I’m in my 45th year as a professional journalist. During that time, I’ve written sports, covered government meetings, been an investigative reporter, and written opinion. I’ve written opinion only for more than 30 of those years. For the past four years, I’ve written a weekly column for Alabama Political Reporter, and it’s been a lot of fun.
Sure, those of us who write opinion for APR, whether it be from the left or right, are subject to reader comments. But readers truly let those of us who write from the left have it. My colleagues Josh Moon, Eddie Burkhalter, and Bill Britt gladly welcome reader responses. Even the mean ones. Because when people only respond with personal attacks and no alternative ideas, we know they have really nothing to offer to the conversation. Just insults. It’s OK; we’re adults.
We realize that many of those who respond to us with their ad hominem attacks don’t really know much about us.
So today, I’m going to do something that Josh or Eddie or Bill likely would never do (because they’re not nearly as lazy as me). I’m going to interview myself. That way, readers can get a better idea about where I’m coming from.
This is an actual interview I conducted with myself this week. If I don’t cover a question you would like to ask, let me know, and I’ll answer it if it’s a sincere question. Here we go:
Me: Why are you such a liberal Democrat?
Me: I’m not a Democrat. I am an independent. I tend to vote for more Democrats than Republicans, but I vote for some Republicans every election. I split my vote; I would never vote a straight-party ticket. Talk about lazy.
However, I am a “liberal,” whatever that means. To many on the right, it’s a dirty word. To the dictionary, it means “favorable to progress or reform, as in political or religious affairs.” I would hate to be a person unfavorable to “progress or reform.” But my “liberal” ideas have developed over decades of living, studying issues, observing those around me, traveling to many other states and countries, and just plain listening. I’m a skeptical person, so I don’t simply believe what somebody else tells me, even if that somebody is a person of authority. Indeed, throughout my journalism career, I’ve gotten into hot water in various jobs for challenging the people in authority. Most don’t like it. Some actually accept it, realize a challenge doesn’t mean disloyalty, and all is good. I do respect authority, but I don’t respect it blindly.
Me: If you don’t like Alabama, why don’t you just move away?
Me: I love, love, love Alabama. I moved here on purpose; I’m not moving away. I was born in Southeastern Texas and grew up in deep Southern Louisiana. I came to Alabama 42 years ago to work at the Cullman Times. I’ve never left. I spent a few years at the Anniston Star and most of my career at The Birmingham News, before it became a shell of itself. It was at The News where two colleagues (the late Ron Casey and the much alive Harold Jackson) and I won the newspaper’s first Pulitzer Prize. The News editorial board was a finalist for two more Pulitzer Prizes. We knew what we were doing. Then greed destroyed a great newspaper. I was fired in 2015 for “threatening sources” (?) and being “too closely involved” with my stories. In other words, I was a hard-working journalist who was passionate about his job. That’s now much newspapers had changed. No, I’m not leaving Alabama. There’s too much for a “progressive” to write about here. Too much that needs to be “reformed.”
Me: Why do you hate Donald Trump?
Me: He’s just awful. He caters to racism, misogyny, homophobia, xenophobia, and the worst of our spirits. He’s a bully, a white supremacist, a serial sexual abuser, and con man. He has scammed millions of Americans, but many are coming around now. Sadly, in Alabama, the “Don Con” continues to work.
Me: Do you think Trump should be impeached?
Me: Why do you hate Republicans?
Me: I don’t hate Republicans. But I do not like hypocrites, and many of the Republicans today, even in Alabama, are hypocrites. They bow at Trump’s feet not because they believe what Trump is yelling on any particular day, but because they see Trump as a means to be elected. Take U.S. Rep. Bradley Byrne (please!). He used to be a progressive, wanting all services in Alabama to improve. But ever since he was defeated by Robert Bentley, he’s morphed into someone many of us never knew. Now, he’s simply a sycophant for Donald Trump. He’s like George Wallace, without the charisma. We have a lot of these kinds of politicians in Alabama, from the governor to secretary of state to the auditor. They are awful, too. Until voters begin voting for their best interests, this will continue, along with the corruption that comes with it. Oh, Alabama, let’s stop defending our wrongs.
Me: What one thing would you do if you could to change Alabama?
Me: Sorry, Joey, I have to list two.
Me: I said just one.
Me: Well, I’m doing two.
Me: Go ahead, a—hole.
Me: Thank you, I will (a—hole). The first is do away with straight-ticket voting. It’s ruining our elections and causing us to elect unqualified people and to throw out highly qualified people. Only a handful of states allow straight-ticket voting anymore. Of course, Alabama is one of those.
Second, get rid of all the top leaders of the Alabama Democratic Party and start over. Joe Reed, Nancy Worley, and their cronies have ruined the party in Alabama. So much so that the National Democratic Party has stepped in to try to make the party better. I say just start over. The Alabama Democratic Party is a joke, and as long as it remains the punchline, Republicans don’t have to work hard to put corrupt politicians in office. Alabama benefits from strong two-(or more) party elections. More ideas are not a bad thing. Having a real choice at the polls is not a bad thing. Vote for the individual, not the party.
Now I’m going to take a nap.
Joey Kennedy, a Pulitzer Prize winner, writes a column every week for Alabama Political Reporter. Email: [email protected]
Opinion | The inevitable is inevitable
Donald Trump, in full panic mode – and that’s dangerous for the nation – floated the idea Thursday morning in (of course) a tweet that perhaps the Nov. 3 election should be delayed.
We knew it was coming. One event Trump does not want this year is an election. He’s completely bungled the federal (and state) response to the COVID-19 pandemic, and, in fact, made it much worse. More than 150,000 Americans are dead; hundreds of thousands more permanently injured. That’s because Trump basically golfed, held rallies, touted fake cures and treatments for the virus, and, as a result, destroyed the economy and hundreds of thousands, if not millions, of American lives.
Of course, Trump wants to delay the election. He’s so dim, he believes that’s the only way he can stay in office. Except, like on most things, he’s wrong. The president’s term ends Jan. 20, 2021. After that, if there isn’t a president to inaugurate, that opens the possibility House Speaker Nancy Pelosi could become president. That is choice.
But it won’t happen. Because the November General Election will not be delayed. The president can’t do it on his own. It takes an act of Congress to move an election. Remember, too, that if the presidential election is delayed, so are the congressional races. That could conceivably keep Republicans in control of the Senate when an election could very well give that control to Democrats.
That won’t happen, either. Because the November General Election will not be delayed.
Besides, this nation held elections during the U.S. Civil War and in world wars and during other crises and pandemics.
My bet is both of Alabama’s U.S. senators, Richard Shelby and Doug Jones, will oppose moving the election. Jones, a Democrat, is on the ballot against Trump sycophant and former Auburn football coach Tommy Tuberville. Jones wants the matchup, because he’s faring well in the polls, and he’s clearly the far better candidate. Shelby is a pragmatist. He knows in the long run (and short run, for that matter), there’s only a dead end for Trump. Shelby usually will go along to get along, but he broke ranks with other mainstream Republican politicians in 2017 by opposing the election of alleged child predator and former Alabama Chief Justice Roy Moore.
Too bad other Alabama Republicans in Congress are so far up Trump’s ample bootie that they won’t stand up to him. That’s the way of Republicans, though: Party over country; billionaires over the workaday folks. Weirdly, in Alabama, most common folks support Republicans who want to keep them on the margins; Republicans, who want to keep them in their “place.”
Here’s the real reason Trump would like to see the election postponed:
Trump is terrified. The most important factor to him in the election is himself, and he’s going to get clobbered, if polls hold.He needs to somehow save face if there is any way possible, and there likely isn’t any way possible. Every day Trump spouts something else offensive, or insulting, or just plain stupid and idiotic. He supports Confederate flags and generals and statues, sends secret police to round up Black Lives Matter protesters, then refuses to accord proper respect to honor the late U.S. Rep. John Lewis, an Alabama native and one of the most distinguished civil rights leaders in the nation.
Former Presidents Bill Clinton, George W. Bush, and Barack Obama attended Lewis’ final memorial in Atlanta on Thursday. Trump suggested we delay November’s election.
Every day, Trump’s support wanes.
The economy is close to complete collapse, and Republicans in the Senate and the president can’t figure out the next COVID-19 aid package to help hurting Americans. Democrats in the House passed a plan more than a month ago, a plan to keep unemployment benefits flowing, to support schools, to increase COVID-19 testing. The Republican plan has billions for fighter aircraft, a new FBI building near Trump’s Washington hotel, and, yes, more tax breaks for the nation’s richest people. Oh, and it slashes federal unemployment support for those workaday Americans from $600 a week to $200 a week. A $1,600 a month pay cut. Nice.
Trump and Republicans have walled themselves into a bad place, and, unlike the president’s boondoggle border wall, this wall isn’t easily scaled or breached.
Republicans, and especially Trump, want to delay the inevitable. But here’s the problem with that: The inevitable is, yes, inevitable.
Opinion | It will be Trump vs. Biden in November. Conventions will be anticlimactic
The presidential race is onward. It will be incumbent Republican Donald Trump vs. former Vice President and 36-year veteran Democrat, Delaware U.S. Senator Joe Biden in the November 3rd General Election.
Both men have clinched their parties’ nomination. Therefore, the Democratic convention, July 31-August 2 and the Republican convention set for August 25-28 will be anticlimactic. It is doubtful that either convention will break any television rating records.
However, there will be one record shattered in this year’s presidential contest. Trump and Biden will be the two oldest presidential contenders in history. Biden is 78 and Trump is 74. Actually, Trump was the oldest person to ever be sworn in as president four-years ago. So if Biden wins he will really break the record at 78.6 years. By the way, the youngest president was John F. Kennedy, who was 43 when he was sworn in as president in January of 1961.
This has already been one of the most unusual presidential election years in American history. The COVID-19 pandemichas turned the world upside down, especially the American economy. The economy is the pivotal issue that decides presidential elections. Prior to the pandemic, the economy was Trump’s trump card. The economic collapse caused by the pandemic was not Trump’s fault but it happened on his watch. There is an old political maxim that says, “If you claim credit for the rain, then you gotta take blame for the drought.”
Trump was not in the lead prior to the pandemic disaster. He is certainly behind the eight ball today. The country is divided like never before in our history. You either live in a red Republican state like Alabama or a blue Democratic state like California. Under the electoral college system of selecting our president, the election is won or lost in the swing states like Florida, Ohio, Michigan, Pennsylvania and Minnesota.
Current polling has Biden ahead in all of these pivotal states. He has double digit leads in Michigan and his birth home of Pennsylvania. It looks like Joe Biden is favored to be the next president at almost 80 years old. Therefore, it is extremely important who he chooses as his running mate to be vice president.
Biden has unequivocally stated that his vice–president will be a female. His choice probably will boil down to California Senator Kamala Harris. Originally, it was between Minnesota Senator, Amy Klobuchar and Senator Kamala Harris.
Senator Klobuchar would have been an excellent choice. She was well qualified and thoroughly vetted. She is Minnesota’s senior senator having represented her native state since 2006. She is very popular in her home state and would probably have brought the swing state of Minnesota into the Democratic column.
However, she withdrew her name for consideration after it became apparent that the Democratic Party base demanded Biden choose a female candidate of color.
Senator Kamala Harris, 55, has had a stellar career. She is very well qualified to be president. She ran an excellent campaign for the Democratic nomination earlier this year and is a U.S. Senator from the largest state in the Union.
She was Attorney General of California prior to being elected to the U.S. Senate from the Golden State. She classifies herself as African–American. Her mother was an Indian/American/Canadian cancer researcher. Her father was a Jamaican born businessman.
By selecting Senator Kamala Harris, Biden chooses a person of non-white ethnicity. African American women are the heart and soul of the Democratic Party and the most reliable Democratic voters. Senator Harris would energize the base. Turnout is the key to any election.
Odds are that if Joe Biden is elected president in November, he will probably be a one-term president. At almost 80, it is doubtful that he would run again in 2024. Therefore, his choice for his running mate and vice president would be favored to be elected president in four years and could become president before then.
There is a tried and true maxim in politics, more people vote against someone than for someone. The Democrats’ plan of attack is for Biden to do nothing, say nothing and let Trump beat himself.
It will be an interesting and important choice for Biden as he or his advisors select his vice-presidential running mate. Again, turnout is the key. Therefore, do not count Donald Trump out until it is all over. Republican voters who are older turnout to vote at a higher rate than Democratic voters who are younger. You can bet your bottom dollar that Trump will carry Alabama over Biden in November.
See you next week.
Opinion | Why should Will Dismukes resign?
Will Dismukes and his love for all things confederacy aren’t an outlier in the Alabama Republican Party. The party has sought those voters. It has encouraged those views. It has backed legislation supporting those insane beliefs.
There is no reason for state Rep. Will Dismukes to resign. Not as far as the Alabama Republican Party is concerned.
Oh, sure, a few members of ALGOP have made splashy headlines over the last two days, as they’ve called for Dismukes to resign or generally berated the young Republican for his decision to post about attending the birthday party for the Grand Wizard of the Ku Klux Klan.
But really, what right do Alabama Republicans have to call for Dismukes to resign?
This is the sort of behavior, the sort of people — the hate and ignorance and callousness and racism — that ALGOP has been embracing for years. The party has pandered to it, encouraged it, raised money off of it and never — not even a little bit — felt bad about it until the day it might cost them votes.
I mean, stop it with the “this is not my party” nonsense.
What are you talking about this isn’t your party? Have you been living under a rock?
Let us review, please.
You are the party that a few years ago passed the most racist immigration law in America, correct?
You are the party that repeatedly pushed for and eventually passed a law to protect confederate monuments, correct? (It’s also worth noting that the original version of this law would have allowed for removal of Civil Rights Movement monuments.)
You are the party that had a member — a member who is still serving — pass around an email during a legislative session about training monkeys, a thinly-veiled, racist reference to black Democrats, right?
You are the party that pushed for a new voter ID law that solved zero issues with fraud and placed another roadblock between Black voters and the polls, right?
You are the party that broke the law to pass the AAA act, which rerouted public schools’ dollars from Alabama’s poorest and Blackest schools to private schools, helping to aid white flight, right?
You are the party that earlier this year passed a resolution calling for forcing out Minnesota Congresswoman Ilhan Omar because you believed Facebook memes, right?
You are the party that for years has resisted criminal justice reform, to the detriment of thousands of Black Alabamians and their families, right?
You are the party that routinely — with a wink and a nod — paints a picture of Black families on public assistance as moochers and deadbeats, slicing the benefits to the bone and requiring worthless drug tests, right?
You are the party that has remained silent as Black Alabamians rallied for better representation, more equal justice and the removal of Civil War participation trophies, correct?
You are the party that has repeatedly coddled the believers of the “lost cause” theories of the Civil War, told them their opinions were just as valid and went to bat for them on legislation, correct?
You are the party that continues to protect the funding of the Confederate Memorial Park — Alabama’s most well funded park, right?
This is who the ALGOP is. Stop pretending otherwise because Dismukes didn’t know better than to do the quiet parts in public view.
Had this happened prior to the current reckoning taking place in America, not a peep would have been said. How do I know this? Because it’s not like Dismukes has been hiding his racism this whole time and then slipped up.
The guy is active on social media, routinely referring to the Civil War as the “war of northern aggression.” He has attacked Black Lives Matter, said nasty things about those wanting to remove confederate statues and went on a media campaign to save the funding for Confederate Memorial Park.
Not a single elected Alabama Republican ever uttered a word.
Just like no one in the ALGOP ever speaks up when Mo Brooks goes on one of his weekly racist rants. Or the Trump administration does something blatantly racist. Or one of the state party members posts a racist meme on social media.
Never a peep.
These things matter. And they don’t just matter in the absolute worst cases, when voters might turn away and public sentiment is decidedly against you.
They matter every single day to minorities in this state and around the country. Not for some petty political reason, but because these issues are a matter of fairness and decency for other human beings.
So, sorry, but as it stands, Will Dismukes and his love for all things confederacy aren’t an outlier in the Alabama Republican Party. The party has sought those voters. It has encouraged those views. It has backed legislation supporting those insane beliefs.
You don’t get to run away from years of that deplorable behavior with a few press releases and tweets.
Opinion | Delaying high school football would be the right thing. We’d rather die
There’s a secret about football that no one around here says out loud very much. It doesn’t matter. Like, not even a little bit. Oh, sure, it makes money for people and we enjoy watching it and yada, yada, yada. But in the grand scheme of life and health and making a difference in the world, it matters about as much as a gravy fountain.
It certainly matters less than your life. Or your loved ones’ lives.
And yet, that seems to be the trade-off we’re willing to make in this state. On Thursday, the Alabama High School Athletic Association, with the backing of state leaders, quite a few superintendents and most football coaches, will announce that high school football season in Alabama will go forward without delay.
Even as some 17 school districts, including the state’s largest districts, in the midst of this global COVID-19 pandemic, opt to forego in-person classes and instead will hold virtual classes for the first nine weeks, at least.
So, it seems, as thousands of Alabama school children stay home because spending hours in the same building with their classmates is too dangerous, in terms of the spread of the virus, hundreds of those same kids will also be attending football practices and games, at which they will participate in, essentially, three hours of sweaty hugging and sharing drink bottles.
If this sounds like the dumbest thing you’ve ever heard, well, hold on, because I haven’t yet told you about the “new guidelines” that will be implemented to make football safer.
According to numerous reports from media outlets around the state, certain safety measures will be introduced, including no handshakes before or after the game, only one player from each team for the coin toss and extending the sideline areas to allow for social distancing.
Now, just stop here for a moment and consider those things.
Consider, if you will, two linemen. They have spent the entire game, about half of the plays, banging against one another, pushing and pulling and spitting and clawing and dragging and piled on top of each other.
But don’t worry, they’re not shaking hands afterward. So, virus avoided.
Look, I get it. We all want life to be as normal as possible, especially for kids. And part of that normalcy are things like high school football.
But at the same time, every person who has fought for an on-time return of high school football will claim that their motivation is, in some way, related to the “important life lessons” learned in team sports. And maybe that’s true to an extent.
But just as important in the education of children is teaching them responsibility, particularly when that responsibility involves giving up something or doing something you don’t want to do for the greater good.
I mean, do you think those kids wanted to storm that beach at Normandy?
Don’t roll your eyes. That’s a fair comparison at this point, in every aspect but the cost of sacrifice. We’ll have 150,000 dead Americans by this time next week from a virus that’s been around less than half a year. That’s more than the Iraq war (both versions), the war in Afghanistan, the Vietnam conflict and WWI — combined.
And football is going to add to that.
Please, spare me the justifications and false data. I know the kids are unlikely to die from contracting coronavirus. But their parents and grandparents and elderly relatives and friends are more likely.
Also, I’d like to remind you that there are a lot of awful steps between healthy and dead. Some of those steps include a hospital bed and a ventilator. And we’re running low, again, on both.
When you put together thousands of kids, thousands of parents and fans and hundreds of coaches and officials, you’re going to further the spread of this virus. This is not a point that can be argued.
That spread will lead to more cases, more hospitalizations, more deaths.
Preventing this additional sickness and death involves us not playing a game in which one group of kids tries to get an oblong ball into a square area at the end of a long field.
It’s a tough choice, obviously.