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Bill Britt

All that wasted time

Bill Britt



By Bill Britt
Alabama Political Reporter

Most people are familiar with the phrase, “Power tends to corrupt and absolute power corrupts absolutely,” but the context from which the thought is drawn is seldom mentioned. In a series of letters, Lord Acton argues that kings and clergy should be judged by the same standards as everyone else. In the same paragraph as his most famous quote, Lord Acton also writes, “There is no worse heresy than that the office sanctifies the holder of it.”

Our nation’s founding fathers understood that our union was always just one election away from being ripped apart by human passions, which are so easily ignited by a quest for power.


Today, I see fear and hate, hear jealousy and greed, and smell the foul stench of selfish corruption that threatens to invade the very soul of our Republic. It seems we are only 140 characters away from a “we” verses “them” uprising that is ruinous to a democratic republic such as ours.

But what do I know?

Maybe too much time reading about the birth of our nation, the rise of the American experiment, and the daring wisdom of our founding fathers is why I turned out so badly. Then again, could it be all those superhero comics that gave me hope one man or woman could perform amazing feats like Superman’s never-ending battle for truth, justice, and the American way?

What a wasted youth.

The fault could be my parents, who encouraged me to watch William F. Buckley Jr. and Dick Cavett. Didn’t they understand that listening to opposing viewpoints could cause a deep-seated personality disorder that would lead to weighing arguments in light of evidence? How was I to grow sturdy and strong without a daily dose of confirmation bias?

All those books. All that listening to smart people with differing opinions … terrible, just terrible.

It made me think that I was thinking, and as Sylvester the Cat said, “The shame, the horror.”

Suffering succotash, what a waste it all was, squandering my youth believing honesty, integrity, hard work, and service to others built character.

Character, right? Who needs that anymore?

Even worse were all those misspent decades prayerfully studying scripture to gain understanding and wisdom to discern good from evil.

Add to all that the fact that my life’s work is dedicated to a “fake” industry that hates America, and my existence is about as worthless as a hammered cow patty.

Of course, I’m not so foolish as to believe that listening, learning, or giving your life in service to something greater than yourself is a waste, but it’s tempting when I look around at the current political landscape.

The Republican Party is so far adrift that neither Buckley nor Ronald Reagan would recognize it. Likewise, the Democratic Party would be entirely foreign to a JFK or FDR.

It is my policy to keep my opinions on national matters private on these pages because our mission is to cover State politics.

However, after seeing President Donald Trump’s treatment of Attorney General Jeff Sessions and other good men and women, after witnessing his equivocation on racist hate and hearing him time and again degrade the office of the presidency, my conscience will no longer allow me to remain silent. I hope this will be my last time to write on the subject — for which many of you will be grateful.

Our country is in desperate need of moral clarity because our government is being debased by arrogance, lies, and a willing denial and even acceptance of intolerance and violence.

Our founding president, George Washington, set the tone for those who would follow him by displaying wisdom, temperance, and impeccable character.

In a letter to the Jewish congregation in Newport, Rhode Island, he assured the assembly that, “the Government of the United States, which gives to bigotry no sanction, to persecution no assistance, requires only that they who live under its protection should demean themselves as good citizens.”

However, today we are told that those who chant, “Jews will replace us,” have some fine people in their ranks. As the son-in-law of a man who endured the horrors of a Nazi starvation camp, it’s hard to imagine any man who wears a swastika or hoists the Nazi flag as a fine person.

Recently, someone said to me, “This is payback for the years Obama pissed on us.”

Payback, really? That’s what this is all about?

Another individual, with whom I no longer associate, said after Obama’s election, “They elected that [N-word] again, I hope to one day walk over the dead bodies of those who put him in office.”

Was Obama ever as bad as his critics claim, or was he as good as his champions believed? It’s doubtful.

During Barack Obama’s presidency, certain religious leaders proclaimed our nation was experiencing heavenly wrath and that God sent hurricanes to punish us for Obama’s heresy. Is Hurricane Harvey, which is now covering Texas in a deluge, a delayed reaction?

It would seem only a false prophet or a fool would attribute a devastating hurricane as God’s punishment for one president and not another.

When hatred is based on lies, does it matter why they hate?

I’ve been horrified and sorely disappointed in certain men of the cloth in our state who remain quiet and even defend these outrages.

The other day, I spoke with a minister I have respected over the years and to whom I’ve taken my worries. We talked about scripture as we often do, but when I asked him how to square our president’s character, words, and actions to biblical principles, he recited the same line as others, “He is appointing conservative judges.”

How many judges will be needed to restore decency, the rule of law, and the reputation of our nation?

Like many of our citizens, I pray daily for our State and country’s leaders, in that we might live a quiet and peaceful life as instructed by scripture, but just as Jesus ran the money changers from the temple, I’m ill-disposed to remain complacent in the face of growing dishonesty and discord.

I wish President Trump success as leader of our nation. However, as a man, Mr. Trump’s sense of American values and mine diverge greatly, even when it comes to basic human decency.

So, here we are. The press is an enemy of the State, lies told under the mantle of the presidency are simply jokes we don’t get, and if a buddy is charged with disobeying a federal order then lies about it, he should be pardoned.

OK, what next?

Thomas Jefferson wrote, “Enlighten the people generally, and tyranny and oppressions of body and mind will vanish like evil spirits at the dawn of day.”

Jefferson was a smart man; too bad I wasted all that time believing him.

I’ve never thought America wasn’t great. So, the red cap emblazoned with “Make America Great Again” was, to me, a marketing slogan at best, or at its worst, a cynical mockery of our great nation.

For me, like President Reagan, America remains a shining city on a hill that stands as the last great refuge for those longing for freedom. Our Republic is built on the promise of the Declaration of Independence and solidified by our Constitution.

But what do I know?

All is vanity and a vexation of the spirit, but it is not a waste.


Bill Britt is editor-in-chief at the Alabama Political Reporter and host of The Voice of Alabama Politics. You can email him at [email protected] or follow him on Twitter.

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Bill Britt

Opinion | Cobb’s pledge sets a trap for rivals; Very Trumpian

Bill Britt



Democrat gubernatorial candidate Sue Bell Cobb, last week, put forward a campaign pledge as cover for her failure to vet a field director who is a registered sex offender.

Rather than admitting her mistake and firing the sex offender and the staff member who hired him, she tried to change the subject by blaming the media, pointing her finger at Republicans and asking her opponents to sign a pledge to play nice.

The pledge itself is little more than a cleverly disguised Faustian bargain, in which she attempts to trick her rivals into agreeing to a promise that serves her end but not theirs.


Second from the bottom, the pledge reads: “REFUSE FUNDING any group requiring financial support in exchange for an ‘endorsement.'”

This coming Saturday, the Alabama Democratic Conference (ADC) will meet to choose which candidates it will support in the June 5 Democrat primary. With the ADC’s endorsement comes an explicit understanding of financial support. It appears Cobb is conceding she will not receive ADC’s endorsement and doesn’t want one of her opponents to benefit from the group’s support.

Cobb learned something from her 30 years on the bench, which seems to be how to hide a trap inside a seemingly innocuous document.

Every Democratic candidate wants ADC’s endorsement, and everyone needs it.

Four of the five candidates running for governor under the Democrat banner signed the pledge. Tuscaloosa Mayor Walt Maddox called it a “stunt,” and didn’t sign.

Now if one of the other four office seekers should win ADC’s endorsement, they would have to refuse it to comply with Cobb’s pledge.

Of course, Cobb’s presser last week was an unmitigated disaster. From its premise to its ending, Cobb showed her inability to understand the fundamentals of decency, much less the vital role of the press. Has Cobb basked so long in the warmth of an adoring liberal press that she couldn’t realize that not everyone swoons when she takes the stage? Or has she fooled herself for so long that facts no longer matter?

Since resigning her position as Alabama’s chief justice, Cobb has given at least six different reasons why she stepped down, so either she doesn’t know why she surrendered her office to Judge Roy Moore or has yet to decide which version of the facts plays best with her audience.

As if to take a page from President Donald Trump’s playbook, Cobb, last week, strolled in front of the cameras, denounced the dishonest press, defended paying a sex offender $40,000 —over the course of two months—and then duped her opponents into signing away their legal rights and the ability to receive a coveted endorsement.

Cobb’s pledge also states, “MAKE PUBLIC all expenditures placed on behalf of my campaign whether paid directly or through consultants.”

Alabama’s FCPA law doesn’t require candidates to disclose such expenditures. Here, Cobb once again is not looking to make the race fairer but to take away a lawful advantage she believes her rivals are using.

Furthermore, Cobb made a fool of herself at her most recent presser by saying the arrest of her campaign field director, sex offender Paul Littlejohn III, was politically motivated.

Jefferson County Chief Deputy Randy Christian called her out  saying, “How sad that a candidate for governor supports a convicted sex offender over sexual assault victims.”

Chief Deputy Christian points out what is perhaps the worst part of this whole sorry affair – Cobb, rather than remembering the victim, put the entire focus on herself.

Cobb’s pledge was meant to deflect and distract from her failure to identify and fire a sex offender. Instead, she deceived her opponents by persuading them to sign a phony pledge.

Very Trumpian.

Full pledge:

The Republican leaders of all three branches of our government have faced scandals and been removed from office. We must do better. Legitimate journalism is under attack while paid, partisan websites flourish unchecked. We must demand better. As a candidate for the highest elected office in Alabama, I will hold myself to the highest standards of ethics, pledging to:

ABIDE BY all campaign laws and procedures;

REFUSE TO defame the character of my opponent, his religious beliefs, his family or his lifestyle, or to condone the actions of those who do;

CONDEMN the use of campaign materials of any sort that falsify the facts regarding my opponent, his professional accomplishments, or his personal background;

CONDEMN any appeal to prejudice or bigotry;

DISAVOW PUBLICLY any material or advertisements that are not factually accurate or that fail to disclose the identity behind such campaign activities or the source of funding;

MAKE PUBLIC all expenditures placed on behalf of my campaign whether paid directly or through consultants;

REFUSE FUNDING any group requiring financial support in exchange for an “endorsement.”

SHARE copies of this pledge to my campaign workers, volunteers, and key supporters.

This 10th day of May, 2018.


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Bill Britt

BCA, ALFA and PCI support candidates with a history of misogyny

Bill Britt



BCA's Billy Canary, left; ALFA's Jimmy Parnell, top-right; and PCI's Robbie McGee, bottom right, are backing two candidates for elected offices with a history of physical abuses or covering for sexual assault.

In the era of the #MeToo movement, it should be shocking that the Business Council of Alabama, the Alabama Farmers Federation and the Poarch Band of Creek Indians are supporting men for statewide office who have either protected sexual predators or are themselves accused spouse abusers.

The popular novel, “The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo,” was originally titled “Men Who Hate Women.” Written by Swedish author Stieg Larsson, it chronicles how powerful men use the levers of government, establishment-institutions and cronyism to rob women of their humanity in the most degrading acts of defilement imaginable.

It would seem here in Alabama that some at BCA, ALFA and PCI are taking a page out of  Larsson’s book by offering misogynistic candidates covered under a veneer of their company’s respected logos.


Court records show BCA’s Billy Canary, ALFA’s Jimmy Parnell and PCI’s Robbie McGee are backing two candidates for elected offices with a history of physical abuses or covering for sexual assault.

Hand-picked by ALFA’s President Parnell, with financial support from Canary and McGee, Agriculture and Industry candidate Rick Pate, according to court records, abused his wife so severely that the court ordered that he not enter the marital home because his wife feared for her life.

“The Wife avers that the Husband has committed actual violence to her person and from his manner and conduct toward her, she is reasonably convinced that he will commit further violence upon her person, intended with danger to her life and health,” the record said.

In a handwritten note provided to the Alabama Political Reporter, the former Mrs. Pate recanted her sworn testimony saying she and her first husband now have an excellent relationship.

However, at the time of their divorce, the court granted her request of, “a restraining order strictly enjoining and restraining,” her Husband from “entering the resident premises…assaulting, threatening, or intimidating,” her.

BCA-backed candidate Attorney General Steve Marshall used the power of his office to protect a man who, according to court records, sexually assaulted a co-worker in an act that a U.S. district judge described as “horrific.”

After woman’s “horrific” sexual assault, what did Steve Marshall do?

Instead of firing the accused sexual assailant, Marshall sought to isolate and punish the victim before defending the perpetrator in court.

In the victim’s own words, she recounted the attack in court saying, “He had me pinned with my back against the wall … I kept saying stop, stop, get off me, stop. Stop it. He was trying to put his mouth on me. I could still feel his hot breath on my neck. I felt like I absolutely was going to die. I couldn’t move him because he was so heavy. He kept pushing his hands — he had one hand on my breast underneath the top part of my bra. I could feel his fingers on my nipples. The other hand, again, I could feel he was at the top of my pubic area. And I knew I had to stop him.”

Marshall did nothing to protect his female employee. In fact, he moved her to a basement office where she feared another attack.

Pate wants to represent the state’s largest industry here at home and abroad. Marshall is to be the state’s top lawyer defending the state and prosecuting its worst criminals, yet when women were involved, neither Pate or Marshall could be counted on to protect them, according to court documents.

That ALFA, BCA, and PCI would support such candidates with personal endorsements, and large sums of money are not lost on some members of the Republican Party. In a letter given to APR by a member of the Alabama Federation of Republican Women, it pleas with other women to, “Let’s prevent another black eye on our state and our party.” It further states,”In order for us to prove that we do care about our members and share their conservative family values; we must reconsider our support of Rick Pate or be forced to defend our support of him. If not, our lack of action once we became aware of his history of violence towards women will be our downfall.”

Did Canary, Parnell and McGee not vet Marshall or Pate? Did they simply not care that both men have a history of neglecting or abusing women?

What does it say about the female members of BCA, ALFA and PCI when their organization supports men who protect molesters and abusers?

The #MeToo movement is sweeping our nation, but in Alabama, Canary, Parnell and McGee using the force of BCA, ALFA and PCI are sweeping  misogyny under the rug.


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Bill Britt

Opinion | The black hand behind Perry Hand

Bill Britt



Perry Hand (via BCA)

Shortly after the Alabama Political Reporter made it known that the Business Council of Alabama’s Executive Board had voted on April 10 to terminate Billy Canary from his position as CEO, nearly a dozen Republican lawmakers were burning-up their mobile phones, trying to find out who Perry Hand is and who could convince him to push Canary out immediately. Hand wants to keep Canary in place until the fall

Billy Canary out at BCA, sort of 


Hand’s motivation to protect Canary is not easily definable unless it’s weighed together with former Gov. Bob Riley’s plan to consolidate power after leaving office in 2010.

Perry A. Hand is the current BCA board chair and chairman of Volkert Inc., an engineering company, which primarily earns its money from government contracts. Volkert Inc. is a significant player in developing disgraced former Gov. Robert Bentley’s lovenest, aka Gulf State Park.

Hand cut his teeth in politics first as a state senator under Gov. George Wallace but came to prominence as an appointee and confidant of accidental Republican Gov. Guy Hunt.

It was Hunt who appointed Hand to secretary of state in 1989, only to see him pummeled in the next general election when former Wallace aide Billy Joe Camp bested him by over 115,000 votes. Hand was also appointed the head of the department of transportation as another temporary position.

An Auburn engineering graduate, Hand found success at Volkert where he flourished, rising from the company’s marketing man to chairman and CEO of the Mobile-based firm.

The plan was elegantly simple: Riley’s handpicked successor Bradley Byrne as governor, Hubbard as speaker, Del Marsh as Senate president pro-tem and Luther Strange as attorney general. They would oust Dr. David Bronner at RSA, replacing him with one of their own, and the coup would be complete.

Now, it appears in the twilight of his career, Hand is the man who stands between Canary and some of the state’s most potent business interests who want to see him removed from BCA.

Canary’s deep connection to the Riley machine has been the secret of his success, and like his friend, former speaker of the House and convicted felon Mike Hubbard, that same connection is likely to be his downfall.

Before leaving office in 2010, Riley, along with Hubbard and Canary, devised a plan to carve up state government in such a way as to have the Riley machine controlling the levers of power for a generation and beyond.

The plan was elegantly simple: Riley’s handpicked successor Bradley Byrne as governor, Hubbard as speaker, Del Marsh as Senate president pro-tem and Luther Strange as attorney general. They would oust Dr. David Bronner at RSA, replacing him with one of their own, and the coup would be complete.

But that scheme unraveled first with Bentley’s election over Byrne, Strange’s hiring of prosecutor Matt Hart and the trial and conviction of Hubbard, which exposed the whole enterprise.

Canary, in effect, is the last man standing, and Riley and his gang are hard pressed to stand by while one of their last cohorts goes down in disgrace.

Marsh, for his part, washed his hands of the affair soon after Hubbard was under investigation and there was no longer a need to get rid of Bronner, because Riley loyalist, Canary’s wife Leura Canary, was installed at RSA to keep Bronner in check.

So, it is that Hand, with a few devious or unwitting members of the BCA board, are left to protect what’s left of Riley’s once-thriving empire.

There is little doubt that Canary’s days are numbered, but to think that Riley’s machine will walk away without a fight is naive.

However, greater forces are pushing for Canary’s exit, and if they stay strong, the black hand behind Perry Hand will fail.


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All that wasted time

by Bill Britt Read Time: 6 min