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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.

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.”

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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.

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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 | The emperor has no votes

The outcry of illegalities over the recent election is simply the latest example of just how far they’ll go.

Josh Moon

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Two-and-32. That’s the record of the super-fantastic “strike team” of “elite” attorneys representing the Donald Trump campaign in various lawsuits around the country that contest the outcome of the U.S. presidential election.

For a refresher: Joe Biden won that free and fair election in a landslide and will be the next president of the United States. The end.

In case after case after case, despite what the president has tweeted and despite what enablers and spineless politicians have helped him push, the Trump elite attorney strike team has failed to offer even the slightest bit of proof of the grand fraud that Trump has repeatedly claimed on Twitter or that his “dye hard” personal attorney, Rudy Giuliani, has screeched about during insane, “Veep”-like press conferences. (Have you ever witnessed a stranger, more disturbing image than that of “America’s mayor,” wild eyed and ranting, with his cheap hair dye running down his face as if his ears were bleeding?)

In fact, in the overwhelming majority of the cases filed by strike team Trump, the team has been forced to admit to judges that they have no evidence of fraud or that they’re not able to claim fraud.

It’s pathetic that we’re still doing this — that the transition to a new administration is being held up by this band of grifters looking to squeeze one last drop of donations from the marks who have already forked over so much to this long-running American con.

That’s all this is.

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The entire Trump presidency has been exactly this — a con game to enrich him and his closest business partners. To that end, it has been highly successful.

It has also been successful in turning seemingly rational people into googly-eyed yes men willing to sully themselves for a taste of the political fortune or fame that comes with being near the presidency.

It is, to be honest, shocking the ease with which so many in the highest offices of our federal and state government have been convinced to denounce reality and make fools of themselves to ensure they either benefit from being in the cult’s favor or at least not being a target of the cult.

The outcry of illegalities over the recent election is simply the latest and most horrific example of just how far they’re willing to go and how little of America they truly hold sacred.

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Alabama’s Secretary of State John Merrill, for example, has given media interviews in which he willingly passed along wild, long debunked conspiracy theories of Biden getting thousands of votes at once, and how there’s no explanation for it. And yet, there was an explanation — one that had been given over and over and over.

Alabama congressman Mo Brooks, a man who so frequently buys into rightwing conspiracies that he almost certainly has purchased an extended warranty for all of his cars, sent a bat-guano insane letter to a constituent this week in which he laid out how “socialist Democrats” were able to “steal” the election through massive fraud and how Republicans in Congress can steal it back.

One of the means by which this election was stolen, according to Brooks, was by excluding Republican poll watchers. None were excluded. And the strike team has now dropped that line of attack altogether.

Brooks and Merrill aren’t alone, however. Up and down the line, Alabama GOP officials and the media mouthpieces they pay to amplify their idiotic ideas have gone full in on this idea of fraud, even when other Republicans — like that poor secretary of state in Georgia — were trying desperately to tell them it wasn’t real.

Honestly, it’s like Hans Christian Andersen’s “The Emperor’s New Clothes” is being played out in real life, right in front of us. Only, the swindlers became the emperor.

Trump and his minions continue to walk around stark naked while insisting that he has on the most beautiful, perfect clothing in the whole world. And there’s this one group of people who are buying it. And then there’s this whole other group who know full well that this guy is buck naked but they’re too afraid of alienating the first group, even if it means undermining the cornerstone of American democracy.

In the meantime, the swindlers just keep sending out fundraiser emails. Because, again, that’s all this is.

Look at the frivolous lawsuits and how thoroughly Trump’s strike team has been embarrassed in every courtroom so far. This isn’t about winning or about massive fraud or about correcting problems in the election system. It’s about money. Pure and simple.

Finally, late Thursday, two influential Republicans, Sens. Mitt Romney and Ben Sasse, said what we all know.

Sasse said the lawyers have “refused to actually allege grand fraud.” He was also critical of the strike team’s tactics.

Romney said Trump was trying to “subvert the will of the people.” And he said he couldn’t imagine “a worse, more undemocratic action by a sitting American president.”

Hopefully, that will open the floodgates for a river of sanity and basic common sense. Because the longer this goes on, the more likely it is something catastrophic takes place.

It’s not too late yet for the president to put some clothes on.

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Opinion | Be thankful, not regretful

“We can stay home, because maybe next Thanksgiving, we can gather again.”

Joey Kennedy

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My wife, Veronica, and I just don’t have much real family left. But Thanksgiving Day is one of our favorite holidays. In the past – many years past – we hosted Thanksgivings.

Over the past few years, though, we’ve attended three Thanksgiving celebrations with friends. One, hosted by our dear friend Jo Ellen O’Hara, former longtime food editor at The Birmingham News, is no longer possible because she now lives at Fairhaven, an assisted living community in eastern Birmingham.

This was a typical Southern Thanksgiving, with turkey, cornbread dressing, various (and too many) side dishes, and featured a dozen or so people.

John Evon and Rian Alexander hosted us later in the day on Thanksgiving. Usually, this was simply the four of us at their Helena home. It was more a Northern Thanksgiving, with turkey or ham, stuffing (not dressing), and various (and too many) side dishes.

And for the past three years, we’ve attended the Thanksgiving bash hosted by APR editor Bill Britt and his wife, associate editor Susan Britt. This gathering, of maybe 20 or so people, was held at the Britts’ farm in Attalla. There was more than just turkey or ham, more side dishes than should be possible. Bill and Susan and the APR’s capable copy editor and the Britts’ assistant Charlie Walker did most of the cooking, but this gathering was also partially potluck. We’d all bring dishes to add to the abundant food choices. (Bill also makes a damn good Raw Apple Cider. Add a touch of whiskey.)

This year, we’ll have none of that. With the Coronavirus (COVID-19) spiking in Alabama and across the country, it’ll be just Veronica and me on Thanksgiving.

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That’s sad, too. We’re social people. We like to be around others. A lot of others.

That hasn’t been much of a feature in 2020, and I don’t expect it will be through a big chunk of 2021.

The warnings have been issued. Gov. Kay Ivey’s mask mandate is staying in place, thank goodness, though there should be an enforcement effort, too.

Here is Alabama State Health Officer Dr. Scott Harris: “We all want to see our family for holidays, yet this is a special year when we need to minimize risks because of the consequences of this highly infectious virus. Use your best judgment to plan the safest possible Thanksgiving. Consider hosting a virtual celebration, or if hosting or attending one, be sure to put prevention measures in place.”

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Oh, that Alabamians – and Americans – would heed that advice. But so many won’t. They’ll gather anyway – with grandparents and parents, brothers, sisters, aunts, uncles, cousins, and friends.They’ll gather at Thanksgiving, in a big dining room, have great conversations, and wonderful prayers.

And two or three weeks later, they’ll start to get sick and die, just in time for the Christmas some of them may not be around for.

Or they’ll survive Thanksgiving, thinking this virus is no big deal. And they’ll gather again for Christmas. Two or three weeks later, they’ll start to get sick and die, just before the presidential inauguration.

By then, too, the cases from all those New Year’s celebrations will be cranking up. And another group of people will start to get sick and die, just in the first month of 2021.

This plague is real. It’s killing hundreds of thousands of people – old people, middle-aged people, young people, children.

In Alabama alone, there have been more than 220,000 COVID cases, with more than 3,340 deaths. More than 88,000 people have recovered, but many of those are crippled with longterm, chronic health problems.

Daily cases in Alabama are ranging from 2,000 to 3,000 right now.

This is serious.

This is no hoax.

It is real.

Wear a mask.

Socially distance.

Wash your hands obsessively.

Attend only small gatherings if you must attend any gatherings – and you really don’t have to attend any gatherings.

So for Thanksgiving, for Christmas, for New Year’s, it’ll be just Veronica and me. We’ll make the best of it. Have fun together. Watch the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade, and A Christmas Story and It’s a Wonderful Life. We’ll listen to Christmas music and drive around looking at Christmas lights. We’ll have great food (my wife’s cornbread dressing is the best in the world).

And we’ll miss our friends. But we won’t kill them, and they won’t kill us.

We have plenty to be thankful for today and next week. And at Christmas and New Year’s. But we won’t be attending any parties or gatherings. We cannot do that for awhile, just as we have not done it since March. We can stay home, because maybe next Thanksgiving, we can gather again, with our friends (our family) who lived through one of the darkest periods of our lives.

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Opinion | Turnout for presidential election shatters record in Alabama

“The driving force had to unquestionably be driven by a fervor to vote for President Donald Trump.”

Steve Flowers

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On the morning of the momentous Nov. 3 presidential Election Day, I began my day on my hometown radio station, WTBF in Troy, which has been my tradition on Election Day for more than 30 years.

As the polls began to open around 7 a.m., we began getting calls that the people were lined up for almost a mile outside of the two most populous voting locations in Pike County.

Then, I started getting texts that a good many of the Republican boxes in major North Alabama cities had people waiting in line for two to three hours in voting precincts in Jasper, Hamilton, Cullman and Huntsville.

Folks in Talladega were showing up in droves driven by a local amendment.

When I voted around 10 a.m., the voting officials informed me that more people had already voted in record-breaking numbers.

About that time, I was receiving texts from other South Alabama locales like Daphne and Fairhope in Baldwin County and Enterprise and Ozark in the Wiregrass that records were going out the window.

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In Dothan, where I had spoken the day before, people were calling to tell me that records were being shattered at the Westgate polling place, which is one of the largest Republican boxes in the state.

When I went on the popular Mobile talk radio Jeff Poor Show at 10:30 a.m., Jeff said reports were coming in of an unbelievable turnout.

During the noon hour, I traversed to Montgomery for talk radio and interviews with my Capitol City television home, the Alabama News Network CBS 8 and ABC 32. I saw the same thing happening.

At St. James Methodist Church, where most of Wynlakes votes, there were two-hour-long lines. At Woodland Methodist in Pike Road, it was two to three, and at most of the Republican boxes in Elmore County, especially Millbrook and Wetumpka, there were three-hour waits.

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As I headed on to Birmingham for my election night TV appearance the scene in Shelby and Jefferson counties was more of the same, if not more pronounced.

My daughter, who votes at Vestavia Hills United Methodist Church, said the line had been out the door and around the church all day with no parking. The two major voting locations of Hoover, the Finlay Center and Hoover Met, had lines that reached almost a mile.

Around 6 p.m., while discussing the unprecedented turnout with Secretary of State John Merrill, who had joined me on CBS 42, we saw an unbelievable line out the street at the prestigious Church of the Highlands voting location in Tuscaloosa.

The coup de gras was at around 9:30 p.m., a good two-and-a-half-hours after the polls had closed, our TV cameras showed a picture of Trussville City Hall where voters were still waiting in line to cast their ballot even though Trump and Tuberville had already been declared the winners in Alabama by the Associated Press.

Merrill confirmed what I knew by that time, that indeed the state of Alabama had an unprecedented, unbelievable, amazing, record-breaking turnout — 2.3 million Alabamians voted despite COVID, which shattered any previous voting participation record.

The driving force had to unquestionably be driven by a fervor to vote for President Donald Trump. The vote for Trump was the largest for any candidate in the history of the state.

Trump garnered an amazing 62.7 percent of the vote, which surpassed his 62 percent against Hillary Clinton. He provided immense coattails for coach Tommy Tuberville, who beat our-anomaly, liberal, two-year-tenured Democratic Sen. Doug Jones by an amazing 60-to-40 shellacking.

Tuberville is now Senator-elect Tommy Tuberville.

Public Service Commission President Twinkle Cavanaugh set a record in her re-election bid with almost 1.4 million votes. She gained the record by receiving the most votes for any candidate in a contested race outside the presidency in state history.

Tuberville set the record for most votes for any senatorial candidate in state history. He trounced Jones by over 20 points despite being outspent 4-to-1.

According to unofficial election night results, the top Alabama counties for Trump were Winston at 90.3 percent, Cleburne at 89.7 percent, Blount at 89.6 percent, Marion at 88.4 percent and Cullman at 88.2 percent. They were the brightest red in the ruby red Heart of Dixie.

See you next week.

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Opinion | Let the embarrassment begin

“It’s all just a game for Tuberville. He’s not serious about representing Alabama in the U.S. Senate.”

Joey Kennedy

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When I was in high school, our coaches — head football, basketball, and baseball coaches, all assistant coaches — had to teach classes, too. My civics class was taught by one of these coaches. He was just a high school assistant football coach, but the dude knew the three branches of government. He taught us that, and a lot more.

The nation is embarrassed for Alabama, again. For electing mediocre coach, now-Senator-elect Tommy Tuberville, the Republican, over Democratic incumbent Sen. Doug Jones. We should be embarrassed as well. Alabama, when you elect idiots, you’re going to get idiots.

Look at Donald Trump, the president-unelect. Then look at his children, who surround him to grift whatever they can grift. See. The idiots don’t fall far from the idiot tree.

Friday when I opened my Twitter, this was waiting for me:

In an interview with Alabama Daily News, here was one exchange:

  • TCS (Todd Stacy): You mentioned the majorities and they are going to be razor thin. I mean, right now it looks like one or two seats in the Senate for Republicans, maybe 14 or 15 seats for Democrats in the House. And that’s as close as it’s been in a long, long time. Do you think the Democrats are going to have to work with Republicans and Republicans are going to have to work with Democrats? You see that being possibly a more productive situation? 
  • CTT (Coach Tommy Tuberville): Yeah and that’s how our government was set up. You know, our government wasn’t set up for one group to have all three of branches of government. It wasn’t set up that way, our three branches, the House, the Senate and executive.
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Tuberville clearly doesn’t have a clue what he’s talking about. When our constitutional government was set up by the founders, the president and vice president didn’t even run as a ticket. They were elected separately. Most founders argued against political parties. Senators were appointed, not elected.

But here’s what the real embarrassment is: Tuberville thinks the three branches of the U.S. government are the House, the Senate, and the executive. Seriously. That’s what Tuberville said. Stacy didn’t ambush Coach Tubby. No, Tuberville volunteered his immense knowledge of the federal government all on his own.

Of course, the three branches of the U.S. government, as set up in the U.S. Constitution Tuberville obviously hasn’t read, are the Legislative (House and Senate), the Executive (president and vice president), and the Judicial (the U.S. Supreme Court and other federal courts).

One would presume Tuberville would know at least this much, because the body he was just elected to confirms the nominees for that third branch, the judiciary.

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It’s all just a game for Tuberville. He’s not serious about representing Alabama in the U.S. Senate. Hell, he lives mostly in Florida. Tuberville is just interested in the appearance of power, and the really nice salary and benefits. He will rarely have an independent thought in his head, and when he does, it’ll probably be wrong, like not even knowing the three branches of the U.S. government.

This truly is embarrassing. For all of us in Alabama. But you get what you vote for, Alabama. That’s why we’re near the bottom in just about every quality-of-life survey taken.

And without Trump in the executive branch, sycophant Tubby will be lost. Tuberville ran on Trump, and Trump won’t be there. Now that’s a hoot.

There’s a decent chance Tuberville will be in the minority in the Senate, too, depending on what happens in the two Senate runoffs in Georgia on Jan. 5.

Tuberville says he may spend one or two weeks in Georgia campaigning and fund-raising for the Republican Senate candidates. One might imagine those candidates would say: “No, thanks. Keep your Alabama stupid out of here.” But, then, those two Georgia Republican candidates aren’t all that smart, either.

But the assistant high school football coach who taught me civics was pretty much on the ball, where telling us about the operations of the U.S. government were concerned. He was a really good teacher. Maybe you have to choose one or the other: good coach or good teacher?

That coach was a good teacher, but our high school football team sucked. Like Tommy Tuberville will.

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