By Brandon Moseley
Alabama Political Reporter
On Tuesday, March 3, The Alabama Constitutional Conservatives held an informational meeting in the “Star Wars” room on the 8th floor of the Alabama Capital Building.
Leeds political organizer Deanna Frankowski said, “Government and politicians have gotten away from the Constitution as it is written.” Frankowski said that they are a new group that is trying to engage other people in the Constitution, especially young people. = It is hard to talk to people that don’t understand and certain words turn off young people. The term “tea party” has negative connotations to many, which is why we don’t use that language.
Frankowski said that a term limit bill has been filed that would limit members of the legislature to just three terms. Frankowski said, “It is a start.”
Former State Senator Scott Beason (R from Gardendale) addressed the group. Beason is now the senior policy analyst for the Free Market Alliance.
Sen. Beason said that when he travels to speak to different conservative center right groups that numbers are down. “People are losing hope.” Apathy is at an all-time high. We campaign for people we elect people, and then we are disappointed. We are in that situation now with the Governor (Bentley) on taxes, on homosexual marriage. Being less active is a mistake. “The progressive and liberal side never stop. They work day and night. A great example is homosexual marriage.”
They are constantly in the courts, they are constantly writing letters and op-eds.
Beason said that we have a Republic not a Democracy, but warned that we are moving toward a oligarchy where a few make all the decisions. Benjamin Franklin said that the founders gave us a Republic if you can keep it. Most people think it is a Democracy. The word democracy does not appear in the Constitution. It has become increasingly difficult for a practicing Christian to hold a job in government and cited the example of the recent firing of the fire chief in Atlanta. We are going to live under somebody’s set of rules. Even the most corrupt society that has ever been had rules. Personally I think we should live under the rules passed down to us from our forefather based on the principles in the Bible.
We are seeing the federal court system decide they are an oligarchy. What our libertarian friends call liberty is actually licentious. Where does liberty end and licentious start? Homosexual marriage is on the licentious side. It contradicts natural law and especially divine law, but libertarians don’t want to even hear about that.
Sen. Beason said, “Who are Supreme Court Justices? Before they become judges they were well connected political lawyers. Somewhere along the way they have decided they are demigods…What they say constitutional means is not what you or I think it is. Lawyers today think that constitutional is what the last judge ruled – precedent. We need to get back to what this (the Constitution) says.”
Beason said that Justice Ginsburg says the country is now ready for gay marriage. I don’t believe that is how you run the rule book. Do the people of the states have the right to say no?
Beason said, “I would like to see some sort of an American spring…We (the people of Alabama) have a right to chart our own path…We have been moving in this direction for over 200 years. The Federalists started us down this path. Alexander Hamilton wanted a king appointed for life but knew he could not get it.”
Nebraska got slammed down yesterday. Even California voted to ban gay marriage and their own judges ruled it down.
“We have to decide as a people what is worth taking a stand and what is not?” Are we going to be a people that do exactly what we are told or are we going to stand on the 9th and 10th amendments and say no?
Sen. Beason said that “Eventually there comes a time where the state has to say you are wrong.” Texas was building a coal fired power plant that would have created 3,000 to 6,000 jobs and the EPA said no you can not.
I am not for following Barack Obama’s fundamental transformation of this country. Two of those Supreme Court justices presided over gay marriages and they will not recuse themselves. Beason predicted that the Supremes will rule against traditional marriage.
Stephen Siao spoke about the Heritage Foundation’s Sentinel program.
Mr. Siao said, “How many of you think that Washington is broken. I am here to convince you that it is not.” Washington works as a finely tuned machine for those who have money. It is working fine for lobbyists. For them the bigger the government the more complicated it is the more big corporations have to hire them to navigate DC.
Siao said that Heritage action alerts is how conservatives can influence policy in Washington. We don’t give money, we don’t do campaigns we don’t give money. They don’t fear us, it is their constituents they fear. We really need y’all to join us. We are empowering activists with the right information and the right tactics.
Siao said that Heritage is pursuing a full repeal of Obamacare in the House and the Senate. The Tea Party is not dead. GOP Candidates who won in 2014 ran on a strong pro-life platform. Congress members would rather have their picture taken with Rand Paul or Ted Cruz than campaign on how much pork they brought back to the district. They are saying the right things now we need to hold their feet to the fire.
Go to Heritageactionscorecard.com to see how your Congress members are doing. In Alabama, Mo Brooks and Jeff Sessions are doing great. The rest of them need some encouragement.
Terry Richmond is one of the legislative captains for the Convention Of States Project in Alabama.
Richmond said that the American Revolution was fought by about 20 percent of the population. Richmond said, we have two Constitutions one we know and one interpreted by the Supreme Court.
Many conservatives believe that the federal government is too large, is out of control, and has exceeded the mandate that it received from the authors of the U.S. Constitution. Conservatives are however divided on exactly how to do that.
The Convention of States Project looks to the US Constitution and are proposing that states call an Article V convention to rein in the excesses of the federal government.
Delegates to the convention would be tasked with limiting the power, jurisdiction, and scope of the federal government; consider term limits; and to impose fiscal accountability on the federal government.
The COS effort is supported by former Alaska Governor Sara Palin, conservative talk radio hosts Rush Limbaugh, Glen Beck and Mark Levin, as well as many other conservative leaders.
Critics believe that there is a danger of a runaway convention doing major damage to the Constitution.
Proponents say the first level of protection is the commissions of the delegates. If they go outside their commissions the state legislatures could recall or replace their delegates. The second protection is the convention itself. While some delegates might propose a new constitution it would have to actually pass the convention. The states’ delegations would necessarily limit any radical departure from the commissions of the delegates. Finally whatever amendments are proposed at the convention would still have to be ratified by the states.
It takes 34 states to call a national conventions (2/3); but it takes 38 to actually ratify any amendments (3/4). All it takes to block ratification would be one house in 13 states. Each state can send as many delegates as they want; but each delegation gets just one vote at the convention.
Alaska, Georgia, and Florida have already passed COS resolutions and expressed confidence that they would be able to get 34 by the end of 2015.
Alabama almost became the first state to pass COS in the 2014 legislative session. It passed the Alabama House of Representatives and was on the calendar to come up in the Alabama Senate but timed out on the last day of the session.
Terry Richmond is working full time during the legislative session to lobby for COS in Alabama.
Frankowski said that the next event for the group will be the Birmingham Brew Party at the Avondale Brewing Company on April 15 at 5:30 pm. “Come out and have fun.”
USDA is seeking rural energy grant applications
The deadlines to apply for grants is Feb. 1, 2021, and March 31, 2021. Applications for loan guarantees are accepted year-round.
United States Department of Agriculture Deputy Under Secretary for Rural Development Bette Brand on Wednesday invited applications for loan guarantees and grants for renewable energy systems, and to make energy efficiency improvements, conduct energy audits and provide development assistance.
The funding is being provided through the USDA’s Rural Energy for America Program, which was created under the 2008 Farm Bill and reauthorized under the 2018 Farm Bill. This notice seeks applications for Fiscal Year 2021 funding.
The deadlines to apply for grants is Feb. 1, 2021, and March 31, 2021. Applications for loan guarantees are accepted year-round.
REAP helps agricultural producers and rural small businesses reduce energy costs and consumption by purchasing and installing renewable energy systems and making energy efficiency improvements in their operations.
Eligible systems may derive energy from wind, solar, hydroelectric, ocean, hydrogen, geothermal or renewable biomass (including anaerobic digesters).
USDA encourages applications that will support recommendations made in the Report to the President of the United States from the Task Force on Agriculture and Rural Prosperity to help improve life in rural America.
Applicants are encouraged to consider projects that provide measurable results in helping rural communities build robust and sustainable economies through strategic investments.
Key strategies include achieving e-Connectivity for rural America, developing the rural economy, harnessing technological innovation, supporting a rural workforce and improving quality of life. For additional information, see the notice in the Federal Register.
Trump says that coronavirus vaccine deliveries will begin within two weeks
Trump said that front-line workers, medical personnel and senior citizens would be the vaccine’s first recipients.
President Donald Trump said Thursday that coronavirus vaccine deliveries will begin as early as next week.
“The whole world is suffering, and we are rounding the curve,” Trump said. “And the vaccines are being delivered next week or the week after.”
Trump made the announcement during a special Thanksgiving holiday message to U.S. troops overseas via teleconference. Trump said that front-line workers, medical personnel and senior citizens would be the vaccine’s first recipients. He also argued that his election opponent, President-elect Joe Biden, should not be given credit for the vaccines, which were developed during the Trump administration.
Trump referred to the vaccines, which were developed and tested in less than ten months as a “medical miracle.”
Regulators at the FDA will review Pfizer’s request for an emergency use authorization for its vaccine developed with BioNTech during a meeting on Dec. 10. The director of the FDA’s Center for Biologics Evaluation and Research says a decision is expected within weeks, possibly days after that key meeting.
The latest trial data for Pfizer and BioNTech’s vaccine showed that it was 90 percent effective.
The CDC plans to vote next week on where the distribution of approved vaccines will begin and who will be allowed to get the first vaccines when they become available.
Dr. Celene Gounder, a member of Biden’s COVID Advisory Board, warned against rushing a vaccine to market.
“The single biggest risk of rushing an approval would be Americans’ distrust the vaccine,” Grounder said. “It’s essential people feel confident this is a safe and effective vaccine.”
Moderna said that its vaccine is 94.5 percent effective in preventing COVID-19.
AstraZeneca says its preliminary results showed its vaccine ranged from 62 percent to 90 percent effective depending on the dosage amount given to participants. AstraZeneca is having to launch a second round of global trials to clear up the discrepancies.
Many Americans appear to have ignored CDC warnings to scale back Thanksgiving holiday plans. More than six million Americans flew over the holiday week, raising fears by public health officials that the surge in coronavirus cases we are experiencing now will be followed by a bigger surge in the next three weeks.
As of press time, there have been 62 million diagnosed cases of coronavirus cases in the world, including nearly 13.5 million in the United States, but many cases are mild and go undiagnosed.
A CDC researcher estimates that the real number of infections in the U.S. has topped 53 million since February. More than 1.4 million people have died around the world since the virus first appeared in China late last year. The death toll includes 271,029 Americans and 3,572 Alabamians.
The Iron Bowl is today
Alabama will have to play without head football coach Nick Saban who has tested positive for the coronavirus.
The Auburn University college football team will play the University of Alabama at Bryant-Denny Stadium in Tuscaloosa on Saturday with the game kicking off at 2:30 p.m. Attendance is strictly limited because of COVID-19 restrictions. The game will be televised on CBS stations.
Alabama will have to play without head football coach Nick Saban who has tested positive for the coronavirus and is experiencing mild symptoms. Offensive coordinator Steve Sarkisian will coach the Crimson Tide in Saban’s absence. He has a 46-35 record as a head coach at USC and Washington.
Auburn will be coached by Gus Malzahn, who has a 67-33 record as a head coach. He is the fifth winningest coach in Auburn history, trailing only Shug Jordan, Mike Donahue, Pat Dye and now-Senator-elect Tommy Tuberville.
Alabama has a 7-0 record and is currently the No. 1 team in the country in the college football rankings. Auburn is 5-2 but with a win could still win the SEC West with wins in its remaining two games, and if Alabama were to lose another game down the stretch. Alabama is just one game ahead of Texas A&M for first place in the SEC West, but the Tide has the tiebreaker by virtue of having defeated the Aggies in head-to-head competition.
In addition to team honors, there is a lot riding for individual players in today’s game. Alabama redshirt junior quarterback Mac Jones has thrown for 2,426 yards and 18 touchdowns in Alabama’s first seven games. Jones’s strong performance has made him a Heisman contender and has earned him consideration as a possible first-round or high second-round draft pick by the NFL if he were to leave Alabama early.
Auburn quarterback Bo Nix has thrown for 1,627 yards and ten touchdowns over seven games.
Alabama and Auburn played their first football game against each other in Lakeview Park in Birmingham on Feb. 22, 1893. The game is called the Iron Bowl because historically the game was played on a neutral site: Birmingham’s historic Legion Field. Birmingham at the time was best known for the iron that was mined there and then made into steel and other metal products.
The game is now played as a home and home series, but the Iron Bowl name has stuck with the rivalry.
Alabama leads the series with 46 wins to Auburn’s 37. There has been one tie. Auburn defeated Alabama 48 to 45 in last year’s high scoring contest.
Vaccines should protect against mutated strains of coronavirus
Public health experts say it will be some time before vaccines are available to the wider public.
Multiple vaccines for COVID-19 are in clinical trials, and one has already applied for emergency use authorization, but how good will those vaccines be against a mutating coronavirus? A UAB doctor says they’ll do just fine.
Dr. Rachael Lee, UAB’s hospital epidemiologist, told reporters earlier this week that there have been small genetic mutations in COVID-19. What researchers are seeing in the virus here is slightly different than what’s seen in the virus in China, she said.
“But luckily the way that these vaccines have been created, specifically the mRNA vaccines, is an area that is the same for all of these viruses,” Lee said, referring to the new type of vaccine known as mRNA, which uses genetic material, rather than a weakened or inactive germ, to trigger an immune response.
The U.S. Food And Drug Administration is to review the drug company Pfizer’s vaccine on Dec. 10. Pfizer’s vaccine is an mRNA vaccine, as is a vaccine produced by the drug maker Moderna, which is expected to also soon apply for emergency use approval.
“I think that is incredibly good news, that even though we may see some slight mutations, we should have a vaccine that should cover all of those different mutations,” Lee said.
Researchers at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and the University of Wisconsin-Madison found in a recent study, published in the journal Science, that COVID-19 has mutated in ways that make it spread much more easily, but the mutation may also make it more susceptible to vaccines.
In a separate study, researchers with the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation found that while most vaccines were modeled after an earlier strain of COVID-19, they found no evidence that the vaccines wouldn’t provide the same immunity response for the new, more dominant strain.
“This brings the world one step closer to a safe and effective vaccine to protect people and save lives,” said CSIRO chief executive Dr. Larry Marshall, according to Science Daily.
While it may not be long before vaccines begin to be shipped to states, public health experts warn it will be some time before vaccines are available to the wider public. Scarce supplies at first will be allocated for those at greatest risk, including health care workers who are regularly exposed to coronavirus patients, and the elderly and ill.
Alabama State Health Officer Dr. Scott Harris, speaking to APR last week, urged the public to continue wearing masks and practicing social distancing for many more months, as the department works to make the vaccines more widely available.
“Just because the first shots are rolling out doesn’t mean it’s time to stop doing everything we’ve been trying to get people to do for months. It’s not going to be widely available for a little while,” Harris said.