2 years ago

Bentley discusses Alabama populism, George Wallace, Trump in Fox News Radio appearance

Former Alabama Governor Robert Bentley was featured on Chris Stirewalt’s new Fox News Radio podcast, and the two discussed American populism and another former governor from the state, George Wallace.

The podcast was chapter five of the series called “Every Man A King,” which highlights the major players in Stirewalt’s new book of the same title.

Bentley was a student at the University of Alabama when Wallace had his infamous “Stand in the Schoolhouse Door” and, as he was taking summer classes at the time, actually attended and watched from a distance.

In Bentley’s recollection, his classmates were certainly not on Wallace’s side in that moment in history.

“[T]here was not a [racist] attitude. No-one really cared if the African-American students were admitted to the University of Alabama. There was not an uproar about it among the students. I do not remember a single student saying anything negative about them being enrolled,” he said.

However, Wallace’s audience was not the student body.

“He was not playing to us,” Bentley advised.

Wallace’s rhetoric was aimed at the masses – those who would not have been in the exclusive group of college-educated Alabamians in 1963.

He was influential, not just in the Yellowhammer State, but all across the Deep South.

Bentley told the Fox News host that his popularity stemmed from the region’s dislike of being told what to do by elites from elsewhere in the country.

“The South is made up of some unique people – very strong-willed, mostly farmers, mostly sawmillers, mostly people who are not educated but who had Scotch-Irish backgrounds. They fought a lot, they didn’t like people telling them what to do,” Bentley explained.

Wallace’s first run for governor in 1958 was akin to Huey Long populism, taking from the rich and powerful to give to the average-Joe. However, Wallace lost that campaign and then famously vowed to add race-baiting to his rhetoric in order to win next time.

Bentley commented, “I would never have done that, however, that was his choice, and I think George Wallace wanted power. He didn’t want money, he wanted power. And this is how he could develop a power structure.”

Stirewalt pointed out that Wallace had a long moral arc and his run in 1976 was essentially an apology for his previous racial rhetoric.

Bentley and Stirewalt also discussed the realignment of the Democratic Party based on their support of civil rights. As working-class white voters began to feel disenfranchised, they stopped voting for national Democrats.

This is exemplified by Wallace’s run for president in 1964 as a Dixiecrat, when he found support outside of the South in places like Wisconsin.

“I think their feeling was the same as many Southerners, they felt disenfranchised. They felt like the people [in power] had pushed things on them, that it changed their lifestyle,” Bentley outlined.

Wallace knew how to communicate to these working class people across the country who were scared of being cast aside by society.

Bentley added, “I think they were drawn more to his populism and that type of thinking. Race played a role in it, there’s no doubt about it, but it was the same feeling like telling me I’m not good enough.”

He thinks Wallace was trying to help struggling Alabamians, but taking the easy road on his quest for power clouded his intentions.

“I think Wallace, basically, was a good man,” Bentley opined. “I think he wanted to do the right thing but he was overpowered by his search for ambition. And he let that overtake the goodness that he knew – the way he should be.”

Wallace’s faults were part of the reason Bentley voted for Republican presidential nominee Barry Goldwater in 1964 against Lyndon B. Johnson, who was running for election to his own term approximately a year after the assassination of President John F. Kennedy elevated him to the presidency.

The former Alabama governor discussed growing up in a staunchly Democratic state as a Republican and seeing the state flip from blue to red over his lifetime. He also outlined the unique political quirks in the Heart of Dixie.

Bentley detailed, “Alabama is really divided into different sections. Northern Alabama is totally different from southern Alabama, and you have the Scotch-Irish, the Appalachian people. They were very independent, there were a lot of Republicans in those areas. In fact, where I grew up in Shelby County, we had a party called the Populist Republicans of Alabama. There’s a book that’s written on that … it was in three counties, and in fact, my dad was a Populist-Republican. He never voted Democrat, never voted for Wallace. And I grew up as a Populist-Republican.”

Now, the national Republican Party is populist-driven.

“Shelby County was just ahead of its time,” Stirewalt quipped.

“It’s amazing how things have changed in Alabama, just like they have in a lot of Southern states,” Bentley responded.

The roots of Wallace’s populism and Trump, as far as voter mindset goes, are one-in-the-same.

“I think the thing about it is people everywhere, they have a certain lifestyle. They don’t like someone coming in, saying ‘you are wrong and we’re going to make you change.’ That makes people defensive,” Bentley advised.

Stirewalt and Bentley also discussed Abraham Lincoln, Richard Nixon and even Alabama football.

Bentley reflected, “I think the South, and it really goes back to the Civil War, they always felt like people looked down on them … So, [Alabama] said if we can’t do anything else, we can beat them in football. And ‘we’re going to win something.’”

He also explained Bear Bryant’s lasting Alabama legacy outside of historic on-the-field success.

“[W]hen coach Bryant came to Alabama and integrated the team, it did more for opening things up than probably anything else. Because you could cheer for black athletes, and they were not black and white athletes – they were Alabama football players,” Bentley said.

“Red is the only color that matters,” Stirewalt added.

The entire 34-minute conversation can be heard here.

The interview notably comes as Bentley is seeming to ease back into public life, with speculation brewing that he is contemplating a run for the United States Senate in 2020.

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

33 mins ago

Merrill: Alabama’s ‘greatest champion and favorite son’ Richard Shelby delivers once again

Alabama Secretary of State John H. Merrill on Wednesday released a statement praising U.S. Senator Richard C. Shelby’s role (R-AL) in the recent coronavirus (COVID-19) stimulus package passed by Congress and signed into law by President Donald J. Trump.

Merrill also touted the overall leadership being provided to the nation by Trump, as well as the work Governor Kay Ivey is doing for the Yellowhammer State.

Shelby is Alabama’s longest serving senator, and his accomplishments for his home state are well recognized by political observers. Merrill outlined that the COVID-19 stimulus package is merely the latest example of Shelby delivering for his fellow Alabamians.

“Our state is incredibly lucky to have leaders who are willing to step up to the plate and go to bat for Alabama, which is precisely what Senator Shelby has done,” Merrill stated.

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“The historic coronavirus relief package recently appropriated to the states would not have been possible without the leadership and guidance of Senator Shelby,” he continued. “How do I know this? I know this to be true because those words came straight from Senator Mitch McConnell and his team. When liberal extremists pushed their agenda, Senator Shelby drew a line in the sand and said, ‘no farther!’”

There were reports that Democrats were trying to insert provisions related to the Green New Deal into the package, as well as voting measures championed by the left that Merrill and others believed could have jeopardized election security and increased voter fraud.

“I am most grateful for the $400 million provided by Congress to protect the 2020 elections. I am also thankful for the provisions that allow each state to do what is best for that state,” Merrill commented.

He said, “Senator Shelby and his team have been receptive and engaged in finding proactive solutions to ensure the safety and security of our elections are not compromised.”

“After countless calls from me and other election officials from across the country, Senator Shelby made it a priority to see that states were granted the flexibility to best accommodate their respective communities under the bill’s stipulations,” the secretary of state added. “Unlike others who have attempted to implement nationwide election changes – many that would increase the likelihood for voter fraud and voter intimidation to be committed – Senator Shelby has proven yet again that federal interference into the elections process in unwarranted and unnecessary.”

Merrill concluded by lauding the stalwart service of Shelby, as well as casting an optimistic and unifying message as the nation continues to deal with the coronavirus pandemic.

“While we work to get through these trying times, we must remember there is much to be grateful for, such as the collaboration of federal, state and local officials across the country who are working together to provide assistance to those who are most in need,” he advised.

“At the forefront of this fight, finding a solution to the problems we face is Alabama’s Senior Senator, our greatest champion and favorite son, United States Senator Richard C. Shelby!” Merrill concluded.

RELATED: ‘From Alabama to the Moon’ — Richard Shelby is the driving force making America’s space dreams a reality

Merrill’s full statement as follows:

As we navigate these unchartered waters, we must remember that Alabama has a lot to be grateful for.

The leadership exemplified by state and national leaders like President Donald J. Trump, United States Senator Richard Shelby and Governor Kay Ivey should not go unnoticed.

Our state is incredibly lucky to have leaders who are willing to step up to the plate and go to bat for Alabama, which is precisely what Senator Shelby has done.

The historic coronavirus relief package recently appropriated to the states would not have been possible without the leadership and guidance of Senator Shelby.

How do I know this? I know this to be true because those words came straight from Senator Mitch McConnell and his team. When liberal extremists pushed their agenda, Senator Shelby drew a line in the sand and said, ‘no farther!’

I am most grateful for the $400 million provided by Congress to protect the 2020 elections. I am also thankful for the provisions that allow each state to do what is best for that state.

Senator Shelby and his team have been receptive and engaged in finding proactive solutions to ensure the safety and security of our elections are not compromised.

After countless calls from me and other election officials from across the country, Senator Shelby made it a priority to see that states were granted the flexibility to best accommodate their respective communities under the bill’s stipulations.

Unlike others who have attempted to implement nationwide election changes – many that would increase the likelihood for voter fraud and voter intimidation to be committed – Senator Shelby has proven yet again that federal interference into the elections process in unwarranted and unnecessary.

While we work to get through these trying times, we must remember there is much to be grateful for, such as the collaboration of federal, state and local officials across the country who are working together to provide assistance to those who are most in need.

At the forefront of this fight, finding a solution to the problems we face is Alabama’s Senior Senator, our greatest champion and favorite son, United States Senator Richard C. Shelby!

RELATED: Keep up with Alabama’s confirmed coronavirus cases, locations here

Sean Ross is the editor of Yellowhammer News. You can follow him on Twitter @sean_yhn

1 hour ago

6 suggestions to protect yourself from stimulus check scams

Congress moved quickly to help the American public with a $2 trillion stimulus bill.

Unfortunately, fraud experts believe scammers will move just as quickly to try to take your share away. The key is to arm yourself with information.

“No doubt, there will be fake messages that will make countless claims,” said Don White, head of Corporate Security at Regions Bank. “Scammers may text, email or call you, asking for your banking information or claiming they can process your stimulus payment for you. Don’t take the bait. Do not, under any circumstance, give away your personal information via text, email or phone to someone you do not know who is soliciting you.”

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The bipartisan legislation to boost the economy amid the COVID-19 pandemic includes economic relief for American taxpayers in the form of stimulus checks. Each eligible adult will receive up to $1,200, based on gross income.

According to Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, the checks could go out in the next two weeks, although there are still questions as to how the money will be distributed. For example, someone who received a refund on 2019 taxes via the Automated Clearing House (ACH) could receive a direct deposit.

Meanwhile, scammers are ready to take advantage by reaching out and saying your account information is needed, or that you can have their relief check for a small fee.

To avoid fraud, consider these suggestions:

1. Hang up. Don’t reply. The IRS, Treasury Department or other government agencies will not call, email or text message people to collect account information, Social Security numbers or credit card information. Anyone who does is likely a scammer, White said.

2. Do not pay anyone offering to get your stimulus funds early or sell you additional stimulus checks. This is a promise that they will not be able to fulfill.

3. Enroll in your bank’s or credit card company’s online and mobile applications to monitor your account activity frequently, looking for suspicious activity.

4. Avoid clicking on unknown links, which may expose you to viruses or malware.

5. While online, verify the legitimacy of websites you visit.

– Turn on browser tools, which can help identify fraudulent websites.

– Ensure the websites are secure and encrypted with HTTPS.

– Look for links that are broken or take you away from the original website.

– Shop through websites you know and trust.

6. As always, slow down, verify, and verify again the legitimacy of financial transactions before approving. Look for changes to account numbers, phone numbers, email addresses or other identifying information.

“We are seeing a spike in fraud activity during the COVID-19 pandemic,” said Jon Kucharski, Fraud Strategy Manager at Regions. “No matter what this payment winds up being, only scammers will ask you to pay to get it. Just keep in mind, these unusual times require patience and a little extra vigilance to keep your finances safe.”

(Courtesy of Regions)

2 hours ago

‘Don’t let the corona get on ya!’ — Alabama retirees sing during COVID-19 crisis

An Alabama retirement community shared a helpful message on social media this week amid the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.

In a video posted on Facebook, residents of Wesley Gardens Retirement Community in Montgomery joined with facility driver Lee McBryde (while practicing social distancing by staying six steps away) to dance and sing some important lyrics during the COVID-19 crisis such as properly washing hands and covering up when coughing and sneezing to help prevent the spread.

“Don’t let the corona get on ya!” McBryde sang as residents danced around him while holding containers of disinfectant wipes.

Watch:

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Birmingham meal prep business offers buy one, give one to help feed those in need

During the novel COVID-19 economic and health crisis, one Birmingham based small business has created a way to give back. Mealfit, a catering and meal preparation company, is donating a free meal to someone in need for every meal that is ordered.

Each customer who purchases a meal for themselves will be offered an opportunity to identify someone who may be in need. Mealfit will provide a meal to those in need at no additional costs.

Mealfit founder and CEO Thomas Cox launched the program as a way to help the community during a time of need.

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“I’ve been racking my brain as a small business owner on how I can provide high-quality, healthy food in a time when people are stuck at home, while also helping people who are in need,” said Cox.

“Everyone has someone who is in need whether it be an elderly person, a single parent or someone who has been laid off because of the crisis we are going through. So from now until further notice, every time you order your Mealfit meals, we will give to a family in need,” Thomas stated.

Customers can order through the company website by 12:00 p.m. on Sunday and pick up food between 4:00-5:00 p.m. on Monday at one of 17 different locations in Birmingham. Once an order is placed the customer can simply respond to their confirmation email and identify the name, number of family members, phone number and email of the person they would like to have a free meal. Mealfit will handle the rest.

Cox only has one small request for the greater Birmingham community: “We ask that you spread the word. We can’t reach everyone on our own, but with your help, we can reach more of the people who are in need that we aren’t directly connected with.”

Go to this website and order food for you and your family. 

3 hours ago

Jefferson County: Recovering elderly COVID-19 patients must be returned to their nursing homes

The Jefferson County Department of Health (JCDH) is asking nursing homes in the area to take back patients still testing positive for the coronavirus, according to a letter brought to light by the Alabama Nursing Home Association (ANHA).

The leading studies available have shown that COVID-19 is much more deadly for people over 65 than any other age group.

ANHA communications director John Matson told Alabama Media Group that the new county guidelines go “against sound medical advice.”

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The JCDH cites “the possibility that our hospitals will not have the capacity to care for a large number of patients infected with COVID-19” as the reason for nursing homes to take in the coronavirus-positive patients.

According to the department, individuals testing positive for the virus will only be returned to a nursing home if two conditions are both met:

  • At least three days (72 hours) have passed since recovery, defined as resolution of fever without use of fever-reducing medications and improvement in respiratory symptoms (e.g., cough, shortness of breath)
  • At least seven days have passed since symptoms first appeared.

The department added that some patients may be returned before those conditions are met if their facility is able to adopt certain extra precautions.

Because the new guidelines are being issued by the Jefferson County Department of Health, they only apply to nursing homes in Jefferson County.

Additionally, patients hospitalized without COVID-19 symptoms do not have to test negative before being readmitted to their nursing home.

“For weeks we haven’t allowed family members and volunteers to visit our nursing homes, and our families understand why,” Matson told Alabama Media Group.

“Now they can’t visit, but we’re supposed to admit someone that’s COVID-19 positive?” Matson added.

The Jefferson County Health Department is assuring the public that it is following guidelines laid out by the CDC.

Henry Thornton is a staff writer for Yellowhammer News. You can contact him by email: henry@yellowhammernews.com or on Twitter @HenryThornton95.