Archive for January, 2008

Nader?

Wednesday, January 30th, 2008

Oh, goody. Ralph Nader has formed an exploratory committee to evaluate another run for the Presidency. That’s just what we need. Ralph, honey, please go find some other way to feed your ego. Kthxbai.

Edwards Leaves the Race

Wednesday, January 30th, 2008

John Edwards suspended his run for the Democratic presidential nomination today. Melissa has a lovely post reflecting on his campaign and its welcome focus on the millions of people who haven’t benefited from George W. Bush’s efforts to enrich his friends.

Edwards hasn’t announced an endorsement, but if he makes one I predict he’ll go with Obama. His campaign consultant Mudcat Saunders has already taken to the airwaves this morning to say he’ll do everything in his power to make sure Edwards doesn’t back Hillary Clinton. Saunders has shown himself to be a sexist dick at least once during the campaign, appearing on the Rachel Maddow show at the height of the hugely overblown “Hillary cried” kerfuffle and pulling out the old “If she can’t handle the stress of a campaign, how will she handle it when bombs start falling over there?” chestnut. (To her credit, Rachel, no Hillary supporter, called him on it immediately. I don’t have an audio link to his remarks, but here’s a link to the blog comments for the day of that show.) Today, he informed us all that a Hillary Clinton presidency would be a violation of the 22nd Amendment. Good to know he doesn’t see women as entities separate from men.

Not that I think Edwards feels that way. I don’t. But unless Saunders is a total loose cannon, as well as an asshole, I think the Edwards camp has telegraphed its punch on this one. We’ll see.

Rudy’s Out, Plans to Endorse McCain

Wednesday, January 30th, 2008

Rudy’s demise was inevitable. After focusing all his hopes on Florida, he came in a distant third in last night’s primary. And this after a string of sixth-place finishes. Well, he did manage to squeak in ahead of Ron Paul to claim fourth place in New Hampshire — with 9% of the vote.

Perhaps Rudy’s campaign failed because Republican primary voters considered him too liberal, although that hasn’t stopped many of them from supporting flip-floppin’ Mitt Romney, who challenged Ted Kennedy from the left in his 1994 Senate race. Maybe it was the interchangeable wives or the unsavory associations. Or it could be that even hardcore Republicans couldn’t stomach his constant drumbeat of “a noun, a verb and 9/11″.

If I were McCain, I don’t think I’d be all that excited about the endorsement.

Fields Wins Convincingly in HD12

Wednesday, January 30th, 2008

Democrat James Fields won yesterday’s special election in Alabama House District 12 with nearly 60% of the vote in a race that many Republicans apparently thought would be an easy pickup. Danny has been following the race, and he has an excellent analysis of the results at the Political Parlor. I didn’t follow this race closely, but I must say that I’m tickled to see a black Democrat, who by all accounts ran a positive, issues-based campaign, defeat a white Southern League candidate — in a district that’s overwhelmingly white.

Congratulations, Rep. Fields!

Bible Study on City Time Redux

Tuesday, January 29th, 2008

Last week, I posted about Mayor Langford’s Bible study on city time. Today, a commenter asked:

When is a lunch hour considered “city time” and “taxpayer’s money”?

While the City Chambers might not be the best place for it, the fact remains everyone is welcome to a lunch hour. That is their time.

So, in the interest of answering what may have been an honest question, here’s the text of the email that was sent to city employees. For obvious reasons, I’m excluding the names of senders and recipients.

Subject: Bible Study with the Mayor
When: Friday, January 25, 2008 11:00 AM-12:00 PM (GMT-06:00) Central Time (US & Canada).
Where: Council Chamber

These are exciting times for the City of Birmingham!

Mayor Langford will conduct Bible Study this Friday, January 25, 2008 at 11:00 a.m. Anyone interested in attending is more than welcome.

To Department Heads, please have this invitation passed on to your staff and ensure they are aware it IS NOT mandatory to attend, but they are more than welcome to participate.

We already work together as a family. If we pray together, touch and agree together, imagine what we can accomplish together!

“More Magic Than Ever!”

As I noted in the initial post, the email does make it clear that attendance is not mandatory, but I see nothing to indicate that this time would be considered lunch hour. My source was told by city employees that they did not have to take lunch hour to attend.

And now city employees are circulating an email that encourages online Bible reading, with detailed links provided but no caveat that they should be used after hours. Good to know they’re staying busy.

You know, when the boss says he’s going to lead Bible study during work hours, I don’t think it really matters if he says it isn’t mandatory. The people who work for him will feel pressured to support it, because that equates to supporting him.

And I have to wonder how he’d react if another employee wanted to offer a Qur’an study or a Wicca study or even a Bible study from a different perspective. Would city workers get a free pass to attend those as well? If he’s going to do it for one, he has to do it for all. Otherwise, we have city government endorsing a particular religion. Perhaps it would be best to keep the Bible study out of the office.

Obama Wins Big in SC, Draws Huge Crowd in Birmingham

Monday, January 28th, 2008

Barack Obama won the South Carolina Democratic primary on Saturday with a convincing 55% of the votes cast. As big as that win is, what might be an even bigger story is the ongoing record turnout of voters for Democratic primaries and caucuses around the country. In South Carolina, more than 532,000 people went to the polls. That’s an increase of around 240,000 over 2004, and it’s also 87,000 more than the turnout for the Republican primary last week. Could South Carolina end up blue in November?

Obama followed his South Carolina win with a town hall meeting at Bartow Arena here in Birmingham yesterday. The Birmingham News, known for its tendency to low-ball attendance figures, reported that more than 11,000 people came to the event. By contrast, Mike Huckabee, who should be a favorite in Alabama if you believe all the stereotypes about redneck Bible-beaters*, only drew an estimated 2,200 for his appearance at Samford University on Saturday.

Eleven thousand, huh? I doubt that many people will watch tonight’s State of the Union address. Voluntarily, anyway. This could be a very good year for Democrats. Knock on wood.

————

* I’m not claiming that all the people who went to see Huckabee are redneck Bible-beaters; I’m just poking back a bit at the conventional wisdom around the blogosphere that the mere fact of growing up white in the South guarantees one will be a redneck Bible-beater. If that were true, Huckabee, a white Southern Baptist preacher, would have drawn a much larger crowd.

My First Theatrical Review: Les Misérables

Sunday, January 27th, 2008

In a nod to our Glamour/Society rating, I’d like to give a plug to Virginia Samford Theatre’s production of the School Edition of Les Misérables. The School Edition designation means that all the actors must be under the age of 19 and enrolled in high school, middle school, or elementary school. No professionals allowed, only amateurs. And what an amazing group of amateurs!

Tucker Hammock, a junior at Russellville High School, has the vocal range and physical presence to play Jean Valjean on any stage. Jeff Hawkins’ Javert was powerful and affecting. Kimberly Piazza made a beautiful Cosette, and her voice is nothing short of luminous. Caroline Page, who is the same age as my high school freshman daughter, brought éponine to life.

I could go on and on. Dany Egli and Daniel Jackson as Marius and Enjolras, eighth grader Malcolm McRae as Gavroche, Nicholas Burroughs and Ashley Baldwin in a hilarious turn as the Thenardiers, Meredith Hastings as Fantine — all of them were marvelous. The ensemble players showed their acting talent over and over, moving effortlessly from prison guards to factory workers to ladies of the evening to townspeople to thieves to revolutionaries, and making us believe every transition.

If you’ve seen a Broadway production of Les Mis, you know how elaborate the staging is. It is an epic story, covering decades and including a student revolution. There’s no turntable on this relatively small stage, but everything works, including the barricade.

There are a few sound problems. Thenardier was barely audible at times, and Mme. Thenardier consistently overwhelmed him when they sang together. At several points, the instrumental accompinament was too loud to balance the soloists. Overall, though, they don’t detract much from the general excellence of the production.

I won’t be a bit surprised if some of these kids make it to Broadway in a few years. Don’t miss your opportunity to see them now without the necessity of traveling to New York.

Click here for show times and ticket information. Alec Harvey’s Birmingham News review is here.

HD 12 Campaign Event Tomorrow

Friday, January 25th, 2008

There will be a special election on Tuesday to fill the vacant seat in House District 12 previously held by Neal Morrison (D), who resigned in August 2007 to become interim president of Bevill State Community College. If you’re interested in helping to elect a Democrat in HD12, you can join a group from Birmingham that will road-trip to Cullman tomorrow to help with a door-to-door canvass.

Rev. James Fields (D) is running against Wayne Willingham, who became the first Southern Party candidate to win an election when he was elected mayor of West Point in 2000. The Southern Party is an offshoot of the League of the South , a neo-Confederate group that supports secession. Jonwil has posted Willingham’s campaign flyer at Left In Alabama, and it looks like the thinly veiled racism you might expect.

If you’d like to help elect Rev. Fields and can go to Cullman tomorrow, email Thomas Diasio and let him know. The group will meet at the Five Points Starbucks at 8:00 AM to carpool. Dress for door-to-door work.

(All of this is weather permitting, of course.  The forecast shows snow and sleet north of Birmingham overnight and into tomorrow morning.)

Campaign Events in Birmingham

Friday, January 25th, 2008

The Hillary Clinton campaign is holding an open house tomorrow (Saturday, January 26) to celebrate the opening of the Birmingham campaign office. Everyone is invited to 1614 3rd Avenue North from 2:00 to 3:00 PM. Click here for details.

Barack Obama will be back in Birmingham on Sunday for a town hall meeting at Bartow Arena. Doors open at noon; Obama is scheduled to speak at 2 PM. Admission is free, but you must have a ticket. The website says online registration is now closed, but you can still get a ticket at Obama headquarters around the state. For more information and the location of campaign offices, click here.

Bible Study on City Time

Friday, January 25th, 2008

A source tells me that Mayor Langford will be leading Bible study for city employees this morning from 11:00 till noon in the City Council Chamber.  If you hurry, you can still get there on time.  That’s city time, paid for by city taxpayers.  Of course, it’s NOT mandatory, so perhaps some city workers will choose to spend that hour doing their jobs.

Perhaps Larry will ask the participants to pray that the Securities and Exchange Commission will leave him alone.  Or that the $1 million he promised Bethel Baptist will fall from the sky rather than taxpayers’ pockets.