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Opinion | Coup d’etat or Unleashing Secretariat?

John W. Giles

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America is at a crossroads, either we follow Nancy, Adam, Jerry and Chuck in their unceasing attempt to remove President Trump or we as a country participate in a historic 2020 landslide election and unleash Secretariat.  Often when I write, there is an issue at the core of the discussion and I try my best to bring facts to the debate to substantiate my position.  In all fairness, this is purely an opinion piece, where in my view the outcome for the future of this country is clearly dependent on which highway we choose to travel.

A Coup d’etat or simply coup, means the overthrow of an existing government.  Typically, this refers to an illegal, unconstitutional seizure of power by a dictator, the military, or a political faction.  There have been 457 coup attempts from 1950 to 2010 around the world, only 49.7% were successful.  When we think of a coup in the Western Hemisphere, we think of Venezuela or Haiti, but surely not America.  In this case, we have a political faction in America, who has not accepted the will of the people in the constitutional Electoral College results of the November 8, 2016 election.  They did not like or accept the election of Donald J. Trump as our 45th President of the United States of America.  After multiple deceitful attempts, now they have emerged with a full court press, Coup d’etat, entitled Impeachment.  This political faction has a name, the Democrat Socialist Party.

Elijah Cummings, a Democrat Member of the U.S. House of Representatives from Baltimore Maryland, just passed away.  It is my hope that his family give him a respectful Christian burial, God rest his soul.  Unfortunately, we have seen in the past, funerals of high profile Civil Rights activists, like Congressman Cummings have a well-deserved Christian burial, turn into an Anti-Trump Rally.  This is purely speculative on my part, but I imagine there will be those who blame his death on Trump.  They will say Trump holding Cummings partially responsible for the demise of Baltimore Maryland affected him physically and ultimately took his life.  I am writing this article on the morning of the sad announcement of his death, so let’s see if this is a correct assessment.  I trust the family does not allow his death to become a political tool for the Democrat Party.            

It is my prediction, the America I know, will not follow Nancy Pelosi, Adam Schiff, Jerry Nadler, the AOC Squad, Chuck Schumer and all of the 2020 Democrat Presidential hopefulsdown this path of a Coup d’etat after 3 years of the Russian Prank.  How do you wake up every day and your only policy is to hate Trump.  Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. stated, “Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that.  Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that. Hate multiplies hate, violence multiplies violence, and toughness multiplies toughness in a descending spiral of destruction.”  He was right then and he is right today.  Hate will destroy someone from the inside out, it will flame out.  How can you sustain the energy and hype to cheer on Socialist ideas, when there are no supporting facts or identified current tax dollars to fund these bizarre concepts?  In a nutshell, the fuel of hate, fact-less notions, America’s conversion to Socialism will flame out their fossil fueled jet engines and this outlandish liberal conception will nosedive in the 2020 elections.      

I am an economic, moral, social and constitutional conservative and my personal issues mirror reflect the Republican NationalCommittee Platform to the bone marrow.  I have been active for 39 years, beginning with going door to door for Reagan in in 1980.  Since Republicans have been winning elections locally and nationally, we have inherited office holders under our platform flag, who do not share the RNC issues to the core and quite frankly, in so many cases, very weak.  I will go one step further, I think we have very few who would pledge their life, fortune and sacred honor for this country. Unfortunately, many stay focused on being reelected.  It is my view; this is why welost the U.S. House in 2018, because they did not govern accordantly as campaigned.

If you have never seen the movie Secretariat, I would highly recommend watching the movie.  It is the story, an underdog American thoroughbred race horse was owned by an economically waning family farm.  Secretariat, in 1973, became the first Triple Crown winner in 25 years.  In the final Triple Crown race at Belmont Stakes, Secretariat won by an amazing unprecedented 31 lengths.  It is still today regarded as one of the greatest races of all times.  Watching that horse unleashed, with what seemed to be supernatural strength and stamina, reduces one to tears as you witness this breath taking historic performance.  Every time I watch this movie, it moves me with deep uncontrollable emotions as the determination of this rare animal was unleashed.      

Many join me in our deep hallowed and sacred feelings about the United States of America.  Without question, we are the greatest nation on earth, an economic powerhouse and we have never seen the full economic impact of our potential as a nation. We did see all of the country come together for our victory in WWII, but we have not seen our potential unleashed economically.  We have only scratched the surface of our potential in the last 3 banner years economically, even with the daily tsunami of resistance.  Unfortunately, take any one issue; go to the blackboard and collective commit to paper a plan that reflects the best for America, turn around, look down the halland you can be assured to be met with resistance.  There will some faction or possible coalitions formed, some highly financed K-Street lobbyist, and the like working those at the blackboard, creating a slalom course weaving around their selfish notions.  At the end of the hall, the once plan that was best for America has been diluted to legislation with a good name and absolutely no substance.  

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If we are blessed in 2020 with a landslide opportunity of Republicans winning the U.S. House and Senate, along with the Whitehouse, our team must saddle up with titanium underwear, and like Secretariat, get on the track solely focused on one thing, winning big for America.  Regardless of who is standing in the hall, when you turn around from the black board, I encourage my fellow Republicans to heed the noble words of my former boss, Governor Fob James, “do what is right and the hell with the consequences.“  For far too long, the squeaky wheel and well financed lobbyist have redrawn the roadmap for America.  

Some have said President Trump does not give a damn for all of the right reasons, which is one of the many reasons he is filling up stadiums across America. It is time that 100% of all elected Republicans in the U.S. House and Senate to follow facts, not give a flip about offending a lobbyist or worrying about the next election and truly put America first, not your friends in the hall.   

What will it be, Coup d’etat or unleashing Secretariat? God Bless America.

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John W. Giles is former President of the Christian Coalition of Alabama. He served as Small Business Advocate for the State of Alabama during Governor Guy Hunt's Administration. He was also a member of Governor Fob James Cabinet.

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Opinion | On the Nov. 3 ballot, vote “no” on proposed Amendment 1

Chris Christie

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(STOCK PHOTO)

On Nov. 3, 2020, all Alabama voters should vote “no” on proposed Amendment 1. Vote no on Amendment 1 because it could allow state law changes to disenfranchise citizens whom the Legislature does not want to vote. Because Amendment 1 has no practical purpose and because it opens the door to mischief, all voters are urged to vote no.

Currently, the Alabama Constitution provides that “Every citizen of the United States…” has the right to vote in the county where the voter resides. Amendment 1 would delete the word “every” before citizen and replace it with “only a” citizen.

In Alabama, the only United States citizens who cannot vote today are most citizens who have been convicted of a felony of moral turpitude. These felonies are specifically identified in Ala. Code 17-3-30.1.

Without Amendment 1, the Alabama Constitution now says who can vote: every citizen. If voters approve Amendment 1, the Alabama Constitution would only identify a group who cannot vote. With Amendment 1, we, the citizens of the United States in Alabama, thus would lose the state constitutional protection of our voting rights.

In Alabama, no individual who is not a United States citizens can vote in a governmental election. So, Amendment 1 has no impact on non-citizens in Alabama.

Perhaps the purpose of Amendment 1 could be to drive voter turnout of those who mistakenly fear non-citizens can vote. The only other purpose for Amendment 1 would be allowing future Alabama state legislation to disenfranchise groups of Alabama citizens whom a majority of the legislature does not want to vote.

In 2020, the ballots in Florida and Colorado have similar amendments on the ballots. As in Alabama, Citizens Voters, Inc., claims it is responsible for putting these amendments on the ballots in those states. While Citizens Voters’ name sounds like it is a good nonprofit, as a 501(c)(4), it has secret political donors. One cannot know who funds Citizen Voters and thus who is behind pushing these amendments with more than $8 million in dark money.

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According to Citizen Voter’s website, the stated reason for Amendment 1 is that some cities in several other states allow non-citizens to vote. My understanding is that such measures are rare and only apply to voting for local school boards.

And why would a local government’s deciding that non-citizens can vote for local school boards be a state constitutional problem? Isn’t the good government practice to allow local control of local issues? And again, this issue does not even exist in Alabama.

The bigger question, which makes Amendment 1’s danger plain to see, is why eliminate the language protectingevery citizen’s right to vote? For example, Amendment 1 could have proposed “Every citizen and only a citizen” instead of deleting “every” when adding “only a” citizen. Why not leave the every citizen language in the Alabama Constitution?

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Amendment 1 could allow Alabama new state legislation to disenfranchise some Alabama citizens. Such a change would probably violate federal law. But Alabama has often had voting laws that violated federal law until a lawsuit forced the state of Alabama not to enforce the illegal state voting law.  

The most recent similar law in Alabama might be 2011’s HB56, the anti-immigrant law. Both HB56 and Amendment 1 are Alabama state laws that out-of-state interests pushed on us. And HB56 has been largely blocked by federal courts after expensive lawsuits.

Alabama’s Nov. 3, 2020, ballot will have six constitutional amendments. On almost all ballots, Amendment 1 will be at the bottom right on the first page (front) of the ballot or will be at the top left on the second page (back) of the ballot.

Let’s keep in our state constitution our protection of every voters’ right to vote.

Based on Amendment 1’s having no practical benefit and its opening many opportunities for mischief, all Alabama voters are strongly urged to vote “no” on Amendment 1.

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Opinion | Amendment 4 is an opportunity to clean up the Alabama Constitution

Gerald Johnson and John Cochran

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The 1901 but current Alabama Constitution has been amended about 950 times, making it by far the world’s longest constitution. The amendments have riddled the Constitution with redundancies while maintaining language and provisions — for example, poll taxes — that reflect the racist intent of those who originally wrote it.

A recompilation will bring order to the amendments and remove obsolete language. While much of this language is no longer valid, the language is still in the document and has been noted and used by other states when competing with Alabama for economic growth opportunities.

The need for recompilation and cleaning of Alabama’s Constitution has been long recognized.

In 2019, the Legislature unanimously adopted legislation, Amendment 4, to provide for its recompilation. Amendment 4 on the Nov. 3 general election ballot will allow the non-partisan Legislative Reference Service to draft a recompiled and cleaned version of the Constitution for submission to the Legislature.

While Amendment 4 prohibits any substantive changes in the Constitution, the LRS will remove duplication, delete no longer legal provisions and racist language, thereby making our Constitution far more easily understood by all Alabama citizens.

Upon approval by the Legislature, the recompiled Constitution will be presented to Alabama voters in November 2022 for ratification.

Amendment 4 authorizes a non-partisan, broadly supported, non-controversial recompilation and much-needed, overdue cleaning up of our Constitution.

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On Nov. 3, 2020, vote “Yes” on Amendment 4 so the work can begin.

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Opinion | Auburn Student Center named for Harold Melton, first Auburn SGA president of color

Elizabeth Huntley and James Pratt

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Auburn University's Student Center (VIA AUBURN UNIVERSITY)

The year 1987 was a quiet one for elections across America but not at Auburn. That was the year Harold Melton, a student in international studies and Spanish, launched and won a campaign to become the first African American president of the Auburn Student Government Association, winning with more than 65 percent of the vote.

This was just the first of many important roles Harold Melton would play at Auburn and in an extraordinarily successful legal career in his home state of Georgia, where his colleagues on the Georgia Supreme Court elected him as chief justice.

Last week, the Auburn Board of Trustees unanimously named the Auburn student center for Justice Melton, the first building on campus that honors a person of color. The decision was reached as part of a larger effort to demonstrate Auburn’s commitment to diversity and inclusion.

In June, Auburn named two task forces to study diversity and inclusion issues. We co-chair the task force for the Auburn Board with our work taking place concurrently with that of a campus-based task force organized by President Jay Gogue. Other members of the Board task force are retired Army general Lloyd Austin, bank president Bob Dumas, former principal and educator Sarah B. Newton and Alabama Power executive Quentin P. Riggins.

These groups are embarking on a process that offers all Auburn stakeholders a voice, seeking input from students, faculty, staff, alumni, elected officials and more. It will include a fact-based review of Auburn’s past and present, and we will provide specific recommendations for the future.

We are committed to making real progress based on solid facts. Unlike other universities in the state, Auburn has a presence in all 67 counties through the Alabama Cooperative Extension System. Our review has included not only our campuses in Auburn and Montgomery but all properties across our state. To date, we have found no monuments or statues recognizing the history that has divided our country. We will continue our fact-finding mission with input from the academic and research community.

Our university and leadership are committed to doing the right thing, for the right reasons, at the right time. We believe now is the right time, and we are already seeing results.

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In addition to naming the student center for the Honorable Harold Melton, we have taken steps to highlight the significant role played by Harold Franklin, the student who integrated Auburn. We are working to enhance the historical marker that pays tribute to Mr. Franklin, and we are raising its visibility in campus tours as we pay homage to his contributions as our first African American student. Last month, we awarded Mr. Franklin, now 86 and with a Ph.D., a long-overdue master’s degree for the studies he completed at Auburn so many years ago.

We likewise endorsed a student-led initiative creating the National Pan-Hellenic Council Legacy Plaza, which will recognize the contributions of Black Greek organizations and African American culture on our campus.

In the coming months, Auburn men and women will work together to promote inclusion to further enhance our student experience and build on our strength through diversity. The results of this work will be seen and felt throughout the institution in how we recruit our students, provide scholarships and other financial support and ensure a culture of inclusion in all walks of university life.

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Our goal is to identify and implement substantive steps that will make a real difference at Auburn, impact our communities and stand the test of time.

Naming the student center for Justice Melton is but one example. In response to this decision, he said, “Auburn University has already given me everything I ever could have hoped for in a university and more. This honor is beyond my furthest imagination.”

Our job as leaders at Auburn is more than honoring the Harold Meltons and Harold Franklins who played a significant role in the history of our university. It is also to create an inclusive environment that serves our student body and to establish a lasting legacy where all members of the Auburn Family reach their fullest potential in their careers and in life.

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Opinion | Alabama lags behind the nation in Census participation with deadline nearing

Paul DeMarco

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(STOCK PHOTO)

The United States Census is starting to wind down around the country with a Sept. 30 deadline for the national population to be completed. However, a United States District Court has recently ruled that the date may be extended another 30 days to allow more time for the census to take place.

Regardless of the deadline, Alabama has work to do when it comes to the census.

To date, the national average for participation around the country has been almost 65 percent for the census.

Unfortunately, Alabama residents are providing data to the census at a lower percentage, around some 61 percent of the state population.

There is already concern among state leaders that if that number does not reach above 70 percent, then the state will lose a seat in Congress, a vote in the electoral college and millions of federal dollars that come to the state every year.

The percentage of participation has varied widely around the state, from a high of 76 percent in Shelby County to a low of 36 percent in neighboring Coosa County.

State leaders are making a final push to request Alabama residents fill out the census in the last month before it is closed.

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We will find out later this fall if Alabama passes the national average of participation in the census compared to other states to retain both its future representation and share of federal dollars.

In the meantime, Alabamians need to fill out their census forms.

The state is depending on it.

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