2 weeks ago

GOP control of U.S. Senate critical for Alabama

The 2020 race for the White House will culminate in less than three weeks on November 3. However, some experts are predicting the outcome will not be determined that night and there will be a protracted result due to the massive number of mail-in votes.

In fact, state officials in Pennsylvania are expecting controversy. The Keystone State is looking like ground zero for the presidential contest. It is one of the largest key battleground states, and it has obviously been the focus of the Biden Democratic presidential campaign.

Under the Electoral College system, there are six pivotal battleground states to watch on election night. The election will be decided in Florida, Ohio, Pennsylvania and to a lesser degree in Michigan, Wisconsin and Arizona.

The proverbial October surprise in the presidential race occurred in late September. The passing of legendary liberal Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg changed the entire dynamics of the 2020 election. The opportunity for President Trump to appoint an outstanding accomplished, conservative, federal jurist to the high tribunal is significant to say the least.

Trump’s appointment of Judge Amy Coney Barrett is truly historical. If Barrett is confirmed this will change the entire ideology of the Court to a solid six-to-three conservative majority. Trump’s appointment of Barrett is even more pivotal than his previous Gorsuch and Kavanaugh appointments. In these two cases, you replaced conservatives with conservatives. With Barrett, you are replacing a woman with a woman but more importantly, you are replacing one of the most liberal judges in history with potentially one of the most conservative. From a political standpoint, this Supreme Court surprise is like manna from Heaven for Trump and the Republicans.

The pandemic was the issue prior to the Ginsburg/Barrett surprise. Trump was not going to win on that issue as the person in the White House. While he may not have caused the problem, voters must blame someone. The campaign focus briefly changed from COVID to the Supreme Court battle. However, Trump’s contraction of COVID redirected the campaign focus back to the pandemic. Things are changing so rapidly the Supreme Court hearings and ultimate vote for confirmation scheduled for the last week of October may refocus the campaign theme back to a partisan divide between the socially liberal Democrats and the conservative Republicans. It will illuminate the differences in the two parties. The philosophical chasm is deep and wide.

Which brings me to this point – the battle over control of the U.S. Senate is just as important as the presidential contest in this year’s election. President Trump could not have garnered three Supreme Court appointees without the confirmation by the majority Republican Senate. Currently, Republicans have a slim 53 to 47 majority in the U.S. Senate. There are three Republican incumbent senators behind in polling and fundraising. The GOP is in serious jeopardy of losing seats in Colorado, Arizona and Maine; in addition, Iowa and North Carolina are toss-ups.

Your vote may not count for much in the presidential race. Trump wins in Alabama probably by a 60/40 margin. However, folks, I am here to tell you that your vote in Alabama’s U.S. Senate race is paramount for the state of Alabama. If the U.S. Senate flips from Republican to Democratic our iconic senior Senator Richard Shelby loses the chairmanship of the U.S. Senate Appropriations Committee and Alabama loses our power in Washington. Therefore, a vote for liberal Democrat Doug Jones is a vote against Richard Shelby and the state of Alabama.

The amount of federal money Richard Shelby brings home to Alabama as chairman of Appropriations is unimaginable. He is Alabama’s number one economic engine. Our seven Congressmen combined do not have 10% of the influence as Senator Shelby.

Whereas Doug Jones is totally irrelevant when it comes to Alabama. His only relevance in the Senate is to be a pawn for the New York and California liberal Democrats. He has voted reliably with Democratic leader Chuck Schumer and along with Bernie Sanders, Elizabeth Warren and Kamala Harris. Indeed, Jones has voted so much like a Californian, most of his campaign money has come from the California Democrats. Actually, Jones is referred to in Washington as California’s third U.S. Senator.

Regardless of the fact philosophically Jones is the most liberal senator to sit in an Alabama Senate seat in recent times, economically a vote for a Democrat could cost Alabama millions of federal dollars. Therefore, not only is a vote for Doug Jones a vote against Richard Shelby and the state of Alabama, if you work or benefit from UAB or Redstone Arsenal or any military facility in our state, you may be voting to cut your own throat.

Steve Flowers is Alabama’s leading political columnist. His weekly column appears in over 60 Alabama newspapers. He served 16 years in the state legislature. Steve may be reached at www.steveflowers.us.

13 hours ago

Data: Doug Jones closer to Chuck Schumer, Mazie Hirono than to Joe Manchin on supporting Trump

Only four full days away from the November 3 general election, U.S. Senator Doug Jones (D-AL) continues to claim to be a moderate on the campaign trail. However, the data paints a much different picture.

The highly respected, non-partisan data and analytics site FiveThirtyEight.com hosts a comprehensive database tracking each member of Congress’ voting history. This includes a tally of how often representatives and senators vote with or against President Donald Trump’s position; this data is formulated into a percentage, comprising each legislator’s “Trump Score.”

The dataset also takes Trump’s margin of victory over Hillary Clinton in 2016 (in each state for senators and each district for representatives) and calculates a predicted Trump Score that hypothesizes how often a member is expected to vote with Trump based on that margin.

FiveThirtyEight then compares each legislator’s actual Trump Score to the predicted score to effectively see the approximate difference between the sentiment of a legislator’s constituents and that individual’s congressional votes.

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Examining Jones, the data showed Alabama’s junior senator has a Trump Score of only 34.8% since he took office in January 2018. The data is up-to-date, with Jones’ latest vote against Justice Amy Coney Barrett factored in.

In contrast, U.S. Senator Joe Manchin (D-WV) has a score of 51.6% and U.S. Senator Kyrsten Sinema (D-AZ) came in at 51.5%; both are perceived-moderate Democrats.

Other Democrats who have been recently ousted from office by voters in red states also scored significantly higher than Jones, including U.S. Senators Heidi Heitkamp of North Dakota (54.8%), Joe Donnelly of Indiana (54.2%), Claire McCaskill of Missouri (45.8%) and Bill Nelson of Florida (43.4%). Even current blue- and purple-state Democratic Caucus members had higher Trump Scores than Jones, including U.S. Senators Angus King of Maine (37.9%), Mark Werner of Virginia (35.5%) and Jacky Rosen of Nevada (35.1%).

In fact, Jones’ Trump Score is closer to the far-left wing in his party than the more-moderate senators. The Democrat from Alabama scored closer to the likes of U.S. Senators Chuck Schumer (D-NY), Mazie Hirono (D-HI), Richard Blumenthal (D-CT), Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI), Brian Schatz (D-HI), Dick Durbin (D-IL) and Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) than to Sinema and Manchin; Jones scored closer to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) and U.S. Senators Kamala Harris (D-CA), Ed Markey (D-MA) and Ron Wyden (D-OR) than to Heitkamp.

Overall, Jones also scored closer to the extreme left of his party than he did to the left-most Republican, U.S. Senator Susan Collins (R-ME).

Based on Trump’s 2016 margin, Jones’ predicted Trump Score was 85.5%. This means his actual Trump Score was 50.7 percentage points lower than expected. That massive margin was second-largest nationally, with only U.S. Senator Jon Tester (D-MT) having a higher negative differential.

The more recent data paints an even worse picture for Jones. Looking at only the 116th Congress, which began in January 2019 and is still in session, Jones’ Trump Score dropped to 23.1%. Simply put, the more time he spent in D.C., the further to the left Jones went.

The Yellowhammer State’s senior senator is a much different story; U.S. Senator Richard Shelby (R-AL) has an overall Trump Score of 93.5%.

Jones will face Republican U.S. Senatorial nominee Tommy Tuberville at the ballot box on Tuesday.

RELATED: Tuberville: Jones’ vote against Barrett ‘represented the liberal beliefs of his high-dollar campaign donors in California and New York’

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

13 hours ago

Alabama rocket CEO and former Air Force leader: Military threat from China now extends to space

When an Alabama-built rocket powers another critical national security satellite into space next week, it will be the latest such satellite in the ever-increasing use of space to gain military advantage on the ground.

The satellite, operated by the National Reconnaissance Office, will enhance communication for America’s warfighters across the globe.

However, the United States’ ability to operate in space and leverage its potential for national security purposes could be made more difficult, according to two experts who participated in the AscendxSummit conference last week.

Tory Bruno, president and CEO of Alabama rocket builder United Launch Alliance (ULA), and former Air Force Secretary Heather Wilson both concluded that foreign governments are challenging America’s space superiority, with China being at the forefront of the effort.

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“The threat has changed,” explained Wilson. “The United States is heavily dependent on space for national security, and we need to respond to that emerging threat.”

That dependence on space comes from satellites which assist U.S. military operations around the world.

By the end of last year, the Air Force had 80 satellites in use, the Navy had 13, and the National Reconnaissance Office was utilizing 40. The smallest satellite being the size of a toaster and the biggest the size of a school bus.

Some serve important communications functions, while others serve as mechanisms for intelligence gathering, including the ability to provide missile warnings. These satellites are trained at the Earth and employ infrared technology to identify the hot plumes of gas that come from the end of rockets and then calculate the trajectory and warn the national command authority.

These capabilities have naturally drawn the attention of America’s adversaries.

Wilson has previously drawn attention to the threat from China with its launch of a missile the size of a telephone pole to destroy a dead weather satellite.

She said China and Russia have been developing the means to interfere with or destroy American military satellites in order to influence military operations on the ground.

Bruno expressed his belief that we stand at a pivotal moment in human history. He cited an “unprecedented set of decades that stretch out in front of us in space” with the potential to tap into near limitless resources which would allow for a self-sustaining economy on Earth.

At the same time, Bruno warned of a need for a national security space strategy which takes into account threats in orbit.

“We are heading back immediately today into an environment of pure competition,” he elaborated. “With a resurgent Russia, a rising China, countries that have ambitions around the world that not only potentially limit America’s influence but potentially limit the growth and expansion of democracy and freedom to be curtailed by totalitarian regimes and governments.”

Bruno sees access to space as essential for America to maintain its position of strength, saying that while the U.S. military is not the largest in the world, it is the most capable because it is enabled by space.

“For the first time in history, space, the previously historically peaceful domain is now being weaponized as we speak by these adversaries,” Bruno remarked. “That brings with it the potential to limit our unrivaled use of space to keep the peace around the globe.”

He said other nations seeking to weaken the U.S. military are attempting to take space away because that is a far easier approach than conventional warfare.

Wilson believes it is the space prowess of the United States which has made it a target of China and other countries.

“One of the reasons why this subject continues to interest me is that America is the best in the world at space, and our adversaries are seeking to develop the capability to deny us the use of space in crisis or at war,” she observed.

The White House earlier this month released a “National Strategy for Critical and Emerging Technologies.” The document outlines how the United States will promote and protect its competitive advantage in fields which include space and military technologies.

A statement from the White House addressed the need to develop such a national strategy:

As our competitors and adversaries mobilize vast resources in these fields, American dominance in science and technology is more important now than ever, and is vital to our long-term economic and national security. The United States will not turn a blind eye to the tactics of countries like China and Russia, which steal technology, coerce companies into handing over intellectual property, undercut free and fair markets, and surreptitiously divert emerging civilian technologies to build up their militaries.

When asked about the White House’s national strategy, Bruno acknowledged the country’s innovation chain is now susceptible to foreign interference in a way it never has been before.

“At least one of our adversaries has figured out, why spy when you can buy?” he remarked.

China’s ability to absorb U.S. technology and innovation is something which will demand significant attention, according to Bruno.

“There are a lot of elements to that innovation chain, and most of them are actually pretty open,” he concluded. “As a Chinese company, you can come and buy key elements of the supply chain where technologies reside. You can sponsor members of your intelligence community, or your armed forces, to go to America and receive the best STEM education on the planet and bring all of that home. You can even invest to influence companies through venture capital and even do that through shell companies so that your presence, influence and access is not as obvious. All of that is right now an open door to both of our adversaries.”

Tim Howe is an owner of Yellowhammer Multimedia

14 hours ago

Alabama coronavirus cases and hospitalizations have risen in the last week

Alabama’s coronavirus caseload continued to increase in the last week, and the number of citizens hospitalized with the virus has gone up as well.

The state has averaged 942 new cases of COVID-19 per day over the last week, a 5% increase from the 848 cases per day the state was averaging on October 22.

From early September to mid-October, Alabama was averaging around 700 cases per day.

Hospitals in the state admitted 114 coronavirus patients per day over the last seven days, up from a 102 per day average a week ago, an 11% increase.

Just over 1,000 Alabamians are currently in the hospital with a case of COVID-19.

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Both new cases and hospitalizations remain far below the peaks they hit in July.

The scientific consensus on the coronavirus is that a surge in new cases is followed by a surge in hospitalizations around two weeks later, with a resultant increase in deaths two to four weeks after the uptick in hospitalizations.

Clicking image opens interactive chart in new tab. (BamaTracker)
Clicking image opens interactive chart in new tab. (BamaTracker)

Yellowhammer News used numbers from BamaTracker for the data in this report. BamaTracker collects statistics generated by the Alabama Department of Public Health (ADPH) to provide graphs and information on the coronavirus in Alabama.

In the last 14 days, 21.23% of all coronavirus tests administered in Alabama have come back positive, which infectious disease experts say is incredibly worrying.

According to doctors at Johns Hopkins University, the ideal range rate of positive tests is 1% to 5% for a disease to be considered contained.

Sixty-one of 67 counties in the Yellowhammer State reported a new coronavirus case on Thursday, a lower number than last week, but still a figure that shows the disease is being transmitted in nearly all areas of the state.

Bigger counties like Mobile and Houston have generated especially concerning COVID-19 numbers in recent days, along with smaller counties like Lamar, Washington, Henry and Dekalb.

In more positive news, the seven-day average of deaths due to the coronavirus has gone down in the last week. Alabama is currently averaging eight COVID-19 deaths per day, down from 10 at this time last week.

Clicking image opens interactive chart in new tab. (BamaTracker)

The total number of Alabamians who have died with a confirmed case of the coronavirus is now at 2,718, with another 196 that ADPH thinks are “probable” COVID-19 deaths but have not been officially confirmed.

The slowdown in deaths is likely attributable to an increase in doctors’ knowledge of the virus, and the use of therapeutic treatments like remdesivir, which was discovered and tested at UAB hospital.

National Public Radio recently reported on scientific studies that confirm the slowing of COVID-19 death rates across the United States.

One study featured in the article showed the death rate among hospitalized patients dropped from 25.6% at the start of the pandemic to 7.6% currently.

A big date in the minds of Alabamians closely observing COVID-19 numbers is November 8, when the state’s mask order is set to expire.

November 8 is also around the time when statistics should begin to indicate whether a surge in new cases has resulted from gatherings on Halloween.

Alabama Governor Kay Ivey has typically called a press conference around 48 hours before the mask order is about to expire, where she announces whether or not she will extend it.

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

14 hours ago

This weekend’s college football TV schedule

For a printable version, click here. Pro tip: Save the image below to your phone for quick and easy access all weekend.

(Note: All times are Central)

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Zack Shaw is a contributing writer for Yellowhammer News and former walk-on for the Auburn Tigers. You can contact him by email: zack@yellowhammernews.com or on Twitter @z_m_shaw

Hayden Crigler is a contributing college football writer for Yellowhammer News. You can contact him through email: hayden@yellowhammernews.com or on Twitter @hayden_crigler.

15 hours ago

Even Joe Scarborough admits the Trump economy is booming — ‘It’s a historic number’

Look out for flying pigs.

MSNBC’s Joe Scarborough, a frequent critic of President Donald J. Trump, on Thursday reacted to the morning’s quarterly GDP numbers with rare objective honesty.

The newly released numbers showed that the GDP grew at an annualized rate of 33.1% in the third quarter of this year, shattering the all-time growth record and beating already-rosy expectations.

In comparison, the previous post-World War II record was a 16.7% jump in the first quarter of 1950.

The new GDP data also shows a “V-shaped recovery,” which had been predicted by Trump but ridiculed by the likes of Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden. Additionally, initial unemployment claims hit a seven-month national low on Thursday.

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(CNBC)

Scarborough is an alumnus of the University of Alabama and was named to Yellowhammer News’ inaugural “Power and Influence: Alabamians in D.C.” list earlier this year.

Reacting to Thursday’s news, he admitted, “The number (growth) looks great. It’s a historic number. … Donald Trump is going to be able to run around and say this last quarter the economy grew at a record rate. The highest rate ever. Period. End of sentence.”

The unprecedented recovery under the Trump economy also received praise Thursday from Alabama Republicans.

In a statement, Congressman Mo Brooks (AL-05) said, “The American economy grew at an astounding 33.1% rate in the 3rd quarter, the best ever! That’s huge! 33.1% is nearly twice America’s 1950 quarterly economic growth record. Per the White House Council of Economic Advisors, America has recovered two-thirds of the economic decline caused by dangerous city and state government shutdowns. It certainly has helped that the federal government has stopped paying people $600/week to NOT work!”

“President Trump said last month that the economic recovery from government-imposed economic shutdowns would be ‘V-shaped.’ He’s right! After a 31.4% GDP decrease in the 2nd quarter caused by the economic depressant effects of Mayor and Governor shutdowns, coupled with paying people more to stay home than work, the American economy took off like a rocket,” he concluded. “It’s encouraging to see such resilience in the American economy and the American people. But it’s frightening that there are so many candidates across America who want to return to even more draconian government shutdowns and want to pay even more people more money not to work. Quite clearly, America’s economic future is on the ballot this Tuesday. Prosperity or poverty. The voters will soon decide.”

Additionally, Congressmen Robert Aderholt (AL-04) and Gary Palmer (AL-06) celebrated the news in respective tweets. Congressman Mike Rogers’ (AL-03) campaign account also tweeted its plaudits.

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