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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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Entertainment and Sports

Trump takes on fictional celebrity, LaVar Ball

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Donald Trump LaVar Ball

Three UCLA basketball players got themselves in trouble in China for shoplifting. Their stupid actions embarrassed themselves, UCLA, and to some extent America. Many celebrities have come out to scold these basketball players including Whoopi Goldberg. While Donald Trump hasn’t championed this move as much as the right wing, he apparently had the basic expectation of a thank you from LaVar Ball, father of the thieving LiAngelo Ball. Trump did not receive a thank you as LaVar Ball would rather channel his Trump-hatred than acknowledge that the President did what he didn’t have to do for his son. Trump’s used to that but still he fired back letting the world know he didn’t have to pull strings while on his trip to China.

Perspectives

LaVar Ball dismisses idea of Donald Trump helping his son

https://nypost.com/2017/11/18/lavar-ball-dismisses-idea-of-donald-trump-helping-his-son/amp/LaVar Ball didn’t have much time for the idea that the President of the United States helped his son, LiAngelo, out of a potentially crippling situation for his basketball career.

“Who?” Ball told ESPN. “What was he over there for? Don’t tell me nothing. Everybody wants to make it seem like he helped me out.”

LiAngelo Ball, Cody Riley and Jalen Hall were all caught shoplifting during UCLA’s trip to China to play a game against Georgia Tech. All three players returned to the States this week and are indefinitely suspended by the program.

“As long as my boy’s back here, I’m fine,” Ball told ESPN. “I’m happy with how things were handled. A lot of people like to say a lot of things that they thought happened over there. Like I told him, ‘They try to make a big deal out of nothing sometimes.’ I’m from L.A. I’ve seen a lot worse things happen than a guy taking some glasses. My son has built up enough character that one bad decision doesn’t define him. Now if you can go back and say when he was 12 years old he was shoplifting and stealing cars and going wild, then that’s a different thing.“Everybody gets stuck on the negativity of some things and they get stuck on them too long. That’s not me. I handle what’s going on and then we go from there.”

Donald Trump’s retort guarantees LaVar Ball exactly what he wants: More attention

https://sports.yahoo.com/donald-trumps-retort-guarantees-lavar-ball-exactly-wants-attention-182243192.htmlMost world leaders would surely have ignored LaVar’s graceless barbs or resisted the temptation to respond to basketball’s biggest loudmouth dad. Trump, of course, played right into LaVar’s hands by doing exactly the opposite. For better or worse, Trump is never one to let an insult roll off his back. The result is the most 2017 feud imaginable, one nobody wanted but perhaps everybody deserved. It pits two polarizing figures and shameless attention seekers who have risen in stature and prominence in similar ways over the past couple years.Some of LaVar’s marketing strategy seems like a pick and roll out of the Trump playbook. He floods the airwaves with outrageous comments sure to generate strong opinions in order to guarantee that he remains at the forefront of the news cycle.

One of LaVar’s most effective tactics has been to increase his own stature by trying to pick a ridiculous fight with someone more famous. He did it by insisting that the Warriors would be better off with his son, Lonzo, at point guard than Stephen Curry. He did it by saying he’d have beaten Michael Jordan one-on-one in his heyday. And he did it by saying his three sons were better set up for basketball success than LeBron James’ because the four-time NBA MVP’s pedigree will tougher to live up to.

Trump may have landed a blow with his tweet Sunday morning, but LaVar is winning this fight.

Reactions

Final Thoughts

Trump’s frustration, though immature, is understandable. We are all human. Therefore when we do something that helps someone else out, we have a certain expectation for gratitude. These athlete-students could have spent a long time in a Chinese jail missing out on March Madness and possibly a quality education. All for what, being too arrogant to pay for something? Trump pulled some strings and got them freed. Lavar Ball should be grateful he got his son back when he otherwise could have ended up like Otto Warmbier or as some sort of  political piece in a geopolitical Chinese checkers match. This is a rare moment where we can’t blame Trump for his tweets seeing as he’s simply lamenting his frustration.

But I’m disagreeing with the perspective above, Trump has won this fight and argument. As far as fathers go, Trump has managed to expose his children to wealth and fame without them becoming delinquents. In downplaying the seriousness of the situation, LaVar Ball sees little issue in shoplifting, and comes off as having a boys will be boys mentality with the situation. Stealing is wrong. We need to instill in our children a respect for people and their property. And we also should say thank you when someone bails our children out of a mess they created. As we celebrate Thanksgiving, we should acknowledge those who helped us and not belittle their role.

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Entertainment and Sports

LaVar Ball, Donald Trump spar over credit for getting students released in China

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LaVar Ball Donald Trump spar over credit for getting students released in China

Last week, President Trump asked Chinese President Xi Jinping to help out as three UCLA players were arrested for shoplifting. One of those boys was son of LaVar Ball who doesn’t believe the President influenced the outcome of his son’s arrest.

Ball also defended his son’s actions as “making a big deal out of nothing.”

LaVar Ball downplays U.S. President Donald Trump’s role in LiAngelo Ball’s release from China

http://www.espn.com/mens-college-basketball/story/_/id/21452594/lavar-ball-downplays-us-president-donald-trump-role-liangelo-ball-release-china“Who?” LaVar Ball told ESPN on Friday, when asked about Trump’s involvement in the matter. “What was he over there for? Don’t tell me nothing. Everybody wants to make it seem like he helped me out.”

Multiple sources told ESPN that UCLA officials are debating how long to sideline the three suspended freshmen players who admitted to shoplifting during the basketball team’s trip to China last week.

The President, as expected, took offense to Ball’s remarks. He “took the bait” and replied on Twitter.

My Take

This was a crystal clear opportunity for the President to take the high road and allow Ball to continue to make a fool of himself and his family. Instead, Trump replied in a way that brought him just as low as Ball. This seems to be the unspoken strategy for liberals: go when hitting Trump knowing he’s foolish enough to take himself down to their depths.

Further Reading

President Trump to LaVar Ball: I Should Have Left Your Kid in Jail

https://townhall.com/tipsheet/timothymeads/2017/11/19/trump-on-three-college-basketball-players-i-should-have-left-them-in-jail-n2411599“The three freshmen players, LiAngelo Ball, Jalen Hill and Cody Riley, had been detained for a week in their hotel rooms in Hangzhou after they were accused of shoplifting from a Louis Vuitton boutique. UCLA was in China for a game against Georgia Tech in Shanghai. The three did not play.”

After hearing reports of the situation, President Trump told members of the press that he would intercede on the three Americans behalf.

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News

As uncertainty engulfs Zimbabwe, Mugabe doesn’t step down

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As uncertainty engulfs Zimbabwe Mugade to step down

Update

Reports were wrong. Zimbabwe’s President Robert Mugabe ended his address on national television today without officially stepping down.

The Latest on the Political Turmoil in Zimbabwe

https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2017-11-19/urgent-the-latest-zimbabwe-lawmakers-definitely-seek-impeachmentZimbabwe’s President Robert Mugabe has shocked the country by ending his address on national television without announcing his resignation, but he notes the political turmoil that led to his military house arrest and expulsion as ruling party leader.

“From tonight … the nation at all levels gets refocused,” Mugabe says.

He also says “failures of the past” may have triggered anger “in some quarters, which he calls “quite understandable.”

Original Story

What’s happening in Zimbabwe? Nobody really knows, not even people in Zimbabwe. In fact, as far as we can tell the people who were responsible for ousting Robert Mugabe as president aren’t really sure what’s happening. The uncertainty is thick and no answers are coming from the capital, Harare.

All we know for sure at this point is that Mugabe, the tyrant who has been making international headlines for decades but who has hit a tipping point in recent years as a universally despised leader, will be stepping down. Bloomberg reports he would prefer not to be impeached.

Mugabe Agrees to Stand Down as Zimbabwean President

https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2017-11-19/end-of-the-line-for-zimbabwe-s-mugabe-as-ruling-party-dumps-himRobert Mugabe has agreed to end his four-decade reign as the leader of Zimbabwe and is preparing a statement with the military authorities who took power last week, according to three people familiar with the situation.

President Mugabe, who at the age of 93 is the world’s oldest leader, took the decision after his ruling party told him to resign or face impeachment, according to the people, who declined to be identified.

The problem is that there’s no clarity about who is actually going to be in charge. It’s assumed that “The Crocodile,” Emmerson Mnangagwa, is likely to assume the role of President, but the military seems to be calling the shots. Mnangagwa’s connections to the military and their affection towards him doesn’t necessarily mean he’ll have full control once a transition is initiated.

Emmerson Mnangagwa: The ‘crocodile’ who snapped back

http://www.bbc.com/news/world-africa-41995876It has been an open secret in Zimbabwe for many years that Emmerson Mnangagwa wanted to succeed Robert Mugabe as president.

And Mr Mugabe has appeared to have toyed with his emotions – one day promoting him to senior positions in both the ruling Zanu-PF party and the government, raising speculation that Mr Mnangagwa was the “heir apparent”, but later demoting him after he possibly displayed his ambitions a bit too openly.

This story is developing quickly, though hopes that the state-run evening news would shed light on the situation were dashed when no formal announcement was made prior to airing.

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