America’s roiling national political conversation takes a back seat to Alabama until after next Tuesday’s Special Election Final to permanently replace Jeff Sessions who held the seat from 1997 until he assumed office as U.S. Attorney General in January 2017.
Of course, the decision is up to the voters of Alabama, using their own best judgment, whatever outsiders may say who try to influence events outside their own proper purview.
Alabamians have always had an independent, stubborn streak and don’t take kindly to strangers trying to tell them what to do, and what issues ought to be important to them. Alabamians can take care of Alabama values quite well on their own, thank you very much, and Butt Out.
That said, there has been an incredible amount of fog and smoke let loose in the last six months about the last two standing candidates in this race. Charges, counter charges, misperceptions, false flags, snake oil, declarations, denials, and deceptions have rolled over the landscape.
Alabama votes in six days (Tuesday, November 12, 2017). Get out and vote; consider your decision carefully, counsel with yourself, then make your opinion count.
Don’t let anybody try to twist your arm to vote against your individual conscience and core beliefs.
What this Election Needs is a Good 5¢ Return to a Few Basic Facts.
Part I: Roy Moore’s Electoral History of Running for Office in Alabama
It has been said that Moore has run many successful campaigns, state and local. Others have said he has run three county wide and five statewide elections. This information is cleanly available from public and other records.
We have consulted Judge Moore’s “So Help Me God” memoir (2005), official Alabama Secretary of State Election results reports, various Wikipedia entries, and entries from Ballotpedia, a trove of election data of amazing variety and depth, among others.
Brief Discussion for Part I
Roy Moore has been on the public payroll in Alabama in various legal and judicial positions for part of the time from October, 1977 until December, 2017. All of his service was in Etowah County in Northeast Alabama from 1977 through the end of 2000.
During that time he ran for office three times, only at the countywide level, winning only once. He ran for Judge on the 16tj Circuit Court of Appeals (Etowah County) as a Democrat in 1982 and lost in the primary. Similarly he ran for District Attorney of Etowah County as a Democrat in 1986 and lost in the primary.
His third run for countywide office in Etowah County was successful. He was re-elected Judge of the 16th Circuit Court of Appeals in 1994, running as a Republican, to continue in a judicial position he had been appointed to as a Democrat in 1992, selected as a replacement after the previous Judge died in office.
Countywide election history: 3 campaigns from 1982-1994: two losses (1982, 1986), one win (1994)
During this time Moore had left Alabama and was living in Texas and Australia for about two years (1982-1984).
From 2000 until 2017, Moore has run (completed) four statewide campaigns for office, all as a Republican. Since April 2017, he has been running his fifth statewide campaign to complete the remaining three-year portion (expires 2020) of former Alabama U.S. senator Jeff Sessions, who became U.S. Attorney General early in 2017. That campaign is not over and will be decided in the final election on December 12, 2017, just one week from now. Results should be known shortly thereafter, and the winner is likely to be sworn in in early January 2018, depending on how long it takes to certify the final vote tallies in Alabama.
In his four completed statewide election contests, he has won two and lost two. He lost in 2006 and again in 2010 running for Alabama Governor in the Republican primary. He won election as Chief Justice of the Alabama Supreme Court in two other elections in 2000 and again in 2012.
Those election victories should have been for a six year term each, ,but Judge Moore was removed from office by the Alabama Court of Judiciary in 2003, after less than three years on the bench. Elected again in 2012, Judge Moore was permanently suspended from office, again by the Alabama Court of Judiciary on May 6, 2016, after serving la bit more than three years of his new six year term. Having lost his final legal appeals against his suspension, Moore choose to resign in April 2017 and run for the Alabama Senator Special Election in progress now.
What to Make of This?
That’s up to the registered voters in Alabama who decide to cast their ballots next week.
It is undeniable that a good bit of misinformation and slanted interpretation about all aspects of this election and the personal qualities, characters, policies, and political positions of both candidates has been thrown about, and increasing in volume since the runoff in September 2017.
Moore has been a public sector employee or elected Judge for just under 20 years of the period from 1977-2017, the entire time he has been a lawyer in Alabama (40 years). His public service is then about 50% of his legal career. The rest of that time he was either not practicing as a lawyer (living outside of Alabama in Texas and Australia), running a solo private practice, or serving as the President of his own privately funded foundation traveling and speaking around the county, frequently out of Alabama.
During his seven completed election campaigns (three county and four statewide) Moore has won three times and lost four times; an electoral batting average of about 42%, not exactly a sterling record.
His three election wins garnered him a total of 18 potential years of judicial service to Alabama, if he had served his full terms of office. In fact he completed about 13 of those potential years, and one of those 13 was spent on suspension where he was not able to decide any cases for the People of Alabama. So his efficiency percentage for completing his elected job duties as a judge is just 75&.
Some taxpayers might wonder if they have received full legal value from his actual judicial performance, leaving aside any question of the distraction of fighting numerous complaints and lawsuits against him while he was sitting as a judge on the most serious cases in the Alabama court system.
There is no record I know of where the total costs of legal fees and other expense required to defend Judge Moore in the lawsuits and legal proceedings against him are tabulated in public, and whether or not taxpayer funds were used to help defray them.
In Judge Moore’s last campaign (2012) he won a very narrow general election victory over his Democratic opponent for Chief Justice (Robert Vance) by a narrow margin of 51.8% to 48.2%. In that same year, a total of five Supreme Court Justices in Alabama were elected. Every one of them but Moore received greater than 98% of the votes cast in the general election.
This is a more than surprising result in a state as Red as Alabama has been for statewide candidates after 2010.
Moore has never won any election for a political position other than judge, which may raise the concern of how he will function to get agreement in a political environment where is one of a 100 peers, and not Primus inter Pares, as in the Alabama Supreme Court. A sort of Gets Along With Others Test.
Alabama’s Coming Senatorial Power Ranking
Should Moore win, he would be ranked last (100 out of 100) of all U.S. Senators at the time he would be sworn in (barring another Senator’s death or resignation without replacement before then).
This circumstance may be of limited import to Roy Moore, since he is a very self-confident man, but may concern the bulk of Alabama’s voters, who enjoy the current luxury of having the 6th most senior of all 100 Senators (Richard Shelby), but have also just lost the 15th most senior U.S. Senator when Jeff Sessions left to join the Trump Administration.
This one-two power punch is the best double ranking of any state in America today. To drop their team’s second starter from the rank of #15 to dead last 100 will be a serious blow to Alabama’s Senate influence, compounded by the fact that Richard Shelby while remaining a very senior Senator is also now 83 years old (DOB: 05/6/1934).
This previous combined level of seniority for Alabama’s two senators will take literally decades to restore. Some consideration of a willingness to work across the aisle to promote Alabama’s best interests for the next 10-15 years would not be amiss.
It would be foolish to predict what Alabama voters will do next Tuesday when they listen to their internal voices in the voting booths across the state. No fool I.
However it is plain this is a year of savage and unpredictable changes, in politics and elsewhere in America. One constant for the overwhelming majority of Alabamians is that you’d better not mess with their football (Crimson Tide) and their faith in the Bible as the revealed word.
Two weeks ago the Tide were cast into the Football deep when the Iron Bowl got away. By a miracle, this past weekend found them back in the National Championship race against Clemson. A controversial resurrection for some outside Alabama, but proof that expected outcomes are not inevitable.
Alabamians bristle at outside interference, and they can feel it when they are getting played. An especially hated term across the state is the presence of Carpetbaggers, outsiders dropping in to feather their own nests and impose their own parochial agendas.
This election is a family fight between Roy Moore and Doug Jones, both Alabama natives, but with some family differences.
Take one Steve Bannon. He has no Alabama roots, or ties. No Alabama education or residence time, No Alabama family connections or property interests. He doesn’t pay any Alabama taxes, or go to church here. Ditto for Donald Trump. He has no Alabama roots, or ties. No Alabama education or residence time, No Alabama family connections or property interests. He doesn’t pay any Alabama taxes, or go to church here.
Worse, Trump has been all over the map on Alabama’s Senators. He was for Strange, then he came down and waffled in his support. Then he was for Moore, until he wasn’t. From overseas, he ignored the incendiary sexual allegations against Moore himself, issuing a wishy-washy statement about if the allegations are true. When he got back he agreed to cut off Republican party funding for the Moore campaign. Then he decided he ‘needed’ a vote for his tax bill, even though Luther Strange was already voting for it. He entertained a write in replacement campaign. He decided not to campaign directly for Moore. Then he changed his mind and make some quiet suggestions Moore would be good. Now he will campaign, but just over the Florida border by 20 miles from the Alabama state line.
What is this? Yes, No, Maybe so. She loves me, she loves me not. He wants to have it both ways, on the edge, upside down and backwards. Alabama voters don’t care what his decision is, they can live with it either way. But make up your damn mind, so they can on with it.
Don’t let anyone tell you Trump is being led astray by anybody. If there is one thing you can rely on, it is that Trump does what Trump pleases. If he is all over the map, it is because he has some other agenda outside Alabama’s best interests, that he will pursue regardless.
Carpetbaggers, both of them, parachuting into Alabama for private purposes. As for Mitch McConnell, who has been pilloried about this whole senate race.
McConnell was born on February 20, 1942, in Sheffield, Alabama, and raised as a young child in nearby Athens.
As a youth, McConnell overcame polio, which he was struck with at age 2. He received treatment at the Warm Springs Institute in Georgia, which potentially saved him from being disabled for the rest of his life. In 1990, McConnell said that his family “almost went broke” because of costs related to his illness.
When he was eight, McConnell’s family moved to Georgia.
You might disagree with him, and his recent political judgments, but he is Alabama family. He was born there, raided and lived there until he was 8, and overcame polio as a young child. Hardy Alabama native stock.
Criticize him all you like, but he deserves a place at the Alabama debate table as an Alabamian. Who is this Steve Bannon to stir the pot? What are his Alabama credentials, besides trouble making.
Football and Holy Scripture Are Treasures in Alabama
I share with Roy Moore a love for the King James version of the Bible.
My Bible says in Second Chronicles:
11 Behold, I say, how they reward us, to come to cast us out of thy possession, which thou hast given us to inherit.
12 O our God, wilt thou not judge them? for we have no might against this great company that cometh against us; neither know we what to do: but our eyes are upon thee.
13 And all Judah stood before the Lord, with their little ones, their wives, and their children.
2 Chronicles 20:11-13 King James Version (KJV)
Think on it while you decide to vote.
They take their football pretty seriously in Texas, though not like in Alabama. Still, we can say Eyes Are Upon You, substituting All the States, not just Texas.
Listen to the authentic Roy Orbison sing the Texas Fight Song:
And here are the lyrics:
The eyes of Texas are upon you
All the live long days
The eyes of Texas are upon you
And you cannot get away
Do not think you can escape them
From night till early in the morn
The eyes of Texas are upon you
Till Gabriel blows his horn
The eyes of Texas are upon you
All the live long days
The eyes of Texas are upon you
And you cannot get away
Next week, Alabama voters will do what they think is best for them. Part of making independent considered adult decisions, is that one accepts the consequences that come from those actions.
After they pray about it, and cast their votes for either major candidate, or a write in candidate, or vote none of the above, or stay at home, Alabama will own the results and deal with it accordingly.
The rest of us get to watch. The Nation’s eyes are upon you. Make your best choice.
GO VOTE, ALABAMA!!
Just in case anyone reading this doesn’t know what RTR means, shame on you, and you shouldn’t be here. Even damn Yankees know about RTR.
There has been some controversy over the Texas Fight Song. Here’s a contrarian opinion (2009) to be clear.
Longhorns Troubled by School Song’s Past
AUSTIN, Texas, March 25, 2009
The boisterous clatter of Darrell K Royal – Texas Memorial stadium on the campus of the University of Texas suddenly calms in response to the electricity in the air. No one knows where it starts, but the chorus of school spirit and pride begins to sound, eventually rising to a cacophony of noise.
As the first notes from the Longhorn band resonate throughout the crowd, nearly 100,000 voices join in. Hands rise into the air with the two outside fingers pointing toward the sky as the much-loved alma mater begins.
“The Eyes of Texas” epitomizes much of what it means to be a Longhorn at the University of Texas.
Sung to the tune of “I’ve Been Working on the Railroad,” the iconic alma mater, however, seems to rub some Longhorns the wrong way.
T.J. Finley, who graduated from UT with a bachelor’s degree in kinesiology in the spring, stopped singing UT’s iconic alma mater completely after being told that the song was first performed by students wearing blackface makeup in a turn-of-the-century minstrel show.
“At first, I was just so shocked that something like this could still exist,” said Finley, a graduate student at the Duke University School of Law.
The original manuscript of “The Eyes of Texas” is displayed in the lobby of the Texas Exes Alumni Center. The second stanza is traditionally sung at the opening and closing of all major UT sporting events:
- The eyes of Texas are upon you,
- All the live long day.
- The eyes of Texas are upon you,
- You cannot get away.
- Do not think you can escape them
- At night or early in the morn
- The eyes of Texas are upon you
- Till Gabriel blows his horn.
Micheondra Williams, a College of Liberal Arts sociology major, learned about the alma mater’s history from a friend.
“I have to admit that I was a little bit shocked to read about the song’s history,” she said. “But there aren’t any words that put me down or degrade me, or make me feel negatively about myself or anyone else.”
“I feel if we were to research other things we do, or participate in, we would find many things can be traced back to a time much different than today.”
Penned in 1903 by John Sinclair, editor of the Cactus yearbook and a UT band member, “The Eyes of Texas” was written at the request of band member Lewis Johnson, who played tuba for the varsity band (now the Longhorn band) and directed the university chorus.
Because the university did not have a school song, Johnson wanted Sinclair’s help in writing one that would represent the students and faculty. Johnson, also the program director of the Varsity Minstrel Show that raised funds for the track team, believed the event was the perfect venue for its debut.
Minstrel shows of the time consisted of comedic skits, dancing, music and variety acts, often performed by white participants covered in black costume makeup to portray plantation slaves. Black characters were often portrayed as ignorant, lustful and unsympathetic characters.
Better known as “blackface,” the performances first came onto the stage in the late 1820 and became popular in the United States from 1841-1870.
The shows began to lose their popularity after the Civil War, when they were replaced by vaudeville performances, which provided a “cleaner” presentation of variety acts catering to the new middle class and urban lifestyles, according to the University of Virginia’s Web site.
Originally, Sinclair wrote the song as a parody to UT president William L. Prather’s signature closing statement at all public events. Before becoming president in 1899, Prather was a student at Washington College at Lexington (now Washington and Lee University) in Virginia. He was greatly enamored of its president, Gen. Robert E. Lee, who often told his students and faculty, “The eyes of the South are upon you,” according to the Amarillo News-Globe in 1931.
Prather seems to have enjoyed the saying so much he incorporated it into his school addresses and began concluding each speech with: “Remember, the eyes of Texas are upon you.”
“The Eyes of Texas” debuted May 12, 1903, at the Hancock Opera House on West Sixth Street. Performed by a quartet of blackface students, accompanied by Sinclair on the banjo, it was apparently an immediate hit with the audience.
Yet, J.R. “Jim” Cannon, one of the group’s singers, must have had second thoughts. He was later quoted in the Denison Herald on Sept. 9, 1931, saying, “It was all a joke. We did not know what we were starting.”
A variety act gone awry, “The Eyes of Texas” has had a lasting impression on university students of all races. In the fall of 2008, blacks made up 4.4 percent of the entire UT student population, with Asian Americans accounting for 15.1 percent and Hispanics 15.9 percent of UT’s 49,984 students.
Today, the Division for Diversity and Community Engagement Office on campus pledges on its Web site to improve diversity in teaching, research and campus services.
John Fleming, the Longhorn band’s first (and still only) black drum major from 1990-’92, works at the campus Center for African and African-American Studies.
Fleming said he understands why students like Finley boycott the song, but doesn’t believe that is the best approach to effect change.
“Is it really the song they’re boycotting, or are they boycotting the people and what they represented when it was performed at a minstrel show?” Fleming said. “I guess it really is a matter of perception … and I respect them for that.”
Finley said he always respected the opinions of classmates who sang the alma mater.
“It doesn’t bother me if someone doesn’t agree,” he said. “You can’t force action on anyone. The most important thing to me is letting people know the truth.”
Despite what some have called a lack of diversity on campus, others note that the alma mater brings individuals together in support of the university.
“You feel really united as a school,” said Kiah Lewis, a current government and UTeach-liberal arts major in the College of Liberal Arts. “As if you’re a part of a longstanding tradition each time you hear an audience sing the school song.”
Nobody said life was simple, or good choices are easy to make.