingham Ministries, has a great piece in today’s Birmingham News. Hill’s great-grandfather was a delegate to the 1901 constitutional convention.

…According to convention President John B. Knox, the delegates set out “to establish white supremacy in this state.” To accomplish their goal, the delegates devised a system of government designed to centralize political power in Montgomery, strip cities and counties of the authority to make their own decisions, and discourage black and poor white voters from participating in the democratic process. No constitution is perfect, but the 1901 Alabama Constitution, which remains in effect today, has been almost perfect in achieving what it set out to do.

I am the great-grandson of Archibald Hill Carmichael. I share his name – he was the first, I am the fourth. I am neither a lawyer nor a politician. Instead, I work at Greater Birmingham Ministries, where my sole focus is to coordinate a statewide campaign to create and adopt a new state constitution. So there is something personal about this campaign to educate Alabama citizens about the 1901 Constitution, because my name is literally on it.

But your name is on it, too, as is the name of every Alabamian who allows the 1901 Constitution to remain in effect. By our complacency, we reratify the 1901 Constitution every year. [emphasis mine]

The 1901 Constitution is no more personal to me than it is to hundreds of local leaders in Alabama who cannot do what they know is best for their cities and counties without first asking Montgomery for permission. It is personal to the thousands of Alabamians who, as they struggle to make ends meet, are forced to pay absurdly high sales taxes on basic necessities like food, medicine and baby supplies. It is personal to the public schoolteacher who holds her breath and crosses her fingers every year, hoping and praying that our highly volatile tax revenues are high enough to avoid another year of proration and outdated textbooks. And it is very personal to the thousands of schoolchildren languishing in underfunded schools in the Black Belt, for whom the American Dream will be deferred until the adults decide to scrap a system of taxation that is doing exactly what it was designed to do: keep the wealthy landowners in their rural counties from paying their fair share of taxes…

“By our complacency, we reratify the 1901 Constitution every year.” We reratify a document that has proven so inadequate to the needs of our state that it has been amended 799 times in 106 years (the US constitution, by contrast, has been amended 27 times). That’s an indictment, but also a challenge. How long are we going to wait to meet it?

This creeps me out

Sunday, November 25th, 2007

I just visited the official website for the Coen brother’s new picture, No Country for Old Men. I clicked on the trailer link and before they would let me watch it, they wanted to know if I was 17. So I filled in a fake name and zipcode, as usual, and picked a random birthyear, leaving “January 1″ filled in out of sheer laziness. Well, after several unsuccessful tries I read the small print, which said something like, “fill in your name, zipcode and birthdate as it appears on your state driver’s license or ID.” I was so stunned that I actually did so, and IMMEDIATELY, with no lag at all, up pops the trailer. (Looks like a damned good movie.)

This is freaking me out, and I don’t mean in a freak-dancing way, either. Let alone the fact that they can’t make a PG-13 trailer (the movie is so violent they probably couldn’t come up with enough blood-free clips) — who exactly is policing movie trailers on the internet? Who decided it was so important that they needed access to the actual state (soon to be national, of course) ID database? Where else is this information going?

I’m feeling really big-brothered right now. Oh, I know, it was my choice  to watch the trailer. Well, next time I’ll just fill in somebody else’s name and birthdate. Heh-heh. That’ll show ‘em.

War Eagle!

Saturday, November 24th, 2007

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17-10. That is all.

Betsy Hart, supermom

Saturday, November 24th, 2007

This piece actually appeared in today’s Mobile paper, but since I am unable to find it online I’ve linked to the Charlotte News-Observer. (al.com, worst website ever.) Anyway, Betsy Hart, who I can’t say I know much about, has resolved to chaperone every single one of her four (4) children’s school dances, or at least the ones they are “allowed to attend.” This is because she read a story about a mom chaperoning in Argyle, Texas, who tried to separate couples doing some kind of (how I hate this vulgar term, but now is the time to use it) dry-hump thing called the “freak dance.” Mayhem ensued.

I’m reading this on low caffeine, but what I’m taking away for right now is this:

1) There is NOTHING that could induce me to chaperone a school dance. NOTHING. No matter how freaky the terpsichorean antics.

2) $400 is an awful lot to pay for a prom dress. But then, I read on a message board recently that “prom is about the most formal dress occasion you will ever have, except for your wedding.” For a lot of people, I guess that’s true. Me, I’m glad I live in a town with Mardi Gras balls.

3) No matter what other permissive parents do, Ms. Hart intends to “find out what’s going on, turn up the lights at all times and always be ready to protect them from themselves whether they like it (or us!) or not.” I’m wondering, just how long will she keep this up? Will she chaperone her children’s dates? Will she be there in the college dorm “turning up the lights”? I can just see her offspring on his wedding night…room service knocks at the door and the poor kid jumps out of his skin.

Betsy, honey, they grow up. They’re sexual creatures. No, you don’t install a waterbed in their rooms, put a mirror on the ceiling and a deadbolt on the door and tell them to have at it; but at some point, when they start going away further and further and staying away longer and longer, you have to recognize that you can’t control what they do, that you’re not always going to be able to turn up the lights and find out what’s going on. And that the best way to make sure nothing regrettable happens is to make sure they’re prepared. Prepared not to be taken advantage of or exploited, prepared to say “no,” of course we want that; but also prepared to guard against pregnancy and STDs.

4) That said, this “freak dance” does seem to be in very poor taste.  But gee, from what I remember the 70s were all about gluing yourself to your partner, pelvis to pelvis, and gently rotating while “Free Bird” or “Stairway to Heaven” were played.  This was laughably called a “slow dance.” However, Betsy seems to be a few years younger than me,  so it’s possible they’d cleaned all that up by the time she went to prom.

I think this kind of thing has been going on for a long, long time, though. After all, they banned the waltz once.  I refer Ms. Hart to one of the final chapters of Booth Tarkington’s Penrod, published in 1914. Fanchon, an out-of-town guest from the big city, has taught a new dance called the “Slingo Sligo Slide” to the guests at Penrod’s twelfth birthday party:

“What are they doing?” gasped Mrs. Williams, blushing deeply.”What is it? What is it?”

“What is it?” Mrs. Gelbraith echoed in a frightened whisper. “What—”

“They’re Tangoing!” cried Margaret Schofield. “Or Bunny Hugging, or Grizzly Bearing, or—”

“They’re only Turkey Trotting,” said Robert Williams.

With fearful outcries the mothers, aunts and sisters rushed upon the pavilion.

Um, this could really screw things up

Thursday, November 22nd, 2007

Does anybody remember the California ballot initiative? The one that was going to let California apportion its electoral votes district by district, instead of handing the whole state to the Dems as a giant blue West Coast prize?  It’s back.

When our kids were little, they had a number of those “talking” Little Golden Books, the ones with the buttons down the side that, when pushed, made electronic sounds that were designed to drive parents batshit crazy enhance the narrative. One of these was a Winnie the Pooh story, and you could push the button repeatedly to hear Rabbit say, “Oh dear oh dear oh dear,” in a funny dry little voice.

I’m hearing that voice now.

Happy Thanksgiving!

Wednesday, November 21st, 2007

cornucopia.jpgWe’re off to spend Thanksgiving with the in-laws in Dial-Up Land. I hope to be checking in here and there, but I’ll go ahead and wish you all a safe and blessed holiday weekend!

Del will be around, so stop by for new posts when you’re done sleeping off the tryptophan. :)

Troy King, taking it to the hoop

Wednesday, November 21st, 2007

The Chastang mess (Riley appointed a county commissioner instead of allowing a special election, long legal battle, eventual triumph of lawsuit based on violation of Voting Rights Act) is going to the Supreme Court. Not the Alabama Supreme Court—it’s already been there. The US one.

 Y’all, this is not about Mobile County, or even Alabama. This is about the Voting Rights Act. I just wonder how long this particular plan of legal campaign has been mapped out . Maybe this explains Riley’s otherwise inexplicable decision to pursue a similar, and presumably similarly doomed, appointment in Jefferson County. And maybe it explains the Press-Register’s curious silence on the recent Mobile County election—the one where Merceria Ludgood defeated Mr. Chastang by a margin too generous to be called a landslide.  She’s in now, like Flynn as the expression goes, and there doesn’t seem to be any question of Chastang somehow retaining the seat.

No, this is all about “state’s rights.”  

King said he appealed to the U.S. Supreme Court because the federal judges’ order was in essence telling the state to disobey its own Supreme Court.

“You have a federal Justice Department and federal judges saying to the state of Alabama that they are determining that a statute the Alabama Supreme Court said was unconstitutional has to be followed simply because of a decision they made,” he said. “It’s an insult to states’ rights, and it is a dangerous precedent.

 The attorney who filed the Voting Rights Act-based lawsuit against Riley in the first place is “confident” that the Supremes will back up the lower court’s ruling. Gardner said he believes the justices agreed to hear the case only because they want to make sure there is a clear precedent set. 

Hmmm. Precedent. There’s that word again. “And that precedent will be in our favor,” [Gardner] said.

I wonder.