6 months ago

Justice Will Sellers: History’s most significant event casts a long shadow

The late great U.S. Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia often told the story of his oral exam at Georgetown University. To graduate as a history major, he was required to answer questions from the faculty to demonstrate the sufficiency of his education and entitlement to a diploma.

Asked to cite the most significant event in history, he thought it was a softball question and picked an event he considered important. Wrong! His inquisitor corrected him and disapprovingly stated: “No, Mr. Scalia; it was the Incarnation,” which means the birth of Christ, the Son of God as both fully divine and fully human.

So it is that this time of year the seminal event on the Christian calendar is celebrated by the faithful and unfaithful alike. Some merely acknowledge it in their actions and time off, while others take the religious significance to heart and fully participate in the seasonal countdown of Advent.

And while the secular celebration with all its associated trappings now largely undermines the religious significance, even the most secular cannot deny its importance and the overarching ideas it spawned.

The Incarnation was a religious hurricane so powerful that it spun off secular tornados that impacted the world in very subtle ways.

We see these secular manifestations most notably in buying, giving and receiving gifts; God purchased our redemption by giving the gift of his Son; we replicate His example in a small way by the sacrifice of buying and then giving to others. But the secular fallout occurs in other things, too, that while hardly religious in themselves, are directly connected to the Incarnation. In fact, it would not be a stretch to conclude that most high-minded ideals trace their roots here.

Think of self-sacrifice, scrupulousness, generosity, service to others and the unity of family. While these virtues are secularized, they are lauded as worthy, important and so critical to civilization that they form the basis for moral and character education. So even if the religious aspects of Christmas may not be acknowledged, the secular fallout, being so intertwined, cannot escape the cultural ramifications of the Incarnation.

The Incarnation as a historical event is so widely known that few movies recount the story, but never to miss a beat, Hollywood, and before that other mass media, capitalized on the themes of Christmas. Initially, the obvious religious metaphors were depicted in some books and magazines, but now films that open in December achieve commercial success by harking back to themes based on the Incarnation.

Be it nostalgia, sentimentality, or affairs of the heart, films during Christmas tend to bring people together and generally present a morality play focused on one or several virtues. And, while the religious overtones may be completely obscured, they are there nonetheless and easy to spot. People want optimism and hope that the future is brighter and that the new year will be better than the past — more so than ever before in this time of COVID. But films have helped us experience these things emotionally and provided us a means to feel happy at least for the duration of the show.

To feel good and confident even for a moment is the spark of commercial success for films. Frank Capra, the great film director of “It’s A Wonderful Life,” used this formula well and wisely throughout his long and storied career. But he didn’t direct films that told a good story and gave a momentary emotional rush merely for box office profits. Rather, he believed in fundamental values, permanent things and timeless ideals and considered it his duty to give hope, provide optimism, and exalt the individual human actor over the various manifestations of greed expressed in impersonal bigness, not only in government, but also in business, religious institutions and communities.

Capra’s films achieved both artistic and commercial success because they gave Depression-era audiences something with which to identify. Capra’s themes used the background drag of the Great Depression to give his hero an obstacle that was overcome not solely by individual effort, although that always played a critical part, but also by the collective efforts of friends who inspire, encourage and become part of a unified effort to defeat evil.

Whether it is George Bailey v. Mr. Potter, Mr. Smith v. Sen. Payne, Longfellow Deeds v. Lawyer Cedar or John Doe v. D. B. Norton, each conflict created a crisis of conscience and a crucial decision requiring action. But Capra’s films show that action is not unilateral, and is, instead, aided by the love, support and encouragement from friends.

Overcoming and achieving was not a singular endeavor, but a subtle spiritual effort where virtue ultimately triumphs. And the success of the hero gave audiences a renewed sense of purpose; that no mountain was too great or hurdle too high, but success in the defeat of adversity was possible by rightness of cause, individual commitment and assistance from others.

The hilarity of the film “You Can’t Take It With You” comes at the expense of stereotypes of corporatist drones, corrupt officials and unanchored peons. And, in showing the conflicts on every level, Capra in many ways uses the fruits of the Incarnation to not only entertain, but to give hope, encouragement and purpose.

So many who saw his films had little hope and diminished prospects. His films lifted people up, marginalized the mean spirited, and showed what true friendship meant and how happiness in and of itself is substantial and more important than material things, social status, or political influence.

If the Incarnation seems passé, look around you. This one event spawned a completely new era that permeates most of the things we do. And, if you look at successful entertainment, such as movies, commercial achievement is often directly related to expressing the secular aspects of the Incarnation to show the entirety of a challenged, but hopeful and confident humanity.

Frank Capra’s films do this, and other successful Christmas films follow suit.

Merry Christmas!

Will Sellers is an Associate Justice on the Supreme Court of Alabama.

9 hours ago

Jim Zeigler considering ‘exploratory’ effort for Alabama governor in 2022

After much speculation, Gov. Kay Ivey announced her intentions to seek another term as governor in 2022 earlier this month.

Despite what were perceived to be controversial positions on pushing the Rebuild Alabama Act that raised the gasoline tax, her handling of the COVID-19 pandemic in determining what could remain open and closed and a failed Mobile Bay/I-10 toll bridge proposal, Ivey is still riding high in polling with strong approve-disapprove numbers.

However, State Auditor Jim Zeigler, whose term as auditor will be over after 2022 and is ineligible to run again because of term limits, told Mobile radio FM Talk 106.5’s “The Jeff Poor Show” on Friday that he was considering a run for governor in 2022.


“I believe it’s very important for Alabama taxpayers, for the state government, for our future to have a viable opponent who has been raising issues and trying to hold the Ivey administration accountable,” he said. “And that is why I am considering myself setting up an exploratory campaign to test the waters for a gubernatorial run. Who else is there — who else took the lead in blocking the toll bridge over Mobile Bay? Who else took the lead in blocking Amendment One that would have taken away your right to vote for school board members and have them all appointed by the Governor? Who else took the lead in blocking this prison rental plan that would have had us paying over $3 billion over 30 years and then owning zero equity in the prisons, a terrible business plan?”

“I don’t know,” Zeigler continued. “If not me, then who?”

If Zeigler runs against Ivey in 2022, it would not be the first time the two of their names appeared on a ballot in a race against one another. In Alabama’s 2020 Republican primary, Zeigler took on Ivey in a race for state delegate for the 2020 Republican National Convention.

Ivey prevailed with 7,182 votes to Zeigler’s 1,729 votes — a margin of 80.6% to 19.4%.

@Jeff_Poor is a graduate of Auburn University and the University of South Alabama, the editor of Breitbart TV, a columnist for Mobile’s Lagniappe Weekly, and host of Mobile’s “The Jeff Poor Show” from 9 a.m.-12 p.m. on FM Talk 106.5.

12 hours ago

Alabama’s May unemployment rate drops to 3.4% — Post-pandemic rate at lows; Record high wages

Alabama’s post-COVID pandemic economic recovery seems to be humming along based on data released Friday by the Alabama Department of Labor.

According to a press release, Department of Labor Secretary Fitzgerald Washington revealed Alabama’s preliminary, seasonally adjusted May unemployment rate is 3.4%, down from April’s rate of 3.6%.

The 3.4% rate tops the May 2020 number of 7.9%.

“May’s rate represents 75,458 unemployed persons, compared to 79,319 in April and 174,680 in May 2020,” the release said. “May’s unemployed count is the lowest in 2021.”



“Our record-breaking streak is continuing in May, and we hope that it continues throughout the rest of the year,” Gov. Kay Ivey said in the statement. “Yet again, we’ve dropped our unemployment rate and each month we are getting closer and closer to our pre-pandemic record low unemployment rate of 2.6%. Our economy is adding jobs, and earlier barriers to joining the workforce have been significantly reduced. In fact, there are more job postings than there are people counted as unemployed! Alabama is, once again, open for business.”

Data showed that wage and salary employment grew last month by 4,700.

“Monthly gains were seen in the leisure and hospitality sector (+5,000), the trade, transportation, and utilities sector (+2,500), and the education and health services sector (+1,200), among others. Over the year, wage and salary employment increased 123,000, with gains in the leisure and hospitality sector (+37,100), the professional and business services sector (+23,000), and the manufacturing sector (+22,900), among others,” the release said.

Average weekly earnings for the private sector rose to a new record high of $974.12, up $66.91 over the year, according to the Department of Labor.

“As we continue to see improvement in nearly all sectors of the economy, we’re also seeing record high wages in Alabama,” Washington added. “Once again, our average weekly wages are at new record high, representing an almost $67 per week over-the-year increase. Both the leisure and hospitality and manufacturing sectors are showing record high wages as well, with significant yearly increases. The economy is responding as we expected to labor force fluctuations brought about by the pandemic.”

Broken down by county, Shelby County led the way with a rate of 1.8%, followed by Blount, Marshall, Franklin and DeKalb Counties.

Wilcox County topped the highest in the state with an unemployment rate of 8.8%.

When broken down by municipalities, Alabaster had the lowest rate at 1.7%. Selma had the state’s highest, coming in at 7.0%, followed by Prichard at 6.5% and Bessemer at 5.2%.

@Jeff_Poor is a graduate of Auburn University and the University of South Alabama, the editor of Breitbart TV, a columnist for Mobile’s Lagniappe Weekly, and host of Mobile’s “The Jeff Poor Show” from 9 a.m.-12 p.m. on FM Talk 106.5.

13 hours ago

Shelby warns Biden on defense cuts — ‘Military investments in China and Russia … outpace U.S. investment’

U.S. Senator Richard Shelby (R-AL) fired his own warning shots over what he views as an inadequate defense budget proposal from President Joe Biden.

During a full Senate Committee on Appropriations review of Biden’s Fiscal Year 2022 Department of Defense budget request, Shelby expressed his concern that the administration’s defense spending plan placed the nation at a disadvantage compared to its adversaries.

“The National Defense Strategy provides a road map for what the Department of Defense needs – at a minimum – to meet the challenges posed by a re-emergence of long-term strategic competition with China and Russia,” explained Shelby. “Anything less jeopardizes readiness, the recapitalization of capital assets, and necessary investments in new and emerging technologies.”

Shelby, who currently serves as vice chairman of the powerful Senate committee, believes that not meeting current national defense demands sends a dangerous message to the rest of the world.


“This year, the budget proposal signals to the world that this administration is not committed to investing in readiness, training, state of the art equipment, and technological overmatch,” Shelby stated. “With military investments in China and Russia continuing to outpace U.S. investments, I find it hard to believe that the requirements outlined by General Dunford just four years ago are no longer instructive.”

This critical assessment from Alabama’s senior senator comes less than a month after the highest-ranking U.S. military officer described the nation’s relations with China and Russia as “fraying.”

In an address to graduates of the United States Air Force Academy, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Mark Milley said, “Right now we are in a great power competition with China and Russia. And we need to keep it at competition and avoid great power conflict.”

Milley and Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin appeared before the Senate Appropriations Committee on Thursday.

Shelby addressed both officials in his remarks, stating, “The world is a complex and dangerous place and I know that you both understand the magnitude of the challenges we face from our near peer adversaries who seek to undermine the United States’ position as a world leader and dominant military power. China and Russia are formidable adversaries and China, as you have acknowledged Secretary Austin, is proving to be a true pacing threat. China seeks hegemony – militarily, technologically, economically, and geopolitically – and is making unprecedented investments to see that to fruition.”

“Meanwhile, Russia is nearing the end of a massive military modernization program that saw its defense spending increase 30 percent in real dollars over the last 10 years,” he added.

Shelby concluded that he could not support an effective cut in defense spending in 2022.

Tim Howe is an owner of Yellowhammer Multimedia

14 hours ago

U.S. Rep. Jerry Carl urges Biden to undergo tests for ‘mental impairment’

U.S. Representative Jerry Carl (R-Mobile) joined 13 of his congressional colleagues in urging President Joe Biden to undergo an examination to determine his mental fitness to serve.

The group cited a string of embarrassing verbal gaffes by the president as the basis for their request.

In a letter sent to Biden on Thursday, the Republican members of Congress explained, “We write to you today to express concern with your current cognitive state. We believe that, regardless of gender, age, or political party, all Presidents should follow the precedent set by former President Donald Trump to document and demonstrate sound mental abilities.”

They continued, “Unfortunately, your mental decline and forgetfulness have become more apparent over the past 18 months. In March, you forgot the name of the Pentagon, the Department of Defense, and the Defense Secretary, though you had said ‘Secretary Austin’ just a few minutes prior.”

In addition, the letter cites Biden’s telling of an Amtrak story with an inexplicable timeline, forgetting the first line of the Declaration of Independence and obvious disorientation during a visit to Texas as examples for why they believe Biden is in need of cognitive testing.


The list of gaffes attributable to his mental acuity seems to be piling up for the 46th president.

During the G7 Summit in England recently, he asked British Prime Minister Boris Johnson to introduce the South African president.

RELATED: Biden lashes out at media member and Alabama native Kaitlan Collins over Putin — ‘You’re in the wrong business’

Fox News contributor Tammy Bruce has questioned whether Biden’s cognitive state is a national security liability.

Biden has received criticism in the early stages of his administration for calling on only a predetermined list of reporters during press conferences. The most recent instance of this occurred while Biden was in Geneva, Switzerland, for a summit with Russian President Vladimir Putin.

Carl and the other letter signers pushed for transparency with any medical assessments being made, as well.

“We encourage you to follow the example set by President Trump by undergoing a cognitive test as soon as possible and immediately making the results available for the American people,” they concluded.

Tim Howe is an owner of Yellowhammer Multimedia

15 hours ago

ALGOP chair John Wahl: AEA resurgence ‘a concern’; Reminds GOP candidates ‘not a good idea’ accept their campaign contributions

For the first time in nearly a decade, the Alabama Education Association (AEA) seemingly flexed its muscle at the end of the 2021 legislative session by successfully pushing through a two-year delay to the Literacy Act, which mandates children be able to read at a third grade level before proceeding to the fourth grade.

Gov. Kay Ivey vetoed the delay, but it left political watchers wondering if this was just the beginning of the AEA’s return to the forefront of Alabama politics.

During an appearance on FM Talk 106.5’s “The Jeff Poor Show” on Thursday, Alabama Republican Party chairman John Wahl said it was indeed a concern for the party.


“[I]t’s funny you bring that up because at one point in the past, there was actually a resolution passed by the state party, I believe, that was saying Republican candidates should not take money from the AEA because of their influence and the concern they would have over direct policy,” he stated. “So, of course, that’s a concern. That type of influence from anybody pushing to regulate themselves is never — you don’t want a group regulating themselves. That’s not good for policy.”

While there was a resolution in place that pertained to AEA campaign contributions to Republican candidates, Wahl said it was not an outright ban but a “strong recommendation” not to accept their money.

“I need to go back and look at the resolution in-depth,” Wahl said. “But I believe it was a resolution, so it’s not a direct ban. There’s no teeth to it. But it was a very strong recommendation to candidates — that it is not a good idea to take that money.”

“[T]here were jokes about how the AEA controlled the state and had a vast amount of control over policy and what would happen with the Governor’s office, the state legislature,” he explained. “So much of that has gotten better since Republicans have taken control. But you’re right — we’re seeing a resurgence, at least of their involvement. Hopefully not their influence.”

@Jeff_Poor is a graduate of Auburn University and the University of South Alabama, the editor of Breitbart TV, a columnist for Mobile’s Lagniappe Weekly, and host of Mobile’s “The Jeff Poor Show” from 9 a.m.-12 p.m. on FM Talk 106.5.