Archive for February, 2009

You Can’t Make This Sh*t Up

Friday, February 27th, 2009

Sen. Dave Schultheis of Colorado Springs, expressing his opposition to a bill that would require pregnant women to be tested for HIV so those who test positive could receive treatment that reduces the risk of transferring the virus to the fetus from 25% to 2%:

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Foot in Mouth Disease

Friday, February 27th, 2009

Courtney Haden of the Birmingham Weekly takes on Larry Langford, Richard Shelby,  and Jim Bunning — and their mistreatment by the eeeevil media — with hilarious results.

On Larry:

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On Track

Sunday, February 22nd, 2009

cartoon_runner1Sort of. Week 5 went okay, but I got off to a rough start with Week 6 (run 9, walk 2, run 9, walk 2, run 8). We were traveling most of last weekend, and we squeezed in a Sunday run between arriving home from one trip and leaving on another one. I was dragging big time.

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Richard Shelby Acts Like a…

Sunday, February 22nd, 2009

…hypocritical jerk.  Speaking at an annual public meeting in Cullman County, the King of Pork slammed the stimulus package, although he plans to make sure Alabama gets its “fair share” of the money, and went on a rant about fiscal responsibility:

“You can’t borrow your way to prosperity,” Shelby said. “We’re the largest debtor in the world. We’re stealing from our grandchildren.”

Really, Dick? Where was that rant when the Republican party was enabling George W. Bush as he put us into hock up to our eyeballs to pay for off-budget war funding? Or when you were earmarking money for yet another building at the University of Alabama or Auburn or UAB, or maybe some defense contracts for one of your biggest supporters?

He’s also all about bank regulation — now.

“I’m for more regulation of banks,” Shelby said. “The federal reserve is the regulator of big banks and they did a poor job.”

Hmm.  I don’t recall him crusading for more regulation when he was chair of the Banking, Housing and Urban Affairs Committee.

But here’s the best part — he’s just not quite sure about Barack Obama’s citizenship.

Another local resident asked Shelby if there was any truth to a rumor that appeared during the presidential campaign concerning Obama’s U.S. citizenship, or lack thereof.

“Well his father was Kenyan and they said he was born in Hawaii, but I haven’t seen any birth certificate,” Shelby said. “You have to be born in America to be president.”

Which, I guess, is why he supported John McCain, who was born in Panama.

Of course, Shelby’s office now claims that his comments were “distorted”.

The Cullman Times article contains an incomplete account, and therefore a distortion, of Sen. Shelby’s comments regarding President Obama’s citizenship. At the town hall meeting in Cullman, Sen. Shelby laid out the Constitutional qualifications for the Presidency and said that, while he hasn’t personally seen the President’s birth certificate, he is confident that the matter has been thoroughly examined.

You know what, Dick?  If you really think the President of the United States isn’t a US citizen, if you think his parents perpetrated a fraud 47 years ago on the off chance that their son would run for President one day, then join in one of the stupid lawsuits.  Make common cause with crazy Alan Keyes.  At least be honest instead of making offhand, “throwaway” comments to play to your base.

And if you really want to talk about fraud, let’s talk about how you ran for Senate as a Democrat — twice.  How you took money and votes from Democrats and then, one day after Republicans took control of Congress in 1994, you magically switched your allegiance so you could stay in power.  And if you want to talk about irresponsible spending, start with your own.

Otherwise, STFU.

h/t Del

More Good News (and Some Bad)

Friday, February 20th, 2009

The good news:  Following up on the ELCA story below, I discovered that the north-central Alabama Presbytery of Sheppards and Lapsley (PCUSA) voted 77-75 yesterday to drop language requiring clergy to be faithful in marriage and celibate if single.  This language was not some long-venerated tradition; it was added in 1997 with the clear intent of barring gay and lesbian clergy.  I can’t tell you how happy it makes me to see Alabamians on the forefront of progress for once.

At the general assembly in Birmingham in 2006, the denomination passed an authoritative interpretation of the constitution that allowed more leeway for presbyteries in ordaining practicing homosexuals. A church court ruled against that interpretation, and the national general assembly in 2008 again proposed changing the constitution to amend the “fidelity and chastity” standard. It’s the denomination’s fourth referendum on the “fidelity and chastity” requirement in the Book of Order.

The bad news:  Each of the 173 presbyteries in the US must vote on the proposal, and it’s currently losing.

So far, the national vote is 39-24 against changing the language, according to a running count of presbytery votes kept by the conservative publication The Presbyterian Layman at www.layman.org.  [Y'all will be stunned, just stunned to know that The Presbyterian Layman is an arm of the deliberately mis-named Institute for Religion and "Democracy".]

And, no surprise here, the comments on yesterday’s al.com Breaking News report are heinous.  Yes, I know — I should never go there.  It makes me despair for the future of the human race.

Lutherans (or at least ELCA) Doing the Right Thing

Friday, February 20th, 2009

Assuming everything passes.  An Evangelical Lutheran Church of America task force has recommended that the church recognize same-sex unions and approve the ordination of gays and lesbians living in those unions.  ELCA already ordains gay and lesbian pastors, but current rules require them to be celibate — the unfortunate circular logic necessary when you expect clergy to be chaste but won’t recognize their marriages.

“The task force agreed that this church cannot responsibly consider any changes to its policies unless this church is able and willing in some way to recognize lifelong, monogamous, same-gender relationships,” the report said.

Unfortunately, that recognition isn’t spelled out as marriage, but it leaves the option for local churches to choose how they will bless unions.  And they come about as close as one can to the M-word without actually saying it.

The task force stopped short of recommending a liturgical rite for gay unions or using the word marriage to describe them. But, the report said “most of the task force members believe that ways can be found within local congregations to surround the commitments of such couples with prayer.”

Rev. Peter Strommen, the Minnesota pastor who served as chair of the 15-member task force, said a context for public promises would help the church better define those relationships.

“Given we have no clarity or structure, we feel it’s important for there to be an equivalent of public accountability,” Strommen said.

The recommendations also urge flexibility in allowing individual churches to disagree with the policy, and I’m sure there will be those that do.  But this “out” should blunt some of the opposition when the vote is taken at the Churchwide Assembly in August.  And it sounds like the Assembly will be receptive:

The debate on gay clergy in the ELCA took on greater urgency in 2007 when Rev. Bradley Schmeling, an Atlanta pastor, was removed from the clergy roster after he told his bishop he was in a relationship with a man. In August of that year, the assembly urged its bishops to refrain from disciplining gay ministers who are in committed same-sex relationships.

Progress.  Yay!

Howard Bayless Running for Birmingham City Council

Tuesday, February 10th, 2009

howardbaylessHoward will run for the seat currently held by Valerie Abbott.  He was the first out gay man elected to public office in Alabama, having served on the Birmingham school board since November 2007.  He’s been a leader in the struggle for LGBT equality in Alabama and has a real commitment to public service.

I’d love to see him go toe to toe in Council meetings with Larry Langford and  Joel Montgomery, but with any luck they won’t be around after October 2009.

That other guy is really gone, isn’t he?

Tuesday, February 10th, 2009

“Gibbs added that neither members of [Obama's] audience nor the questions that will be posed at the town hall-style events in Indiana on Monday and in Florida on Tuesday will be pre-screened by White House officials.”

link

It’ll Be Fine (Collins)

Tuesday, February 10th, 2009

Or maybe not, if journalists like John Archibald keep digging and reporting.

Just how did JeffCo Commission President Bettye Fine Collins escape censure by the State Republican Executive Committee on Saturday?  John fills in the blanks:

Among the committee members who defended Collins was Matt Lembke of Vestavia Hills, who said he was “shocked” at the “outrageous” attempt to condemn Collins.

Lembke is a lawyer with Bradley Arant Rose & White, by the way, which is paid by the county to help with the sewer debt. On Jan. 27, the commission voted 3-2 — with Collins on the “3″ side — to raise Bradley Arant’s pay cap to $3 million.

There’s more. Collins’ backers have repeatedly said her anything-before-bankruptcy stance trickles from Gov. Bob Riley, for whom she carries water.

Which is interesting. Because Lembke also has worked as counsel to Riley several times, including the bitter 2002 election contest. Lembke worked closely with the governor’s son, Rob Riley, before former Gov. Don Siegelman conceded.

For what it’s worth, the County Commission on Jan. 20 voted to pay Rob Riley’s firm $725,000 to represent the sheriff’s department.

For what it’s worth.

And while friends are great, a fearsome family is better.

For if Bettye Fine Collins’ name sends shivers down some backs, the name of her brother can make politicians full-on sweat.

Joe Fine, of Fine Geddie & Associates, is no partisan hack whose fortunes rise and fall on the wave of public opinion. He is a PACman and a kingmaker — one of the biggest purveyors of political cash in Alabama.

Fine Geddie’s 11 political action committees, with names such as BiPac, Leg PAC and CanPAC, gave out some $7.6 million in contributions since 2006, according to Secretary of State records. Not just to Republicans. Not just to Democrats. Everybody who was anybody got Fine Geddie money.

Larry Langford got it, and so did the Senate Democrats. Bob Riley got it, and so did the Republican Party.

In other words, follow the money.

Great work, John — you are performing real service to this community.  Keep it up!

Alternate Reality

Monday, February 9th, 2009

Jay Bookman at the AJC really nails the Republican whining over the stimulus package:

Republicans in Congress and on the TV and radio talk shows claim to oppose the economic stimulus out of concern about the national debt and a moral conviction that we should not saddle future generations of Americans with such a burden.

But who do they think they’re fooling? Apparently they believe the world began anew at noon on Jan. 20, and that everything that occurred prior to that date had somehow been wiped clean from the national memory banks.

Well, it hasn’t.

We do face a long-term problem. Our gross federal debt is at $10.6 trillion, with a good portion owed to lenders in China, Japan and the Middle East. But how did that number get so huge?

The answer is that it grew tremendously, both as a gross number and a percentage of GDP, during the administrations of Reagan, Bush I, and Bush II.  George W. was particularly hard on future generations:

The debt almost doubled under Bush, from $5.7 trillion to $10.6 trillion. As a percentage of GDP, it grew from 57.4 percent to 68 percent, the highest since the aftermath of World War II.

As Bookman points out, many of the same Republicans who are whining now went along with everything W asked:

And of course, the same congressional Republicans now preaching the dangers of deficit spending were right at Bush’s side, writing and passing the budgets that drove us deeply into the red.

Unfortunately, the Republicans are fooling some people with their rhetoric.  And Obama keeps reaching out to them, as if they’ll ever come around and support his proposals.  I fear we’ll end up with Republicans wringing a bunch of concessions and still refusing to vote for a bill so gutted that it doesn’t work — and then taking credit for their amazing “foresight” if it fails.  And a good portion of the media will buy it.  Again.

*sigh*