God Ain’t Into Politics

My friend Frances Coleman of Baldwin County has been a journalist for many years.  I got to know her when the Mobile Press-Register was a “real” newspaper.  You know, like words on paper  Back in the times when a paper boy would leave one at your home and you could find them in racks around town.

Like so many other things from our past, newspapers ain’t what they used to be.  But thankfully, Frances is still writing and her pen is as sharp as ever.

Here is a recent column she did for AL.com that takes a tongue-in-cheek look at God’s involvement in today’s political world.  She is right on target.

“God storms into St. Peter’s office and, without the fanfare that humans typically associate with his comings and goings, flops down in a chair.

“Take a letter,” he growls. “Address it to my followers in the United States of America.”

“Again, Sir? I thought you wrote them a year or two ago,” St. Peter replies, stalling for time in hopes that God will calm down a little. Knowing it’s probably futile, he nevertheless adds, “Paul is a great letter writer. I could get him in here and –”

But God cuts him off.

“I love Paul to pieces, as my American Southerners would say, but sometimes he writes in circles. I want this to be crystal clear.”

For somebody who was such a big shot on Earth, Paul sure manages to avoid any heavy lifting up here, St. Peter thinks to himself.

“Don’t act like the blockheaded fisherman that you once were,” God sighs. “And don’t forget that I can read your mind. Now here’s the gist of the letter: ‘Leave me out of your political battles.’ You can dress it up a little, of course, but that’s the basic message.”

 “I don’t mean to be blockheaded,” St. Peter replies stiffly, “but what in particular are you wanting to scold them about this time?”

 “Now don’t get your nose out of joint,” God says. “I am referring to the current squabble between their presidential candidates. One says the other is going to ‘hurt the Bible’ and ‘hurt God’ and is ‘against God,’ and now both men’s supporters are brawling verbally over which candidate is godlier, more compassionate, and more in tune and in sync with me.

“I could go over the Bible with them, of course, especially the parts attributed to my son, but they’ve got plenty of copies of it. So in the letter, let’s just hit these basic points: ‘I am God. I create universes, angels and immortal souls, plus animals, rainbows and forests. I love my creations more than you or anyone else can ever know, but I don’t do politics.’ In fact, put that in all-caps, will you? ‘I DON’T DO POLITICS.’

“Tell them they can and should call upon me when they’re in trouble, when they’re going through difficult times, when they need wisdom or when they’re feeling lost and alone,” God says. “But not when they’re pandering for votes. That makes my blood boil.”

St. Peter’s eyebrows shoot up, and God recalls anew that humans can be painfully literal.

 “You know what I mean,” he sighs, rising from his chair. “Anyway, put something together and bring it in for my signature.”

“OK,” St. Peter says. “But may I suggest that your letter might have a greater impact if you would include some consequences for those who fail to heed it? You’ve got to admit that there’s nothing like locusts, famines and floods to get people’s attention.”

 God stares at St. Peter for several long seconds.

 “Peter, I love you dearly,” he finally says. “And the things about you that drive me crazy — like what you just said — are also the things that I love about you. Your heart is pure and your intentions are good. But sometimes, even though you’ve been up here for many centuries, you still think like a human. I don’t need to channel Cecil B. DeMille to get people’s attention, and I don’t need Hollywood to illustrate what happens when people don’t listen to me.

“And now, if you don’t mind, I’m calling it a day,” God says, standing in the doorway. “I’m tired.”

 You’re tired? I’m checking in 150,000 souls a day, and you’re the one who’s tired? St. Peter thinks to himself. Followed by, Oops.

 “Yes, Peter, I’m tired and so are you,” God replies, turning off the lights. “Come on, my friend. Let’s both go home. You can do the letter tomorrow. I guarantee they’ll still be squabbling.”


Open Mouth, Insert Foot

As most of us know by now, one-time Auburn University football coach Tommy Tuberville has his sights set on being elected one of Alabama’s two U.S. senators this November.  He recently defeated former senator Jeff Sessions and runs against incumbent Democrat Doug Jones in November.

At this point most polls say he is favored to win.

That is if he can keep his foot out of his mouth long enough.  And that is debatable.

His latest snafu was telling a talk radio host that he is opposed to extending the federal unemployment benefit that those who lost jobs due to the Covid-19 crisis have been getting.

This brought immediate response from those who remember when Tuberville walked off the job at Auburn, even though he still had a contract to be honored.  And Auburn gave him $5 million.  Even though he quit.  Even though he did not honor his contract.

And when a guy who engineered such a sweetheart deal for himself has heartburn about folks getting unemployment benefits, you have to wonder if he is really in touch with the real world.  For an excellent look at all of this, see this article by Kyle Whitmire of AL.com.

Tuberville coached 10 years at Auburn.  He won 85 games and lost 40.  His teams played the University of  Alabama 10 times and won seven of them.  I was in the stands at Jordan-Hare on many of the Saturdays Tuberville roamed the sidelines.

No doubt he is “smooth.  Very personable, Tuberville can work a room better than most.  But like most major college football coaches, he is a hired gun.  His loyalty is for sale.

He coached at Ole Miss four seasons.  Rumors were rampant in 1998 that he was going to Auburn.  He told sports writers, “They’ll have to carry me out of here in a pine box.”  He was gone two days later.  No one could find a pine box.

After Auburn, Tuberville became head coach at Texas Tech and stayed for three years.  The story is that in December, 2012 he was having dinner with some football recruits and left the table.  And never came back.  The next day he was named the head coach at Cincinnati.

Tuberville left Cincinnati in 2016 and announced that he was heading to the “blue waters and white sands” of Santa Rosa Beach, FL.  He voted there in 2018.

Personally I like Tommy.  He is good company and easy to talk to.  But what is underneath?  What are his core values?  Sure, he now says he loves Alabama.  But he also loved Oxford, MS, Lubbock, TX and Cincinnati, OH.

Especially at this point in time, with this country so fractured and divided, when we are battling a health crises that cries for committed leadership, we desperately need people in Washington of substance, people who are committed to others more than to themselves.  I don’t see that in Tommy Tuberville.


The UNITED States Of America. Really?

We’ve all had it pounded in our heads virtually from birth that we live in a united country of 50 different states.

Truth is, few things could be farther from the truth.  If it were, we would all be pulling in the same direction at the same time, striving for common goals.  This has seldom been the case.  Even the original 13 colonies had great differences and some were much more interested in pulling away from England than others.

The reason for much of this is pointed out to us in American Nations by Colin Woodard as he paints graphic pictures of the 11 nations that actually comprise the U.S .and how they were settled at different times by different people from different backgrounds.

Certainly there is no greater indicator of our lack of unity than the current highly fractured and divided response to Covid-19.  Unfortunately there is no coordinated, unified national 50 state effort to get this pandemic under control.  Instead our national leaders have sent one mixed message after another and left states to individually flop and flounder

The result?

ONE THOUSAND deaths a day across this land.

Imagine we were presently losing 1,000 people a day in some foreign war.  That each day we were shipping 1,000 caskets back to this country from some distant land.

Would we be as tolerant of ineptitude in such a crisis as we are right now?

Vanity Fair has just reported on how the President’s son-in-law, Jared Kushner, inserted himself into the war against Covid-19.  It is not a pretty picture.  Nor a useful one.

Back in March Kushner set out to solve the on-going disaster of lack of diagnostic-testing.  So he brought together a group of largely bankers and billionaires–not public health experts.  In spite of their lack of knowledge and willingness to work with others, the group developed a fairly comprehensive plan, that got good reviews from health professionals who saw it.  But then the plan, according to someone involved with it, “just went poof into thin air.”

What happened?  Politics.

According to Vanity Fair, “Most troubling ….was a sentiment ….a member  of Kushner’s team expressed: that because the virus had hit blue states hardest, a national  plan was unnecessary and would not make sense politically.  The political folks believed that because it (the virus) was going to be relegated to Democratic states, that they could blame those governors, and that would be an effective political strategy.”

UNITED states of America?  Don’t kid yourself.

Tonya Chestnut Wins Runoff For State School Board

Longtime educator Tonya Chestnut of Selma defeated Fred Bell of Montgomery in the July 14 Democrat runoff for the District 5 state school board seat.  This is the position held for 18 years by the late Ella Bell, who passed away last fall.

Governor Ivy appointed Tommie Stewart to fill the remainder of Bell’s term.  She did not seek election for a four-year term

The primary in this race was held last March 2, however, because of Covid-19, the runoff was pushed back to July 14..  Eight candidates ran in the primary.  Fred Bell got 30 percent (24,589) of the vote, while Chestnut got 20 percent (16,044).  There were a total of 81,033 votes cast.  But because of a lack of contested races in the Democratic runoff, only 34,602 people voted on July 14.

This decline was especially notable in Montgomery County.  Whereas Bell received 11,816 votes in Montgomery in the primary, he only got 2,912 in the runoff.  And while Bell got a total of 24,589 votes to lead the primary, he only got 13,372 in the runoff.  Chestnut did a much better job of holding on to her votes.  She got 16,044 in the primary and increased this to 21,230 in the runoff.  The most striking example of this was in her home of Dallas County were she got 5,531 votes on March 2 and 4,937 on July 14.

By comparison, Bell got 11,818 in Montgomery in the primary, but only 2,912 in the runoff.

Geographically, this is the largest state board seat, including all or portions of 16 counties and running from Macon County to the Mississippi line and to downtown Mobile.  Historically, it has been a minority-held seat.

Montgomery County school board member and Republican Lesa Keith is running against Chestnut in the Nov. 3 general election.  However, she will be a definite underdog.

How Can You Be This Dumb?

With fallen Civil Rights icon John Lewis coming back to Alabama for the final time this past weekend, for a few hours the world was focused on Selma and Montgomery.

Turns out that Saturday freshman Republican house member Will Dismukes was also in Selma.  However, he was there to join others in a celebration for Confederate General Nathan Bedford Forrest, who happens to be given credit for starting the Ku Klux Klan.  The irony of these two events occurring the same day in Selma is inescapable.  Unless you are Will Dismukes, who went on Facebook and told the world where he was and what he was doing.

Reaction was swift and predictable.  Democratic state party chair Chris England, who serves with Dismukes in the house, was concerned that he put his core values on public display.  On the other side of the aisle, Republican house member  Danny Garrett said, “I cannot fathom why anyone in 2020 celebrates the birthday of the first KKK Grand Wizard, especially while the body of John Lewis is lying in state.”

And then Dismukes told WSFA TV in Montgomery that he was surprised by the criticism he received.

Dismukes said, We live in a time where we literally are going through “cancel culture” from all different areas and  people are even more sensitive on different issues and different subjects.  This was just one of those times it didn’t quite go the way I expected.”

And we are left to wonder just what the heck was he expecting?


Will Alabama Shoot Itself In The Foot?

With the Nov. 3 election now just over three months away (thankfully). the most watched statewide race will be the contest for U.S. Senate between incumbent Democrat Doug Jones and Republican challenger Tommy Tuberville.

Jones won this seat in a special election in 2017 by defeating Judge Roy Moore.  Tuberville beat former U.S. Senator Jeff Sessions in a July runoff.  Polling at this point gives Tuberville anywhere from a five to a ten point lead.

The very respected Cook Political Report rates this race as “leaning Republican.”

As all of us Auburn fans know, Tuberville was head football coach at Auburn for ten years.  No doubt his most notable achievement was beating Alabama seven out of ten times.  He is personable and can “work a room” with the best.  However, the  only real message of his campaign is his undying loyalty to President Trump.

Other than that, I’ve not heard how he feels about most things political.  And I’m unaware of what in his background qualifies him to go to Washington.  There is a big difference in deciding to go for an on-side kick and going to war.

(Tuberville was head coach at Ole Miss in 1998 and when rumors made their rounds that he was going to leave he said. “The only way I leave will be in a pine box.”  He headed to Auburn two days later.  So  perhaps he is more qualified for Washington than I first thought.)

But here is where it gets tricky.  What if Tuberville is elected–but Trump isn’t?.  Where does this leave Alabama?  Add to this the real possibility that the Democrats may regain control of the U.S. Senate.  So instead of having an incumbent in Jones who is a member of the ruling party, we have a freshman in the minority party.  In a body that is based so much on seniority, that means Tuberville would have to furnish his own toilet paper.

Washington insiders are saying it is about 50-50 that Democrats take control.  This is based on the fact that the GOP must defend 23 incumbent seats, as compared to only 12 for the Democrats.  Seats in Colorado, Maine, Arizona, North Carolina and Montana are considered very vulnerable to Democrat challenges.  Even South Carolina’s Lindsey Graham is facing a serious challenge from Jaime Harrison, who has raised more than $21 million this year.

Trump’s re-election effort is in serious trouble.  Poll after poll is showing him losing to Joe Biden by decisive margins.  And though Trump decries these polls as “fake” don’t think for a moment they are.  I have worked with many pollsters over the years.  The last thing they want to do is hide the truth.  The most striking thing about the presidential polling right now is that the trend is all in the same direction.  In Biden’s favor.

No doubt Trump will win Alabama.  But the road to the White House does not run through Alabama.

As for Tuberville, I would put my money on him right now.  But as things are now shaping up, when he gets to Washington he will look back to when he was on Auburn’s sideline and his opinion really counted.