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Newt Gingrich addresses Alabama Farmers

Brandon Moseley

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Former U.S. Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich was in Montgomery to address the 97th meeting of the influential Alabama Farmers Federation (ALFA) Monday. Nearly one thousand farmers and business people from supporting industries were in attendance.

ALFA President Jimmy Parnell said that he is a huge Fox News fan, and Gingrich always adds something to any of the Fox News shows when he is a contributor.

“I consider him an expert on political ideas and issues,” Parnell said.

Gingrich said that why the politics in Washington are so tense, “Goes back to election day in 2016. The left is still mad because of Trump’s victory.”

Gingrich said that special prosecutor Robert Mueller “Is a faithful representative of the old establishment.”

“Brett Kavanaugh is such a nice person, he coaches his daughter’s basketball team while working as an Appeals Judge, it is hard to get mad about him,” Gingrich said. “For the first time since Earl Warren was appointed, which Eisenhower said was his biggest mistake, we are going to have a center-right court. That is why they got so upset.”

The left has been using the court to implement social change that they could not pass through the Congress or the state legislatures, Gingrich said.

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“Congress passed 17 deregulation bills,” Gingrich said. “If it is repealed by the Congress you can’t restore them by executive order you have to change the law.”

“Trump has continued with deregulation,” Gingrich continued. “Then Trump did the worst thing he could have done and he went to the United Nations and said that being proud of your country is a good thing.” And the left went ballistic, Gingrich claimed.

The former speaker said that having been in Washington since 1978, the bipartisanship of the past “is greatly exaggerated, but now the tension is now real and very deep. The two parties represent radically different visions of America. The left sees tax cuts as terrible because it takes money out of Washington and puts it back in Alabama. Taking money out of Washington takes power away.

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“What we have now is the largest leftwing resistance since the Vietnam War,” Gingrich said.

The former Congressman from Georgia said that he is not going to defend everything Trump does and that once he told the president, “Ten percent less Trump would be more effective, and he said are you talking about my Tweets.”

Gingrich said that Trump had a good meeting with China on trade at the G20 meeting in Buenos Aries, but “It is impossible for CNN and the New York Times to say that Trump had success in Buenos Aries.”

Gingrich said that Trump only sleeps about four or five hours a night and gets up and goes on Twitter. By 7 or 7:30 a.m. he has put out ten tweets “And there are 40 to 45 million people in his network. His network is larger than any two of the TV networks.”

“Part of what is going on is personality-driven,” Gingrich said. “Ninety-two percent of the press coverage has been negative over the first two years.”

Despite this Trump has 48 percent approval in one poll and 44 percent approval in another poll. That is higher than Reagan was at the same point in his presidency.

“The New York Times likes (French President Emmanuel) Macron,” Gingrich said. “Macron is at 26 percent approval. Even though he is 20 percent lower he gets good coverage because the left like him. I lived in France and one thing about the French is that they don’t like change. In Paris, people are rioting because he raised the price of gasoline. The French will pay over $7 a gallon. The people are upset because the elites are so concerned about global warming that they don’t want the people to be able to drive anymore. In Italy, the two populist parties, one conservative and one liberal just destroyed the old ruling parties.”

“We had 17 candidates running for President in the Republican Party,” Gingrich said. “Why Trump won was that the Republican base was so angry at Washington they lost hope in regular reform. John Kasich is a good guy. He came in and said I was a good governor and they said we were afraid of that. Jeb Bush said he was an even better governor. Lindsey Graham said I was a good Senator and they weren’t interested.”

They voted for Trump because he was kicking over the table. Sixty-three percent of the voters wanted an outsider.

Gingrich said that Trump sat down with the Heritage Society and came up with a list of judges.

“Almost every social conservative in the country said that if he will do that I can support him,” Gingrich said. “In that one zone alone (appointing conservative judges) Trump will be a really historic President.

Gingrich said that in the election “We got two seats in the Senate and need to pick up more seats one of them could be in this state in 2020.” In the House, Obama lost more seats in 2010 and Clinton lost more seats in 1994. Both lost more seats in the first term than Trump. Both of them were re-elected.

“In 2016 we had more Republican legislators than ever in the history of the Republican party,” Gingrich said. In this election, “They had a net gain of 200 (state legislature seats). We have about 4000 state legislature seats. They have about 2000.”

Gingrich said that the Mueller investigation is an “Unconstitutional coup d’etat by a federal prosecutor. Ultimately, I think he will fail because there is nothing there.”

Gingrich acknowledged that it is “Probably true” that Trump discussed building a building in Moscow. “He is a businessman and people who build buildings like to build buildings. The Russians might have done something stupid. Some of the Trump people might have done some things that were stupid.” “It will be a political issue. Is that enough to defeat him? My hunch is that if the economy is good, he will get reelected.”

“It is too far out to predict what will happen in 2020,” Gingrich said. If I had stood here in 2014 and said that Donald Trump would be elected President you would think I was nuts. If I had said in 1990 that Bill Clinton would beat President Bush when he had 90 percent approval you would not have believed me. “You can’t tell this far out what is going to happen in two years. But it is going to be tumultuous because the left is bitter.”

“The Republican Party is increasingly a Trump Party,” Gingrich said. “The never Trumpers are going home.”

“I’m delighted at the number of people here,” Gingrich said. “I wish I could reach into each of your hearts and convince you how important it is to protect this country … and how big of a difference you can make.”

“What you have on the left is a deliberate amnesia,” Gingrich said. “Because they don’t want us to know our history.” That the liberals have control in all of our colleges and universities has gotten to be a huge problem. It has even spread down to the high schools. “Reagan said what they don’t know that is dangerous it is what they know that isn’t true.”

“If you really studied and understood the history of this country, then you would be a patriot and a nationalist,” Gingrich said.
President Parnell said of Gingrich’s comments, “I learned a lot. I have been a fan for a long time.”

Alabama Governor Kay Ivey (R) told the group: “Friends, let me begin tonight, by saying thank you to each and every one of you. Thank you for the tremendous support you have given me. I am truly humbled and honored.”

Chris and Jordyn Upchurch who have 400 acres north of Lineville in Clay County were also honored. They have 3 chicken houses and a beef cattle herd of 130 brood cows that has grown from his start of just seven cows when he was a boy. They also harvest hay both on their farm and on farms of other farmers and they clean out chicken houses for other farmers. The Upchurch’s are fourth and fifth generations Alabama farmers. Jordyn and Chris and their infant son, Charlie, were chosen as the 2018 outstanding farm family of Alabama.

Agriculture and forestry are by far the largest industries in Alabama.

Brandon Moseley is a senior reporter with eight and a half years at Alabama Political Reporter. You can email him at [email protected] or follow him on Facebook. Brandon is a native of Moody, Alabama, a graduate of Auburn University, and a seventh generation Alabamian.

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Elections

Coalition of attorneys general file opposition to Alabama attempt to ban curbside voting

The AGs argue that Alabama’s suggestion to the courts that curbside voting invites fraud is “unfounded.” 

Eddie Burkhalter

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(STOCK PHOTO)

A coalition of 17 state attorneys general have filed an opposition to Alabama’s attempt to get the U.S. Supreme Court to ban curbside voting. 

In a friend-of-the-court brief, led by District of Columbia Attorney General Karl Racine, the attorneys general argue to that curbside voting is safer for those at greatest risk from COVID-19, and that a ban on the practice would disproportionately impact the elderly, the disabled and Black Alabamians.

They also argue that Alabama’s suggestion to the courts that curbside voting invites fraud is “unfounded.” 

“The Presidential Advisory Commission on Election Integrity, established by President Trump following the 2016 election, ‘uncovered no evidence to support claims of widespread voter fraud,’” the brief states, adding that there is no evidence that curbside voting in the many states that allow it invites fraud. 

“The practice is longstanding and widespread—as noted, more than half of states have historically offered curbside voting in some form,” the brief continues. 

Alabama Attorney General Steve Marshall on Oct. 13 said the state will appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court a federal appeals court ruling allowing curbside voting in the Nov. 3 election. 

A panel of federal appeals court judges on Oct. 13 reversed parts of U.S. District Judge Abdul Kallon’s Sept. 30 ordered ruling regarding absentee voting in the upcoming Nov. 3 elections, but the judges let the previous ruling allowing curbside voting to stand. 

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The lawsuit, filed by the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund, Southern Poverty Law Center, American Civil Liberties Union, ACLU of Alabama and Alabama Disabilities Advocacy Program, was brought on behalf of several Alabamians with underlying medical conditions. 

“Curbside voting is a longstanding, secure voting option that local jurisdictions have made available to protect the health of vulnerable voters, including elderly, disabled, and voters with underlying health issues,” Racine said in a statement. “Curbside voting minimizes the risk to persons who are particularly susceptible to COVID-19, and local jurisdictions should be able to offer this common-sense accommodation to voters. State Attorneys General will keep fighting to ensure that voters can safely make their voices heard at the ballot box this November.”

The brief filed by the coalition of state attorneys general comes as the number of COVID-19 hospitalizations across Alabama has been ticking upward.

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Racine is joined in the brief by attorneys general from California, Connecticut, Delaware, Hawaii, Illinois, Maryland, Michigan, Minnesota, Nevada, New Mexico, New York, Oregon, Rhode Island, Vermont, Virginia and Washington.

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News

Alabama revenues grew despite COVID pandemic, analysis shows

Tax revenue into the state’s General Fund was 7 percent higher this year the Education Trust Fund brought in an additional $209 million in 2020 compared to 2019. 

Eddie Burkhalter

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(STOCK PHOTO)

Alabama’s strong economy going into the COVID-19 pandemic, and billions in federal aid to address the health and economic crisis, has helped the state’s two largest budget funds to grow this year, according to a study released Thursday. 

According to an analysis by the Public Affairs Research Council of Alabama, tax revenue into the state’s General Fund was 7 percent higher this year than it was in 2019, and Alabama’s Education Trust Fund brought in an additional $209 million in 2020 compared to 2019. 

“According to Finance Department officials, Alabama ended 2020 with $330 million balance in the ETF and a $315 million balance in the General Fund,” wrote PARCA’s Tom Spencer in the report. “That was result both of revenues that exceeded the budgeted amounts and expenditures that were lower than what was appropriated.”

The growth came despite the spike in unemployment that began in March and hasn’t yet abated, and despite mandatory business closures in March and April and the restrictions still in place to protect against the spread of the coronavirus. 

The author of the report said the growth is due in part to the state’s strong economy before the pandemic hit. Unemployment was at a historic low between October and March, and prior to the pandemic, income tax receipts were up approximately 7 percent over the same period in 2019. 

Additionally, $4.1 billion in federal COVID-19 aid has been committed to individuals and municipalities in Alabama, and consumer spending shifted but didn’t stop, the author notes. 

The federal Paycheck Protection Program preserved payrolls, and unemployed workers received $600 per week in a supplement to unemployment insurance, which both helped prevent the state’s tax revenue from taking a bigger hit. 

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“Sales taxes dropped, then recovered and have been up and down in the months since. At the same time though, tax on internet purchases surged, offsetting the erosion in sales tax. Unlike some other states, Alabama’s sales taxes apply to groceries and medicine and thus it tends to be more stable,” Spencer wrote in the report. 

Several sectors of Alabama’s economy have done well during the pandemic, including the state’s Alcohol Beverage Control Board, which contributed an additional $17 million to the General Fund, an increase of 14 percent. 

But still other sectors suffered, including lodging tax. The tax on hotels and vacation rentals was down 15 percent for the year, and collected almost $9 million less for the General Fund.

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“For the current fiscal year, FY 2021, Finance officials are relatively confident that revenues will more than cover the budgets. Lawmaker scaled back spending plans in light of the pandemic,” Spencer wrote in the report. “As long as there aren’t additional unforeseen shocks to the economic system, the Alabama economy should generate the revenue needed to make the budgets as adopted this spring.”

If the state’s economy were to take a larger hit, Spencer noted, the state still has rainy day funds for both funds. 

RESERVE FUND BALANCES

  • ETF Budget Stabilization Fund – $373,269,077
  • ETF Rainy Day Account – $465,421,670
  • GF Budget Stabilization Fund – $27,297,483
  • GF Budget Rainy Day Account – $232,939,781

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Featured Columnists

Opinion | Electing Tuberville could cost Alabama billions

If your conscience or decency isn’t enough, vote your wallets.

Josh Moon

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Sen. Doug Jones, left, and Senate candidate Tommy Tuberville, right.

Money matters in Alabama. Oh, I know that we’re not supposed to say that out loud. That we’re supposed to promote our image of southern grace and hospitality, of churchiness and care, of rich people never getting into heaven. 

But the truth is greed is our biggest character flaw in this state. 

Every problem we have can be traced back to our unending thirst for dollars. Our ancestors didn’t keep slaves because they hated black people. They did it because they loved money and the difference in skin color gave them an excuse — a really, really stupid excuse — to mistreat other humans to take advantage of the free labor. 

Our rivers and lakes and dirt aren’t filled with poisons from factories because we’re too dumb to understand how this works. They’re that way because our politicians are paid off to turn a blind eye to the dumping of toxic waste. 

Our schools aren’t terrible because we have dumb kids or bad teachers. It’s because we’re too cheap to pay for them. 

You see what I mean? It’s our lust for the almighty dollar. Every time. 

We love money. 

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Which makes me seriously wonder why so many people in this state are going to vote for a man who will cost us all — and especially our biggest businesses — so much of it. 

Tommy Tuberville will be like a money vacuum for Alabama. Billions of dollars will vanish for this welfare state that relies so much on federal contracts, federal programs and federal dollars. 

If you doubt this, don’t simply take my word for it. Just Google up the press releases from Sen. Richard Shelby’s office from the last, say, six years — the most recent span in which Republicans have controlled the Senate. 

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Almost every single release is about Shelby securing millions or billions of dollars in federal funding for this project or that project, getting the state’s share of dollars from a variety of different programs and initiatives implemented by Congress. 

Shelby and I obviously have different political viewpoints, but it’s hard to argue that the man has been successful in securing money for Alabama. Lots and lots of money. 

Money for airports and roads. Money for defense contractors in Huntsville. Money for the port in Mobile. Money for car manufacturers. Money for farmers. 

Money. Money. Money. 

Shelby can do that because of three things: He’s on the right committees, he’s a member of the party in power and he’s liked by the right people.

Tuberville will be none of those things. 

Most pundits are predicting that Democrats will take over the Senate, tipping the balance of power and giving the party control of both houses and the White House. 

That automatically means that a first-time senator in the opposition party will have little to no say in any decisions. 

But what’s worse for Tuberville, and for Alabama, is that other Republicans don’t like him either. 

Establishment Republicans essentially openly campaigned against Tuberville in the primary, tossing tens of millions of dollars behind his opponent, Jeff Sessions. They even favored third-place finisher Bradley Byrne over Tuberville. 

It’s not hard to understand why — he’s clueless. 

I know that’s a Doug Jones talking point, but this one happens to be true. Let me give you an example: On Thursday, Tuberville tweeted out what was meant to be a shot at Jones, claiming that Alabama’s current senator wouldn’t meet with Trump’s Supreme Court nominee because Jones knows “he won’t have much time in the Senate to work with her.”

If you’re unaware, the Senate doesn’t “work with” the Supreme Court. They’re separate entities. 

Combine that with his other nonsensical answers on COVID relief, school reopenings, the Voting Rights Act, senate committee assignments, education, foreign affairs — really, the list is almost endless — and it shows how little work he’s put in over the last two years to understand this job he’s applying for. 

Now, that might be just fine with Alabama voters who care more about the party affiliation and owning the libs, but it’s not OK with grownups who take the job of running the country seriously. 

And those people — both Rs and Ds — don’t like Tuberville or his here-for-an-easy-check-like-always approach to one of the most serious jobs in the world. 

He will be frozen out of the most sought after committee assignments. His voice will carry zero weight. His presence will be all but forgotten. 

And in the process, so will Alabama. Especially in two years, when Shelby retires and his senior status is lost. 

In the meantime, Jones is highly respected by senators on both sides of the aisle. He already has a presence on top committees, and is so well liked within the Democratic Party that he’s on the short list to be Joe Biden’s AG, should he not be re-elected. 

The choice seems pretty simple. On the one hand is a competent, prepared and serious statesman who knows how to maneuver his colleagues to get the most for the state. On the other hand is an unprepared, uncaring, lazy carpetbagger who doesn’t understand any process. 

If your conscience or decency isn’t enough, vote your wallets.

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Health

At least 248 COVID deaths reported in Alabama in October

The cumulative death toll in Alabama has risen by 248 to 2,788 in October and by 124 in the last week alone.

Brandon Moseley

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(STOCK PHOTO)

We’re a little more than halfway through the month of October and the Alabama Department of Public Health has already reported at least 248 deaths from COVID-19.

The cumulative death toll in Alabama has risen by 248 to 2,788 in October and by 124 in the last week alone.

At least 378 deaths were reported in the month of September, a rate of 12.6 deaths per day over the month. In the first 17 days of October, the rate has been 14.6 deaths per day, a 15.9 percent increase from September.

Deaths were higher in July and August. The cumulative death toll increased by 582 in August and 630 in July, the worst month of the pandemic for the state.

On Saturday, ADPH reported that 1,288 more people in the state were confirmed positive with the coronavirus, and on Sunday the count increased by 964. The number of confirmed cases in Alabama has risen to 172,626.

There have been 17,925 new cases Alabama in October alone. The state is averaging almost 996 cases per day in October, which is up from September.

The state had 28,643 new coronavirus cases in September, 38,335 cases new cases in August, and 49,678 cases in July. Public health officials credit Alabama Governor Kay Ivey’s statewide mask order on July 15 with slowing the spread of the virus in the state, but the virus has not gone away.

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ADPH reported 823 hospitalizations for COVID-19 on October 17, the most recent day for which we have data. While hospitalizations for COVID-19 are down from the peaks in early August in Alabama have risen from Oct. 1 when 748 Alabamians were hospitalized, a 10 percent increase from the first of the month.

The state of Alabama is continuing to struggle to protect its most vulnerable citizens. At least 6,497 residents of long term care facilities in Alabama have been diagnosed with the coronavirus, 247 of them in October.

There have also been 3,362 cases among long term care workers in Alabama, including 197 in the month of October. Some 9,819 Alabama health care workers have also contracted the coronavirus.

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Most people who test positive for the novel strain of the coronavirus, SARS-CoV-2, are asymptomatic or have only minor symptoms, but in about one out of five cases it can become much more severe.

For older people or people with underlying medical conditions like obesity, heart disease, asthma, cancer, diabetes or HIV, COVID-19 can turn deadly. COVID-19 is the abbreviated name for the medical condition caused by the SARS-CoV-2 virus.

Some 1,115,600 people worldwide have died from COVID-19 worldwide, including 224,284 Americans. There are 8,972,704 known active cases in the world today.

Public health officials warn citizens that coronavirus remains a present danger in our community. Social distancing is the best way to avoid spreading the virus. Avoid venues with large groups. Don’t shake hands or hug persons not living in your household.

Avoid leaving your home as much as possible and wear a mask or cloth face covering when you do go out. Avoid touching your face and wash your hands with soap frequently. Hand sanitizer is recommended.

A coronavirus vaccine may be available in the coming months, but we don’t yet know when or how effective it will be.

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