The Wire

  • Rep. Byrne to Hold 12 Town Hall Meetings

    From a Congressman Bradley Byrne news release:

    Congressman Bradley Byrne (R-AL) announced today that he will hold twelve town hall meetings during the August District Work Period.

    Known as the “Better Off Now” Town Hall Tour, Congressman Byrne will hold public town halls in each of the counties that make up Alabama’s First Congressional District. Byrne will discuss how the American people are better off now thanks to a booming economy, stronger military, and safer communities.

    Byrne ranks among the top of all Members of Congress for the number of town hall meetings held. Since assuming office in late 2013, Byrne has held over 100 town hall meetings, including meetings over the phone and through Facebook.

    All the town hall meetings are open to the public and free to attend. All the information can be found online below.

  • HudsonAlpha technology director to present at Google Cloud conference

    Excerpt from a HudsonAlpha news release:

    HudsonAlpha Institute for Biotechnology Technology Director Katreena Mullican has been invited to present at the Google Next ‘18 conference in San Francisco, Calif, July 24-26.

    Google Next is an international conference where more than 10,000 developers, technology leaders, and entrepreneurs come together to have a collaborative discussion about the Google Cloud Platform.

    Mullican has more than 20 years of experience in architecting Linux, virtualization and hybrid cloud solutions. As HudsonAlpha’s Cloud Whisperer, Mullican brings her expertise in automation of on-prem composable and public cloud infrastructure for scientific applications and workflows to the Institute.

    “HudsonAlpha is one of the top sequencing centers in the world, so it’s my job to think outside the box to design hybrid platforms appropriate for our sequencing and research workloads,” said Mullican.

    Mullican will participate in a Hewlett Packard Enterprise (HPE) Cloud Talk Tuesday at 1:00 pm in the South Hall to discuss how HudsonAlpha uses the composable HPE Synergy platform for an on-premises Kubernetes cluster that can scale to Google Cloud Platform.

  • Tabitha Isner claims Russia hacked campaign website — ‘Russian meddling in U.S. elections continues to be a real and immediate threat’

    Excerpt:

    Late Thursday afternoon, Democratic congressional hopeful Tabitha Isner issued a press release claiming “incidents of ‘brute force attacks’ on her campaign’s main webpage.”

    “When investigating the source of these attacks, the website administrator discovered over 1,400 attempts to login to the website as an administrator in the past week,” the release from campaign manager Megan Skipper said. “Of those 1,400 attempts, 1,100 came from Russian I.P. addresses. Russian meddling in U.S. elections continues to be a real and immediate threat.”

21 hours ago

What’s wrong with Calhoun County’s economy?

(Jeff Poor/YHN)

Earlier this week, Zippia, one of the many job search websites out there, released its list of 2018’s 50 worst job markets in America. Only one in Alabama made the list: Anniston-Jacksonville, AL, which came in at number 43.

That’s not bad given what we’re told about Alabama and poverty. But it does raise one question: Why are Anniston and its surrounding areas struggling compared to other similar places in the state?

Although unemployment in Calhoun County is not nearly as high as counties in the Black Belt, compared to other quasi-urban areas of Alabama, Calhoun has the highest unemployment rate, coming in at 5.9 percent according to data posted recently on the Alabama Department of Labor’s website.

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That far exceeds the seasonally adjusted numbers for the state of Alabama, at 4.1 percent, and nationally, at 4 percent.

So, what gives? Why does Calhoun County struggle economically?

“It’s a good question,” Rep. Mike Rogers (R-Saks) said in response to that in an interview with Yellowhammer News back in April. “I saw those numbers come out for my congressional district and Calhoun County had the highest unemployment rate, still. It is better than it has been, but I don’t know the answer to that question.”

Rogers said part of the answer to that question may be tied to military spending during the Obama administration and its impact on the nearby Anniston Army Depot.

“[T]here was a real downsizing at the Depot,” he added. “They had had a couple more thousand employees than they have now at the height of the war and there had been a downsizing since the drawback from Iraq and Afghanistan. You don’t need to refurbish as much equipment. But now they’re trying to ramp back up as we try to rebuild our military.”

He credited the potential for a turnaround in that trend to President Donald Trump’s commitment to the military.

Beyond that, why isn’t Calhoun County booming? It seems like every other day, Gov. Kay Ivey is announcing a new addition or manufacturing facility in the Huntsville area that includes a ribbon-cutting ceremony.

Let’s compare the Anniston-Oxford area to another economic hot spot in Rogers district, the Auburn-Opelika area.  Although Lee County isn’t quite enjoying the successes of Madison and Limestone Counties, it seems to be growing. Its unemployment rate is 4.7 percent – a little higher. But when you look around Auburn and Opelika, there are all kinds of new commercial and residential construction projects.

That doesn’t seem to be a trend in Anniston and Oxford.

Both Lee and Calhoun Counties have some similarities. Having Auburn University in Lee County is a big difference. Besides that, the two approximately the same distance from Atlanta and its international airport. The two are served by the Interstate Highway System – I-20 in Calhoun County and I-85 in Lee County.

If Lee County can make it work, then why not Calhoun County?

Getting to the bottom of determining what is ailing Calhoun County is not an easy chore. Although reading the pages of The Anniston Star is not quite the adventures of “Alice in Wonderland” it was when H. Brandt Ayers was in charge, under Josephine Ayers and Anthony Cook, it still tends to dwell in the politics outside of Calhoun County.

Addressing Calhoun County’s struggles is a politically worthwhile endeavor. While Kay Ivey is patting herself on the back for economic prosperity in north Alabama at plant-opening ceremony number 105, and Walt Maddox is championing his heroics in Tuscaloosa post-2011 tornado devastation, what about Anniston? What about Oxford? What about Jacksonville?

From an outsider’s perspective, there seems to be a presentable case for manufacturing to make Calhoun County a home given its infrastructure and proximities it Atlanta and Birmingham. But first, we need to determine what’s behind its current struggles.

@Jeff_Poor is a graduate of Auburn University and is the editor of Breitbart TV.

1 day ago

Roby Dem opponent claims Russia hacked campaign website — ‘Russian meddling in U.S. elections continues to be a real and immediate threat’

(Isner for Congress)

Late Thursday afternoon, Democratic congressional hopeful Tabitha Isner issued a press release claiming “incidents of ‘brute force attacks’ on her campaign’s main webpage.”

“When investigating the source of these attacks, the website administrator discovered over 1,400 attempts to login to the website as an administrator in the past week,” the release from campaign manager Megan Skipper said. “Of those 1,400 attempts, 1,100 came from Russian I.P. addresses. Russian meddling in U.S. elections continues to be a real and immediate threat.”

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Isner faces incumbent Rep. Martha Roby (R-Montgomery), who soundly defeated Bobby Bright in Tuesday’s runoff contest, in November’s Alabama second congressional district election.

“Nothing is more important than the security of American elections,” Isner said in the statement. “I am deeply troubled that the House GOP, including Representative Roby, have allowed partisanship to stand in the way of protecting our basic democratic structures.”

@Jeff_Poor is a graduate of Auburn University and is the editor of Breitbart TV.

2 days ago

Doug Jones on Trump-Putin press conference, walk-back: ‘I was stunned at his comments,’ ‘I really wish the president would not take this so personal’

Sen.-elect Doug Jones appears on CBS Sunday Morning, Dec. 17, 2017 (CBS News/Twitter)

Thursday during his weekly media conference call, Sen. Doug Jones (D-Mountain Brook) criticized President Donald Trump for comments he made earlier in the week during a press conference with Russian President Vladimir Putin in Helsinki.

Jones expressed his disappointment in Trump, and described his handling of the situation as a “great disservice to this country.”

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“I was stunned at his comments,” Jones said. “I was disappointed in his comments. I think his retractions have caused more confusion than they have cleared things up. There was not much confusion about what he said in that press conference. And his expressions and his mannerisms – he does a great disservice to this country when he sides with Vladimir Putin over his own intelligence community. I know he’s tried to walk that back. But when he had an opportunity to look this guy in the eye and say, ‘Stay out,’ and, ‘You’re wrong. We know. We got evidence that you interfered with our elections,’ he did a great disservice to this country.”

Jones argued Trump was focused on the wrong aspects of the Russian interference and urged him not to take the claims “so personal.”

“One of the problems that I’m seeing, and I think this is really important – the president is focused on the allegations of collusion,” Jones added. “That’s not the problem here. You know, that’s just not the issue.  What’s an issue – what’s a serious, serious issue and a threat to this country is the interference with our electoral process that every intelligence in the United States says it happened in 2016. It’s going to happen again. And as long, and until the president acknowledges all of this – not in a backtracking way, but affirmatively really strong and puts the resource into it, we’re going to have another problem.”

He continued, “And, I really wish the president would not take this so personal. And he is taking it personal, as an affront to his election, which is just being the president of the United States. He won this election. He needs to have this bully pulpit. This is not about the past. This is about the future. And so I was really disappointed. I was not at all – did not at all feel any comfort whatsoever with his efforts to walk back the very clear things that he has said. And then even in his expression in Helsinki.”

@Jeff_Poor is a graduate of Auburn University and is the editor of Breitbart TV.

2 days ago

Feds award $7 million for Downtown Mobile Airport runway improvements as city looks to move airport downtown

(Twitter/Mobile Aeroplex)

According to an announcement from Sen. Richard Shelby’s (R-Tuscaloosa) office on Thursday, $25.5 million in Federal Aviation Administration grants have been awarded by the U.S. Department of Transportation for various airport improvements.

Per the release, they will “support infrastructure construction, safety advances, and equipment acquisition.”

“These FAA grants support critical projects that aim to improve safety, security, and efficiency of airports across the state,” Shelby said in a statement. “Airport infrastructure plays a vital role in economic growth and development in Alabama, and I look forward to the progress that will stem from these grants.”

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Among those grants awarded to Alabama was $7 million “for taxiway reconstruction, runway rehabilitation, and installation of a new taxiway lighting system” to Mobile Downtown Airport.

The award is significant as some in leadership positions in Alabama’s port city are considering moving commercial air traffic from West Mobile’s Bates Field to the Downtown Mobile Brookley Field facility.

The grant also includes significant funding for other airports in Alabama, including in Greenville, Fairhope, Tuscaloosa, Lanett and Birmingham.

Grants as follows:

·       Mobile Downtown Airport, Mobile Airport Authority – $7,080,027 for taxiway reconstruction, runway rehabilitation, and installation of a new taxiway lighting system

·       MacCrenshaw Memorial Airport, City of Greenville – $3,114,820 for runway reconstruction

·       H.L. Callahan Airport, City of Fairhope – $3,033,757 for construction of an additional taxiway and access taxiways

·       Tuscaloosa Regional Airport, City of Tuscaloosa – $2,652,600 for apron rehabilitation and a master plan study

·       Lanett Municipal Airport, City of Lanett – $1,717,830 for construction of a runway and installation of a new runway lighting system

·       Birmingham-Shuttlesworth International Airport, Birmingham Airport Authority – $1,417,500 for erosion repair, safety equipment acquisition, sign installation, and taxiway rehabilitation

·       Headland Municipal Airport, City of Headland – $990,000 for construction of an additional taxiway

·       Auburn University Regional Airport, Auburn University – $832,500 for taxiway rehabilitation

·       Enterprise Municipal Airport, City of Enterprise – $653,140 for taxiway rehabilitation

·       Pryor Field Regional Airport, Counties of Morgan and Limestone – $495,900 for taxiway lighting reconstruction

·       Cullman Regional-Folsom Field Airport, City and County of Cullman – $450,000 for taxiway reconstruction

·       Carl Folsom Airport, Elba Airport Authority – $446,998 for construction a 7,200-square-foot hangar building

·       Anniston Regional Airport, City of Anniston – $446,400 for apron and taxiway rehabilitation

·       Marion County-Rankin Fite Airport, County of Marion – $261,000 for construction of an additional taxiway to provide access to aircraft hangars

·       Albertville Regional-Thomas J Brumlik Field Airport, City of Albertville – $253,168 for taxiway reconstruction

·       Shelby County Airport, County of Shelby – $249,970 for construction of a 14,830-square-foot hangar building

·       Bibb County Airport, County of Bibb – $242,640 for land acquisition to extend protection zone

·       Moton Field Municipal Airport, City of Tuskegee – $195,480 for runway and taxiway rehabilitation

·       Talladega Municipal Airport, City of Talladega – $190,410 for taxiway rehabilitation

·       Bessemer Airport, City of Bessemer – $150,000 for runway rehabilitation

·       Prattville-Grouby Field Airport, Prattville Airport Authority – $150,000 for installation of airport drainage improvements

·       Wetumpka Municipal Airport, City of Wetumpka, – $150,000 for installation of a new navigational aid and a new runway vertical/visual guidance system

·       Walker County-Bevill Field Airport, Walker County – $135,000 for updates to the airport master plan narrative report and airport layout plan

·       Ozark-Blackwell Field Airport, City of Ozark – $114,300 for runway rehabilitation and installation of new navigational aids

·       Thomas C. Russell Field Airport, City of Alexander City – $94,500 for installation of a new navigational aid and a new runway vertical/visual guidance system

The announcement from Shelby comes as he has assumed the chairmanship of the Senate Committee on Appropriations. According to Shelby, that committee “unanimously approved the FY2019 Transportation, Housing and Urban Development, and Related Agencies Appropriations Bill last month.”

@Jeff_Poor is a graduate of Auburn University and is the editor of Breitbart TV.

3 days ago

On Roby’s win: One false media narrative dies, a new one is born

(Congresswoman Roby/Facebook)

Like Lucy van Pelt of Peanuts comic strip fame repeatedly pulling the football away from Charlie Brown as he lines up to kick it, Rep. Martha Roby (R-Montgomery) once again has shown you can’t beat her in a Republican primary.

Similar to when she defeated “Gather Your Armies” Rick Barber in the 2010 GOP primary and “Born Free American Woman” Becky Gerritson in the 2016 GOP primary, Roby defeated former Montgomery Mayor Bobby Bright for a second time on Tuesday night, this time by a whopping 36 points.

Heading into yesterday, many national media reporters were sent into Alabama’s second congressional district looking at the possibility that Roby might have to answer to a revolt for not sticking with then-Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump on the infamous Billy Bush weekend during the 2016 presidential campaign.

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Aside from it being hard to see how Bright, also a former Democratic congressman that once cast a vote for Nancy Pelosi to be Speaker of the House, could rally a large enough number within the pro-Trump base to unseat Roby, thinking such an outcome were a possibility ignored the local politics.

One of Roby’s strengths throughout her tenure as a member of the U.S. House of Representatives has been her ability to build relationships from Houston County in the very southeastern corner of Alabama’s second congressional district to the Autauga County in the very northwestern corner.

Beyond Montgomery where Roby served as a city councilwoman, she’s become known throughout her district. Be it Greenville in Butler County, Ozark in Dale County or Slocomb in Geneva County, she’s built a stout a network of support.

To beat her, as the past has shown, it would take more than gimmicky tactics. As an opponent, Bright was never able to demonstrate to one of the most Republican-voting parts of Alabama why he was a viable alternative other than he as a former Democrat would be a better ally to Trump.

(Trump ultimately endorsed Roby, which severely crippled the line of attack.)

Many in the media looked to Alabama anyway. Could this be another show of how dangerous it is for Republicans to attack President Donald Trump, much like what happened in South Carolina’s first congressional district to Rep. Mark Sanford?

It was not. And, deservedly, the narrative that Republican voters in Alabama are too mind-numb to make decisions based on something beyond a blind allegiance to the president died.

Unfortunately, Tuesday’s outcome may have given rise to a new equally intellectually challenged notion: “Rise up, Republicans! You can criticize Donald Trump, and it won’t cost you an election.”

These simplistic contrived notions tell us one or both of two things about those reporting on Republican politics from afar: a) They’re too lazy to look beyond the daily blow-by-blow inside the D.C. Beltway bubble and therefore have a very shallow understanding of national politics, or b) They think so lowly of voters in certain parts of the country that they’re too shallow to look beyond the national headlines and consider more than the broad narratives on laid out on Fox News or talk radio.

The how and why behind Roby’s remarkable victory had nothing to do with Donald Trump. If Hillary Clinton had been president, she probably would have won. If Mitt Romney had been president, she also probably would have won. Who was in the White House had little to do with politics on the ground in Alabama’s second congressional district.

The only reason Roby was in a runoff was that she was one of five candidates competing in a crowded Republican primary field. The reason she won Tuesday’s runoff and will likely defeat Democratic congressional nominee Tabitha Isner in November’s general election is that the people in her congressional district like the job she has done as a member of Congress.

But why let the facts interfere with an opportunity to strike some symbolic blow against Trump’s supporters, or Trump himself?

@Jeff_Poor is a graduate of Auburn University and is the editor of Breitbart TV.

4 days ago

Five things to watch for on Runoff Election Night

(W.Miller/Pixabay)

Now that primary runoff Election Day is upon us, and we eagerly await the results that will finalize the slate of Republican candidates that will likely defeat Democrats in November in Alabama’s majority Republican state, here are a few tips for the highly engaged political watchers to keep an eye on as the results come in.

1) A good early indicator will be Limestone County: The last few elections, North Alabama’s Limestone County has been early with its returns, which is a credit to Limestone County Probate Judge Charles Woodroof.

Without a dominant North Alabama candidate like Mo Brooks or Tommy Battle skewing those returns, Limestone County could be an early bellwether.

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2) Expect high turnout in Marshall County: With two hometown guys running, Steve Marshall for Alabama Attorney General and Will Ainsworth for Lieutenant Governor, Marshall County, which includes Guntersville, Albertville, Arab and most of Boaz, turnout will be higher than usual.

In a statewide election with a likely lower-than-normal turnout with no gubernatorial race at the top of the ticket, the Marshall County vote will be pivotal for Marshall and Ainsworth.

3) Although interest in the Roby-Bright race is somewhat exaggerated, a boost in the Wiregrass could play a role: There have been some national media lurking from Montgomery to Dothan looking for a Donald Trump angle on the race between incumbent Rep. Martha Roby and former Rep. Bobby Bright for the Republican nod.

It’s not clear a competitive race between the two is the case, but with both candidates engaging in get-out-the-vote efforts, that will drive turnout a little in the Wiregrass region.

If that turns out to be the case, that could favor lieutenant gubernatorial hopeful Twinkle Cavanaugh and Alabama attorney general hopeful Troy King.

4) Local races in Baldwin County could sway statewide races: Contentious races for Baldwin County Commissioner District 3 between incumbent commissioner Tucker Dorsey and Billie Jo Underwood, and for State Senate District 32 between Chris Elliott and David Northcutt could gin up some intrigue for heavily Republican Baldwin County.

Without a hometown candidate in the mix in southwestern Alabama, those votes are for grabs for the statewide candidates. Those in the Mobile media market have been subject to an onslaught of radio and TV spots from all candidates.

5) Alvin Holmes on the ropes? Probably not, but the incumbent state representative that has been a fixture in the Alabama legislature since 1974 is facing a runoff for the Democratic Party nod in Montgomery’s House District 78.

Holmes bested his current challenger Kirk Hatcher by nearly 400 votes in the Democratic primary but came up short in getting to the 50 percent-plus-one threshold required to avoid a runoff.

A Holmes defeat would send shockwaves through the Democratic Party, much like Doug Jones and Randall Woodfin’s victories had last year.

@Jeff_Poor is a graduate of Auburn University and is the editor of Breitbart TV.

5 days ago

Roy Moore backs Troy King in AG race

In a post that first appeared on the “In God We Trust Movement” Facebook page and later on a Facebook page affiliated with former Alabama Supreme Court Justice Roy Moore, Moore backed former Alabama Attorney General Troy King in his bid to reassume the state attorney general post.

Moore, who was defeated last December by Sen. Doug Jones (D-Mountain Brook) in a special election last year to fill a void left behind by Jeff Sessions, touted King’s credentials in the post.

“I fully support Troy King for the office of Attorney General,” it read. “He has the leadership, experience, and dedication to do an outstanding job. He is a Lifelong Republican who will stand for conservative values.”

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“Troy King has a proven record fighting against corruption,” Moore also said on the flier. “I have seen first hand the miss-use [sic] of power by the political establishment, and I know how badly we need an Attorney General committed to cleaning up Montgomery. I believe Troy King is the man for the job.”

The Facebook post touted that 50,000 of those mailers were sent to Moore supporters.

@Jeff_Poor is a graduate of Auburn University and is the editor of Breitbart TV.

1 week ago

Mike Pence endorses Martha Roby in AL-2 congressional GOP runoff

On Friday, Vice President Mike Pence formally endorsed Rep. Martha Roby (R-Montgomery) in her runoff contest against former Rep. Bobby Bright for the Republican Party’s nomination.

“President Trump and I support Martha Roby – a strong supporter of tax cuts & President Trump’s pro-growth, America First agenda! Get out Tuesday and support Team Roby,” Pence wrote in a tweet.

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Roby expressed her gratitude for the endorsement from Pence, who she also served in Congress with before Pence became Indiana’s governor.

“I am very grateful to Vice President Pence for his support in my campaign for reelection in Alabama’s Second District,” Roby said in a statement. “I was fortunate to serve with the Vice President in the House, and I am proud to call him a friend. I deeply appreciate his endorsement, and I am eager to continue working with the Administration in the fight for our shared conservative priorities.”

Last month, President Donald Trump formally endorsed the incumbent congresswoman on the heels of being the leading vote-getter in the Republican primary.

@Jeff_Poor is a graduate of Auburn University and is the editor of Breitbart TV.

1 week ago

How a moderate Democrat could have a shot at Terri Sewell in 2020

(Screenshot / Facebook)

Let’s go ahead and put this out there: A Republican can’t win head-to-head against a Democrat in Alabama’s seventh congressional district.

Since becoming a majority-minority district in 1992 to comply with Congress’ 1982 adjustment of the Voting Rights Act, it has been solidly Democrat. The district even survived the South’s transition from conservative Democrat to Republican that showed itself in the 1994 midterm elections.

Nearly two-thirds of the voters in the district are African-American, which typically vote for Democrats. The results of the last five presidential elections bear this out. The Democratic Party nominee has earned at least double the vote tally of the Republican. In the cases of Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton, the vote total was nearly triple that of the GOP for the Democrat.

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Since voters went to the polls in the 1992 election in this reconstituted congressional district, only three people have held its seat: former Reps. Earl Hilliard and Artur Davis and its current occupant, Rep. Terri Sewell.

For both Hilliard and Davis, their tenures representing Alabama’s seventh congressional district had abrupt endings.

Hilliard’s demise came at the hands of Artur Davis in the 2002 Democratic congressional primary. Hilliard made himself a target by making an ill-advised trip to Muammar Gaddafi’s Libya despite a federal ban on travel to the rogue North African nation.

Prominent Mobilian and University of South Alabama booster Mayer Mitchell, who at the time had a leadership role in the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC), sought to oust Hilliard, who had been a critic of Israel.

With Mitchell’s help and perhaps the aid of a cloud of campaign finance impropriety hanging over Hilliard’s head, Davis defeated Hilliard on a second try in 2002 in a runoff election.

With that win came the rise of Artur Davis, a young Harvard Law School graduate with, at the time, what was thought to be a bright, promising future in the Democratic Party.

For four terms, Davis represented the seventh congressional district at a time when Harvard Law classmate Barack Obama, another African-American was rising to national prominence and ultimately to the White House in 2008.

While Hilliard legislated from the left flank of the Democratic Party, Davis legislated from the right flank. Davis opposed Obama’s health care reform bill, which turned out to be Obama’s signature achievement for his eight years as commander-in-chief.

Political watchers assumed Davis’ politically moderate tack was an effort to position himself as a better candidate for governor in the 2010 election.

It was that 2010 bid that wound up being the roadblock for Davis. He lost the Democratic nod to then-Alabama Agricultural Commissioner Ron Sparks by a whopping 24-point margin. Davis would go on to flirt with a Republican Party candidacy for Congress in northern Virginia. He even spoke at the 2012 Republican National Convention in Tampa.

Ultimately, he wound up back in Alabama and after a failed bid to be the mayor of Montgomery, he still insists that he isn’t done yet.

That brings us to the current occupant, Rep. Terri Sewell. Sewell, who is also a graduate of Harvard Law, in addition to a bachelor’s degree from Princeton and a master’s degree from Oxford.

Sewell is a historical figure in Alabama politics. After a stint practicing law in the private sector, she won the Democratic Party primary for the 2010 Alabama’s seventh congressional district election by finishing first in a crowded. A victory later that year made Sewell the first African-American woman to serve from Alabama in the U.S. Congress.

Since the election of President Donald Trump, Sewell has taken up a more active role in the so-called Resistance movement.

To her credit, she was instrumental in Doug Jones’ upset win last year over Roy Moore with her get-out-the-vote efforts in her congressional district.

But could this new strident outspokenness against Trump work against her? Could a candidate emerge as Artur Davis had against Earl Hilliard?

If this past is prologue, it is feasible a rival Democrat could emerge in 2020. The long-term prognosis of a Democratic Party fueled by Russia conspiracies and anti-Trump fervor is unknown. If Democrats have a misstep this November and don’t succeed in a national election that the party out of power traditionally does well, there could be a civil war within the Democratic Party.

There’s also the possibility Alabama could lose a congressional seat. If that happens to be the case, Sewell’s district would likely expand to take on some demographic changes. It would still probably be a majority-minority district, but the electorate could be a little more moderate than it is now.

What might that mean for Rep. Sewell? She would still be an odds-on favorite, no question. But that was the way people viewed Hilliard in 2002. In 2002, Hilliard was also running a congressional district that had changed since the prior election.

Birmingham Mayor Randall Woodfin or even Tuscaloosa Mayor Walt Maddox, assuming he isn’t governor, could be such candidates that would be formidable opponents for Sewell in a Democratic primary.

While we still need to get through the 2018 election cycle, a lot of what happens nationally in the November elections will set the country up for 2020, and that could include Alabama’s seventh congressional district.

@Jeff_Poor is a graduate of Auburn University and is the editor of Breitbart TV.

1 week ago

Rest easy, Alabama: Apparently, all transportation problems have been solved — ALDOT has moved on to ‘vibrant’ paint jobs

(ALDOT/Twitter)

It’s bumper-to-bumper on I-565 headed into Huntsville. Somewhere in downtown Birmingham, a truck driver is cussing how no one will let him merge as I-65 narrows with construction underway at the I-20/59 malfunction junction. A driver of an SUV speeding east on I-10 headed to Gulf Shores with his family has to slam on the brakes as traffic is logjammed headed into the Wallace Tunnel.

These are just the publicized transportation problem areas of Alabama. There are a few others: I-65 in Shelby County, Lurleen Wallace Blvd. in Tuscaloosa, and the numerous places cut off from the rest of the state like Wedowee, Fayette, Monroeville, and Lafayette with no four-lane access to an interstate highway.

Meanwhile, on the east side of the Mobile River on Blakeley Island, there is a makeover underway. The entrance to the Bankhead Tunnel, which carries U.S. Highway 90 and 98 under the river is being outfitted with a new “vibrant” paint scheme.

This effort has excited the Alabama Department of Transportation’s Mobile Area Office to such an extent that it is celebrating the paint job on social media.

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Doesn’t it seem misguided for the bloated administrative state bureaucracy behind Alabama’s appalling road and highway system to be touting a paint job?

There is so much wrong with state government, but most Alabamians seem to be willing to overlook a lot of it. The one thing that impacts them directly that they probably would prefer the state to make a priority is roads and highways.

The shortcomings of the Alabama Department of Transportation are for the most part ignored. They were raised in the waning days by Huntsville Mayor Tommy Battle in his losing bid to be the Republican gubernatorial nominee. Politicians running for state office often tip-toe around the issues as to avoid pitting regions of the state against one another.

Instead, the focus is put on arming teachers with guns in schools, the never-ending see-saw battle of the competing big special interests in Montgomery or who can be the Trumpiest of all. These are all superfluous issues that distract from the question: What exactly do people want state government to do?

There’s a lot on that list, but one would have to expect pretty high on the list is transportation. That doesn’t mean funding for Amtrak, which is an antiquated and inefficient means for you and your bros in Mobile to catch a Saints game in New Orleans.

It’s not even dealing with the situation of outrageous airfares flying in and out of Montgomery and Dothan.

It’s making it easier for people to get to and from home and work. It’s opening up some of these isolated places in Alabama that aren’t shut off from the rest of the world and economic development because it is cost-prohibitive to transport any goods that might be manufactured in these economically beleaguered communities.

The takeaway from ALDOT: Don’t sweat that silly stuff. You can enjoy the luscious pastels of the Bankhead Tunnel as you attempt to dodge the traffic of the Bayway headed into Mobile.

@Jeff_Poor is a graduate of Auburn University and is the editor of Breitbart TV.

2 weeks ago

Alabama Sec of State John Merrill offers ‘home visit’ for those seeking photo ID to vote — ‘Just call my cell’

(John Merrill/Facebook)

On Friday, Alabama Secretary of State John Merrill took to Twitter to reiterate his pledge to ensure eligible voters were able to comply with the state’s voter identification laws by offering home visits for those unable to obtain identification otherwise.

Merrill was responding to a similar pledge from Alabama Republican Party chairwoman Terry Lathan, who made her comments about a Yellowhammer News story noting the five-year anniversary of the Supreme Court’s Shelby County v. Holder decision that gave states the authority to have voter identification laws.

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Merrill included his cell phone number with the pledge to ensure any interested party could be in touch.

@Jeff_Poor is a graduate of Auburn University and is the editor of Breitbart TV.

2 weeks ago

Mo Brooks says difficulties lie ahead for ‘conservative’ Trump SCOTUS nominee — Warns of possibilities of a ‘judicial activist,’ ‘left-wing kind’ (VIDEO)

(Screenshot/WAAY)

According to a report that aired Thursday on Huntsville ABC affiliate WAAY, Rep. Mo Brooks (R-Huntsville) said given the thin Republican majority in the U.S. Senate, there could be difficulties in confirming a conservative justice to the vacancy left behind by retiring Supreme Court Associate Justice Anthony Kennedy.

If that proves to be the case, the North Alabama congressman warned of the possibilities of a “judicial activist” being appointed by President Donald Trump, which would not be Trump’s preference.

“If we can’t get them to come our way, then I think you’re going to see a United States Supreme Court justice who is much more of a judicial activist — a left-wing kind of Supreme Court justice than the president of the United States might otherwise might prefer.”

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In the wake of Kennedy’s announcement, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) has said he anticipates a confirmation vote “this fall.”

@Jeff_Poor is a graduate of Auburn University and is the editor of Breitbart TV.

2 weeks ago

Roby says constituent feedback on Trump tariffs ‘a mixed bag’; Calls on businesses, individuals to offer ‘specific’ examples of harm

(J Poor/YHN)

SLOCUMB – On Thursday, Rep. Martha Roby (R-Montgomery) toured several farms within her congressional district with House Agricultural Committee chairman Rep. Mike Conaway (R-Texas). The tour was capped off with a stop at Andy Sumblin’s cotton farm south of Slocumb in Geneva County just above the Alabama-Florida state line.

Roby’s tour comes as Wiregrass farmers have expressed concerns over President Donald Trump’s trade policy, and as she is facing what some claim to be a difficult Republican runoff contest with Democrat-turned-Republican former Rep. Bobby Bright.

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Conaway indicated Trump’s tough stance on trade could be what is necessary for farmers to gain long-term certainty in agriculture commodities markets plagued by alleged unfair trade practices initiated by China.

Roby didn’t seem to be entirely opposed to the use of tariffs when she told reporters gathered at the Sumblin Farm for the tour stop she still wanted to hear about the full impact of this administration’s actions on trade.

“Clearly in Alabama, the president enjoys very high approval and support,” she said. “And I think my message is that we want our constituents to be letting us know where they are on these different issues – not just agriculture, although we’ve talked about agriculture a lot today. But industry-wide, we want to hear testimonials from our folks. Our jobs in here in Alabama – to what even the conversations – the impact that they’re having as representatives in the people’s house, it’s our job to listen to our constituents and take that message back. So, I am just calling on all of the folks that I represent and the jobs that they represent express to us and give us real stories about how these conversations and negotiations could be impacting for the good or for the bad.”

“We want to hear it all, and that gives us a better understanding of where folks are,” she continued. “But again, we want the president to continue on pushing forward conservative policies that we all agree on. And as lawmakers, we have a shared conservative agenda, and we want to see these things get across the finish line. On the trade and tariff issue, it’s very important that we are hearing from the people that we represent and the impacts that some of these decisions could potentially have.”

Roby told Yellowhammer News that so far reactions have been mixed to the president’s use of tariffs.

“We’re hearing a mixed bag right now,” Roby said. “We’re hearing from folks that they feel like it’s positively impacting and then others that have concerns. So again, the specific of example that an individual or business can give to our office, the better because that’s real life. And we want to know.”

“I’ve had several conversations with constituents just this week about these very things,” she added. “In fact, at a roundtable in Eufaula just the other day, there were differing positions all around the table, and I would say for the most part conservative Republicans. We just need to make sure that we’re listening so that we can take these comments back when we go back to Washington and have conversations with the administration.”

The Trump administration has been under attack by trade groups and politicians within Alabama, mostly because of the potential impact they could have on the state’s flourishing auto manufacturing industry. Sumblin, however, sees the use of tariffs as “unsettling,” but perhaps necessary in the long run.

“As [Conaway] said, it’s unsettling,” he said. “But in the end, I think it is best for us because we already weren’t playing on a level playing field.”

“[It’ll be] maybe improved – I don’t think it’ll ever be level,” Sumblin added.

@Jeff_Poor is a graduate of Auburn University and is the editor of Breitbart TV.

3 weeks ago

U.S. Chamber: 567,500 jobs, $3.6 billion in Alabama exports threatened by Trump tariffs

(Made in Alabama)

According to data offered by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce in a report issued on Monday, Alabama stands to lose as a result of President Donald Trump’s trade policy.

The Chamber estimates 567,500 of the state’s jobs are threatened by tariffs the administration seeks to levy on Canada, China, the European Union and Mexico.

In addition to those jobs, the Chamber estimates nearly $3.6 billion in exports from Alabama that are also threatened. The exports included in the calculations are aluminum, autos, soybeans and steel.

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“Tariffs imposed by the United States are nothing more than a tax increase on American consumers and businesses, including manufacturers, farmers, and technology companies, who will all pay more for commonly used products and materials,” the report said from the Chamber’s one-pager on the Trump trade policy’s impact on Alabama. “Retaliatory tariffs imposed by other countries on U.S. exports will make American-made goods more expensive, resulting in lost sales and ultimately lost jobs here at home. This is the wrong approach, and it threatens to derail our nation’s recent economic resurgence.”

The Chamber calls on people to reach out to their respective members of Congress to voice opposition to these tariffs.

@Jeff_Poor is a graduate of Auburn University and is the editor of Breitbart TV.

3 weeks ago

Sean Hannity credits Huntsville for being his first ‘big break’ — ‘My first paid radio gig’

(Screencap)

Sunday on Fox News Channel’s “Life, Liberty & Levin,” nationally syndicated radio talker Sean Hannity gave a shoutout to Huntsville as being the location for his first “big break” in radio.

Host and talk radio colleague Mark Levin asked Hannity where his big break was in the radio business. Hannity first mentioned his chance to fill-in for Rush Limbaugh, but he explained there was a progression of events that led him from doing radio for free to his being one of the top conservative talkers in America, which began in Huntsville on long-time talk station WVNN.

“The big break was a guy — Dave Stone and Bill Dunnavant, two guys, Huntsville, Alabama — my first paid radio gig,” Hannity said. “I was doing it for free up until then, and packed up what was my contracting work van and drove across the country. That was break one.”

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“Break two was a guy by the name of ‘Sluggo,’ Eric Seidel in Atlanta, Georgia,” he added. “Neal Boortz, who is now a friend of both of ours, since retired. He left one station, referred to as ex-wife and moved to a bigger station and now I’m on that station ironically, WSB. And then, the big break was Fox News going on the air, and then that led to WABC, Roger Ailes and Phil Voice. I’m friends with every single person that hired me. I talk to them all. They all critique me to this day. If I do something they don’t like, ‘Sluggo’ is writing me, ‘Let them talk. Shut up.’  But, they care. I prefer the criticism rather than the compliment because that makes you better.”

@Jeff_Poor is a graduate of Auburn University and is the editor of Breitbart TV.

3 weeks ago

Book Review: Crespino’s ‘Atticus Finch’ bio offers a great look at early-20th century small-town Alabama

(J Poor/YHN)

One of the net benefits of academia’s obsession with Nelle Harper Lee and her classic novel “To Kill A Mockingbird” is the exhaustive research done about her life and how she arrived at creating the idealistic imaginary cult figure in Atticus Finch.

In his recently released book “Atticus Finch: The Biography,” Emory University history professor Joseph Crespino has undertaken the daunting task of doing a deep dive into former Alabama legislator and newspaperman Amasa Coleman Lee, the father of Harper Lee.

The elder Lee was widely believed to be the inspiration for Atticus Finch given the parallels between “To Kill A Mockingbird” protagonist Jean Louise “Scout” Finch and author Harper Lee.

With Crespino’s book, we learn how A.C. Lee arrived in Monroeville from his birthplace in nearby Georgiana and his early life in the Florida panhandle’s Chipley, Fla.

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We also learn about Harper Lee’s struggles with the development of “To Kill A Mockingbird” and Atticus Finch. It was years in the making and the Atticus Finch that America knows only came after Harper Lee’s first efforts in the later-published follow-up “Go Set a Watchman.”

Crespino’s effort to try to find the beginnings of Atticus Finch, who takes on an entirely different persona in “Go Set A Watchman,” offer a glimpse of how small-town Monroeville fit in the broader ecosystem of Alabama politics.

During A.C. Lee’s time as part of Monroeville’s political hierarchy, the Black Belt-Big Mule coalition still ruled the roost in state politics. Monroe County was not a part of that coalition.

Monroeville itself was one of those places cut off from the outside world, given the railroad and the Federal Road were off to the east, and the Alabama River was off to the west. It was one of those places to which you had to be going because it wasn’t on the way to anywhere.

The geographical isolation made Monroeville cut off from the rest of the world.

Enter A.C. Lee. For 18 years, Lee served as the editor of the storied Monroe Journal, which coincided with a pivotal time in America. The nation was in the throes of the Great Depression. Some of Franklin Roosevelt’s New Deal programs were implemented to target Southern poverty specifically.

Racism was alive and well in Alabama, and often there would be a conflict with any massive federal intervention like the New Deal and the status quo in the South.

What Crespino offers to readers is the importance of a figure like A.C. Lee in a place like Alabama during the first half of the last century. A.C. Lee ran The Monroe Journal before there were television sets in every home, even before radio was a thing in that part of Alabama and long before the Internet.

Therefore, people in places like Monroeville had to rely on newspapers like The Monroe Journal for all of their news. That’s a much different model today where the smaller newspapers have ceded coverage beyond their county lines to larger outlets.

Lee’s role was important because he could take the hard-to-understand state, national and international news of the day and deliver in a way for local readers. Crespino’s thorough review of The Monroe Journal showed A.C. Lee was long on hot takes, but he knew who his audience was.

Readers are also reminded of the friction between Lee and long-time Monroe County probate judge, E.T. “Short” Millsap. Millsap, who has his own place in the Monroe County Courthouse-turned-museum, was one of the many small-town political bosses that were a part of Alabama politics during that era.

The county probate judge was, and remains to this day in Monroe County and a few other Alabama counties, the de facto head of county government. A character resembling Millsaps makes a cameo in “Go Set a Watchman,” as the book’s William Willoughby, which Crespino explains.

Beyond the history of Alabama life at the time, Crespino gives readers details about the progression of “To Kill a Mockingbird” and how the rise of the book and the blockbuster movie fit in with the timing of the Civil Rights era. He shows it as a valuable example of how politics are downstream from culture, to borrow a phrase from the late Andrew Breitbart.

Where Crespino may lose readers is his tedious effort to link Harper Lee to Martin Luther King, Jr.’s civil rights activism and his “Letter from Birmingham Jail.” It is true that King references Atticus Finch in his book “Why We Can’t Wait,” but the effort to try to associate the two drags on and in some ways seems forced.

Beyond that, you can learn a lot about Alabama and how the political and media culture in this state arrived where it is today from this 184-page read.

Crespino does Alabamians a service with his thorough look at the writings in The Monroe Journal under A.C. Lee and his “Atticus Finch: The Biography” is the textbook model for anyone considering a deep dive into any other forgotten era and place in Alabama.

@Jeff_Poor is a graduate of Auburn University and is the editor of Breitbart TV.

3 weeks ago

Trump is getting clobbered on the tariff public relations front in Alabama

For some reason this election season, Republicans think the golden ticket to face an underdog Democrat in November’s general elections is to argue to primary voters that you are President Donald Trump’s biggest ally.

From top to bottom, GOP candidates have run commercials touting the Trump bona fides, some with success and others not so much.

It is probably true that Trump remains very popular in Alabama, much higher than in the rest of the country. Off to the side, however, there is grumbling over the president’s trade policy among some principle players in Alabama politics.

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At the very top is Gov. Kay Ivey. Ivey argued in a letter sent to Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross earlier this month that was first reported by Al.com’s William Thornton the state could lose “approximately 4,000 jobs as a result of automotive tariffs.”

That caps off other gestures from Ivey, including remarks she made at a public appearance in Etowah County on Tuesday claiming to have directly communicated her tariff concerns to Vice President Mike Pence, and a statement she issued last week warning of the consequence of the trade policy.

Elsewhere around the state beyond the automotive industry, other alarm bells are sounding over Trump’s trade policy.

Alabama farmers have expressed some concern over the effects they could have on the soybean and peanut prices.

Last week, several local Alabama newspaper heads took to Washington, D.C. and had meetings with members of the state’s congressional delegation to protest tariffs on Canadian newsprint, which has sent ripples through the entire market and forced newsprint prices to increase.

Just as the saying goes that warns against quarreling with “men who buy ink by the barrel,” it is not advisable to quarrel with those that buy newsprint by the roll.

If Trump is indeed popular, why isn’t anyone in Alabama defending his trade policy?

Perhaps Alabama Republican affinity for the president has less to do with policy and more to do with his style.

However, there could be an appealing case to be made for taking an aggressive tack with regards to trade.

Some places in Alabama have been brought to their knees by the coming of globalization in the name of free trade. Former textile mill towns like Monroeville and Alexander City were brutalized by the trend and never recovered.

With the current economic conditions, it’s difficult for these places to reestablish their industrial base. For that reason, Trump’s policies have a broad appeal. It may not be the cure-all, but there is something emotionally appealing to beleaguered Rust Belt-type places for the Trump administration to take on foreign powers that manipulate their currency or artificially depress their wages to gain an unfair advantage.

If China, Mexico, Canada, the European Union or any other nation is levying tariffs on U.S. imports, there’s an impulse to return the favor, and the election of Trump in 2016 was a show some Americans were willing to act on that impulse.

As this has unfolded since inauguration, overall the American economy is doing well. It doesn’t seem to be any one particular thing the Trump administration has done that people can point to and credit. Even before he signed the tax legislation last year, the U.S. economy was trending upward.

For now, it would behoove the Trump administration to defend the policy. Whether one agrees or disagrees with tariffs, there is a case to be made for them.

However, no one is making it.

Rather than showing how this is going to revive the auto industry in Michigan, we’re told how it threatens Alabama and Tennessee. Instead of showing tariffs are going to bring a newsprint paper mill back online, we’re seeing the price of the local newspaper increasing. Soon, you may need a roll of quarters to buy the latest issue from an old-school newspaper machine.

Will this impact the president’s overall popularity in Alabama? Could it give Democrats ammunition to use against their Republican general election opponents that want voters to know about their sycophancies for the president?

Make no mistake about it — there is a perception Trump’s trade policy is terrible for the state – at least that is its portrayal by Alabama’s media.

For now, there doesn’t seem to be anyone offering an opposing view on this issue on Trump’s behalf. Maybe someone should.

@Jeff_Poor is a graduate of Auburn University and is the editor of Breitbart TV.

4 weeks ago

Alabama’s Byrne questions wisdom of housing migrants in Baldwin County — Cites lack of utilities, heat, bugs, snakes and potential hurricanes as dangers

Monday on Mobile’s FM Talk 106.5’s “Mobile Mornings,” Rep. Bradley Byrne (R-Fairhope) argued against the housing of migrants at the abandoned U.S. Navy airstrips in Baldwin County.

Byrne noted he and other Baldwin County public officials faced a similar challenge when the Obama administration attempted to house migrants there once before.

Byrne explained to FM Talk 106.5’s Sean Sullivan why such a proposal is still a bad idea.

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“Once again, the Department of Homeland Security under a different administration wants to put 25,000 adults and potentially children as well out there in these fields,” Byrne said. “No utilities — which means no water, no electricity. So obviously there’s nothing out there, so they’ll just have to put them in tents. It’s very hot, very humid. You know, bugs, snakes and hurricanes potentially.”

“It makes absolutely no sense, particularly coming off a week when we spent the week talking about how inhumane it was for us to separate children from their parents,” he continued. “I can’t imagine anything more inhumane than putting people out there in sort of those vacant areas where those strips are in the middle of summer, in the middle of hurricane season. It makes absolutely no sense.”

@Jeff_Poor is a graduate of Auburn University and is the editor of Breitbart TV.

4 weeks ago

Calling SCOTUS sales tax ruling a ‘win’ for Alabama is disingenuous spin

Cha-ching, cha-ching, cha-ching.

That was the sound going off in the heads of many politicians and bureaucrats in Montgomery and around the county seats of Alabama on Thursday after the U.S. Supreme Court ruled states can levy a sales tax on online purchases.

In a 5-4 ruling, the high court sided with the state of South Dakota on a law that allows the state to collect sales tax on purchases made by South Dakota customers from out-of-state retailers.

The ruling overturned decades of case law that found a state couldn’t charge sales tax unless the retailer had a physical presence in the state.

Gov. Kay Ivey immediately applauded the ruling, categorizing it as a “common-sense approach,” with her suggestion being it levels the playing field for in-state brick-and-mortar sellers.

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“Technology and the advent of e-commerce has drastically changed the retail landscape and the states’ ability to collect sales taxes,” Ivey said in a statement. “The Supreme Court’s ruling related to online sales taxes is a common-sense approach that modernizes existing limitations on the taxation of e-commerce sales and will facilitate collections in our global, technology-driven economy. The change effected by the Court’s decision will promote parity between our state’s brick and mortar businesses and competing out-of-state sellers.”

For starters, if our elected leaders were actually concerned about fairness for in-state brick-and-mortar businesses, they would have found a way to ease the tax burden on them long ago to allow them to be more competitive against online retailers.

There has been no such effort whatsoever.

What we’re told is this is a big win for the mom-and-pop shop in small-town downtown Alabama. But it’s an even bigger win for the Walmart in the strip mall out on the four-lane bypass that goes around the downtown.

Aside from the bureaucratic nightmare the ruling creates that will allow the at least 10,000 state and local taxing jurisdictions to tax out-of-state online retailers (as laid out by Americans for Tax Reform president Grover Norquist on Thursday), it is a massive loss for the consumer.

Now we, the consumers of Alabama, are saddled with paying sales tax for online purchases. How is this a good thing? There is no longer any refuge for from consumers in a state with one of the highest state-local combined sales tax burdens in the nation.

We’re also being told this is fabulous for our state because the government coffers will have another revenue stream.

Yes, that’s precisely what Alabamians want: more money in government.

Of course, I’m being facetious. There’s nothing modernizing or common-sense about more money from the taken from the pockets of consumers and given to local and state governments that have in many cases betrayed the trust of the people they serve.

The ways these things tend to work out ultimately is the big businesses with money to foot the bill for lobbyists in Montgomery and county seats and city halls all across the state is the tax code will be crafted in a way that is most beneficial to them. Therefore, it is likely that any cost burden is passed on to the consumer. It may marginally impact their overhead costs, but that, of course, will also be felt by the consumer.

Are we really supposed to believe tech giants like Amazon, Google, Apple and Facebook are going to feel the heat from a state that will seemingly bend over backward to have any of them locate some sort of data-storage facility in one of the many beleaguered local economies around Alabama?

Yesterday’s ruling wasn’t a great day for Alabama. It wasn’t even necessarily a great day for the businesses of Alabama. It was a great day for government that is often very bad at managing its finances.

@Jeff_Poor is a graduate of Auburn University and is the editor of Breitbart TV.

1 month ago

Don’t be seduced by the Amtrak impulse

(J. Snell/Flickr)

Imagine racing along the Mississippi countryside at 155 mph headed from Mobile to New Orleans on a Sunday morning on your way to watch the New Orleans Saints play at the Superdome, which is only a 10-minute walk from the Crescent City’s Union Passenger Terminal.

Sounds cool, right? You can enjoy the festivities of a Sunday in New Orleans, maybe enjoy a few drinks after the game in the French Quarter and be back to Alabama by 10 p.m.

The possibility of that fantasy becoming a reality is decades away at a minimum. Yet, it seems to be part of the sales pitch of bringing Amtrak back to Mobile.

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Earlier this week, Democratic gubernatorial nominee Walt Maddox called on his November general election opponent Gov. Kay Ivey to allocate $5.3 million over the next three years to bring Amtrak service back to Alabama’s Gulf Coast.

Up until 2005, Amtrak served Mobile with its Sunset Limited line, a route that stretched from Los Angeles to Orlando. After Hurricane Katrina hit the Gulf Coast, Amtrak terminated the Sunset Limited line in New Orleans.

Pre-2005 Amtrak service in Mobile was awful. There were not a lot of takers. It made middle-of-the-night and early-morning stops every other day for passengers headed in either direction, with only an automated ticket kiosk in an awkward spot in downtown Mobile. It was rarely on time, sometimes late by multiple hours.

There is no reason to believe that will be any different if Amtrak were to restore Mobile service.

For a route like the one that operates in the Northeast Corridor from Washington, D.C. to Boston, there are multiple tracks with overpasses that allow it to avoid railroad crossing in small towns where a passenger train would otherwise be forced to slow to a crawl before resuming speed.

There’s no existing infrastructure for a “bullet train” to operate between Alabama and anywhere in 2018. A trip to New Orleans from Mobile would require stops in Pascagoula, Biloxi, Gulfport and Bay St. Louis, Miss. Before arriving in New Orleans. That trip (assuming everything was on time) took three hours and 20 minutes.

The trip is two hours and 10 minutes by automobile. Most people would probably opt for the drive and avoid the unreliability of 2018 Amtrak train service. But, if you are trying to avoid driving, MegaBus service will get you there in two hours and 45 minutes for as little as $14.

How could it possibly be cost effective for money to be spent on establishing rail service given these facts?

Traveling in the other direction was even worse. For a trip to Pensacola, Fla. from Mobile, roughly a 45-minute drive down I-10, the departure time was at 2 a.m. CT. It arrived in Pensacola at 4:30 a.m. CT, after a stop in Atmore.

The question for these civic leaders championing the idea Amtrak service restoration on the Gulf Coast is who is going to use it? Is there even enough of a demand for such a service?

Otherwise, bringing Amtrak back to this part of Alabama is just doing so to do so. Without high-speed rail infrastructure, passenger train travel is a novelty for tourists, those afraid to fly and those commuting between northeastern U.S. metropolitan areas.

You also cannot ignore the sad history of the Sunset Limited in Alabama. In 1993, 47 passengers died, and another 100 or so were injured in an accident at a rail crossing over Bayou Canot just north of Mobile. Even though that was 25 years ago, for some in Mobile, that memory is fresh enough to deter them from using Amtrak.

Granted, $5.3 million is a rounding error for the overall expenditures of the state of Alabama, but it would be much better used if put toward highway improvements.

With the daily logjams being the norm on I-565 west of Huntsville, on I-65 south of Birmingham and I-10 headed in and out of the Wallace Tunnel in Mobile, putting taxpayer money toward an antiquated means of transit like Amtrak’s modern passenger rail travel would be a disgrace.

Kay Ivey is smart to sit this one out.

@Jeff_Poor is a graduate of Auburn University and is the editor of Breitbart TV.

1 month ago

Kay Ivey warns Trump administration on import, retaliatory tariffs: ‘Will harm Alabama’

(H. Yeager/Governor's Office)

Monday in a statement, Gov. Kay Ivey appeared to break with the Trump administration on auto tariffs and warned specific tariffs could threaten companies that employ thousands of people in Alabama.

According to Ivey’s statement, even before the announcement of the Mazda-Toyota plant, “more than 57,000 Alabamians” were employed by the state’s auto manufacturing sector.

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She touted the state’s $21.7 billion in exports and said $10.9 billion of those exports came from auto manufacturing. However, tariffs could jeopardize that portion of the state’s economy.

“Import tariffs, and any retaliatory tariffs on American made goods, will harm Alabama, the companies that have invested billions of dollars in our state, and the thousands of households which are dependent upon those companies for a good-paying job,” Ivey said in the statement. “I strongly oppose any efforts that may harm those companies that employ thousands of Alabamians and contribute billions to our economy. I am committed to protecting Alabama jobs and consumers, the world over, who are proud to purchase products made in Alabama.”

@Jeff_Poor is a graduate of Auburn University and is the editor of Breitbart TV.

1 month ago

SpaceX’s Elon Musk: ‘I’m a socialist’

(Screencap/ABC's 'GMA')

Friday, SpaceX CEO and lead designer Elon Musk took to social media and declared he was “a socialist.”

In a back-and-forth about this designation with several of his Twitter followers, Musk made the statement to affirm he was “actually a socialist.”

Musk described his brand of socialism as, “Just not the kind that shifts resources from most productive to least productive, pretending to do good, while actually causing harm. True socialism seeks greatest good for all.”

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Many would dispute Musk’s self-designation as a “socialist” and say a more appropriate classification would be “crony capitalist” given his efforts to secure government space transportation contracts, which include giving campaign contributions to prominent members Congress.

If successful, the self-described socialist’s company SpaceX could undermine hundreds of jobs at Decatur, Ala.-based rocket manufacturer United Launch Alliance (ULA).

@Jeff_Poor is a graduate of Auburn University and is the editor of Breitbart TV.

1 month ago

DC favoritism could jeopardize 600 Alabama jobs — Senate defense bill could favor Elon Musk’s SpaceX over Decatur rocket-builder ULA

(AF, ULA)

Remember the days of high school and the social hierarchy of the lunchroom that was a part of everyday life? It was a pecking order that could vary depending on the school, but at the top of this social construct was what is known as the “cool kids table.”

Modern-day Washington, D.C. is a lot like the high school cafeteria. Everyone is jockeying to be one of these so-called cool kids. Instead of lunchroom table placement, some people in our nation’s capital strive to get invited to the right parties, be seen on TV, make print headlines and be associated with the certain “cool kids.”

As the saying goes, “It isn’t what you know, but who you know.”

The “who” in this equation isn’t of Washington, D.C., but of Los Angeles’ chic Bel Air neighborhood. SpaceX’s Elon Musk is that guy.

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The Cool Kid

Musk made a name for himself for his roles in creating Zip2, PayPal, Solar City, Tesla Motors and SpaceX.  He has also capitalized on this DC social status. According to a 2015 Los Angeles Times article, Musk has been the beneficiary of billions of dollars in government subsidies to aid in the development and manufacturing of the necessities for a cleaner and greener future — solar panels, batteries, electric cars, etc.

In 2002, Musk added space transit to his portfolio of ventures with the launch of SpaceX. And much like many of his other undertakings, he has leaned heavily on the federal government to finance his space exploits.

Sixteen years since launching SpaceX, Musk is making a play to take some of the federal government’s business away from other manufacturers, including Decatur, Ala.-based rocket manufacturer United Launch Alliance (ULA).

Playing the Washington Game

Musk has convinced some in Washington that the product ULA offers is too expensive and that his SpaceX is a company that can do it much cheaper. One who has bought into Musk and what he is trying sell is Senate Armed Service Committee chairman Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.).

As Todd Stacy pointed out in a piece for Alabama News Daily earlier this week, despite McCain’s absence to receive treatment for brain cancer, many of his staffers remain involved in the process and are working to ensure language is in the National Defense Authorization Act that would favor SpaceX.

McCain is not the only member of Congress that Musk has won over on SpaceX. Unlike many of his current-day Silicon Valley counterparts, the billionaire entrepreneur has been bipartisan with his campaign contributions, as shown by the Center for Responsive Politics’ OpenSecrets.org.

On the Democratic side, Musk has invested his campaign dollars all around, especially in ideologues that profess a liberal point-of-view. However, on the Republican side, he has conspicuously been more targetted with his money.

Musk has given to members that could help with his business ventures, including House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.), House Armed Services Committee chairman Rep. Mac Thornberry (R-Texas), former chairman of the House Science Committee’s Space and Aeronautics Subcommittee Rep. Dana Rohrabacher, and as mentioned earlier, John McCain.

Still waiting on SpaceX to live up to expectations

While Musk is being judicious with money and placing bets where it benefits his interests, Musk’s SpaceX is a risky bet.

Part of SpaceX’s plan to offer launches at a lower cost involves reusing rockets. That’s not exactly a new concept, but given the wear and tear of a launch getting multiples uses from a payload to space could be costly in the long run, and that is cause for skepticism.

Musk has staked his claim on this idea, going back as far as 2007. More than a decade later, the federal government has invested at least $3.5 billion in Musk’s SpaceX according to the House Armed Services Subcommittee on Strategic Forces.

Moreover, the Falcon 9, the rocket used by SpaceX for much of its government work and touted as cost-effective because Musk had claimed it could be relaunched 10 to 20 times has only been reused once to date.

While SpaceX has had some success, there have also been some spectacular crashes.

For those reasons, SpaceX is not just a threat to taxpayer dollars but public safety as well — as pointed out by a NASA watchdog group last month.

The Coming Fight

As the FY 2019 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) is making its way through the Senate, there’s an effort underway to give SpaceX an edge over ULA.

Language buried deep within one of the drafts of the NDAA that the Senate is considering would shift who at the Pentagon is the vanguard on U.S. space policy. Currently, former NASA administrator Mike Griffin is one of the Pentagon’s top officials that holds a critical post. In the past, Griffin has recognized the risk that SpaceX poses and has preferred ULA.

The NDAA language would strip Griffin’s post of these duties and give them to the Pentagon’s Chief Management Officer, a position currently held by John H. “Jay” Gibson II.

Gibson, as ADN’s Stacy has also pointed out, is a critic of Boeing and Lockheed Martin and could hold a grudge against ULA because it didn’t select his former company XCOR for an engine development contract.

ULA: 100 Percent Success Rate Backed by Alabamians

On the other hand, Decatur’s ULA, a joint venture of Boeing and Lockheed Martin, has been a reliable and steady hand in America’s space endeavors of the new millennium. It has a track record beginning in 2006 with more than 120 consecutive launches, a 100 percent mission success rate and has placed $70 billion of assets in orbit over the Earth.

For Alabama, ULA has employed more than 600 and last year had an estimated economic impact of $285 million on the state.

For those reasons, Sen. Richard Shelby (R-Tuscaloosa) made it a priority to protect ULA’s Alabama presence. In 2016, Shelby thwarted an effort by McCain to undermine ULA.

On Tuesday, Shelby reiterated his support for ULA.

“I continue to support fair and transparent competition at the Department of Defense and NASA,” Shelby said in a statement to Yellowhammer News. “United Launch Alliance has an outstanding reliability record of 128 consecutive launches without a failure, and that record speaks for itself.”

@Jeff_Poor is a graduate of Auburn University and is the editor of Breitbart TV.

Correction: This article identified Mike Griffin as NASA administrator. He is the former NASA administrator. It has been corrected to reflect this.

1 month ago

Bradley Byrne: Trump worthy of Nobel Peace Prize if U.S. reaches agreement — Says Obama got prize ‘in his first year of office before he did anything’

(Screenshot / YouTube)

In an interview with Mobile NBC affiliate WPMI 15 on Wednesday, Rep. Bradley Byrne (R-Fairhope) addressed the possibility of President Donald Trump being awarded the Nobel Peace Prize for his efforts regarding North Korea.

Byrne told WPMI’s Jessica Townsend that despite what critics were saying about Trump’s summit in Singapore with North Korean dictator Kim Jong Un, Trump had given up very little, referring to the United States cancelation of military exercises with South Korea.

He also explained if something did go wrong, Trump could pull out of any negotiations.

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As for the possible award of the Nobel Peace Prize, Byrne said if this shows any amount of success, then he should be awarded the prize.

“I think if he pulls this off, he should,” Byrne said. “President Obama got the Nobel Peace Prize in his first year of office before he did anything. And here’s President Trump achieving potentially a peace agreement with North Korea after all these years of not being able to get a peace agreement, and also potentially to get an agreement – a firm agreement, to denuclearize the entire Korean peninsula, which is important to everybody in the world. So if he pulls that off, yes I think he does deserve the peace prize from the Nobel Peace Prize people.”

@Jeff_Poor is a graduate of Auburn University and is the editor of Breitbart TV.