4 months ago

Quin Hillyer: On Moore mess, both sides bloviate



An unbecoming hysteria continues on both sides of the Roy Moore debate, and our civic life is made worse by it.

Witness a recent column against Moore by the liberal but usually thoughtful Kyle Whitmire of al.com, and witness the outlandish conspiracy-mongering in defense of Moore by Alabama Senate President Pro-Tem Del Marsh. Both of them detract from, rather than adding to, reasonable discourse about the allegations against Moore. Indeed, both are virtually poisonous.

Rather than summarize Whitmire, I’ll quote the key set-up in his column, at length:

First, read his book. In it, Moore describes how he met his wife at a Christmas party hosted by friends. He would have been 37. She was 23.

“Many years before, I had attended a dance recital at Gadsden State Junior College,” Moore wrote. “I remembered one of the special dances performed by a young woman whose first and last names began with the letter ‘K.’ It was something I had never forgotten. Could that young woman have been Kayla Kisor?”

Moore later determined that it was.

“Long afterward, I would learn that Kayla had, in fact, performed a special dance routine at Gadsden State years before,” he wrote.

Take a second to think about what’s being said here. Moore first took notice of Kayla at a dance recital?

And Whitmire’s point is – exactly what?

Whitmire notes that Moore later said the recital in question had been nearly eight years earlier, meaning he had been 29 and Kayla 16. From there, he makes the bizarre leap of logic, accompanied by outrageous innuendo, that somehow this shows Moore had been lusting after the 16 old dancer – or something creepy like that.

This innuendo is utterly without foundation, and should never have been published in a legitimate news outlet.

If one takes Moore’s account at face value, entirely apart from the allegations of the past two weeks, then the immediate and ordinary interpretation of it would be entirely innocent. Moore was at a high school dance recital, was impressed by one of the dancers, and realized eight years later that the woman he had just met was that dancer from all those years ago. So what?

Has Whitmire, as an adult, never attended a dance recital by high schoolers, or some other such event? Does he not have nieces? Or has he never had a friend who had nieces, or much younger sisters, who had to make an appearance at the niece’s or sister’s event before the two young men dashed off to the football game or their buddy’s barbeque party?

The potential number of perfectly innocent explanations for attending an event featuring high school girls is large. And one can be completely impressed with one of the dancers, or the actresses in a school play – “wow, that girl is lovely, and she is truly talented!” – without any sexual implications. If a performer really “steals the show,” it wouldn’t even be unusual to vaguely remember it seven or eight years later, or to remember that the terrific performer’s first and last names began with the same letter.

And there are approximately gazillions of stories out there about couples with semi-significant age differences, such as Roy Moore’s 37 to Kayla’s 23, who fell in love and created wonderful marriages. Last I checked, there isn’t a single thing immoral about such relationships. Nor is there anything wrong with marrying a girl you first saw in a different context when she was 16 and then met in person only years later when she was a fully mature, poised and self-reliant adult. And last I checked, the Moores appear to have created a happy, loving marriage for something like 32 years, and seem utterly devoted to each other. To cast aspersions on the beginnings of that marriage, based on a tendentious interpretation of a fond reminiscence relayed by the judge years later, is inexcusable.

It’s potential evidence of Anti-Moore Derangement Syndrome.

On the other hand, there is also the Circle the Wagons Derangement Syndrome, or maybe the Hate the Media Derangement Syndrome. This is the idea that if allegations against “one of us” are reported by “one of them” – one of the dreaded outlets of the Elite Media, surely put up to it by that dastardly Mitch McConnell or maybe even the Trilateral Commission or the Illuminati – then the subject of the allegations must be defended at all costs while the charges themselves are ascribed to a massive and evil conspiracy.

Yes, it’s the reverse-mirror image of Hillary Clinton’s supposed Vast Right Wing Conspiracy. And it’s just as fanciful, just as false, and just as paranoid as Clinton’s was.

The last person who should be feeding such paranoid conspiracy theories is the President of the state Senate. But that’s what Del Marsh has been doing.

“I think there are question marks as to is this part of a, I hate to say, Washington conspiracy,” Marsh told the excellent Jeff Poor of Breitbart News.

Why not stop at Washington? Why not call it an international conspiracy? Surely all the usual suspects are all involved: Jeff Bezos, George Soros, Ted Cruz’ father, Barack Obama’s birth-certificate forger, a Pulitzer-Prize-quality team of reporters from the Washington Post, the real killer of Nicole Brown Simpson, and no doubt Keyser Söze himself, who after all was portrayed by the now-disgraced Kevin Spacey.

The conspiracy has such power that it invented 30 independent sources for the first Post story, many recalling specific factoids from 38 years ago whose accuracy could be checked, and then convinced numerous other sources to tell similar tales independently to a significant array of other independent news organs. No doubt it was the same conspiracy that really shot down Malaysia Airlines Flight 370 and sent the iceberg into the path of the Titanic….

Marsh is peddling pure paranoia. As I, a confirmed basher of the liberal media for 40 years, explained in an earlier column, this is not how journalism works – not even from self-appointed elite, East Coast outlets. The Post, I wrote, employs “many stages of review,” and even if its reporters “may make errors on details, as humans often do…, they don’t just make things up, nor do they publish things they don’t fully believe are true.”

We do not know if the allegations, or even some of the allegations, against Judge Moore are true. But by every reasonable measure, many of them are credible – a different standard than “true” – upon first and second review. Some of them involve gray areas of sexual or romantic ethics, and thus are of lesser import; but a few of them, if true, are extremely serious charges that merit sober and serious assessment.

The state Senate leader should be providing such sober leadership, calming the waters so that evidence and reason and context and fair-minded judgment can have time to assert themselves. Instead, Marsh is feeding a toxic atmosphere of unreason and hyper-cynicism, unmoored from and even dangerously contemptuous of empiricism and careful logic….

So, again, let’s all take deep breaths, stop rushing to judgment, and stop feeding the hysteria. Roy Moore isn’t guilty of pedophilia just because he first laid eyes on his now-wife when she was in high school. Nor are the Freemasons and the Yale Skull and Bones Society bribing dozens of people to smear the judge.

Reasoned restraint from opinion leaders and elected leaders, not more chum for the feeding frenzy, should be the order of the day.

 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.

7 mins ago

Debbie Long is a 2018 Yellowhammer Woman of Impact

This summer, Debbie Long will call it a career at Protective Life Corp.

What a career it has been.

Long, who also is a 2018 Yellowhammer Woman of Impact, served as executive vice president, chief legal officer and corporate secretary of the insurance company before taking on a part-time advisory role this year. She is one of Alabama’s highest-paid female executives.


Long also has been a big contributor to her community.

Long told Business Alabama in 2012 that she always wanted to be a lawyer, although first she had idealistic visions of saving the world. After graduating in 1980 from the University of Alabama Law School and then clerking for a federal appeals court Judge Frank Johnson, she went to work for a law firm and practiced corporate law.

“Although I hadn’t initially wanted to practice business law, I found I loved it,” she told the publication.

Long left the firm along with several other lawyers to help form the powerhouse Birmingham firm of Maynard, Cooper and Gale.

In 1992, Long joined the board of Protective Life as general counsel of the insurance company.

Long told Business Alabama that her advice to would-be business leaders would be to stay open to opportunities that might come along at unexpected times.

“It’s very doubtful that someone’s going to come to you early in your career and say, ‘I want to be your mentor,’” she said. “It’s far more likely you will meet people along the way who will give you great advice if you are open to receiving it. Someone at a cocktail party might say something that could change your life.”

Long has been active in the larger business community. She has served as chairwoman of the Business Council of Alabama’s Judicial and Legal Reform Committee and also has worked on the Tax and Fiscal Policy Committee, the Federal Affairs Committee and on the board of ProgressPAC — the lobby’s political action committee.

Last year, the BCA honored her with the Robert W. “Bubba” Lee Political Courage Award, given each year to someone who is willing to take the right position regardless of cost.

“She has shown through her support that she cares about the Alabama business community and she values the role we play and the jobs we create,” BCA Chairman Perry Hand said at the time. “She has been a distinguished member of the Alabama and Birmingham business communities for nearly three decades.”

Her charitable endeavors include Big Brothers/Big Sisters of Greater Birmingham, the YWCA of Birmingham, Oasis Women’s Counseling Center, the Birmingham Museum of Art and Partners in Neighborhood Growth Inc.

In addition, she serves on the Alabama Women’s Commission and the Public Affairs Research Council of Alabama, as well as The Fellows program of the American Bar Foundation.

“It is her commitment to excellence that has made her such a valuable asset to Alabama’s business community, and there are few individuals more dedicated to our corporate community, the rule of law, and the political arena than Debbie Long,” Hand said last year.

Join Long and special guests from across the state for a Birmingham awards event March 29 honoring the 20 Yellowhammer Women of Impact whose powerful contributions advance Alabama. Details and registration may be found here.

@BrendanKKirby is a senior political reporter at LifeZette and author of “Wicked Mobile.”

23 mins ago

Alabama Rural Broadband Act on governor’s desk

A bill that would provide grants to aid rural broadband expansion is on Gov. Kay Ivey’s desk.

The legislation was delivered to the Capitol on Wednesday afternoon after the Senate adopted changes to the Alabama Rural Broadband Act previously made in the House.

Originally conceived as a bill that would offer tax incentives to companies to provide high-speed internet services to some of the state’s more remote areas, the bill was changed to offer grants instead. Projects that would provide speeds of 25 megabits per second down and 3 megabits per second up would be eligible for $1.4 million per project, while projects providing minimum speeds of 10/1 could get $750,000 each.


The bill is expected to provide $10 million annually, with the program being administered by the Alabama Department of Economic and Community Affairs. Private providers and cooperatives would be eligible for the money, but government entities would not.

The sponsor, Sen. Clay Scofield (R-Guntersville), wanted to give providers tax credits for providing broadband rather than cash. The bill still has safeguards in place – the money won’t be received upfront and a legislative committee would monitor the program for effectiveness.

Scofield couldn’t be reached for comment this week.

Ivey is expected to sign the bill after speaking about the need for such programs in her January State of the State speech. The legislation sailed through the Alabama Legislature, receiving unanimous yes votes in the House on Tuesday and in the Senate concurrence vote on Wednesday.

Speaker of the House Mac McCutcheon (R-Monrovia), said grants are better for taxpayers.

“It’s more transparent and gives us more accountability,” he said.

In reality, both funding mechanisms have been dismissed by critics. The MacIver Institute said in a 2014 report that incentives can actually hurt economic growth, while Obama’s stimulus grant program was one of the more stark examples of grant largesse.

Alabama lawmakers hope their broadband plan goes hand-in-hand with a proposal from President Trump to spend an immediate $200 billion and long-term $1.5 trillion on infrastructure improvements. Trump hopes to spur more public-private partnerships – so-called P3s – with his proposal to help state and local governments shoulder more of the load. But his plan has faced criticism on both sides – Democrats aren’t fans of the president’s goal to put more costs on the states, while many Republicans say the plan calls for too much spending and haven’t exactly deemed it a high priority this session.

Some on both sides have criticized the lack of any guaranteed funds for broadband, although the plan cites high-speed internet as an infrastructure priority. There are concerns that federal broadband grants could accelerate the growth of government internet projects, which have largely been a sinkhole for taxpayer money.

52 mins ago

Alabama Committee approves ethics exemption for economic developers

An Alabama Senate committee has approved legislation, pushed by the state’s top industry recruiter, to exempt professional economic developers from the state ethics law.

The Fiscal Responsibility and Economic Development Committee approved the House-passed bill Wednesday on a 10-2 vote. It now moves to the Senate floor.


The proposal would exempt professional economic developers from the rules that govern lobbyists. The rules include registering with the state, undergoing yearly training and reporting activity.

Alabama Commerce Secretary Greg Canfield has said professional site developers, who help businesses decide where to locate, will not work in Alabama if they must register as lobbyists.

Ethics Commission Executive Director Tom Albritton has expressed concern about exempting a group of people, whose primary job involves interacting with government officials, from the state ethics law.

(Associated Press, copyright 2018)

Human trafficking bill that would impose severe penalties for obstruction is step closer to becoming law

Anyone who obstructs a human trafficking investigation in Alabama could be met with the same penalties as the traffickers if the governor signs a bill that passed the House this week with near unanimous support.

The bill, which already passed the Senate, increases penalties in place for those who obstruct, interfere with, prevent, or otherwise get in the way of law enforcement’s investigation into the practice that includes child sex trafficking.

Under current law, such obstruction is only a Class C felony and could result in just one year in prison. The new legislation would increase the maximum offense to a Class A felony, with a minimum jail sentence of ten years.


Senator Cam Ward (R-Alabaster) sponsored the bill and said he is proud that the Alabama Legislature made this a priority.

“This week we’ve taken another crucial step in ending this horrific practice,” Ward said in a statement. “By increasing penalties for those who would aid traffickers, we will hold them just as accountable as the traffickers themselves.”

Human trafficking victims are often children who are trafficked into sexual exploitation at an average age between 11-14 years old, according to the Alabama Human Trafficking Task Force.

“Most people assume, ‘Well, that doesn’t happen in my backyard,’” Ward said in an interview with Yellowhammer News when the bill was first introduced. “…It’s everywhere in our state, but there’s low awareness as to how bad it really is.”

Just this week, a Decatur man pled guilty to child sex trafficking and other charges related to his plan to kidnap, rape and kill a mother and sell her 14-year-old daughter to a Memphis pimp, according to horrifying details reported by the Decatur Daily.

Brian David “Blaze” Boersma’s plan was thwarted because an informant, who Boersma recruited to help him with his plan, alerted the FBI.

“Oftentimes it’s like what we say with terrorism,” Ward said. “If you see something suspicious, tell somebody, because a lot of times, trafficking can take place right underneath our noses in our communities.”

The legislation to increase penalties for obstructing human trafficking investigations was delivered to Governor Kay Ivey for her signature Wednesday afternoon.

Rachel Blackmon Bryars is managing editor of Yellowhammer News.

Bill funds ‘active shooter’ training for local law enforcement, school faculty and staff, and students

For much of the year, the safety of our students rests in the hands of the faculty, staff, and resource officers at our schools.  Without a shadow of a doubt, the people who know best how to protect our schools are the teachers, parents, administrators, police officers, and students in their own communities.

In February, the tragic shooting in Parkland, Florida resonated throughout our communities, highlighting a disturbing trend of individuals who clearly show signs of grave mental instability falling through the cracks.

Sadly, this incident likely could have been avoided had there been better oversight at every level of law enforcement. From the top down, we failed these students by not heeding the warning signs and working together as a team to ensure our students’ safety.


In response to this incident, the House recently passed the Student, Teacher’s Officer’s Prevention (STOP) School Violence Act, which Bill  to help identify and prevent school violence before these tragic events occur.

First, the STOP School Violence Act provides funding for training to prevent student violence, including training for local law enforcement officers, school personnel, and students in the event of an emergency.  This training would be designed to give students and school personnel the ability to recognize and respond quickly to warning signs of violent behavior and would include active shooter training.

Second, the bill provides funding for technology and equipment to improve school security.  This includes the development and operation of anonymous reporting systems, as well as the installation of metal detectors, locks, and other preventative technologies to keep schools secure.

The legislation also authorizes funding for school threat assessment and crisis intervention teams for school personnel to respond to threats before they become real-time incidents.  Recognizing the warning signs of violent, threatening behavior and having the proper resources to address it on the front end can prevent these tragedies from ever occurring.

Finally, the STOP School Violence Act provides funding to support law enforcement coordination efforts, particularly the officers who already staff schools.  From the federal level all the way down to our local law enforcement, we need to ensure there is accountability and communication when handling violent behavior.

Many of our local schools are already reevaluating their security measures and taking additional steps to promote a safe learning environment for our students.  Our students’ safety and security should always remain a top priority, and I believe it is imperative that our local schools have the most appropriate resources in place in the event of an emergency.

As we look for ways to prevent these terrible tragedies, I am open to additional solutions to address the underlying issues that cause these events to occur.  That said, I remain steadfastly committed to upholding the individual right of all law-abiding Americans to keep and bear arms.  Millions of Americans should not have their Second Amendment rights infringed upon due to the bad actions of a few individuals.

Rather, I believe we should focus on addressing mental health issues and combatting the role of violence in our modern culture, such as the prevalence of violent video games that normalize this behavior for our young students, and promoting commonsense solutions that will address the larger issues of mental health so that those with mental illness do not fall through the cracks.

There is still work to be done to ensure each child’s safety and well-being while attending classes. However, I am proud that we have taken this action in the House to promote a safe, secure learning environment for our children.

U.S. Rep. Bradley Byrne is a Republican from Fairhope. 

(Image: File)