By Josh Moon
Alabama Political Reporter
A new Quinnipiac University poll this week put Donald Trump’s approval rating at 33 percent.
Which seems high.
Honestly, how is it possible that 33 percent of Americans, or American voters, have watched the absolute clown show that has taken place the last six months and thought, “Yep, that’s how the presidency should work”?
You know what, I don’t even care how it’s possible.
But since a good chunk of those 33 percent apparently reside within the borders of Alabama, I think I should pass along some information.
The rest of us think less of you.
Oh, I know that’s harsh, but I think it’s better that someone tell you straight out, so you can at least consider the truth.
And make no mistake about it, it is the truth. I’ve had this conversation with numerous people – and people of all political persuasions. Not just liberals or Democrats, but with normally-conservative Republicans. Because this has nothing to do with conservative v. liberal, or Democrat v. Republican politics.
We all feel the same way.
We think you diehard Trump supporters are easily fooled, probably racist (even if you’d spend an hour telling us about your best black friend) and you don’t grasp the complexities of real life problems like immigration, economics and terrorism.
Please, spare us the indignation over this. Because we know who you are.
You are the people who vote down Legislation that would aid yourselves just to make sure the blacks and Mexicans don’t get it.
You are the people who believe that terrorism might be solved by blocking people from countries that have never produced a terrorist who carried out an attack on this country.
You are the people who believed that Trump was going to build the biggest, most beautiful border wall ever and have Mexico pay for it. And even worse, you believed this idiotic fantasy would actually solve our immigration issues.
You are the people who believed a reality TV star when he said that he was going to solve healthcare and provide better coverage for everyone at lower prices, despite the fact he never even hinted at a plan for doing that. And you believed it because he said, “Trust me.” And because he was white and rich, and those guys never lie to you.
You are the people who continue to believe that there was no coordination between the Trump campaign and Russia, despite nearly every person associated with the campaign – including the ones named Trump – holding various and extensive meetings with Russian officials.
You are the people who somehow, even after six months of daily screw-ups, daily embarrassments, daily sellouts of you, daily leaks, daily firings, daily in-staff bickering and daily international snafus, have found a way to say that a president who hasn’t passed a single thing he said he would in his first six months is doing an approvable job.
And you’re embarrassing the hell out of the rest of us.
Your willingness to believe absurd things as long as they’re pitched from the right people and reinforce your political and social beliefs is, quite frankly, astounding.
But I understand how it happened. For nearly a decade now, most of you have lived inside this Obama hate-bubble, in which you were inundated daily with absurdly erroneous news stories about Obama, Nancy Pelosi, lib’ruhls and anyone positioned just left of the far-right line drawn for you.
Now, the flow of negative Obama news into the bubble has simply been replaced by positive Trump news. So, maybe, in this conservative bubble world, Trump has annihilated ISIS, fixed healthcare, won the drug war and is halfway finished with his big, beautiful wall. Maybe that explains the 33 percent.
But it’s time to grow up, kids.
Enough is enough. It’s time to take a hard look around and come to grips with some truth.
First and foremost: Donald Trump is a raving lunatic who shouldn’t be allowed to visit the White House, much less run the country from it.
Evidence: the man screwed up a Boy Scout speech in every way you can possibly screw up a Boy Scout speech. And before his speech, no one knew it was even possible to screw up a Boy Scout speech.
And that is just one of a mountain of monumental mistakes, gaffes, alleged treasonous crimes and sellouts.
It’s time to end this. It’s time for you to take off the silly red hat and scrape the dumb “Trump” bumper sticker off your car. It’s not cool. It’s not funny. It’s not rebellious.
And you’re treading dangerously close to the point where this phase of idiocy is what the rest of us will remember you for forever.
Opinion | Alabama close to allowing hot dogs to be rescued
Most readers know that we’ve had a grumble of pugs for years. We lost four in the grumble last year. All of our dogs are rescues, and most of them have some disability: unable to walk well, blindness, incontinence, a perpetually crooked head.
And most of the pugs are elderly, so we expect to lose a few this year. Our youngest is Nellie Bly, at about 2 years old. We have a group of older pugs that are around 10-11 years old. Several came from puppy mills. One was surrendered to a vet tech when his owners took him to be put down because the owner’s granddaughter wanted a different dog (I know!). The veterinarian naturally was not going to euthanize a healthy animal, and about a week later, Peerey came to us.
Pugs are bred to do one thing: Sit with their humans, mostly on their laps or next to them on the bed. All of ours are bed pugs. They snore; we adore.
I say all of this to underscore that Veronica and I know not ever to leave one of our dogs in a locked car, especially during the summer. But every year, we hear stories of the careless owners who leave their dog (or dogs) in the backseat of a vehicle while they run an errand. The errand takes longer than the owner thought, and heat builds in the car. Too often, that kills the pet, just like it does children, and that happens all too often as well.
As of 2019, 31 states had laws that either prohibit leaving an animal confined in a vehicle under dangerous conditions or provide civil immunity (protection from being sued) for a person who rescues a distressed animal from a vehicle.
Alabama – finally – is on the cusp of joining that group.
A bill (SB67) sponsored by Sen. Jimmy Holley, R-Elba, will allow good Samaritans to rescue pets left in a car if they are clearly in danger from either the heat or cold. The bill provides criminal immunity to civilians and grants civil and criminal immunity to law enforcement officers who rescue an animal.
Important, too, is that bill prevents owners from leaving their animals in a vehicle in a manner that creates an unreasonable risk of harm. If they do, they can be charged with second-degree animal abuse.
It doesn’t take long for the situation in a vehicle to deteriorate, either.
Even on a mild day, the heat inside a car can go off the rails. According to reports, if the outside temperature is 70 degrees (f), the interior of a vehicle can heat up to 89 degrees in 10 minutes. After a half-hour, the interior temp can be 104 degrees. Of course, it’s much worse on hotter days.
At 80 degrees, a vehicle’s inside temperature is at 99 degrees; after a half-hour, the animal is trying to survive in a 114-degree oven. And at 95 degrees, not an unusual June, July, or August temperature in Alabama, the inside temp of a vehicle is about 130 degrees.
Humans can’t even survive long at those temperatures.
There are conditions before a good Samaritan can step up, but they’re not unusual in states that already have similar laws: Among them:
There are other conditions that make less sense, however. The bill as passed 33-0 by the state Senate requires the ambient temperature in the vehicle be 99 degrees or higher before a citizen or first-responder can intervene.
I can tell you that a half-hour in a car at 95 degrees will kill a pug; a Lab or Golden might survive that temperature for awhile, but remember, every minute the car’s interior is getting hotter. Pugs are brachycephalic – short nosed – and have trouble breathing outside at 80 or 85 degrees.
Other short-nosed breeds like English Bulldogs, French Bulldogs, and Boston Terriers, have the same issue. It’s one reason why they snort and snore, even in the winter.
Generally, we can tell when a dog locked in a car is distressed, and few good Samaritans are going to be carrying a temperature gauge with them.
Still, the House needs to pass this bill as soon as possible. Spring and summer aren’t that far off, and, no doubt, there will be animals to rescue.
Joey Kennedy, a Pulitzer Prize winner, writes a column every week for Alabama Political Reporter.
Email: [email protected]
Opinion | Open Seat for the 2nd Congressional District will be decided in March
Over the course of history, the second congressional district has been referred to and considered a Montgomery congressional district because the Capital City has comprised the bulk of the population. In recent years a good many Montgomerians have migrated to the suburban counties of Autauga and Elmore. Therefore, the district has been refigured to reflect this trend. Today there are more Republican votes cast in this congressional district in these two counties than from Montgomery.
Nevertheless the bulk of the population is in what is now referred to as the River Region. This Montgomery region is coupled with Southeast Alabama and the Wiregrass, which makes it a very conservative Congressional district. It is a Republican seat and has been since Bill Dickinson won it in the southern Republican Goldwater landslide of 1964.
Bill Dickinson beat longtime sitting Congressman George Grantin 1964, and became the first Republican to be elected since Reconstruction. Congressman Dickinson stayed in the seat for 28 years. He rose to be the ranking Republican on the House Armed Services Committee. Through his influence, not only were the vital military bases – Maxwell/Gunter in Montgomery and Ft. Rucker in the Wiregrass – enhanced, he was also instrumental in bringing Lockheed and Sikorsky plants to the district. Over the past 100 years, Dickinson has had the most profound effect for the district.
Businessman Terry Everett won the seat in 1992 upon Dickinson’s retirement. He was the first and only Wiregrass person to hold that seat. Everett served with distinction for 16 years, through 2008. He was a stalwart Republican and very conservative.
The current Congressional person is Martha Roby, a Republican from Montgomery. After 10 years in Congress, she said she had enough and chose to not run for reelection this year which leaves the open seat up for grabs. It is a Republican seat, therefore, the winner of the March 3rd primary and probable March 31 GOP runoff, will go to Washington for at least two years.
The probable winner of that congressional seat will be Dothan businessman, Jeff Coleman. He is 53 and has not only been successful running his family’s worldwide moving business, hehas been active civically in the Wiregrass. He is at the right time in life to serve in Washington. His profile is the prototypical scenario for being elected to a Republican Congressional or Senate seat. Congressional campaign fundraising limits coupled with the fact that Washington PACs do not get involved in primaries but wait until the General Election to place their bets, favors a wealthy candidate.
Coleman has his own money and dedicated $2 million to the race. He has followed through on his promise to spend that amount. Amazingly, he has raised another $1 million. When all is said and done, he will probably have spent close to $3 million to win this seat in Congress. Just outspending his challengers by a 10 to 1 amount would be sufficient to win. However, he has not only spent more than all the others combined, he has outworked them. He is affable and confident in an unassuming way. People seem to like him. He will win.
If Coleman had not entered the race, former Attorney General Troy King would have been favored to win. Having run several times and being a native of the Wiregrass, King had some inherent name identification. He has been hampered in this race by lack of fundraising. However, if there is a runoff, King will more than likely be Coleman’s opponent in the March 31 GOP runoff.
Former Enterprise State Representative Barry Moore ran a gallant race against Martha Roby a couple of years ago and got a good vote, most of which came out of Coffee County. He may not do as well in the Wiregrass this time.
There is a dashing young candidate named Jessica Taylor, who is running a good campaign focused on getting free publicity on Fox News as a youthful female candidate.
Whichever candidate wins the seat, there is no question as towhich congressional committees they should aspire –Agriculture and Armed Services because this district is highly dependent on military spending and farming.
Sadly, the winner will probably not have a long tenure in Congress. Alabama is probably going to lose a Congressional seat after this year’s census count. The logical seat to be altered and probably merged with the current third and first district is the second district.
Folks, the primary election is less than two weeks away.
See you next week.
Steve Flowers is Alabama’s leading political columnist. His weekly column appears in over 60 Alabama newspapers. He served 16 years in the state legislature. Steve may be reached at www.steveflowers.us.
Opinion | It’s time for Alabama Democrats to learn from Alabama Republicans
Democrats never seem to learn from Republicans.
All around the country, and all around the state of Alabama, Democrats are still playing by the rules. Still listening to the cries and outrage from the other side. Still entertaining the idea that compromise and diplomacy are important to Republicans on some level.
Still watching Lucy jerk that football away at the last moment.
It’s time that stopped.
It is time — actually, well past time — for Democrats to adopt the attitudes of their GOP colleagues, and just do whatever the hell you want to do.
Whatever goal you set, go achieve it. Whatever policy is important, implement it. Whatever action you believe is right, take it.
This is how Republicans have governed now for years. It is how they have wrestled control of the U.S. Supreme Court — just don’t hold a hearing for a duly appointed candidate — and how they have stolen elections — keep blocking attempts to secure elections. It is how they control half of Congress — thanks, gerrymandering! — despite representing nearly 20 million fewer people and how they have managed to offset a growing minority vote — put up every roadblock short of a poll tax.
In Alabama, it has how they adopted the AAA act to funnel tax money to private schools — just completely rewrite the bill in the dead of night — and how they passed the most restrictive abortion ban — just ignore promises and public opinion. It is how they have stopped attempts to pass gambling legislation — by straight up lying about the law — and how they have steadily cut into ethics laws — pretend that no one can understand the laws they wrote themselves — and how a House Speaker convicted on 12 felonies still isn’t in prison three years later — just don’t send him.
They don’t care.
About rules. About the law. About public perception. About basic decency.
And it’s time for Democrats, especially in Alabama, to adopt the same attitudes.
Because if Republicans can behave this way to implement racist bills and roll back ethics laws and protect the income of the elites, then Democrats shouldn’t think twice about doing it to protect rural hospitals or new mothers’ health or workers’ rights or decent public schools.
Now, this will be a big change for Democrats, so let me explain how this would look in practice, using the ongoing saga of Confederate monuments.
Republicans shoved through an absurd bill last year that protects the state’s monuments to those who fought to enslave other human beings, and they’re shocked — shocked and outraged — that African Americans in Alabama might find it offensive to honor the men who enslaved their ancestors.
The bill they passed last year was a dumb bill, right down to the portion which levied a fine on cities if those cities removed or damaged a monument. The bill completely screwed up the fines portion, failing to penalize cities for moving or damaging monuments over 40 years old and failing to place a per-day fine on those cities. Instead, the Alabama Supreme Court said the cities would be subject to one $25,000 fine.
Birmingham has a monument that it desperately wants to move. It has already boarded up the monument in Linn Park, and the ALSC, in the same ruling, ordered the boards to come down.
And this is the first opportunity for Mayor Randall Woodfin to approach this with a new attitude.
Tear it down.
Write out one of those big “Price is Right” checks for $25,000, hold a press conference and award that money to Steve Marshall like he just won at Plinko.
At the same time, workers should be taking that monument apart piece by piece and moving it to the Birmingham Civil Rights Institute, where it can be viewed for its historical significance instead of serving to honor traitors and racists.
No apologies. No shame. Don’t even entertain their complaints.
A similar approach should be taken by the city of Montgomery in regards to its occupational tax, which Republicans are attempting to stop through legislative action.
Montgomery is going broke, and it can’t put enough cops on the streets. Part of that is because every day about 70,000 people flood into the city to go to work, and then they leave each afternoon and spend their money in — and give their tax dollars to — surrounding cities and counties.
Montgomery has to do something to offset the costs, so an occupational tax has been proposed. But just as quickly as it was, the ALGOP — the kings of handouts to people who don’t need them — passed a bill to block it.
So, some creativity is required.
Instead of an occupational tax, pass a public safety tax.
If you work within the city limits of Montgomery, but live outside of those city limits, your paycheck will now be taxed an extra 1 percent to offset the cost of the police and fire services that you might use while in the city every day.
No apologies. No shame. Don’t listen to GOP complaints.
It’s a shame that things have to be like this, but they do. Democrats have tried for decades to force rational debate and to promote the value of compromise. Those pleas have fallen on deaf ears, which have been attached to toddler-like brains that have justified atrociously selfish behaviors and awful governance.
At this point, it has gone on so long and been so successful for Republicans, the only thing that might break through is a taste of their own medicine.
Give it to them.
Opinion | Facts are stubborn things
I’m in my 20th year of teaching in the English Department at UAB. I’ve never taught my primary discipline, journalism, and I really don’t have much of a desire to, either.
Yet, in 2017, the leadership of UAB’s University Honors Program asked me to be a part of their interdisciplinary faculty for the fall. UHP’s fall semesters are themed, and that year, the first year of Donald Trump’s term as president, the theme was appropriate: “Evidence and Belief in a Post-Truth Society.” For UHP, I was a “communications” (journalism) professor. I taught with a scientist and public health professor, a religion professor, a philosophy professor, a literature professor and a psychology professor.
The students in this program – all 100-plus of them – are among the smartest students on campus. Needless to say, I was intimidated. For my first lecture before the students, I took a Xanax (it’s prescribed because I do have anxiety sometimes). The Xanax didn’t make me lecture better, but it made me not really care if I screwed up.
I’m sort of a one-trick pony – I teach and write in the only language I know: English. Here, you had neuroscience and biology and chemistry majors galore. And, yes, there were a few English and history and business and engineering students, too. Pretty much every discipline taught at UAB is represented in UHP, and certainly in its umbrella school, the UAB Honors College.
That fall went by quickly. I only took the Xanax for the first lecture. I settled into my groove pretty quickly. But when it was over, I ached for the continued intellectual stimulation I received as a teacher. I’m a lifetime learner, and that program taught me a lot. And I got to teach others a lot, too.
I thought it was a one-shot deal. Until, that is, the program’s director, Dr. Michael Sloane, asked me to return in the fall of 2018 to direct the first-year students’ literary analyses. And that fall, I was also asked to propose a UHP seminar class for the spring of 2020. I returned last fall to once again direct the first-year literary analysis. And I’ve been asked to return for first-year LAs again this coming fall.
This semester, I’m teaching the class I proposed, “Media and Social Justice.” And I’ve already got another self-created UHP seminar class scheduled for next spring, “Media and War: Men and Women Making a Difference on the Front Lines.”
Unlike my composition and literature classes in the English Department, these seminars have no template. I have to create the teaching as I go. Some days, I’m very confident; others not so much.
I divided the “Media and Social Justice” class into six two-week units: Nellie Bly (mental illness and investigative journalism), The Jungle (food safety and immigration), Jim Crow Lives (the civil rights era and voter suppression), #MeToo (sexual assault and harassment), Black Lives Matters (police and other shootings of people of color), and March for Our Lives (gun violence and sensible gun regulation).
These classes are limited to 16 honors students, but 19 students wanted in my “Media and Social Justice” class, so I have 19 students.
I teach these classes as a communications professor, not an English professor. I direct the literary analyses as a literature professor, not a communications professor.
We’re covering historical topics, for sure, but also contemporary topics. It doesn’t get any more current than Black Lives Matter, #MeToo, voter suppression, or March for Our Lives.
We don’t just talk about the journalism around these topics, but also about other media. For example, I find protest songs for each topic. While it’s not on our plate, did you know Trump has inspired a whole catalog of protest songs? Most every president inspires protest songs, though Trump has inspired an awful lot of them.
Maybe at some point, I’ll create a “Media and Donald J. Trump” class. There is plenty of material.
The point, though, is that we all should be lifelong learners. I can’t tell you how much I’ve learned from by English students and my honors students, how much the English faculty has taught me, and how much the faculty and directors of the University Honors Program have taught me.
That I get to return the favor by teaching these unique classes says a lot about UAB, and how it values critical thinking and learning.
I hope I never lose my enthusiasm for learning, or become too stubborn to change when the facts point toward another direction. That is our responsibility to the truth. I guess I am stubborn in one way: There are no alternative facts. Facts are truth, reality. The alternative is false, untruth, lies.
Readers, that’s a fact, and like me sometimes, facts are stubborn.
Joey Kennedy, a Pulitzer Prize winner, writes a column every week for Alabama Political Reporter. Email: [email protected].
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