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Roy Moore is really Alabama versus the world

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Roy Moore’s entire career, and his troubled senate campaign are a metaphor for Alabama’s political and cultural relationship with the rest of America. Alabamians do things their own way. Many states claim this, but few deliver in this fashion.

Consider this:

Moore was twice suspended (removed, really) from the Alabama Supreme Court as chief justice. First he was suspended for refusing to remove a two-and-a-half ton statue of the Ten Commandments from the lobby of the state judicial building. That was in 2003, and the statue was removed on a federal court order anyway.

Then Moore tried to run for governor, twice, and failed. In 2012, he won the Supreme Court chief justice gig again. And in 2016 he refused to comply with Obergefell v. Hodges, and got himself removed again. Permanently.

Is it about religion?

Roy Moore holds himself to be a faithful Christian. An evangelical Christian. One who believes the Bible exclusively, and applies those exclusive claims to truth to his legal analysis. The Founders would not have been pleased with him, despite many who think Moore is being faithful to the Constitution.

Judges are not appointed or elected to interpret laws Biblically. Roy Moore has built his career and persona doing exactly that. He has stood against judicial supremacy and federal hegemony, but most outspokenly in the areas where it conflicts with his religious beliefs.

Religion is important in Alabama, but Alabamians are hardly a state full of saints. Look at the sex scandal that took down Gov. Robert Bentley and the corruption conviction that ousted House Speaker Mike Hubbard. In the last 18 months, Alabama lost its governor, speaker, and chief justice. Even Attorney General Jeff Sessions and lame-duck Senator Luther Strange were implicated in this enormous web of corruption.

Moore was the lone figure who wasn’t removed for Biblical prohibitions and sins. But that’s not really what makes Moore popular.

What it’s really about

Alabama is the poster child of federal muzzling and leashing of a state.

After the Civil War, during Reconstruction, Alabama fought its own civil war. Cotton crop failures in 1865-66 and the federally-enforced rights of former slaves brought economic chaos to Alabama, and both the Unionists and returning Confederates used local courts to prosecute their enemies for wartime activities, or to force those enemies to leave.

Then in March 1867, Alabama was assigned to the Third Military District under federal Congressional Reconstruction, forcing the state to comply with full suffrage and craft a new constitution. Delegates to the constitutional convention were apportioned to racial demographics, with 18 African Americans attending, and the rest of the whites were Unionists who favored full suffrage, equal educational access, and equality in law. That’s what they put into the constitution they drafted.

Alabama voters rejected it. Congress responded by changing the terms of the ratification procedure, overriding the boycott of pro-Confederate whites. Republicans (who were the party opposed to slavery) were placed in all key positions including the governorship, and the white citizens responded with violence.

Several Republican legislators were killed. Governor Smith, facing near-insurrection, rejected close identification with freedpeople and lifted all limitations on former Confederates holding office. His basic priority was to reconcile ex-Confederate whites to his administration through non-partisan behavior. He denied reports of Klan activity, refused to arm a state militia, and opposed federal antiterrorist legislation, even after it became clear that local officials were thoroughly intimidated. He denounced northerners in his own party as “carpetbaggers” and thereby encouraged a split between moderate white Republicans—Smith’s “scalawag” faction, as it was called—and radical Republican carpetbaggers like U. S. Senator George Spencer, the leader of the state’s pro-civil rights faction.

When Reconstruction ended in 1874, Alabama went Democrat and never looked back until the mid-1990s. The heavy hand of the federal government, and carpetbaggers, had been thrown off. In 1875, most of the civil rights guaranteed in the 1867 constitution were rolled back, not to be revisited for another century.

Alabamians hate, with a burning visceral contempt, any control by Washington, D.C. Roy Moore personifies this hatred.

Screw Washington

If the pundits, journalists and politicians in Washington D.C. want Roy Moore to step down, Alabama voters are more likely to want him elected. If Mitch McConnell says Moore will be expelled if seated, Alabamians will reply “screw you, Mitch.”

Everything happening with Roy Moore, from an Alabama voter’s point of view, is simply more federal carpetbaggers telling them what to do, who to elect, and how to live. Alabama voters, even the ones who don’t agree with Moore’s religious stance, don’t take kindly to that kind of lecturing from outsiders. There’s been a whole lot of lecturing about Roy Moore, if you haven’t noticed. It doesn’t matter if they’re right, if you haven’t noticed. Being right has little to do with it.

This is the reason the Alabama GOP has refused to step away from Moore. They know.

David Drucker wrote today in the Washington Examiner:

Perry O. Hooper Jr., a veteran Republican insider in Alabama who led President Trump’s 2016 campaign in the state, said GOP insiders there are sticking with Moore.

“The people of this great state are not buying into this gutter-style politics,” Hooper Jr. told the Washington Examiner in a telephone interview. “Roy Moore and his sweet wife and his family are going to have to weather the storm.”

The Alabama Republican Party’s steering committee was to meet in coming days to discuss what to do about Moore. Hooper predicted nothing would come of it, estimating that around 70 percent of the 21-member panel would not abandon him, based on regular conversations with them.

Those party members know what will happen if they abandon Moore. The voters will react much in the same way they did in 1867. Violence has been, at times, a hallmark of Alabama politics. Removing Roy Moore will again test the will of voters sick of being told what to do and how to do it.

Moore knows it and he’s banking on it. He stands with the voters yelling “screw Washington.”

This explains everything

This mindset explains why someone paid for a robocaller with a message from “Bernie Bernstein of the Washington Post” (a fake name) offering $1000 for women of a certain age to come forward with stories about Moore. It explains why Noah Feldman (a real journalist) lecturing about Moore’s hypocrisy and fitness for office is poorly received in Montgomery, Birmingham and Gadsen. It’s not anti-Semitism per se. It’s the stain of northern carpetbaggers.

For many in Alabama, the civil war never really ended. It’s Roy Moore against the carpetbaggers. It’s them against Washington. In fact, it’s bigger than that.

The war is and has always been Alabama versus the world.

Further reading

Alabama Republicans, fearing Roy Moore’s base, decline to push him out of Senate race

http://www.washingtonexaminer.com/alabama-republicans-fearing-roy-moores-base-decline-to-push-him-out-of-senate-race/article/2640729Fearing a backlash from Roy Moore’s loyal political base, top Alabama Republicans are resisting national calls to push the retired judge out of a key special Senate election set for Dec. 12. Moore, a 70-year-old, fiery social conservative who enjoys the strong support of evangelicals, is under fire for multiple allegations of sexual misconduct with teenage girls that occurred decades ago. Senate Republicans are threatening to expel Moore if he wins.

Roy Moore’s hypocrisy is now on full display – Noah Feldman, Bloomberg View, Chicago Tribune

http://www.chicagotribune.com/news/opinion/commentary/ct-roy-moore-hypocrite-christian-20171114-story.htmlTo anyone who’s been following Roy Moore for the past 15 years, there’s a single question that won’t go away: Why are we here? The point of a free press is to inform the public about the character and the beliefs of the people they will be voting for. In fact, there is something deep about the reality that Moore’s public career wasn’t ended by his earlier defiance of the rule of law yet now appears likely to be ended by his sexual conduct.

Congressional Reconstruction in Alabama | Encyclopedia of Alabama

http://www.encyclopediaofalabama.org/article/h-1632Congressional Reconstruction was the period after the Civil War in which the federal government enacted and attempted to enforce equal suffrage on the ex-Confederate states. In Alabama, this period lasted from 1867 to the end of 1874 and was characterized by racial conflict and widespread terrorist activity. Alabama’s experience was broadly typical of other southern states, but it was notable for the relative moderation of African American demands and the importance of economic issues, and specifically railroad development, in the outcome.

A short history of Roy Moore’s controversial interpretations of the Bible – The Washington Post

https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/acts-of-faith/wp/2017/09/27/a-short-history-of-roy-moores-controversial-interpretations-of-the-bible/?utm_term=.d96ee082360eAccording to Pew, 86 percent of Alabama residents identify as Christian, and 49 percent as evangelical Protestants. Perhaps propelled to victory by that Christian base he has long catered to, Moore won the Republican nomination even though he was vastly outspent and lacked the support of his president or the establishment. Ten Commandments controversy The first suspension from the court came in 2003, when Moore disobeyed a federal judge’s order to take down a 5,200-pound statue of the Ten Commandments from the lobby of the state judicial building.

Alabama governor resigns amid sex scandal | TheHill

http://thehill.com/homenews/state-watch/328190-alabama-governor-resigns-amid-sex-scandalWhat began as a sex scandal that cost him his 50-year marriage ended with Alabama Gov. Robert Bentley’s (R) resignation Monday, hours after he pled guilty to two misdemeanor crimes.   Bentley’s departure comes as the state House kicked off impeachment hearings Monday, the first time in state history the legislature began the formal process of removing the governor. Those hearings came after the Alabama Ethics Commission determined there was probable cause that Bentley had violated campaign finance rules.

Alabama House Speaker Mike Hubbard indicted on 23 felony corruption charges by Lee County Grand Jury | AL.com

http://www.al.com/news/index.ssf/2014/10/mike_hubbard_indicted.htmlThe charges against Hubbard include 23 class B felonies. According to the indictment, Hubbard solicited favors from some of Alabama’s rich and powerful. In a video posted to Facebook, Hubbard called the indictment political.

The Lawlessness of Roy Moore – The Atlantic

https://www.theatlantic.com/politics/archive/2017/09/the-lawlessness-of-roy-moore/541467/Both sides of my family hail from Alabama: my mother’s people from the coal mining country of Walker County in the north and the tiny burg of Union Springs farther south; my dad’s, from a speck of a cotton-mill town just east of Montgomery. I did not need Hillbilly Elegy to tell me about the alienation that working-class whites—especially in rural, economically challenged areas—feel toward the sneering, culturally blue swaths of the nation. Alabama is a deep-red state, and its elected officials should reflect that disposition.

Roy Moore’s suspension upheld by Alabama Supreme Court; decision next week on Senate race | AL.com

http://www.al.com/news/birmingham/index.ssf/2017/04/suspended_alabama_supreme_cour.htmlThe Alabama Supreme Court today upheld the decision that removed Roy Moore from his position as chief justice.   The Alabama Court of the Judiciary on Sept. 30, 2016 suspended Moore for the remainder of his term as chief justice after finding him guilty of six charges of violation of the canons of judicial ethics. The charges were brought and prosecuted by the Alabama Judicial Inquiry Commission.

 

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3 Comments

3 Comments

  1. Denmark

    November 15, 2017 at 9:45 am

    Steve Berman is just now realizing that all of this is strengthening Roy Moore’s support in Alabama? Geez.

    • Steve Berman

      November 15, 2017 at 9:49 am

      I don’t think I’ve ever claimed it’s not strengthening Moore’s support. But I am Bamasplaining it to the Damn Yankees and carpetbaggers so they understand what’s happening.

  2. Steve McFadden

    November 16, 2017 at 10:43 am

    Good read into Alabama politics back to reconstruction! The older I get the more Southern I become. Wish I could vote next month for Judge Moore but being from Texas I can wish conservative Alabamians well!

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Culture and Religion

The strange tale of the Turpin family

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The strange tale of the Turpin family

Abuse of children is one of the most horrible things anyone can do. Rarely do I even read stories about abuse. I know it exists. I’m against it. I don’t want reminders of how evil some people really are. The story of the Turpin family drew me in and made me weep for a world that allows such things to happen.

Here’s the story, followed by my brief thoughts:

California family: Parents charged after children found shackled

http://www.cnn.com/2018/01/16/us/california-turpin-13-siblings-held-captive/index.htmlDavid, 57, and Louise, 49, are accused of holding their children captive in their Perris, California, home in filthy conditions, some of them shackled to beds with chains and padlocks. The 13 siblings range in age from 2 to 29.

The parents are charged with torture and child endangerment, and scheduled for a court hearing Thursday. Bail was set at $9 million each. It was not immediately clear if the suspects had attorneys or whether they had entered a plea.

On Sunday, one of their daughters, a 17-year-old, managed to escape from their home by climbing out a window and called 911 from a deactivated cell phone she found in the house, police said. She told officers her parents were holding her 12 siblings captive inside the home, the Riverside County Sheriff’s Department said.

My Take

There’s a danger here. We have to be mindful of children who are being abused. Unfortunately, that also means there will be times when the state must intervene. Any time that happens, I get worried. I want as little intervention as possible and only when absolutely necessary. The story of the Turpin family is an example of it being necessary.

The problem is that this evil was allowed to continue for decades. How can that happen? How do we respect the rights of parents and embrace a non-interfering government when there are people like the Turpins in the world? It’s a slippery slope and I have no answers.

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Economy

The number of companies helping employees thanks to tax cuts is 164 and rising

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The number of companies helping employees thanks to tax cuts is 164 and rising

Republican tax cuts were met with instant success on the business front when the President signed them into law last month. Companies across the nation rewarded their employees and customers by passing on some of the saving they’ll get. It’s helping to push the economy even higher than it was last year.

As Nick Givas covered over at Daily Caller, the total number of companies giving back to their people is 164 and rising:

164 Companies Credit Tax Reform For Bonuses And Pay Raises

One hundred sixty-four companies have gone on record stating they gave bonuses and pay raises to employees because of the new tax reform law, according to Americans for Tax Reform. The list has been continually updated and jumped from 40 companies to 164 in 10 days, The Washington Examiner reports. The businesses include: American Airlines, AT&T,… (more…)

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News

Romney swipes at Trump over ‘s***hole’ comment

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Romney swipes at Trump over shole comment

Some celebrate Martin Luther King Jr. Day by honoring the civil rights leader. Others just take the day off. Potential (nearly certain) Senate candidate Mitt Romney used his national holiday to take a swipe at President Trump’s comments about “s***hole countries” that were reported last week.

My Take

It was a strange play. It’s obviously a populist view that goes against a semi-populist President who sees his greatest divergent from American culture in his opinions about race and immigration, but for Romney to tie it into MLK Day is a little odd. There is plenty of time to demonstrate he would be a candidate who opposes the President. There’s only one strategic reason to do it now: If he intends to support the President in the near future.

By Tweeting this, Romney could be doing two things to help his cause. First, he builds credibility as a GOP Senator who is not beholden to the President’s every whim. Second, it gets that out of the way up front so he can turn around and talk about the good things the President is doing.

Then again, it’s probably just a politician playing politics.

Further Reading

Mitt Romney Calls Out Donald Trump With MLK Day Tweet

https://www.redstate.com/arbogast/2018/01/15/mitt-romney-calls-donald-trump-mlk-day-tweet/With Orrin Hatch (finally) retiring, the recruitment efforts to get Mitt Romney to run for that seat started immediately. With the revelation that Romney received treatment for prostate cancer over the summer, it may not be a slam dunk he runs, but if he does, Donald Trump shouldn’t expect Mitt to just get in line.

The fallout from the “s**thole” comments continue for President Trump, providing another means for him to get in his own way. The economy hums along. Corporations continue to announce wage increases and bonus payouts due to the GOP tax cut. Trump had the opportunity to get something done on DACA (which 2/3 of the country supports), and he chooses instead to yelp to the press that he’s the least racist person in the world.

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