Archive for January, 2010

My OMG moment from yesterday: Judge Spanky Announces

Thursday, January 21st, 2010

Or at least, that’s how an email from a friend described the article saying that yes, recently acquitted ex-judge Herman Thomas had declared for Vivian Figures’ seat. Sure, we’d all read that he was thinking about it, but I honest to God never thought he would. Supposedly one of his reasons is to set an example of public service for his twin daughters. You’d think those poor girls had been dragged through enough crap in the past couple of years, but I guess not.

Let me add that there doesn’t seem to be a whole lot of doubt that Thomas checked young male prisoners out of jail to bare-ass paddle them in his office. Okay? That’s established.  (more…)

A somewhat inspiring story from the Internets

Tuesday, January 19th, 2010

Earlier this year, after researching available devices and software, I made the switch from paper planning to electronic. I am currently using an iPod touch with WebIS’s “Pocket Informant” app. It duplicates what I was doing with the paper planner perfectly, backs up to online programs, and I am now a total convert to the electronic Way.

Well, there was a little snag this weekend.

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Vote!

Tuesday, January 19th, 2010

voteIf you’re eligible to vote in the city of Birmingham, do it!  The weather is beautiful us made electronic cigarettes, the lines will likely be short (unfortunately), so get out and do your civic duty.

More Homophobia…

Monday, January 18th, 2010

…from Frank Matthews “Faith” in Birmingham.  Brought to us by the same email address that delivered Frank’s open letter to the citizens of Birmingham, decrying the proposal to expand Pre-K in Birmingham.  Because better educational opportunities for the city’s children are part of the gay agenda.  Or something.

Now it’s right out in the open.  In a PowerPoint (PDF link) and everything.  The citizens of Birmingham must vote reviews of electronic cigarettes for William Bell for mayor because Patrick Cooper might be gay.  And he might be gay because his ex-wife and her new husband gave him big campaign contributions.

Wait, what?  They’re paying him off because he’s gay?  Yeah, I’m confused too.

Thank God this election will be over tomorrow (knock on wood).  And thank mooncat for uploading this disgusting piece of crap so I didn’t have to.

Celebrating the Life of Dr. King

Monday, January 18th, 2010

I attended the 24th annual Martin Luther King, Jr. Unity Breakfast at the Birmingham-Jefferson Civic Center this morning.  The East Exhibition Hall was packed with people who had come to celebrate the life and legacy of Dr. King.  A few of them may have been a bit surprised at what they heard from keynote speaker Dr. Ed LaMonte*, but they’d be hard-pressed to deny the truth of his words.  Birmingham is failing to live up to its potential, he said, and he believes the future of the city hangs on two things: our ability to function as a community in addressing regional issues and our ability to address the educational needs of the city’s children.

He pointed out that at the time Dr. King was in Birmingham, there were 31 municipalities in Jefferson County.  Now the metro area encompasses parts of seven counties, and there are 94 municipalities — we’re even more fragmented.  There is no mechanism to identify and address regional issues, and that lack hurts all of us.  He used our inadequate public transit system as an example, noting that it was on the table at the first meeting of the Community Affairs Committee of Operation New Birmingham.  In 1969.

He moved on to some background on Birmingham’s educational system.  In 1963, there were 340,000+ people living in the city of Birmingham and approximately 70,000 students enrolled in the public school system.  By 2008, the population had fallen to 228,000+, with only about 28,000 students remaining.  A study by the Southern Education Foundation indicates that 50% of students who begin 9th grade in Birmingham city schools fail to graduate from high school.  Their mean annual income as adults is $15,803, which is $3,000 less than the mean of other high school dropouts elsewhere in the country.  High school graduates make around 40% more than their dropout counterparts.

The city has recently completed a search for a new school superintendent in a process that Dr. LaMonte says was met with “widespread skepticism”.  Birmingham has gone through six superintendents in the past 15 years; research by the Council of the Great City Schools shows average tenure for a superintendent in an urban system is 3.5 years.  We can’t wait for a superintendent to save the schools.  We have failed our children, and we need to do better.

Dr. LaMonte opined, to general applause and nods of agreement, that Dr. King would be disappointed in the Birmingham of 2010.

His prescriptions?  First, an engine for addressing regional issues — he suggested the Regional Planning Commission of Greater Birmingham and PARCA as electronic cigarette starter two existing organizations that are already well-placed and willing to serve this function.  Second, an organization whose single purpose is to monitor the city’s school system as an advocate for students — he said his personal instinct is to look to Greater Birmingham Ministries for leadership on this.

He closed by reminding us of Birmingham’s “great but significantly unfulfilled potential” and asking the question, “Where do we go from here?”

I hear there were a few toes that felt a bit stepped on by his address.  You know what?  Too bad.  There is an entrenched power structure in Birmingham, and it needs to be challenged just as much as the Big Mules ever did (and still do).  Dr. King was all about speaking truth to power, and Dr. LaMonte truly lived his legacy today.

****

*I couldn’t find a complete biography of Dr. LaMonte, so I would like to note that he has a long history as an advocate for civil rights and was instrumental in the building of the Birmingham Civil Rights Institute.  He’s also one of the nicest people I’ve ever met and has a wonderful son who is a dear friend and colleague.  ETA: Here’s a good feature (PDF) from Southern Magazine.

I’m not even going to address the idiocy in comments at the al.com story.  Poor reporting makes it read as if Dr. LaMonte advocated for merging all 94 municipalities into one regional government.  He didn’t.  Suffice it to say that some ignorant rednecks who would never go near an MLK celebration are up in arms at the very thought.

ADDENDUM:  Here is a statement issued by the Co-Chairs of the Community Affairs Committee:

Birmingham’s citizens must talk with each other and work together to solve the serious problems that affect the city.

We should not reject the message that we need, as a comunity, to be hearing just because of who the messenger is.  We should also hold leadership and ourselves to the highest standards decorum and respect for others.  Our youth need to hear fresh thinking from adults.

We do not have time to hate. Recent political behavior serves solely to project negative images of Birmingham and distracts from the serious issues.

Finally, concerning the annual Doctor Martin Luther King, Jr, Unity Breakfast, kudos to those planners who had the awareness to make the breakfast truly unified.  We are diverse people with diverse heritages with different beliefs and non-beliefs.  We participated in a program with prayers offered by lay persons, Christian ministers, an imam, and a rabbi.  It was a good start.

Smith Williams
Helen Rivas
Co-Chairs, Community Affairs Committee
Operation New Birmingham

Just in Case You Need Another Reason to Vote against William Bell

Sunday, January 17th, 2010

Frank Matthews.  Yep, “n*ggers and gays!” Frank Matthews is at it again, concern trolling Birmingham mayoral candidate Patrick Cooper’s support for Howard Bayless’ 2007 candidacy for the Birmingham School Board.  He’s written an open letter (PDF) to the citizens of Birmingham that is, he assures us, in no way intended to attack the character of either Cooper or Bayless.  Uh huh.

As a minister, I am compelled to reveal to you Mr. Cooper’s public position concerning a vital moral issue that impacts the foundation of our families, our churches, our schools, and all of society: the issue of homosexuality. It is true “all of us have sinned and fallen short of bringing God glory” as stated in Romans 3:23. It is also true that we must repent for known sins. The Word of God clearly states homosexuality is a sin according to Romans 1:24-32. God loves us as sinners, but He hates our sin. Traditional marriage between a man and a woman has been the foundation of every civilized culture since the beginning of time. The citizens of Alabama understand this and showed their agreement by voting overwhelmingly in 2006 by an 81% to 19% margin in favor of the Sanctity of Marriage Amendment Act defining marriage as between one man and one woman. In October 2007, Birmingham elected the first openly gay man to public office in Alabama as Howard Bayless won a seat on the Birmingham City School Board governing the affairs of almost 30,000 young hearts and minds in our city. He did this with the support of the largest Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender political action committee in the nation along with the very public endorsement of Patrick Cooper standing proudly at Mr. Bayless’ side. It is not my intention to disrespect either of these men, but it is my online blackjack usa legal duty to remind God’s people that this is an abomination and unpleasing in the eyes of our Heavenly Father.

It’s an abomination for Cooper to support a candidate who happens to be gay?  Personally, I find Matthews’ homophobia to be pretty damn abominable.  Not to mention his hypocrisy.  Does he think “our Heavenly Father” is happy with his ongoing support for criminal bribe-taker Larry Langford?  I’m guessing he’s banking on William Bell to give him back his cushy $72,000 a year City Hall job, or maybe even a better one, if Bell is elected mayor.

Matthews goes on to hit every hot button of the right-wing anti-gay agenda — being gay spreads disease, children are being indoctrinated, blah, blah, blah de blah.

All across the nation, school boards for children at the elementary and kindergarten levels are approving curriculum that promotes the homosexual lifestyle. This is morally wrong, brings confusion about gender identity to our children, condones sexual perversion, and can ultimately have detrimental influence socially. Not only would Patrick Cooper seek to advance this radical agenda upon our matriculating school children, but he wants to eliminate the “Laptops for Kids” program altogether, and replace it with Pre-K programs. These programs would indoctrinate the acceptance of this lifestyle, by our children, at an even earlier age.

Reality is Alabama has the top-rated Pre-K program in the country, it’s just not available to nearly enough children.  How often does Alabama rate at the top of anything?  Somehow I doubt the program would be so highly rated if its purpose was to indoctrinate children into the “homosexual lifestyle”.

Frank Matthews is a bigot.  I wish I believed his bigotry would backfire, but I fear this crap will work.  I hope the citizens of Birmingham will prove me wrong.

h/t mooncat at Left in Alabama

The Face of Evil

Saturday, January 16th, 2010

I thought, after their ignorant and hateful comments about Haiti, the choice would be either Pat Robertson or Rush Limbaugh. But in reality, the religious bigotry and the attempts at “humor” at the expense of people who’ve suffered a horrific tragedy haven’t stopped an outpouring of support from the United States, and they’ve both been subject to well-deserved opprobrium for their hateful and, yes, un-Christian remarks.

scott-lively-face-of-evilNo, the Face of Evil is this guy, Scott Lively, the man who last spring took his anti-gay crusade to Uganda, which, in what I’m sure is a complete coincidence, is now considering execution for people who commit “homosexual acts”.

“The gay movement is an evil institution,” he told Uganda’s Family Life Network. “The goal of the gay movement is to defeat the marriage-based society and replace it with a culture of sexual promiscuity.”

Then Lively, who has authored a book called The Pink Swastika, played into the fears raised by Uganda’s history.

“Male homosexuality has historically been, not adult to adult; it’s been Online Blackjack adult to teenager,” he said. “It’s called pederasty — adults sodomizing teenage boys.”

Later in his trip, Lively addressed the Ugandan Parliament on the gay issue, recommending therapy to help people leave their gay lifestyle. A few months later, a bill was introduced to execute people for some homosexual acts.

Lively says he never suggested putting the death penalty into bill, and he says he thinks the bill goes too far.

“But the fact that they’re willing to stand up and say, ‘No, we are not going let you homosexualize our country!’ — that is a step in the right direction, and I would hope that it would spread to other countries,” he says.

Yeah, don’t blame him.  He just went to Uganda and lied repeatedly about LGBT people and their motivations.  He says he doesn’t support the death penalty, but he’s still praising the sentiment behind it.  But, hey, it’s totally not his fault if the Ugandan government starts rounding up gay people and putting them to death.  Nope.  Not at all.

A Bunch of Old White Men Rally to Oppose Gambling

Wednesday, January 13th, 2010

Okay, that’s not really the headline, but looking at the picture accompanying the story might lead one to believe it is.

anti-gambling-rally

Dan Ireland a long time opponent to gambling leads a press conference on the steps of the Alabama State House on the second day of the Alabama legislative session in Montgomery, Ala., on Wednesday Jan. 14, 2010. ( The Birmingham News/Frank Couch )

These guys have every right to oppose gambling. Personally, I think it’s a short-sighted approach to solving the structural problems that plague Alabama’s budget — over-reliance on sales and income taxes, for one great big thing. What I want to know is where the heck are they when Alabama Arise rallies for tax reform, constitutional reform, better treatment Viagra 100mg of the poor? Why don’t they put the power of their voices and their congregations behind the dreamers who believe we can build a better, more just world?

I guess it’s easier to rail against “evil” than it is to reach for the light.

(This is not to say that none of the people pictured ever does anything to help the poor, but I know from experience how difficult it is to get faith communities involved in social justice work. Giving someone a handout is easy; trying to change systems that perpetuate poverty is hard. And it might offend big donors, who’ll take their pledge money and go down the street to the congregation that doesn’t “do politics”.)

Harry Reid and the Negro Dialect Thing

Wednesday, January 13th, 2010

It’s been hard to miss the flap over Harry Reid’s unfortunate remark about Barack Obama’s lack of “Negro dialect,” quoted in the gossipy soon-to-be-released book, “Game Change.” Even in Mobile, a city recently humiliated nationally by a film depicting its strictly segregated Mardi Gras celebration, the paper sees fit to print a cartoon poking fun at the “racist” Mr. Reid.

Well, this is my take on “Negro dialect.” Twenty-five years ago I worked for an insurance company in Metairie, LA. There was a girl there, I forget exactly what her job was, but it was low on the clerical totem pole. “Brenda” was a willing & hard worker, never late, never grousing, and furthermore she was an excellent typist, which was important back in the days before personal computers. She dressed professionally. She got along with everyone in the office. In short, she was the perfect worker – except for her speech. Brenda spoke AAVE—not the occasional colorful bit of slang or turn of phrase, but pure “Ebonics,” as the Oakland School Board would describe it.   (more…)

Another Reason to Avoid Fox News

Monday, January 11th, 2010

In a totally unsurprising turn of events, Sarah Palin has signed a multi-year deal to become a contributor on Fox News.  I’m not sure what it is she will contribute, but it certainly won’t be meticulous attention to detail and unwavering dedication to the truth.  Oh, wait, apparently she’ll “provide political commentary and analysis”.  Brilliant and insightful, I’m sure.

She will also Viagra host a show called “Real American Stories,” which Fox describes as “a series exploring inspirational real-life tales of overcoming adversity throughout the American landscape that will debut in 2010.”

Oh goody.  I can only imagine the emotionally manipulative mess of “they pulled themselves up by their very own bootstraps” stories she’ll inflict on gullible Fox viewers.

I can hardly contain my excitement…