Archive for October, 2009

Sunday Prayer Vigil for Larry

Friday, October 16th, 2009

This is disappointing.  Frank Matthews (yes, that Frank Matthews) is organizing a prayer vigil for Larry Langford on Sunday that will include representatives from the NAACP and the SCLC.  Come on, guys, do you really believe Larry is an innocent victim of racial persecution?

Well, I’m sure Frank does, or at least he figures it’s a good way to gin up sympathy for the mayor and get his own name in the news.  I realize there is plenty of history to bolster concern, but Larry Langford shouldn’t be the poster child for anyone’s campaign to prove malicious prosecution.*

Matthews says he also wants a group to caravan to Tuscaloosa on Monday for the opening of Langford’s corruption trial to “pray on that ground for justice”, but his definition of justice may be just a little skewed:

“We are encouraging all pastors and people of prayer who support Mayor Langford [emphasis added] to come and join us in the prayer vigil and to go with us Monday to Tuscaloosa.”

Yes, and I’m quite sure they will be praying for a fair trial with a just outcome, regardless of whether it’s conviction or acquittal.

Speaking of the news, or the News, when the article was first posted, Matthews was identified as a “community activist”.  After an intrepid blogger pointed out that he’s also an employee of the mayor’s office, the article was corrected.


*See Kyle Whitmire’s profile of Langford’s career, Langford’s testimony to the SEC in 2007, and the plea agreements for former co-defendants Al LaPierre and Bill Blount.

You Might Be a Racist If…

Thursday, October 15th, 2009

…you’re a justice of the peace who refuses to issue marriage licenses to interracial couples.

Keith Bardwell, who has been a justice of the peace for 34 years in Tangipahoa Parish, Louisiana, says he always asks couples who call to inquire about marriage if they are interracial, and if the answer is yes, his answer is no. Louisiana law, of course, makes no mention of race. It requires only that the parties present their birth certificates, Social Security cards, and $35 (and proof of divorce if either was previously married).

Bardwell, bless his heart, invokes the “black friends” defense:

“I’m not a racist. I just don’t believe in mixing the races that way,” Bardwell told the Associated Press on Thursday. “I have piles and piles of black friends. They come to my home, I marry them, they use my bathroom. I treat them just like everyone else.”

And he further defends himself by pointing out that he treats all interracial couples the same:

If he did an interracial marriage for one couple, he must do the same for all, he said.

“I try to treat everyone equally,” he said.

So he doesn’t discriminate in his discrimination. Or something. And, hey, it’s not like he keeps those couples from marrying. They just have to go elsewhere. It’s just like pharmacists who use “conscience” clauses to refuse to dispense legally prescribed medications. No harm, no foul, right? He only wants to protect The Childrentm.

“There is a problem with both groups accepting a child from such a marriage,” Bardwell said. “I think those children suffer and I won’t help put them through it.”

Seriously, did I just stumble through a temporal rift? I thought this was 2009, not 1959. Mr. Bardwell, I believe it’s time to retire. You can spend your golden years going to Klan meetings and pining for the good old days of racial purity.

The Definitive Larry

Thursday, October 15th, 2009

Kyle Whitmire hits it out of the park with his profile of Birmingham mayor Larry Langford. Read it here. I expect Kyle to have the best coverage when Larry’s trial starts next week (that’s assuming he doesn’t take a plea or finagle another delay).

OTM Dems Media Forum Tonight

Thursday, October 15th, 2009

otmdlogosmallThis promises to be interesting.  A panel of journalists will discuss the upcoming Langford trial, the role that race may or may not play in the 2010 gubernatorial election, whether or not Jefferson County should declare bankruptcy, the future of journalism and other topics of interest.  The event begins at 6:30 PM at the Birmingham Botanical Gardens.  It’s FREE and open to the public.

A reception follows (admission to the reception is free for members of Over the Mountain Dems; if you haven’t joined yet, you can bring a check for $25 or pay online today).

The OTM Dems have an excellent track record with these forums — great panelists, intelligent discussion, and the opportunity for audience members to ask questions.  Featured panelists tonight:

See you there!


Wednesday, October 14th, 2009

No, not the movie. The rhetorical device, which, to refresh y’all’s memory, is the use of a part for the whole (or the whole for a part). I’m fascinated lately by how often a single action on the part of a relatively small player can give insight into an entire system or organization. For example, I know a woman who yanked her child — now in his thirties — from a private school after the pre-school teacher sent home a note reading, “Sam needs to work on staying inside the lines when he colors.” Fifteen years later, I elected not to consider the school for my kids after hearing that one story – and sure enough, it’s still a very rigid, “traditional” school that isn’t at all the kind of environment I wanted for my kids.

Anyway, I thought about synecdoche this morning when I learned that Jane Harman, one of the House Blue Dogs, has decided to change her mind and support the public option. Why the change of heart? (more…)


Sunday, October 11th, 2009

In the wake of the death of one census worker under mysterious circumstances, Rep. Jason Chaffetz (R-UT) went on Fox News last night to warn the country about evil census employees, implying that child molesters and rapists will be coming to our doors in April 2010.

This despite Senate testimony from GAO Executive Director of Strategic Issues Robert Goldenkoff that the Census Bureau is well aware of past problems screening potential employees and has implemented a new double-check system for fingerprints (even the linked Fox News article admits as much).

Okay, I know the GOP wants to discredit the census, the better to be able to cry foul if the new population numbers/distribution redistrict them out of a few safe Republican seats in Congress.  Not to mention the man-reactions they get from criticizing any and every thing the Obama administration does.  But this guy is basically inviting the public to break the law — at the least by refusing to participate in the census and at most by meeting the workers with force.  Sounds like he’s channeling crazy Michelle Bachmann (R-MN).

He needs to stop, now, before someone (else) gets hurt.

Love Stuff Redux

Friday, October 9th, 2009

It’s déjà vu all over again!  Local and state officials in Auburn are hyperventilating about Kalli’s Love Stuff and its sales of, um, marital aids.  Didn’t we already cover this back in 2007?  Yes, I know that was the Hoover store, and it was couched as a zoning issue, and the Supreme Court recently failed to overturn the state’s ban on the sale of sex toys, but the point remains the same:

Hoover has been fighting the zoning battle since 2005; perhaps it’s time to give it a rest as well. It sounds like the store goes out of the way to avoid exposing The Childrentm to adult merchandise.

Testimony in the case showed that in December 2006, the Love Stuff store had 36 percent of its inventory in an area of the store set aside for adult-oriented items, and that area was restricted to adults. The rest of the store is open to customers of any age.

I suspect most of the opposition comes from parents who fear that just seeing the store’s sign will corrupt their kids and, God forbid, lead to uncomfortable questions. Please, people — it’s called Love Stuff, not Dildos ‘R’ Us. Just tell the kiddies it’s where the storks hang out between baby deliveries.

State Sen. Ted Little (D-27th District) initiated the current inquiry, stating, “I do not expect this to take place in my district nor anywhere in the state of Alabama…I am in favor of a thorough investigation to find out if sales are taking place of those type of products.” Really, Ted?  Do you favor your constituents leaving the state to make these purchases?  Seems like we could use the tax revenue right here.

Of course, the local reporters found a Concerned Mothertm to express her concern for The Childrentm:


Benefit Showing of “Outrage” on Sunday

Friday, October 9th, 2009

If you’re in the Montgomery area, or feel like a nice drive, head for the Capri Theatre on Sunday for a showing of “Outrage”.

There will be a reception at 6 PM, and the movie starts at 7 PM.  Tickets are $20 for adults and $10 for students (high school or college).  Proceeds benefit the work of Equality Alabama.

Equality: Nothing More, Nothing Less

Obama Wins Nobel Peace Prize, Wingnut Heads Explode

Friday, October 9th, 2009

President Obama woke this morning to the news that he had been awarded this year’s Nobel Peace Prize.  I heard it on the radio on my way to work, and honestly my first reaction was, “Huh?”  It seems a bit early to give him the award, although I wouldn’t be at all surprised if he earned it ten or twenty years down the road.

It’s difficult to see this as anything other than a finger to the eye (excuse the non-peaceful imagery) of the Bush administration and its “my way or the highway” approach to diplomacy.  The rest of the world, or at least the Nobel Committee, is hopeful that we’re on a new and more productive path, and I’m right there with them.  Here’s a good spot to express my ongoing love and admiration for our Secretary of State.  She is an amazing woman!

Anyway, anything that irks both the Taliban and our own homegrown wingnuts* can’t be all bad.  Congratulations, President Obama!  Here’s to a better and more peaceful future for all of us.


*I’m not going to link to Free Republic, but the term “turd” was used early in the game.  I quit reading at that point.

Liberty Counsel Rolls Out “Adopt a Liberal” Program

Thursday, October 8th, 2009

Liberty Counsel, the same group that offered to pay for Mayor Larry Langford’s defense in the Central Alabama Pride lawsuit, now proposes to pray liberals into “right thinking”.  Initial targets include Barack Obama, Hillary Clinton, Nancy Pelosi, Harry Reid, Olympia Snowe, Arnold Schwarzenegger, and Barney Frank.  I’m not sure in which alternate universe Snowe and Schwarzenegger qualify as liberals.  Frank is on the list because he is, according to Liberty Counsel head Mat Staver, “100-percent committed to the homosexual agenda.”  I’m sure they want to pray away the gay; I wonder if they plan to pray away the Jew as well.

“We also believe Barney Frank was created in the image of God, that he’s not outside of God’s love and we ought to pray for him,” he says. “So we believe in miracles.”

Wow!  How open-minded of them.

Frank said he doubts that God is a conservative and believes the Almighty should not be used as a partisan weapon. He’s amused by Liberty Counsel’s plan to make cards of the liberals, which, like baseball cards, will have photos and information about them.

“In other words, if people got one of me, they could trade for, like, 11 Hillary Clintons and three Arnold Schwarzeneggers?” he asks. “I suppose the committee I chair does deal in currency, but we’ll have to branch out in trading baseball card ratios.”

The Counsel’s utterly tone deaf arrogance reminds me of Southern Baptists’ attempts to convert Jews and Mormons’ posthumous baptisms.  They’ve made God in their own politically conservative image, and they can’t conceive the possibility that they might have missed something along the way.