4 months ago

Pat Buchanan: Why Roy Moore matters



Why would Christian conservatives in good conscience go to the polls Dec. 12 and vote for Judge Roy Moore, despite the charges of sexual misconduct with teenagers leveled against him?

Answer: That Alabama Senate race could determine whether Roe v. Wade is overturned. The lives of millions of unborn may be the stakes.

Republicans now hold 52 Senate seats. If Democrats pick up the Alabama seat, they need only two more to recapture the Senate, and with it the power to kill any conservative court nominee, as they killed Robert Bork.

Today, the GOP, holding Congress and the White House, has a narrow path to capture the Third Branch, the Supreme Court, and to dominate the federal courts for a decade. For this historic opportunity, the party can thank two senators, one retired, the other still sitting.

The first is former Democratic Majority Leader Harry Reid of Nevada.

In 2013, Harry exercised the “nuclear option,” abolishing the filibuster for President Obama’s judicial nominees. The Senate no longer needed 60 votes to confirm judges. Fifty-one Senate votes could cut off debate, and confirm.

Iowa’s Chuck Grassley warned Harry against stripping the minority of its filibuster power. Such a move may come back to bite you, he told Harry. Grassley is now judiciary committee chairman.

And this year a GOP Senate voted to use the nuclear option to shut down a filibuster of Supreme Court nominee Neil Gorsuch, who was then confirmed with 55 votes.

Yet the Democratic minority still had one card to play to block President Trump’s nominees — the “blue slip courtesy.”

If a senator from the state where a federal judicial nominee resides asks for a hold on proceedings, by not returning a blue slip, the judiciary committee has traditionally honored that request and not held hearings.

Sen. Al Franken of Minnesota used the blue slip to block the Trump nomination of David Stras of Minnesota to the 8th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals. Franken calls Stras too ideological, too conservative.

But Grassley has now decided to reject the blue slip courtesy for appellate court judges, since their jurisdiction is not just over a single state like Minnesota, but over an entire region.

Thus have the skids been greased for a conservative recapture of the federal judiciary unseen since the early days of FDR.

Eighteen of the 179 seats on the U.S. appellate courts and 119 of the 677 seats on federal district courts are already open. More will be opening up. No president in decades has seen the opportunity Trump has to remake the federal judiciary.

Not only are the federal court vacancies almost unprecedented, a GOP Senate and Trump are working in harness to fill them before January 2019, when a new Congress is sworn in.

If Republicans blow this opportunity, it is unlikely to come again. For the Supreme Court has seemed within Republican grasp before, only to have it slip away because of presidential errors.

Nixon had four nominees to the Supreme Court confirmed and Gerald Ford saw his nominee, John Paul Stevens, unanimously confirmed. But of those five justices confirmed from 1969 to 1976, Stevens and Harry Blackmun joined the liberal bloc, and Chief Justice Warren Burger and Lewis Powell voted for Roe v. Wade.

Of Reagan’s three Supreme Court nominees confirmed, Sandra Day O’Connor and Anthony Kennedy cast crucial votes in 5-4 decisions to defeat the strict constructionists led by Antonin Scalia.

George H.W. Bush named Clarence Thomas to the court, but only after he had elevated David Souter, who also joined the liberal bloc.

Hence, both Trump, by whom he nominates, and a Republican Senate, with its power to confirm with 51 votes, are indispensable if we are to end judicial dictatorship in America.

And 2018 is the crucial year.

While Democrats, with 25 Senate seats at risk, would seem to be facing more certain losses than the GOP, with one-third as many seats at stake, history teaches that the first off-year election of Trump could prove a disaster.

Consider. Though Ike ended the Korean War in his first year, he lost both Houses of Congress in his second. Reagan enacted one of the great tax cuts in history in his first year, and then lost 26 seats in the House in his second.

Bill Clinton lost control of both the House and Senate in his first off-year election. Barack Obama in 2010 lost six Senate seats and 54 seats and control of the House. And both presidents were more popular than Trump is today.

If the election in Virginia this year is a harbinger of what is to come, GOP control of Congress could be washed away in a tidal wave in 2018.

Hence, this coming year may be a do-or-die year to recapture the Third Branch of Government for conservatism.
Which is why that Dec. 12 election in Alabama counts.

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.”


34 mins ago

Alabama House rejects bill to track race in traffic stops

Alabama lawmakers on Thursday refused to debate legislation that would have required police officers to collect data about race and traffic stops.

The bill sought to require police agencies to record data about the race and ethnicity of stopped motorists. The Alabama Senate had unanimously approved the measure, but it hit a roadblock in the Alabama House of Representatives.


Representatives in the GOP-controlled House overwhelmingly voted down a procedural measure needed to bring the bill up for debate. The House vote was largely split along racial and party lines. Only five Republicans voted for the measure.

“After the vote, Democratic Rep. Merika Coleman from Pleasant Grove said lawmakers were sending a message that, “Bama is still backwards.”

Coleman said the bill collects data to determine if there are problems.

“When you vote against a bill that simply collects data, just data on who is being stopped, why they are being stopped and who is stopping them, there is something wrong with that,” Coleman said.

African-American lawmakers had shared stories of being stopped by police during debate on the bill as it moved through the Alabama Legislature.

The bill’s defeat sparked a filibuster by African-American legislators and threatened to cloud the remainder of the session. It eroded warm feelings that had filled the chamber moments earlier when lawmakers broke out in applause after voting to create a state holiday honoring civil rights icon honoring Rosa Parks.

The bill drew opposition from some law enforcement representatives who said departments already have policies against racial profiling and the bill would require additional paperwork.

Rep. Connie Rowe, a former police chief, said she was concerned that officers, assigned to work in mostly minority neighborhoods, could wrongly appear to be targeting minorities if the data was collected.

Rep. Allen Farley, a former assistant Jefferson County sheriff, was one of the Republicans who voted for the bill.

“This to me protects the good guys,” Farley, a Republican from McCalla, said. Farley said bad officers need to be identified.

House Speaker Mac McCutcheon, who voted against the bill, said he wanted to meet with lawmakers to see if they could work out a compromise plan.

(Associated Press, copyright 2018)

Jeana Ross is a 2018 Yellowhammer Woman of Impact

An Alabama program called First Class Pre-K is seeing such extraordinary results that Harvard University is producing a documentary about the effort and more than 30,000 four-year-olds were pre-registered last year in hopes of snagging one of the less than 17,000 available spots state-wide.

The program is overseen by Alabama Secretary of Early Education Jeana Ross, a 2018 Yellowhammer Woman of Impact, who has seen First Class Pre-K’s attendance increase by 374 percent under her leadership, while maintaining the highest possible ranking for quality by the National Institute for Early Education Research (NIEER).

Alabama hosts the program in more than 950 classrooms statewide and is one of only two states to meet all 10 of the institute’s quality benchmarks.


Ross told Yellowhammer News that the most rewarding part of her work is seeing firsthand the impact that skilled teachers can make, inspiring “a sense of wonder, joy, creativity, achievement and success” in a student’s learning.

“I care about children and their right to reach their greatest potential,” Ross said. “Education can and should provide children a powerful opportunity to find purpose and success for their future lives.”

Studies measuring results from tests such as the Alabama Reading and Math Test and the ACT found that First Class Pre-K alumni outperformed their peers who did not attend the program, according to the Alabama School Readiness Alliance.

Ross helped secure a $77.5 million preschool development grant to help fund the state-funded program, which also requires local communities to provide at least 25 percent of the funding to participate.

Also under her leadership, the Office of Early Learning and Family Support division of her department has expanded to serve 4,289 vulnerable families and children through more than $12 million in federal awards.

In all, Ross has led her department in writing and receiving federal grant awards totaling more than $100 million.

She attributes much of her success to the partnerships she has built with other groups serving children and families in Alabama to build a cohesive support system.

“My success has been achieved in a collective effort of devoted educators who, regardless of pay or recognition, work to create experiences where children enjoy through natural curiosity and joyful exploration a love of learning that lasts a lifetime,” Ross said.

Ross is a member of Governor Kay Ivey’s cabinet and was appointed by Governor Bentley in 2012. She advises the governor and state legislature in matters relating to the coordination of services for children under the age of 19 and, among her divisions, also oversees the Children’s Policy Councils, the Children First Trust Fund and the Head Start Collaboration office.

Ross previously served in a variety of education roles in Alabama, including as a central office administrator, assistant principal and classroom teacher. She holds a master’s degree in education leadership from the University of Alabama and a bachelor’s degree in early childhood education from UAB.

“My hope for education in Alabama is for every child to have a competent, sensitive and responsive teacher every day, every year,” Ross said.

As other states look to Ross’s success in Alabama’s early education, she offered three recommendations in a 2017 U.S. Department of Education interview:

“Set high-quality standards, communicate what those are, and demonstrate what they look like; involve parents, businesses and industry leaders in the initiative; and provide supports such as coaching and monitoring to maintain quality,” she said.

Ross and her husband live in Guntersville and Montgomery and have two adult sons and two grandchildren.

Join Ross 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.

Rachel Blackmon Bryars is managing editor of Yellowhammer News.

2 hours ago

Reward offered in 6-year-old case of Baby Jane Doe

Police found the bones of a little girl six years ago in an Alabama trailer park right next to a long-sleeve pink shirt with heart buttons and a ruffled neckline.

The unidentified girl in the unsolved homicide case has been dubbed Baby Jane Doe. The Lee County District Attorney’s Office announced Thursday up to a $5,000 reward for information leading to an involved person’s conviction.


Lee County District Attorney Brandon Hughes says authorities can begin holding perpetrators accountable once the child is identified.

Opelika Detective Sgt. Alfred White says they have the child’s DNA, but nothing to compare it to. The Opelika-Auburn News reports that police suspect the girl suffered abuse and malnutrition. Police Chief John McEachern says the girl could have easily spent her entire life in captivity.

(Associated Press, copyright 2018)

2 hours ago

Alabama Secretary of State to Facebook: ‘Don’t say you helped us with something if you didn’t help’

Secretary of State John Merrill challenged Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg’s revelation that his company helped disrupt the spreading of false information during Alabama’s special U.S. Senate election last December, telling Yellowhammer News that he has been shown no evidence to support Zuckerberg’s claim.

In an interview published Thursday, Zuckerberg revealed to the New York Times that his company targeted and eliminated a “significant number of fake Macedonian accounts that were trying to spread false news” about Alabama’s election.

Merrill’s office spoke with Facebook’s Government and Politics Team on Thursday to follow up about Zuckerberg’s claims.


“We said, ‘we don’t know what you’re talking about.’ We wanted one specific example,” Merrill said.

Just a week before the election in December, a deceptive campaign ad implying that voters’ ballot selections would be made public was spread on Google and Facebook. Merrill’s office contacted both Google and Facebook and asked for the ad to be removed. Google removed it, but Facebook did not.

Merrill said Facebook never responded about the ad.

“We believe that people in each state need to have accurate information that’s truthful,” Merrill said. “If [Facebook] can’t use their platform for that, they shouldn’t allow that kind of content be published.”

He continued, “For future races, I think it’s important that Facebook be available to address serious issues, for candidates, for officials, and be responsive in that they hear what the accusations are and evaluate merits of the claim.”

Facebook is receiving pressure from all sides after recent reports revealed that it allowed Cambridge Analytica, a private data firm associated with President Donald Trump’s campaign, to mine data of more than 50 million of the platform’s users without their permission.

Merrill said that he hopes the pressure will lead to some change.

“I think they’ll be more responsive,” he said. “The people will hold them more accountable. I hope people will hold them more accountable.”

@jeremywbeaman is a contributing writer for Yellowhammer News

3 hours ago

Lawsuit over HealthSouth fraud cleared to move forward

The Alabama Supreme Court says one-time employees of the old HealthSouth Corp. can move ahead with a lawsuit over the fraud that nearly wrecked the Birmingham-based company.

The justices overturned a lower court decision blocking the lawsuit in a decision Friday.


HealthSouth survived a massive fraud scandal in the early 2000s that resulted in the ouster of founder Richard Scrushy. The company now calls itself Encompass Health.

One-time employee shareholders filed suit in 2003 over the fraud, but the case was delayed 11 years. The court now says the latest version of the lawsuit is related to the original complaint and can go forward.

Encompass Health operates 127 hospitals and 237 home health and hospice locations in 36 states and Puerto Rico.

(Associated Press, copyright 2018)