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Help Send Ollie to the Congressional Black Caucus Conference

by: ChristianSmith

Sat Aug 01, 2015 at 18:59:38 PM CDT

(Opportunity to help an active young Democrat in Alabama gain experience & network. - promoted by countrycat)

I don't write often and even less on behalf of other people, but I feel this is important. I know many of you supported me for my run for Mobile County Treasurer in 2012 and I am truly appreciative of it. This time, it's not for me, but my wonderful campaign manager and friend, Ollie Davison.   

Ollie is going to the 45th annual Congressional Black Caucus Conference and I'd like to help ensure that we send a hard-working young Democrat there.

Ollie and I have known each other for 10 years and upon me deciding to run, he was the first one to sign up and help...no charge. In the middle of the campaign he ended up moving to Birmingham for a job. He made the trip every weekend down here to make sure the campaign went on, he made phone calls for me daily, and without complaint. 

Upon moving to Birmingham Ollie has gotten involved in the Jefferson County Young Democrats, Alabama Young Democrats and other progressive organizations. He is currently the executive vice-president of the Alabama Young Democrats and is one of the hardest working individuals I know. In addition to being in Birmingham and his involvement up there, he makes time for his home community of Prichard and Mobile and has helped to successfully charter the Bay Area Young Democrats chapter on the Gulf Coast. 

Ollie contributes his time for the betterment of his community, not for any paid gain or attention. And I'd like to change that. I'd like for us to recognize his continued work and commitment to young and old Democrats alike by helping send him to the conference. I've handed over my check personally to him. If you can spare any amount to help alleviate the cost of him to go to D.C. it would be greatly appreciated. 

Here's a link to his gofundme page


If you don't want to donate online and would like to send him a check, please email me at Cnsmith401@gmail.com

Thank you so much for your time,

Christian Smith
President, Bay Area Young Democrats 


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RSA's David Bronner Refutes Troy University Criticism of RSA Finances

by: countrycat

Sat Aug 01, 2015 at 18:30:00 PM CDT

$1.2 million donation to Troy University is the tiniest drop in the bucket of the Koch Brothers' estimated $81 billion fortune, but it doesn't take much to gain influence in Alabama's cash-starved university system. The Manuel H. Johnson Center for Political Economy at Troy has been a center of controversy since accepting the Koch money in 2010, but officials deny that funding sources affect their research:

money to burn - privatize pensions


The new Troy economics center will advocate "economic freedom," a limited government, free-market take on economics. But, Beaulier said, the Troy center will go where its research takes it.

"We're not a political organization at all," he said. "We're not the Tea Party." 

Observers have noted that the center's pledge "go where its research takes it" almost always results in it taking a walk on the "right" side - even if not supported by the facts.

For instance, a widely-touted study by researchers Scott Beaulier & Philip Mixon seemed to directly contradict a previous UAB study conclusion that Medicaid expansion would bring both revenue and jobs to the state:

A key cost figure in a much-debated study challenging conventional wisdom that Alabama stands to gain financially from an expansion of the Medicaid program appears to be wrong, which could alter the report’s conclusion.
Phillip Mixon, one of the Troy authors, acknowledged Friday that lower administrative costs would make a difference but argued that it would not change the basic conclusion. 

The latest salvo from Troy is about the Retirement Systems of Alabama (RSA). Op/ed author Daniel Smith called the RSA "a poor steward" of Alabama's retirement system. Smith cried crocodile tears about the supposed low returns and ill-health of the RSA before showing his hand on the real objective here: privatizing the state's pension system:

States like Michigan and Utah have proactively addressed their looming pension underfunding problems by offering sustainable retirement options to their state employees, such as 401(k)s and 457 plans. In Michigan, financial companies compete against each other to service these accounts, adding more accountability and increasing the range of options available to state employees 

Because who wouldn't prefer to let bankers and investment companies (the same ones that crashed the economy in 2008 and cost taxpayers over $125 billion in the S&L bailout in the 1980s) get their hands on public employees' pension money too? It has to be much easier to sell high-profit (for Wall Street) risky, expensive investments to individual secretaries, retired teachers, and state troopers than to con RSA investment professionals. 

Maybe Johnson Center founding donor BB&T (a financial services & investment banking company) could enlighten us on how privtazation could "help" state employees.  Looks like they'd love to talk to you about "investing and retirement options."

RSA CEO David Bronner fired back in a press release that refuted Johnson's key claims.  It's on the flip in its entirety.  I like that he responded to the facts and figures in Johnson's op/ed, and also flagged the funding sources for Troy University's Johnson Center: potential conflict of interest with major donors' business interests is certainly worthy of comment.


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Join Forward Alabama & OTM Dems For GOP Debate & Daily Show Final Episode

by: countrycat

Sat Aug 01, 2015 at 14:16:20 PM CDT

Jon Stewart says goodbye to his fans on Thursday evening when the final episode of The Daily Show airs, but Progressives in Alabama are just getting started. The Over The Mountain Democrats and Forward Alabama will host a doozy of an evening Thursday, August 6.

Enjoy live music, food & drink, live coverage of the first Republican debate (might want to have a few drinks first, LOL!), and end the evening with The Daily Show.

From the event announcement:

The music starts at 7:00 pm; there’ll be an important short presentation at 9:15 pm; and the show’s at 10 pm.

Who: Everyone

What: Last Episode of The Daily Show & Party

When: 7-11pm, Thursday, Aug. 6th

Where: Iron City Grill  2208 6th Ave S, Birmingham

How Much:  Students, limited income  $15;   Adults $30 

Info:      ForwardAlabama.eventbrite.com

Brought to you by Over the Mountain Democrats to benefit a new statewide PAC, Forward Alabama. Along with your admission, a year’s membership is included.  ForwardAlabama.org

For more information:  Linda Verin adsthatworkreally@gmail.com  205.821.0327 or Joellyn Beckham britebluedot@yahoo.com (205) 873-0887 

Note: at the last SDEC meeting, there was a lot of scuttlebutt and dark conspiracy theories that the new organization, Forward Alabama, is somehow controlled by former ADP Chair Judge Mark Kennedy.  It is a lie that is being spread in an effort to discredit the membership and mission of Forward Alabama with some members of the state party.  Who's running the group?  Find out here

It's really sad to see some in the state party establishment so threatened by a group of volunteers who plan to train & recruit Democratic candidates, register Democratic voters, and create a coherent, cohesive message (you know - all the things that the state party should be doing, but can't even manage to update their web site) that they would rather see this important work not get done at all.

Kudos to the OTM Dems, Forward Alabama, and everyone who is making an investment in the future of the Democratic Party and state of Alabama. 

Visit the Forward Alabama YouTube channel to see all of the terrific short pieces they've produced.  Here is the most recent one about the state budget crisis:


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And the beat goes on... largely personal

by: piggieheart

Wed Jul 29, 2015 at 09:41:24 AM CDT

I just got "fired" by a client who had hired me to officiate her wedding. It seems her fiance's family studied my profile and learned that I do not discriminate against anyone for their sexual orientation.I guess I should have seen that coming. Sometimes you have to lose something to realize you didn't need it or even want it. I do not need bigots for customers. I'll make it without them. I do feel sorry for the little bride who chose me above a lot of other possibilities, only to get overruled. I hope she sees the deeper implications of "going along to get along" with her new inlaws.
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Public Education In Alabama Is Poised On The Brink Of Disaster

by: countrycat

Sun Jul 19, 2015 at 15:40:52 PM CDT

Hyperbole?  Not really. Let's take a look at recent events and the GOP supermajority's plan to "fix" the state budget crisis during the special session set to reconvene the first week of August.


The first hit to public education came when Governor Robert Bentley appointed a 28-year-old man to a vacancy on the state school board.  He's not just relatively young; Matt Brown of Baldwin County has zero experience with public schools and is actively hostile to public education.

Brown said one of his motivations for seeking the position was to learn the educational structure of the state.

Does Governor Bentley really think that the State School Board is the proper venue for on the job training?  If Brown wants to "learn" about public education, maybe he should enroll his children in the public schools, volunteer at a school, or even run for his local school board before he injures every school child in this state with his inexperience. 

From Larry Lee's education blog:

Brown never attended public school, has stated that his children will not attend public schools and was head of the Educate Baldwin Now campaign that worked (successfully) to defeat an education tax referendum last March.  He is also an  opponent of Common Core, which is aligned with the Alabama College & Career standards.

The governor stated in a press release, “Matthew brings a unique perspective to the position.”  He is certainly right about that.  About like I (an avid Auburn grad and supporter) would do if appointed to the Board of Trustees at the University of Alabama.
As we know, the governor is a dermatologist and there is a group known as the Alabama Dermatology Society.  Would the governor nominate Matt Brown to serve as an officer with this group?  From where I sit, he seems to have just as much experience to do this as he does to be on the State Board of Education.

Insider speculation is that Governor Bentley traded this position for Senator Trip Pittman's cooperation on the budget deal Bentley hopes to push through. If true, it's no surprise to longtime observers of Alabama politics: Pittman has quite the history of insider deal-making and sweetheart contracts - not to mention an amazing affinity for Ten Commandments displays.

However, he has previously expressed  skepticism about a plan to combine Alabama's education and general fund budgets - a plan supported by Governor Bentley and many GOP legislative leaders.

In 2012, Gov. Robert Bentley floated a budget unification proposal, but the plan went nowhere. Senate Finance and Taxation Education chairman Trip Pittman, R-Montrose, said Friday that he was concerned that unifiying the budgets would not solve the General Fund problems, and possibly create another one within the school systems.

"Instead of the General Fund becoming the health care trust fund, you're going to make General Fund and the Education Trust Fund the health care trust fund," he said.
"I'd love to get the unified budget, but I've told Sen. Dial that until you get the Medciaid and prison situation under control, I think you have a hard time getting that done," he said.  

Even so, Senate President Pro-Tem Del March told the APT current affairs show "Capitol Journal" that he hopes to pass this bill during the special session.  Now the Governor has done Pittman a big favor by putting his unqualified buddy on the state school board. It's hard to believe though that Pittman comes that cheap.

Tell him what you think about this plan:  Trip.Pittman@alsenate.gov 


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Open Letter to OSA: Thanks for a Great Fundraiser!

by: Stephanie Gilmore

Sun Jul 19, 2015 at 11:01:25 AM CDT

As y'all know, Alabama Reproductive Rights Advocates hosted an "adopt an anti" campaign during Operation Save America's anti-choice, anti-woman rally in Alabama last week. I wrote a letter thanking everyone involved in the highly successful web-based campaign. 

I’m not going to bury the lede: Operation Save America turned up in Alabama this past week, and y’all turned out to “Let Reproductive Justice Roll” to the tune of over $3100!!

Over the week, we witnessed street preachers on footstools offering to save our souls; assorted “fetal porn peddlers” holding gruesome and inaccurate signs about aborted zygotes; children in matching “abortion survivor” t-shirts telling us that if we can’t answer to a child about abortion, we can’t answer to God for our sins; known clinic bombers and sex offenders in front of our clinics (with children present and within 2000 feet of schools and child care centers in some places); and folks calling our doctors and clinic administrators sinners, liars, and murderers. In other words, a regular week at Alabama clinics.

Alabama Reproductive Rights Advocates were prepared and undeterred. Clinic defenders and pro-choice activists worked with clinic administrators, physicians, and staff to protect our clinics and to demonstrate around the state against Operation Save America.

Over the week, WE STOOD PROUD AND TALL for our clinic administrators, doctors, and clinic staff in the face of 741 total protesters. With your pledges, we also raised over $3100 for women in financial need!!! THANK YOU!!

Some of you sponsored picketers for a particular day; some of you sponsored a particular person – and from Bobby to Roy Moore, they all showed up as expected. One of you generous souls must have known how hot it would be in Alabama in July and donated $10 per child for each day it was over 90 degrees. (We did experience some temps at 100 and heat indexes of 110, and every single day was over 90 degrees.) The point is, y’all showed up from everywhere around the country to let OSA know that we won’t back down – and you let Alabama women know that money will not be the determining factor in obtaining an abortion.

We are pro-choice, y’all! And from the deepest parts of our hearts, we thank you!

Alabama Reproductive Rights Advocates

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HSV Anti-Choice Leader Was Right: Clinics Really Do Draw A Bad Crowd

by: countrycat

Fri Jul 17, 2015 at 17:09:45 PM CDT

It turns out, Huntsville street preacher James Henderson was absolutely correct about the danger of abortion clinics drawing a bunch of unsavory people who shouldn't be near children.  We saw that just this morning at multiple locations in the Rocket City. Henderson and his confused band of misfits were joined early this morning at the Huntsville clinic's old location (one that's now a private OB/GYN office) by the Operation Save America group that drove up from Montgomery for a little fresh air and sidewalk bullying. Later, they turned up at the actual clinic which, to their consternation, had been well-protected by a variety of tarps, moving vans, and RVs that protected patients from the sidewalk shouters.


Both of these locations are near schools and child care centers, and that's the rationale that Henderson gave when he tried to convince the city to stop the clinic from moving. Foiled at the local level, he convinced Ed Henry to introduce a bill specifically targeted at the Huntsville clinic.  At the public hearing on the bill, supporters repeatedly cited their own bad behavior as something "school children" shouldn't be exposed to.

Which is pretty amazing when you consider that they regularly show up with children in tow - including today.

One important thing they failed to mention to the media and to the police is that they were planning to host Howard Scott Heldreth, a violent sex offender, at today's protests. Heldreth was at the old clinic location in downtown; he later traveled with the group to the actual clinic on Sparkman Drive.

But surprise! After law enforcement officers were alerted to his presence, Hildreth was informed that he had until 3pm to register with the county as a sex offender or try out the accommodations at the local jail.

Hildreth preferred to beat a path to his car instead of comply, and took a large number of the Montgomery contingent with him.

The protest broke up soon after, but not before wasting a huge amount of taxpayer money:


  • Huntsville City Schools had to dispatch security guards to keep, the protesters off school property
  • Three city employees spent their work day monitoring the volume of the protesters bullhorns and mics.
  • At least 16 marked police cars and other unmarked cars, and several dozen police officers (totals for both locations) spent the morning babysitting protesters who insisted on trespassing, jaywalking, breaking noise ordinances, and - oh yes - welcoming a sex offender.


Of course, Huntsville's criminal has a record that pales next to the "pro-life" luminary who showed up in Montgomery. They had the dubious pleasure of hosting John Brockhoeft, a violent, unstable individual with a long and sordid history in the movement:

As part of a militant group known as the Army of God, Brockhoeft set fires to two local abortion clinics in 1985 and planted a pipe bomb at the temporary offices of one of them in 1987.

The attacker's identity was a mystery until federal agents arrested Brockhoeft in Florida with bomb-making materials in his car in May 1988.

Brockhoeft's days of setting fires and planting bombs came to an end in May 1988, when agents from the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms arrested him near Pensacola, Fla. Tipped off by his first wife, agents stopped Brockhoeft's car and found steel pipe, explosive chemicals and detonators – which he planned to use to blow up an abortion clinic in Florida.

During a subsequent investigation, Brockhoeft was indicted on five counts of arson and one count of attempted arson for attacks in Cincinnati and Columbus.

To this day, he is coy about whether he was involved with five other attacks at clinics in Cincinnati and around Ohio the late 1970s, all of which remain unsolved.

More photos of today's protests in Huntsville are on the flip.  Review our coverage of Roy Moore's keynote speech to the OSA convention.

Even if you missed the excitement, you can still do your part to support the women of Alabama.  Alabama Reproductive Rights Advocates (ARRA), a statewide advocacy group is hosting a fundraiser called "Adopt an Anti."  It has a devliish premise:

  • You pledge to specific amount for each protester present on any day between July 11 - July 18 (for example, ten cents per protester).  You can decide to donate for one day or multiple days.  (donation form is below)
  • An ARRA member will count the number of protesters present at the clinic or city hall on each day and we will then send you a bill for your day/pledge. The total will be the amount you pledged times the number of protesters present. For example, if you pledge ten cents for Friday in front of the Huntsville Women’s Center and there are 100 protesters present, we'll send you a bill for $10.00.  We are creating multiple creative ways to be sure that the protesters know that you are using their presence to support abortion care and the right to abortion!
  • You can also specify a particular anti-choice protester you wish to sponsor.

Learn more & sign up for "Adopt an Anti." At last count, organizers say they had raised about $2,000.  Thank you, OSA!


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AL-05 - Candidate To Announce 2016 Challenge To Mo Brooks

by: countrycat

Thu Jul 16, 2015 at 08:45:14 AM CDT

A Democratic challenger to AL-05 Representative Mo Brooks plans to make a formal announcement tonight in Huntsville. The venue is a Madison County Democratic Party fundraiser at the Yellowhammer Brewery. The other featured speaker is 2014 Lt. Governor candidate James Fields.

From the county party's press release:

The Democratic candidate for CD5 will announce at our event; this will be in opposition to Rep. Mo Brooks.

We'll hear from James C. Fields, popular candidate for Lt. Governor, Ron Crumpton, Commissioner Roger Jones, and more.

And did we mention there's BEER?!

Ticket price is $30.00 - your investment in 2016 - and there will be several categories of sponsors, ranging from $100.00 on up. Come join your fellow democrats, spread the word and bring a friend! 

Time to get a jump on the 2016 elections and help the Madison County Democratic Party raise funds to help Democratic candidates.

Two ways to get tickets OR sponsor the event:
1. Click on the email below to RSVP.  
2. Purchase tickets and sponsorships online at Yellowdogs At Yellowhammer
Looking forward to seeing everyone there!

Attendees will have the opportunity to win a VERY special door prize.

Yellowhammer Brewery is located at 2406 Clinton Ave. Huntsville 35805.

You can purchase tickets online at the ActBlue link or buy them at the door.


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SDEC Meeting 07/11/15

by: mpmarus

Tue Jul 14, 2015 at 21:34:07 PM CDT

Read this first:

"Want to see racism at work? Meet the Alabama Democratic Party"

Now this:

SD-33 Vivian Figures "Embarrassed, Ashamed, & Appalled" By SDEC Meeting

Not much to add except I wish someone would tell me how to fix it because it sure is broke.

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Birmingham Bernie Sanders Meet-Up Draws 300 Cheering Supporters

by: countrycat

Tue Jul 14, 2015 at 10:06:35 AM CDT

Birmingham was "feeling the Bern" on a sweltering Sunday afternoon gathering at Good People Brewing company. But the heat of the mostly outdoor venue only seemed to increase the intensity of support for the Vermont Senator's presidential bid. It was either that or the beer...

The event was scheduled for 4-6 pm. I arrived about 4:20 and had to park 4 blocks away.  Something big was brewing and, in this case, it was support for Sanders.

Event organizers seemed a bit overwhelmed by the response. Over 500 people had RSVPd to the Facebook event page, but anyone who's ever organized events online knows that you're lucky if a third of those people actually show up. They blew through that assumption though, and all the volunteers were well-organized and enthusiastic.

This was the first big event organized by the Alabama For Bernie Sanders group, but not the first meet-up in Alabama.  The Birmingham organizers plan to reach out to other Sanders groups across the state as well. Huntsville has already hosted two gatherings where supporters were invited to use free, hand-designed clip art to make their own Sanders campaign gear. 


Sunday's speakers discussed the crushing load of college debt, importance of education, commitment to the environment, support for civil liberties, and what the Sanders' campaign means to them personally. That last was really the first on everyone's list.

Everyone in attendance seemed to immediately be able to rattle off a list of reasons for their support.

And they weren't expressed in generic terms. They all said that the country needs Bernie, but also explained why they personally needed Bernie. He's tapping into some real emotions in people, and they were fired up.

Video clips of the speakers are on the flip, along with some more photos.

As other candidates' supporters get organized and begin holding events, please share the information with us here at LIA. While the blog is primarily focused on state politics, state supporters of presidential candidates are invited to share positive articles and information about why they support their candidate.  


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2015 Special Session: Legislature To Governor Bentley: "Up Yours!"

by: countrycat

Mon Jul 13, 2015 at 17:59:36 PM CDT

Last week, Alabama Governor Robert Bentley unexpectedly called a special session of the legislature to convene today (7/13/2015) to address the state's dreadful budget shortfall.  This was a shock to many observers and legislators who were preparing for an August special session.

But Alabama's intrepid lawmakers trekked to Montgomery as ordered and convened today.

Here's what happened...

They convened at approximately 4pm.  Said the Pledge and had a prayer (heaven knows, the state needs some sort of Divine Intervention).  That heavy lifting accomplished, both Houses adjourned until August 3rd.

Your tax dollars at work folks....


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SD-33 Vivian Figures "Embarrassed, Ashamed, & Appalled" By SDEC Meeting

by: countrycat

Sun Jul 12, 2015 at 14:36:22 PM CDT

She wasn't the only one. Several hundred people yesterday witnessed the spectacle of a "dis-integrating" state party that's chronically underfunded, under-resourced, and overwhelmed by the surging State Republican Party and legislative supermajority.undefined
You would think that such an organization would enthusiastically welcome people willing to step up and fill the 50 or so open positions on the party's governing body, the State Democratic Executive Committee (SDEC).  You would be mistaken.
As of yesterday, we discovered, the rules had changed.
At the last SDEC meeting in August 2014 (can you believe it's been almost a year between meetings?), Vice-chair Dr. Joe Reed moved to postpone the filling of vacancies until the next meeting. (Read the LIA coverage of that meeting). Dr. Reed also shut down the appointment of a new Vice-Chair for Youth Affairs because of his desire to find "some Hispanic" to fill that spot.  The video of that exchange is on the flip.
So, months before a mid-term election, the party leadership preferred to turn away people who had traveled hours the meeting - you have to be present to be nominated.  And a party that's pinning much of its hopes on turning out an increasingly Democratic-leaning youth vote turned down a young man wiling and eager to serve because "some Hispanic" in the future was preferable to a candidate present at the meeting.
We all know the results of the November elections, and we saw yesterday that the ADP leadership learned nothing from it. Having watched the party leave a HUGE number of races totally uncontested and the state's entire slate of statewide candidates go down to defeat, the leadership decided that, once again, it was better to be at half-strength on the SDEC than to bring on anyone who, Senator Figures noted, couldn't be counted on to "kiss the ring."
We sat and watched the committee block vote against FOUR SITTING COUNTY CHAIRS, former legislative candidate Darrell Turner (who ran against the always-offensive Senator Gerald Dial), and even the inestimable Sharon McClendon Price of Marshall County - among others.  Watch Sharon's speech at a women's rights rally from 2014 and try to explain why the majority of SDEC members don't want this woman making the case for Democrats!
Finally, State Senator Vivian Figures had had enough & rose with a Point of Personal Privilege: 
Madame Chairman and to all of my fellow members of the SDEC... I have to say to you that I am embarrassed. I am appalled. I am ashamed to call myself a member of this SDEC.  What I have witnessed here today is a travesty, and I know that my late husband, former President Pro Tem Senator Michael Figures is looking down and saying: "that same person is still up to his same acts."
I know we're not supposed to call names and....
Please let me say what I have to say.

I have sat down, sat by, and shut up for too long watching the Democratic Party of the State of Alabama be destroyed. 

We're supposed to be the party of everybody, coming together, and working together. And we have allowed one person to dis-integrate the Alabama State Democratic Party. And we all know who that is!

It is a doggone shame that we come here today to fill vacancies in districts where people live - and they know the people who live in their districts and they want to nominate. And they've been denied the opportunity to put their person in that seat to represent that district.

But yet! There is a "yellow sheet," and if your name is not on that sheet, it means that these people must be people who will not want to "kiss the ring" - and we all know what ring that is.

Throw me out of the Democratic Party if you want to, Madame Chairwoman, because I roll with the people not the party.  But unless we change things, we are never going to get any Democrats elected to anything statewide. 
Way to go, Senator Figures!
We'll have more coverage and video from the meeting during the next week.  Stay tuned.
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Judge Roy Moore Slams Marriage Equality & Calls On Government To Acknowledge Christian God

by: countrycat

Sun Jul 12, 2015 at 09:07:06 AM CDT

Justice Anthony Kennedy "doesn't understand the word" dignity, AL Chief Justice Roy Moore told assembled Operation Save America members Saturday night. As the keynoter for the group's week of action in Mongtomery, Moore's 30+ minute speech touched on his interpretation of America's "Christian roots," religious observance, and the Supreme Court's place in the nation's government.

And then he went all evangelical Dr. Ruth with a creepy reference to heterosexual marriage:

"Dignity is given by God, not by government. And he gave dignity to man and woman. In fact, you all know that, when you consummate a marriage, that act is a dignified act. But we can't change it to an undignified act and call it dignity.
You can't change God's Law and get away with it. Because if you do, you tamper with our law."

Moore spent a good bit of time discussing the Founding Fathers because "they restored the sovereignty of God," and "founded this nation on the laws of God and Nature's God."

Moore came with a bunch of pamphlets that he was selling for $5 (but would give away if you absolutely couldn't afford $5) that "explained" how the United States was founded as a Christian nation dedicated to God. "They don't teach that in law school, by the way."

Imagine that. 
Referring to his previous removal as Chief Justice, Moore explained that the entire unfortunate incident was "wasn't about the Ten Commandments" or a monument:

"It was about the recognition of sovereign God. When they said 'that's unfair to other people; that's unfair to other religions...'

Well, I'm sorry, but this country was not founded on Mohammed! It was not founded on Buddha! It was not founded on secular humanism!

This country was founded by God and anybody that wants to argue that proposition argues against the whole history of our country and our birth certificate."

The audience lapped it up, clapping, hollering, and shouting "Amen" at intervals. It was like some twisted patriotic revival meeting. Before his speech, the entire gathering was invited to circle around Moore and pray together. It was potentially a nice moment, but the prayer itself was more like a general's speech urging an army to go forth in battle. When you have a room full of zealots, some with a history of instability, that's not the greatest combination.

OSA is in Montgomery for the entire week, and will be sending out scouting/harassment parties to every clinic in the state during the week.  Pro-choice activists have been organizing for months to protect the clinics in every city, but the bulk of the activity is, of course, headquartered in Montgomery. Men and women from around the state - and even from as far as Texas - are giving up their vacation time and potentially putting their personal safety at risk. Learn more about OSA in this previous blog post.

Talk is easy, but these people are putting it all on the line. The clinic is defended 24 hours/day by volunteers. A lot of the work requires being visible, which means outside in Montgomery in July.  It's HOT here, folks!

Want more of Moore? Watch the video of his speech on the flip. It's not the entire speech; the intro was the usual feel-good stuff about his staff, his wife, background, etc.  Then there were a number of extensive quotes from the Bible, Benjamin Franklin, Thomas Jefferson, James Madison, etc. I'll give him kudos for having so much of that committed to memory, but he seems to put as little thought into the actual meaning as a parrot does when it quotes human speech.
"Religious liberty,"  "dignity," and "freedom." I do not think these words mean what Judge Moore thinks they mean.

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If Public Education Is Worth Saving, We Must Work To Save It

by: Larry Lee

Fri Jul 10, 2015 at 09:26:14 AM CDT

It has now been 45 years since country singer Roy Clark came across the airwaves with "Thank God and Greyhound She's Gone."  But the song's title came immediately to mind recently when the Alabama legislature packed their bags and rode off into the sunset bringing down the curtain on the 2015 regular session. Once again, those representing public education spent most of their energy reacting to bills that seemed to materialize out of thin air that would ultimately harm public education and limit its resources. 


More often than not, whoever concocted the legislation did not consult with educators beforehand. For example:

  • We passed legislation to set up charter schools which will slice the education pie into smaller pieces.
  • We raised the cap on contributions for donations to scholarship granting organizations so that will deny even more funds to the education trust fund. W
  • We talked a lot about combining the education trust fund and the general fund.
  • We continued to declare there is a huge "surplus" in education funding.

We passed an education budget that, for the first time since 2008, began to meet the state's obligations in funding the foundation program. 

While this is noteworthy, we need to keep some things in context before we pat legislators on the back too much.  For example, we put $1 million in library enhancement for the first time since FY 2008.  What that really means is that we have now funded libraries at a average annual rate of $142,857 since 2008.  

However, in the same time frame we have funded the Alabama Teach for America program to the tune of $3.2 million.  And not a single one of the 105 House members or 35 Senators can tell you what this money is used for.

We amended the Alabama Accountability Act to allow contributions made in 2015 be counted as contributions made in 2014.  We increased the contribution cap in this bill from $25 million to $30 million (even though we only raised about 52 percent of the limit in 2014) and we put in law that private school scholarships can be up to $10,000, while we are presently giving $5,800 per pupil to public schools.

I know that it is not easy to serve in the legislature.  Members are bombarded by special interests of all stripes to be for or against something.  It is impossible to reach objective decisions because members do not have staff to help with homework and separate fact from fiction.
There are members I greatly appreciate.  Rep. Bill Poole of Tuscaloosa, who chairs the House Education Ways & Means Committee, comes quickly to mind.  He is diligent, dedicated, accessible and even tempered.  He takes his chairmanship seriously and works hard at being informed and in touch.

On the other hand, there are those mired so deeply in a particular ideology that such things as compromise or tolerance never seem to cross their minds.  

Unfortunately, I see more ideologues and those driven by a need to be totally in control than I do members like Bill Poole.

The lesson public education needs to take from this session is that SOMEONE needs to step up to the plate.  SOMEONE must start telling the story of what is going on in our public schools.  Contacting legislators is not something that should be confined to just those times when they are meeting in Montgomery, it should be year-round.  Now that this session is over and we know how members have voted on certain issues is when they should be held accountable.  Let them know someone is paying attention. Ask them to explain why they voted as they did.  Ask them to explain how constituents in their district will benefit from legislation they enacted.

If public education is worth saving, we must work at doing so 365 days of the year.


Larry Lee led the study, "Lessons Learned from Rural Schools," and is a long-time advocate for public education and frequently writes about education issues.  larrylee33@knology.net 

He blogs at LarryEducation.com

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State Senator Hank Sanders Invites Pope Francis To Selma

by: countrycat

Thu Jul 09, 2015 at 12:00:00 PM CDT

Pope Francis will be visiting the United States this September, and an Alabama State Senator is urging the Vatican to add a trip to Selma to the Pontiff's schedule. In a delicious bit of irony (and poke in the eye to Marco Rubio), he arrives in Washington on September 22 on a direct flight from Cuba.

Washington is as far south as the current schedule takes Pope Francis.  Even so, Senator Sanders issued this invitation. If accepted, this would be a really big deal for Selma and for all of Alabama.

Here's the text of Sanders' letter:

His Holiness, Pope Francis
Apostolic Palace
00120 Vatican City 

Dear Pope Francis: 

I invite you to visit Selma, Alabama, during your visit to the United States in September of this year.  I realize that your coming to Selma at the invitation of a Baptist State Senator is a real long shot with so many invitations from Catholics and others.  However, miracles do happen.  In fact, I believe your papacy is a miracle.

I greatly appreciate your efforts to shift all Christianity from a religion focused against certain things to a religion focused for certain things.  I believe that this is in the truest tradition of the Jesus I see in the New Testament.  I also see profound evidence of Jesus Christ in how you live your life and how you call us to live our lives. 

Selma and the Edmund Pettus Bridge are worldwide symbols of non-violent resistance to oppression even in the face of extreme violence.  We need greater non-violent resistance to oppression in its many forms.  We need greater non-violent resistance to violence in all its forms.  Your visit to Selma would send a powerful message of active non-violent resistance to oppression and violence in all their varied forms.  We invite you to join the people of Selma and others on the Bridge as we pray together with you to overcome violence, racism and other afflictions that divide humanity.  It would be a powerful message that the entire world would hear. 

Because Selma and the Edmund Pettus Bridge are already worldwide symbols, your visiting message would be magnified many times over.  I have faith that your message, combined with the symbolism of Selma, would be touched by God and produce a positive impact beyond what we can foresee or imagine.

 Pope Francis, please find a way to come to Selma in September of this year. 

In profound faith,

Hank Sanders   

The Pope will be meeting with President Obama, addressing the UN General Assembly in New York, holding Mass at Madison Square Garden, visiting Philadelphia for the World Meeting of Families, and visiting prisoners at the Curran-Fromhold Correctional Facility

It's had to see where he could fit in a quick trip to Selma, but you never know.


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