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Josh Moon

Opinion | The nothingness of Tommy Tuberville

There is no reason to vote for Tuberville for anything, much less for one of Alabama’s two Senate seats. There never has been, and through two years of campaigning, he’s never given you a reason. Because Tommy Tuberville has never truly said anything at all.

Josh Moon

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U.S. Senate candidate Tommy Tuberville. (VIA TUBERVILLE CAMPAIGN)

There is no reason to vote for Tommy Tuberville. This is not partisan rhetoric. This is not even an opinion. It’s a fact. Through more than a year of campaigning and barbecue lunches and meet-and-greets and Sunrise Club breakfasts and ALFA dinners, Tommy Tuberville has never — not one single time — provided you with his solution to anything. 

I know this because I’ve listened to the recordings, read the stories, talked to the people who were there. Nothing. Zip. Zilch. On any issue facing Alabama currently. There’s a reason for that: Because Tommy Tuberville has nothing to say. He has no deeply held beliefs. He has no ironclad positions. He has no previous knowledge or experience that would make him a candidate for this job. 

So, everything that comes out of his mouth is regurgitated garbage that he thinks you want to hear. And if a bunch of you tell him that you don’t like what he said, then he happily and without an ounce of shame starts saying the opposite. 

Because at the end of the day, Tommy Tuberville doesn’t give a damn about you or this state — hell, he just moved here 10 minutes ago. He has no idea what problems are facing Alabama, much less how to solve them, and he hasn’t spent an hour trying to figure them out. 

He just wants this job as a senator — just for the prestige and the power. 

That’s how you wind up with a U.S. Senate candidate whose plan to solve the education woes of a state with one of the worst-rated education outcomes is this steaming pile of nothing: “The best and most viable solutions come from the local level where parents, students, and local administrators can collaborate and work towards success together. And I believe that school choice, charter schools, and improving our existing public schools are all things that need to be a part of the education mix for Alabama children.”

Read that again. The man could write anything he wants on his website with unlimited space and no editing. And his stated education plan is improving public education by “improving public education.” Inspiring! 

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But wait, you haven’t heard his ideas for fixing health care — the single biggest issue weighing on Alabamians, according to several voter polls. Our health care system in this state stinks, and we routinely rank at the bottom in the country for health and wellness. Alabama had more than 300,000 people without health insurance prior to the COVID-19 pandemic. We have thousands more now. 

Here is Tuberville’s plan for these issues: “Obamacare must go. This failed experiment has led to higher costs, less quality care, and a system that hurts patients and doctors more than it helps. I believe that we need a return to the free-market where companies compete for your business while ensuring that pre-existing conditions are not a deterrent to obtaining quality insurance and care.”

Now, I could write a series of columns on the stupidity contained within these three sentences, but let’s just hit the most obvious. There is NO plan here from Tuberville. There’s no anything. Just buzzwords and the obligatory shot at Obamacare. And the weird promise to take away people’s health care in the middle of a pandemic while offering zero alternatives. 

Yeah, sure, tens of thousands of people would die, but all of those words were popular with the consultants who wrote them. 

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Look, there are real-life consequences for placing unprepared, unqualified people in positions of power and importance. No people should know and understand this better than the people of Alabama. Yet, somehow, we don’t. Somehow, election after election, we get suckered into voting for fools because those fools paid their qualifying money to the most popular political party at the time. 

Which is exactly the way we have, as a finalist for U.S. Senate from Alabama, a man who has admitted on air that he “wouldn’t have a clue” how to address the current pandemic, called the stimulus bill that likely saved America from a deep depression “just absolutely criminal” and recently told people that $600 per week in federal unemployment benefits was just “too much.” 

And he said all of those dumb things because he thought that’s what you wanted to hear. Heck, he even said them with an aw-shucks, gal-darnit routine and complained about them rascals up yonder in Wash-uh-tun. 

Because after all, he’s just like “y’all” — if “y’all” own a house, a lake house, a beach house, several cars and a few boats. 

There is no reason to vote for Tuberville for anything, much less for one of Alabama’s two Senate seats. There never has been, and through two years of campaigning, he’s never given you a reason. Because Tommy Tuberville has never truly said anything at all.

Josh Moon is an investigative reporter and featured columnist at the Alabama Political Reporter with years of political reporting experience in Alabama. You can email him at [email protected] or follow him on Twitter.

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Josh Moon

Opinion | Sponsored hate has taken a beating. You can help kill it

“Turn by turn, the money spigot has slowly stopped flowing to America’s most hateful and divisive politicians.”

Josh Moon

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A banner left by a supporter of President Donald Trump stands in front of the U.S. Capitol, Wednesday, Jan. 6, 2021 in Washington. (AP Photo/Manuel Balce Ceneta)

Turn by turn, the money spigot has slowly stopped flowing to America’s most hateful and divisive politicians in the wake of last week’s attack on the U.S. Capitol. 

Disney was the latest company to announce that it would no longer provide campaign donations to the politicians who voted to reject the results of the 2020 presidential election. Walmart quickly joined it. And those two mega-donors joined insurance giant Blue Cross/Blue Shield, Marriott Hotels, American Express, Hallmark, Verizon, Comcast, Amazon, Mastercard, Citibank, AT&T and Deloitte — all of which pledged not to donate to the lawmakers who voted to undermine the election. 

Hell, Hallmark went so far as to request a refund from Sens. Josh Hawley and Roger Marshall. 

In the state of Alabama, there will also be big changes soon. 

Several top companies — the Big Mules, as they’re known — are planning reforms of their own, and they’re considering sweeping changes to the manner in which they dole out campaign contributions. According to a source, the changes could alter the face of politics in this state — “they’re that significant.” 

I’ll take an “I’ll believe it when I see it” stance on that, but I am 100 percent convinced, after a number of conversations with executives at several companies, that changes are being seriously discussed and that something will happen. How significant those changes are, we’ll see. 

But if you’re a business leader in this state, why wouldn’t you take this opportunity to change things, and change them on your terms? 

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You have the perfect cover to stop supporting the crazy people that we’ve been sending to Montgomery for the last several years and instead bring this state a true two-party system. You can remove many of the people whose ideas and behaviors have thwarted economic expansion and killed off lucrative business projects. 

Imagine an Alabama that wasn’t governed by braindead, rightwing nuts who are constantly scheming to get farther to the right than the next guy, and to make big headlines while doing it. No more transgender bathroom bills. No more overtly racist monuments bills. No more attempts to get a Bible or Jesus into a school activity. 

Imagine the good we might do if we weren’t worried about all of that nonsense. 

I’m sorry, forgive me: Imagine all the money we might make if we weren’t worried about that nonsense. 

Public Service Announcement

This is the time to stop supporting lunatics. 

And for the good and decent people of Alabama — the real patriots — it is time to make sure they do so. 

We get caught up sometimes believing that progressives are a tiny percentage of the Alabama population. That’s probably because progressive candidates win such a tiny percentage of elections. 

But the truth is, if you check out the results of statewide elections, the real number is about 40 percent, maybe a little higher. That’s a huge number. And it could make a huge difference. 

No business can afford to watch 40 percent of its customers walk away. No company would even risk it. 

So, take a stand. Demand that the major companies in this state follow BCBS’ lead and change the way they dole out contributions. 

Pay attention to your local businesses and restaurants, and watch where they advertise. If they financially support radio hosts, podcasts or websites that spread misinformation and division, don’t support them. And let them know why. 

Don’t apologize for it, either. You’re not asking everyone to believe the same way you are. You’re not telling people they can’t have an opinion. You’re simply saying that you won’t support the hatefulness and divisiveness any longer. 

And Lord knows we could use less of those.

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Josh Moon

Opinion | Auburn provost has been unfairly vilified

“For little reason, faculty are voting on a no-confidence label for a provost in the middle of an unprecedented pandemic.”

Josh Moon

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Auburn University's Samford Hall.

There has to be a villain. In every tough situation — every situation in which people are scared or inconvenienced — there has to be someone to blame it all on. Some focal point for all of that frustration. 

At Auburn University, that person is Bill Hardgrave, university provost and chief academic officer. 

On Tuesday, Hardgrave faces a no-confidence vote from the Auburn faculty, some of whom are upset with him — why Hardgrave specifically, I still don’t really understand — over the university’s decision-making during the pandemic. Drawing the most ire, it seems, was Auburn officials’ decision to increase in-person course offerings to 70 percent in the spring semester. 

But here’s the really weird part: No one thinks Auburn officials have handled the pandemic particularly poorly. 

In fact, it could be argued that they did pretty well. 

While there were early problems on campus when the fall semester started — just as there were at almost every university campus in America — Auburn, through a number of protocols and limits, apparently got a handle on things. There was no campus shutdown. There were no layoffs. There weren’t even furloughs or widespread pay cuts. 

Three professors I spoke with — two of whom have been outspoken critics of the university in the past — said they had been mostly pleased with the university’s response to the pandemic and thought the current upheaval was based more on COVID fatigue than on actual issues with Hardgrave. (The professors agreed to speak on condition of anonymity because they didn’t want to be seen as publicly undermining their peers.)

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And really, that seems to be the case. 

When pressed by media outlets for specifics on why they were calling for a no-confidence vote on Hardgrave, the leaders of this movement were all over the map. In an Opelika-Auburn News story on the uproar, faculty members said they were mostly upset over not having desired flexibility in teaching in-person or virtual class and they were angry that some of their ideas had not been implemented yet. 

But math professor Hal Schenck, a Rosemary Kopel Brown Eminent Scholars Chair, told the OA News — and sent an email to his colleagues saying the same — that Hardgrave was being treated unfairly and that the provost had held a series of town halls that produced good ideas that were being utilized by the university. 

“I think this is a really difficult time for everyone and I think, in general, my perception is that the [university] administration has been operating in good faith and doing the best that they can with limited information,” said Schenck. “The administration and the Provost have been doing a good job. I think that’s a perception of a lot of folks, and I also think that this vote of no confidence is being driven by a small minority of the faculty.”

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Schneck circulated a letter of support for Hardgrave that was signed by 50 faculty members, all of them chairs or senior members, the OA News reported. (The letter calling for a no-confidence vote against Hardgrave required only 50 signatures.)

Auburn officials, including university President Jay Gogue, have also been quick to point out that Hardgrave has gone out of his way to get input from faculty, and also from other interested parties. Two very important groups were the Auburn students and other support staff. 

After considering that combination of voices, along with the data from the fall semester and advice from state health officials, Hardgrave said he put together the spring plan. It took the best practices available and combined them with common sense. 

The final result was a plan that Hardgrave thought would have more widespread support. But then, he was cast as the villain. 

Now, for very little reason at all, Auburn faculty are voting on a no-confidence label for a provost in the middle of an unprecedented pandemic. Putting at risk losing students, discouraging top faculty from working at Auburn and placing the university’s accreditation at risk. 

And really, the only reason any of it is happening, from what I can tell, is that Bill Hardgrave was forced to make decisions on issues in which there were no right answers. And he was forced to make them in a tough time, when everyone was looking hard for a villain.

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Josh Moon

Opinion | Alabama congressmen who incited a coup attempt should resign

“You have disgraced yourselves, the offices you hold, the state and the United States of America. You should all resign.”

Josh Moon

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People are seen in the House gallery as protesters try to break into the House Chamber at the U.S. Capitol on Wednesday, Jan. 6, 2021, in Washington. (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik)
Attn: Reps. Mo Brooks, Gary Palmer, Robert Aderholt, Mike Rogers, Jerry Carl, Barry Moore and Sen. Tommy Tuberville:

I write to you today on behalf of myself and the thousands of Alabamians who were utterly embarrassed and painfully ashamed by your involvement and incitement of today’s deplorable, harmful actions at our U.S. Capitol building. 

You should all resign.

You have disgraced yourselves, the offices you hold, the State of Alabama and the United States of America. In a fair and just world, the stain of this outright attack on American democracy, in which you participated willfully, would hang over you for the rest of your lives. 

And please, spare those of us with working brains the insult of watching all of you pretend as if you had noble intentions that simply went awry after a few people couldn’t control their tempers. Because nothing could be further from the truth. 

In reality, what you went to Washington D.C. today to do was to undermine a free and fair and properly conducted election simply because you didn’t like the results and because making a public spectacle would endear you to a group of voters to whom you, your GOP colleagues and a collection of rightwing media outlets have spent months lying. 

Those lies were meant to do one thing: Enrage this base in order to further your own political ambitions, both through votes and fundraising. And none of you gave two damns that you were knowingly damaging Americans’ faith in one of the bedrocks of this country — free and fair elections that result in the peaceful transition of power.

First thing this morning, there was Mo Brooks screaming like a maniac at a Trump rally, telling people it was time to “kick ass.” Joining the president’s call to march on the Capitol and his son’s warning that the mob was “coming for” any congressman who failed to challenge the election. And joining the president’s attorney who called for a “trial by combat.” 

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When the mob of domestic terrorists stormed the Capitol, causing thousands of dollars of damage, injuring numerous police officers and killing four people, Robert Aderholt was on the floor making an election challenge. Brooks challenged Nevada’s election results later in the day, despite knowing nothing more than what he read online about those results. 

And possibly the most embarrassing of you all, Tommy Tuberville, voted twice to challenge election results in Arizona and Pennsylvania, despite the fact that he couldn’t tell anyone which processes were violated and likely couldn’t find either state on a U.S. map. 

And that is what truly makes this all so utterly despicable and disgusting: None of you had cause to say anything. And even worse, every single one of you knew these elections challenges were complete and utter fiction. 

In all of your statements and comments, not a single one of you has provided a specific instance of election fraud that hasn’t already been adjudicated by a state or federal court, and that hasn’t been thoroughly investigated and debunked. There have been, at this point, more than 60 court cases, in which allegations of fraud or illegalities have been filed. In every single one of them, the court has found no evidence to support those claims. 

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On the floor of the Senate late Wednesday night, even Sen. Lindsey Graham was perplexed by the phony insistence of fraud. He said there were claims that more than 60,000 people under the age 18 voted in Georgia. He asked the people making that claim to just provide him proof of 10. They couldn’t do it. 

It was the same story in court case after court case. When it came time to put up or shut up, the Trump side had to shut up. In some filings they readily admitted that there was no evidence of fraud. 

In the Pennsylvania case cited by Sen. Josh Hawley, who watched his political future wither and die on Wednesday, despite Hawley’s claims that the improper mail-in ballot question hadn’t been addressed by the state, it absolutely had. Three different times. 

But you don’t care about any of that. Because there was never truly about your deep concern for election integrity. It was about your naked ambition. 

So, on Jan. 6, 2021, disregarding your oaths to defend and protect the constitution, you instead helped incite insurrectionists and became active participants in a coup attempt to overthrow the American government. 

All of you should do the only honorable thing left for you and allow men and women who might take the job and their oaths more seriously to hold those offices. 

Resign.

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Josh Moon

Opinion | Trump recording exposes his foolish enablers

“We’ve all now heard a desperate and maniacal president say a bunch of quiet parts out loud.”

Josh Moon

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President Donald Trump at the White House. (WHITE HOUSE PHOTO)

The election fraud has been discovered. After two months of wild accusations and failed court cases, finally, over the weekend, actual proof of election fraud related to the 2020 presidential election was unearthed and presented for all the world to see. 

It came in the form of an audio recording, which captured President Donald Trump repeatedly threatening and coercing Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger to “find” enough votes to overturn the results. President-elect Joe Biden won Georgia by a little less than 12,000. 

That result has withstood countless audits, including hand recounts and voting machine audits, in every Georgia county. Dozens of allegations of fraud have been investigated and found frivolous or overstated. And dozens more legal challenges have failed, almost all of which, the courts found, lacked a shred of credible evidence of fraud. 

Raffensperger and Gov. Brian Kemp, both pro-Trump Republicans, have backed the election results, saying they have investigated thoroughly and found no evidence of fraud or illegal activity. Trump’s own attorney general, William Barr, and the Department of Justice, which investigated claims of fraud or irregularities in Georgia’s election, also found no evidence. 

And yet, here we are. With the president calling Raffensperger a “child” and repeatedly pressuring him to alter the election results. 

And even worse: There are elected Republicans — a whole bunch of them in Alabama — still defending Trump, still raising questions about the election results, still pretending that there is a realistic case to be made for widespread voter fraud. 

Fools. 

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Oh, sure, I could be kinder and gentler. I could spend several paragraphs analyzing the psychology behind what these people are doing and how they’ve been so totally and comically owned by a rather low-skill con man. I could even, as TV pundits so often do, pretend as if there’s some savvy level of political gamesmanship taking place here.  

Fools is easier and most accurate.

Because that’s what they are. No matter if they’ve genuinely been hoodwinked by this lunatic in the White House or if they’re fully cognizant of the dangerous, absurd game they’re playing and are simply using it to shore up votes in coming primaries. 

They are fools. 

Public Service Announcement

If you believe that Donald Trump and his brand of hateful, ignorant, shallow, self-serving politics will transcend his presidency and carry forward into future elections, you are a fool. I’ve seen this playbook, with its plays better run by a better player — George Wallace — and it does not last. It does not move voters later, primarily because its execution requires a level of acting and self-righteousness that few people can emulate. 

Certainly, Mo Brooks and Tommy Tuberville and the rest of the Alabama Trump brigade lack the charisma and ego to pull it off. Unfortunately, they also lack the intelligence to know this. 

They weren’t even smart enough to see this obvious ending — the one where they’re left holding an empty bag and exposed as fools — coming like a great big freight train.

Their gullibility and cheap ambition have left them out on a limb, committed to defending an obvious crook. A man who is on tape seeking to undermine a free and fair American election simply because he lost. A man who was openly encouraging a state’s top election official to “recalculate” and “find” enough votes to swing the election. 

And they cannot backtrack now. Because there is no new evidence that the fraud they’ve claimed doesn’t exist. There’s nothing new here, except we’ve all now heard a desperate and maniacal president say a bunch of quiet parts out loud. 

So, to backtrack for Tuberville, Brooks and the gang would be to admit that they ignored the clear and overwhelming evidence that was there all along. That they ignored state elections officials when they repeatedly told everyone that the fraud allegations had been investigated and proven untrue. That they ignored facts and truth and basic common sense. That they used racist dog whistles and idiotic stereotypes to undermine the integrity of an American election simply because the results weren’t to their liking. 

And mostly, to backtrack now would mean they’d have to admit that they lied to voters, because it was easier to sell people what they wanted to hear than it was to actually be a good, hard-working public servant. 

So they’re stuck with this mess and exposed as the fools they are. And I hope it ruins them. I hope no one ever again takes them seriously, in politics or business or their personal lives. I hope they are shunned and marginalized. 

Because the fools who would knowingly peddle lies, with the express intent of damaging the country, its elections and democracy itself, deserve nothing less.

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