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Jim Folsom, Jr. Corrects Washington Senator on Manufacturing in Alabama

by: mooncat

Mon Dec 14, 2009 at 21:45:59 PM CST

The tanker contract battle between Northrop and Boeing -- or Alabama and Washington -- is getting hot.  Sen Patty Murray (D, WA) fired this shot at Alabama's workforce (or supposed lack thereof) last week on National Public Radio's All Things Considered:

"I have stood on the line in Everett, Washington where we have thousands of workers who go to work every day to build these planes. I would challenge anybody to tell me that they've stood on a line in Alabama and seen anybody build anything."

Lt. Governor Jim Folsom, Jr. sent a letter to Sen. Murray this afternoon, correcting her misapprehension as to what Alabamians are capable of.  From Folsom's letter, emphasis mine:

I noted with great interest the comments you made about Alabama during a recent interview for the program All Things Considered. Your exact quote was, "I would challenge anybody to tell me that they've stood on a line in Alabama and seen anybody building anything."

Senator, on behalf of the over 5000 manufacturing companies in Alabama, I must accept your challenge. I have personally stood "on the line" in Alabama and watched hundreds of products being manufactured, including automobiles and space flight vehicles. I remain hopeful that in the near future, I will also "stand on the line" and watch the military's new refueling tanker be manufactured here.

Folsom referenced the George C. Marshall Space Flight Center's contributions to the Apollo moon launches and the Ares crew launch vehicle -- and the auto manufacturing plants he was instrumental in bringing to Alabama.

The automobile manufacturing industry has also flourished in Alabama. Mercedes, Hyundai, Honda, Toyota, and hundreds of their suppliers and support companies call Alabama home. Senator, since 1995, over one million automobiles have been manufactured in Alabama.

Over 312,000 Alabamians are employed in the manufacturing industry. Any one of these committed men and women, or I, can attest that Alabama is on the leading edge nationally in the field of manufacturing, medicine, and technical research.

Folsom wrapped up the letter with a polite holiday wish for Senator Murray.  

This is a perfect example of negotiating by tearing the other guy down -- and I expected better from Patty Murray.  Some of you may remember how she originally won her Senate seat by campaigning as a "mom in tennis shoes."  As a supposed champion for average Americans, Murray should have checked her facts before spouting what any educated person would realize was nonsense -- and insulting, stereotypical nonsense, at that.  We're not still chopping cotton down here, Senator, barefoot and illiterate.  Alabamians have long since embraced modern technology.  In fact, my neighbor is a farmer and uses GPS in his rig that keeps his combine on the exact same path his planter traveled months before, right down to a little wobble he might have made reaching to answer his cell phone. 

Alabama workers built Saturn V rockets in the 60's and were instrumental in their design and testing and played major roles in the Space Shuttle, Spacelab, the Delta IV rocket (Delta and Atlas launch vehicles are now manufactured in a state of the art facility in Decatur, Alabama) and now Ares programs.  Speaking as a former industry insider, I would put Alabama engineers and scientists -- and yes, technicians and machinists -- up against anything Washington state has.

Kudos to Lt. Governor Folsom for correcting the record.  As for Senator Murray, she needs to get busy with some apologies or I'm afraid she'll be looking at a stocking full of coal on Christmas morning.

mooncat :: Jim Folsom, Jr. Corrects Washington Senator on Manufacturing in Alabama
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Sen. Murray may be getting some feedback on this ... (0.00 / 0)

WSFA News tried to reach her, but her voicemail was full.

They also have quotes from Gov. Bob Riley: "absolutely absurd;" Sen. Richard Shelby: "simply ignorant;" and Rep. Bobby Bright: "unfortunate politics."

Work harder and work smarter!

Riley, Bright and Shelby have some nerve (0.00 / 0)
calling someone "absolutely absured, simply ignorant and unfortuante politics."

The work goes on, the cause endures, the hope still lives and the dreams shall never die.~Senator Edward M. Kennedy (D. MA)

[ Parent ]
Senator Murray needs to learn to use Teh Google (4.00 / 1)

Since apparently her staff doesn't know how to find things on these here Intertubes.

Google "Alabama assembly line" and you'll get hits for the first Honda Ridgeline truck in February 2009 as well as the MILLIONTH Hyundai Sonata since 2005.  And that doesn't even count the vehicles from the Daimler-Chrysler plant at Vance.

You might even get a few hits for rocket ship production at the United Launch Alliance plant in Decatur.

Before all these transplants, in years past Ford had a foundry in Sheffield, GM had a large plant in Athens, and Chrysler built electronics for NASA and the military in Huntsville.

So, Senator Murray, we actually do know something about assembly lines down here in Alabama.  We're not spending all of our time barefoot and pregnant and chasing our kissing cousins through the cotton fields.

But, Senator, you could come down and see for yourself.  Just give us a heads-up, and we'll be sure to give you the 25-cent tour, and take you for lunch to Greenbrier Barbecue (not the one on the Interstate, the one across the street from the cotton gin).  And we'll be sure to send somebody ahead to open the gates and turn the cows out into the road so you can get the whole flavor...

Facts are stubborn things; and whatever may be our wishes, our inclinations, or the dictates of our passion, they cannot alter the state of facts and evidence.
- John Adams

Hmmm ... (0.00 / 0)
You sound like someone who has arranged the 25 cent tour for out of staters once or twice ...

Work harder and work smarter!

[ Parent ]
Well, I sure have at least. (4.00 / 1)
Been there, done that.

"What do you mean you guys aren't all a bunch of barefoot inbred wingnut fundamentalists?"

I may be a Democrat, but I'm more than willing to call Mrs. Tennis Shoes out for this, and I (for once!) fully sided with Jeff Sessions, who really laid it on her and told her what she deserved to hear.

Yeah, I felt so dirty saying that.

Folsom's letter was better, though. There, now I feel slightly cleaner.

"I don't do drugs. I am drugs." — Salvador Dali

[ Parent ]
No response yet from Senator Murray... (0.00 / 0)

...is it possible she was misquoted or had her statement taken out of context?  I have deep respect for Senator Murray and am willing to give her the benefit of the doubt on this one.  The NPR reporter on this story was Debbie Murphree, an Alabama grad...I've posed the question to her to find out if there is more to this while everyone else is jumping on the bandwagon and amping up the rhetoric.

If she said, I feel certain she will apologize, but if she was taken out of context I hope folks will be willing to hear her out on what she meant by her comments.

That quote is not included in the current audio version (0.00 / 0)
Three paragraphs (including the key one) are included in the print version, but omitted on the audio.  That's a bit strange.

Work harder and work smarter!

[ Parent ]
very strange... (4.00 / 1)

From the second I read the quote in question, I suspected it may have been chopped to give it greater impact, but also may have lost a lot of context.  I'm amazed that Senator Murray's office still has yet to offer clarification though.

I suspect what she was saying is that the facilities for this kind of project are already in place in Washington, whereas a lot of building and hiring and training would be needed to do this work in Mobile.  However, we'll see once she has a chance to respond.

If this was the complete quote in context than the response has been appropriate from Alabamians, and she does owe a serious apology. 

[ Parent ]
murray knows better (4.00 / 1)
Senator murray's slur is a sidelight that wont make a bit of difference, although give folsom's advisers credit for seeing the need to respond and coming up with a good response. the decision between boeing and airbus is too big to be made on merit -- it's political. If the contract goes to alabama  senators shelby and sessions and a nobody from nowhere congressman from mobile get the credit. all republicans. shelby didnt have the cojones to stand up to a "birther" at a meeting in cullman and say obama was born in the USA. Sessions' whining senate harangues against everything progressive from the white house is his hallmark. meanwhile, while boeing manufactures in washington (and other states with no shelby-sessions senators), its headquarters is chicago. which, incidentally, is obama's and major white house staff's hometown. and a contract this big is supposed to go to mobile? 

Not defending what Murray said... But she couldn't care less about what feedback she gets from Alabama. (4.00 / 1)

All she cares about is her state--and her voters in her state. Not surprising.  To me, the most alarming in this debate is what happened a few weeks ago in the Washington media against the south.  Did anyone see this from the Seattle newspaper?

Disgusting regional chauvinism.


Whoa! (0.00 / 0)

I wonder why the Washington media has this image of sweet home Alabama? :)

The work goes on, the cause endures, the hope still lives and the dreams shall never die.~Senator Edward M. Kennedy (D. MA)

[ Parent ]
Here's another correction letter... (0.00 / 0)
This one from Mobile County commissioner Steve Nodine.

Mobile Commissioner Responds to Senator Murray

I like this part:

Throughout the tanker competition, Boeing supporters such as you and others in Washington state have portrayed Alabamians as simpletons incapable of producing such an aircraft. This is stereotyping at its worst. It is insulting to the thousands of Alabamians already working in aerospace industries in Mobile... not to mention those in Huntsville, including Boeing workers, who over the past 50-plus years have built the rockets that have launched our NASA astronauts into space.

But this is my favorite line:

In Mobile, Alabama, I've stood on a line and seen thousands of technicians keeping what Boeing builds in the air.

I've got three tools in my arsenal: my voice, my wallet, and my vote.

Senator Murray's remarks (4.00 / 1)
are nothing more or less than I would have expected from her considering her positions on issues in the past and her senate record. I ditto those who have commented giving kudos to Jim Folsom.

"My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge...."      Hosea 4:6



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