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Opinion | Roy Moore: Carrying sore loser to the extreme

Joey Kennedy

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Attorney Paula Cobia was succinct in describing disgraced former Chief Justice Roy Moore’s defamation and conspiracy lawsuit filed this week against four women who accused him of molesting or harassing them and a man Moore claims has a vendetta against him.

“It’s a garbage complaint,” Cobia said in a telephone interview.

Cobia represents one of the women being sued, Tina Johnson. Others named in the lawsuit are Leigh Corfman, Debbie Gibson, Beverly Nelson, and Richard Hagedorn. There were also 1-19 “fictitious defendants.” That’s bizarre; if they’re “fictitious,” they don’t exist.

After reading the suit, it’s easy to understand how Cobia came to her conclusion. I’m no lawyer, but I can read. There’s just nothing there.

No smoking gun. No gun, period. Not even decent bullets lying around.

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Alabama Political Reporter’s Josh Moon got it right, too, in his Tuesday column: “Roy Moore filed a conspiracy theorist’s manifesto dressed up like a lawsuit.”

Opinion | Roy Moore is back with a new lawsuit, same craziness

Another attorney, Michael J. Evans, agrees, calling the suit “frivolous” in a Facebook posting. “Roy and his wife, Kayla, claim they are the victims of a conspiracy,” writes Evans. “I believe they were actually reaping the consequences of their own actions. If there was a conspiracy, in my opinion, it was not on the part of the women. Moore might want to consider things done on his own behalf by the political operatives he brought in from out of state.”

For her part, Cobia, who is representing Johnson gratis, said the lawsuit “really doesn’t set out any facts that would prove any type of conspiracy.” Moore’s lawyer for the suit, Melissa Isaak, even admitted, Cobia said, that “she’s not well-versed on the facts.”

Oddly, Moore’s suit does not include The Washington Post, which won a Pulitzer Prize for reporting on the accusations of the women, who Post reporters sought out. The women didn’t come forward as a group. The Post went to them as individuals.

The women “didn’t know each other,” Cobia said, which makes the conspiracy pretty difficult to sustain.

“Honestly, I think he (Moore) wanted to try to look relevant,” Cobia said. “I think it’s a money grab, or an attempt at a money grab, and an attempt for him to stay relevant in the public eye. … I think the well was running dry from his other emails.”

Moore has been raising money from supporters for a defense fund in a lawsuit filed against him by Corfman. Moore probably thinks the lawsuit he filed this week gives him another platform on which to hit-up his supporters for donations.

“He wants his followers to give him money, but he’s also asking for compensatory and punitive damages to enrich himself,” Cobia said. “There’s nothing in that complaint that sets for any type of conspiracy.”

The sexual misconduct and molesting accusations against Moore were published by the Post not long before December’s special election for the U.S. Senate, which was won by Democrat Doug Jones.

The Post reporting was thorough and credible, and underscored now by the Pulitzer Prize the newspaper won in April.

“He’s (Moore) kind of carrying sore loser to the extreme here,” Cobia said. “The powerful conspirators who would have the money to fund this big conspiracy, they’re not named.

And Cobia believes Moore will find a way never to be deposed, because he would then be under oath.

The worst result of the lawsuit, Cobia believes, is that it once again opens these women up to harassment and threats. Cobia’s client Johnson lost her house in a mysterious fire. Others involved in the case have been threatened, she said.

This is a big ol’ mess, for sure. But one created not by the women Moore molested or stalked, but, rather, by Moore himself. Until this “Christian” comes to that understanding, we likely can expect more of the same from Moore.

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

 

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Opinion | Let’s put a wall around petty Donald Trump

Joey Kennedy

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How can one quantify how petty our infant-acting president, Donald J. Trump, really is?

Trump is so dim, he actually may be an unwitting tool of Russia. Hard to believe somebody as thin-skinned and brain-challenged as Trump could be working for the Russians intentionally. Yet, he may be doing that, too. Evidence looks strong.

Trump is way past the simple disgrace to the United States that Richard Nixon was. And his idiocy is dangerous.

When House Speaker Nancy Pelosi asked Trump to postpone his State of the Union address, for good reasons, until after the partial government shutdown is over, petty Trump retaliated by postponing an international trip Pelosi was going to make, refusing to allow military aircraft to transport her. That trip was being kept on the down-low for security reasons, until petty Trump released the details.

As the now 28-day shutdown has no end in sight, the only reason 800,000 federal employees, thousands of them in Alabama, aren’t getting paid is because of petty Trump.
Trump refuses to budge on his demand for $5.6 billion for a near-useless wall on the U.S. southern border with Mexico.

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The president is stubbornly low-information, ignoring facts that show technology and more border agents will better deter undocumented immigrants entering the country than a physical barrier that can be easily defeated.

People can climb over walls. They can dig under them. And that’s not the only way they can get through.

Perdido Vineyards’ Jim Eddins, 85, a 1957 graduate of the Naval Academy and a retired colonel from the U.S. Marine Corps, has plenty of experience with walls. He was a combat engineer in the Marines, and he established Perdido Vineyards in 1972 and started Alabama’s first farm winery in 1979.

Walls, Eddins says, have “many useful and peaceful purposes.”

“They support roofs, enclose space, help with privacy and secrecy, help with protection and security, define perimeters and boundaries, help with flood control; they work in prisons, make obstacles,” Eddins says.

But will a wall on the southern border do what petty Trump says it will: Keep out immigrants? Stop the drug trade? Keep terrorists out? Keep us free of these terrible “diseases” the president wrongly claims immigrants bring in?

“No,” Eddins says emphatically. “None of the above.” Those dangers cited by petty Trump are wildly exaggerated anyway, Eddins says.

“Disease? Ebola flies in: mosquitos, birds, animals, vehicles. The history of walls is ancient, as failures for the above reasons,” Eddins says. “A determined aggressor is only temporarily impeded. They tunnel under, fly over, go around, destroy, or breach. (Walls) often cause more damage than they prevent.”

The mobility of modern military criminal forces, with aircraft and explosives (and other technologies) – make a wall particularly vulnerable.

“A wall can very quickly cease to be a defense and become a prison or target,” Eddins says. “Hitting a fixed target is easy. Hitting a moving target is not so simple. Ask a deer hunter or bird hunter.”

Yet, petty Trump demands his wall be paid for by U.S. taxpayers – the one he said Mexico would pay for – or else he’ll keep the government shut. Republicans in Congress, and especially in the U.S. Senate and in Alabama, are complicit in the pettiness.

So, 800,000 federal workers are going without their paychecks, for a full month now and counting, the longest shutdown in U.S. history. For a wall that’ll do little to secure the southern border as petty Trump claims.

Tests have already shown that the wall or barrier or fence – whatever somebody wants to call it – is easily breached. Officials discovered a tunnel under an existing section of wall only a short distance from where Trump was visiting when he was at the Texas border last week. Most drugs come to the United States through the air or hidden in ground vehicles that come through existing border entries. A prototype of the wall Trump wants was sawed through by testers.

But Trump wants it his way or the highway. Democrats and a growing number of Republicans are telling Trump that he can’t always get his way.

“The United States has been wracked with the politics of division, religion, and immigration for its entire history,” Eddins says. “And the lessons of this experience are currently being ignored, and the same mistakes are being made for the self-serving purposes of mind control and a dictatorship.”

Walls are not for a democracy, Eddins says. “A wall is a physical object for dictators to impress foolish people,” he says. “Israel has a wall, and the Palestinians shoot missiles over it. Walls did not stop the Crusaders or Muslims.

“Putting a ‘wall’ around propaganda and sick minds is a logical option,” Eddins says, adding we must fight bad ideas with better ideas. And keep in mind, Eddins says, who is pushing “this noise.”

“Someone with corrupted, evil intent,” Eddins points out. “There are better and less expensive alternatives. It will definitely cost more than $5 billion to build and maintain a wall. In short, a political slogan and promise from a pathological liar is no basis for spending billions on this, especially when political ideology is the only purpose.”

Trump is a legend only in his own mind. His pettiness is the real legend, assaulting all of our tired, frustrated minds. His disastrous term is half over. I don’t know if our nation can survive the next 24 months. We don’t need a wall, and we certainly don’t need Donald Trump.

It is, indeed, Mueller time.

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

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Opinion | “Cussing” the Birmingham Civil Rights Institute

Joey Kennedy

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Leaders of the Birmingham Civil Rights Institute ought to be ashamed. They have tarnished the institute’s standing in a way that may be hard to recover from.

Last fall, the board of the BCRI voted to honor author, activist, and scholar Dr. Angela Davis, a Birmingham native, with its Fred L. Shuttlesworth Human Rights Award. Earlier this month, the board rescinded its offer of the award to Davis and canceled its annual Shuttlesworth Gala.

Reportedly, some Birmingham Jewish leaders complained about the BCRI honoring Davis – who has been honored at other events in Birmingham previously – because she criticizes Israel for its policies against Palestinians and for encouraging people to withdraw investments from Israel.

Few effective human rights activists, if any, do so without controversy or criticism. The Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s famous “Letter from Birmingham Jail” resulted directly from criticism from moderate Birmingham clergy of King’s nonviolent marches and protests. Davis, too, spent her life campaigning for human rights, and was a long-time Communist Party member. But it appears her criticism of Israel led to the BCRI withdrawing the Shuttlesworth Award.

Not only did the institute embarrass itself by withdrawing the award, it has handled the issue in a ham-handed, disastrous manner. Davis’ colorful and meaningful life is no mystery. The board clearly knew her history when it decided to present her with the award last year. To withdraw it because of some criticism from wealthy donors because they disagreed with her stand on the Israeli-Palestinian dispute is clearly a mistake that will damage the institute’s reputation forever.

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Since withdrawing the award, BCRI has been a well-deserved target of protests and outrage.

The board, in withdrawing the award, said Davis no longer met the criteria for receiving it. However, it didn’t elaborate on what criteria Davis didn’t meet.

The institute’s supposed mission statement is simple: “To enlighten each generation about civil and human rights by exploring our common past and working together in the present to build a better future.”

After embarrassing itself and Davis over this mess, that mission statement sounds awfully hollow.

Davis, in a statement, said she was “stunned” when she learned the BCRI board had “reversed their previous decision to award me the Fred Shuttlesworth Human Rights Award. Although the BCRI refused my requests to reveal the substantive reasons for this action, I later learned that my long-term support of justice for Palestine was at issue.”

Davis’ statement continues: “The trip to Birmingham, where I was born and raised, to receive the Fred Shuttlesworth Award, was certain to be the highlight of my year.”

Instead, Davis will attend an alternative event in February sponsored by others rightly upset that the BCRI made such a horrible decision.

The BCRI board has been encouraged by other human rights groups to reverse its decision, but instead the board’s three top officers resigned Wednesday, stating they regretted the “circumstances surrounding the selection process … and the dissension this has caused.” But they provided no details about what criteria Davis failed to meet or other information about their resignations.

Usually, board members who make bad decisions want them to go away, but with Davis coming to Birmingham Feb. 16 for an alternative event, on the day the Shuttlesworth Gala was originally scheduled, this controversy is not likely to go away.

Indeed, the very nature of the BCRI’s existence is to educate the public about human rights activists like Davis. If it’s not going to do that and cave to interests who disagree with its decisions, what’s the point?

Former Birmingham Mayor Richard Arrington, who pushed for the institute’s creation and construction against some of this same kind of criticism, disagrees with the decision to dishonor Davis. Mayor Randall Woodfin and the Birmingham City Council have let their dissatisfaction be known. Woodfin explained why he’s confounded:

“I am dismayed because this controversy might have been avoided entirely, had it been handled differently. I am dismayed because, as has been the case throughout Birmingham’s history, people of good will behaved reflexively, rather than engaging in meaningful discourse over their differences and seeking common ground.

“I am dismayed because the controversy is playing out in a way that harks backward, rather than forward – that portrays us as the same Birmingham we always have been, rather than the one we want to be. I am dismayed because I believe that we should be able to expect better, from ourselves and one another.”

Woodfin noted that while the city does provide funding to the BCRI, and it doesn’t involve itself in programming at the organizations it helps fund, it certainly has an interest in providing funding to organizations based upon their “legal and ethical pursuit” of their mission.

Whether the Birmingham Civil Rights Institute is meeting that obligation is certainly a fair question in the wake of how awful BCRI has treated Davis.

Perhaps the most stinging rebuke came from the Alabama chapter of the National Lawyers Guild, which has a “long history with our sister, Angela Davis.”

The Guild noted that Davis at one time spoke at the 16th Street Baptist Church, the scene of a 1963 bombing by the Ku Klux Klan that killed four young girls and injured many others.

“One can look across the street at the church from the large windows at the end of the tour of the BCRI,” the Guild statement reads. “It is bitterly ironic and shameful that the BCRI, nearly three months after it announced she would receive its Fred Shuttlesworth award, has chosen to retract the invitation and cancel the awards dinner. BCRI has been one of the most important legacies of Richard Arrington, Jr., Birmingham’s first black mayor and its decision irrevocably tarnishes that legacy.

The BCRI’s “caving to pressure from some funders is a disgrace,” the Guild statement reads. “Their decision to rescind the award reflects nothing so much as cowardice in place of principle, the diametric opposite of all that Fred Shuttlesworth stood for. We mourn the loss of the BCRI as a Birmingham institution conceived to insure (sic) we never forget that freedom is a constant struggle and that courage in the face of adversity drives history forward. It is now just another musty museum, and one that has abandoned what was a noble mission.”

Actions have consequences, and whatever path the Birmingham Civil Rights Institute takes after this fiasco, its history will always have this disgusting mark.

Shuttlesworth himself is likely turning in his grave. As civil rights activist’s official biographer, Andrew Manis, pointed out, Angela Davis is exactly the kind of person an award named after Shuttlesworth should go to.

“I think Fred would be cussing,” Manis told AL.com. “He often bragged about being a cussing preacher. I think he’d be cussing about this.”

I believe many of us are “cussing” about this today, and if we’re not, we should be.

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

 

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Opinion | Stupid is as stupid does

Joey Kennedy

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I hate new years. Not because it’s another year. That’s going to happen, regardless of what we might want. The calendar days end, and the new calendar days begin. We can’t stop it.

I hate new years because of the silly expectations. We expect the new year to encourage us to exercise more, or to encourage us that the diet we found will finally work, or to give us a new outlook on life, or to tell us our lives will somehow be better.

Every day, People, we can have a new outlook on life. We don’t need a new year. If you’re waiting for a new year to give you a new outlook on life, you’re blind to a new outlook on life.

In Alabama, we’re always waiting for that new outlook on life. Not just at a new year. At every day. And every day gives us our same outlook on life: depressing, bleak, what are we doing wrong, can we do anything right?

We do most everything wrong.

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This is our state. When Gov. Kay Ivey delivers our “State of the State” address soon, it’ll be filled with possibilities. But make no mistake, those possibilities are nothing but, at best, wishes, and mostly lies. Yeah, bullshit. They won’t happen.

Because we are Alabama.

Ivey, if she’s coherent, will talk about what we should do, what we can do, what we ought to do, but all of that is what we won’t do, because this is Alabama.

We won’t help the poor, those who are needing a government who will truly help them. We won’t realize we’re a state that fails to put resources into improving our infrastructure that is crumbling in front of us. We won’t say we’re going to improve health care, because that would mean investing in Medicaid. We won’t truly support education, because that means investment.

We won’t push back against the Trump Administration that considers Alabama nothing because all we do is bow down to Trump as some sort of narcissistic savior.

We’re mostly stupid. And we’ll continue to be stupid. And happy. Because we’re stupid.

Our people are good people. But they’re misdirected. They respond to the fear our politicians throw at them, and they think if I don’t vote for “her” or “him,” bad things will happen: An immigrant will kill me. A black man will assault me. A gay man will turn me gay. A Democrat will take my gun.

So for the next four years, we’re stuck with a Legislature that will do nothing, truly, to improve our lives. We have a governor who doesn’t really care because she isn’t really aware.

The New Year is a time of reflection and forward thinking. In Alabama, it’s a time of knowing we’re going to experience the same quality of life that we’ve experienced for however long we’ve lived here.

Most of us don’t travel. We don’t know what happens in other states, or in Europe, or in Asia, or in Canada, where truly progressive ideas have traction. That leaves us stupid.

We’ve only known Alabama, so we don’t know anything else. And Alabama doesn’t know anything else.

So we’re happy that Kay Ivey is our governor. And that our Legislature is simply there to feed itself. We don’t know that our attorney general and secretary of state and all the constitutional officers are only there for the paycheck or the step upward, or that they’re are scamming us.

We don’t know any better. Mostly because we’re stupid. Not dumb, mind you. There is a difference.

We can learn. We can know. We have the ability. But we don’t use that ability. It’s scary. It might make us think, and that might make our lives a little harder. It might make us turn off Fox News. It might make us care. It might make us live. Live happy. Live productive. Live real lives. To us, for some reason, that is damn scary.

No, we’re not dumb, not at all.

We’re simply stupid.

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

 

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Opinion | We don’t matter, because we don’t want to

Joey Kennedy

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I generally don’t make New Year’s resolutions. I have a few times, but not too often.

The last New Year’s resolution I made was in 2012, about this time of the year, just before the world became 2013. I had just seen Les Miserables, the big-budget movie musical, and I loved it. I’ve seen the stage musical five times. I’ve watched all the nonmusical movie adaptations I can find. But I had never read Victor Hugo’s classic novel.

So late in 2012, I resolved to read Les Miserables, and I would start on Jan. 1, 2013. I climbed to our attic, which is the depository of most of our books, dug out the paperback copy of Les Mis I’d bought years before, and tried to mentally prepare myself for this marathon of words.

Les Miserables is more than 1,400 pages. It’s hefty and intimidating, even if you’re an avid reader. Hugo’s historical novel does not focus on the French Revolution, but, rather, a period two decades later when small groups of rebels were attempting to reinstate a French republic over a newly re-established monarchy. Just read it; this isn’t Cliff’s Notes.

On Jan. 1, 2013, I started Hugo’s legacy. I struggled through one chapter, and simply couldn’t imagine reading the entire tome, printed on no telling how many hundreds of dead trees, that weighed down my lap. So I called a New Year’s resolution audible. I downloaded the book to my Kindle, where it was less than a quarter-inch thick, but still had the 1,400-plus pages. Psychologically, that worked. Six weeks later, I finished the book, and the journey was satisfying and fulfilling. I revere wonderful writing, and this is wonderful writing.

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I also vowed then to never make another such New Year’s resolution. I’ve never read Leo Tolstoy’s War and Peace, and I’m not resolving to do that now, even though it’s significantly shorter at just more than 1,200 pages.

So resolutions aren’t my thing. I like to try new stuff, like my one-hour beginner’s yoga class I endured when I visited my daughters who live in California in October. I did the hour. I’m done with yoga.

When I turned 60, my wife gifted me with a tandem sky-dive from 14,000 feet. I did it, and it was amazing. And I would do it again.

What I’ve never understood about Alabama is that we do the same stuff, over and over and over again, expecting something different as a result. It’s not going to happen. That second French Revolution foretold in Hugo’s novel never happened.

Our beautiful state will stay the same – dysfunctional, broken, hurtful to our poorest citizens, laughingstock of the South – if we simply keep repeating the same moves.

We recently went to the polls, and while the nation shouted loud that we’re doing it differently this time, Alabama whispered in overwhelming numbers that we’re not going to change.

We whispered and nobody heard or cares. Alabama is insignificant in the bigger scheme, and insignificant in the smaller scheme, too, and we’re proud of our insignificance. As Congress goes after our health care, our Medicaid, our Medicare, our Social Security, we give them sanction to do it. As we cage children and block immigrants, we don’t care, and we don’t matter. As we shoot black men in their backs and isolate gay men and women, we turn our heads.

As we tolerate and confront a president who is unhinged and dangerous, we do not matter.

Thank goodness, other states said: “Enough!” Thank goodness, they said: “We matter!”

Yet, we whisper. And we are not counted. Because we’ve shouted to them: “Hey! We don’t matter! So, there!” And our shout is a whisper. We truly do not matter.

The Kay Iveys and Steve Marshalls and John Merrills do not matter. The Richard Shelbys and Doug Joneses do not matter. The Bradley Byrnes, Gary Palmers, Martha Robys and Mo Brookses don’t matter. The Mike Rogerses and Robert Aderholdts never mattered.

Like Jean Valjean and Cosette and Jevert and Fantine and Eponine and Gavroche in Les Miserables, in the bigger world, we do not matter. Neither did they.

We pretend to have our own “revolution,” but we don’t, really. Because we do not want to matter.

I don’t make New Year’s resolutions, either, because they do not matter.

And in 2019, I believe, and I fear, Alabama will never matter.

Happy New Year.

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

 

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Opinion | Roy Moore: Carrying sore loser to the extreme

by Joey Kennedy Read Time: 3 min
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