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1 month ago

Andy Andrews: President George H.W. Bush memories

Yes, he was 94. Still, I am sad about the passing of President George H.W. Bush. What a great and honorable life he lived. And what a smile — in success and failure, despite the death of a child, and living an increasingly public life even after his presidency — this mostly because of two other children in politics.

I was honored to have spent a bit of time with this president. Not that anyone has asked, but my memories of President Bush include eating the “souse” (look it up) he had ordered to be served in The Blue room of The White House. I swear I can still taste it!

I remember once leaving a backstage area with my wife, Polly.

We’d been at The White House that afternoon and the president was in as happy a state of mind as, I suppose, anyone ever gets. The (first) Gulf War had been ended in 100 days—a stunning victory for our country with an unprecedented low number of American casualties.

That evening after speaking, Polly and I waved to a crowd of happy people as we got into a limo for the short ride back to the hotel. The crowd had been effusive with all eyes on the president and standing ovations for his every word or move.

That day, it had been announced that President Bush had an 89 percent approval rating. It was the highest any president had ever scored (FDR had come closest with an 83 percent in 1938).

Headed to the hotel, Polly and I marveled at the evening’s magic and listened to groups of onlookers chant “Bush! Bush!” as we rode by. A thought occurred to me and I spoke it aloud to my wife. I said, “Who will the Democrats even run against him in November? Nobody will accept the nomination. They’ll already know they haven’t a chance to win!”

Polly and I both remember well the words I spoke in that moment. 19 months later, the president lost badly to a previously unknown governor from Arkansas. And I’ve never since had faith in a public opinion poll.

Every year, whoever the president might be, there is an event called The President’s Charity held at Ford’s Theater for the preservation of that historic landmark. Traditionally, the president personally chooses the speaker, artist, entertainer — or all three — for the evening’s celebration.

One particular year, I was the only “spoken word artist” the president had chosen. The line-up included The Oak Ridge Boys, Randy Travis, Alan Jackson, Alabama, Garth Brooks…and me. My seven minutes was situated somewhere in the middle.

Honestly, I don’t remember who performed before me or after. I don’t even remember much of what I did that evening. I do, however, remember what happened as I began my remarks.

Actor John Ritter was the emcee for the event. I waited in the wings, listening as he introduced me. When the polite applause began, I walked on to the stage and realized that it was the first time I had even been in the theater. I saw immediately that there were two balconies. Glancing up and to the left, I spotted the draped box of eight seats where President Abraham Lincoln had been assassinated.

Moving to the center of the stage, I looked down and into the audience. One couldn’t help but notice the President of the United States in the very middle of the front row. He and Barbara were holding hands. To their left sat the Vice-President, Dan Quayle and his wife, Marilyn. To the president’s right, Morgan Freeman was seated.

The applause died away and for a moment, I said nothing. With eyes widened, I simply stared into that area of focus, front row, center seats. “I just have to say that I am really nervous with you here,” I said. No one moved. There was a frozen smile on the president’s face, but a tiny bit of uncertainty began to show.

I wiped my palms on the trouser legs of my tuxedo and took a tentative step forward, continuing to peer into the middle of the first row. The audience was eerily still now, everyone focused on what appeared to be happening, certain they were witnessing a disaster and hoping that for God’s sake, someone would come rescue this terrified young man.

I spoke again. “To think that I am here on this stage tonight, speaking for someone like you. You… conceivably the most powerful person on the planet at this time. And to think that, this evening… you let the president come, too, Mrs. Bush, is just amazing.”

For a long moment, time seemed to stand still, but in reality, there couldn’t have been more than a full second before the audience erupted. President Bush led the applause, laughing and pointing to his wife, The First Lady. She turned a shrugged to the audience as if to express, “What can I say?”

I just stood there, smiling and watching. It might have been the longest laugh I ever got from an audience in my entire career. However, I knew then and still know today, that while the “joke” might have been credited to me, “the moment” was enabled by the president of the United States, his First Lady, the incredible connection they had as a couple, and their sense of humor.

Andy Andrews new weekly podcast, “The Professional Noticer” is being broadcast from Orange Beach, Alabama, and already has listeners in 63 countries.  Subscribe for free on your favorite media platform or at AndyAndrews.com/Podcast.    

8 hours ago

Aderholt named ranking member of appropriations subcommittee critical to north Alabama’s economy

On Tuesday, Congressman Robert Aderholt (AL-4) was named ranking member of the House Appropriations Subcommittee on Commerce, Justice and Science, which funds NASA and the FBI, amongst other important economic engines.

In a statement, Aderholt said, “It is a great honor to be named the ranking member of the House Appropriations Subcommittee on Commerce, Justice and Science. This subcommittee is certainly important to America, but even more so for North Alabama.”

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“This subcommittee is directly responsible for funding NASA and the FBI, along with the Department of Commerce,” Aderholt explained. “The FBI and NASA are two very important agencies to the economy of not only Huntsville, but also the northern portion of our state. NASA, of course, has a long history in this region and gave rise to Huntsville’s name as the Rocket City. And in just the past few years, the FBI has built a presence on Redstone Arsenal and is in the process of growing to a level of approximately 4,000 jobs.”

The congressman concluded, “With my leadership on this subcommittee, I will work to ensure that North Alabama continues to lead as we return to the moon, put boots on Mars and travel into deep space. And with the FBI’s Hazardous Devices School, and growing footprint in North Alabama, I will also be a voice to let my colleagues know that North Alabama is in a prime position to be a hub for matters concerning our national security.”

Aderholt also serves on the powerful House Appropriations Committee.

Sean Ross is a staff writer for Yellowhammer News. You can follow him on Twitter @sean_yhn

9 hours ago

Is Doug Jones a foot soldier in the Democrat Civil War for taking a shot at liberal darling Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez?

If you are Sen. Doug Jones (D-AL) right now, you probably know you have almost no chance of being elected to a full term as a United State senator.

This obviously could change. Roy Moore could continue to crave the spotlight and enter a Republican primary field in 2020, but this is obviously a long-shot for him.

Complicating Jones’ life right now is a number of new Democratic members of the House of Representatives. They are outspoken, silly and contrary to the carefully crafted image Jones wants to sell to Alabama. Jones wants to be Mr. Moderate, a conservative-ish Democrat in the mold of former Congressman Bud Cramer (D-Huntsville), but he can’t do that if he is constantly dealing with a 24-hour news cycle where his fellow Democrats are acting nuts.

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Jones seems to know this, and the clearest way to distinguish himself from members like Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY) is to directly scold her to The Hill.

He said, “I think it skews what’s really there for the Democratic Party.”

Jones seems to want to differentiate himself from Ocasio-Cortez’s brand of non-stop Twitter trolling will endear her to the same media that can’t let a Trump tweet go without an analysis of its impact. But Jones didn’t stop there. He also thinks this style of bomb-throwing is ineffective politics.

“When it gets time to get things done, that’s what people are going to be looking at — they’re going to be looking at the middle-of-the-roaders because it’s the only way to get anything done,” Jones stated.

If recent history is any judge, Ocasio-Cortez will not let these comments slide without a response. The fight for the soul of the Democratic Party is on and Jones will likely find himself out-gunned and without many powerful allies.

In response to similar criticism from former Democratic vice presidential candidate Joe Lieberman (D-CT), Ocasio-Cortez responded with the following tweet:

Will Jones double-down or will he slink back to his backbench for fear of his party’s base if she hits back?

For now, Jones sounds like he thinks his voters want him to get stuff done, but considering that Jones’ main accomplishment at this point in his Senate career is his vote against now-Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh’s confirmation it is likely most Alabama voters would prefer he enjoys his time in Washington D.C. as a spectator before being sent home in 2020.

@TheDaleJackson is a contributing writer to Yellowhammer News and hosts a talk show from 7-11 am weekdays on WVNN

9 hours ago

Trump AG nominee: Sessions ‘probably did the right thing’ in recusing himself from Russia probe

Attorney General-nominee William Barr on Tuesday said Jeff Sessions “probably did the right thing” in recusing himself from the investigation into alleged collusion with Russia by the Trump campaign, according to The Washington Post.

Barr previously served as attorney general from 1991-1993. During his confirmation hearing before the Senate Judiciary Committee, Barr was asked by committee chair Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) about Sessions’ decision to recuse himself from the probe because he was involved in the Trump campaign.

“I am not sure of all of the facts, but I think he probably did the right thing recusing himself,” Barr said.

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This came the day after Sessions attended Alabama’s Inaugural Day festivities, including the swearing-in ceremony for all statewide elected officials and reception for state Attorney General Steve Marshall.

During Marshall’s event in the attorney general’s office building, Sessions said, “Do the right thing every day and usually things will work out… [well,] not always.”

After the laughter of the room started to subside, he added, “At least in the United States, when they fire you, they don’t shoot you like they do in some countries.”

Sessions’ relationship with President Donald Trump was eroded by the recusal and the president’s public attacks on both that decision and Sessions personally. He resigned at the request of the president in November.

Sean Ross is a staff writer for Yellowhammer News. You can follow him on Twitter @sean_yhn

10 hours ago

State Sen. Gerald Allen responds to judge striking down Alabama Memorial Preservation Act — ‘Judges are not kings’

On Tuesday afternoon, State Senator Gerald Allen (R-Tuscaloosa), the sponsor of the Alabama Memorial Preservation Act, criticized Jefferson County Circuit Judge Michael Graffeo’s ruling that the law is unconstitutional.

Graffeo made the ruling Monday.

“Under the Constitution, judges are to be neutral umpires who apply the rule of law fairly,” Allen said in a statement. “A judge’s personal beliefs, whether about politics, sociology, or history, have no bearing on how he is to apply the law.”

He continued, “Judge Graffeo has taken it upon himself to know and declare that it is ‘undisputed’ that the majority of residents of Birmingham are ‘repulsed’ by the Linn Park monument, and has thus ruled the Alabama Memorial Preservation Act void. But judges are not kings, and judicial activism is no substitute for the democratic process.”

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“The Memorial Preservation Act is meant to thoughtfully preserve the entire story of Alabama’s history for future generations. The law was vigorously debated for months by the people of Alabama’s duly-elected representatives in the State Legislature, and passed with overwhelming majorities in both the House and Senate,” Allen advised.

He concluded, “The Attorney General’s Office is confident that the Memorial Preservation Act is constitutional, and I look forward to the Attorney General’s appeal of Judge Graffeo’s ruling.”

Sean Ross is a staff writer for Yellowhammer News. You can follow him on Twitter @sean_yhn

11 hours ago

Judge voids Alabama law protecting Confederate monuments

A judge has overturned an Alabama law meant to prevent the removal of Confederate monuments from public property, ruling the act infringed on the rights of citizens in a mostly black city who are “repulsed” by the memorial.

The 10-page ruling issued late Monday by Jefferson County Circuit Judge Michael Graffeo said a 2017 state law barring the removal or alteration of historical monuments wrongly violated the free speech rights of local communities.

The law cannot be enforced, Graffeo ruled, but the state could still appeal.

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The attorney general’s comment had no immediate response to an email seeking comment Tuesday.

The state sued the city of Birmingham after officials tried to remove a 52-foot-tall (16-meter)-tall obelisk that was erected to honor Confederate veterans in a downtown park in 1905.

Rather than toppling the stone marker, the city built a 12-foot (3.6-meter)-tall wooden box around it.

Birmingham’s population of 210,000 is more than 70 percent black, and the judge said it was indisputable that most citizens are “repulsed” by the memorial.

He rejected the state’s claims that lawmakers had the power to protect historical monuments statewide.

The law includes a $25,000 penalty for removing or altering a historical monument, but the judge said the penalty was unconstitutional.

The city has not had to pay while the lawsuit worked its way through court.

The ruling came hours after the inauguration of Republican Gov. Kay Ivey, who signed the law and opened her campaign last year with a commercial that prominently showed Confederate monuments.

“We can’t change or erase our history, but here in Alabama we know something that Washington doesn’t. To get where we are going means understanding where we have been,” Ivey said in the ad.

Supporters of the law contend it protects not just Confederate memorials but historical markers of any kind, but rebel memorials have been an issue nationwide since a white supremacist gunman killed nine worshippers in a black church in Charleston, South Carolina, in 2015.
(Associated Press, copyright 2018)

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