Archive for February, 2008

>Gay Witch Hunts, Natural Born Presidents and Talullah Bankhead

February 29, 2008

>Maybe it is because today is leap day, but weird (and sleazy) things are in the news and on this blog. You try to keep up with things and you come across this statement: The other reason is that Ms. Simpson failed to find any evidence of a homosexual relationship between Mr. Siegelman and his long-time aide Nick Bailey.

That is the part of the story that “60 minutes” left out. But Glynn Wilson (reluctanty) writes about it at Locust Fork Journal although I first ran upon it at Legal Schnauzer.

Everytime I am reminded of Karl Rove’s use of the gay label to promote his political agendas, and that is often, I am reminded of just how hypocritical he is. I mean, he was profiled in The New Yorker with these words, “Rove spoke of his adoptive father in a tone of fierce admiration, love, and loyalty, for, as he put it, “how selfless his love had been.”

Louis Rove was gay. So Karl shows his admiration by using his father’s sexual identity to divide people. He uses his love for his “father” to promote hatred. Loyalty, according to Karl Rove, is promoting bigotry against your own father.

No one in politics is more slimy than Karl Rove. And it comes as no surprise that he was welcomed to Fox News as a contributor.

And then there is John McCain. No, not linked to this story, but in news that is weird.

McCain was not born in the United States, so some are wondering if he meets the qualifications for being president. McCain was born in the Panama Canal Zone on a military base, is this a “natural born citizen” as specified in the constitution?

I don’t think many people think McCain should be denied the presidency in this way (although most people think he should be denied the presidency through the casting of votes), but no doubt the supreme court will answer the question if he is in fact elected.

But did you know he is not the first candidate from Arizona to not be born in a state? Barry Goldwater was actually born in the territory of Arizona in 1909, three years before it become a state.

And here is an example of a congressperson rushing to pass a bill without thinking. Senator Claire McCaskill (D) of Missouri has introduced a bill that would declare any child born abroad to citizens in the U. S. military would meet the requirement of “natural-born” citizen.

That is nice. But what about children born to members of the diplomatic corp. Or to professors living abroad and teaching children of American diplomats. Or how about teachers living abroad and teaching anyone. Or how about anyone who is a U. S. citizen who is travelling abroad and happens to have their baby on foreign soil.

Reminds me of an old I Love Lucy episode in which “natural born” means “born naturally.” I couldn’t find that clip, but just for fun, here is another one.

Lucille Ball and Talullah Bankhead on the small screen together. Wow. Bankhead, of course, was from Alabama and was openly bisexual and probably lesbian.

Well, Lucy and Talullah argued about who was the best “Talullah” but more recently I think Jim Bailey takes the title. Talullah is, after all, the original bitter queen.

Oh well…have a nice leap day.

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Gay Witch Hunts, Natural Born Presidents and Talullah Bankhead

February 29, 2008

Maybe it is because today is leap day, but weird (and sleazy) things are in the news and on this blog. You try to keep up with things and you come across this statement: The other reason is that Ms. Simpson failed to find any evidence of a homosexual relationship between Mr. Siegelman and his long-time aide Nick Bailey.

That is the part of the story that “60 minutes” left out. But Glynn Wilson (reluctanty) writes about it at Locust Fork Journal although I first ran upon it at Legal Schnauzer.

Everytime I am reminded of Karl Rove’s use of the gay label to promote his political agendas, and that is often, I am reminded of just how hypocritical he is. I mean, he was profiled in The New Yorker with these words, “Rove spoke of his adoptive father in a tone of fierce admiration, love, and loyalty, for, as he put it, “how selfless his love had been.”

Louis Rove was gay. So Karl shows his admiration by using his father’s sexual identity to divide people. He uses his love for his “father” to promote hatred. Loyalty, according to Karl Rove, is promoting bigotry against your own father.

No one in politics is more slimy than Karl Rove. And it comes as no surprise that he was welcomed to Fox News as a contributor.

And then there is John McCain. No, not linked to this story, but in news that is weird.

McCain was not born in the United States, so some are wondering if he meets the qualifications for being president. McCain was born in the Panama Canal Zone on a military base, is this a “natural born citizen” as specified in the constitution?

I don’t think many people think McCain should be denied the presidency in this way (although most people think he should be denied the presidency through the casting of votes), but no doubt the supreme court will answer the question if he is in fact elected.

But did you know he is not the first candidate from Arizona to not be born in a state? Barry Goldwater was actually born in the territory of Arizona in 1909, three years before it become a state.

And here is an example of a congressperson rushing to pass a bill without thinking. Senator Claire McCaskill (D) of Missouri has introduced a bill that would declare any child born abroad to citizens in the U. S. military would meet the requirement of “natural-born” citizen.

That is nice. But what about children born to members of the diplomatic corp. Or to professors living abroad and teaching children of American diplomats. Or how about teachers living abroad and teaching anyone. Or how about anyone who is a U. S. citizen who is travelling abroad and happens to have their baby on foreign soil.

Reminds me of an old I Love Lucy episode in which “natural born” means “born naturally.” I couldn’t find that clip, but just for fun, here is another one.

Lucille Ball and Talullah Bankhead on the small screen together. Wow. Bankhead, of course, was from Alabama and was openly bisexual and probably lesbian.

Well, Lucy and Talullah argued about who was the best “Talullah” but more recently I think Jim Bailey takes the title. Talullah is, after all, the original bitter queen.

Oh well…have a nice leap day.

>Bessemer Citizens Have Power

February 28, 2008

>But first, we are smack dab in the middle of Lent, and Catholic or not (not) it is time to think of a new beginning. Spring is coming, but winter is trying to hold on. What better flower to find blooming than the lenten rose.
Crocuses (croci?) spring up unexpectedly and offer a nice surprise.

This is nice, and I forget it is here because I didn’t plant it. I don’t remember it blooming this early, but I guess it does.

Winter annuals try to hang on.

Those who read the Western Tribune last week may have read this:

In the 2000 movie Chocolat a cold north wind blows through town bringing change during the Lenten season. The people of the town struggle to find a balance between their tradition of faith and the acceptance of excess which in this story comes in the form of chocolate, brought by a woman of questionable reputation.

The Lenten season is a time for preparation, originally a time of prayer and fasting for those waiting to be baptized into the faith at the Easter vigil. And for those who do not observe Lent in a formal, religious manner, this season can be thought of as a time for preparation for the rebirth that comes each Spring.

In Bessemer, we could use this time for reflection about how we each contribute to the good of our community and to prepare for the change that will be coming.

Change? But there is not a local election until 2010. Correct, but change is coming never the less. For one thing, the attitude of the city council is changing. After a recent meeting when tempers flared and harsh words were exchanged, one councilor admitted she was embarrassed and another indicated he would be more diligent in making sure that our cities finances were handled with more accountability. The new council president shows signs of realizing the council is accountable to the citizens.

Change is also coming in the form of citizen advocacy. The Bessemer Neighborhood Association has helped bring back a feeling among citizens that they do have a voice and that they can influence the actions of the council. People who want to join this effort can start by attending the Association meeting Monday night at the Food World Community Room where the Bessemer Water Service and GUSC will be the topic.

Change may also be coming by way of the justice system. One council person has already been investigated and the case turned over to the attorney general. Sources say that more investigations are underway, and while city officials can not undo their actions of the past (try as they may) the feeling of someone looking over their shoulder may cause them to act more responsibly in the future.

While we don’t have a new “chocolaterie” in town (and we consider chocolate more of a necessity than an excess), we do have an opportunity to move this city forward. Let’s see what we can do about it.

When I wrote that I had no idea that change would come so quickly. The Bessemer Neighborhood Association is concerned about the Bessemer Water Service and GUSC and the upcoming bond issue and all, and we often wonder aloud at meetings why it seems that bonds are let according to favoritism rather than being bid. At our last two meetings this concern has been especially evident, and the mayor’s assistant has been present to hear these concerns.

Well now the mayor has decided that bids are the way to go. Ed May has suggested “the city seek competitive bids on bond issues.”

Council members are “open” to the idea.

Shouldn’t they be jumping all over this? Oh wait…they had their friends too, remember the last uprising, uh, bond issue (and it had to do with water also).

At any rate, more and more citizens are becoming informed through BNA meetings, this blog, The Western Tribune, and word of mouth, and I think the mayor and council are aware of this.

The power belongs to the citizens. They just have to assume it.

Bessemer Citizens Have Power

February 28, 2008

But first, we are smack dab in the middle of Lent, and Catholic or not (not) it is time to think of a new beginning. Spring is coming, but winter is trying to hold on. What better flower to find blooming than the lenten rose.
Crocuses (croci?) spring up unexpectedly and offer a nice surprise.

This is nice, and I forget it is here because I didn’t plant it. I don’t remember it blooming this early, but I guess it does.

Winter annuals try to hang on.

Those who read the Western Tribune last week may have read this:

In the 2000 movie Chocolat a cold north wind blows through town bringing change during the Lenten season. The people of the town struggle to find a balance between their tradition of faith and the acceptance of excess which in this story comes in the form of chocolate, brought by a woman of questionable reputation.

The Lenten season is a time for preparation, originally a time of prayer and fasting for those waiting to be baptized into the faith at the Easter vigil. And for those who do not observe Lent in a formal, religious manner, this season can be thought of as a time for preparation for the rebirth that comes each Spring.

In Bessemer, we could use this time for reflection about how we each contribute to the good of our community and to prepare for the change that will be coming.

Change? But there is not a local election until 2010. Correct, but change is coming never the less. For one thing, the attitude of the city council is changing. After a recent meeting when tempers flared and harsh words were exchanged, one councilor admitted she was embarrassed and another indicated he would be more diligent in making sure that our cities finances were handled with more accountability. The new council president shows signs of realizing the council is accountable to the citizens.

Change is also coming in the form of citizen advocacy. The Bessemer Neighborhood Association has helped bring back a feeling among citizens that they do have a voice and that they can influence the actions of the council. People who want to join this effort can start by attending the Association meeting Monday night at the Food World Community Room where the Bessemer Water Service and GUSC will be the topic.

Change may also be coming by way of the justice system. One council person has already been investigated and the case turned over to the attorney general. Sources say that more investigations are underway, and while city officials can not undo their actions of the past (try as they may) the feeling of someone looking over their shoulder may cause them to act more responsibly in the future.

While we don’t have a new “chocolaterie” in town (and we consider chocolate more of a necessity than an excess), we do have an opportunity to move this city forward. Let’s see what we can do about it.

When I wrote that I had no idea that change would come so quickly. The Bessemer Neighborhood Association is concerned about the Bessemer Water Service and GUSC and the upcoming bond issue and all, and we often wonder aloud at meetings why it seems that bonds are let according to favoritism rather than being bid. At our last two meetings this concern has been especially evident, and the mayor’s assistant has been present to hear these concerns.

Well now the mayor has decided that bids are the way to go. Ed May has suggested “the city seek competitive bids on bond issues.”

Council members are “open” to the idea.

Shouldn’t they be jumping all over this? Oh wait…they had their friends too, remember the last uprising, uh, bond issue (and it had to do with water also).

At any rate, more and more citizens are becoming informed through BNA meetings, this blog, The Western Tribune, and word of mouth, and I think the mayor and council are aware of this.

The power belongs to the citizens. They just have to assume it.

>Five Points South…West, and Churches and Taxes

February 27, 2008

>I’m confused. I tried to understand something Larry Langford said.

In talking about his proposed Five Points West project he said “It will take on the same flavor as Five Points South.”

In the Birmingham News article that comes just after describing the improvements as having an Olympic grade swimming facility, an indoor track and an equestrain training center.

I drive through Five Points South almost every day and the closest thing to a swimming facility I see is the fountain. No sports facilities (billiards does not count).
An aside…
The Storyteller and picture from Bham Online.


Anyway, the mayor is right on one thing. An indoor track facility is needed if in fact an indoor track state meet was not even offered by the Alabama High School Athletic Association (as the article says) because they did not have a track at which they could host the event. But I remember going to indoor track events at Garrett Coliseum in Montgomery years ago (college level) and the coliseum is still there and lists hosting sporting events as one of its offerings. Maybe what Steve Savarese, executive director of the High School Association, meant was he had not been diligent in securing a place for the event.

Ok I read about this on another blog, and would reference it if I could find it again…but I also saw it on CBS 42.

“Hello, thanks for calling, I am currently on a prison ministry assignment from God in Atlanta, Georgia for the next few months. This prison ministry assignment has been totally underwritten by the United States government in the form of a grant.”

Those are the words of Rev. Gregory Clarke on his outgoing voice mail message.

So, intentional humor or not, we are to believe that this “assignment” was from God, that it was God’s idea for him to break the law just so he could end up in federal prison. Nice. If that is not molding God to fit your own circumstances I don’t know what is.

My personal opinion when I see “tax” anything and “church” in the same sentence is that churches should not have any tax exempt status. Period. Now I know this has nothing to do with Clarke’s case, but still.

A snipet in the Birmingham News (from wire reports) says “The IRS is investigating the United Church of Christ over a speech Sen. Barack Obama gave at its national meeting last year…Obama belongs to the 1.2 million member protestant group. In a letter the denomination received Monday, the IRS said “resonable belief exists” that the circumstances surrouding the speech violated restrictions on political activity for tax-exempt organizations.”

Haven’t numerous candiates from both parties made speeches in churches within the last few months that violate those restrictions. Especially around the Martin Luther King holiday. I mean, the candidates would not have made those speeches if they had not been runnng for president would they? And they did make the speeches to try to persuade voters didn’t they?

Five Points South…West, and Churches and Taxes

February 27, 2008

I’m confused. I tried to understand something Larry Langford said.

In talking about his proposed Five Points West project he said “It will take on the same flavor as Five Points South.”

In the Birmingham News article that comes just after describing the improvements as having an Olympic grade swimming facility, an indoor track and an equestrain training center.

I drive through Five Points South almost every day and the closest thing to a swimming facility I see is the fountain. No sports facilities (billiards does not count).
An aside…
The Storyteller and picture from Bham Online.


Anyway, the mayor is right on one thing. An indoor track facility is needed if in fact an indoor track state meet was not even offered by the Alabama High School Athletic Association (as the article says) because they did not have a track at which they could host the event. But I remember going to indoor track events at Garrett Coliseum in Montgomery years ago (college level) and the coliseum is still there and lists hosting sporting events as one of its offerings. Maybe what Steve Savarese, executive director of the High School Association, meant was he had not been diligent in securing a place for the event.

Ok I read about this on another blog, and would reference it if I could find it again…but I also saw it on CBS 42.

“Hello, thanks for calling, I am currently on a prison ministry assignment from God in Atlanta, Georgia for the next few months. This prison ministry assignment has been totally underwritten by the United States government in the form of a grant.”

Those are the words of Rev. Gregory Clarke on his outgoing voice mail message.

So, intentional humor or not, we are to believe that this “assignment” was from God, that it was God’s idea for him to break the law just so he could end up in federal prison. Nice. If that is not molding God to fit your own circumstances I don’t know what is.

My personal opinion when I see “tax” anything and “church” in the same sentence is that churches should not have any tax exempt status. Period. Now I know this has nothing to do with Clarke’s case, but still.

A snipet in the Birmingham News (from wire reports) says “The IRS is investigating the United Church of Christ over a speech Sen. Barack Obama gave at its national meeting last year…Obama belongs to the 1.2 million member protestant group. In a letter the denomination received Monday, the IRS said “resonable belief exists” that the circumstances surrouding the speech violated restrictions on political activity for tax-exempt organizations.”

Haven’t numerous candiates from both parties made speeches in churches within the last few months that violate those restrictions. Especially around the Martin Luther King holiday. I mean, the candidates would not have made those speeches if they had not been runnng for president would they? And they did make the speeches to try to persuade voters didn’t they?

>Oscars Part II, La Vie En Rose

February 26, 2008

>Just a couple of more Oscar notes.

Ruby Dee is 83 years old. She looked marvelous and I just hope she will continue to perform. After all, production designer Robert Boyle received an Oscar Sunday night and he is 98 years old.

If you are not careful in trying to find information about Robert Boyle you find the philosopher and scientist of the same name. I did, and thought “Born in 1627, no wonder the man could hardly make it to the microphone” and then realized I had the wrong guy. The Boyle of old is known mostly for physics things, like Boyle’s law which has to do with movement of sound through air and such. Really it is deeper than that, stating that volume of a gas increases as pressure decreases at a constant temperature.

Back to the Oscars. Yesterday I mentioned Marion Cotillard and how happy yet unbelieving she was when she won. Here is her acceptance. Have you ever been this happy?

Here is Edith Piaf, sometimes thought of as France’s most poular pop singer of all time, in 1954 singing “La Vie En Rose” from which the movie takes its name.

And here is a little bit of Marion in the movie.

Something about Edith’s troubled life juxtaposed with the sheer joy Marion showed makes me want to see the movie. Netflix?

Oscars Part II, La Vie En Rose

February 26, 2008

Just a couple of more Oscar notes.

Ruby Dee is 83 years old. She looked marvelous and I just hope she will continue to perform. After all, production designer Robert Boyle received an Oscar Sunday night and he is 98 years old.

If you are not careful in trying to find information about Robert Boyle you find the philosopher and scientist of the same name. I did, and thought “Born in 1627, no wonder the man could hardly make it to the microphone” and then realized I had the wrong guy. The Boyle of old is known mostly for physics things, like Boyle’s law which has to do with movement of sound through air and such. Really it is deeper than that, stating that volume of a gas increases as pressure decreases at a constant temperature.

Back to the Oscars. Yesterday I mentioned Marion Cotillard and how happy yet unbelieving she was when she won. Here is her acceptance. Have you ever been this happy?

Here is Edith Piaf, sometimes thought of as France’s most poular pop singer of all time, in 1954 singing “La Vie En Rose” from which the movie takes its name.

And here is a little bit of Marion in the movie.

Something about Edith’s troubled life juxtaposed with the sheer joy Marion showed makes me want to see the movie. Netflix?

>Oscars…Gay after all

February 25, 2008

>Back in business. Don’t forget the Bessemer Neighborhood Associaiton meeting tonight at 7:00 at Food World.

This week is midterm week and last week was worse, as far as time was involved, so I was buried in books and meetings, but I can’t resist commenting on the Oscars.

Some gays still aren’t over the loss of Best Picture two years ago when Crash beat out Brokeback Mountain. They feel they were robbed (but hey, can’t that happen anytime votes are cast?..2000?). Personally, I think Brokeback Mountain garnered so much positive hype that not winning the Oscar is not a big deal. Disappointment, yes.

But this is 2008, and a year that there was not expected to be a big gay component to the Oscars (as if the ceremony could take place without a “big gay component”, but I digress). If you stayed up to the end of the show, however, you were not disappointed.

First, though, let me mention my favorite Oscar moments. I always love the surprise and joy exhibited by those who are not expected to win and do. Marion Cotillard, who won best actress for her performance of Edith Piaf in the French language film La Vie En Rose certainly did not disappoint. “…thank you life, thank you love, and it is true, there is some angels in this city. Thank you so, so much.” How can you argue with that for a magic moment, especially her joyful unbelieving walk off stage?

And while we are on the best performer categories (supporting actor), Javier Bardem – No Country For Old Men (who brought his mother to the event), rattled of part of his acceptance speech in Spanish (how long before republicans introduce a bill that award ceremony speeches have to be given in English?). Yes, Bardem is a hunk, and yes he has played gay roles a couple of times (Second Skin, Before Night Falls) and he has answered the “are you gay” question…but Javi…bringing your mother to the Oscars does not help to dispel rumors.

Another favorite moment was Diablo Cody winning for original screenplay for Juno. She had to hold her dress closed because of the slit that might have exposed her um… well, no one was looking because all eyes were focused on the great tat on her arm of a woman in a bikini. And what a character…she drew on her own life for Juno (minus the pregnancy), her first effort at screenwriting.

Oscars three gay moments (oh there were more, I know).

John Stewart’s relaying of backstage humor when two winners wanted their Oscars to kiss and one remarked that they were both men and admitted well this is Hollywood or something to that effect. I don’t have the transcript for this one.

But, not the first time two men have kissed backstage I am sure.

Shortly after that the Short Subject Documentary Freeheld, The Legacy of Laurel Hester, which is about a dying woman’s effort to get her pension awarded to her life partner. Here is part of director Cynthia Wade’s acceptance speech, “Thank you. It was Lieutenant Laurel Hester’s dying wish that her fight for, against discrimination would make a difference for all the same sex couples across the country that face discrimination every day. Discrimination that I don’t face as a married woman…”

Thank you Cynthia, both for telling this story, and for telling over 1 billion people (those watching last night) around the world about discrimination.

Finally, the Oscars ended with the best remark of the gay evening, producer Scott Rudin who along with Joel and Ethan Coen, won best picture for No Country for Old Men. Scott ended his acceptance speech and the evening with this, “This is also for my partner John Barlow. Without you, honey, this would be hardware. Thank you so much. Thank you.”

Being able to thank the one you love and who gives you support, priceless.

Oscars…Gay after all

February 25, 2008

Back in business. Don’t forget the Bessemer Neighborhood Associaiton meeting tonight at 7:00 at Food World.

This week is midterm week and last week was worse, as far as time was involved, so I was buried in books and meetings, but I can’t resist commenting on the Oscars.

Some gays still aren’t over the loss of Best Picture two years ago when Crash beat out Brokeback Mountain. They feel they were robbed (but hey, can’t that happen anytime votes are cast?..2000?). Personally, I think Brokeback Mountain garnered so much positive hype that not winning the Oscar is not a big deal. Disappointment, yes.

But this is 2008, and a year that there was not expected to be a big gay component to the Oscars (as if the ceremony could take place without a “big gay component”, but I digress). If you stayed up to the end of the show, however, you were not disappointed.

First, though, let me mention my favorite Oscar moments. I always love the surprise and joy exhibited by those who are not expected to win and do. Marion Cotillard, who won best actress for her performance of Edith Piaf in the French language film La Vie En Rose certainly did not disappoint. “…thank you life, thank you love, and it is true, there is some angels in this city. Thank you so, so much.” How can you argue with that for a magic moment, especially her joyful unbelieving walk off stage?

And while we are on the best performer categories (supporting actor), Javier Bardem – No Country For Old Men (who brought his mother to the event), rattled of part of his acceptance speech in Spanish (how long before republicans introduce a bill that award ceremony speeches have to be given in English?). Yes, Bardem is a hunk, and yes he has played gay roles a couple of times (Second Skin, Before Night Falls) and he has answered the “are you gay” question…but Javi…bringing your mother to the Oscars does not help to dispel rumors.

Another favorite moment was Diablo Cody winning for original screenplay for Juno. She had to hold her dress closed because of the slit that might have exposed her um… well, no one was looking because all eyes were focused on the great tat on her arm of a woman in a bikini. And what a character…she drew on her own life for Juno (minus the pregnancy), her first effort at screenwriting.

Oscars three gay moments (oh there were more, I know).

John Stewart’s relaying of backstage humor when two winners wanted their Oscars to kiss and one remarked that they were both men and admitted well this is Hollywood or something to that effect. I don’t have the transcript for this one.

But, not the first time two men have kissed backstage I am sure.

Shortly after that the Short Subject Documentary Freeheld, The Legacy of Laurel Hester, which is about a dying woman’s effort to get her pension awarded to her life partner. Here is part of director Cynthia Wade’s acceptance speech, “Thank you. It was Lieutenant Laurel Hester’s dying wish that her fight for, against discrimination would make a difference for all the same sex couples across the country that face discrimination every day. Discrimination that I don’t face as a married woman…”

Thank you Cynthia, both for telling this story, and for telling over 1 billion people (those watching last night) around the world about discrimination.

Finally, the Oscars ended with the best remark of the gay evening, producer Scott Rudin who along with Joel and Ethan Coen, won best picture for No Country for Old Men. Scott ended his acceptance speech and the evening with this, “This is also for my partner John Barlow. Without you, honey, this would be hardware. Thank you so much. Thank you.”

Being able to thank the one you love and who gives you support, priceless.