A story that $55 million in Union gold was lost during the Civil War has long been dismissed as a myth — but this week, a team of FBI agents joined the search in rural Pennsylvania.
Roy Moore files complaint to stop Doug Jones certification
Defeated Republican Senate candidate Roy Moore late Wednesday filed a complaint seeking to block the formal certification of Democrat Doug Jones’ victory in this month’s special election.
The state canvasing board is set to make that victory official today.
But Moore filed a complaint in Montgomery County Circuit Court asking a judge to preserve evidence of potential election fraud and to postpone certification pending a “thorough investigation” of possible fraud.
“This is not a Republican or Democrat issue as election integrity should matter to everyone,” Moore said in a statement. “We call on Secretary of State (John) Merrill to delay certification until there is a thorough investigation of what three independent election experts agree took place: election fraud sufficient to overturn the outcome of the election.”
The campaign said in a news release that Moore took a polygraph test that confirms he is telling the truth when he denies sexual misconduct allegations made against him during the final month of the campaign.
“It’s appalling that the Democrat Senate Majority PAC and the Republican Senate Leadership Fund both spent millions to run false and malicious ads against me in this campaign,” he said in a statement.
Moore’s campaign claims that three national election integrity experts concluded that “with a reasonable degree of statistical and mathematical certainty … election fraud occurred.”
The campaign submitted affidavits from the experts citing irregularities in 20 precincts in Jefferson County that would reverse the outcome.
One of the experts, Richard Charnin, who has written four books on election fraud, placed the probability of the election results in these precincts happening naturally at less than 1 in 15 billion.
Charnin is a colorful character who has dabbled in John F. Kennedy assassination conspiracy theories and and written extensively about supposed election fraud. In a book published earlier this year, he argues that President Donald Trump actually won the popular vote, even though official results indicate that Democrat Hillary Clinton won it by about 3 million votes.
“Mainstream media pundits claim that Clinton won the primary and presidential election by three million votes. It’s a myth,” he wrote in the book. “They fail to consider the FACT that the recorded vote is ALWAYS fraudulent.”
The book, “Trump Won The True Vote,” accuses the media of ignoring fraud in both the general election and the Democratic primaries.
“The establishment-dominated media was in the tank for Hillary Clinton in the primary and general elections,” Charnin wrote.
About the Senate race, Charnin wrote in a blog post that it is mathematically improbable that Jones won the election by a little more than 20,000 votes as the returns indicate.
“Did 75% of Clinton and 45% of Trump voters return in 2017?” he wrote. “That’s what was required to match the recorded vote.”
Charnin, who holds three degrees in applied mathematics, wrote that Moore likely won by anywhere from 24,000 votes to 117,000 votes, based on an analysis using the 2016 election as a baseline.
Roy Moore campaign claims ‘election fraud’ in his recent defeat
Late Wednesday evening, the U.S. Senate campaign for former Alabama Supreme Court Chief Justice Roy Moore announced it had filed a complaint on behalf of Moore calling on the certification of the December 12 special election to be delayed until a fraud investigation can take place.
According to a press release, the complaint was filed earlier in the day in the Circuit Court of Montgomery and called on Alabama Secretary of State John Merrill to delay the certification.
“The purpose of the complaint is to preserve evidence of potential election fraud and to postpone the certification of Alabama’s Special Election by Secretary of State John Merrill until a thorough investigation of potential election fraud, that improperly altered the outcome of this election, is conducted,” the statement read.
The campaign cites “three national Election Integrity experts” who have concluded fraud took place in the December 12 election.
“The election experts, who submitted affidavits in the complaint, agree that the irregularities in 20 precincts of Jefferson County alone are enough to reverse the outcome of the election,” the release from the campaign said. “Richard Charnin, who holds three degrees in applied mathematics, and who has written four books on election fraud, calculates the probability of the election results in these precincts happening naturally is ‘less than one in 15 billion.'”
Moore, the Republican Party’s nominee in that U.S. Senate special election, was defeated by former Clinton U.S. Attorney Doug Jones by a nearly 23,000-vote margin.
Moore offered the following remarks, which accompanied the campaign’s release:
“It’s appalling that the Democrat Senate Majority PAC and the Republican Senate Leadership Fund both spent millions to run false and malicious ads against me in this campaign.”
“This is not a Republican or Democrat issue as election integrity should matter to everyone,” said Moore. “We call on Secretary of State Merrill to delay certification until there is a thorough investigation of what three independent election experts agree took place: election fraud sufficient to overturn the outcome of the election.”
Jeff Poor is a graduate of Auburn University and works as the editor of Breitbart TV. Follow Jeff on Twitter @jeff_poor.
Efficient? New report shows Alabama has nation’s leanest Medicaid program
Alabama runs the nation’s leanest Medicaid program, according to statistics released last week by a federal agency.
The annual report by the Medicaid and CHIP Payment and Access Commission, an arm of Congress, contains 172 pages’ worth of data about the nation’s Medicaid and Children’s Health Insurance Program agencies. But the statistic that jumps out is this — medical benefit paid per enrollee.
Alabama in fiscal year 2013 – the most recent year available — spent the least or close to the least, depending on what measure is used. Measured against all participants, Alabama spent $4,717 per person, which is $2,326 below the national average. The next-closest state was South Carolina, which spent $4,803 per enrollee.
Using “full benefit enrollee” as the yardstick, Alabama spent $5,598 per person, slightly more than South Carolina and Florida. Those are enrollees who received full benefits or received Medicaid benefits through an alternative package of benchmark equivalent coverage.
Alabama is particularly meager when it comes to the disabled, spending the least in the nation on that group.
“Alabama runs a very bare-bones Medicaid program,” said Robin Rawls, a spokeswoman for the state agency. “Traditionally, Alabama has had a bare-bones program simply because we have had to live within our means.”
Funding Medicaid is an annual challenge for state lawmakers trying to cobble together enough money to pay for the health program for the disabled and impoverished, and the rest of the General Fund.
The Medicaid program also is relatively efficient as measured by how much the state pays on program administrative costs. In fiscal year 2016, state funds going to administrative costs totaled $82 million, 1.46 percent of the total $5.657 billion program. That ranks as the 17th-lowest in the country. State funds for administration were the smallest share in Arizona, .6 percent, and the highest in Wyoming at 3.04 percent.
“We really very carefully watch the money we spend because it’s so limited,” Rawls said.
Enrollment in Medicaid and CHIP dipped slightly from July 2016 to July 2017, falling by 1.5 percent. Alabama was one of 25 states where enrollment declined over the past year. The largest drop was in Tennessee, where enrollment was down 9.7 percent.
Nationally, the Medicaid rolls grew by .9 percent.
Rawls declined to speculate about the reasons why enrollment declined, but she said it is not because of any change in eligibility.
“We follow, essentially, the minimum,” she said. “That has not changed. … We have seen a flattening trend. The reason for that, I don’t know.”
Nationally, enrollment in Medicaid has surged over the past four years, mainly from states that expanded their programs under the Affordable Care Act. Some 74.3 million Americans were on Medicaid or CHIP in July, according to the federal report. That was up 28.9 percent from 2013.
In Alabama, which did not expand eligibility, the increase was more modest — 10.6 percent. A dozen states had smaller gains.
Alabama also is one of the nation’s most dependent on federal funding for Medicaid and CHIP. It is one of 13 states where the federal government picks up 100 percent of the cost of the CHIP program. The federal government during the fiscal year that started in October also will pay 71.44 percent of Alabama’s Medicaid program, a share that has risen from 68.12 percent in fiscal year 2014.
Only Mississippi, South Carolina, New Mexico and West Virginia get a higher percentage of Medicaid funds from the federal government.
Alabama’s 2017 ‘Naughty & Nice’ list released by the Alabama Policy Institute
The Alabama Policy Institute staff made a list and we’re checking it twice as we think back on 2017 and what was “naughty” or “nice.” What made your list this year?
Nice: The legislature passed four pro-life bills this year…
This year, the legislature passed four bills each that aim at protecting the sanctity of life, plus a bill that legalizes midwifery in Alabama. The pro-life bills included a ban on assisted suicide, a provision that ensures the right-of-conscience of health-care providers, a bill that allows adoption agencies to operate and place children under faith-based policies, and a constitutional amendment affirming the right to life of unborn children. It is great to know that our lawmakers are unafraid to stand up for individuals’ rights and the right to life.
Naughty: But the legislature did not pass the changes to the Alabama Accountability Act, which would have broadened access to school choice for more of Alabama’s schoolchildren.
Amendments to the Alabama Accountability Act (AAA) would have expanded the pool of donors and donations to the AAA, thus enhancing opportunities for children to have school choice who otherwise would have none. In 2016, donations to the AAA dropped from $25.8 million to $19.9 million.* If the system is not funded, schoolchildren will be forced to return to the failing schools they left. These amendments addressed the funding problem, but unfortunately, they did not pass. We’ll try again next time!
Nice: Alabama has a female governor!
Governor Kay Ivey has faithfully served our state in many different capacities over the course of her career. Now, she’s Alabama’s top-ranking government official. Among other things in her first year, Governor Ivey has met with President Trump to discuss infrastructure, dissolved several Bentley-era task forces, and unveiled a gubernatorial initiative called “Strong Start, Strong Finish,” which focuses on early childhood education, computer science in middle and high school, and workforce preparedness. You go, Gov.
Naughty: Unfortunately, the events leading up to her appointment were not the best.
I really don’t want to relive the saga of former Governor Robert Bentley and I don’t think that you do either. He used state resources on activities related to his alleged affair. He reportedly asked Alabama’s top cop about arresting his own wife for recording his phone calls. According to testimonials, he threatened state employees. And that’s just the tip of the iceberg. Alabamians have so much to be proud of, but this whole ordeal was particularly embarrassing.
Nice: In a recent survey, Alabama ranks fourth in the nation in charitable donations.
According to a survey by WalletHub, Alabama is fourth behind a three-way tie of Utah, Georgia, and Wyoming in highest percentage of income donated to charitable causes. That doesn’t come as much of a surprise in a state as conservative as Alabama. The truth is that government aid does not compare to the abilities of individuals who give to private charity. I’m proud to live in a state where people realize the importance of giving.
Naughty: The events leading up to the resignation of Superintendent Michael Sentance were an actual debacle… (And even naughtier were several of the school board members)
Michael Sentance was hired as the State Superintendent of Education in August 2016. Almost immediately, his tenure was surrounded by controversy, at no fault of his own. While Sentance came to his job with an abundance of fresh ideas from his time working in education in Massachusetts (which ranks 46 places higher than Alabama in overall education) members of the state school board seemingly felt threatened. For months, rumors swirled about the school board taking steps to fire him. In September, he resigned from his post. The search for a new superintendent begins again. When will we put Alabama students above politics?
Naughty: But Sentance’s resignation pales in comparison to the fiasco of the U.S. Senate Special Election.
This election was one of the ugliest in recent Alabama history. Friends turned into enemies, and you couldn’t turn on the TV or radio without having to endure political ads. In the general election, 21,000 voters were so disgusted with their choice of candidates, they showed up to vote but did not cast a ballot for either one. The Alabama Secretary of State’s office estimates that between $10 million to $15 million were spent to hold the special election, and over $10 million were spent by the two candidates in the general election. In a state as charitable as Alabama, imagine how much could have been done for others with all that money.
Nice: Over the last year, Alabama has added a net of 30,000 jobs.
In the most up-to-date numbers from October 2017, Alabama added 29,400 jobs to its economy since January 2017. Even better news, is the unemployment rate is the lowest on record at 3.8%. According to the latest numbers from U.S. News and World Report, Alabama ranks seventh in the nation in poverty. You know what’s a guaranteed way to pull people out of poverty? Having a job. Way to go, Alabama.
From the API team, we wish you a very Merry Christmas!
*If you’d like to donate to a scholarship granting organization, the deadline for this year is December 31! Head over to MyAlabamaTaxes.gov to donate.
Taylor Dawson is Director of Communications for the Alabama Policy Institute.
(Take this article over to social media and start a conversation with your family and friends)
Polling in Alabama Senate race was not as bad as you think it was; one firm nailed it
About those polls.
On a day when Republican Roy Moore’s faint flicker of hope died — the Alabama secretary of state’s office reported Wednesday that the number of provisional and overseas ballots won’t be nearly enough to overcome his deficit with Democrat Doug Jones in the Senate race — it is worth examining the myriad of polling leading up to last week’s election.
It is fashionable to bash polls when an underdog comes out on top. Despite outliers, however, most polls are not that wrong. The final RealClearPolitics polling average came out to a lead for Moore of 2.2 percentage points. He lost by 1.5 points.
That is a swing of about 3.7 points. In other words, it is roughly one standard deviation. That is not unusual for the inexact science of polling. But it looks jarring when Jones led in only two of the last eight public polls.
So what happened?
According to pollsters, it all comes down to assumptions. If a doctor extracts a blood sample, the liquid in the vial is guaranteed to be representative of the blood in the body. It is much trickier with humans. Pollsters have to figure out whom to count as a likely voter, and that is as much art as science.
“Humans are horrible at predicting their future behavior,” said Brent Buchanan, a Montgomery-based Republican consultant.
Buchanan said his firm, Cygnal, conducted 13 polls on the race for private clients. Although none were made public, he said his final poll showed the race tied — within a tenth of a percentage point — a week before the election, with the model predicting a Jones victory if turnout exceeded 1.25 million.
The reason, Buchanan said, is that his model allows for a certain amount of “float” in the polling sample. That means he does not stick to a preordained view of which voters are going to show up on Election Day. At the same time, he added, he has “guardrails” to prevent truly unlikely voters from being included in the survey.
That offers an advantage over pollsters who stuck to a turnout model that is typical for low-key special elections in off years, Buchanan said. The actual turnout, 1.3 million voters, was more akin to a gubernatorial election.
Buchanan said the high turnout was a function, to a large degree, of massive media coverage and TV ads that drew the interest of “low-propensity voters.” Buchanan said he detected that shift in his polling over time.
“Even a midterm (election) wouldn’t have this kind of attention,” he said.
Jonathan Gray, a Mobile-based Republican consultant, said he does not believe the polling misfired. He said it was an unusual race that featured late allegations that Moore, decades ago, had inappropriate sexual contact with teenagers.
“I think we saw a very volatile race that was all over the place,” he said. “Polling is not good at volatile elections.”
Gray also attributed part of the increased turnout to a first-rate get-out-the-vote effort by Jones that was the result of superior financial resources and an energized liberal base — factors that will be hard for Democrats to duplicate in future elections.
“They nailed it,” he said. “But he had more money than any Democrat in history to run against Roy Moore.”
Both Buchanan and Gray cautioned against reading too much into exit polls. They suggested the media put too much faith in results showing that black voters made up 29 percent of the electorate — a stunning figure that not only topped African-American turnout in 2012 when the first black president was on the ballot but also exceeds the black share of the state’s population.
“It flat-out did not happen,” Gray said, basing his judgment on turnout in key precincts where African-Americans make up close to 100 percent of all voters.
Gray said people should especially be dubious of exit polls in Alabama because the state has such little history with exit polls.
Buchanan said the black share of voters likely was more than the 22 percent that analysts typically would expect for a special election but not anywhere close to 29 percent.
Gray said he is reserving judgment on the election until after the state certifies the results and releases the public voter files. That will allow analysts to pinpoint individual voters to see which ones cast ballots and which ones stayed home.
Those ballots are secret, but Gray said he can extrapolate from the data whether Jones won because Republicans voted for him or skipped the election. For instance, by looking at “perfect Republican primary voters” — who vote in every Republican primary — Gray can determine if there was a measurable drop-off in participation. If there was, that would suggest Jones won because of a turnout differential. If there was not a drop-off, he added, it would indicate that Republicans switched sides.
It is the kind of precision that is hard to capture in an exit poll, Gray said.
The data will help unlock puzzles like the Daphne Civic Center, where Jones edged out Moore by 91 votes but where President Donald Trump took 65.5 percent of the vote in 2016. The story was similar at the Connie Hudson Mobile Regional Senior Community Center, where Jones won 55.6 percent of the vote but where Trump beat Clinton 60 percent to 37 percent.
Shifts like that could be due to a surge in Democratic voters, a decline in Republican voters or GOP defections.
Buchanan said it likely was a combination.
“Both had to occur to allow Doug Jones to win,” he said.
Kay Ivey: Tax cuts, code simplification ‘will bring much needed relief to Alabama families’
Gov. Kay Ivey reacted to the passage of the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act earlier today by calling it “historic” and declaring it a “boon” for the Alabama economy.
“American families know best how to spend their hard-earned dollars, not politicians in Washington,” she said in a statement issued Wednesday. “I am thankful both the U.S. House and the U.S. Senate have passed historic tax reform legislation, and I look forward to President Trump signing it into law. Simplifying the tax code while cutting taxes will bring much needed relief to Alabama families, will help our businesses grow and will prove to be a boon for our economy.”
The bill passed both the House and Senate along party lines.
Alabama’s entire congressional delegation, with the exception of Rep. Terri Sewell, the lone Democrat, voted for the bill.
Jeff Poor is a graduate of Auburn University and works as the editor of Breitbart TV.
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Sorry AL.com, there’s no ‘burning’ progressive movement in Alabama just because we rejected Roy Moore
It’s now been a week since the election of Doug Jones prompted Al.com’s editorial board to breathlessly declare that the “voice of justice” had spoken for a “burning movement” of “black voters, LGBT activists, women and young voters” who represent the future of our state.
Their words crackled with confidence and jubilation because, in their minds, the progressive agenda had finally penetrated the Heart of Dixie.
“Doug Jones’s election is a moment of change, not only in Alabama, but for an America yearning for signs that these values matter in 2017,” the editorial board gushed.
We get it. They were excited.
But now that the euphoria has abated, it’s time for them to get back to reality and face the facts: Alabama was, is and will always be one of the most conservative states in the country.
Look around. Has anything changed since Jones was elected?
Are you seeing more rainbow flags flying in our communities?
Did your neighbor trade-in his F-150 for a Prius?
No. No. And heck no.
Only someone stuck in an echo chamber of liberalism would think Alabama embraced even a shred of the Democratic Party’s agenda simply because a majority of our voters rejected someone who many believe molested a 14-year old girl.
Alabama didn’t elect Doug Jones.
We un-elected the nominee of the Republican Party of Alabama.
Alabama is still an overwhelmingly conservative state, ranked fifth most conservative by Gallup earlier this year. Republican candidates enjoy a 30-point advantage here (at least when they don’t bring a U-Haul’s worth of political baggage, get credibly accused of sexual harassment and molestation, and then fail to seriously campaign).
Alabama is still an overwhelmingly pro-life state, with nearly 60 percent of its citizens saying abortion should be illegal in all or most cases, according to a Pew Forum survey.
Alabama is still overwhelmingly in favor of traditional marriage, ranking dead last in support for same-sex marriage in a poll conducted by the Public Religious Research Institute.
And we’re not just conservative on hot button social issues either. We strongly believe in limited government.
Consider these findings from a poll commissioned two months ago by the well-respected Alabama Policy Institute in Birmingham:
— “64 percent of those surveyed would be more likely to vote for a candidate that campaigned on reducing or rejecting federal dollars in order to limit the federal government’s influence over Alabama.”
— “79 percent of those surveyed support a proposal for the state Legislature to hold a recorded, up-or-down vote before accepting any federal funding with strings attached that would bind Alabama to specific policies crafted in Washington, D.C.”
— “91 percent of those surveyed support a proposal for state government to conduct an annual inventory of all federal funds coming into the state.”
That doesn’t sound like the Nancy Pelosi/Chuck Schumer agenda to me.
“It’s probably no surprise that Alabamians have a deep distrust of the federal government,” said Leigh Hixon, the senior director of policy relations or the Alabama Policy Institute. “However, the degree to which this is true was very striking.”
So, no, Al.com. There’s no progressive movement starting in Alabama.
The only thing that changed last week was the standards of our state’s voters.
We said there was a standard of conduct and competency for our leaders, or at least a limit to the amount of drama we could take in exchange for their service.
Let’s hope our candidates and party leaders got the message.
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Shelby, Strange applaud tax bill — claim it boosts economy, makes tax code ‘simpler and fairer’
Late Tuesday after the U.S. Senate passed the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017, Sens. Richard Shelby and Luther Strange offered remarks praising its passage and touted the stimulative effect it would have the economy.
Shelby called the legislation, which passed along party line 51-48, “historic” and declared it would simplify the tax code.
“The Senate today passed historic legislation to deliver pro-growth, middle-class tax relief to the American people,” Shelby said in a statement released late Tuesday. “This bill not only lowers individual and corporate tax rates, lightening the burden on small businesses, but it works to revitalize our economy – impacting current and future generations to come. Across the nation, this legislation will help create jobs, increase paychecks, and make the tax code simpler and fairer.”
“I am proud that we are able to work together to fulfill our commitment to deliver real tax reform and put money back in the pockets of the middle-class Americans who have earned it,” he added. “This is a once-in-a-generation opportunity to change Americans’ lives for the better.”
The outgoing Strange echoed Shelby’s sentiments, highlighting the boost it will give to small businesses.
“Tax relief is not pie in the sky,” Strange said in a statement. “Today, it becomes reality for the American families working hard to make ends meet. It becomes reality for the small businesses that serve as cornerstones of our communities. It becomes reality for job creators who know the power of American industry. Getting tax relief accomplished is the reason I came to Washington, and on behalf of Alabama, I am proud to cast my vote tonight.”
Jeff Poor is a graduate of Auburn University and works as the editor of Breitbart TV.
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Tax cuts will create 4,600 Alabama jobs, raise family income across the state by $519, study says
The tax cut bill on track for passage today will create 4,632 jobs in Alabama and boost the income of the average middle-income family by more than $519, according to a study released this week.
The estimates come from an updated analysis by the Tax Foundation, which projects that the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act will raise the gross national product by 1.7 percent nationwide over the long run and create 339,000 new jobs. What’s more, wages will grow by 1.5 percent, with after-tax income rising 1.1 percent by the end of the decade even after some temporary provisions expire, according to the think tank. The average middle-income family can expect an increase of $649.43 in take-home pay.
And that is assuming that Congress does not extend the tax cuts, as lawmakers did when supposedly temporary features of tax cuts passed under George W. Bush were set to expire.
“The increase in family incomes is due in part from individual income tax reductions and the broader rise in productivity and wages due to economic growth,” wrote Nicole Kaeding, an economist at the Tax Foundation. “These estimates take into account all aspects of the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act, including changes to the individual and corporate tax codes.”
The House of Representative passed the bill Tuesday but will have to come back and do it again today after lawmakers discovered a procedural problem.
For Alabama, the benefits would lag most of the rest of the country. The $519.43 increase in after-tax income exceeds the average gain in only five other states — Arkansas, Kentucky, West Virginia, Louisiana and Mississippi.
The state fares even worse on the jobs front. The Tax Foundation’s projected increases of 4,632 works out to a rate of 95.2 jobs per 100,000 residents. Only New Mexico, Arizona and Mississippi would have smaller job gains as a share of residents.
The Tax Foundation’s projected gains for both the nation and Alabama are not as robust as the think tank’s analysis of the version passed by the House last month. That report foresaw the creation of 890,000 jobs nationwide and increase of $2,243 in after-tax incomes.
Alabama’s position vis-a-vis other states did not change in the latest analysis.
The think tank attributes the lower projections to changes made to the bill during the legislative process. For instance, the just the difference between a 20 percent and a 21 percent top corporate tax rate is a tenth of a point of growth, a tenth of a point in wage increases and two tenths of a point of after-tax incomes, according to the foundation.
“The permanent corporate rate cut to 20 percent is the most growth-producing provision in either of the two plans,” wrote Tax Foundation President Scott Hodge before the House and Senate ironed out differences in their two bills. “The economic consequences of scaling that provision back should not be dismissed easily.”
The Republicans in Alabama’s delegation all voted “yes,” along with most of the GOP. The 227-203 vote included “nays” from a dozen Republicans. No Democrats supported it. The results likely will be the same when lawmakers vote again today.
“It will lead to greater economic growth, higher wages, and more jobs, which is exactly what the American people sent President Trump and the Republican Congress to Washington to do,” Rep. Bradley Byrne (R-Fairhope) predicted during debate on the House floor.
Rep. Gary Palmer (R-Hoover) praised the vote.
“Our tax plan not only puts more money in the pockets of the American people, but will also launch economic growth,” he said in a statement. “Over the previous eight years our economy only grew at an anemic 1.8 percent per year because businesses were shackled by a complicated and burdensome tax code that was designed for a 1986 economy.”
Sens. Richard Shelby (R-Tuscaloosa) and Luther Strange (R-Mountain Brook) joined the other 49 Republicans — ailing Sen John McCain (R-Ariz.) did not vote — in passing the bill in the upper chamber on a 51-48 vote. In a statement, Shelby called it a “once-in-a-generation opportunity to change Americans’ lives for the better.”
Rep. Terri Sewell (D-Birmingham), however, ripped what she termed a “tax sham,” objecting during floor debate to the GOP characterization of the bill as a Christmas gift to the American people.
“I have never seen such intellectual dishonesty in my life,” she said. “It’s more like the grinch that stole Christmas.”
Want our trust? The 7 things an elected official MUST do to gain it
Listen to the 10 min audio
Read the transcript:
TOM LAMPRECHT: Harry, anyone following the news realizes that the House Judiciary Committee had somewhat of a firestorm last week when Rod Rosenstein, the deputy attorney general, came before that committee.
There was much discussion over what appeared to be partisanship within the Department of Justice and the FBI. As a result, representative Jim Jordan asked Rosenstein, “How can the American people trust their government?”
Rachel Botsman writes, “Without trust, society cannot survive and it certainly cannot thrive.”
Harry, are we at the point in our nation where there is justification for the American people to have some distrust of the federal agencies that are supposed to protect them?
IN GOD WE TRUST
DR. REEDER: Now, a lot of people, Tom, are going to expect me to make the argument, “Yes. They are right so, please, let’s trust the government.” That is not going to be my argument.
A society cannot function if it cannot trust its foundational institutions and government is one of those but my answer is not, “Trust the government,” – my answer is we need a government that’s trustworthy.
One of my favorite sign was in a little general store that I used to pass going up to the mountains for little study breaks, they had a sign that – everybody has seen it because it’s at service stations – and it said this: “In God we trust. Everybody else, pay cash.”
One of President George Washington’s great desires was that the nation would adopt as its motto, “In God We Trust.” That’s why he added, “So help me, God,” to all vows that he would take because he put his trust in God and then Abraham Lincoln was converted in 1863 under the ministry of Dr. Phineas Gurley at New York Avenue Presbyterian Church – a process that had begun with the ministry of a Pastor Smith in Springfield – and he eventually commented to his pastor and others that he would love to see that wish fulfilled and, actually, in a sermon documenting his conversion in the 1950s, two elected officials heard that.
Officially, today, “In God We Trust” is now our national motto. That’s where I am. My trust is not in the government – I trust the Lord – but I want a trustworthy government.
TRUST MUST BE EARNED
Now, how do you develop trust? I really hope our listeners capture this – Tom, I think this is important. I am going to pray for my government and elected officials. I am going to give the honor due to them. I am going to obey the civil authorities as long as they don’t do something that requires me to disobey the Lord.
I do not believe that Caesar, my government, is Lord. And I going to ask them, “Be trustworthy. Earn our trust. We do not automatically give you trust – you have to earn our trust. We will give you the appropriate respect that you’re supposed to do, we will pray for you and we will give obedience as long as our obedience does not cause us to transgress the word of God.”
So how do you develop trust? How does a parent live so that his children not only respect and honor them, as the commandment says, but can trust them?
We have a wonderful prison ministry and we actually have a seminary and planting a church in a prison. Some of the guys I meet are called “trustees.” They had to earn that position where they were now trusted by prison officials.
HOW TO BE TRUSTWORTHY
How can we do that? I believe there are seven things that have to be done in order to be trustworthy and this is what needs to happen in our government:
- Our government officials need to have character that earns trust. They do the next right thing.
- Tom, character, then, needs to have consistency. Not only do you do the right thing, but you keep doing the right thing.
- Consistency that embraces transparency is the next point. If something bad has been done, you don’t cover it up – you confess it up. You own it.
- You seek and embrace accountability. You will be accountable to those that are over you and to those that are alongside of you and to those whom you represent.
- Clear communication – you communicate with clarity. You don’t just say, “Well, it depends on what ‘is’ is.” You don’t parse words. You don’t try to be technically accurate, but you’re not truthful. Truthful people don’t just say the right things, but they say it to be understood with your intention of clarity.
- Accessibility – you make yourself accessible.
- Respect – you respect your institution, you respect the law, you respect your vows and you respect the people.
We want character, consistency, transparency, accountability, communication, accessibility and respect. We give respect when people act respectfully to the institution, their vows, and the people that they represent.
This is a matter of the soul of those whom we elect so that they are not corrupted by power. They don’t take the power that allows them to occupy their position of authority and use it for, as we’ve seen, sexual conquests and financial gain. They say no to that and they demonstrate their trustworthiness through this.
THE CHURCH MUST LEAD THE WAY
Tom, one of, I think, the greatest – the most important – shaping institutions of the culture is an institution that isn’t on the mission to shape the culture – but if it accomplishes its mission, it does shape the culture consequentially – and that is the church of Jesus Christ.
Fifteen of the 17 qualifications for an elder deal with character and then we need to be consistent, we need to be transparent, we need to be accountable, we need to communicate with integrity and clarity, we need to be accessible, and we need to be respectful in how we handle God’s word and God’s people.
And then, as a church, we begin to disciple people, some of which become elected officials who go into the body politic and then function in a way that we become trustworthy. I am grateful whenever I see that.
Therefore, to the government, it’s not the government we trust – it’s in God we trust – but I also want you to know we want a trustworthy government. We don’t get a trustworthy government through simply our system. Our system was set up by the founding fathers to facilitate the seven things I just said. Our system was set up to have elected officials of character who are consistent – that’s why they have to keep coming back up for election; who are called to transparency – an open government and a government of sunshine; who are accountable – that’s why they are called to communicate regularly and live among your people, not living in the Washington bubble; then are accessible; and then are respectful.
That’s what I long to see and want to see in our government. Yes, you can’t just drain the swamp because you’ve got to fill the lake. And that’s what we need to fill the lake with but I even more long for the greatest institution – the one that’s heading for eternity – and that is the church of Jesus Christ, that we, on-mission, on-message, in-ministry, will demonstrate that same trustworthiness beginning with leaders.
And, God, would you by the Gospel, let it begin with me.
Dr. Harry L. Reeder III is the Senior Pastor of Briarwood Presbyterian Church in Birmingham.
This podcast was transcribed by Jessica Havin. Jessica is editorial assistant for Yellowhammer News. Jessica has transcribed some of the top podcasts in the country and her work has been featured in a New York Times Bestseller.
LISTEN: Mo Brooks: Rep. Mike Rogers personally warned Mitch McConnell of consequences of his Luther Strange strategy
Monday in an appearance on Birmingham’s Talk 99.5 “Matt & Aunie Show,” Rep. Mo Brooks offered listeners an update on his status following the prostate cancer surgery he underwent last week.
Brooks seemed upbeat about his progress. He was asked by hosts Matt Murphy and Andrea Lindenberg about how difficult 2017 had been given the shooting at a congressional baseball practice in June, his failed bid for U.S. Senate that unfolded throughout the year and then his prostate cancer diagnosis.
While laying those difficulties out, Brooks took aim at Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) for his involvement in the primary.
“They still don’t get it,” Brooks said. “They don’t understand that they’re the ones who lost this Senate race. But for their intimidation tactics, [State] Sen. Del Marsh would have run. But for their intimidation tactics, Trip Pittman, the senator from the Mobile Bay area may have been able to get more funding and run a better campaign. Same with me. We had a number of candidates who would have easily have won in the special election of last Tuesday probably by 20 or more points. But for whatever reason, the strategy implemented by Mitch McConnell resulted in a runoff between two people who gave us the greatest challenge to win the general election with. And you know, we are where we are. And it’s because of Mitch McConnell. They had this script, and they didn’t do any independent thinking.”
He went on to reveal Rep. Mike Rogers had warned McConnell before the campaign about the possibilities of making the eventual GOP nominee vulnerable to a Democrat.
“I’ll give you an example – Congressman Mike Rogers met with Mitch McConnell and told him that if he persisted in this plan, he was about to unfold, that the result would be a runoff between Luther Strange and Roy Moore. Roy Moore would be our nominee. And because of some public hesitancy with some of the positions that Roy Moore has taken over the years – that would be a real dogfight in the general election. And that’s a congressman who has been highly successful in the state of Alabama. You would think that Mitch McConnell would give that some weight. But Mitch McConnell just totally disregarded it. Same thing with the insight that I tried to share with the senators. They just could not conceive that the incumbent had some major weaknesses that would make vulnerable not only in a runoff, even with $30 million pumped down to try to help him – not only make him vulnerable in a runoff, but also make him an underdog in a general election against someone like Doug Jones.”
Yellowhammer News reached out to Rogers’ Washington, D.C. office but it did not offer an on-the-record comment about Brooks’ claim of the meeting between Rogers and McConnell.
Rogers endorsed Brooks for the Republican nomination during the GOP primary.
Jeff Poor is a graduate of Auburn University and works as the editor of Breitbart TV.
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LISTEN: Alabama Democrat Rep. Sewell: ‘I Do Believe’ Democrats sometimes take African-American votes for granted
U.S. Rep. Terri Sewell (D-Birmingham), one of the key allies of Sen.-elect Doug Jones during this year’s U.S. Senate special election campaign, discussed her get-out-the-vote effort in Alabama’s African-American community NPR’s “Weekend Edition Saturday.”
Sewell acknowledged she was “partially excited” about African-American turnout in that election. However, she also said she believed the African-American vote was taken for granted when asked by host Scott Simon.
“Does the national Democratic Party sometimes take the votes of African-Americans for granted?” Simon asked Sewell.
“I do believe that,” she replied. “I also know that generally, you know, oftentimes, our base feels that they are neglected. But I do believe that we can turn that around by directly speaking to our base when it comes to policies that affect the family. So, talking about health care and the fact that this administration wants to repeal without having a replacement for the Affordable Care Act, speaking about the ability to have equal funding – public funding for education so that all of our children get to reach their God-given potential.”
“Those issues, as well as getting us prepared for the future of work, which is going to leave a large swath of rural America behind,” she added. “I think, you know, talking in terms of workforce development and training opportunities for the future of work was something that Doug [Jones] spoke very often about. And, you know, now comes the hard part, holding him accountable, as well as all elected officials accountable, to really deliver on those promises.”
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Who really embarrasses Alabama: Roy Moore’s surrogate or smooth talking Doug Jones?
By now many Alabamians have watched the campaign clip that had the rest of the country laughing at us for days: former Shelby County commissioner Ted Crockett’s interview last week with CNN’s Jake Tapper.
Speaking on Moore’s behalf, Crockett said the judge “probably” believes homosexuality should be illegal and that Americans who aren’t Christian cannot serve in Congress because “you have to swear on a Bible to be an elected official in the United States of America.”
In case you missed it, watch it here:
You probably cringed.
You may have laughed.
And you certainly said, “THIS is why people think Alabama is backward.”
I did, too.
But while watching Crockett’s clip again over the weekend I had another thought: Sure, this guy has a couple of things wrong but he isn’t what’s wrong with our country.
He’s not the problem.
He’s not what we’re fighting against.
He’s not working to uproot our Founding and fundamentally change our culture.
You know who is?
Senator-elect Doug Jones.
Think about it, who’s really more of an embarrassment to Alabama?
— A) The guy who doesn’t know that someone doesn’t actually have to swear on a Bible to hold public office, or
— B) The guy who doesn’t understand it’s wrong to shoot poison into the heart of a seven-month-old unborn child, rip its little arms and legs from its body, and then toss its bloody and broken corpse into the garbage?
In case you missed it, Alabama’s next Senator appeared on MSNBC a few weeks ago and was asked whether he’d support banning abortion after 20-weeks, the time at which an unborn child is known to feel the pain of the brutal procedure (and yes, a woman can have an abortion at any time during her pregnancy, not just in the first trimester as most people mistakenly believe).
“You wouldn’t be in favor of legislation that said ban abortion after 20 weeks, or something like that?” asked Chuck Todd, the show’s host.
“No, I’m not in favor of anything that is going to infringe on a woman’s right and her freedom to choose,” Jones said. “That’s just the position that I’ve had for many years, it’s the position I continue to have.”
Here’s the clip:
Ted Crockett isn’t the best spokesman, and he may be confused and uninformed about some things, but Doug Jones is the real threat to our culture.
Jones may be polished.
Jones may appear affable and smooth.
But make no mistake, his ideas – and that’s what it’s all about, ideas – are a deep and dark embarrassment to the State of Alabama.
Editor’s note: Updated the 15th graph. The previous version read, “The guy who doesn’t understand that a Jewish member of Congress doesn’t have to swear on a King James Bible.” The writer attempted to show that the dozens of congressman we have who are Jewish didn’t have to swear on a Bible, and neither to Muslims, but it only further confused readers.”
WATCH: Doug Jones: I think we would have beaten Roy Moore even without Washington Post allegations
On this weekend’s broadcast of “CBS Sunday Morning,” Sen.-elect Doug Jones discussed his unlikely special election victory.
Jones reminded viewers that before Alabama had transitioned to a majority Republican state, it was once a reliable Democrat state for well over a century.
“People forget – a Republican didn’t send anybody to the Senate for over a hundred years before,” Jones said. “That changed. It changes one election at a time.”
Jones was asked if he could have defeated his opponent former Alabama Supreme Court Justice Roy Moore without the bombshell allegations that first appeared in The Washington Post in early November. Jones told “CBS Sunday Morning” he believed they would have.
“Yes, I think we would have beaten him,” Jones replied. “We were getting traction. We were being inclusive and talking about issues that people care about.”
.@BojorquezCBS: Do you think you would have won had @washingtonpost not broken the story about sexual misconduct allegations?
@GDouglasJones: Yes. I think we would have beaten him. We were getting traction. We were being inclusive and talking about issues that people care about pic.twitter.com/mZt6IPFjg1
— CBS Sunday Morning (@CBSSunday) December 17, 2017
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GOP needn’t despair about Alabama
Republicans should not be disheartened by Roy Moore’s loss in Alabama, because the election had little to do with Doug Jones — and probably even less with Donald Trump or the Republican agenda.
Don’t get me wrong. It’s quite troubling that the GOP’s thin Senate majority just became anorexic, but this election by itself is not a predictor of a Democratic rout in 2018. Republicans could sustain substantial losses, to be sure, but the Alabama election doesn’t make that foreseeable.
Roy Moore was a uniquely problematic candidate with more baggage than many Republicans believed they could excuse. Though it is remarkable that a Republican candidate lost in crimson-red Alabama, it is also noteworthy that even with his problems, he came close to winning.
The vast majority of Alabama Republicans did not want to sit home or to vote for Jones, because they understand the magnitude of the stakes before us. Yet enough of them did. Apparently, the fact that he would have doubtlessly voted as a conservative at a time when every single Republican vote is critical wasn’t enough to overcome the sexual allegations and other concerns about Moore for these voters.
Also, America’s political situation is particularly fluid, and there are too many variables and important events yet to play out for us to reliably forecast the 2018 election results. One savvy politician told me this week that he could see Republicans losing the majority in both houses in 2018 — but he also wouldn’t be surprised if they were to actually gain seats if the economy remains strong and Trump’s agenda continues apace.
Democrats have more Senate seats to defend in 2018 (26) than Republicans (eight), 10 of which are in states Trump carried in 2016 — five by double digits. Even CNN concedes that the electoral map “still clearly favors Republicans.” But like other liberals, they are counting on Trump’s supposed unpopularity and soaring passion in the Democratic base to offset any GOP advantages.
Moreover, prudent analysis has to factor in the adage that people vote with their pocketbooks — even young people, the demographic reputed to be least enamored with President Trump. A Bank of America/USA Today Better Money Habits survey conducted before the 2016 election showed that 65 percent of voters ages 18 to 26 would base their votes more on economic policies than on social issues.
Economic indicators are decidedly positive now, and notwithstanding Barack Obama’s delusional post-presidential assertion that he deserves the credit for it, it’s hard to dispute that Trump deserves the lion’s share of credit.
The economy is humming well above 3 percent — a threshold the Obama malaise architects had already written off as no longer attainable. Unemployment is way down, and the stock market is surging significantly above impressive Obama-era levels.
This is real growth, as opposed to the fake growth Obama defeatists were touting when the economy was stagnating at 1 percent. And it can be traced to Trump’s actions and the attitude he carried into office, just as Obama’s stagnation can be traced to his business-hostile bearing.
Trump is bullish on America, the free market and American business. Entrepreneurs have responded accordingly, as have consumers. (Look at Christmas season sales already this year.)
Trump has also been aggressive in rolling back stifling bureaucratic regulations across the board, and no one should underestimate the impact of his decision to back out of the Paris climate accord — or his support of the coal and natural gas industries.
Trump also tried, albeit unsuccessfully, to substantially revise, if not wholly repeal, Obamacare, and he is determined to try again. He and congressional Republicans have done a better job so far with the tax reform bill. Though it is imperfect and not the bill I would craft if I were king, it would meaningfully improve the existing law and is very close to being passed.
If it passes, I believe we’ll see even more growth and far more revenues than the experts — the same ones who predicted that our days of 3 percent growth were over — are forecasting.
Yes, things could so south, especially if Trump and Congress are unable to move the tax bill and other major items of legislation before the 2018 elections, but I’m feeling upbeat.
My main concern is chaos within the Republican Party. The angst toward Trump among many Republicans is palpable, and unfortunately, a disproportionate number of these opponents are influential in the media.
I understand the naysayers’ disapproval of Trump’s style and various other complaints. But I don’t understand why they won’t acknowledge the positive developments that are occurring during his presidency — even if they have too much pride to give him credit for them. I get (and sometimes share) their distaste for his tweets, but it’s baffling that they won’t concede that on policy, at least, he has been far different from — and almost entirely better than — what they gloomily warned he would be.
He’s not governing like a so-called populist nationalist, and he certainly hasn’t advocated liberal policies as many feared. No matter what you think of Trump personally, he is advancing a largely conservative agenda.
Unlike some of Trump’s perpetual critics, I don’t worry that Trump is going to usher in an era of alt-right dystopia or that the country is going to descend into Bannonism — whatever that means. The critics shouldn’t fear that Trump will forever taint the conservative movement or that America will descend into darkness.
America was descending into darkness under Obama’s eight years, and that process would have accelerated into warp speed had Hillary Clinton been elected. So could we please lighten up and support the president when he’s advancing salutary policies, which is often, and go into 2018 with a spirit of warranted optimism?
David Limbaugh is a writer, author and attorney.
COPYRIGHT 2017 CREATORS.COM
Not the final Talley
For young Alabama lawyer Brett Talley, his withdrawal from consideration for a federal judgeship should not be the last word on his promising career.
With the right combination of graciousness and gumption, Talley can rise above this setback — just as a then-40-year-old judicial nominee named Jeff Sessions did when his nomination was derailed in 1986.
When I wrote two weeks ago that Talley probably ought to withdraw, I was merely urging him to recognize political reality. In the year of or immediately after the Charlottesville riots, no nominee of President Trump could possibly be confirmed once it surfaced that the nominee tried to split hairs about the Ku Klux Klan. In the year of or immediately after so many national controversies involving Alabama figures (Sessions, Luther Strange, Roy Moore), no Alabama nominee with so many small strikes against him could earn Senate approval.
Talley would have been horrendously vilified in floor debate, with no chance to defend himself and no real hope of winning.
Now, though, Talley should break the senseless tradition whereby judicial nominees speak for themselves only during their confirmation hearings, including the forswearing of comment if their nominations fail. Instead, he should use the occasion to make a public statement, even hold a press conference, that helps clear the air and reintroduces himself to a broader audience.
Before I elaborate, please allow this digression. In the 1980s I watched quite closely as three of the men I admire most, including my father, all were publicly named (at different times) as the choice of President Reagan for a Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals judgeship, only to see unfair, sub-rosa politics lead to their withdrawals. As I particularly witnessed in my father’s case, the experience is incredibly painful, and feels quite embarrassing even if no shame has been merited. So I get it. I get that the first reaction to one’s own withdrawal is to just crawl into one’s own shell for a while.
In this case, however, Talley can change the script — not for this particular judicial opportunity, but for his future.
Imagine if Talley conducted a press conference in which, with wistfulness rather than anger, he expressed regret for the miscues that made his confirmation infeasible. He could recount his otherwise distinguished record, describe a deep reverence for the law and for our constitutional system, and explain just how personally invasive and demanding the nomination process has become. Without whining or making excuses, he could elucidate the reality that the advent of social media has made it a monumental task to produce every scrap of public communication someone has ever engaged in.
Crucially, of course, he should explain the circumstances and thought processes — or lack of thought — that led him, under a thinly veiled pseudonym, to write an online comment defending the “original” KKK and one of its leaders, former Confederate General Nathan Bedford Forrest. Historically dubious at very best, the claim that even the earliest Klan had honorable intentions is toxic in almost any modern public forum.
Yet surely Talley can explain what he meant, in a way understandable by the public even if not acceptable for confirmation purposes by a majority of senators. And surely, if somehow his original distinction — no matter how ham-handed — had been intended to highlight the dangers of bad racial intentions, then he could also give examples of some efforts of his own to bridge racial divides or combat racial injustices.
Again, when combined with other small question marks in his record, none of these explanations could have secured him confirmation from a narrowly divided Senate. But they certainly could humanize him, demonstrate graciousness and judicial temperament, and make him a sympathetic (and even admirable) figure — thus aiding any of his future professional or public endeavors.
As I wrote in my column two weeks ago, Talley appears to be a brilliant attorney with plenty of “exemplary” experience. And, to repeat: “In and of itself, one truly stupid [blog] post shouldn’t ruin a man’s career. But at age 36, Talley has plenty of time to continue to build his resume, put youthful folly behind him – and reassure people that his emotions involving racial issues aren’t indicative of bias or bigotry. The withdrawal of Talley’s nomination would not say that he is a bad lawyer or bad man.”
A public statement or press conference could begin the process of driving home those points, and set Brett Talley up for a brighter future.
Yellowhammer Contributing Editor Quin Hillyer, of Mobile, also is a Contributing Editor for National Review Online, and is the author of Mad Jones, Heretic, a satirical literary novel published in the fall of 2017.
Ridiculous: Liberal group names Alabama Secretary of State Merrill to ‘Voter Suppression Hall of Shame’
A liberal group founded by former Missouri Secretary of State Jason Kander has named Alabama Secretary of State John Merrill to its “Voter Suppression Wall of Shame.”
Citing Alabama’s voter identification law and former Gov. Robert Bentley’s decision to close some driver’s license offices, Let America Vote accuses Merrill of trying to block black Alabamians from exercising their right to vote.
“In a state with a long history of voter suppression, Alabama Secretary of State John Merrill has used his time in office to roll back the state’s progress on voting rights,” Kander said in a statement. “Merrill supported the decision to close DMVs in African-American neighborhoods in Alabama after the state implemented an extreme photo ID law — a textbook case of voter suppression. Alabamians deserve a secretary of state who is a champion of voting rights, like the heroes who risked their lives in Selma 50 years ago. Secretary John Merrill deserves a prominent place in the Voter Suppression Hall of Shame.”
Merrill responded by calling the designation “hilarious … especially by somebody without any credibility like Jason Kander.”
Merrill said Alabama has more than 3.3 million registered voters, up 865,107 since he took office.
“I’ve registered more people to vote than he did in his entire tenure as secretary of state in Missouri,” he said.
Kander narrowly lost a race for the U.S. Senate last year and then launched Let America Vote in February. Since then, he’s been busy shaming his former colleagues across the country. Merrill is the fifth secretary of state named to the Wall of Shame. That list includes Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach, whose efforts to prosecute voter fraud have made him a lightning rod among liberal activist organizations.
Let America Vote also has called out five state legislators across the country.
Requiring a photo ID at the polls is hugely controversial among progressive activists but much less so among the public. A Gallup poll last year found that 80 percent of Americans support photo ID laws. That included healthy majorities in every region, among all demographic groups and among Republicans, Democrats and independents.
Austin Laufersweiler, a spokesman for Let America Vote, cited a lawsuit filed earlier this year by the NAACP Legal Defense Fund claiming that 118,000 registered voters did not have a valid photo ID. The organization derived that estimate by cross-referencing the registered voter list with databases of Alabamians with passports, driver’s licenses, military IDs and non-driver’s license IDs.
In addition, Laufersweiler pointed to a statement Merrill made last year in an interview with a documentary filmmaker in which he called voting a “privilege.” The comment was in the context of Merrill’s opposition to automatically registering everyone who turns 18. He said there should be no impediment to registering but that people who want to vote should show initiative by signing up.
Laufersweiler cited news reports of voters complaining about difficulties casting ballots in Tuesday’s special election for the U.S. Senate because their IDs did not match their home addresses or because they improperly had been put on the “inactive” voter list.
Despite overlapping tenures as secretaries of state, Merrill said he has not met Kander. He said Kander was not active in the National Association of Secretaries of State.
Merrill noted that the special election won by Democrat Doug Jones featured massive turnout for a single-race contest — about 40 percent. Black voters — the supposed targets of Merrill’s voter-suppression campaign — made up a record share of that total.
“Nobody’s been denied the right to vote in Alabama since the voter ID law took effect,” Merrill said. “That argument is made by people who are uninformed or ill-informed.”
Laufersweiler said via email that, notwithstanding the heavy black turnout, elections officials made it difficult.
“There are reports of numerous complaints of voters being scrutinized over their IDs and many voters were improperly placed on the ‘inactive’ list and were asked for their county of birth,” he wrote. “These are all election administration issues that Secretary Merrill is responsible for. Secretary Merrill belongs on the list until he commits to making sure that all Alabamians have an equal opportunity to register and cast their ballot in elections.”
In addition to a driver’s license, the state accepts nine other forms of ID. If a voter does not have an ID, he or she can receive a photo voter ID card for free from the state. Merrill said the state has issued a relatively small number of those cards, about 10,000, a sign that most voters already have ID.
And if a voter comes to the polls and does not have identification, he or she can cast a provisional ballot. That vote counts if the voter can prove he or she is a valid voter within three days.
Merrill said his office also sends a van around the state to help make sure people can register and have ID. It visits every county at least once a year, he said.
“We want to make it as easy as possible to vote and as hard as possible to cheat,” he said.
The power of Alabama talk radio: Roy Moore’s shortcomings are a warning for future GOP candidates
Local talk radio is a strong force in Alabama.
The Senate Leadership Fund—a Mitch McConnell-backed super PAC—learned this lesson during the GOP primary process when it that supported Luther Strange against Roy Moore.
An SLF memo leaked to The New York Times immediately after the election described “the power of talk radio” as a key source of political information for conservative primary voters in Alabama.
“Local radio hosts wield almost as much influence as national names like Hannity and Ingraham, and they are more receptive to cultivation,” the memo explained.
“In an environment where Republican incumbents could be challenged from the right, talk radio must be a top priority for earned media outreach,” it added.
Roy Moore never seemed to learn this lesson. Moore’s failure to recognize the importance of talk radio became apparent toward the end of his special election campaign. While Moore made early appearances on local talk shows, his presence on the airwaves waned as the election wore on.
Moore’s absence from your AM/FM dials was likely no accident. The candidate did not fair well in forums that were not entirely on his side.
In an interview on WNNN’s “The Dale Jackson Show” in Huntsville back in July, Moore revealed he was unfamiliar with the acronym DACA, which stands for “Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals.” In the later stages of his runoff race, Strange and his allies used those remarks against Moore.
That radio appearance epitomized Moore’s relationship with radio’s spoken-word format. It also revealed his vulnerabilities as a candidate. According to Jackson, Moore’s failure to embrace local political talk was one of his weaknesses.
“Moore lost because he abandoned any semblance of a real campaign,” Jackson told Yellowhammer News. “He didn’t face any tough questions, and it made him look weak. Talk radio is hardly a hostile environment for him, and he only went on shows where he knew they would be overly friendly. Roy Moore lost this election, we can blame the media for allegations or the ‘swamp,’ he didn’t fight, and he lost. He needs to concede and go away a beaten man.”
Other talk show hosts detected Moore’s weaknesses in this arena as well. At the opposite end of the state, News Talk 106.5 morning and mid-day host Sean Sullivan described Moore as “uncomfortable” in radio interviews.
“Roy Moore did a couple of interviews with me but seemed uncomfortable with the idea of being on talk radio,” Sullivan told Yellowhammer News. “Moore and more importantly his campaign didn’t, other than boilerplate emails, communicate with me and I imagine other show hosts. With the maelstrom surrounding his campaign I was surprised he didn’t use talk shows in Alabama more often to counter the attacks and clarify his message.”
Traditionally in general election settings, conservative talk radio hosts have lined up behind the big-name Republican candidates. Birmingham talker Matt Murphy, who co-hosts a show with Andrea Lindenberg, revealed publicly he couldn’t vote for Moore and declared he wrote in Rep. Mo Brooks instead.
That came as somewhat of a surprise to many, given that Murphy and Lindenberg emceed a rally for Moore in Montgomery—which featured an appearance by former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin—just days before the GOP runoff.
Scott Beason, a former state senator who now hosts a political talk show on WYDE 101.1 FM in Birmingham and Huntsville, said radio should be a central part of a candidate’s communication strategy.
“Every candidate should do talk radio because it’s the only format where they can expand and fully explain their message while speaking directly to the voters,” Beason said. “But radio hosts are also responsible for finding and presenting the truth to their audience. Once Roy Moore held back, I think many were personally offended so their attitude against the candidate began to change. That does a disservice to their listeners.”
The moral of this story is in Alabama Republican politics, you dismiss political talk radio at your peril. While the listeners are a very small part of the overall electorate, they tend to be the most politically active. Without the support of the hosts (or their opposition in Tuesday’s election), you risk losing that constituency.
In a general (albeit special) election decided by 1.5 percent of voters, keeping the talk radio caucus intact could have won it for Moore.
Jeff Poor is a graduate of Auburn University and works as the editor of Breitbart News’ video site.
(Updated at 8:46 to include comments from Scott Beason)
WATCH: Congressman Mo Brooks gives speech on House floor announcing he has prostate cancer
Congressman Mo Brooks, R-Huntsville, delivered an emotional speech on the floor of the House of Representatives today announcing he has prostate cancer.
Watch the video here (hat tip Buzzfeed):
Please pray for the congressman and his family.
The six biggest takeaways from Doug Jones’ dramatic victory over Roy Moore
Tuesday’s special election victory by Democrat Doug Jones was dramatic — no doubt about it.
Barring a successful recount, he will become the first Democrat to represent Alabama in the Senate in nearly a quarter century. Here are the six most notable takeaways from an election that capped a very strange year in Alabama politics:
1. Here is how Jones won.
A combination of two main factors fueled Jones’ victory — a heavy black turnout coupled with defections of urban and suburban voters.
Jones won all of the traditional “big four” counties — Jefferson, Madison, Mobile and Montgomery. It’s hard to win a statewide race in Alabama if you lose all four; they accounted for nearly 42 percent of all votes cast. And the task becomes even harder when a candidate struggles in other Republican-leaning counties.
In addition to the big four, Moore also lost Tuscaloosa and Lee counties, among the 13 counties won by President Donald Trump last year that backed Jones. And Moore fared worse in heavily Republican areas. His share of the votes cast for him or the Democrat declined by 6 percentage points in Shelby County compared to his share of the two-party vote when he narrowly won election as chief justice in 2012.
While Moore ran only slightly worse in Baldwin County, he noticeably underperformed in suburban areas. Jones actually won the vote-rich and strongly GOP Daphne Civic Center polling place and came within 2 percentage points of winning the Fairhope Civic Center.
Jones also benefited from a massive turnout of black voters. Exit polls suggested that African-Americans made up 29 percent of the electorate. That is higher than the black share of voters in 2012, stunning considering the first black president was running for re-election that year.
Those two factors overcame Moore’s strength elsewhere. His share of the two-party vote actually increased from 2012 in 36 counties. He ran particularly strong in majority-white, rural counties in northern Alabama and the Wiregrass.
Moore’s share of the two-party vote was at least 6 points higher than in 2012 in a dozen counties.
The overall turnout — more than 1.3 million, or 40.5 percent — more closely resembled a gubernatorial election.
2. There was no deluge of write-in votes, but they played an important role.
A Libertarian candidate and a former aide to White House Chief of Staff John Kelly both offered themselves as write-in candidates. Some voters contemplated following the lead of Sen. Richard Shelby (R-Tuscaloosa), who said he would write in the name of a “distinguished” Republican rather than cast his ballot for Moore.
There was no massive protest vote, however. Statewide, write-in votes made up 1.7 percent of the vote.
Still, the 22,819 votes exceed Jones’ margin over Moore. They were close but not quite a record — that occurred during a race in which Public Service Commission Chairwoman Twinkle Andress Cavanaugh ran unopposed.
“It is a high margin, one of the most that’s ever been achieved in a competitive race,” Alabama Secretary of State John Merrill told reporters Tuesday night.
Write-in votes played a bigger role in large counties that normally lean Republican, suggesting that some conflicted Republicans in those counties chose that as an alternative to voting for Moore or a Democrat. Write-ins made up 3.1 percent of the vote in Madison and Lee counties, followed by Baldwin (2.7 percent), Shelby (2.6 percent), and Marshall and Etowah (2.3 percent each).
Meanwhile, write-ins were a non-factor in most rural counties, whether they supported Moore or Jones. Write-ins made up less than 1 percent of the vote in 25 counties. Just seven votes out of 2,712 in Bullock County went to people not on the ballot.
3. The sexual-abuse charges appear to have played a surprisingly small role.
Perhaps for some wavering Republicans, the allegations that Moore made inappropriate sexual or romantic advances toward teenagers when he was in his 30s was the last straw. But exit polls suggest it merely hardened positions on both sides.
Only 41 percent indicated that the allegations were the most important or an important factor in their votes. Jones won 89 percent of the folks who believed the allegations are true, according to exit polling. Moore took 94 percent of the vote from people who said the accusations are not true.
A majority of voters, 57 percent, made up their minds before the sexual-misconduct allegations broke, and they favored Jones 53 percent to 46 percent. Among the 42 percent who decided in November or December, Moore actually had a small advantage, 50 percent to 47 percent.
4. Speaking of Shelby.
In a way, Shelby came full circle with this election. He had been the last Democrat to win a Senate race when he won re-election in 1992. That year, despite a Republican winning the presidential race in the state, he carried every county except Shelby.
When Shelby switched parties in 1994, it helped set off a slow-motion death march that has reduced the Democrats in Alabama to their sorriest point in history.
But Shelby’s high-profile refusal to back Moore provided fodder for the standard-bearer of his former party.
5. Jones immediately becomes one of the most endangered incumbents in the country — and he will not even be on the ballot again until 2020.
There is a long history of accidental election winners, politicians who win a special election because of an unusual political environment or triumph in a district where their party has no business competing because of a scandal.
Jones benefited from both on Tuesday.
But the historical record of those accidental victors is not great. Anh “Joseph” Cao in 2008 took advantage of a criminal investigation of incumbent Democratic Rep. William Jefferson to become the first Republican ever elected in a heavily black congressional district in New Orleans. His career as a representative was short-lived; Democrat Cedric Richardson bounced him two years later.
In 1991, Democrat Harris Wofford won a special election to finish the term of a Pennsylvania senator who had died in a plane crash. But when Wofford ran for a full term in 1994, he lost to Republican Rick Santorum.
More recently, Republican Bob Turner narrowly won a special election in 2011 to replace Rep. Anthony Weiner (D-N.Y.), who had resigned in disgrace amid a sexting scandal. The legislature eliminated the seat in redistricting in 2012, and rather than fight an uphill battle in a different district, he ran unsuccessfully for the GOP nomination for the Senate.
And then there is Republican Scott Brown, who pulled off the reverse of Jones’ victory, winning a special election for the Senate in deep-blue Massachusetts in 2010 — only to lose two years later to Democrat Elizabeth Warren.
So enjoy your Senate seat, Doug Jones. You might not have it long.
6. Alabama is still a red state.
Nothing about Tuesday’s results suggest a fundamental change in Alabama’s politics. Instead, it appears to be all about Moore. Some 56 percent of voters, according to exit polling, had an unfavorable view of him.
Other data suggest Alabama is the same as it was a year ago. Some 45 percent called themselves conservative, vs. 23 percent or self-identified as liberal.
A small plurality said Jones does not share their values. A majority believe abortion should be illegal in all or most cases. By a 5-point margin, voters said they prefer Republicans to control the Senate. President Donald Trump’s approval rating, 48 percent, is much higher than his national average.
Put it this way: The GOP nominee had twice been removed from his job on the state Supreme Court for ethics infractions, raised and spent millions of dollars less than his opponent, virtually disappeared for long stretches on the campaign trail and faced allegations of sexually abusing a child — and still nearly won the race. That’s not a sign of Republican weakness in Alabama. It’s the opposite.
The real lesson is that no party is invincible. The dominant party will sometimes lose races under the right conditions.
Alabama Senate Race Live Blog – It’s Senator Doug Jones, says the AP
9:35 — Oh well.
Shoulda. Coulda. Woulda.
It’s time to re-group, to heal, to learn … and to fight back.
9:25 — AP calls it for Jones.
9:24 — Tie ball game! 49.2 to 49.2
9:20 — Those odds makers are all over the place.
About an hour ago they had Moore favored to win at 80%.
Now they have Jones favored to win at 90%.
What does it take to get a job doing that … the ability to throw darts at a wall full of random numbers?
9:15 — Moore trails by about 7,000 votes, and there are still about 177,000 left to be counted.
9:10 — So … Jones is up for the first time.
What are they waiting on … to see exactly how many votes Jones will need?
Come on! (I kid, I kid … kind of).
— UPDATE: I guess they decided to drop them all at once. They’re in, and they have Jones about 7,000 votes.
9:05 — Between this race and the past college football season, I’m done. Just went you thought you could step away for a moment …
It’s probably the GOPesyest county in the Alabama (take that Shelby and Madison!) and they only have 17 of 47 precincts reporting.
Moore will get a great deal of votes from there.
Meanwhile, Jefferson still has about half of its votes uncounted.
8:58 — Yikes. That’s striking distance.
But, folks, exit polls are garbage.
Except when they’re not.
8:50 — If Jones pulls this out of the fire, one of the things political types will need to look at is the polling. When they do, here’s a question:
When you poll voters, weight is often given to those who voted in a previous election … but think about it … how many Democrats in Alabama voted in the last general election. What would have been the point, other than to excercise one’s right?
But today? They had a reason to go.
8:45 pm — The latest (Moore was ticking up, but dropped a bit):
8:36 — There are still thousands of votes coming from Mobile County (only 11 of 119 precincts reporting), Jefferson County (63 of 172) and Montgomery (3 of 99).
That means we’ve counted about 650,00 votes but have about 525,000 to go.
Hold onto somthing!
8:30: A few minuets after I write that we need to look at the turn-out in the cities, we’re hearing reports that turn-out in the Black Belt is exceeding expections. Still, not enough votes there to close this widening gap for jones.
8:29: The latest:
— Jones won Perry County, but only at 58%. He should have done better there.
— Moore won Fayette County … but turn-out was down from 2014.
These tea leaves won’t stay still!
8:22 — Don’t celebrate too early, folks.
Remember what we said on Yellowhammer a few days ago: Jones could win this in the big cities (not in the rural Black Belt, like much of the national media assume).
There’s only 43 of 172 precincts reporting in Jefferson County. It’s a divserse county, but heavily Democratic, so there are still a great deal of Jones votes about to come in.
8:15 — The latest:
8:09 — The latest:
8:01 — Meanwhile, the rest of America is totally freaking out about this election. Whatever the results, I’m sorry to say we’ll have to deal with their nonsense for many more weeks, if not months. #tunethemout.
8 pm – The predictions markets (they take bets on who’ll win these things) have just gone strongly into Moore’s favor. He’s now at an 80% favorite to win.
7:56 – Well … Moore’s trouble in Limestone didn’t last. He’s now up by 24 points there … BEATING expectations. And he’s also beating expectations in Houston County. He’s up 28 there and only needed to be around 22 to perform well.
Too early to break open the bubbly at Moore HQ? (Sorry, folks. That’s a trick question … I don’t think the judge drinks)
7:55 — Early signs seemed to favor Jones. Now, Moore. I’ll provide another update when we cross 20% of precincts reporting (which is usually a good number to start taking them seriously).
7:51 — I’m already hearing chatter on Twitter about how, if Moore wins, the Democrats should complain about voter suppression. Good grief, will this nightmare of an election end already?
7:51 — The latest:
7:48 — Too early to worry for the GOP, but Moore should probably be doing better in Limestone County. We have about half of the vote in but he’s only up by 17 points. Based on past performance a Republican should be somewhere around 22-percent there.
7:45 — The lastest:
7:43 – Cullman County. From David Wassterman over at FiveThirtyEight:
“Some very early, very tentative good news for Jones: He received 31 percent of the vote in one Cullman County precinct. This is important because Hillary Clinton failed to receive more than 15 percent of the vote in any Cullman County precinct in 2016, save for one majority-black precinct that’s heavily Democratic. Coupled together with other rural precincts, Jones is holding his own in at least a few deep-red places.”
7:36 — More exit poll data:
— 89% of Jones supporters believe the allegations made against Moore.
— 86% of Moore supporters don’t believe them.
It seems politics in America is more of team sport these days than in the past.
But honestly, that last 11% of Jones supporters and 14% of Moore supports does say something positive, right? At least people can think differently.
7:34 — The exit poll data show that women had their minds made up the most. White women stuck with Roy Moore while black women went for Jones at a high rate, nearly 100%
7:23 — About 5,000 votes have been counted already … and a little more than 1.3 million to go. So don’t think any of these early results mean anything.
7:15 – Results of a CNN exit poll, turn out by race (if this is real, then that’s a very high turnout among blacks, I think):
WHITE – 65%
BLACK – 30%
LATINO – 3%
ASIAN – 0%
OTHER – 2%
7:11 — 1 of 2066 precincts reporting, and it’s Moore with 73% and Jones with 27% … must be Baldwin County!
7:00 – The polls just closed … and we’re near the end of this emotional election.
Nate Silver over at FiveThirtyEight has three good maps for us to remember as the results come in:
— FiveThirtyEight (@FiveThirtyEight) December 13, 2017
Check back for updates until the race is called.
How this conservative Alabamian voted this morning
I didn’t vote for Roy Moore because I believe at least some of those allegations are credible.
I didn’t vote for Doug Jones, either, because he supports what any just man would call infanticide.
And no, I didn’t waste it on a write-in candidate.
I did what I’ve done in every general election since I was 20-years old – I voted to advance the conservative movement by darkening the circle beside the Alabama Republican Party and voting a straight ticket.
My vote indeed went into Moore’s column, although indirectly, but he’s not what caused me to stand in line this cold morning and vote.
I voted to maintain the GOP’s majority in the U.S. Senate.
I voted to confirm judges and justices who’ll uphold the constitution.
But more than anything else, I voted for life … for the millions of unborn children who the Democratic Party has sacrificed on the altar of electoral expediency, and the millions more who’ll die because of that party’s callous indifference to the most innocent and vulnerable among us.
When I took my ballot and sat down to vote, I wasn’t thinking about the liberal media or Obamacare or tax cuts or foreign policy or immigration … or even Roy Moore.
I was thinking about how this nation treats unborn children, and how Doug Jones supports a law that every month allows thousands of them to be poisoned in their mother’s womb, have their little arms and legs ripped apart, before they are then thrown in the garbage.
That must stop.
That. Must. Stop.
So yes, I have twisted myself into a mental pretzel of rationalization this morning. That’s fair criticism, and I’m not happy about my vote in the slightest. In fact, I’m upset about this whole election, from the primary to the run-off and especially the general.
But even in the midst of this frustration, I’m not going to stand silent while Doug Jones supporters tell me that my vote went to someone who thought it was OK to hit on teenagers when he was in his 30s (awful).
Maybe it did.
But theirs went to a guy who thinks it’s OK to kill unborn babies (reprehensible).
I’ll wrestle with the moral implications of my vote for years.
(Agree? Disagree? Take this article over to social media and start a conversation with your family and friends)
Weather isn’t expected to impact today’s election in Alabama
It’s a beautiful way to end an ugly election: The weather isn’t expected to impact voter turn out at all.
It may be a little colder than usual in the northern part of Alabama, with highs in the 48-52 degree range, according to James Spann, but it’ll be sunny across the entire state.
No snow. No rain. No strong winds.
And no excuses.
“Bad rain is usually the biggest deterrent of voter turnout, because no one enjoys getting out in a thunderstorm,” said Brent Buchanan, founder of the Alabama-based political consulting firm Cygnal. “It can make quasi-interested voters skip an extra trip that day and dissuade older voters from making it to the polls.”
Historically, bad weather has hurt Democrats. One study found that Democrats could potentially lose nearly an entire percentage point for every inch of rain that fell on their voters.
Expect none of that reluctance today, though, especially in this highly charged campaign.
“Anyone who has decided to go vote … after a nasty race, intense national attention, and tens of millions of dollars spent will show up,” Buchanan said.
The Neocons wanted a nutball in NATO
Even interventionists are regretting some of the wars into which they helped plunge the United States in this century.
Among those wars are Afghanistan and Iraq, the longest in our history; Libya, which was left without a stable government; Syria’s civil war, a six-year human rights disaster we helped kick off by arming rebels to overthrow Bashar Assad; and Yemen, where a U.S.-backed Saudi bombing campaign and starvation blockade is causing a humanitarian catastrophe.
Yet, twice this century, the War Party was beaten back when seeking a clash with Putin’s Russia. And the “neo-isolationists” who won those arguments served America well.
What triggered this observation was an item on Page 1 of Wednesday’s New York Times that read in its entirety:
“Mikheil Saakashvili, former president of Georgia, led marchers through Kiev after threatening to jump from a five-story building to evade arrest. Page A4”
Who is Saakashvili? The wunderkind elected in 2004 in Tbilisi after a “Rose Revolution” we backed during George W. Bush’s crusade for global democracy.
During the Beijing Olympics in August 2008, Saakashvili sent his army crashing into the tiny enclave of South Ossetia, which had broken free of Georgia when Georgia broke free of Russia.
In overrunning the enclave, however, Saakashvili’s troops killed Russian peacekeepers. Big mistake. Within 24 hours, Putin’s tanks and troops were pouring through Roki Tunnel, running Saakashvili’s army out of South Ossetia, and occupying parts of Georgia itself.
As defeat loomed for the neocon hero, U.S. foreign policy elites were alive with denunciations of “Russian aggression” and calls to send in the 82nd Airborne, bring Georgia into NATO, and station U.S. forces in the Caucasus.
“We are all Georgians!” thundered John McCain.
Not quite. When an outcry arose against getting into a collision with Russia, Bush, reading the nation right, decided to confine U.S. protests to the nonviolent. A wise call.
And Saakashvili? He held power until 2013, and then saw his party defeated, was charged with corruption, and fled to Ukraine. There, President Boris Poroshenko, beneficiary of the Kiev coup the U.S. had backed in 2014, put him in charge of Odessa, one of the most corrupt provinces in a country rife with corruption.
In 2016, an exasperated Saakashvili quit, charged his patron Poroshenko with corruption, and fled Ukraine. In September, with a band of supporters, he made a forced entry back across the border.
Here is the Times’ Andrew Higgins on his latest antics:
“On Tuesday … Saakashvili, onetime darling of the West, took his high-wire political career to bizarre new heights when he climbed onto the roof of his five-story apartment building in the center of Kiev…
“As … hundreds of supporters gathered below, he shouted insults at Ukraine’s leaders … and threatened to jump if security agents tried to grab him.
“Dragged from the roof after denouncing Mr. Poroshenko as a traitor and a thief, the former Georgian leader was detained but then freed by his supporters, who … blocked a security service van before it could take Mr. Saakashvili to a Kiev detention center and allowed him to escape.
“With a Ukrainian flag draped across his shoulders and a pair of handcuffs still attached to one of his wrists, Mr. Saakashvili then led hundreds of supporters in a march across Kiev toward Parliament. Speaking through a bullhorn he called for ‘peaceful protests’ to remove Mr. Poroshenko from office, just as protests had toppled the former President, Victor F. Yanukovych, in February 2014.”
This reads like a script for a Peter Sellers movie in the ’60s.
Yet this clown was president of Georgia, for whose cause in South Ossetia some in our foreign policy elite thought we should go to the brink of war with Russia.
And there was broad support for bringing Georgia into NATO. This would have given Saakashvili an ability to ignite a confrontation with Russia, which could have forced U.S. intervention.
Consider Ukraine. Three years ago, McCain was declaring, in support of the overthrow of the elected pro-Russian government in Kiev, “We are all Ukrainians now.”
Following that coup, U.S. elites were urging us to confront Putin in Crimea, bring Ukraine, as well as Georgia, into NATO, and send Kiev the lethal weapons needed to defeat Russian-backed rebels in the East.
This could have led straight to a Ukraine-Russia war, precipitated by our sending of U.S. arms.
Do we really want to cede to folks of the temperament of Mikhail Saakashvili an ability to instigate a war with a nuclear-armed Russia, which every Cold War president was resolved to avoid, even if it meant accepting Moscow’s hegemony in Eastern Europe all the way to the Elbe?
Watching Saakashvili losing it in the streets of Kiev like some blitzed college student should cause us to reassess the stability of all these allies to whom we have ceded a capacity to drag us into war.
Alliances, after all, are the transmission belts of war.
Patrick J. Buchanan is the author of a new book, “Nixon’s White House Wars: The Battles That Made and Broke a President and Divided America Forever.”
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