Yesterday Alabama State Auditor Jim Zeigler dragged one of Alabama's constitutional offices into the sewer of conspiracy theories and shameless race-baiting, made worse by the fact that Zeigler is little more than a glorified accountant.
Channeling those who dish tales of Big Foot, vaccines causing autism, and Elvis Presley currently working as a gas station attendant in Tuberculosis Springs, Wyoming, Zeigler claimed to Montgomery news outlet WSFA that the routine rotation of governors' portraits in the Capital Building - this time including George and Lurleen Wallace - amounted to a conspiracy being afoot to "revise" history, somehow spear-headed by a major motion picture and Oprah Winfrey.
Zeigler told WSFA:
"The timing of this right after the 50th anniversary of the civil rights movement and the release of the movie 'Selma,' the appearance in Alabama by Oprah Winfrey just raises the question is there historical revisionism. Is there an attempt to remove certain parts of Alabama history?"
In fact, as new governors serve in Alabama and their portraits are added, older portraits are shifted from the rotunda to the first floor, according to the Alabama Historical Commission. It's a simple, logical and necessary practice that even a child should be able to grasp.
Zeigler's race-baiting and appeals to the type of people who are still standing in the schoolhouse door waving Confederate Flags are nauseating and not befitting such an elected office.
And Zeigler even flashed his ignorance by claiming a resolution was still on the books mandating that the Wallaces' portraits remain in the rotunda. As anyone with a grade school, rudimentary understanding of legislative government knows, resolutions do not carry the weight of law.
Have we mentioned that Zeigler is the state auditor, not the Portrait Police?
As Alabamians, we struggle daily with embarrassment, from top state officials shamelessly carrying a banner for bigotry and discrimination (see the ongoing drama over marriage equality) to our state routinely ranking at or near the bottom of a wide range of quality of life measurements. The last thing we need is a state official using his taxpayer-funded office to whip up race-based animosity and to concoct and spread conspiracy theories.
Madison County Sheriff Blake Dorning told WHNT News 19 that his office will not enforce new gun control legislation if he feels those laws violate the Second Amendment. Dorning said he has serious doubts about President Obama’s latest proposals, stating that any gun laws which do pass would have to be in line with the U.S. Constitution and Alabama state law in order to be enforceable. [...] “As long as you are a law-abiding citizen, then I don’t see a problem with law-abiding citizens being able to arm themselves however they so choose,” said Dorning, who pledged to ignore any law that would call for the confiscation of assault weapons or any other firearm. “Our people in our communities and homes need not fear that the Sheriff of Madison County or his deputies would come to their homes and make an attempt to disarm them. It will not happen under my watch.”
Holy Marbury vs Madison, Batman! Do not pass Go, do not ask SCOTUS for review, just call up the Madison County, AL Sheriff for Constitutional law advice!
Notice how deftly Dorning tosses in a strawman about "disarming" people at the end of that statement. It plays totally into the paranoid conspiracy theory that the feds - backed by UN black helicopters & copies of the fanciful Agenda 21 - are just waiting for marching orders from the half-Kenyan, half-Muslim, half-Socialist, half-Fascist non-American spawn of Hitler occupying the White House. Don't bother to point out that no person can be "four halves" because these are not people who can be swayed by either logic o.r math
It's really amazing: thesheriff of one of Alabama's most populous counties has the time to do his job, the aptitude to study constitutional law, and the legal expertise to interpret laws. Oh, and he also possesses the total chutzpah to think that he has the authority to choose which laws he'll follow and which laws he won't.
That hasn't worked out so well for us in the past.
Let's visit those not-so-thrilling days of yesteryear, why don't we....
Lynching. Now, murder has always been against the law, but Southern law enforcement officials ignored that fact when it came to lynching. Southern politicians prevented the passage of a federal anti-lynching law and the US Office of Civil Rights (part of the DOJ) obtained its first lynching conviction in 1964 after a lynching in Florida.
Hate Crimes: We have federal hate crimes laws because - once again - local officials have had a tendency to ignore crimes committed against marginalized groups: GLBT, Native Americans, minority religions, etc.
The President cannot get the two major revisions unless Congress signs off, but Sheriff Dorning said even if they do, Washington is not his final authority.
Um... yes it is.
George Wallace. Schoolhouse Door. Enough Said.
The amazing thing here is that it's Sheriff Dorning who thinks President Obama is out of line and overstepping his authority.
Please Sheriff, remove the log in your own eye before worrying about the speck in anyone else's.
We lost a quiet American hero on Tuesday when former AG Nicholas Katzenbach died at the age of 90. He lived an extraordinary life and was an unsung hero of the Civil Rights movement. Katzenbach faced down George Wallace, helped enroll James Meredith in MS, clashed with J. Edgar Hoover over wiretapping MLK, and tried to extricate the US from Vietnam.
He didn't do this for personal glory, for acclaim, or for any reason other than he took an oath to do his job and uphold the Constitution. Katzenbach acted with a quiet dignity and courage that's a model for us all.
Tributes poured in as word of his death spread. This one from the Star Ledger in New Jersey is noteworthy, but my favorite was written by Andrew Cohen in the Atlantic Monthly:
From the federal perspective, Katzenbach was the Forrest Gump of the Civil Rights movement. He rounded off RFK's harsh side and put teeth into JFK's style. He put the words in LBJ's mouth and took the words right out of the mouths of dozens of state officials who had vowed never to integrate their public places. Katzenbach accomplished this because he was smart, and self-deprecating, and because he looked like he could have been anyone's uncle. He fought hate not with love but with measured tones and a calm demeanor. In a time of great chaos, he was always a reasonable man.
It's one thing to honor the brave men and women who marched and sang and bled for racial equality-- and who still do today. It's quite another thing to honor those public officials, like Katzenbach, who helped the country achieve a measure of integration because it was their job to do so, because they had sworn an oath to do so, and because they believed that the lawlessness of the Southern response to desegregation was a threat to the rule of law.
But perhaps the most fitting close to his extraordinary life - and the most applicable to our current political environment is this:
In this historic face-off, it’s clear Katzenbach’s greatest legacy to us is his dignified calm and backbone in the face of ignorance and hate.
Video of the Katzenbach/Wallace confrontation is on the flip.
During a chat on politics while home visiting friends and family in Birmingham Ala., one friend remarked that candidates who speak in `positives' rarely do well in campaigns for state office in Alabama. She pointed to the legacy of unfortunate condescension, that use political formulas where candidates steer people's attention from true `center of life' issues towards hot button social topics.
Of course, this is probably one of the easiest, oldest and cheapest tricks in politics but, fueled on by a media focused on the sensational, it often works, not just in the South, but, across the nation,
And, for some us who grew up or live in Alabama, headlines seem to say this deep-south state has produced more than its fair share of these dangerous political games.
Over the past few weeks, Americans have met Alabama Republican gubernatorial candidate Tim James, the 48-year old son of former Governor Fob James who was noted in part for blunt language and loud opposition to the teaching of evolution.
The younger James, a millionaire businessman, has inspired news headlines, sneers from liberals and now a barrage of viral videos based on a real television campaign ad where the candidate for governor tackles Alabama's practice of offering drivers license exams in 12 languages.
During the ad, James looks earnestly into the camera and say's "this is Alabama. We speak English. If you want to live here, learn it." One would be hard pressed to find evidence that offering drivers license tests to a variety of languages is a `central to Alabama life issue,' nonetheless, since the ad's debut, James' poll numbers have gone up and local interest in the governor's race has jumped. These days, he's drawing big crowds as he criss-crosses the state in the `common sense' express.
James' exploitation of anti-immigrant sentiment is one of the latest incidents in an immigrant backlash we're seeing in many states like Arizona. But, in Alabama, one can't help but draw comparisons to other candidates who, especially during times of economic instability, have exploited the insecurity of voter fear and insecurity.
As meticulous research in the book `Alabama, Portrait of a Deep South State,' notes, in the 1960's, when poor whites who'd recently entered the middle class saw their earning power failing to keep pace with inflation, instead of acting rationally and organizing or joining unions, they often acted in non-rational ways, "through scape-goating, fatalism, or blind rage." To champion the cause, "they chose George C. Wallace.".....more at
Just had an email from a friend with the rumor George Wallace, Jr. will be running for office again. It didn't specify which party or office, but I'd bet on GOP -- any of the second tier offices are possible, unless his two previous terms mean he can't serve again as State Treasurer. After Wallace became a Republican, he was elected to the PSC and ran unsuccessfully for the Lt. Gov. nomination in 2006.
I totally agree with my friend's assessment of Wallace, Jr. as a candidate:
With George, Jr. you get to use the ultimate Southern putdown: "He's not the man his daddy was."
It's a question floating around blogs, newspaper editorials and letters to the editor. Why did PACT parents and grandparents think their investment wouldn't lose money? Furthermore, the questions ask: "I've lost a lot in the market, so why should tax dollars prop up your dumb investment?"
...but if it was just some glorified mutual fund, aren't the people who invested in the program culpable also in this matter?
I mean there is something called "Buyer Beware"...that it is incumbent upon everyone that signs a contract to know what they're getting themselves into. Thats why you need to read any contract before signing it, or if you're unable to for whatever reason, to get a competent lawyer to do so for you. I think, after giving it some thought, I for one need to see the contract before rushing anymore into this blame game.
Below the fold, I'll try to answer some of the questions and criticisms I've seen in a FAQ format. One that I certainly hope is more illuminating than the one the PACT board put up.
Oh, there's also a short video of parents and grandparents at the Montgomery parent's meeting on March 12th. They tell their stories. One is a banker who describes how George Wallace Jr. (then state treasurer) solicited the Alabama banking community to sell the program to the public in the early 1990's. Other parents read from their contracts... words like "guarantee" and "assurance" are in each one. To my knowledge, the definitions of those words haven't changed in the last 20 years or so.
Healing must come, hope will be our lodestar, humility will reshape the American conscience, and honesty in both word and deed will refresh and invigorate America, and having Barack Obama to lead will give us back our power to heal."
The state of Maryland is planning to release George Wallace's attempted assassin from prison within coming months. Arthur Bremer has served 35 years of a 53 year sentence and is being released early for good behavior. However, Alabama Attorney General Troy King is protesting the early release, producing this headline in the Washington Post:
Ala. Hopes to Keep Wallace Gunman Jailed
That's certainly the way to let the rest of nation know that we're over our racially divisive past. Thanks to King's actions, the Post's readers (including countless political and business leaders) now think that the state of Alabama is going to bat for a segregationist a full four decades after the struggles of the Civil Rights movement played out in the streets of our cities.
I understand that Troy King likes to pretend he's tough on crime, but this is simply political grandstanding because Alabama's Attorney General has absolutely no jurisdiction and very little influence within Maryland. All this maneuver does is reinforce a negative impression that most of the nation has about our state.