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A Disquisition on greed in politics, Part 2: Examples of greed in Alabama politics

Samuel McLure

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By Sam McLure
Alabama Political Reporter

Politics is No Place for the Invisible Hand of Capitalism

In the early 20th century, G.K. Chesterton responded to a newspaper inquiry which asked readers to send in answers to a pressing question: “What is wrong with the world?”  Chesterton’s write-in response was, “Dear Sir: Regarding your article ‘What’s Wrong with the World?’ I am. Yours truly, G.K. Chesterton.”

Any analysis of greed in politics must start with this kind of humility.  We must acknowledge that the test of influence is far more perilous than the test of obscurity. With more power comes more opportunity for greed – more opportunity to use our position and influence to promote ourselves to the detriment of our neighbor.

This accurate self-assessment, is, in-part, what drove the founders of our government to establish safeguards to prevent too great a consolidation of governmental prowess. No man is up to the task of absolute power. In an ideal world, everyone would be as reluctant to acquire power as George Washington, who had to be begged into the Presidency. But, we do not live in an ideal world. We live in a very fallen world. Thus, in 2017 we must accurately diagnose occurrences of greed in politics and consider how to restrain the opportunity for acting on it, just as the founders of America did in 1776.

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In our Introduction with Mr. Blue Suit, we explored a satirical analogy of greed in politics; and  in Part I, we highlighted Sen. Calhoun’s observation that, behind the scenes of both political parties, there is a group of “active politicians”, controlled by greed, with whom “a regard for principle or this or that line of policy is a mere pretext. They’re perfectly indifferent to either and their whole effort is to make up on both sides such issues as they may think for the time the most popular, regardless of truth or consequences.”

Sen. Calhoun also observed “that our whole system is rapidly becoming a mere money-making concern to those who have the control of it.” And that “every feeling of patriotism is rapidly sinking into a universal spirit of [greed].”

On this point I must disagree with Sen. Calhoun; he could have benefited from a little more historical perspective.  The American governmental system was not “rapidly becoming” consumed with and controlled by greed. On the contrary, this has always been the bent of government.  As long as fallen men and women have the reigns of power, the most difficult questions of proper governing will revolve around how to restrain vicious greed in politics.

Adam Smith, Wealth of Nations 

The same year the American Declaration of Independence was submitted to the Crown, Adam Smith submitted his treatise to the world, An Inquiry into the Nature and Causes of the Wealth of Nations.  The notion of capitalism’s “Invisible Hand” and the great benefits of free trade between countries are some of the more conspicuous attributes of Smith’s work.

A less known attribute is Smith’s disdain for business-conglomerate-interests which tend to control governments for their own greedy interests, in violation of the free market, and to the detriment of the community.

“[T]he cruelest of our revenue laws . . . are mild and gentle, in comparison to some of those which the clamour of our merchants and manufacturers has extorted from the legislature, for the support of their own absurd and oppressive monopolies. Like the laws of Draco, these laws may be said to be all written in blood.”

“The capricious ambition of kings and ministers has not, during the present century, been more fatal to the repose of Europe, than the impertinent jealousy of merchants and manufactures.

It is the industry which is carried on for the benefit of the rich and the powerful, that is principally encouraged by our mercantile system. That which is carried on for the benefit of the poor and the indigent is too often either neglected or oppressed.”

Where do we find greed in Alabama Politics?

The examples of greed in Alabama politics are as ubiquitous as the aroma of peanuts in the Wiregrass. We need look no further than Oliver Robinson, Luther Strange, Mike Hubbard, or Blue Cross Blue Shield of Alabama’s monopoly on health insurance.

The atrocities of greed are grievous regardless of party affiliation. No five year old dreams of growing up to be a greedy bastard.  Children dream of being pure-hearted superheroes, or talented athletes, or kind and beautiful princesses.  Greed perverts the good intentions of our hearts in small and great ways every day.  It is thus incumbent upon those endowed with the public trust, our elected officials, to rigorously and daily subject themselves to the highest levels of scrutiny.

Lobbying for “Business Interests” to the Detriment of the Community

Prowling in the shadowlands of Alabama politics are two, so-called, non-profits which posses such a conglomeration of power over the processes of Alabama’s government, that they are inevitably used for greed: Business Council of Alabama (BCA) and the Medical Association of Alabama (MASA).  And, by “used for greed,” I do not mean that they only perpetuate policies of greed which serve a detriment to the community.  They often exude noble goals for the good of the entire state.  Their employees and members are not all evil actors consumed with greed. Their lobbyist aren’t all secretly serpentine sewer dwellers.

Yet, what they posses is such a conglomeration of power over the processes of government, that they are inevitably leveraged for greed.

Again, Adam Smith explains:

“It cannot be very difficult to determine who have been the contrivers of this whole mercantile system; not the consumers, we may believe, whose interest has been entirely neglected; but the producers, whose interest has been so carefully attended to and among this latter class, our merchants and manufacturers have been by far the principal architects. In the mercantile regulations … the interest of our manufacturers has been most peculiarly attended to; and the interest, not so much of the consumers, as that of some other sets of producers, has been sacrificed to it.”

The first red-flag to notice about BCA is that the CEO of this “non-profit” takes home a salary that is 1,500 percent higher than the average Alabamian’s income, not to mention his complimentary Montgomery Country Club membership.  There is nothing a-moral about earning such a salary, but there are two things which should alarm us, right off the bat. First, Bill Canary and the BCA are lying. The mantle of “non-profit” is a farce when the CEO takes home $600,000 in salary.  Second, living at this level of economic elitism, 1,500 percent above average, has the tendency to make a man 1,500 degrees out of touch with the average Alabamian – out of touch with the community and what serves its good.

The second red-flag is that almost nobody in the Yellowhammer State spends more on influencing elections than BCA.  In the last election cycle, BCA spent almost $250,000 just on ensuring that the two most powerful men in the Legislature, Mike Hubbard and Del Marsh, were re-elected … Not to mention dozens of other candidates from both major parties.

Is this inherently evil? No. It is not. But, it endows BCA with, at least, the reputation of being able to get anyone they want elected. It has the tendency to send a message to any politician who opposes their agenda, “Vote the way we want you to vote, or  you will not be sitting here after the next election. We will find someone more ‘business friendly’ to run against you, and will mega-fund their campaign.”

While this business-interest-power-conglomeration is not inherently evil, the net effect of the intoxication of its power gave Bill Canary the audacity to track down a Legislator in the halls of the State House and publicly wag his finger in this Legislators face demanding an account: “What were you thinking introducing that bill! You didn’t get our permission!” If Bill Canary is so brazen as to do this in public, we must wonder what cupidity transcends in private.

A third red flag we should notice is the irregularities in the source and frequency of contributions to BCA’s political action committee, Progress PAC. Most donations are from hundreds of different business in the $200-$300 dollar range.  Then there is the seemingly “random” donation of $15,000 from a towing company or $10,000 from a major law firm.  Gaining an explanation for these amounts and what specific benefit the larger “sporadic” donors hope to obtain, is a veil that perhaps only the Alabama Attorney General can pierce.

Politics is No Place for the Invisible Hand of Capitalism

Some of the initiatives that BCA has pursued seem noble and good for “the body of people” – like tort reform. While BCA’s stated mission is “to improve industry and labor conditions for the State of Alabama,” the trend of BCA’s legislative initiatives, of late, has been harder to connect with a state-wide benefit to business.  One particularly troubling trend should be highlighted.

Any time the Federal Government dangles the carrot of Federal money, BCA chases it. Under the Obama administration, the Federal Government promised billions of dollars if Alabama would implement certain educational policies known as Common Core. Under the Trump administration the same carrot is used with infrastructure money.  In both cases, BCA has served as the impetus for Alabama to relinquish its sovereignty for the financial benefit of a few business who gain exorbitant contracts.

The evils of being beholden to Federal Money have been covered in-depth and can be reviewed in the article, Something Wicked This Way Comes.  In order for Alabama to be truly free, we must stop taking money from the Federal Government.

Take the Orwellian Data Collection Bill, HB 97, for example. The ODC, as I like to call it, proposed to keep data on all Alabama citizens from pre-kindergarten, all the way through school, and into a persons working career, and until they die; then store all that data in one central location. After 30 minutes of debate in the House Committee, it became clear that this bill would expand government and put Alabama citizens at risk of identity theft.  But, the benefit to the State was that we would get more Federal money. That’s right, the Federal Government is bribing the states to gather and store data on all their citizens.

The Orwellian Data Collection bill is a terrible policy for the people of Alabama, but because certain business interests will profit from the arrangement, BCA lobbies in its favor, regardless if it is good for the citizens of the State of Alabama.

If time and space allowed, we could write an entire article on BCA’s chase to enrich select businesses with Federal infrastructure money and their plan to make the “body of people” pay with the excise of a 9 cent gas tax. We could cover the special subdivision BCA has established to convince Alabamians this is for their own good, Alliance for Alabama’s Infrastructure, their Twitter account Fix AL Roads, and their Facebook page, Fix My Roads Alabama, which coincidentally is endorsed by Vulcan Materials, which coincidentally is one of the nations largest producers of the stuff that is necessary to build roads and bridges. Alas, it does not.

 

Medical Association of the State of Alabama – Monopoly of the Home Market

Adam Smith poignantly observed the conflict of interests between the “merchants and manufacturers” and the “body of the people”:

“[The interests of the merchants and manufacturers is] directly opposite to that of the great body of the people [in buying whatever they want of those who sell it cheapest]. As it is the interest of the freemen of a corporation to hinder the rest of the inhabitants from employing any workmen but themselves; so it is the interest of the merchants and manufacturers of every country to secure to themselves the monopoly of the home market.”

The same is true of the Medical Association of Alabama, MASA.  They protect the turf of medical doctors. They seek a monopoly on healthcare by opposing expanded practice rights for chiropractors, oppose the licensing of naturopathic doctors, and oppose the practice of mid-wives.  MASA opposes protecting pre-born infants from murder and any policy that would permit the free-market to disturb their members’ monopoly on healthcare.

While it is true that MASA works on some laws and regulations that keep Alabamians safe, we must ask what restrains MASA from being used as a tool to accomplish what Adam Smith described as “a manifest violation of the most sacred rights of mankind,” to wit, preventing the citizenry “from making all that they can of every part of their own produce, or from employing their stock and industry in the way that they judge most advantageous to themselves”?

 

BCA and MASA are Just Playing the Game!?

I’m obviously picking on BCA and MASA, but they are not alone. 298 PACs supported Hubbard for a total of $1.25 million or 75% of his campaign contributions.  Del Marsh’s numbers are almost identical: 237 PACS for $1.1 million or 65% of his campaign contributions. And, let’s not be too hard on the candidates that took BCA money. In 2014, it was BCA that helped to ouster AEA … and the resulting Republican take-over.  It was almost a stamp of honor to take BCA money, because that meant you weren’t taking money from AEA.  Even the anti-establishment golden boy, Rep. Ed Henry, took $15,000 from BCA.

The sheer volume of PACs makes it nearly impossible for the people of the State of Alabama to understand what influences “their” politicians. For example Retailers of Alabama PAC gave Del March $42,500; ROADPAC gave $35,500; CAREPAC gave $35,000; Automobile Dealers Assoc. of Alabama Inc. Auto PAC gave $40,000; MASA gave $70,000; and Alabama Power Co. Employees State PAC gave $50,000.

ROADPAC for example is Chaired by Terry Bunn and has the stated purpose of “the protection and advancement of the roadbuilding industry.” The Bunn family is based out of Tuscaloosa and has been in the transportation industry since 1917.  Since 2013, ROADPAC received $450,000 in contributions from 40 construction companies.  These 40 companies used ROADPAC to pool their resources to get the biggest bang-for-their-buck.  What’s better than 40 small sticks? Answer: one big stick.

What would stop ROADPAC from using their one-big-stick to pass laws in Alabama that are contrary to the best interests of the State of Alabama, like the 9 cent gas tax? Certainly ROADPAC will pressure it’s politicians to pass laws that will enable the 40 companies who contributed to ROADPAC to get access to the $4 billion in infrastructure money promised by the Trump administration.

What if the next president says she will give $8 billion to each state for infrastructure on condition that each state implements an educational policy which promotes the “principle” that Christianity is a religion of hate.  Would ROADPAC be able to stop itself from going after the Federal Money? Would the 40 companies which fund ROADPAC step back and say, “Wait a minute guys … maybe we shouldn’t go after this Federal money.”

I don’t think so. Federal Money is like a heroine addiction.  Without an outside force acting on the addict, without an intervention, the addict will persist in his self-destructive ways.

The fact is that BCA and MASA are not villains. They’re just the best at the game.  And can we blame them? It’s a game everyone is trying to play.  Get control of government to get control of tax revenue and protect the turf of your industry. 

The citizens of Alabama must expect and fight for better.  In Edinburg, Scotland, at the base of so-named Castle, stands a monument with the inscription, “A true Scotsman gives up his freedom, only at the cost of his life.”  I wish this were true of Alabama. Adam Smith explained that the prohibitions and regulations on trade extorted by the business-interests-conglomerates of his day as an impertinent bases of slavery imposed upon [the community], without any sufficient reason, by the groundless jealousy of the merchants and manufacturers.”

BCA, MASA, and the hundreds of other business conglomerates in Alabama seek the same thing, “an impertinent bases of slavery,” imposed through the State Legislature, enforced by the Governor, and upheld by the Judiciary. Rep. Davy Crocket warned of this when he proclaimed that “the power of collecting and distributing money at pleasure is the most dangerous power known to man.”

Adam Smith is an Optimist

In addition to his bleak analysis, Adam Smith gives us hope that the invisible hand of capitalism can be restrained in politics:

“The violence and injustice of the rulers of mankind is an ancient evil, for which, I am afraid, the nature of human affairs can scarce admit a remedy: but the mean rapacity, the monopolizing spirit, of merchants and manufacturers, who neither are, nor ought to be, the rulers of mankind, though it cannot, perhaps, be corrected, may very easily be prevented from disturbing the tranquility of anybody but themselves.”

In Part 3, we expect to explore remedies for restraining the province of greed in Alabama politics.

 

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Opinion | Maddox is pro-life, pro-gun — and the Ivey campaign is freaking out

Josh Moon

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The Kay Ivey campaign threw a bit of a hissy fit earlier this week.

You probably missed it, since it took place mostly on old fashioned radio and rightwing blogs, but there was outrage aplenty.

Because Walt Maddox, who’s running against Ivey for governor, released his first statewide campaign ad and revealed that he’s both pro-life and pro-second amendment.

And whooooo boy, the Ivey campaign went crazy.

In a bizarre, angry statement, Ivey’s handlers called Maddox a liar — an allegation for which they offered zero proof — and then tossed in some Sarah Palin-like buzzwords and pretended to be just aghast that Maddox would say such things.

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“Walt Maddox promises not to lie, yet he just told two lies in 30 seconds. That takes lying to a whole new level – even for a politician like Walt Maddox,” the Ivey campaign wrote, and then paused for a breath.

While that all might seem a bit over the top, it’s actually understandable.

Because the phony issues of abortion and guns are all the Ivey campaign has.

If they can’t use those, and instead have to run on Ivey’s record of staying the hell out of sight, they’re toast. And they know it.

So, they can’t sit idly by and allow Maddox to tell people what he believes. They have to attack him and call him a liar.

And as proof of his lies, they offer … well, nothing.

Because mayors, like governors, don’t have a voice in the abortion argument. So, Maddox has no record of opposing abortion. He has two children, so he’s at least been pro-life twice. And there’s nothing to suggest that he doesn’t believe exactly what he says he does.

As for guns, I have a newsflash for you rightwingers: lots of people on the left own and enjoy shooting firearms of all sorts. Quite a few of us are pretty good at it. And even more of us think that owning a gun for personal protection is a right that we’d like to protect.

The fact is there are a whole bunch of Democrats who fall all over the map on both issues. Because both issues, despite what the fringes of both sides would have you believe, are incredibly complicated and nuanced.

Of course, that’s not the way the Ivey campaign wants to present them. There’s only abortion and not abortion, guns and not guns.

But how Ivey herself would respond to the specifics of each question — for example, what would she do in the instances of rape, or does she favor stronger protections to prevent the mentally ill from obtaining firearms — is unknown.

That’s because she’s refused to debate, where the specifics of complicated issues often get exposed as candidates go back and forth and voters are given an opportunity to better understand the issues and the candidates’ positions.

Ivey has run scared from those, because she knows the truth.

Walt Maddox isn’t some super-liberal. He’s a moderate with a better track record of actually doing things. If Ivey participated in a debate with Maddox, and his actual views and ideas were presented side-by-side with hers, all the PAC money in the world couldn’t save her.

Instead of debating, Ivey continues to hide behind her PR people and participate in 2-minute press scrums and softball radio interviews — places where she can toss out folksy soundbites without ever being truly challenged on her beliefs, lack of ideas and zero accomplishments.

Her handlers are hoping to do just enough to distract voters from these facts.

Maddox took away two of their shiny objects this week.

That’s why they were so mad.

 

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Bill Britt

Opinion | The people have a right to know if their attorney general is a cheat

Bill Britt

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If there is a shred of integrity left at the Alabama Ethics Commission, it will immediately convene an emergency hearing to settle the issues of whether the State’s Attorney General Steve Marshall violated campaign finance laws.

For nearly three months, the commission has failed to rule on whether Marshall knowingly ignored the state’s Fair Campaign Practice Act in taking $735,000 in illegal contributions from the Republican Attorneys General Association. RAGA is not registered with the state and commingles its funds with other political action committees, masking the donors contrary to Alabama law. Ethics Commission Executive Director Tom Albritton knows Marshall’s contributions were unlawful, so does Secretary of State John Merrill, but no one is willing to act. Even Marshall himself is on the record saying the type of contributions he received from RAGA are illegal and banning such contributions was, “the only legal protection standing between Alabama voters and the reality or appearance of quid pro quo corruption.”

Perhaps the larger question for the Commission and the Alabama Republican Party is should a candidate who willingly takes illegal campaign contributions be allowed to remain on the ballot?

In the least, the voters in Alabama have a right to know if the Republican nominee for the state’s top lawyer violated the law.

The primary function of the state’s attorney general is to represent the state in legal matters, protect the people and seek out and prosecute public corruption.

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The Ethics Commission must call a special hearing to address the allegation against Marshall before the Nov. 6 election.

If the commission refuses to act, it will confirm it is merely an extension of the political corruption that plagues our state.

Ethics Director Albritton and Secretary Merrill have made it clear in statements and previous writings that Marshall’s acceptance of the RAGA funds is an unlawful act.

Merrill, in 2015, asserted out-of-state PAC contributions made to an Alabama candidate are illegal if the PAC is not fully compliant with Alabama laws which require registration and full disclosure of its donors.

RAGA is not registered in Alabama, and its donors are not immediately disclosed under Alabama law because it accepts PAC-to-PAC transfers which mask the original donors.

Secretary of State’s letter addressed out-of-state PACs meddling in Alabama elections

For his part, in June, Albritton told al.com that he had informed other campaigns that similar donations would not be legal.

Merrill and Albritton make it evident that Marshall’s acceptance of the RAGA funds is a violation of the state’s campaign finance laws.

On too many occasions, the Commission has bent to the narrow interests of well-connected individuals or the broad considerations of powerful special interests. For once, it should look to protect the state’s voters from an attorney general who would skirt campaign laws for personal gain.

The right remedy in the Marshall situation lies with the Alabama Republican Party, which is responsible for pursuing such violations and taking appropriate action, but the so-called party of law and order has taken a pass on the Marshall fiasco, choosing to remain silent.

Republican Party Chair Terry Lathan and the Executive Committee could end the charade by immediately moving not to certify Marshall’s votes in the upcoming general election. Of course, this would mean conceding the race to Democrat Joe Siegelman. This might not be palatable, but how much more bitter is a win by cheating?

Since the party will not act on the issue, it falls to Ethics Commission Chairman Judge Jerry Fielding who can swiftly move to bring the Marshall matter before the Commission.

For years, Fielding enjoyed a sterling reputation as a respected jurist, but slowly over time, his willingness to allow questionable compromise on the Ethics Commision has taken the shine off his former standing. Marshall’s case is an opportunity for Judge Fielding and the entire commission to affirm the rule of law applies to everyone, even an appointed attorney general.

It is now time for the commission to act because the people have a right to know if their attorney general is a cheat.

 

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Opinion | In the wake of the Brett Kavanaugh disaster, let’s finally start living well

Joey Kennedy

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Folks, Brett Kavanaugh is now a justice on the United States Supreme Court. We can’t do anything about that. For now.

This man, who despite credible accusations that he is a sexual predator, still didn’t deserve a place on the highest court in the land even if no accusations had been made. Kavanaugh showed he could easily become unhinged in his bizarre testimony before the Senate Judiciary Committee, even rudely challenging questioners when they asked about his excessive drinking and sex games as a high school and college student. He lied to the Judiciary Committee and America, even before that disturbing day following the brave testimony of Dr. Christine Blasey Ford. His crocodile tears and mock anger were embarrassing.

The cloud Kavanaugh brings to the Supreme Court will remain until he dies, but, seriously, there’s nothing we can do now. When Donald Trump, a sexual predator himself, apologizes to Kavanaugh for him having to answer for his bad behavior, we know Trump has little respect for the court, or women, or, indeed, humanity.

So here we are. We’re angry, sure, and we have a right to be. Even the one woman who could have made a difference, Maine Sen. Susan Collins, turned her back on the many women who have been raped and sexually assaulted during their lives, to vote for a man credibly accused of sexual assault of a 15-year-old girl and others.

Old, angry white men — knowing they won’t be in power much longer or even among the majority in this diverse, growing nation of non-white citizens — rammed through Kavanaugh’s nomination, even as a great majority of Americans opposed it. The geezers have to live with what they’ve done, as does beer-loving boofer Kavanaugh, who will always have a tattered reputation among decent people, no matter how long he serves on the Supreme Court. They won a battle; however, friends, this is a war.

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And that war, we can win.

Our voices can be heard. Let’s not let our anger and depression and frustration over what happened during the torture of the Kavanaugh confirmation make us forget the power we do have.

Alabama Secretary of State John Merrill predicts that just 35 percent to 40 percent of Alabama’s more than 3.3 million active and inactive registered voters will turn out of the Nov. 6 elections.

I think turnout will be much higher. And I think that, finally, Democrats and Independents will swamp Republicans in overall numbers at the polls. I’m not being naïve; it’s likely Republicans will still win most races – voters in Alabama have a long history of voting against their best interests and Republicans know their gerrymandering. The hot-button issues Republicans love to mine – immigration, abortion, LGBTQ rights, race issues, even their evangelical god – will drive many low-information voters to the polls.

Still, a lot of smart voters will be there, too. So I expect some surprises on Nov. 6. I don’t think Republicans, so comfortable in their arrogance, have any idea what kind of giant they have awakened.

With the #MeToo movement energizing women, the March for Our Lives movement motivating young voters and others disturbed about gun violence, the failure to protect young immigrants and children now in danger of deportation inspiring families from all ethnic backgrounds, the cruel attack on access to affordable health care rousing those without easy access to doctors and hospitals – Republicans may have stirred up voters in a way we have never seen during our lifetimes.

Yes, even here in Red, Red, Red Alabama.

I mean: Really? Fewer than half of Alabama’s voters showing up in less than a month for the election of our governor, chief justice of the Alabama Supreme Court, and other important offices? A 65 percent level of apathy in the wake of Kavanaugh and the re-victimization of thousands and thousands of women raped and sexually assaulted by men during their lives? In a day when our elected representatives refuse to pass reasonable gun restrictions and mental health reforms? When race relations are getting worse, not better? While our gay and lesbian friends and family members are openly being discriminated against? As millionaires and billionaires are getting whopping tax cuts, but hard-working individuals can’t even earn a living wage, and lawmakers are actively working to prevent them from doing so?

Sixty-five percent of Alabama voters staying home during next month’s election?

Maybe so. But perhaps not.

We need to take a Xanax, tap down our anger and misery over Brett Kavanaugh claiming his soiled seat on the U.S. Supreme Court, and work hard during the next month and weeks to make certain voters know who is running for office, who they’re voting for, why they’re voting for them, and then, dammit, turn up at the polls in record numbers to actually vote.

My wife, Veronica, often says: “The best revenge is living well.”

Let’s get out and vote on Tuesday, Nov. 6, and let’s finally start living well.

Joey Kennedy, a Pulitzer Prize winner, writes a column ever week for Alabama Political Reporter. Email: [email protected]

 

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Opinion | Democrats have three viable candidates, but Republicans will prevail

Steve Flowers

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In politics, perception is reality. It is perceived and therefore factual that a Democrat cannot win a statewide race in Alabama.

The proof is in the pudding. We have 29 elected statewide officeholders in the Heart of Dixie. All 29 are Republicans.

In addition, 6 out of 7 of our members in Congress are Republican. We have one lone Democratic member of Congress. Terri Sewell occupies the seat in Congress designed to be held by an African American.

We do have a temporary accidental anomaly U.S. Senator in Doug Jones. However, as any nominal political observer knows, he is only there until the next election. He is the epitome of the political adage that more people vote against someone than for someone. People were simply voting against Roy Moore and more liberal money poured into Alabama to beat Moore than has ever been sent into Alabama in history and probably ever will be. It was the only race in the country and every socialist liberal group or individual in the nation jumped on board to beat Moore. That anomaly will never happen again.

To his credit, Jones is not a demagogue. He is and has always been a liberal national Democrat. He has been a card carrying, bonafide liberal his entire adult life. He is ideologically more at home and comfortable buddying around with Chuck Schumer, Elizabeth Warren and Nancy Pelosi than with Richard Shelby, Robert Aderholt or Bradley Bryne. He has campaigned for, contributed to and been a Democratic delegate for Walter Mondale, Ted Kennedy, Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton. He is a true believer.

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He has felt his oats a bit and gotten involved in trying to change the state Democratic Party organization, which by the way is not very organized. He endorsed his candidate Peck Fox against Nancy Worley for the chairmanship of the defunct Alabama Democratic Party. Worley prevailed because Joe Reed still controls the reigns of the Democratic Party brand in the state.

Make no doubt about it, the Democratic Party is the party of African Americans in Alabama. There are a few liberal white Democrats in the state that Reed parades out as face cards. However, he wants it to remain his party, and essentially that is the case.

Make no mistake about it, Alabama politics is still driven by race. Whites are primarily Republicans. Blacks are totally Democratic. Politics is nothing more than simply counting. Basic math if you will. There are simply more white folks that vote than black folks who vote. That is why 29 out of 29 state officeholders are Republican.

The Democrats have fielded three viable candidates for statewide office in the upcoming November General Election. They will run good races, but they are not going to win. It will be 29 out of 29 come January.

Walt Maddox is the best candidate that the Democrats have had in several decades for Governor. Maddox is 45 and has been Mayor of Tuscaloosa, one of Alabama’s premier and most prosperous cities for 10 years. He is better qualified and much more able to serve as Governor than Kay Ivey.

However, Kay is a Republican quasi incumbent, running in a very good economic time. Her handlers are doing an excellent job of running out the clock and keeping quiet. All they have to do is show pictures of Kay cutting ribbons, claiming credit for economic expansion, aligning herself with Trump and clinging to Confederate monuments. The bottom line is she will win because she is the Republican candidate.

Joseph Siegelman, the son of former Governor Don Siegelman, is a viable candidate for Attorney General. He not only is viable but is vibrant and attractive. He is 30-years old with movie star good looks and he also has a good-looking dog. He exudes integrity and ethics. However, Marshall will prevail over Siegelman because he is the GOP candidate. Although it may be surprising how many votes young Siegelman gets. A lot of folks, including a good many moderate Republicans, believe Siegelman’s dad, Don, was done wrong. He will reap a good many sympathy votes.

The third viable Democratic candidate is Robert Vance, Jr., in the race for Chief Justice of the Supreme Court. He will run a good race. However, Tom Parker will prevail because he is the Republican candidate.

See you next week.

Steve Flowers is Alabama leading political columnist. His weekly column appears in over 60 Alabama newspapers. He served 16 years in the state legislature. Steve may be reached at www.steveflowers.us.

 

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A Disquisition on greed in politics, Part 2: Examples of greed in Alabama politics

by Samuel McLure Read Time: 14 min
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