The Wire

  • Editorial: ‘Sweet Home Alabama’ is not a conservative anthem

    Excerpt from The Roanoke Times:

    When Corey Stewart won the Republican nomination for the U.S. Senate last week, he appeared on stage to the sound of “Sweet Home Alabama.”

    This would seem a curious song choice for a Virginia politician. We are not Alabama and have never wanted to be Alabama. Granted, there’s a dearth of songs that mention Virginia, and “Sweet Home Alabama” is a rollicking little tune, so maybe we shouldn’t read too much into it.

    On the other hand, Lynyrd Skynyrd was a band that worked the Confederate flag into its logo and the National Review once hailed “Sweet Home Alabama” as one of “the 50 greatest conservative rock songs,” so it’s more likely that the song was picked intentionally. Stewart does love Confederate symbols. “Sweet Home Alabama” even takes a shot at Canada — more, accurately the Canadian rock star Neil Young —so it certainly seems to fit the current Trumpian zeitgeist.

    Meanwhile, the liberal website Slate cited Stewart’s song choice as just one more example of how he’s pandering to the most atavistic elements of the Virginia electorate. In the Slate writer’s words: “He’s a carpetbagger, but for racism.”

    Actually, both of them have it wrong. “Sweet Home Alabama” is not a conservative anthem, and it’s certainly not a cover song for racism. It is, though, one of the most misunderstood political songs of all time, one that’s even been the subject of scholarly study.

  • Man shot and killed at Birmingham gas station

    Excerpt from WVTM:

    The Birmingham Police Department is investigating a shooting that left one man dead at a gas station early Monday morning.

    Officers were called to the 1800 block of Bessemer Rd. at about 3 a.m. on reports of a person shot. When they arrived they found one man dead. The victim was later identified as 30-year-old Denorris Rishard Barnes.

    Police on the scene said three men were at the gas station changing a tire when someone drove up and fired several rounds of gunshots. Barnes was fatally shot. The other two were uninjured. The suspect fled the scene before police arrived.

  • Failure to wear seat belt lands man in jail on heroin, hydrocodone trafficking charges

    Excerpt from AL.com:

    A Center Point man stopped for not wearing his seat belt ended up in a lot more trouble.

    Jefferson County sheriff’s deputies on Thursday afternoon stopped 36-year-old Anthony Ray Jenkins on Center Point Parkway. As they spoke with him, they spotted a prescription pill bottle on the floor of the car, said Chief Deputy Randy Christian.

    They asked him about it, and he said the pills belonged to his aunt and that she must have left the bottle there. Inspection of the bottle, however, showed the name had been scratched off. Deputies then called Jenkins’ aunt, who told them she had not left any medication in his car.

3 days ago

Liberal America’s war on academic excellence

“I also have a dream.”

This rallying cry, handwritten on a simple white placard held up by an Asian-American mom at a protest this week against liberal New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio’s plan to radically transform New York City’s public schools, says it all. A new civil rights struggle in education has exploded — yet the national media and the usual celebrity voices for equality and justice are nowhere to be found.

While student “Dreamers” here illegally from south of the border garner bleeding-heart front-page stories and nightly news dispatches, the high-achieving sons and daughters of legal immigrants from Asia are getting shafted by far-left Democrats.

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And it’s all in the perverted name of “diversity.”

De Blasio is hell-bent on destroying equal opportunity and merit-based admissions because the results are not equally distributed according to his social-engineering agenda. The Big Apple’s famed specialized schools, such as the Bronx High School of Science, Brooklyn Technical High School and High School for Math, Science and Engineering at City College, require an academic entrance exam. It’s a highly competitive process in which tens of thousands of students vie for a total of about 5,000 slots.

So what’s the problem? According to the bean-counting extremists, too many Asian-Americans have aced the test and are “overrepresented.” It’s not enough for the social justice crowd to settle for a 20 percent minority set-aside. They want to scrap the test altogether. A bill to eliminate the exams passed the state assembly education committee last week. Though it may die this year, the toxic principles underlying the legislation have infected the left for decades.
Dullard de Blasio falsely argues that white privilege and class privilege are to blame for the lack of black and Latino student representation at the elite schools. The two groups account for 67 percent of public school students but only made up 10 percent of elite school admissions offers last year. By contrast, Asian-Americans, who make up 16 percent of public school students, received 52 percent of offers in the past year.

So are Asian-Americans classified as “white” now? And how does de Blasio get away with the lie that these best and brightest Asian-American students are economically privileged?

Fact: The city’s own poverty assessment shows that Asians are the poorest demographic group, with 24.1 percent living at or below poverty — vs. 19.5 percent citywide. The New York Post reports that overall, 45 percent of students at the “elite eight” schools qualify for free lunch.

As I’ve observed for years, liberal race-fixers believe that “too many” Asian-American students winning school admissions on their own merits is a bad, bad thing. In our case, overcoming the supposed encumbrances of ethnicity and skin color is viewed not as a proud accomplishment but as a political liability.

This is classic crab-in-the-bucket syndrome. If you put a single crab in an uncovered bucket, it will find a way to climb up and out on its own. But if you put a dozen crabs in a bucket, eleven will fight with all their might to pull down the independent striver who attempts to escape. And so it is with the identity politics mob and the equality of outcome cult. They can’t stand high achievers and freethinkers who escape their iron grip.

A sad irony of the battle over racial preferences in education is that many of the very leaders who have lobbied hardest to re-jigger the numbers on college campuses to fit a politically correct, proportional ideal are supposedly “progressive” Asian-Americans.

I personally endured attacks from many of them who labeled me and other conservative minority leaders “sellouts” for opposing government-imposed diversity policies that sabotaged color-blindness and punished academic excellence.
Now, those same quota champions are seeing those same policies blow up in their faces in New York City’s high schools. “Diversity” at all costs means taking the hardest-working, top-scoring students who earned their seats on the bus — and tossing them under the wheels.

Tell me again who the real sellouts are?

Michelle Malkin is host of “Michelle Malkin Investigates” on CRTV.com.

(Creators, copyright 2018)

8 months ago

Suspended Auburn Assistant Basketball Coach Released On 100K Bond

Photo from AuburnTigers.com
Photo from AuburnTigers.com

Suspended Auburn Associate Head Basketball Coach Chuck Person has been released from federal custody on a $100,000 bond.

As we reported earlier, Person was arrested by federal officers after the United States Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of New York charged himself and four other collegiate basketball coaches with fraud and corruption. Federal officials claim that Person’s accepted payments from a sports agent in exchange for access to Auburn players.

As part of an extensive investigation, four coaches from different organizations were arrested. Speaking to the serious nature of their crimes, Joon H. Kim, acting United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York said, “Coaches at some of the nation’s top programs were taking cash bribes, managers and advisers were circling blue-chip prospects like coyotes, and employees of a global sportswear company were funneling cash to families of high school recruits.”

Person is currently suspended without pay from his role at Auburn University. As part of his bond, he has surrendered his passport and is only allowed to travel to New York for court appearances.

1
9 months ago

Welcome Home: New York Based Company Opening $13.6 Million Distillery In Alabama

Photo courtesy of Clyde May's Facebook
Photo courtesy of Clyde May’s Facebook

As reported by the Alabama News Center, Conecuh Ridge Distiller has announced its plan to open a $13.6 million distillery in Troy, Alabama. The company is the maker of the popular whiskey brand Clyde May’s, and it plans to build an interactive distillery designed to attract tourists.

The announcement for the new building project came from Gov. Ivey who said, “Today’s announcement affirms that our state’s sound business climate is a positive attraction for companies looking to find a home. We are glad Conecuh Ridge Distillery has chosen Troy for their operations center.”

The plan to bring a New York-based distillery to Alabama centers around honoring the namesake of the brand. Clyde May’s whiskey pays homage to an Alabama moonshiner known for making high-quality whiskey during the 1940’s. Pointing to the company’s heritage, Conecuh Ridge Distillery president and CEO Roy Danis said, “Coming home to Troy, Alabama, where the brand got its start, reinforces these values and makes all of us who work for this great brand so very proud.”

While continuing to make great whiskey is the utmost priority for the company, it also wants to deliver a quality experience when visitors tour the facility, much like the manufactures of Jack Daniels and Makers Mark have in their respective states.

Alabama Tourism Department Director Lee Sentell left little doubt about the excitement the department has by saying, “Becoming the home of the Clyde May brand is a great opportunity for Troy. . . Making a premium product in a site that will become a tourist destination is a great strategy. We look forward to working with Troy and the distillers for this venture to become a success.”

The project is expected to create at least 50 jobs with an average salary of around $54,000 per year. Couple that with the influx of tourism that’s expected, and all the ingredients for sustainable economic growth are present. Governor Ivey underscored this point, adding, “In addition to the 50 jobs being created, we are excited about the potential economic impact this company will have in Pike County as this becomes a tourist destination for the official spirit of Alabama.”

As of now, no announcement has been made as to the timing of the ground-breaking, but this is clearly another positive step in increasing the horsepower of Alabama’s economic engine.

1
10 months ago

Jeff State Student Wins Top Culinary Award

Courtesy of Phil Free (Alabama News Center)
Courtesy of Phil Free (Alabama News Center)

Brian Duffet, a culinary student at Jefferson State Community College, recently won the top award at the National SkillsUSA Culinary Competition. According to Alabama News Center, the twenty year old from Trussville competed against 26 other contestants in June to earn the gold medal as the nation’s top culinary student. He also received a $50,000 scholarship to the prestigious Culinary Institute of America in Hyde Park, New York.

Duffet admitted he went through intense preparation for the three hour long competition. “I’ve done roasted chicken probably 40 times, so the chicken was no longer fun for me to eat,” Deffet said. “It was exciting, but nerve-wracking

“I did a four-course meal: a couscous salad with citrus vinaigrette, lentil soup infused with roasted red bell pepper, braised beef cheek with gnocchetti and the chicken. Most people do a basic salad, but I did a composed salad with a cookie – a tuile – on top. I probably practiced the salad nine times.”

Duffet is studying to be a savory chef and has a long list of restaurant experiences under his belt (or apron I should say). While only a sophomore at Jeff State, Duffet has studied under chef Trent Bissell at the Todd English P.U.B. and Haller Magee, former executive chef at Satterfield’s restaurant in Cahaba Heights. Despite working under some of the Alabama culinary greats, Duffet credits his love for cooking to his father.

“My dad always cooked at home for us. One day he announced that I would go to the store and buy all the food for a meal, and be allowed to cook it for the family. He did this with my brother and sister, too. We’re all good cooks. I have a meatball recipe that I like to fix. It’s our family’s secret recipe.”

Duffet quickly rose from his humble family beginnings, enrolling in the culinary program at Hewitt-Trussville High School. Under the direction of Chef Anna Hallman, Duffet began training at several professional kitchens where he learned that staging the meal is equally as important as cooking it. His experiences landed him a spot in Jeff State’s culinary program, the longest running accredited culinary program in Alabama.

Joseph Mitchell, program director of the Culinary and Hospitality Institute at Jeff State is confidant that Duffet has what it takes to make it in the culinary industry. “Brian has the skills to be successful. At this point, he will grow and become a professional chef – we expect him to do well.”

In a state largely focused on sports, Duffet’s success is a crowning achievement for the state’s arts programs.

“I want to have my own kitchen one day,” Duffett said. “I’m excited about starting the Culinary Institute and seeing what the future holds for me.”

1
2 years ago

Liberal Yankees freak out when ‘Sweet Home Alabama’ played in a grocery store

(Photo: Matt Hebert)
(Photo: Matt Hebert)
(Photo: Matt Hebert)

BROOKLYN, NY — The 2016 election was a shock for liberal elites. They could not fathom how America could possibly vote for Donald J. Trump and shun the presumptive next President of the United States, Hillary Rodham Clinton.

Given the polling, predicting a Clinton victory was not ridiculous. If one trusting nothing but the polling data, a Clinton electoral college win seemed like a pretty safe bet. But Americans defied expectations at the polls, and Trump won several “blue” states like Pennsylvania, Michigan, and Wisconsin. Overall, Trump carried 3084 counties and Clinton won just 57.

Ever since the decisive electoral defeat, liberals have retreated to their safe spaces of political correctness that likely lost them the election in the first place. Universities across the country postponed exams for students too “triggered” by Trump’s victory, and countless others took to the streets to ironically protest the legitimacy of the election.

Everything about Trump’s America has been deemed offensive by the ivory-tower left, and now they even need to be coddled when a southern rock classic is played. Yes: in 2016, it is apparently offensive to play “Sweet Home Alabama” in a public place.

David Marcus, a senior contributor to the conservative website The Federalist, detailed a trip he took to a Brooklyn, NY grocery store three days after the election with his wife. While shopping, the establishment played the Lynyrd Skynyrd hit over the sound system, confusing many of the customers. Almost immediately, the liberal patrons of the store began to pitch a hissy fit, and they demanded that the song but cut-off.

He wrote:

Libby [his wife] and I walked towards the organic maple syrup. That’s when it started. I suppose there had been music playing in the store, but I hadn’t noticed until a familiar guitar lick pierced the air and a soft voice said, “Turn it up.”

Libby and I both stopped and looked at each other. “Seriously?” said my wife, a very disappointed Clinton supporter. She started gripping her soft Tomme Crayeuse a little too hard. By the time Ronnie Van Zant’s drawl started in with “Big wheels keep on turnin’,” everyone in the store was standing in shock. Brows were furrowed, people mumbled to each other. The song seemed to get louder as one of those New York moments happened, when everyone was thinking the exact the same thing…

A woman in her fifties, wearing a Love Trump Hates button, turned to her Brooklyn-bearded husband and said loudly, “This is unbelievable!” She found the nearest store clerk, a young woman in a green apron who was staring up at the ceiling, looking for the invisible speakers blaring this message from the other America. “This is so inappropriate,” the woman said. “Can we turn this off?”

When the angry older woman with the anti-Trump button asked the clerk to turn off the song, the younger woman looked at her sympathetically and said, “I don’t know how.” In that moment, something seemed to click…

Of course, this woman thought that “Sweet Home Alabama” could just be turned off. After all, we can block out things we disagree with. We can unfriend people on Facebook, block them on Twitter, and decide not to let their negativity be a part of lives. For many progressives, this is the key to wellness.

But turning off Skynyrd doesn’t make it go away. Somewhere in the land where the stars still shine, it plays on, whether you hear it or not. The shock and despair in Brooklyn over Hillary Clinton’s unfathomable defeat comes in no small part because her denizens refused to hear the rumblings of an America they chose to ignore.

Long story short, be careful when playing “Sweet Home Alabama” outside of the confines of the Yellowhammer State. You might have the P.C. police come for you.

(h/t The Federalist)

1
2 years ago

LEGEND: The first Tuskegee Airman to shoot down a Nazi plane just passed away at 94

The CAF Red Tail Squadron’s P-51C Mustang (Photo: Max Haynes)

(c/o WikiMedia Commons)
(c/o WikiMedia Commons)

TUSKEGEE, Ala. — Dr. Roscoe C. Brown, Jr., one of the original members of the Tuskegee Airmen, died on Saturday at age 94 in New York. According a New York NBC affiliate, Brown had fallen ill late last year and had a pacemaker installed. Cause of death is not known at this time.

During World War II, Brown commanded the 100th Fighter Squadron of the 332nd Fighter Group during World War II, and flew 68 long-range missions from August of 1944 to March of 1945.

The 332nd, known as the Tuskegee Airmen, was the first group of African-American military aviators in the United States Armed Forces. They earned the nickname from their training at the Tuskegee Army Air Field and their education from Tuskegee University. During the course of the war, they escorted American and allied bombers, protecting them from enemy fire with a highly distinguished record. According to WSFA, Dr. Brown is “credited with being the first 15th Air Force pilot to shoot down a German jet fighter” while on “the longest escort mission to take place in the war.”

When the pilots of the 332nd Fighter Group painted the tails of their P-47s and later, P-51s, red, the nickname “Red Tails” was coined, and also became the title of the feature film about their missions.

The airmen went on to receive numerous military decorations including the Distinguished Flying Cross and the Air Medal with eight Oak Leaf Clusters. “The reason the Tuskegee Airmen are really being recognized now is that we challenged the stereotype,” Brown said during an interview. “We defeated a stereotype that African-Americans didn’t have the intelligence, the ability to do this. And we did it, we did it as well, may times better than other folks.”

After his military career, Brown took to the classroom to teach higher education. He served as the Director of the Center for Urban Education Policy and University Professor at the Graduate School and University Center of The City University of New York (CUNY).

The former pilot is survived by his four children and numerous grandchildren and great-grandchildren.

(H/T WSFA)

1
2 years ago

Remington moving more jobs to Alabama after closing Kentucky facility

Remington 700 model (Photo: Flickr)
Remington 700 model (Photo: Flickr)
Remington 700 model (Photo: Flickr)

HUNTSVILLE, Ala. — Remington is once again moving jobs to Alabama after announcing it will be shuttering a plant in Mayfield, Kentucky later this month.

The Kentucky plant is closing as part of an effort to “improve our competitive position in the market,” said Jessica Kallam of Remington Firearms. An estimated 200 employees will lose their jobs in Kentucky, but some of those positions will come to Huntsville.

“You don’t ever like to see another area close down,” said Huntsville Mayor Tommy Battle, adding that he understands the business behind making the decision. “I think you can understand the economics of it and the idea of consolidation and how quality control can be done with consolidation.”

When Remington first came to Alabama in 2014, they agreed to bring 2,000 jobs to the state. The Huntsville facility currently has 300 employees, and 1,700 more will be added over the next seven years. The closing of the Kentucky plant will increase Huntsville’s numbers earlier than planned.

“We’re glad to have the work but we also wish the Kentucky area well too,” said Mayor Battle.

According to Remington’s website, the company designs, produces and sells sporting goods products for the hunting and shooting sports markets, as well as military, government and law enforcement markets. Founded in 1816 in upstate New York, the Company is one of the nation’s oldest continuously operating manufacturers. Remington is the only U.S. manufacturer of both firearms and ammunition products and one of the largest domestic producers of shotguns and rifles. The Company distributes its products throughout the U.S. and in over 55 foreign countries.

Remington first began considering new locations after the New York legislature passed the Secure Ammunition and Firearms Enforcement (SAFE) Act in response to the tragic shootings in Newtown, Connecticut. In addition to banning magazines that contain more than seven rounds and requiring instant background checks on ammo purchases, the NY SAFE Act broadened the definition of so-called “assault weapons” to include a wide range of guns, including the Bushmaster, which was being manufactured at Remington’s New York plant.

Mayor Tommy Battle called Remington “one of the best operations in advanced manufacturing operations that I’ve seen in my time.”

1
3 years ago

Perspective: Alabamians own more guns than the entire nation of Spain

YH gun map
BIRMINGHAM, Ala. — It’s no secret that the Yellowhammer State is well armed. The 2nd Amendment is taken very seriously here, so it comes at no surprise that there are entire nations that have fewer firearms than Alabama. How does Alabama stack up internationally in terms of gun ownership?

Because there is no definitive listing of how many people in each state own firearms, Real Estate website Movoto began its comparison with a report done by a research group in Switzerland, “Small Arms Survey 2007: Guns and the City,” which estimated the number of guns owned in each country, then took the estimate of 88.8 guns per 100 people for the U.S.—which, seven years later, Movoto admits, is likely higher—and used it to calculate each state’s estimated gun ownership, based on state populations from the U.S. Census Bureau’s 2010 survey.

With a population of 4,779,736 according to the most recent Census and approximately 4,244,406 guns owned, Alabama has about the same number of firearms as the entire country of Spain.

Here’s how the rest of the nation stacks up:


All 50 States Renamed For Countries With Similar Gun Ownership By Movoto Real Estate

gun-table

Other notable states with their country comparisons:
– California’s total of 33.08 million guns is closest to China’s 40 million
– Texas’ total of 22.33 million guns is closest to Germany’s 25 million
– New York’s total of 17.2 million guns is closest to Pakistan’s 18 million


1
3 years ago

Childcare is cheaper in Alabama than almost anywhere else in America, but it’s still expensive

Kids
BIRMINGHAM, Ala. — According to a new report from Child Care Aware, parents in Alabama enjoy some of the lowest child care costs in the nation, tying only with Mississippi, Utah, and Idaho for the average amount spent by a family making the state’s median household income.

c/o Vox
c/o Vox

Alabama’s parents spend an average of 13 percent of the median annual income on child care. The most expensive areas were Washington DC, where parents spend an astounding 36 percent of the median income, and New York, where parents spend 27 percent.

Despite costs being so relatively low in Alabama, the child care report finds the average full-time child care center costs $5,547 for infants and $5,869 for 4 year olds annually. This amounts to about 7 percent of income for married couples, and an incredible 30 percent of income for single parents.

While it seems that the cost is exorbitant, the report found that the average child care worker in Alabama only makes $18,360 a year, compared to the nationwide average of $21,320. This lower income could be one of the reasons Alabama has relatively lower costs.

In many states the high cost of childcare makes it financially untenable for even middle class families.

According to the report, nearly 11 million children younger than age five receive child care from someone other than their parents every week. Parents often have to make tradeoffs when deciding if one parent, usually the mother, will forgo an income outside the home to stay with the children during the day. A 2014 Pew survey found that the number of stay-at-home-moms is rising as the cost of childcare increases.


1
3 years ago

Three of the four states neighboring Alabama have lower tax burdens

Southeast
MONTGOMERY, Ala. — With all the talk of tax hikes here in the Yellowhammer State, the folks over at statistics blog fivethirtyeight.com have the answer for a question many folks have been asking: How does Alabama fund its state government?

According to the Census Bureau data they used in their calculations, Alabama collects $1,900 for each man, woman and child in the state for all revenue sources.

This includes sales taxes, property taxes, licensing fees, and individual and corporate income taxes, as well as a few various other taxes.

Here is the government revenue breakdown for Alabama:
Property taxes: 4 percent
General Sales/Gross Receipts: 26 percent
Selective Sales/Receipts: 26 percent
License fees: 4 percent
Individual Income tax: 35 percent
Corporate Net Income tax: 4 percent

Of course, this doesn’t mean everyone pays these exact proportions, and since the number includes many non-taxpayers, the average tax bill paid by workers in the state varies widely.

Alabama’s $1,900 tax burden makes it one of the lowest in the country, but fellow Southern states Tennessee and Florida (which have no income taxes), Georgia, and South Carolina rank lower, as does New Hampshire, which has the lowest per person tax burden in the country.

While nearly all of Alabama’s revenues come from the sources outlined above, the state with the highest tax revenue, Alaska at $4,600 per person, receives only 28 percent of its money from those same sources. Gas and oil revenues, or “severance taxes,” make up an astounding 72 percent of their receipts.

According to fivethirtyeight, New Yorkers pay $2,176 per person in income tax, people in Wyoming pay $59 each for hunting and fishing licenses, and New Hampshire pay the most in tobacco taxes at $162 per person.

As Alabama struggles with making ends meet in the General Fund Budget for the upcoming fiscal year, one major hurdle is the fact that most of the “growth streams” of revenue, such as sales taxes, income taxes, and property taxes — all of which increase as the economy improves — are earmarked to go into the state’s Education Budget.

Alabama is one of only three states that separate their general fund and education budgets, and also leads the nation in the amount of earmarked funds that can’t be transferred to other areas as needs arise or priorities change.

Governor Bentley’s proposed $541 million tax hike would increase several of the fee-based and excise, or “sin taxes,” already utilized by the General Fund, including a bump in the tobacco tax, increasing fees on municipal utilities, and eliminating some deductions used by financial institutions.


1
3 years ago

Study: In spite of ‘We Dare Defend Our Rights’ motto, Alabama not among ‘freest’ states

Alabama State House (Photo: Creative Commons/Jay Williams)
Alabama State House (Photo: Creative Commons/Jay Williams)

The John Locke Foundation has just released its latest Freedom Index, a state-by-state ranking of which state’s citizens enjoy the most liberty, and Alabama’s spot on the list may come as a bit of a surprise, especially considering the state’s motto is We Dare Defend Our Rights.

The free-market think tank measured fiscal, education, regulatory, and health care policies to determine where each state in the union ranks in overall freedom.

So, how did Alabama do? Despite the state’s reputation as a haven for small-government conservatives, the Heart of Dixie actually came in at No. 30.

Here is how the states were ranked overall:

John Locke Freedom Rankings

Fiscal policy — 50 percent of the total score — measured tax burden, including income, sales, corporate, property, and unemployment taxes, as well as how much the state spends on subsidies, transfer payments, and “social insurance.”

Health care policy was weighted at 10 percent of the score, and education and regulatory policies were each weighted at 20 percent.

Alabama’s best ranking was for health care policy, where the state came in at No. 10, but its spot at No. 30 in the heavily-weighted fiscal policy category kept it farther down the list. The state ranked No. 26 in educational freedom and No. 22 in regulatory freedom.

So why did the state rank so low on fiscal policy?

Though Alabamians enjoy low property taxes, the state’s income tax, sky-high sales tax, and corporate tax probably kept it from rising higher on the economic freedom rankings. And if the Legislature passes Gov. Robert Bentley’s proposed $700 million tax hike, the state could drop even further down the list in the coming years. But government spending is where Alabama took the biggest hit. The Yellowhammer State, with the help of the federal government, spends much more on “social insurance,” like Medicaid, than it takes in.

Here are the top 10 and bottom 10 states, according to the John Locke Foundation:

1. Florida
2. Arizona
3. Indiana
4. South Dakota
5. Georgia
6. Louisiana
7. Utah
8. Oklahoma
9. New Hampshire
10. Wyoming

41. Minnesota
42. New Mexico
43. Connecticut
44. Maryland
45. Rhode Island
46. Kentucky
47. West Virginia
48. California
49. New Jersey
50. New York

So what can Alabama do to improve its score? According to the John Locke Foundation, the state should “build political momentum for reform and work out the details of workable, sustainable policies to advance fiscal, educational, regulatory, and health care freedom.”


1
4 years ago

Remington CEO: New York’s anti-gun policies drove us to Alabama

Remington

It has long been assumed that New York’s anti-gun policies drove Remington Arms to expand into Alabama, rather than in Ilion, NY, where the company has operated since the early 1800s. Now there’s confirmation.

From the New York Daily News:

The company says one reason behind its decision to open a new plant in Alabama rather than expand in New York was “state policies affecting use of our products,” Remington Outdoor Company CEO George Kollitides wrote to some upstate officials Oct. 20.

The statement was taken by some as a direct shot at a tough gun control measure enacted by New York in early 2013 in the wake of the Newtown, Conn., school shootings.

Indeed, one part of the gun control measure, also known as the SAFE Act, banned AR-15 rifles in New York — the very gun Remington made at its plant in upstate Ilion.

Those assault guns will now be made in Alabama.

Kollitides also said workforce quality, business environment, tax and economic incentives, and existing infrastructure impacted the decision to open a plant in Alabama.

Remington first began considering new locations after the New York legislature passed the Secure Ammunition and Firearms Enforcement (SAFE) Act, to which Kollitides alluded in his letter to state lawmakers. In addition to banning magazines that contain more than seven rounds and requiring instant background checks on ammo purchases, the law broadened the definition of so-called “assault weapons” to include a wide range of guns, including the Bushmaster AR-15, which is essentially the civilian version of the M-16, the fully automatic weapon that has been used by American soldiers since Vietnam.

The weapon has drawn the ire of liberal politicians, but has been fiercely defended by gun rights advocates, including NRA president David Keene who penned an op-ed titled “The AR-15: The Gun Liberals Love to Hate,” in which he criticized liberal politicians and members of the media for having “a simple minded and narrow understanding of why the founders included the Second Amendment in our Bill of Rights.”

Individuals defending the AR-15 say that it is an excellent weapon for self-defense. Perhaps most notably, business owners used AR-15s to successfully defended their shops against looters during the L.A. riots in the early 1990s.

Remington officials announced in May that they are moving the production lines for the Bushmaster rifle and 1911 pistol from Ilion, NY to Hunstville, Ala.

“In Alabama we strongly support and uphold our great U.S. Constitution on which our nation and our states were founded,” Alabama Gov. Robert Bentley told Yellowhammer. “The Constitution serves to protect individual Freedoms. Among them are those guaranteed in the Second Amendment, which protects the right of the people to keep and bear Arms. We will protect the Freedoms of individuals and welcome any one or any company to Alabama to discover as so many have, that we are a pro-business state filled with good, hardworking people.”

According to Remington’s website, the company designs, produces and sells sporting goods products for the hunting and shooting sports markets, as well as military, government and law enforcement markets. Founded in 1816 in upstate New York, the Company is one of the nation’s oldest continuously operating manufacturers. Remington is the only U.S. manufacturer of both firearms and ammunition products and one of the largest domestic producers of shotguns and rifles. The Company distributes its products throughout the U.S. and in over 55 foreign countries.

(Video below: Alabama’s ‘We Dare Defend our Rights’ motto played role in landing Remington)

[h/t al.com]

1
4 years ago

Why Birmingham has absolutely zero chance of hosting the 2016 DNC

President Barack Obama accepts the Democratic nomination for President at the 2012 Democratic National Convention Time Warner Cable Arena in Charlotte, NC.
President Barack Obama accepts the Democratic nomination for President at the 2012 Democratic National Convention Time Warner Cable Arena in Charlotte, NC.

Twitter was abuzz over the weekend with news that Birmingham, Alabama was one of the six cities that submitted a bid to host the Democratic National Convention in 2016, joining Cleveland, Columbus, New York, Philadelphia and Phoenix. The Democratic National Committee back in April invited 15 cities to make a proposal, and these six responded by the deadline.

A Technical Advisory Committee will now evaluate all of the cities. Members of the committee will visit each prospective site and study their ability to handle the logistical challenges that come with hosting an event of this magnitude.

“Hosting a party convention is a true honor and we’re thrilled with all the fantastic options that we have going into the next cycle,” DNC Chair Debbie Wasserman-Schultz said in a press release. “We look forward to evaluating these bids and selecting a city to host this special gathering of Democrats.”

So what are Birmingham’s chances of actually landing the DNC in 2016?

My initial reaction was “not even a snowball’s chance in…”

But let’s at least start by looking at the facts.

Below is a quick history of recent Democratic National Conventions, including the host venue’s capacity. Although it’s hard to keep a straight face while comparing the Birmingham Jefferson Convention Complex (BJCC) Arena to, say, the Staples Center in L.A., from a strictly capacity standpoint, the BJCC seems to stack up alright.

DNC Venues

But although the BJCC’s capacity is probably large enough to host an event of this size, the truth is, it is a dinosaur. It is not anywhere near the same class of facility that the other potential host cities have to offer. That by itself likely eliminates Birmingham from having any legitimate chance at landing the DNC in 2016.

Another variable the Technical Advisory Committee will undoubtedly be looking at is the number of hotel rooms that each city has to offer. The DNC probably needs at least 15,000.

Hotels

As you can see from the graphic above, cvent.com estimates that Birmingham has almost 20,000 rooms in the greater metro area. However, the number in the actual city, which is what the DNC will be looking at, is more like 12,000. It’s also worth keeping in mind that a reasonable portion of the city’s existing rooms (2,000-3,000) would be held for current customers of these hotels. They are not going to tell their regular customers not to come during a specific period.

Birmingham’s lack of hotel hotel accommodations by itself likely eliminates it from contention.

Third, it’s going to take a very sophisticated and costly transportation system to transport the crowds around during the DNC. Birmingham’s public transportation system recently ranked 94th among the nation’s 100 largest metro areas, according to The Brookings Institute.

Birmingham’s lack of transportation infrastructure by itself, again, likely eliminates the city from contention.

There are also political realities working against Birmingham’s bid to land the convention.

For all practical purposes, the Democratic Party doesn’t even exist in Alabama anymore. If the national Party is at all concerned with making sure a competent, well-organized state party is handling things on the ground in the run-up to the convention, they shouldn’t even give Alabama a second thought. Especially considering that fact that they will need an estimated 7,000 volunteers to work the event.

Additionally, national Party’s have in recent years started to view their conventions as an opportunity to influence voters in key swing states, which Alabama most certainly is not. (Editor’s note: Barack Obama only won 38.36% of the vote in Alabama in 2012.)

Zac McCrary of Anzalone Liszt Grove Research, a Montgomery-based Democratic polling firm whose clients include President Obama, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid and many other national Democratic leaders, explained to Yellowhammer that this trend is likely to continue in 2016.

“It’s great that Birmingham is being mentioned as a contender for a national party convention and this can only benefit Birmingham by raising its profile as a national destination,” said McCrary. “While I’ll be rooting for Birmingham’s selection, I believe both parties are coming to view conventions as not just national stages for their nominees, but as opportunities to generate earned media, volunteers, and to develop a field program in a critical swing state. The 2008 Democratic Convention in Denver is credited with helping the Obama campaign carry Colorado — and both parties selected swing states in 2012. I suspect that trend is likely to continue, making Birmingham an underdog to host a convention in 2016.”

With that in mind, the two Ohio cities vying for the convention may have a leg up on the competition. No Republican has ever won the White House without Ohio.

So here’s the deal: Birmingham has absolutely zero chance of hosting the 2016 DNC. But that doesn’t mean the city shouldn’t continue trying to land big events like this.

“I applaud the City of Birmingham and the Convention Bureau officials for putting our city into the mix for hosting the 2016 DNC,” said Gene Hallman, CEO of the Birmingham-based Bruno Event Team, one of the nation’s largest event management companies. “Regardless of the outcome, the City will benefit from the positive exposure. We need to continue to promote Birmingham’s image as a great event host.”


Follow Cliff on Twitter @Cliff_Sims

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4 years ago

Ted Nugent: ‘God bless Alabama and God bless Remington!’

Ted Nugent
Ted Nugent

Ted Nugent is coming to Alabama Father’s Day weekend as a celebrity guest at Rick & Bubba’s first-ever Outdoor Expo at the BJCC. The event will feature the best in hunting and fishing and is designed for outdoor enthusiasts of all kinds. On top of that, expo attendees will have an opportunity to meet and greet with Rick and Bubba, country music stars, and other outdoor celebrity guests throughout the weekend, including The Nuge.


RELATED: THE EXCHANGE: Rick & Bubba on faith, tragedy, politics and the legacy they want to leave


Yellowhammer caught up with the Motor City Madman himself via email today to get his thoughts on the expo, as well as other hot topics, like Remington Arms coming to Alabama, conservatives in the entertainment industry, what it’s going to take to get another Republican in the White House, and more.

YELLOWHAMMER:
You’re one of the few outspoken conservatives in the entertainment industry. Do you think conservatives need to make more of an effort to influence the culture through music and other entertainment industries?

TED NUGENT:
Of course I do. The America hating liberal left has been using their bully pulpit forever at every opportunity while the majority of the so called Hollywood conservatives remain mute, moot and trembling in fear of their own shadows.

YELLOWHAMMER:
Alabama beat out states all over the country to woo Remington Arms, America’s oldest gun manufacturer, to open a massive new facility in the state. What do you think about Remington choosing Alabama over New York where it’s been headquartered for almost 200 years?

TED NUGENT:
God bless Alabama and God bless Remington! New York for all practical purposes isn’t even America anymore. With the clear and present criminal violation of the US Constitution with their confiscatory so called “Safe Act” law scam, NY is the poster child for big government out of control.


RELATED:
1. Remington Arms moving 2,000+ jobs from NY to Alabama
2. VIDEO: Alabama’s ‘We Dare Defend Our Rights’ motto played role in landing Remington
3. Remington moves Bushmaster production line to Alabama


YELLOWHAMMER:
So you’re coming to Birmingham as one of the celebrity guests for Rick & Bubba’s Outdoor Expo on Father’s Day weekend. What is it about this particular event that compelled you to get involved?

TED NUGENT:
I’m a sucker for anyone named Bubba. Things have got to be big fun when there is a Bubba involved! I’ve been aware of Rick & Bubba for many years, and this is sure to be a grand family event celebrating the great outdoors. I am honored to be invited. It will be wall to wall Spirit of the Wild backstrap BloodBrothers and I virtually guarantee the greatest of times.

YELLOWHAMMER:
What’s it going to take to get a Republican back in the White House in 2016?

TED NUGENT:
The GOP has lost its soul and a critical anatomical appendage necessary to properly represent the productive working hard playing hard families of this great country. They need to drop the Mr. Roger’s pleasantry BS and take a hard core stand against the liberal democrat goons who hate freedom, hate guns, hate hunting, hate individualism, hate entrepreneurs, hate independence, hate rugged individualism and expose the vile Saul Alinsky scam of their hateful agenda. We need a bigger, badder, bolder, tougher Ronald Reagan and we need him now!

YELLOWHAMMER:
People pay attention to what you say because you’ve been a passionate defender of Americans’ rights, especially the 2nd Amendment, but you also get a lot of attention for occasionally making some pretty inflammatory remarks. Cutting through all the rhetoric, what’s the overall message you’re hoping to communicate to the American people?

TED NUGENT:
Only wimps have a problem with my inflammatory remarks. Educated people know that it takes bold, even brazen language to honestly identify the criminal violations of such a lying, racist, America hating president and his criminal gunrunning AG Eric Holder. Trying to be civil with such a vicious non-civil enemy is why we are in the mess we are in today. My message is so simple, it’s stupid: We the people are supposed to be in charge of this country, and the US Constitution and Bill of Rights are the self-evident truths by which all decisions and policies must be made and enforced. I will go down in history as the good guy with balls. The Obama gang will go down in history as an evil force hellbent on destroying America, and if we let them get away with it, we will go down in history as the dumbest, most soulless society in the history of mankind. I fight nonstop daily to keep them from doing it. Everyone should.


Follow Cliff on Twitter @Cliff_Sims

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4 years ago

Remington Arms moving 2,000+ jobs from NY to Alabama

Remington

High level sources have informed Yellowhammer News that Remington, one of the world’s largest gun manufacturers, will on Monday join Alabama Gov. Robert Bentley in announcing that they are bringing over 2,000 jobs to Alabama.

The company is viewing the move into Alabama as an expansion, but it will likely impact their Ilion, NY plant as well. The New York facility currently employees around 1,200 people. It is expected to stay open, but with a reduced workforce.

“The company is making the move as an expansion of capacity, production and research,” a source told Yellowhammer on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to speak publicly. “The demand for Remington products has skyrocketed recently, for obvious reasons, so they need to increase their production capacity. They will be expanding their research capabilities with the Alabama plant, too.”

The initial estimated impact on Alabama’s economy will be roughly $87 million.

According to Remington’s website, the company designs, produces and sells sporting goods products for the hunting and shooting sports markets, as well as military, government and law enforcement markets. Founded in 1816 in upstate New York, the Company is one of the nation’s oldest continuously operating manufacturers. Remington is the only U.S. manufacturer of both firearms and ammunition products and one of the largest domestic producers of shotguns and rifles. The Company distributes its products throughout the U.S. and in over 55 foreign countries.

Remington first began considering new locations after the New York legislature passed the Secure Ammunition and Firearms Enforcement (SAFE) Act in response to the tragic shootings in Newtown, Conn. In addition to banning magazines that contain more than seven rounds and requiring instant background checks on ammo purchases,  the NY SAFE Act broadened the definition of so-called “assault weapons” to include a wide range of guns, including the Bushmaster, which was being manufactured at Remington’s New York plant.

Almost half the states in the country have made pitches to Remington, included Arizona, Oklahoma, Michigan, South Carolina, Tennessee and Texas. But in the end, the company chose Huntsville, Ala.

Remington

The optics could not be worse for New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo, who told WCNY radio host Susan Arbetter about a month ago that “extreme conservatives” who are “right-to-life, pro-assault-weapon, anti-gay,” have “no place in the state of New York.”

Gov. Bentley and Alabama House Speaker Mike Hubbard both immediately responded to Cuomo’s comments.

“In Alabama we strongly support and uphold our great U.S. Constitution on which our nation and our states were founded,” Bentley told Yellowhammer. “The Constitution serves to protect individual Freedoms. Among them are those guaranteed in the Second Amendment, which protects the right of the people to keep and bear Arms. We will protect the Freedoms of individuals and welcome any one or any company to Alabama to discover as so many have, that we are a pro-business state filled with good, hardworking people.”

“If he doesn’t want hard working pro-life and pro-2nd Amendment people in his state, we will gladly take them here in Alabama,” Speaker Hubbard added.

It looks like that’s exactly what is happening.

Yellowhammer will have full coverage of the announcement on Monday.


Follow Cliff on Twitter @Cliff_Sims

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5 years ago

You won’t believe the shockingly violent ‘game’ that’s catching on among teens


(Above: A local CBS affiliate’s report on the shocking new game that’s catching on among teens)

A new “game” known simply as “knockout” is growing in popularity among teenage boys in the northeastern United States.

The game consists of choosing a random, defenseless person on the street and attempting to knock them out in one punch. The ultimate victory in the game? A “one-hitter-quitter,” a punch that leaves the unsuspecting victim instantly knocked out cold.

New York City’s local CBS affiliate recently took to the streets of New Jersey to conduct an investigative report on the growing number of inner-city teens participating in the violent game.

“You try to hit with one swing and completely knock them out,” one of the teens told the CBS reporter. “Knockout is, like, when you just punch somebody and they just go to sleep when you hit them,” another teen chimed in.

One such attack caught on tape by a surveillance camera showed a 50-year-old teacher named James Addlespurger casually walking by a group of teenage boys when one of them suddenly punches him in the head, leaving him motionless on the pavement. The boys walk away laughing.

“What’s the point,” the CBS reporter asked a teen on the street. “Like, for the fun of it. Like, for little kids to run around, hit people and knock them out,” the teen replied. “It’s just more like picking a target that’s alone, defenseless. They just go ‘boom’ when it’s the right time, right place.”


Follow Cliff on Twitter @Cliff_Simsknockout

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5 years ago

Wife’s courageous battle with cancer documented by husband’s heart-wrenching photos

Five months after Angelo and Jennifer Merendino were married in New York’s Central Park, Jennifer was diagnosed with breast cancer.

“I remember the exact moment,” Angelo said, recalling the day Jennifer shared her diagnosis. “…Jen’s voice and the numb feeling that enveloped me. That feeling has never left. I’ll also never forget how we looked into each other’s eyes and held each other’s hands. ‘We are together, we’ll be ok.’”

Over the next four years, Angelo meticulously documented Jennifer’s fight to survive on his blog, MyWifesFightWithBreastCancer.com.

These heart-wrenching photos tell their story:

Photo credit: Angelo Merendino
Photo credit: Angelo Merendino
Photo credit: Angelo Merendino
Photo credit: Angelo Merendino
Photo credit: Angelo Merendino
Photo credit: Angelo Merendino
Photo credit: Angelo Merendino
Photo credit: Angelo Merendino
Photo credit: Angelo Merendino
Photo credit: Angelo Merendino
Photo credit: Angelo Merendino
Photo credit: Angelo Merendino
Photo credit: Angelo Merendino
Photo credit: Angelo Merendino
Photo credit: Angelo Merendino
Photo credit: Angelo Merendino
Photo credit: Angelo Merendino
Photo credit: Angelo Merendino
Photo credit: Angelo Merendino
Photo credit: Angelo Merendino
Photo credit: Angelo Merendino
Photo credit: Angelo Merendino
Photo credit: Angelo Merendino
Photo credit: Angelo Merendino
Photo credit: Angelo Merendino
Photo credit: Angelo Merendino
Photo credit: Angelo Merendino
Photo credit: Angelo Merendino
Photo credit: Angelo Merendino
Photo credit: Angelo Merendino
Photo credit: Angelo Merendino
Photo credit: Angelo Merendino
Photo credit: Angelo Merendino
Photo credit: Angelo Merendino
Photo credit: Angelo Merendino
Photo credit: Angelo Merendino
Photo credit: Angelo Merendino
Photo credit: Angelo Merendino
Photo credit: Angelo Merendino
Photo credit: Angelo Merendino
Photo credit: Angelo Merendino
Photo credit: Angelo Merendino
Photo credit: Angelo Merendino
Photo credit: Angelo Merendino
Photo credit: Angelo Merendino
Photo credit: Angelo Merendino
Photo credit: Angelo Merendino
Photo credit: Angelo Merendino
Photo credit: Angelo Merendino
Photo credit: Angelo Merendino
Photo credit: Angelo Merendino
Photo credit: Angelo Merendino
Photo credit: Angelo Merendino
Photo credit: Angelo Merendino
Photo credit: Angelo Merendino
Photo credit: Angelo Merendino
Photo credit: Angelo Merendino
Photo credit: Angelo Merendino
Photo credit: Angelo Merendino
Photo credit: Angelo Merendino
Photo credit: Angelo Merendino
Photo credit: Angelo Merendino

Follow Adam on Twitter @AdamYHN

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