Archive for October, 2008

>Halloween Hits

October 31, 2008

>This is no surprise. Bessemer councilwoman Louise Alexander pleads not guilty. Her trial date is set for March 23.

Students are already voting in the National Mock Election. View results here . In Alabama, thus far, McCain has 51.39%, Obama has 45.9%. Nationally, Obama leads 62.1% to 34.23%. Ballots are being accepted until Tuesday, so results are not complete.

Let’s look at some battleground states. Students seem pretty smart.

Colorado Obama 60 McCain 35
Florida: Obama 63 McCain 31
Georgia Obama 66 McCain 31
Indiana Obama 61 McCain 31
Missouri Obama 54 McCain 41
Nevada Obama 74 McCain 23
North Carolina Obama 57 McCain 39
Pennsylvania Obama 58 McCain 37
Virginia Obama 62 McCain 33

Wow. Maybe Obama will do that well in the real election!

It’s Halloween, and we are prepared for trick or treaters.

Some years I put fake spider webs and spiders around the door, but this year I didn’t need to. A Snickers bar to whoever can identify her.

For a fright this Halloween, watch this (found at blogactive):

And from the Obama campaign (also found at blogactive):

>Barack Obama and Guns

October 30, 2008

>Congratulations to The Western Tribune, which announced that it will be publishing Bessemer Magazine for the Bessemer Area Chamber of Commerce.

Be sure and read my column from this week, which follows this post. A little history.

A letter in the Western Tribune made me feel good. From Dr. Doug Smith of Bessemer:

“After reading week after week of your resident liberal, socialist Democrat, Joe Openshaw, instead of responding to his bullshouvaski of misrepresentations, half-truths and outright lies about this country, the war against terrorism, Sarah Palin and John McCain, drilling for oil, on and on ad-nauseum, I would like to give you something you can hang your hat on!”

Wow! Of course, he goes on to reveal himself as one of those bitter people clinging to his gun.

But what makes me feel good is that he apparently spends a lot of time reading my column and possibly Bessemer Opinions as well. This makes me happy, because some people have to hear the truth many, many times before they believe.

Dr. Smith goes on to pick and choose votes about guns that Obama supposedly cast over the years. But to know what Obama’s position is on the Second amendment, one must examine his policy statement .

It says, for instance:

Millions of hunters and shooters own and use guns each year. Barack Obama believes the Second Amendment creates an individual right, and he respects the constitutional right of Americans to bear arms. He will protect the right of hunters and other law abiding Americans to purchase, own, transport and use guns.

For those who are slow to comprehend:

Millions of hunters and shooters own and use guns each year. Barack Obama believes the Second Amendment creates an individual right, and he respects the constitutional right of Americans to bear arms. He will protect the right of hunters and other law abiding Americans to purchase, own, transport and use guns.

Can it be any more clear? See the policy for more. There is more.

And speaking of guns, remember how a year ago the big issue was Iraq? And the big majority of Americans were against getting us out of Iraq, and wanted to elect a president who would do that, forcing Iraq to take responsibility for their own security and all? And remember how Obama is the anti-war candidate and John McCain is the forever war candidate? Just reminding you.

Here is another reminder, with music from Les Misérables.

Bring them home.

>Western Tribune Column October 29 2008

October 30, 2008

>Here is my column from this week’s Western Tribune. Notice that I took the high road, note that the Paper itself did not, printing an endorsement and letters for John McCain that resort to the same old lies we have heard for a year. More about that later. Here’s the column.

Voting a privilege not to be taken lightly

The most memorable post presidential election photo has to be the black and white picture of Harry Truman holding up the Chicago Daily Tribune with the headline “Dewey Defeats Truman.”

Every underdog since has probably referred to that election and that outcome.

The most controversial election outcome has to be Bush vs. Gore in 2000, which resulted in the U.S. Supreme Court deciding the outcome. We are still not over that.

But controversy goes back much further, to 1796, when John Adams defeated Thomas Jefferson. The candidates remained fairly civil, but their surrogates fought for them in nasty ways. Adams was accused of being too close to Britain’s monarchy. Jefferson was attacked for his views on religion. Adams was “aloof.” Jefferson was too close to France and its revolutions.

We still have candidates accusing one another of being elite and being too close to France, or having ties to odd religion.

Has nothing changed in over 200 years?

Not really. But since that election, we have had significant changes in who votes. Wyoming led the movement to grant women the vote, allowing voting rights in 1869, and the nation followed suit in 1920, with the Nineteenth Amendment.

The Fourteenth and Fifteenth Amendments were supposed to give voting rights to men regardless of race, but not until the 1965 Voting Rights Act was passed were Blacks across the nation able to register, and now voter suppression attempts still target people of color.

This year, the candidacy of Barack Obama has inspired millions of young people who as a group historically have not voted in large numbers but are expected to turn out. Early voting in various states indicates a massive voter turnout. In 2004, 122 million people voted. Regardless of who wins, this election will be historical in the number of voters who participate.

In just a few days you will have the opportunity to take part in this historical election. It is a privilege that should not be taken lightly or ignored. Even if you see Barack Obama or John McCain at your door on Halloween, let it serve as a reminder to vote on Tuesday.

And let’s hope, for the sake of our country, that the discourse on Tuesday evening and Wednesday morning is civil. The problems of our country are too great for the winner not to receive the support of all of us.

>Superintendent Gets Axed, Obama Gets the Nod

October 29, 2008

>Here in Bessemer we are building a new High School to replace aging Jess Lanier. I wonder who will be leading the system when it opens. I only ask because the Bessemer School Board voted not to renew superintendent Deborah Horn’s contract last night (and to buy out the remainder of her current contract). All Horn did was (1)raise the quality of education in Bessemer so that all seven of our schools make “adequate yearly progress” and (2) bring the financial reserves up to “second healthiest” in the state. Oh, and (3) improve the graduation rate at the “drop out factory” to 81 per cent. What more could you ask?


There’s just really not much more to say about the election. Blogging for Obama has peaked, hopefully not too early. But anyone who has halfway kept up knows what the candidates stand for and who will leave you better off four years from now.

Gee Paw, even Opie says so. If the video does not play…watch here . Thanks, Jim.

See more Ron Howard videos at Funny or Die

Chaz thinks so too. He says he got detention for writing this song…

This comes from back during the primaries, so there are references to Hillary.

My favorite line is:

“The senator from Illinois should be screaming White House Ahoy…”

Look for more election season music over the next few days.

>Rambling up to the Closing Argument

October 28, 2008

>The FBI released their hate crime statistics for 2007. There were over 7600 hate crimes last year, a 1% drop compared to 2006. In spite of the overall drop, anti-gay hate crimes saw an increase of 6%. Race, religion and sexual orientation were the leading motivators for hate crimes. Within those categories, most hate crimes were anti-black, anti-Jewish and anti-gay.

Speaking of hate crimes, two small town (listen up, Sarah) neo-Nazi skinheads planned to dress up in white tuxedos and top hats and go on a killing spree, targeting blacks and Barack Obama. CNN Story.

Meanwhile, there’s Ashley Todd. You have heard the story, and seen the self inflicted backwards “B” on her face. While it seems obvious that Todd is deranged, the incident is still a grand case of race baiting. Not just by the perp, but by Matt Drudge and McCain operatives who fueled the story.

Included are WERC 960 talk show host Dominick Brascia who still has the link to the story saying the attack was for real on his site. On the day of the attack he was in a frenzy with his cohorts trying to incite fears that any black person could do this and that they are all thugs. And on the next day after the story was found to be a hoax, did he apologize? No, they mentioned it was a hoax, but then he made sure to point out that an assault against him that he had spoken of previously was by a black person…I guess that was supposed to validate his accusations, however wrong. Then they went after Obama for being a “socialist.” (Proof, they said!)

You know, Brascia and most of the people screaming “socialist” and “Marxist” and “Communist” (including that reporter who interviewed Biden the other day with the most insulting and ridiculous questions so far) don’t even know that the words mean. To them they are just scary words that they want to link to Obama. I mean, it worked in the 50’s, so why not now?

And on the calm side of the presidential race:

Barack Obama has begun his closing argument with a speech in Canton, Ohio. The speech is about 30 minutes long. He’s back to being inspirational, offering hope and a promise of a better tomorrow.

>Newspaper Endorsements

October 27, 2008

>I was not very surprised to see that the Birmingham News endorsed John McCain yesterday. Nor was I when I opened the Decatur Daily and found their endorsement of Barack Obama. So my curiosity would have led me to try and determine what other Alabama newspapers had done when I received an email on my blackberry from Wade who had already done the work, Alabama Newspapers Endorse Obama by 2 – 1 Margin (there you can read what the various editors had to say).

The list:

For McCain: The Birmingham News, The Mobile Press Register.

For Obama: The Decatur Daily, The Talladega Daily Home, The Montgomery Advertiser, The Florence Times Daily, The Tuscaloosa News*.

Notice that several of those endorsements are from small town papers. And remember Sarah Palin tried to claim small towns in spite of what they sometimes represent.

Obama’s total for newspaper endorsements is over 173.

I really liked this one, though. Anchorage Daily News – Obama for President.

It is Sen. Obama who truly promises fundamental change in Washington. You need look no further than the guilt-by-association lies and sound-bite distortions of the degenerating McCain campaign to see how readily he embraces the divisive, fear-mongering tactics of Karl Rove. And while Sen. McCain points to the fragile success of the troop surge in stabilizing conditions in Iraq, it is also plain that he was fundamentally wrong about the more crucial early decisions. Contrary to his assurances, we were not greeted as liberators; it was not a short, easy war; and Americans — not Iraqi oil — have had to pay for it. It was Sen. Obama who more clearly saw the danger ahead.

The unqualified endorsement of Sen. Obama by a seasoned, respected soldier and diplomat like Gen. Colin Powell, a Republican icon, should reassure all Americans that the Democratic candidate will pass muster as commander in chief.

And on governor Palin:

Yet despite her formidable gifts, few who have worked closely with the governor would argue she is truly ready to assume command of the most important, powerful nation on earth. To step in and juggle the demands of an economic meltdown, two deadly wars and a deteriorating climate crisis would stretch the governor beyond her range. Like picking Sen. McCain for president, putting her one 72-year-old heartbeat from the leadership of the free world is just too risky at this time.

Three days and counting. Oh, I’m voting absentee on Thursday, probably. I might be going to a swing state to help get out the vote. Eight days for the rest of you.

* I hope Bill Maher sees this. On Real Time Friday night he challenged Tuscaloosa not to vote for McCain, saying Tuscaloosa is the least likely place to vote for Obama. We will see.

>Western Tribune Column and Art Announcement

October 25, 2008

>On Saturday, October 25, 2008 at Avondale Park in Birmingham…Art in the Park. Ted Openshaw will have on display and for sale his work. About a hundred other artists. 10-4

Ok I forgot about posting my column from the Western Tribune the other day. Here it is.


“Mr. Ayers, I don’t care about an old washed-up terrorist.”

Those were John McCain’s words in reference to former radical Bill Ayers during the final presidential debate.

If he doesn’t care, why did his campaign begin placing Robocalls, automated phone calls, the very next day that say the following?

“Hello. I’m calling for John McCain and the RNC because you need to know that Barack Obama has worked closely with domestic terrorist, Bill Ayers, whose organization bombed the U.S. Capitol, the Pentagon, a judge’s home, and killed Americans.”

Furthermore, during the debate, John McCain said he was not running a negative campaign.

This is the most deceitful presidential candidate I have ever seen, and I can’t believe anyone would vote for him.

Barack Obama was eight years old when Ayers committed his despicable acts. Since then, Ayers has become a distinguished professor and received man of the year awards.

As William Ibershof, the federal prosecutor of the Ayers case said, “I am amazed and outraged that Senator Barack Obama is being linked to William Ayers’s terrorist activities 40 years ago when Mr. Obama was, as he has noted, just a child. Although I dearly wanted to obtain convictions against all the Weathermen, including Bill Ayers, I am very pleased to learn that he has become a responsible citizen.”

A responsible citizen.

I am not sure I would even assign that label to John McCain, the way he is acting.

Then there is this. After Obama explained that he voted against a ban on a procedure because it did not include protections for the health of the mother, McCain mocked “health of the mother”, saying that was an “extreme” position. If my daughter was experiencing a difficult pregnancy that was going to kill her, I would not consider it extreme to lose the fetus to save her life.

A tragedy, yes. Extreme, no.

When this particular disregard for women is considered along with his stated position of being against equal pay for women, I am amazed that any female would vote for the man. To do so would be regarding themselves as second class citizens.

>Poll Results and Hallway Restore

October 24, 2008

>Poll Results

The poll results to the left are pretty amazing, even though the sample was small (n=51), and the method non-scientific. There were 26 votes for Obama (Already decided + decided because of Colin Powell), or, 51%. There were 22 votes for McCain, or 43%. Undecideds, including the person who was not yet registered, totalled 3, or 5.9%. I hope that person registers by today (in Alabama); did you?

This is very close to the Real Clear Politics poll of polls, which today had Obama at 50%, McCain at 43% , leaving 7% undecided.

This makes me think that Bessemer Opinions readers are a snapshot of the nation. Even though from my site statistics I know that readers come mostly from Alabama, I also know that I have regular readers in Scotland and in South Africa, as well as occasional readers from other countries, and they may have voted.

Since Barack Obama has left the campaign trail, I will leave the supporter trail and show some pictures of my hallway project.

Preparing the Walls

Here is what you have to deal with, multiple layers of wallpaper (on the ceiling also), cracked plaster, staples holding torn wallpaper together (and papered over).

This is the original wallpaper, from the 1890’s. Beautiful, but it had to make the hallway dark and dreary.

This was the second wallpaper applied, hard to know what year, I am not a wallpaper expert. I would guess in the 20’s.

This paper was probably added in the 1950’s.

This was a neat find. Someone had penciled a three digit phone number on the plaster. This was in the area where, oddly enough, I could tell, an early wall telephone had been removed, and the plaster repaired. So the number is not from the time of the original plastering (ca. 1895). I don’t know much about telephone history in Bessemer, except I have an old Recipe Booklet from the Circle No. 1 Ladies from First Methodist Church, which has one digit (Phone 3 Searcy’s Market), two digit (Phones 20 and 21 Superior Ice Cream Co)and three digit (Phone 185, 186 Anderson’s Cleaners – we still use them)and four digit number (Phones 1414 – 9131 J. W. Huddleston Prescription Druggist). This booklet was made sometime after 1927 (an ad for Bentley’s claims “since 1927.” )
It looks like “Randall + Miller Phone 415” or something close to that.

Re-doing the hallway, also means means re-doing this scary staircase which leads down to the dungeon…uh, basement. See how it looks like steam is rising? Hmmm.

Here the walls are repaired and ready to paint. That began yesterday.

More pictures when the project is complete.

>Ding Dong

October 23, 2008

>I tell you what. I will be Dorothy. We will let Dale Jones of The Western Star be the Wicked Witch of the West (ern Star). Now I realize the song is about the death of the Wicked Witch of the East…but… after the Wicked Witch of the West was killed later in the movie, there was supposed to be a reprise of the song sung by the Winkies (beginning with Hail Hail the Witch is Dead). But this scene was cut from the film, and the film footage of it was lost. Yada yada… Anyway, let’s pretend!

“It really was no miracle what happened was just this
The wind began to switch, the house to hitch and suddenly the hinges started to unhitch
Just then the witch, to satisfy an itch, went flying on his broomstick thumbing for a hitch
And oh, what happened then was rich…

Let the joyous news be spread, the wicked old witch at last is dead
Ding dong the witch is dead (Which old witch) the wicked witch.”

Of course Dale Jones is not dead, and I wouldn’t wish that on him. But, as he announced in this week’s Western Star, he is moving into another chapter in his life. And his policies, which I list below, are dead. Maybe.

He also writes about having brought the newspaper “back to the basics.” I guess going back to the basics includes cutting out such things as…news…because the paper went from a 24 page weekly to a 16 page weekly. Basics also included plagiarism, printing inaccuracies about homosexuality and printing inaccuracies about the War in Iraq. Oh and don’t forget unethical printing of letters.

So being relieved of Dale Jones helps the city of Bessemer by raising our standards. Well, I guess that depends on who replaces him.

Let’s see, the editor leaves? A reporter in handcuffs? Front page “In the News” that is “old news” and was reported in last weeks Western Tribune?

Just stick to The Western Tribune for up to date stories about local news, and the best in local columnists…including Sandy Miranda, Hank Tyler, Chuck Rackley, Nancy Hartzog and Chef Francois Buffon and Pastor Doug O’Brien as well as yours truly. Gee, we have more local columnists, local ownership. It’s like…we are… The Local Paper!!!

>Tipping Point

October 22, 2008

>OK. Here is the crap I have to put up with. People who are ashamed of themselves and post anonymous comments say things like this:

Joe is extremely prejudiced! More so than the people he struggles to slander on a daily basis through his blog! If you don’t agree with Joe, you my friend are a racist hate monger and public enemy number 1! So what does that make Joe? That’s right, he is just as prejudiced as the person who puts on a white robe and burns a cross or openly speaks out against gay rights or maybe uses the “N” word. Look in the mirror Joe! Oh wait, that would be the christian thing to do.

I did not publish this comment, not because I am embarrassed at the accusation or refuse to publish opposing views, but because it is useless chatter.

First of all, why am I “extremely prejudiced?” I truly don’t understand this accusation. Prejudice is “making a decision before becoming aware of the relevant facts of a case or event.” Unless something I post is copied (with reference) or meant to be funny, I research or confirm what I write.

Prejudice used to mean “making a judgment about a person based on their race, religion, class, etc.”, but more recently has been used to describe”any unreasonable attitude that is unusually resistant to rational influence,” including “race, sex, ethnicity, sexual orientation, age, and religion…”

I understand the people I speak out against. I understand their beliefs, their philosophies. That is why I speak out against them. If I make a broad statement about right wing Christians, for instance, it is because of their beliefs and actions that I consider wrong, but it is not because of their Christianity, per se. The problem is, they have warped Christianity into a divisive element so far removed from what Jesus must have had in mind that it is barely recognizable. But I digress.

Now this anonymous commenter may be reacting to the post he tried to comment on, or he may have read my column in today’s Western Tribune and reached a tipping point, I don’t know. I will post that column tomorrow, for those who do not subscribe to the paper.

It’s almost laughable that I am compared to KKK members by a right winger just days after “they” tried to discredit a civil rights hero (John Lewis) for making the same comparison about certain elements of the McCain campaign. Because I am for human equality, regardless of race, gender, sexual orientation and age (innate characteristics) and even religion and creed (chosen characteristics), I am considered prejudiced?

I’ve reached a tipping point myself. I am sick of anonymous commenters. Especially when I have a good idea who they are. And where they work. (I do wonder what they were doing in handcuffs in downtown Bessemer the other day, but my research hasn’t turned up the reason).

I will find a way that is best to avoid anonymous postings, and my first attempt is using openID. When you comment, you will be required to use your google blogger name or one of several other ID’s. I don’t want to exclude commenters, I just want to exclude people who will not identify themselves. If you don’t have any of the ID’s offered, create one, I guess is my recommendation. We will see how this works. My other option is to require membership to the blog to post, but that is limited to 100 people. Well over 100 read each day, but I don’t know how many would want to post comments, and only they would have to be members. Others could read, I guess. Help me out here fellow bloggers if you have suggestions.

If you find you cannot post a comment, and want to, email me…I will try to work around it either by posting your comment myself, with you name (or pseudonym) and the explanation that I am posting it for you, or change the way comments are handled.

In the meantime, continue to enjoy Bessemer Opinions where you can be entertained and educated on an almost daily basis.