Archive for August, 2009

Small lesson from a vanity plate

Monday, August 31st, 2009

A couple of weeks ago a friend and I were driving down a two-lane road and spent several red lights stuck behind the same SUV. It had a vanity plate that read “LSUTIGAH.” As an alum who knows there’s no place like Tiger stadium on a Saturday night, I instantly recognized this as “LSU Tiger.” At the fourth or fifth red light, however, my Yankee friend said, “Gee, what do you suppose that license plate says? Luh-SOO-tig-guh?”

This was a funny story to repeat to my husband, also an LSU fan. But it made me think for a second about the value of having people with lots of different experience, education, and “skill sets” on hand to solve any important problem.

Reality Check – Countering Health Care Myths

Friday, August 28th, 2009

T. R. Reid, writing for the Washington Post, addresses five myths about health care around the world.

Read the whole thing.  It’s worth your time.  I was surprised by a number of things, but this struck me most:

U.S. health insurance companies have the highest administrative costs in the world; they spend roughly 20 cents of every dollar for nonmedical costs, such as paperwork, reviewing claims and marketing. France’s health insurance industry, in contrast, covers everybody and spends about 4 percent on administration. Canada’s universal insurance system, run by government bureaucrats, spends 6 percent on administration. In Taiwan, a leaner version of the Canadian model has administrative costs of 1.5 percent; one year, this figure ballooned to 2 percent, and the opposition parties savaged the government for wasting money.

The world champion at controlling medical costs is Japan, even though its aging population is a profligate consumer of medical care. On average, the Japanese go to the doctor 15 times a year, three times the U.S. rate. They have twice as many MRI scans and X-rays. Quality is high; life expectancy and recovery rates for major diseases are better than in the United States. And yet Japan spends about $3,400 per person annually on health care; the United States spends more than $7,000. [emphasis mine]

All this while “In Japan, waiting times are so short that most patients don’t bother to make an appointment”.

We like to believe we have the best health care in the world, but the statistics say otherwise.  Perhaps this article should be required reading for every Congress member who’s out there trashing “foreign” systems.

h/t Alabama Moderate in comments at Left in Alabama

But She Didn’t Mean Anything By It!

Thursday, August 27th, 2009

Congresswoman Lynn Jenkins (R-Topeka) told conservatives at a town hall meeting that “Republicans are struggling right now to find the great white hope” to counter the Democratic agenda (video here).  Hmmm.  No Freudian slip there!

Jenkins’ spokesperson, Mary Geiger, tried to dig her boss out of the hole:

“There may be some misunderstanding there when she talked about the great white hope,” Geiger said. “What she meant by it is they have a bright future. They’re bright lights within the party.”

Um, yeah, sure.  “Bright” rhymes with “white”.  And it’s the opposite of “dark”, which is frequently paired with “black”.

Geiger released the following statement on Jenkins’ behalf: “There’s no doubt the Republican Party has gone through some dark and challenging times in recent years, but thankfully bright young leaders have stepped up to lead the party into the future and she hopes to be a part of it. That was the intent of her comments — nothing more and nothing less. Congresswoman Jenkins apologizes for her choice of words.”

Geiger says she’s never heard her boss use that phrase before.  I certainly hope she never will again.

via TPM

Teen Sues Her Rapist “Seducer”

Thursday, August 27th, 2009

“Former Birmingham minister David Webb, his father sued by girl he pleaded guilty to seducing”

Gotta love those headline writers for the Birmingham News.  The girl that former Word of Life youth pastor David Webb transported across state lines for the purpose of sexual activity has now sued him, the church, and his father, the senior pastor.  The statutory rapist pleaded guilty to the transporting charge in May in exchange for a five-year sentence and dropping the second-degree rape and sexual abuse charges.

The lawsuit alleges sexual assault, battery, harassment and seduction of an underage woman against David Webb, and accuses his employer, Word of Life Christian Center, of negligent hiring, training, supervision, retention and entrustment.

You’ll recall that Webb’s wife, in an incredible demonstration of gall, went to the victim for an apology after he ‘fessed up to the “affair”.  You’ll also recall that the victim was in the employ of the Webbs as a babysitter when she was abused and in the employ of Mrs. Webb at the church when she was asked to apologize for hubby’s abuse.

I hope she takes them to the cleaners.  And I sure hope the wife isn’t holding her breath waiting for another apology.

Five of Nine City Council Seats Heading for Runoff

Wednesday, August 26th, 2009

Birmingham City Council results here.  Congratulations to Lashunda Scales, who roundly kicked Joel Montgomery‘s drunk, bigoted rear.  That beating was metaphorical, of course, unlike his alleged abuse of his wife.  He will not be missed.

Districts 2, 5, 6, 7 and 9 will have runoffs, with probably the biggest surprise in District 6 — Sheila Tyson garnered 39% of the vote, while incumbent and current City Council president Carole Smitherman only got 43%.  Incumbents Valerie Abbott, Maxine Herring Parker, and Steven Hoyt will remain on the Council.

Birmingham School Board results here.  Only three incumbents, Virginia Volker, April Williams and Phyllis Wyne, won re-election outright.  One lost, and three face runoffs.  Newcomer Tyrone Belcher Sr. won in District 1, and Elisa Burns Macon and Brian Giattina are headed for a runoff in District 3.

RIP Senator Kennedy

Wednesday, August 26th, 2009

Sen. Ted Kennedy passed away last night.  He was 77.

From his family’s statement:

“We’ve lost the irreplaceable center of our family and joyous light in our lives, but the inspiration of his faith, optimism, and perseverance will live on in our hearts forever,” the statement said. “We thank everyone who gave him care and support over this last year, and everyone who stood with him for so many years in his tireless march for progress toward justice, fairness and opportunity for all.”

President Obama summed up his legacy well:

“For five decades, virtually every major piece of legislation to advance the civil rights, health and economic well being of the American people bore his name and resulted from his efforts.”

This was a man born into privilege who could have lived his life with never a thought for those who were struggling.  He made terrible and tragic mistakes when he was young, but he turned himself around and spent the balance of his life working to help others.  He will be missed.

My sympathies to his family in the loss of sister and brother in such short order.  We won’t see their like again any time soon.

Today in Death Threats

Tuesday, August 25th, 2009

Via Think Progress, by way of Shakesville, an attendee at Sen. Chuck Grassley’s Monday town hall meeting had this to say about President Obama:

“The president of the United States, that’s who you should be concerned about. Because he’s acting like a little Hitler,” said Tom Eisenhower, a World War II veteran. “I’d take a gun to Washington if enough of you would go with me.”

I wish I thought Sen. Grassley repudiated that comment and referred this nut to the Secret Service, but somehow I doubt it. Unfortunately, the report to which I linked doesn’t mention any response from the senator, but does point out that the anti-reform crowd at the “emotionally-charged” meeting left satisfied that “Grassley is pretty much, how would you say, one of us.”

Parker Griffith’s Identity Crisis

Tuesday, August 25th, 2009

I’m beginning to think the only reason Parker Griffith (D R ? – AL 5) ran as a Democrat in 2008 was the handwriting on the wall that the Dems would win a big majority in the House.  Apparently he’s lost his memory — along with his integrity — and can’t remember to which party he belongs.

The union man was angry.

He loudly reminded U.S. Rep. Parker Griffith, D-Huntsville, of a promise he made to U.S. Steel Workers Local 193 in Courtland last spring that if they helped him get elected, he’d do everything he could to get health insurance for all Americans.

While surrounded by many more conservatives than liberals in the Monday night town hall meeting at the University of North Alabama, union President Phil Everett wanted to know: “Are you a Democrat or are you a Republican?”

The Democratic congressman took a negative stance on the Democratic-proposed economic stimulus package and the cap-and-trade pollution bill, and has offered conservative-leaning answers to dozens of questions on health care reform.

In fact, applause nearly drowned him out as he walked over to shake the unhappy union man’s hand and said, “I’m an American, and a good one.” [emphasis mine]

A good American?  Hey, so am I, but I have a feeling Parker was using that term to mean “stealth Republican”.


Christian Coalition’s Gubernatorial Forum

Tuesday, August 25th, 2009

Lost in Montgomery has an informative and hilarious account of last night’s event.  It’s long but well worth the time.  Toxic Culture has the debate by the numbers.  Ron Sparks and Kay Ivey skipped it.  Does this mean they aren’t sufficiently Christian?

ETA Kristopher’s take on the candidates.

Vote for Birmingham

Monday, August 24th, 2009

voteforbirminghamIf you live in the city, be sure to vote in Tuesday’s City Council/School Board elections.  Join Greater Birmingham Ministries and Alabama Arise for a health care briefing at 6:45 PM at First United Methodist Church, and then head to Rojo for an election night celebration with Vote for Birmingham.  Food is provided, drinks on your own.  See you there!

(If you can’t make the health care briefing, the Vote for Birmingham party starts at 7 PM.)