The Big Picture
By Glynn Wilson –
Every time a legislative body ends a session of lawmaking, some journalists who forget that the use of clichés is bad journalism just can’t seem to help themselves. They have to refer to the famous quote on sausage making, as if this somehow shows their great insight into the legislative process.
Of all the coverage in Alabama newspapers I could find online, The Anniston Star editorial board gets the cliché award this time around.
From everything I can glean on what this supermajority of Republicans did from February through April of this year in Montgomery, including some lawmaking I watched myself in person in the State House, I would have to say this process is more like making mincemeat out of the hopes and dreams of working people who would like to have a government in place that works for them.
Besides, the famous quote about democracy and lawmaking being compared to making sausage is not even true. Numerous Websites attribute the quotation to Otto von Bismarck, a German Prussian politician from the nineteenth century.
“Laws are like sausages. It’s better not to see them being made.”
But as it turns out, the quote about laws and sausages, though popularly attributed to Bismarck and sounding like something he might have said, doesn’t seem to have even been said by him, according to Wikiquote, org.
I hereby nominate this cliché to the Top Ten overused clichés by journalists of all time. Most of the lists about this only include seven anyway, so there’s room for three more.
Now for the “fair and balanced” coverage.
According to the Alabama bureau of the Associated Press, the public address system in the state Senate began playing a recording of Otis Redding singing the bluesy lyric, “They call me Mr. Pitiful” as the 2013 session came to a close.
Mr. Phillip Rawls of the AP says this was “fitting music for the Democratic minority in the Legislature, which failed to pass its top priority: expanding the state Medicaid program for 300,000 Alabamians under the federal Affordable Care Act.”
I would say it mostly aptly describes what government looks like when tea party Republicans, who get elected running against government, try to govern. But maybe that’s just me.
In typical fake economically objective fashion, totally hiding the truth about what really happened, the headline on the story reads “Alabama legislators’ view of session depends on party,” as if that illuminated the process at all. It quotes Senate Minority Leader Vivian Davis Figures, a Democrat from Mobile, as saying: “As a whole, this was the worst session we’ve had in terms of bad legislation and bills that could have passed.”
But it goes on to quote the Republicans, who according to the Montgomery Advertiser, think they somehow accomplished something “historic” this year.
Now to the Gritty Details
The legislature passed something called the Alabama Accountability Act, which is guaranteed to gut further the public school system in the state by making it easier for well-to-do parents to pull their kids out and send them to private schools — with a freaking tax credit no less.
At the last minute, apparently Goobernor Robert Bentley had some second thoughts about this and wanted a two-year delay to study this thing. But the tea party Republicans would have none of it. They went ahead and passed it, daring the governor to veto a proposal he put forward in the first place. This was described as a “setback” for the Republican governor, although according to some local TeeVee coverage, he didn’t seem to see it that way.
This is not sausage, folks. It makesmince meat out of the public schools.
Of course somehow, the legislators managed to pass a small 2-percent pay raise for teachers, the first in five years, perhaps hoping to avoid a total backlash at the ballot box in 2014 from those who have been voting Republican against their own interests for years. But in the continuing effort to prove government doesn’t matter, they failed to give state employees a raise.
According to the AP, they also “loosened restrictions on guns, started the consolidation of state law enforcement agencies, and kept a promise about paying back money.”
Whatever that means.
What they did was turn the state into an open carry gun state, sending us all back to the Wild West, by totally squashing sensible opposition from country sheriffs all over the state who opposed taking away their law enforcement discretion to decide who gets a permit to carry a gun on their person and in their cars.
You can see the only real on-the-ground coverage of this here, with video.
Yes the lawmakers passed a general fund budget and an education budget, as required by law, but they also did some things you won’t see covered by any newspaper or television news station anywhere, not even on public television or public radio.
Republican Senators from Mobile and Mountain Brook killed a bipartisan bill that would have improved Alabama’s ranking on the worker’s compensation to 45 out of 50 states in the country. The death of Senate Bill 453 leaves the state last in the nation, again.
“It’s a shame that Alabama will unfortunately remain at the bottom of the nation in regards to taking care of our workers injured on the job,” said Al Henley, President of Alabama AFL-CIO, in the only story published on this subject anywhere.
They also approved a proposal to put before voters a law that does what is already done, making Alabama a right-to-work state, this time in the Constitution itself.
Then we get to the coup de grâce.
At the behest of the governor, the Legislature passed a law to use $85.5 million of the $100 million the state is supposed to get from BP for “coastal restoration” in the wake of the 2010 Deepwater Horizon oil disaster to build a hotel and conference center on the beach in Gulf State Park.
I have already published my thoughts on this.
According to the bloggers from South Union Street, and in spite of their often holier-than-thou speech-making at election time about removing the influence of “special interests” from politics, this Republican Legislature did something fairly predictable that got literally one line of coverage in one newspaper that I could find. They passed a campaign finance “reform” bill that actually removed a $500 cap on campaign contributions by corporations and got rid of language banning transfers of money between political action committees.
So the Alabama Education Association is an “evil special interest,” but the Business Council and their corporate clients are not?
At least the Legislature failed to mandate drug testing for Welfare recipients, but it also failed to expand Medicaid, leaving thousands of poor patients totally uncovered and now doomed to die — unless they move to another state where the local government honors Obamacare.
In all the news coverage, and I mean all of it, this was simply portrayed as a loss for the Democratic minority. Nowhere was it shown to be a loss for “the people.”
“We the people” are now mincemeat for the “let them eat cake” Republicans, a phrase used to describe them by former Alabama Democratic Party chair Mark Kennedy, who resigned during this year’s session in the middle of a controversy over party fund-raising. He has now formed a new non-profit group and apparently plans to run his wife, the daughter of four-term Alabama Governor George Wallace, for public office.
Stay tuned to see how this works out.
I like cake and sausage, but mincemeat I’m not so crazy about.
I’m wondering where the vegetables are. It’s almost summer, after all. Will we have tomatoes this year? Or did the Republicans successfully run off all those darn “Mexicans” who pick them for us?
© 2013 – 2016, Glynn Wilson. All rights reserved.