October 20, 1998
Fob James likes to denounce gambling. He has resisted the lure of casinos in Alabama. He enjoys criticizing opponent Don Siegelman's proposal for an education lottery. However, James's actions in office suggest an altogether different attitude toward games of chance. The Governor is a gambling addict.
James ran for office with a pledge that he would not raise taxes. He bet that revenue from current levies would pay for all of his programs. When James realized that he had lost the bet he robbed higher education. Everyone knows that gambling leads to crime.
The Governor is a compulsive gambler. Since his reelection four years ago James has bet heavily on a robust economy. Since 1994 he has supported $927 million worth of revenue bonds. He hopes that voters will support an additional $185 million worth of general-obligation bonds on November 3. "We're making an investment in Alabama's future and we're doing it without having to raise taxes,'' boasts the Governor.
According to a study by the Public Affairs Research Council of Alabama, James is borrowing more than any previous governor. Ten percent of Alabama's General Fund revenue now goes to debt payments.
James is betting that the nation will avoid recession. If he loses and the economy falters, then state tax revenue will decline. Alabama's interest payments will then draw an even larger percentage of revenue. The same programs that the bonds support will pay the cost.
The Governor's optimism is not widely shared. Asian economies are experiencing deep recession if not depression. Emerging markets are submerging.
Relax. Diamond Fob says we can't lose.
-- Daniel Silver
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OK, I've had it. The right wing is trying to overturn a national election because they didn't like the results! This must be stopped.
I would like to propose a legal act of civil disobedience that could send the Right into near oblivion. I am not a member of the Democratic Party. To me, they are a barely-tolerable version of the Republicans. I did not vote for Clinton in 1996. I had voted for him in '92, but could not in good conscience vote for him again (NAFTA, welfare, etc.). We had the lowest turnout ever in 1996, but the majority who could stomach that pathetic choice on the ballot went and voted for Bill Clinton. That was the will of the people. And that is the will the Republicans are trying to subvert.
All the public opinion polls -- New York Times, Wall Street Journal, CNN -- have said the same thing over and over: The American public does NOT want impeachment. Yet, Congress has decided to tell the public to take a flying %$#& and has moved ahead with the impeachment process anyway. This is their fatal mistake and it will be their undoing. I have never seen the American public so fed up and disgusted that they are ready to do anything now to stop this madness.
I wish our members of Congress had listened to the polls. But they haven't. So, now we have to make them listen to the other polls, the only ones they understand -- the polls that are filled with voting booths on November 3.
The act of civil disobedience I am calling for is for each and every American to go to the polls on November 3 and vote for the Democratic candidate for Congress on your ballot. That's right, my fellow cynics and progressives -- the only way to send a true message to the right wing is to throw every Republican out of office. I'm talking about a backlash the likes of which American politics has never seen. If you think this is something that can't happen, I need only point to the national election In Canada in 1993 when the voters threw all but two members of the Conservative Party out of Parliament. In 1995, in Great Britain, the people of Scotland and Wales removed every single member of the Torries from Parliament -- that's right, EVERY SINGLE ONE. Now it's our turn in America. Each of us must do all that we can to get our fellow citizens out to vote on November 3. The Republicans are hoping and praying that the turnout will be low, figuring that the public, especially those who had voted for and trusted Clinton, is so burned out on politicians and politics that they are just going to stay home. They know, though, that their own diehard conservative supporters WILL be at the polls, come hell or high water.
I realize a lot of you have had it and probably want to turn your back on the whole damn thing. I don't blame you. But if we don't vote, we're essentially placing our democracy in the hands of some very bad people and we will surely suffer the consequences of this for years to come. Yes, most of the Democrats suck. I rarely vote for the sorry, wishy-washy losers. But this election is not about how I feel about them -- it's about US using THEM to whack the right wing for good. Imagine if the Democrats are voted in by overwhelming numbers (when all the pundits are predicting a Republican landslide). The message would be loud and clear to all these new Democrats -- THE AMERICAN PUBLIC WANTS THE AGENDA OF THE CHRISTIAN RIGHT REMOVED FROM THE HALLS OF OUR UNITED STATES CONGRESS! Yes, we would then have to stay on these Democrats to make sure they behave and vote the way we want them to. But that's a whole lot better than allowing individuals to stay in office who want to subvert the will of the American people because they would actually prefer a theocracy over a democracy. I wish we had more than two political parties and I will continue to work toward that goal. Two parties cannot represent the broad spectrum of political thought in a country of 270 million people.
But that is not the mission before us. If you want to stop this witch hunt, if you want Congress to start focusing on the REAL problems facing the country and the world, then the ONLY way this nonsense is going to stop is to throw the bums out. Find out who the Democrat is who is running in your district, and then call up his/her headquarters and volunteer to help turn out the vote. If you aren't registered, there is still time to do so in 22 of the 50 states, the deadline for many of them is tomorrow (Friday, October 9). Then get out and vote November 3. Hold your nose if you have to. This is a one-issue election and if you want the impeachment stopped -- and I assure you, you have the power to stop it at 8:01 PM that evening of November 3 -- you must remove the Republicans in your districts. I can think of a lot of reasons why Clinton should not be President. Staining a blue dress from The Gap is not one of them. Enough is enough.
This November takes on added significance as Alabama voters will be asked to cast their ballot to determine who will lead us in various legislative and judicial capacities. Of even greater importance is whether voters can ignore the divisive politics of the past and elect a chief executive capable of implementing a strategic plan of substance to position Alabama citizens for the new century and beyond...Yet, one election year after another, we are manipulated by the same special interests among the major political parties proclaiming their allegiance to a conservative ideology that is as false as the demagogues who utter them. In my lifetime, I have had to endure radical, ill-conceived arguments concerning segregation, state's rights, and school prayer which have ripped apart Alabama, leaving in their wake embarrassing images broadcast to the rest of America. Defiant governors such as George Wallace and Fob James annunciate inflammatory phrases to consolidate extremist views within their ranks.
And what have these men returned to those who they represented? To some, it had meant the ability to exploit labor for low wages with few or no benefits while paying virtually no taxes themselves. To others, it has enabled them to pollute Alabama's river, soil, and air while raping various natural resources in the pursuit of unchecked greed. Still others have been allowed to position themselves as the moral conscience of the state, using their interpretation of Biblical scripture to intimidate anyone with a dissenting view. While these people and organizations have profited handsomely, others have not been so fortunate. For example, the poor in Alabama are still being taxed at a time when our national government has removed these individuals from paying income tax. We have reduced the welfare rolls in the state but sentenced these individuals to low, unskilled jobs offering no benefits or training to give them hope for a better future. Companies use Medicaid as a form of subsidized health care which enable them to avoid adding Alabama's working poor to company-sponsored health care programs. And finally, our public schools are crumbling around us as Alabama's elected politicians recoil in fear of the Religious Right while voicing empty, diversionary rhetoric to excuse their inability to address this vital issue...
This year, we have a candidate for governor, Don Siegelman (D), with both the legislative and administrative experience to realistically do something about the problems facing our state. Dewayne Freeman (D), who is seeking Lt. Governorship, has indicated a willingness to support many of Siegelman's objectives while establishing his own legislative record on education. Beyond these individuals, there are many outstanding local candidates seeking various Democratic offices of significance. I ask you to go to the Candidate Profile section of the web site http://www.guidinglight.net/ to examine their qualifications...We hope, in some small way, to have transcended the 30 second sound bite offered by most media outlets to obstruct your choice.
Now the time is drawing near for you to do your part in making Alabama a better place to live. Please exercise your Constitutional right on November 3 and vote for the Democratic candidates of your choice.
Frank J. Andrews, Jr.
South Alabama Democratic Politics