Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Something's Gotta Give

Dear Alabama Readers,

For those of you easily offended by coarse might wanna skip this one...I'M PISSED!

I don't know about you, but I’m sick of this whole, raw, shitty deal that we Alabamians are getting from our government. We just about have to be the most powerless people in all of the USA. No matter which way we turn the house and senate hamstring us.

Because of our antiquated constitution we don’t have home rule, so anything we want to do, like say fart, at the county level, has to waft through the legislature for their golden stamp of approval.

We don’t have Initiative & Referendum, so all of the deciding power about what we can and can't vote on is in the hands of the legislature. How do you like that? Judging by the actions of most members of the house and senate they feel you are not in any way, shape, form or fashion qualified to decide what issues you would like to vote on. You are simply too simple to understand the complexities of issues that you live first hand each and every day of your life. But, strangely you are 'smart' enough to vote for a candidate.

We don’t have recall so these sorry asses (like Phil Poole just as one example of MANY) get to serve out their remaining years and there isn’t a damn thing we can do about it, but keep paying the sorry SOB’s $50,000 (or more if they decide to vote themselves another pay raise) for three months of kindergarten antics in our State House. And they want us to pay for their health insurance too boot! I'm ready to pay to send them to the hospital...but I would pay in the form of bruised knuckles and a visit to the pokey in handcuffs....unlike Senator Charles Bishop.

There is so much that needs to be done in Alabama. This is a GREAT STATE with GREAT PEOPLE and so much potential. But the way government is set up here means if you aren't part of a huge multi-million dollar lobbying firm or you don't have millions of dollars to buy a representative or senator to push your personal legislative agenda then you might as well hang your shit up. You are nothing in the eyes of those you elected to serve you.

I know that is a harsh reality for some of you who might have taken the time to meet with your reps and senators. Yeah, I know, they smile all nice, tell you they are happy to see you, act concerned and interested about the things you tell them and then promptly forget your name the minute you walk out the least until election time anyway and they need a campaign contribution. All our elected officials do when they get elected is plot and scheme on how to get elected again…. The people be damned. The business of the state be damned. (Note: I do not feel this way about all of them and know for a fact that some of them couldn't be further from the description I've just provided.)

Most of us regular folks also don’t have ties to a large, powerful, rich lobbying firm to move the bills that are important to us and we don’t have access to millions of dollars in our personal funds to move bills ourselves. Truth be told it is hard for most of us to afford the gas right now to even go to Montgomery and visit with our elected officials.

And don't even get me started on how impossible it is to try and break into politics as a candidate not affiliated with either major party. Most regular folks I know won't even consider the possibility of running for office because it is such a NASTY business.

So….I’ve decided to sharpen my pitchfork. I can’t sit around and take another year of this shit. I can’t. I won’t. Alabama is long overdue for a little revolution. Where the hell is everyone else?

We need to put our angry, disgusted, collective heads together and figure out a plan to make our government work for us. I know many of you will say "Vote'em out!" and I will certainly do my part come 2010...but what about between now and then? And, let's be honest here, if there isn't a HUGE grassroots effort born of the people to educate voters and to recruit and support better candidates then most of the sorry dogs will be voted back in in 2010. And there we'll be...again!

I don't care what your political stripes are, what you think they are, what color you are, what bills you support, whether you support my efforts in drug policy reform or not we ALL have to come together and start plotting how to bring about better government in Alabama. This ain't cuttin it!

I'm thinking that when Governor Riley calls the special session that all of us who are able should travel to Montgomery and host a 'Special Shadow Session' of our own where we lay out what we want from our governing body and present it to them. This will be the highest form of mockery and embarrassment for members of the House and Senate.

I've found through my own political experiments that mocking the silly, smug bastards brings about the quickest change. They don't care to be humiliated in public. They are terrified of it. Take Attorney General Troy King and the blow up pig for instance. Troy's moralistic hard-on was a ragin' til he was gifted with the pig. Then he shut the hell up for the entire session about tougher anti-obscenity laws and sex toys. He didn't make so much as another peep and didn't so much as send a representative from his office down when HB12 was brought up in committee. Shame is a very powerful tool in politics. And we need to shame them so bad that 98% of them won't even seek re-election in 2010.

If we can get enough people together to hold a shadow special session then those are the kinds of things we need to do to our elected officials. Be thinking on that and what some of those actions could be. For instance...we should all get together, march into the halls of the state house, disrupt things as much as possible so nothing gets done and then demand to be paid $50,000 for our efforts....with health benefits too.

We should build a puppet of Senator Phil Poole wearing a fucking diaper and sucking on a pacifier because he was such an infant all session because he didn't get his pork last session.

Let's think of something to humiliate those senators who filibustered all session long over a silly electronic bingo bill.

Get those brain gears turning y'all...we have a lot of work to do.


Don said...

No, Loretta, we ordinary folks don’t have ties to a large, powerful, rich lobbying firm to move the bills that are important to us and we don’t have access to millions of dollars in our personal funds to move bills ourselves. However, those of us who are registered voters have something even more powerful and important to politicians ---- votes, and influence with friends, neighbors, and acquaintances who also have votes --- if enough of us will judicially use that power.

A little over 4 years ago I started “asking” office holders and office seekers to help Alabama become the 25th Initiative and Referendum state so voters can have a small voice in the government they supposedly own and certainly pay for --- including the salaries of those in the state legislature as well as all other office holders.

I, like you, found out that playing nice with politicians is an exercise in futility. I’ve decided that the only way our voices will have any effect is to change course and play hard ball with our legislators. Today I emailed a letter to the editors of around 30 state daily and less than daily newspapers and I hope I sent a copy of it to you as well. For the benefit of your numerous readers, I now take the liberty of cluttering up your blog with the text of that LTE.

“When will Alabama voters start playing hardball with legislators?
It should be obvious by now that our legislature won't pass real reform and accountability legislation, so if Alabamians want a better government they need a way to do it themselves. The tool voters need is called Initiative and Referendum (I&R), which voters in 24 states already have.

Representative Mike Ball has introduced a constitutional amendment (HB423 this year) in the past several sessions which would provide that tool if the legislature would pass it and voters approved it. The Catch-22 is that the legislature won't pass it unless a majority of members are scared they will lose all of their power by being voted out of office if they don't vote for it.

It's past time for voters to play hardball with legislators by contacting them and telling them to either work for the passage of I&R legislation in 2009 or the voter will influence as many of that legislator's constituents as possible to help defeat the legislator in 2010 and future years if they ever seek any public office again. That message should be repeated over and over until the legislator agrees to help Alabama become the 25th I&R state.”

If enough voters will read and heed what I said, we may be able to start changing things for the better. Once we obtain I&R, voters can then put a recall provision on the ballot, or anything else that enough voters feel strongly about. As Teddy Roosevelt said, “the initiative and referendum should be used, not as substitutes for representative government, but as methods of making such government really representative. Action by the initiative or referendum ought not to be the normal way of legislation; but the power to take it should be provided in the constitution, so that if the representatives fail truly to represent the people on some matter of sufficient importance to rouse popular interest, then the people shall have in their hands the facilities to make good the failure.”

Surely most Alabamians who don’t have their heads where the sun doesn’t shine realize that our legislature, in many aspects, and for far too long, has not represented us on matters we consider important. It’s up to those people to help change things.

We all have to make legislators so scared to not pass I&R legislation that they will change course and vote for it.

My suggestion as to how we can do that is on my website, “HOW YOU CAN HELP ALABAMA” @, but if someone has a better idea I hope they will tell all of the rest of us what it is.

Loretta Nall said...

What amazes me is that all of the papers and blogs are filled with angry words from voters wanting change...but none seem to be stepping forward to participate in a little pitchfork rally/shadow special session.

The people of Alabama need desperately to take to the streets in Montgomery Alabama and they need to do it now.

Much as it sickens me though they probably won't. Most of them like to just sit around and complain and fuss and maybe get a letter printed but anything beyond that seems to be out of the question.

If they don't take to the streets with me then they will get exactly what they deserve.

Don said...

Loretta, I couldn’t agree with you more. I have an antique pitchfork and if my physical condition permitted it I’d be right there beside you. Just a thought --- maybe a lot of people don’t have pitchforks, but at least they could carry a broom or a mop or a sign. Also, a lot of people might be afraid of being arrested for carrying a weapon if they carried a pitchfork.

Getting people to walk the walk instead of just talking the talk is one reason we’re in the shape we’re in today. What of the founders of this country had been the same way? We’d still be subjects of British royalty.

I’ve tried every way I know of to encourage people to become activists in a cause I believe in, with very little success. At one time I even had a page on my website saying that we were taught that “A” stands for “Apple”, and that “Alabama” contains 4 “A”s which must stand for “Alabamians Are Abjectly Apathetic”.

Loretta Nall said...

I think some arrests may be in order. Do people no longer have any courage? We have the right to bear arms to protect against a tyrannical government. Although I don't plan to use my pitchfork on anyone I think it does make a powerful statement and one that the legislature and senate needs to make note of.

If you are feeling up to it on the day this might happen then I will personally stop by and pick you up and take you to the rally. I'll bring a comfy lawn chair for you to rest your tried bones in if that will help out.

Don said...

I got carried away about pitchforks. I should have concentrated more on what you said about getting everyone together and on the same page figuring out the best course of action. I agree with that. There are grassroots groups in the state, ACCR being one, but each one has its own agenda. As just an individual I have my vision set on I&R, and I’ve attempted to convince some of the groups that I&R is the tool they need in order to reach their goals and that all the groups should band together and pursue getting I&R as they continue working on their individual goals. Two groups have seen the wisdom in that at least to the extent that they have publicly endorsed Representative Ball’s I&R legislation.

There are also some websites like Empower Alabama @ that could be contacted to see if getting people together might be feasible.

Don said...

I'll be pleased to take you up on your offer of transportation if your proposal pans out. Thanks. :-)

Don said...

Loretta, have you considered getting in touch with talk radio hosts in the state and asking them to publicize a march on Montgomery and telling people how to sign up with you if they will commit to being there? I know that Matt Murphy (Birmingham) and Dale Jackson (Huntsville) were involved in something similar a while back but they couldn’t get enough people to commit. Both of them have taken part in coming to Montgomery themselves at one time or another. Asking political bloggers to do the same thing is another idea.

Loretta Nall said...

I wrote Matt just a little bit ago. I was there when he and Dale put on the protest against the legislative pay hike in 2007. They had a good crowd. I hope they will take an interest in this or provide some alternative ideas for a rally.

I'll write Dale too.

Don said...

Lo, if you want names and email addresses of talk hosts in Tuscaloosa, Opelika/Auburn, Montgomery (2 stations), Mobile, and Dothan I think I have them. Of course don’t leaveyou’re your buddy what’s his name with Alabama Public TV in Montgomery.

Anonymous said...

Traditionally, it's unlikely that a population will ever revolt as long as they have electricity, clean drinking water, and trash collection.

No joke -- give a population these three things and you can do nearly anything you want, because the average person can exist in their own local world, safely, cleanly, and without undue odor.

mooncat said...


What would it take to organize a shadow session? I think it's a great idea and I'm willing to help.

Loretta Nall said...

That's it in a nutshell mdm. The 'It doesn't directly affect me' syndrome.

I wonder though how long people will tolerate this nonsense when they can no longer afford to put gas in their cars to get to and from work? When they have to decide between car insurance and gasoline to operate the car?

One of the only bills passed and signed by the governor this session was a bill raising the minimum amount of coverage for liability insurance. This bill was rammed through by the business council and the trial lawyers association so that they could pay out larger settlements.

How do you like that?

Loretta Nall said... me at and lets start discussing what all we could realistically pull off by the time Riley calls the special session next week.

Loretta Nall said...

I am hearing from a legislative insider that the special session of both house and senate will be called to order at 4 p.m. on Tuesday May 27. It will last a minimum of five days.

So, that gives us a little time to get organized. Here is what we need.

1. Set a date. We could do this over a period of days that they are in session or we could have just a one day event. I think having an organizer (me and whoever else can be there for an extended period) on hand for each day of the special session would be useful. It might enable people who couldn't be there one day to be there on another day.

2. People to commit to showing up. This is HUGELY IMPORTANT!! I cannot over stress how important it is. What good is a protest/rally if there are only a handful of people there?

3. A list of activities meant to shame the house and senate for wasting our time and money. Their jobs should have been done the first time around. I think those that do show up need to be willing to march into the house with me a disrupt shit so badly that we shut it down....then we demand $50,000 and health insurance benefits for our trouble. I also will begin working on a Senator Phil Poole puppet tomorrow. He'll be wearing a diaper and sucking a pacifier. We also need to create our own 'Senate Calendar' to show them what one should look like. Then we need to promptly pass the bills on our calendar to show them how it is done. They seem to need a lesson or ten in that area.

4. Signs. Lots of signs. I don't really care what they say. I am not trying to present any message other than we've had quite enough of this. There are many ways to say that. Whatever beef any citizen has with any member of the legislature should be proudly and boldly displayed on a sign.

5. Speakers from various groups who had good legislation die in the senate this year. I want someone from ACCR, Alabama Arise, Free the Hops, No2RealID, TOPS, Alabamians for Compassionate Care and the Alabama Autism Council there to speak. Even though I am wholeheartedly against the smoking ban I even invite the folks that support that to come and have their say. Who else should be there?

6. Members of the House. There are many members of the House who worked hard this year. Listening to the audio from the last night of the session it is glaringly apparent that many of them seem to be as angry as we citizens are about the way things went down and have gone down for years. I will invite all members of the House to join us and speak if they are so inclined.

7. Media coverage. I can handle that part but others participating please feel free to put out your own news releases and to encourage all of your media contacts to cover us.

8. Pitchforks - I'm serious about that. Everyone that comes needs to bring a pitchfork, or a shovel, hoe, rake, a big stick etc...we won't be using them on anyone...but we want to get the message across that if things don't change there will be war....very shortly.

9. Contributions - In the form of money (if we march in and shut things down then chances are really high that some of us will be arrested so we'll need bail money), beverages (water, juice, sodas), speakers and a microphone, a tent, tables, chairs a video camera to record the event. A whole bunch of stuff I haven't thought of.

10. I should probably get a permit....but I disagree with a permit because I think it violates my 1st Amendment right to assemble. Besides, I don't have the money for it. So, we need a vast number of people so that we outnumber any police officers trying to break up our little party.

What else do we need? Who can commit to being there? What day(s)?