12 months 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

13 hours ago

Bradley Byrne campaign announces launch of ‘Farmers for Bradley’ coalition

Bradley Byrne’s campaign for United States Senate announced Friday that key leaders from Alabama’s agriculture community have launched a “Farmers for Bradley” coalition to support Byrne.

Agriculture remains the top industry in Alabama, and we need a Senator who will not only vote right, but who will actually fight tooth and nail to support our farmers, landowners, and agribusinesses,” Byrne said in a statement. “To have such a strong group of agriculture leaders backing our campaign is a real honor and a testament to the hard work we have done over the years to support our Alabama farmers.”

Both State Senator Andrew Jones (R-Centre) and Mark Kaiser from Baldwin County, who lead the coalition, believe Byrne will fight for farmers in the Senate.

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“When I first met Bradley, it was clear he is a fighter,” Jones said. “Agriculture is a very difficult industry with a wide range of challenges, so it is so important we have a U.S. Senator who will work with our farmers and leaders at the state level to make life a little easier.”

Kaiser echoed Jones’ comments and said, “Bradley just gets it when it comes to agriculture. He has taken the time to learn about the various issues impacting Alabama’s agriculture community, and he has used that knowledge to fight for us in Washington. Bradley doesn’t just talk the talk, he walks the walk.”

“Bradley has an impressive record as a champion for Alabama’s farmers,” a press release stated. “From supporting the Farm Bill to cutting bureaucratic red tape, Bradley has always fought to ensure the farm economy remains stable and fair. Bradley plans to continue the fight for farmers by seeking a seat on the Senate Agriculture Committee.”

Kyle Morris also contributes daily to Breitbart News. You can follow him on Twitter @RealKyleMorris.

14 hours ago

Did a police officer go for his gun or not? This is not an appropriate resolution to the Alabama A&M/UNA issue

Last weekend, the Alabama A&M Bulldogs upset the University of North Alabama Lions in a football game that most of you didn’t know even took place by a 31-24 score.

After the game, a series of allegations were made that were pretty serious and require further investigation.

Here are the problems Bulldogs’ head coach Connell Maynor pointed out:

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  • “It ain’t 1959, we don’t have to put up with that type stuff.”
  • Alabama A&M received no free tickets or tickets to sell to the public
  • Alabama A&M player weren’t allowed access to the field prior to two hours before the game
  • Alabama A&M coaches were told to have their credentials hanging around their neck, UNA coaches had theirs around their waist
  • His assistant coaches were not able to use the elevator right away because of fans being given priority
  • “There was too much stuff that went on off the field, behind the scenes that was not professional on their part at all.”
  • “And we were very very disappointed in the way they treated us, in every aspect off the field.”
  • The teams will not play again

And most importantly, according to the Florence Times Daily:

Maynor also alleged an incident occurred in which a police officer put “his hand on his gun” and saying “Did you hear what he said?” during an argument between a coach and security.

Whoa… what?

A police officer put his hand on his weapon during an argument with staff?

Wait.

A police officer put his hand on his weapon during an argument with the staff of a Historically Black College and University at a football game?

Why don’t we know what agency this officer was with?

His name?

The name of the coach involved?

This is a serious allegation and is, no doubt, a racially tinged accusation.

There must be an investigation of this entire situation.

Only, there will not be an investigation. Alabama A&M has made it clear neither the coach nor the school will be commenting further, which is insane.

Alabama A&M’s head coach is alleging some pretty serious stuff, including a police officer going for his gun over a coach’s access to part of a football stadium.

Instead, we got a statement from the two schools that says the following:

“Alabama A&M University and the University of North Alabama are vital educational institutions that serve the North Alabama region and beyond. Both institutions are committed to working collaboratively to advance our respective missions. We are separated by 76 miles; however, we remain united in ensuring the viability of our institutions and the success of our students, faculty, staff, alumni, friends, and programs, both academically and athletically. As part of that collaborative commitment, both universities have been in communication since Monday about the recent UNA-AAMU football game at Braly Stadium to decide what, if any, next steps are necessary. Both institutions are committed to providing a safe, accommodating, friendly, and inclusive environment. We remain dedicated to furthering our relationship and enjoying a bright future, both on and off the field.”

The highlight is this (bold text added for emphasis):

As part of that collaborative commitment, both universities have been in communication since Monday about the recent UNA-AAMU football game at Braly Stadium to decide what, if any, next steps are necessary.

To put it bluntly, that statement is complete garbage.

Was there racism or not?

Was this just normal rivalry stuff?

Was there an effort by the University of North Alabama to behave in a way that Alabama A&M’s coach, staff, and players led to these words by a state employee about another state institution?

Is Coach Maynor lying?

If he is, why is he still employed?

If he is not, why don’t we know what actually happened?

Why is this police officer still on the job?

Shame on everyone involved in this situation, especially the leadership of these universities who have no interest in getting to the bottom of what actually happened.

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

15 hours ago

OIG report: ‘Serious issues,’ possible misuse of taxpayer dollars at Alabama Women’s Business Center locations

The U.S. Small Business Administration’s (SBA) Office of Inspector General (OIG) has released a report identifying “serious” material deficiencies with Women’s Business Center, Inc., an Alabama-based recipient of the SBA’s Women’s Business Center (WBC) grant program.

Women’s Business Center, Inc. is responsible for operating two WBCs, located in Mobile and Brewton.

In the course of the OIG’s audit of SBA’s oversight of the nationwide WBC program, Women’s Business Center, Inc. denied OIG auditors access to both coastal Alabama center’s offices and records.

After issuing an administrative subpoena, the SBA OIG uncovered that both WBCs had actually been permanently closed since the fall of 2018 yet were still collecting federal government funds.

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Further violations uncovered by the OIG included inadequately staffing centers, late and unpaid payroll, a major potential conflict of interest and failure to maintain an adequate financial management system and audited financial statements.

The OIG’s report concluded:

We determined that the Recipient has materially violated federal statutes, regulations, and the terms and conditions of its cooperative agreements. Its lack of required financial systems, records, and policies, and inability to pay its obligations, maintain open and available facilities and service hours, and staff its WBCs with full-time program directors indicates serious issues in the Recipient’s ability to operate and fulfill the WBC program requirements. We have deemed the documentation the Recipient has provided to us to be insufficient and incomplete. The Recipient denied access to OIG, an independent, authorized oversight entity, and disregarded governing federal regulations and terms and conditions of its cooperative agreements.

These findings impel SBA to take prompt corrective action to protect taxpayers’ dollars and help to ensure the integrity of the WBC program. SBA should pursue actions including, but not limited to, suspension, termination, and nonrenewal of the Recipient’s cooperative agreements, as well as suspension and debarment of the Recipient and its personnel.

In a statement reacting to the OIG report, U.S. Senator Marco Rubio (R-FL), chairman of the Senate Committee on Small Business and Entrepreneurship, said, “The gross lack of oversight uncovered in the SBA OIG’s most recent management advisory is incredibly troubling.”

“SBA must take action to remedy the numerous deficiencies identified and enact the Office of Inspector General’s recommendations immediately,” he added. “I appreciate the Office of the Inspector General’s diligence in this matter and look forward to its swift resolution.”

Read the OIG report here.

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

15 hours ago

Ivey back in Montgomery after outpatient procedure ‘went well and as planned’

Governor Kay Ivey on Friday underwent an initial outpatient procedure at the University of Alabama at Birmingham (UAB) for early-stage lung cancer.

This followed her Thursday announcement that disclosed the next day’s procedure and radiation treatments to follow.

In a statement, Ivey’s press secretary, Gina Maiola, said, “The governor’s outpatient procedure today at UAB went well and as planned.”

“She is back in Montgomery and looks forward to returning to her regular schedule next week,” Maiola concluded.

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RELATED: Support pours in after Ivey announces cancer diagnosis — ‘No step too high for a high-stepper’

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

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