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Joey Kennedy

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.

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

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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.

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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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Joey Kennedy

Opinion | GOP campaign ads are a hoot

Joey Kennedy

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The campaign advertisements for the top three candidates in the Republican Party primary for the U.S. Senate are a hoot.

Former football coach Tommy Tuberville, U.S. Rep. Bradley Byrne, and former U.S. senator and disgraced former Attorney General Jeff Sessions are scrambling hard to get the nomination to run against Democratic Sen. Doug Jones in November’s General Election.

The trio are now elbowing each other in the face on television and radio to see who loves Donald Trump the most. Tuberville may have won that contest, declaring that God himself sent us Donald Trump because God knew we were in trouble.

If God sent Donald Trump, he’s playing a very un-God-like joke on us. God bestows grace; Trump bestows insults. God is love; Trump is lust. God is life; Trump is orange.

My God didn’t send Donald Trump anywhere, but Tuberville must believe that if he says it, the Trump loyalists – especially those weird Evangelicals who also believe Trump is “godly” –will vote for him.

Then there are those strange commercials by Bradley Byrne, sitting by a campfire, insinuating that his brother Dale died fighting for the First Amendment rights which the so-called Squad uses to attack America, for Colin Kaepernick to take a knee, for a Muslim to serve in the U.S. House. Byrne’s brother was a military hero and did serve for many years with special forces, but he died of a heart attack in 2013, at the age of 62, following a lengthy respiratory illness the Byrne family links to Dale’s military service.

About the First Amendment, “Dale fought for that right,” Byrne says in the ad, “but I will not let them tear our country apart.”

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Byrne never explains what he can do to keep those five people (I’m sure, by coincidence, five people of color) from saying whatever they want. Like Byrne, the four women of color in the U.S. House were elected by the voters in their district so, in effect, Byrne is insulting those voters. But that aside, one has to be pretty desperate to use one’s deceased brother as a prop in a political campaign ad.

And then there’s Sessions. Alabama’s junior senator for two decades, he wants his old job back. Sessions never stood tall anywhere, but especially in the Senate, where he was just a person who stopped stuff from happening. But he was the first U.S. Senator to endorse Trump, so Trump rewarded him by appointing him U.S. attorney general.

Trump quickly suffered buyer’s remorse because Sessions recused himself from the Department of Justice’s Russia investigation, as he should have done. But doing the right thing isn’t a big selling point with Trump. The president hounded Sessions on Twitter, then fired him right after the mid-term elections in November 2018. Still, Sessions even now still sucksup to Trump even though Trump recently gave his opponent Byrne a shout-out.

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Besides making their outrageous claims, Sessions, Byrne, and Tuberville are also running attack ads against each other. This is fun. They each want to appear more godly, more Republicanny, and more Trumpy than anybody else.

That position is usually held by constant-candidate Roy Moore. I don’t think we can expect much from Moore, the disgraced former Alabama Chief Justice who at one time had a thing for teenaged girls. In this round, Moore is flat out of gas and moneyand reputation. At least we have that.

There’s no doubt who is best qualified to keep representing Alabama in the U.S. Senate: Doug Jones. We’ll have to wait until November to see if Jones can pull it off, but only a fool would count him out.

We’ll find out which Republican gets to take on Jones either Tuesday or after a runoff later in March. I’m hoping for the runoff. These Republican commercials are just too, too funny.


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

 

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Opinion | Alabama close to allowing hot dogs to be rescued

Joey Kennedy

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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.

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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.

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At 80 degrees, a vehicles 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:

The person has a good faith belief that the confined domestic animal is in imminent danger of suffering physical injury or death unless the domestic animal is removed from the motor vehicle;
The person determines that the motor vehicle is locked or there is no reasonable manner in which the person can remove the domestic animal from the vehicle;
Before entering the motor vehicle, the person notifies a peace officer, emergency medical service provider or first responder or an animal control enforcement agency or deputy of the confined domestic animal;
The person does not use more force than is necessary under the circumstances to enter the motor vehicle and remove the domestic animal from the vehicle.
Remains with the animal in a safe location in reasonable proximity to the motor vehicle until law enforcement or other first responders arrive.
Maintains control of the animal at all times to prevent harm to the animal or others.

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]

 

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Opinion | Facts are stubborn things

Joey Kennedy

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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.”

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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.

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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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Opinion | Doug Jones: On the right side of history

Joey Kennedy

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As expected, most Republicans in the U.S. Senate found Donald Trump not guilty of two articles of impeachment. On the first charge, abuse of power, the vote was 52-48 not guilty. Utah Sen. Mitt Romney broke with his party on that one.

The second charge, obstruction of Congress, Romney went back home so it was a straight party-line vote, 53-47.

If anything, the evidence was strongest on the obstruction of Congress count. Trump blocked witnesses and refused to turn over documents despite legal subpoenas from the U.S. House of Representatives. So Trump is absolutely guilty, in fact, if not in process, for obstruction.

He’s guilty, too, of the abusing his power, though the mess with Ukraine isn’t the first time. Trump began abusing the power of the president’s office practically on his first day.

This was no surprise, though. The Republican Party has forever been co-opted. It’s been the party of Trump for awhile, the Republicans generally scared to death to face Trump’s vengeful wrath. As Trump showed in the State of the Union Tuesday night, he’s a petty, petty, small-minded person. And, no, Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi should not have ripped his speech in half at the end of the night for all to see. That was as petty as Trump refusing to shake Pelosi’s hand as he took the podium.

From here, it’s a great mistake for Democrats and other Trump opponents to mimic the contemptible president.

But this fact stands: Trump is forever impeached. And the cowardly Republicans in the House and Senate who let him off the hook will be forever on the wrong side of history.

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To his credit, U.S. Sen. Doug Jones, D-Birmingham, did his duty and followed his oath. The former U.S. attorney, who successfully prosecuted a bomber of the 1963 16th Street Baptist Church where four little girls were murdered, knows the law and followed through as he vowed to do: weigh the evidence and decide based on the facts. Jones found Trump guilty on both impeachment resolutions.

Our other senator, Richard Shelby, R-Birmingham, followed the Stepford Republicans and voted not guilty.

More than a few Republicans who voted not guilty Wednesday for Trump had voted guilty during President Bill Clinton’s impeachment, including the two-faced Shelby.

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Everybody’s calling the forever impeachment of Trump simply a partisan exercise. And it was. But it was the right thing to do, too.

Even though there were a few Republican senators who voted to acquit Clinton, that was a highly partisan affair, too. And the U.S. Senate in 1999 was much different than the U.S. Senate of today.

During those days, there were actually progressive and moderate Republicans in the Senate. Today, there are only Trump Republicans, with the exception of a few pretenders who, even so, are always scared to death to defy him.

No doubt Alabama Republicans are pleased with the result. There are fewer states with more enthusiasm for the narcissistic Trump than Alabama. Yet Doug Jones, who is facing a tough re-election bid this year, voted to convict the president, as he should have and regardless of his re-election..

It was absolutely the right call if Jones was going to fulfill his oath. Then, Jones always fulfills his oath.

“On the day I was sworn in as a United States Senator, I took an oath to protect and defend the Constitution. Just last month, at the beginning of the impeachment trial, I took a second oath to do ‘impartial justice’ according to the same Constitution I swore to protect,” Jones explained in a prepared statement announcing his decision before the Senate vote on the unstable president’s fate Wednesday afternoon. “These solemn oaths have been my guides during what has been a difficult time for our country. But I cannot and will not shrink from my duty to defend the Constitution and to do impartial justice.”

And then, said Jones: “I have concluded that the evidence is more than sufficient to convict the President for both abuse of power and obstruction of Congress.”

Complete and unmitigated integrity, unlike Trump himself, the Trump party, and the Trump toadies that make up our government now.

My hope is that the House continues to investigate the many Trump crimes. And now that he’s been given a free pass by the Senate Republicans, he’ll surely keep it up.

My hope is that Democrats, independents, and others not sucked in by Trump’s twisted populism keep his awful record in front of voters. The demographics of our nation and, yes, even Alabama, are changing, and the swing is toward more intelligent voters who embrace progressive ideas. The change is slower here, but it’s happening, and there’s nothing the Angry White Men can do about it.

The Trump Republicans have irrevocably damaged their causes, but that’s OK because their causes are rotten to the core.

Trump, meanwhile, will continue to find himself in trouble. At least until he’s out of office next January.

Whatever happens in Alabama with Sen. Jones’ re-election effort, he will be forever on the right side of history, and his demonstrated integrity will long outlive however many years he serves in the U.S. Senate.

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

 

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