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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.

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

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 | The blackest Black Friday ever

“The coming weeks are going to be difficult, no doubt about that.”

Joey Kennedy

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(APR GRAPHIC)

Thursday was Thanksgiving, and it’s understandable that many people didn’t have a lot to be thankful for. More than 260,000 people are dead because of the COVID-19 pandemic that Donald Trump simply ignored. Around 3 million people have been infected, with many of those suffering lifelong health complications from the virus.

A first Thanksgiving without loved ones. A first Christmas without loved ones bearing down.

Millions of people lost their jobs because of the pandemic. Hundreds of thousands are in danger of being evicted from their homes. Many don’t have water or power or heat as the winter settles in.

Thanksgiving? Really?

Except …

Yes, there are many things to be thankful for. Our families, if we have them. Our friends, and we all have them. Our animals, and many of us have them.

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We can be thankful that the long, horrible tenure of Donald Trump is nearly over. It’s the end of an error.

We can hope that racism will be wrong again. That homophobia, misogyny, xenophobia, and cruelty will fall from the everyday ordinary to the awful extraordinary. Kids in cages, separated from their parents, no more. Chaos in government simply an anomaly at last.

We can hope. That alone is something to be thankful for.

The year 2020 has been a hot mess. Masks, social distancing, hand washing and sanitizing are the norm now. They may be forever.

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We should be thankful that COVID-19 vaccines are on the horizon. But that’s a strange thankfulness, and we cherish a vaccine for a disease that didn’t have to spread as far and wide as it did. It was mismanaged as badly as a crisis can be mismanaged.

There still are people out there who refuse to wear masks or who believe the virus is a hoax. A doctor described people she was caring for who were dying, and all the time denying the virus existed, even to their last breaths.

That’s certainly nothing to be thankful for.

Our health care workers, those on the front lines, deserve our thanks and our love. As do grocery store workers, first responders, teachers, and delivery people. Heroes work there.

I’m personally thankful for my wife of 41 years. My daughters in San Diego. My friends here and elsewhere. My pugs and other dogs and animals. I’ve got plenty to be thankful for, when we pare life down and don’t expect so much.

The coming weeks are going to be difficult, no doubt about that.

Too many people traveled this Thanksgiving, and there’s going to be a price to pay. Too many people are making plans for Christmas, and there’s going to be a price to pay. Too many people are planning New Year’s Eve celebrations, and there’s going to be a price to pay.

Oh, I’ll have some champagne and stay up until midnight on New Year’s Eve, if only to witness that this damn year doesn’t hang around for one second longer than is allowed.

Perhaps we can see a light at the end of this 2020 tunnel. Maybe by spring, we’ll all be vaccinated, and this pandemic will be at the beginning of its end.

But if 2020 has taught us anything, it’s that we can’t count on, yes, anything.

This is Black Friday. The blackest Black Friday ever. Be careful out there. Wash your hands and wear a mask. Take care of each other. Believe in science. Don’t trust a reality show president who, fortunately, finally has been fired.

Do your best to do your best. Let’s have a new year that at least promises hope.

Dig deep and find what you’re thankful for. Then hug it close with all your might.

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Opinion | Be thankful, not regretful

“We can stay home, because maybe next Thanksgiving, we can gather again.”

Joey Kennedy

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(STOCK PHOTO)

My wife, Veronica, and I just don’t have much real family left. But Thanksgiving Day is one of our favorite holidays. In the past – many years past – we hosted Thanksgivings.

Over the past few years, though, we’ve attended three Thanksgiving celebrations with friends. One, hosted by our dear friend Jo Ellen O’Hara, former longtime food editor at The Birmingham News, is no longer possible because she now lives at Fairhaven, an assisted living community in eastern Birmingham.

This was a typical Southern Thanksgiving, with turkey, cornbread dressing, various (and too many) side dishes, and featured a dozen or so people.

John Evon and Rian Alexander hosted us later in the day on Thanksgiving. Usually, this was simply the four of us at their Helena home. It was more a Northern Thanksgiving, with turkey or ham, stuffing (not dressing), and various (and too many) side dishes.

And for the past three years, we’ve attended the Thanksgiving bash hosted by APR editor Bill Britt and his wife, associate editor Susan Britt. This gathering, of maybe 20 or so people, was held at the Britts’ farm in Attalla. There was more than just turkey or ham, more side dishes than should be possible. Bill and Susan and the APR’s capable copy editor and the Britts’ assistant Charlie Walker did most of the cooking, but this gathering was also partially potluck. We’d all bring dishes to add to the abundant food choices. (Bill also makes a damn good Raw Apple Cider. Add a touch of whiskey.)

This year, we’ll have none of that. With the Coronavirus (COVID-19) spiking in Alabama and across the country, it’ll be just Veronica and me on Thanksgiving.

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That’s sad, too. We’re social people. We like to be around others. A lot of others.

That hasn’t been much of a feature in 2020, and I don’t expect it will be through a big chunk of 2021.

The warnings have been issued. Gov. Kay Ivey’s mask mandate is staying in place, thank goodness, though there should be an enforcement effort, too.

Here is Alabama State Health Officer Dr. Scott Harris: “We all want to see our family for holidays, yet this is a special year when we need to minimize risks because of the consequences of this highly infectious virus. Use your best judgment to plan the safest possible Thanksgiving. Consider hosting a virtual celebration, or if hosting or attending one, be sure to put prevention measures in place.”

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Oh, that Alabamians – and Americans – would heed that advice. But so many won’t. They’ll gather anyway – with grandparents and parents, brothers, sisters, aunts, uncles, cousins, and friends.They’ll gather at Thanksgiving, in a big dining room, have great conversations, and wonderful prayers.

And two or three weeks later, they’ll start to get sick and die, just in time for the Christmas some of them may not be around for.

Or they’ll survive Thanksgiving, thinking this virus is no big deal. And they’ll gather again for Christmas. Two or three weeks later, they’ll start to get sick and die, just before the presidential inauguration.

By then, too, the cases from all those New Year’s celebrations will be cranking up. And another group of people will start to get sick and die, just in the first month of 2021.

This plague is real. It’s killing hundreds of thousands of people – old people, middle-aged people, young people, children.

In Alabama alone, there have been more than 220,000 COVID cases, with more than 3,340 deaths. More than 88,000 people have recovered, but many of those are crippled with longterm, chronic health problems.

Daily cases in Alabama are ranging from 2,000 to 3,000 right now.

This is serious.

This is no hoax.

It is real.

Wear a mask.

Socially distance.

Wash your hands obsessively.

Attend only small gatherings if you must attend any gatherings – and you really don’t have to attend any gatherings.

So for Thanksgiving, for Christmas, for New Year’s, it’ll be just Veronica and me. We’ll make the best of it. Have fun together. Watch the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade, and A Christmas Story and It’s a Wonderful Life. We’ll listen to Christmas music and drive around looking at Christmas lights. We’ll have great food (my wife’s cornbread dressing is the best in the world).

And we’ll miss our friends. But we won’t kill them, and they won’t kill us.

We have plenty to be thankful for today and next week. And at Christmas and New Year’s. But we won’t be attending any parties or gatherings. We cannot do that for awhile, just as we have not done it since March. We can stay home, because maybe next Thanksgiving, we can gather again, with our friends (our family) who lived through one of the darkest periods of our lives.

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Opinion | Let the embarrassment begin

“It’s all just a game for Tuberville. He’s not serious about representing Alabama in the U.S. Senate.”

Joey Kennedy

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(APR GRAPHIC)

When I was in high school, our coaches — head football, basketball, and baseball coaches, all assistant coaches — had to teach classes, too. My civics class was taught by one of these coaches. He was just a high school assistant football coach, but the dude knew the three branches of government. He taught us that, and a lot more.

The nation is embarrassed for Alabama, again. For electing mediocre coach, now-Senator-elect Tommy Tuberville, the Republican, over Democratic incumbent Sen. Doug Jones. We should be embarrassed as well. Alabama, when you elect idiots, you’re going to get idiots.

Look at Donald Trump, the president-unelect. Then look at his children, who surround him to grift whatever they can grift. See. The idiots don’t fall far from the idiot tree.

Friday when I opened my Twitter, this was waiting for me:

In an interview with Alabama Daily News, here was one exchange:

  • TCS (Todd Stacy): You mentioned the majorities and they are going to be razor thin. I mean, right now it looks like one or two seats in the Senate for Republicans, maybe 14 or 15 seats for Democrats in the House. And that’s as close as it’s been in a long, long time. Do you think the Democrats are going to have to work with Republicans and Republicans are going to have to work with Democrats? You see that being possibly a more productive situation? 
  • CTT (Coach Tommy Tuberville): Yeah and that’s how our government was set up. You know, our government wasn’t set up for one group to have all three of branches of government. It wasn’t set up that way, our three branches, the House, the Senate and executive.
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Tuberville clearly doesn’t have a clue what he’s talking about. When our constitutional government was set up by the founders, the president and vice president didn’t even run as a ticket. They were elected separately. Most founders argued against political parties. Senators were appointed, not elected.

But here’s what the real embarrassment is: Tuberville thinks the three branches of the U.S. government are the House, the Senate, and the executive. Seriously. That’s what Tuberville said. Stacy didn’t ambush Coach Tubby. No, Tuberville volunteered his immense knowledge of the federal government all on his own.

Of course, the three branches of the U.S. government, as set up in the U.S. Constitution Tuberville obviously hasn’t read, are the Legislative (House and Senate), the Executive (president and vice president), and the Judicial (the U.S. Supreme Court and other federal courts).

One would presume Tuberville would know at least this much, because the body he was just elected to confirms the nominees for that third branch, the judiciary.

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It’s all just a game for Tuberville. He’s not serious about representing Alabama in the U.S. Senate. Hell, he lives mostly in Florida. Tuberville is just interested in the appearance of power, and the really nice salary and benefits. He will rarely have an independent thought in his head, and when he does, it’ll probably be wrong, like not even knowing the three branches of the U.S. government.

This truly is embarrassing. For all of us in Alabama. But you get what you vote for, Alabama. That’s why we’re near the bottom in just about every quality-of-life survey taken.

And without Trump in the executive branch, sycophant Tubby will be lost. Tuberville ran on Trump, and Trump won’t be there. Now that’s a hoot.

There’s a decent chance Tuberville will be in the minority in the Senate, too, depending on what happens in the two Senate runoffs in Georgia on Jan. 5.

Tuberville says he may spend one or two weeks in Georgia campaigning and fund-raising for the Republican Senate candidates. One might imagine those candidates would say: “No, thanks. Keep your Alabama stupid out of here.” But, then, those two Georgia Republican candidates aren’t all that smart, either.

But the assistant high school football coach who taught me civics was pretty much on the ball, where telling us about the operations of the U.S. government were concerned. He was a really good teacher. Maybe you have to choose one or the other: good coach or good teacher?

That coach was a good teacher, but our high school football team sucked. Like Tommy Tuberville will.

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Opinion | We can hope again

“This has been a challenging year. But we will enter next year right — looking forward with hope.”

Joey Kennedy

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Presidential candidate Joe Biden at a drive-in rally at Cellairis Amphitheater in Atlanta, Georgia, on Oct. 27, 2020. (PHOTO BY ADAM SCHULTZ/BIDEN CAMPAIGN)

One of my Twitter friends said it pretty well after Democratic nominees Joe Biden and Kamala Harris were projected to be president-elect and vice president-elect Saturday morning:  “Our long national nightmare is over,” she tweeted, quoting President Gerald Ford’s speech after he became president in the wake of the resignation of Richard Nixon, another corrupt Republican.

It is, indeed, over — or soon will be. As another friend’s shirt says: “The end of an error, Jan. 20, 2021.”

Watergate was pretty bad. But nothing as awful as the crude, corrupt man who has held the White House since 2017, who wanted to be a dictator, and who tried and failed to destroy our democracy.

Trump can go to court as much as he wants. There is no salvaging his chance at re-election. Indeed, Biden could have nearly 80 million votes or more before counting ends. Appropriately, Trump was on one of his golf courses when he received the good news.

At least taxpayers only have a couple more months to pay Trump’s green fees and cart costs.

Of course, Trump will not go quietly. None of us expect him to. Why would he change now that he and Mike Pence are declared the official losers? There’s no way for Trump to hijack the election now. Republicans and Democrats counted the votes. They’re still coming in, and Biden’s lead continues to increase.

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Yes, it’s done. But that won’t stop Trump’s petulant hissy-fits.

Perhaps, the best we can hope to do is simply ignore 45 for the next 11 weeks. Yes, Trump is such a loud, lewd liar so that would be some feat, but we can try. If we can’t, at least we can see the light at the end of a very dark tunnel we’ve been in for nearly four years.

While the great majority of Americans are relieved today, I’m sure there is plenty of embarrassment for the United States to come from Trump and his antics.

Even through all the noise, though, Biden and Harris have to start putting a team together. We’ve seen throughout this presidential campaign plenty of really good Democrats who could end up in the administration.

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Among them is Alabama Sen. Doug Jones, who was defeated by a clueless football coach with an “R” after his name. Stacey Abrams from Georgia pulled some magic there, no matter what the final result. She deserves a role. Pete Buttigieg showed how well he handles the right-wing media and was a great Biden surrogate for months (chief of staff, maybe?).

The Biden administration will fill its cabinet and federal agencies with really good people, not sycophants who didn’t know what they were doing and served as Trump enablers and yes-men and yes-women.

Biden’s first week and for a long time after will be filled with undoing so much damage that Trump is leaving in his wake. It will not be an easy job. But Joe’s been on a winning team before, as vice president to Barack Obama.

Unlike Trump, Biden will put the right people around him. He is honest, not corrupt. He’ll make mistakes, and when he does, he will own them. And he’ll let the experts and scientists do their jobs without interference.

Trump thought he knew everything. Joe Biden does not. He’s unafraid to take advice from somebody who knows what he or she is doing.

Trump is leaving Biden a divided country, and that’s intentional. The healing won’t happen quickly. But Biden and Harris bring to the table what Trump never could, or at least, never would: empathy, caring, stability. Sanity. And hope.

Hope now for the Dreamers. Hope for immigrants and asylum seekers. Hope for the LGBTQ+ community. Hope that climate change will be addressed, that violence against women will get a high priority. Hope that somebody smart will fight this terrible pandemic that Trump allowed to kill 235,000-plus Americans.

And hope that we can start ending systemic racism in our police departments and state and federal agencies.

This has been a challenging year, to say the least, and next year looks much the same. But we will enter the year right — looking forward with hope.

Perhaps, too, we can start hoping to do what one of my favorite T-shirts announces: “Make Racism Wrong Again.”

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