The people's voice of reason

Congress' Festive Omnibus Bill: 2015

Some have said my columns have become too angry, too much serious reporting, etc. instead of Sophocleus opinin' so I thought I'd lighten things up with a poem about the current holiday season:

Twas the week before Christmas, when all through the House, All the liberals were stirring, while conservatives groused.

The wish lists were hung on the approps bill with care, In hopes that Obama would bless it with flair.

The Members were nestled all smug in their heads, While visions of donors danced in their heads.

As Ryan the new Chief, and Nancy the shill, Agreed they would stick us with a huge spending bill.

They went to the House floor with most in cahoots, One trillion and more and tax breaks to boot.

It took some arm-twisting to get enough votes, While hapless taxpayers must carry the note.

Then on the House floor there came so much chatter, That Members looked up to see what was the matter.

Away to their cell phones they flew like a flash, To make sure their pet projects hadn't been slashed.

They spoke not a word, but went straight to their work, To pass all the goodies, while big-spenders smirked.

And laying restraint aside for the time, Said let's spend some money, put it all on the line.

Now, Ryan!, Now, Nancy!, Now, Hoyer and all; On, Schumer! On, Harry! Cried Mitchell, "roll call."

To the front of the room, and let gavel fall, Now dash away! Dash away! Dash away all!

Their eyes-how they twinkled! Their dimples how merry! Their cheeks were like roses, from wine and the sherry!

They all slapped their backs and most had a smile, Though taxpayers will feel the pain for a while.

But some raised a ruckus and said it's not right, "We promised the voters that we would be tight."

"Who cares?" came the answer, "It's Christmas, don't fear, We'll just tell the voters we'll do better next year."

Then they sprang to their limos, with drivers inside, And away they all flew, all filled up with pride.

And I heard them exclaim as they drove out of sight, Happy Christmas to all, we spent trillions tonight!

- Merrill Matthews is a resident scholar with the Institute for Policy Innovation think tank in Dallas, TX

Alabama Div. SCV Commander Gary Carlyle's writing on, "some politicians resorting to sensationalism to gain personal acclaim and recognition, instead of working for productive government for all Alabamians," also caught my eye these past weeks. His press release on the matter was as follows:

Black, White, Indian, Hispanic, Protestant, Catholic and Jewish Confederate Veterans stood as ONE in thousands of battles during Lincoln's war to collect revenue and afterwards attended Confederate Veterans Reunions TOGETHER and received Confederate Veterans Pensions from the Southern States.

(See Photos of Black Confederate Veterans at the 41st United Confederate Veterans Reunion in Montgomery on June 2, 3, 4 and 5, 1931 from the Scrapbook of the 41st Reunion in the Alabama Department of Archives and History. And see the attached photo of the Last Confederate Reunion in 1944 on the steps of Alabama's Capitol, also at the Archives)

"There is another class of colored people who make a business of keeping the troubles, the wrongs, and the hardships of the Negro race before the public. Having learned that they are able to make a living out of their troubles, they have grown into the settled habit of advertising their wrongs - partly because they want sympathy and partly because it pays. Some of these people do not want the Negro to lose his grievances, because they do not want to lose their jobs." ― Booker T. Washington

Commander Carlyle's text also included one of my favorite B.T. Washington quotes, "Character, not circumstances, makes the man," predating similarly sagacious words from Rev. M.L. King in the struggle to overcome the political correctness of his day. It evoked a haunting from Christmas past of my first Gazette column (December 2009) about the Williams family who owned 80 acres in Marengo county, showing deed and tax records of ownership back to 1874. Some at the Alabama State Lands Division didn't like good folks like Williams owning land because they were black. ASLD asserted the so-called 'public purpose' for this taking was due to swampland designation (in 1906) and compensated them NOTHING for it. In 1967, Circuit Judge Emmett F. Hildreth ruled Willie Williams and a cousin (along with their wives) could live on the land until they died, but could not farm or log any of the 80 acres taken - sound like swampland? If converting these acres into swampland was such a great idea - why force the land from the Williams family? A private individual or nature conservancy group could voluntarily buy it from Williams if they value it more as wetland - private conservation efforts of this sort appear to be superior to government outcomes which often subsidize destruction of the environment and over-consumption.

Furthermore, it is hard to make a case $0 is ''just compensation." 18-1A- et seq. of the Alabama eminent domain code includes text where, "replacement/reproduction" is just compensation. Of course, this was not offered to Williams since the true purpose of the taking was to steal his land because he was black, not regard for wetlands - i.e., they didn't want Williams to have ANY land, PERIOD! This is not to say all bureaucrats at the State Lands Division were terrible people, any more than to say all syphilis researchers were evil because of the so-called 'Tuskegee Experiment' - but those, esp. in government, who do not have to bear cost and consequences of their actions are much more likely to engage in abuses of this sort.

Stated plainly, what was done to the Williams family was a 5th Amendment civil right violation regardless of color. More to the point do you really think the Williams Family would've suffered all they've endured if the ASLD had to pay for their actions? The fundamental reason for the uniformity clause and 5th Amendment text on takings in the US Constitution is to avoid putting the burden of a public project on one individual or specific group. Why must Williams disproportionately bear the cost of providing wetlands regardless if one thinks it is a 'good' or 'bad' public endeavor?

Libertarian candidates had major party status in the 2002 election cycle and made the Williams case an issue - getting enough traction to where then Gov. Siegelman patented the land back to Williams the day before the Democratic primary. Rep. Thomas Jackson (D - Thomasville) was to empanel a group to address this abuse disproportionately burdened upon blacks and poor whites unable to defend themselves in our corrupt legal system. None of the scholars I know on the subject have ever been contacted on the matter and nothing has been done on the issue to make reparations to those devastated by blatant 5th Amendment civil rights violations of this sort.

Very revealing a (non-Democrat/Republican) party who had major party status at the time, trying to bring these civil right abuses to the surface was not allowed in APTV debates for the general election. Since APTV receives State & federal funds, libertarians took it to federal court. Judge Nyron Thompson ruled it was OK to discriminate against those who had the same major party status as the duopoly (Ds & Rs) parties determined by State law. Libertarians promptly communicated their press release to the effect a federal judge says "back of the bus - you can't use this vehicle to get your message out." Until there is increased competition to allow greater light and discourse in Alabama's political markets, I'm afraid civil rights will continue to be more abused in this manner, given how successful some judges have been in the campaign to remove one of our most important and fundamental rights.

Little surprise champions of big government like Davis, Ford, Holmes, Sewell, Thompson, et al will cry wolf on battle flags and monuments (which seem to have the power to jump off of poles and commit acts of destruction and murder) to remain silent on matters of substance to address any real civil right violation which disempowers the government they deify. One wonders what will be the next bogeyman rhetoric they will conjure up as the command economy policies/programs they accomplish make things worse for general welfare and even more deleterious to the group(s) they claim to be helping. Job security Mr. B.T. Washington wrote of for those making a living out troubles of this sort is in little jeopardy until these 'leaders' are replaced by ones who understand and are willing to address civil rights violations to get us out of the morass we've 'progressed' into these past several score. Indeed unlikely since truly championing civil rights doesn't offer the promise of being well rewarded in this world.

Postscript: with a heavy heart and hands I type of Mrs. Peggy Felicity McComas Allen passing last month. Born 1924 in Louisville (KY) she graduated from Vanderbilt University, elected Phi Beta Kappa Society 1947. She moved to Auburn in 1964 with husband of 64 years, Prof. Ward Allen raising four wonderful children and began work on, Jefferson Davis Unconquerable Heart ( 1&keywords=jefferson+davis+unconquerable+heart) biography published by University of Missouri Press in 1999. Eric L. McKitrick (11/29/01 New York Review of Books, pp. 39-42) wrote, "She has so identified herself with Jefferson Davis, so internalized all the feelings, convictions, hopes, fears, illusions, and despairs of the man, that we have placed before our eyes what is virtually a living embodiment of what he was." I fondly recall many discussions during our drives to Annunciation Gr. Orthodox in Montgomery about her endeavor; I was pleasantly surprised (and sincerely honored) she included me in her acknowledgements. The Texas Review Press published her Letters from Prison: Jefferson Davis to his Wife 1865-1866, in 2014. Her obituary noted the Allen family and generations to come have in these works as a display of Felicity's intellect, careful use of English words, and the character and deportment of a man whom she admired. The Resurrection service made the traditional greeting/exclamation, "Christ is risen from the dead" (Christos Anesti - from the traditional Greek Orthodox Easter celebration) foremost to venerate the one she held most dear. I pray Mrs. Allen is well received in her final judgement. What a blessing it was to have her in my life.


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