Archive for April, 2009

Switcheroo on the Jefferson County Occupational Tax Bills?

Thursday, April 30th, 2009

A Blues reader passed along this interesting tidbit from the Alabama Legal Rights Blog:

In a closed door session this afternoon, Local Legislative Committee #2 substituted Senate Bill 488 for House Bill 811.  Senate Bill 488 was defeated in committee yesterday, April 29.  The full House of Representatives passed House Bill 811.  Senator Coleman, who sponsored Senate Bill 488, serves on Local Legislative Committee #2.  This substituted Bill will now go before the full Senate for a vote.  If it passes, it will go before a conference committee which will be made up of three Jefferson County House delegates and three Jefferson County Senators.  All three of the Senators who will be on the conference committee will be members of Local Legislative Committee #2 – the same Senators who made this substitution.  Senator Coleman is expected to be one of those Senators.

The post goes on to say that this substitution is allowed under the Legislature’s procedures, but opines that it is an end run around the best interests of Jefferson County taxpayers.

I will readily admit that I haven’t been following this issue closely, so I’ll leave it to you, dear readers, to look at the two bills and see what you think. HB811 is here; SB 488 is here (both PDF).

Artur Davis “Explains” His NO Vote on the Matthew Shepard Act

Thursday, April 30th, 2009

His office staff sent this statement to Equality Alabama and Left In Alabama (and others, I’m sure):

“Two years ago, I voted for federal hate crimes legislation. Since casting that vote, a number of my constituents have made it very clear to me that they disagreed with this vote, and I have tried to weigh their arguments carefully.

Some of the objections have been based on distortions of what this bill actually does. Other objections have reflected nothing more than animosity toward some of the groups who would be covered. Candidly, I have not given a lot of weight to arguments based on groundless claims or fears. But as I have thought more deeply about this issue, there is an argument from my constituents that I have not been able to answer.

Some of my constituents ask why our federal laws should pick out some Americans for more protections than others. Some wonder why, in a culture that rejects violence against any human being, we should say that an attack on a black, or a woman, or a gay individual should be punished more severely than an attack on someone who happens to be a senior citizen, or a soldier, or a teacher. Others ask why some motives based on certain ideas should be punished by our criminal laws more aggressively than others.

The people raising these issues are in my opinion not bigoted people. They are Americans who are advancing fundamental questions about just what equal protection under the law should mean. After a lot of reflection, I have decided that I do not have good answers as to why our laws should not protect all of our people with the same force, and for that reason, I have changed my vote to a “no” on the federal hate crimes bill.”

So we’re to believe that he had a sudden epiphany that hate crimes laws are completely unnecessary.  Yeah, right. I eagerly await his sponsorship of a bill to overturn the current hate crimes statute.  You know, the one that covers race, color, religion and national origin.  Shall I hold my breath?  I think not.

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Related post:

You Can’t Make This Sh*t Up

Thursday, April 30th, 2009

The co-executive director of the Miss California Organization has confirmed that the organization paid for Carrie Prejean’s breast implants just weeks before the Miss USA pageant.  Yes, that’s this Carrie Prejean.  Miss Prejean, who believes in “opposite marriage”, is all about following what she sees as God’s will in that regard.  So why would she flout God’s will for her body by getting breast implants?

And now the ungrateful child is ducking her funders…

Carrie is still involved in a media frenzy, sparked by her controversial response at the Miss USA pageant, and Shanna [Moakler] claims the young woman has been avoiding responding to her Miss California bosses. “We’ve tried really hard [to get in contact] and she keeps referring us to her mother and her PR person,” Shanna claimed.

…while apparently shilling for NOM (yeah, that NOM).  At least the producers of this ad were able to edit down her rambling response to something resembling a sound bite.  Maybe they should have hired an actress to play the part of the poor, oppressed beauty queen forced to choose between the crown and her convictions (conveniently ignoring the part where Miss North Carolina — the new Miss USA — also won the swimsuit and evening gown competitions).  We know how well that worked for them last time.

h/t Pam

Good News/Bad News

Wednesday, April 29th, 2009

The good news?  The House passed the Matthew Shepard Act today, expanding the federal hate crimes law to cover gender, sexual orientation, gender identity or disability (the law already covers crimes motivated by a person’s race, color, religion, or national origin).

The bad news?  All of Alabama’s congressmen (and yeah, they’re all men — surprise, surprise) voted NO, including purported “Democrats” Artur Davis, Bobby Bright, and Parker Griffith.

Okay, Bright and Griffith are white male good ol’ boys, not generally targeted by bigots.  Of course, if they were ever attacked for being Christian, they’d be covered under current law.  Davis is covered too; race-based attacks are already legally designated as hate crimes.  Screw the gays, right?  Supporting them might lose someone a few votes in the governor’s race.

Well, right back at you, Artur.  I don’t live in Bright’s or Griffith’s districts, so I have no influence over their political futures.  But you?  I’m the person you need in your corner.  White, suburban, progressive enough to vote for a Democratic gubernatorial candidate.  Too bad it won’t be you.

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Related Post:

Olympia Snowe Gets Blunt with the Republican Party

Wednesday, April 29th, 2009

Sen. Olympia Snowe (R-ME) may be writing her own exit script from the Republican party.  She took to the pages of the New York Times today to speak some hard truths to her fellow party members, and I’m betting their public reactions won’t be positive.  Even if a lot of them agree with her in private.

I could have hardly imagined then that, in 2009, we would fondly reminisce about the time when we were disappointed to fall short of 60 votes in the Senate. Regrettably, we failed to learn the lessons of Jim Jeffords’s defection in 2001. To the contrary, we overreached in interpreting the results of the presidential election of 2004 as a mandate for the party. This resulted in the disastrous elections of 2006 and 2008, which combined for a total loss of 51 Republicans in the House and 13 in the Senate — with a corresponding shift of the Congressional majority and the White House to the Democrats.

It was as though beginning with Senator Jeffords’s decision, Republicans turned a blind eye to the iceberg under the surface, failing to undertake the re-evaluation of our inclusiveness as a party that could have forestalled many of the losses we have suffered.

It is true that being a Republican moderate sometimes feels like being a cast member of “Survivor” — you are presented with multiple challenges, and you often get the distinct feeling that you’re no longer welcome in the tribe. But it is truly a dangerous signal that a Republican senator of nearly three decades no longer felt able to remain in the party.

My Democratic heart would be warmed if Sen. Snowe decided to come over to the side of the angels, but if she did the Republican leadership would have all the excuse it needs to ignore what she has said today.  The country would be a lot better off in the long run if it chose to heed her instead.

Riley Vetoes Continued Sunday Alcohol Sales in Shelby County

Tuesday, April 28th, 2009

bloody-maryGreat.  There are around 25 restaurants in Shelby County that hold both retail and club liquor licenses.  After the ABC Board ruled that restaurants aren’t allowed to hold dual licenses, the legislature passed a bill that would allow those 25 or so restaurants to keep theirs.  Now Gov. Riley has vetoed the bill, and the legislature will end up wasting more time trying to override the veto.

Why on earth does Bob Riley care whether the citizens of Shelby County have a Bloody Mary with their post-church lunch?  Would he prefer that they drive across the county line and spend their money elsewhere?  I know Shelby County is overwhelmingly Republican, but I doubt the county officials and businesspeople will be happy with the governor’s interference in something that should be a local decision.  And likely would be, if not for the 1901 Constitution.

It’s Confirmed – Specter Now a Democrat

Tuesday, April 28th, 2009

From his statement:

…Since my election in 1980, as part of the Reagan Big Tent, the Republican Party has moved far to the right. Last year, more than 200,000 Republicans in Pennsylvania changed their registration to become Democrats. I now find my political philosophy more in line with Democrats than Republicans.

When I supported the stimulus package, I knew that it would not be popular with the Republican Party. But, I saw the stimulus as necessary to lessen the risk of a far more serious recession than we are now experiencing.

Since then, I have traveled the State, talked to Republican leaders and office-holders and my supporters and I have carefully examined public opinion. It has become clear to me that the stimulus vote caused a schism which makes our differences irreconcilable. On this state of the record, I am unwilling to have my twenty-nine year Senate record judged by the Pennsylvania Republican primary electorate. I have not represented the Republican Party. I have represented the people of Pennsylvania.

I have decided to run for re-election in 2010 in the Democratic primary.

I am ready, willing and anxious to take on all comers and have my candidacy for re-election determined in a general election…

He says he won’t be a rubber stamp for the Democrats, and I believe him.  He has been willing to stand up to the Republicans in the past.  I’m sure he would have been challenged from the right in the 2010 Republican primary; now we’ll have to wait and see if Democratic primary voters will accept his switch.  If they believe he has “represented the people of Pennsylvania” rather than the Republican party, he has a shot at re-election.

Specter To Switch Parties?

Tuesday, April 28th, 2009

Sources — identified only as “several officials” in the linked article — say Sen. Arlen Specter (R-PA) plans to switch parties and will make an announcement later today or tomorrow.  Specter is one of the few moderates left in the Senate; most of his Republican cohorts have stampeded to the right, or at least jumped on the “bash Obama” partisan bandwagon.

I heard him interviewed about his attempts to roll back presidential power grabs on NPR yesterday, and I wondered then why he hadn’t moved away from the party that enabled Bush/Cheney for eight years.  Looks like he’s going to do exactly that.

Wow!  Now if we can just get Norm Coleman to accept reality

Looking for Larry

Tuesday, April 28th, 2009

Once again, the Birmingham Weekly delivers the story other news media ignore.

The issue of Mayor Langford’s residency is not a new one. It’s an old joke that no one laughs at anymore. But just to belabor the point, I conscripted one of Birmingham Weekly’s contributing writers, Madison Underwood, for a little project. Periodically we would wake up just before sunrise and drive from Birmingham (where we both live) to Fairfield. We’d navigate the Fair Oaks subdivision to Larry Langford’s house to see if his car was parked in the driveway. We’d shoot video. We’d take pictures. And we’d do this enough times until a reasonable person could conclude that Langford still lived there and there alone…

Five trips — and five sightings of Langford’s vehicle. They also checked at least once to make sure he drove said vehicle to work the same day; he did.

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Troy, Your Lousy Ethics Are Showing Again!

Sunday, April 26th, 2009

The Birmingham News is reporting that Troy King headlined a party thrown by developer Ronnie Gilley three months before his office issued a legal opinion that Gilley could get a bingo permit for his proposed Country Crossings development in Houston County.

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