Friday, April 18, 2014

Hot Dogs, Yellow Dogs, and Political Predilections

"Hot Dogs & Yellow Dogs"
Hosted by Jeff & Pam Miles
April 17, 2014
Madison, Alabama
Yellow Dog Courtesy of Frank & Sherry Weaver

One thing has been sinking in for a while, I really thought about it hard last night. I’ll get to that in a minute. Despite the fact I ended up working late, and then showed up late, last night I was able to make it to a local political meeting, Hot Dogs and Yellow Dogs, out in Madison, Alabama, at the home of Jeff and Pam Miles.

I went with the mindset that I was an interested citizen, not planning to write at all, big mistake, I write. And as many times as I think I am not going to be political and write more poetry or be creative, or something, and I do try, but I always end up back at politics. Anyway, since I had no intention of writing about it, I didn’t take pictures either. Lessons learned.

This was a mostly local, as in north Alabama, gathering, but politicians from throughout the state showed up. I am not sure the exact count, but there were around 25-30 politicians who showed up, and an estimated 130 attendees. I felt like I must have parked a half-mile away, but in reality it was probably only a quarter of a mile away. At any rate, the place was packed beyond any expectations of a Democratic political meeting in north Alabama; it could be that I am not the only one who is ready for change.

It was definitely a lively crowd, and I had a good time for sure. But I do so love a good political meeting.

Parker Griffith Ate Crow

Parker Griffith was there eating crow, I missed his speech, and wished I had got to meet him, but I did catch it on YouTube. I know he is eating a whole lot of political crow these days (something about swapping parties and then swapping back, waiting for those open arms), and I don’t even know what my opinion is on it all, but I do know we need a change in the governor’s office.

I am absolutely appalled that our current Doctor Governor absolutely refuses to sign off on the Medicaid Expansion, while we are one of the poorest states in the nation. I know, what does being poor have to do with Medicaid Expansion? A whole lot actually.

Although intellectually what Bentley says makes sense about hard working taxpayers not wanting to support lazy no account scum who are unwilling to work. Most of the poor in this state are poor because they don’t make a lot of money, not because they are lazy, not because they don’t work, and certainly not because they are scum.

Even Huntsville, where I live, which is considered one of the top economic areas in the state, if not nation, if I had to rename the place, I would call it Layoff City. Compound that with the fact that losing health care coverage happens to a whole lot of people during these layoffs; from that perspective, the ostensibly vile and repugnant Obamacare Act is very likely the best thing that ever happened to the workers in this area, especially since it is particularly prone to layoffs.

Most people don’t seem to realize that until they too are in that layoff line. You would think that the people in an area that is so reliant on the ups and downs of government contracts would be savvier on that issue. But they are too busy listening to folks they shouldn’t be listening to instead of thinking with their heads and looking to the well-being of their people.

So smack in the middle of the biggest Layoff City in one of the poorest states in the nation, Doctor Governor Bentley is bound and determined that Alabama will not have that Medicaid Expansion, which would provide coverage for the poorest of the poor in this state. We all hope we don’t hit that category, but the reality is that a whole lot of those folks were pretty hard working and not doing bad at all until they too ended up in those layoff lines.

So with all that, and back to what do you do about health care after a layoff, which this state has its share of, Bentley epitomizes the death panels that some said would come out of the Affordable Care Act (ACA), and he is a freaking doctor. I could at least understand that attitude from a banker, sort of. Anyway, those death panels didn’t come out of the ACA, they came out of the ones who were so vehemently against it, that they would rather watch the citizens in their state die for lack of care than do what needs to be done to get them to a doctor. 

I meme’d it before and I may well meme it again. I think the whole concept of death panels is morally repugnant and a blasphemy against everything that I and a whole lot of other people believe in.

And that is why I am going to support Griffith on this one; we need to get our folks covered. No matter how logical, rational and moral this Bentley philosophy about lazy takers sounds when he preaches it, a bed ridden person is not going to be able to pull themselves up by their bootstraps. At a certain level of sick, they are not going to dependably make it to the doctor either. And that is why we so desperately need the Medicaid Expansion in this state. We got a lot of sick people and we got a lot of poor people.

At the very most basic level, Griffith understands that sick people probably do not make a lot of money when they are sick, and they may very well need help getting to a doctor. Oh, Griffith is a doctor too, imagine that! A doctor who understands that people who are very sick are probably not going to be very productive while they are very sick, and they actually, may honestly, need a hand up during that time. That is what the Medicaid Expansion is about, getting poor sick folks to a doctor, not handouts for lazy player scum. And what if you weren’t poor when you got sick, but you were sick so long, you ended up poor and you still needed to go to the doctor? What happens then?

I understand that there are other issues and other candidates, I wish I could have heard them all, and anybody who knows me knows I have been very active in medical marijuana issues and efforts to end marijuana prohibition and the war on drugs, but at this point, especially with what is going on at the national level with the Affordable Care Act, I personally think that the Medicaid Expansion would very likely have the most immediate and a greater impact on the over all well-being of this state and the people in it than any other current issue or opportunity before us (everybody from the lives of the people needing the care to the people with jobs providing that care), and we all have our predilections.

I actually voted for Bentley last go around. It seemed like a good idea at the time, but the way he acts, it is like he went in with bipartisan support, but he sure doesn’t have it now. And he acts like he doesn't know that people from both sides voted for him. Best I can tell, he pretty much had the support of the whole state. That is no longer true. Despite the fact I am not honestly a yellow dog, his behavior during his term in office is very likely sending me, and a whole lot of others to the yellow dog ranks. And this is despite the fact that I have always voted for the likes of Richard Shelby in every single election where he was on the ballot and I was voting. Word has it he too was a party changer. But I always voted for him anyway.

All considered, I probably can’t blame Griffith too much for going back and forth on the parties; I have done my share as well. I have always felt like we should not be so divided by party, but I am very disillusioned these days, there are a whole lot of politicians in office these days who are more concerned with their own agenda than the good of the country, much less the people they represent.

Mark Bray

I did spend a little time at the get together meeting talking with Mark Bray, who I knew previously from my space involvements. He is running as an Independent, and although I am not certain we actually agree on all the issues, one thing we do agree on is the importance of the space program to this country. Aerospace, both private and government (NASA), is vitally important to the future well-being of our country. It is vitally important to a whole lot of people in this area too, and I think he has a good grasp that a balance is needed between all related government and commercial efforts. For no other reason than he could do some honest good for the space program, I will support Mark Bray’s efforts. He still needs signatures on a petition to get on the ballot though.

Reggie Hill

One of the younger candidates I was able to spend a few minutes talking to was Reggie Hill, also an Independent. Although he is very young, he impressed me because he was keyed into some of the issues that I think are really important not just to the well-being of the people in this state, but to the long-term good of this country. He didn’t just stand up and say that we need change, he talked about the issues that he felt were important and he demonstrated a pretty firm understanding of those issues. Hill’s issues included mass incarceration and the war on drugs. Anybody who knows me knows how I feel about those issues, which is precisely why I am mentioning him here. I surely wish him well and will try to lend support to his efforts in these areas. 

 Speech by Horace Clemmons

The Attendees

I want to take a minute and list the attending candidates who were on the roster. There were a couple no-shows, and maybe a couple who did not make the roster. This is what I got though, and then I have my own concluding remarks. 
  • Parker Griffith – candidate Governor 
  • Kevin Bass – candidate Governor
  • James Fields – candidate Lt. Governor
  • Joe Hubbard - candidate Attorney General
  • Miranda Joseph – candidate State Auditor (no show)
  • Doug Smith – candidate Commissioner of Agriculture & Industry
  • Mike Curtis – candidate State Senate District 1
  • Earl Gardner - candidate State Senate District 1
  • Angelo "Doc" Mancuso - candidate State Senate District 4
  • Rose Gaskin – candidate State Senate District 7
  • Mitchell Howie – candidate State Senate District 7 (no show)
  • Horace Clemmons – candidate State Senate District 8
  • Randy Money - candidate State Senate District 8
  • Darrell Turner – candidate State Senate District 13
  • Patrick Jones - candidate State House of Representatives District 21
  • Anthony Daniels - candidate State House of Representatives District 53
  • Patrick Douglass – candidate Madison County Tax Assessor
  • Lynda Hall – incumbent/candidate Madison Tax Collector
  • Tim Clardy – candidate Madison County Sheriff
  • Sheriff Mike Blakely – re-election Limestone County
  • Mark Bray – Independent candidate for Congress District 5 
  • Reggie Hill – Independent candidate for Congress District 5 

A Wrap

Since I was finishing up on a work assignment, I got there later than I would have liked and did not get to hear all the speeches. And I went with no intent whatsoever of writing. One thing really sank in though, even when I am in groups where I know that there is a lot of common ground, I am probably not going to agree with everybody there, and I am not going to support a candidate who is not firm in their beliefs as to why they are going into politics or running for any given office. 

Wanting to be a politician is not good enough. I want to know what they are going to work for. I want to know what they believe in. We don't need more career politicians in politics; we need more citizens who understand real life problems of everyday people in politics. We need people who are honestly working toward change in politics; that is what we really need.

Nonetheless, I was impressed with a lot of what I heard. It gives me hope to see new people stepping into the political arena. Being real, there were also a few that I already marked off my list, and just because they were not mentioned here doesn’t mean they are marked off, it meant I got there late and didn’t get to hear, much less talk to everybody.

For a long time, with various of my editorial assignments, I was really more involved and aware on a national than a state and local level, I am not sure if the last months haven't been a coming home, as much as an awareness that if you don’t have good roots, that tree is not going to be standing for long. I’m from Alabama, it’s my home. It is also the home of my family. We’ve been here for a very long time. We’re not going anywhere.

My Take

Some things sound one way when you talk, but the reality is very different. I guess I’m back on Bentley, and he wasn’t even there. Talking the talk about the lazy takers on welfare, when the reality is that most of the ones on assistance are working, or at home bedridden, but the takers really do get the attention. It could be because they can be so very loud and we know one or two of them. But now that attitude has transferred to Medicaid Expansion, and that is chilling, we are talking about denying people in serious need of health care the care that they need to get back on their feet, physically, while our Doctor Governor declares sick people lazy. How can a doctor not know better than that?

I am aghast what this has come to. That people in real need are put to such incredible shame. It could be that they are not so visible as the players and takers, probably because they are working all the time, if not flat out bedridden. That attitude hurts every person in our state. It surely hurts the ones who suffer in humiliation because they really are in need, when it would have cost so little in comparison to get them back on their feet.

But on a greater scale, it costs the taxpayers a whole lot more than it ever should have, because instead of increasing our ranks of healthy prosperous tax-paying citizens, we are kicking them while they are down, and being kicked when you are down does not lead the way to prosperity, it leads the way to ever greater poverty and despair. I don’t care what you call it or how you label it politically, that is what Bentley is doing. And it’s doesn’t work. Not only that, it’s wrong, and any person with a shred of moral decency knows that.

We got a long way to go in Alabama, and to get there, we really are going to have to work together and look toward the health, education, prosperity, and well-being of every single citizen in this state. This is not about being liberal or conservative, Republican, Democrat, or even Independent; it is because for every one of our citizens who prospers, the whole state does that much better. That should be a no brainer. When we all work together as a people, we all as a people do better. Instead of taking from the table, many of the ones who are now sick and poor among us would also be able to contribute to its abundance. It is not about entitlement for the few, it is about health, prosperity and well-being for us all. 

PS: Two years ago as of this get together, April 17, 2012, I had a freak accident, choking, torn esophagus, landed me in the hospital for right at a month, went back twice, bedridden for months. I don’t actually know anybody who has spent that much time on that many tubes and lived to tell it. I was going to write something philosophically uplifting to commemorate the two year survival anniversary that I am still alive. I went to a political meeting instead.And this was my take-away.

Copyright 2014 Regina Garson


  1. Thank you Regina. We all need to do what we can to make our future better for all citizens. Many like you are Alabamians several generations with several following. We all need to work for that future that we want it to be. It was great meeting you. Good blog also :) ~Rose Gaskin

  2. Thanks, Regina. I, too, enjoyed chatting with so many candidates. I am particularly impressed with James Fields. I liked Lynda Hall’s remarks too. If the auditors can’t find anything wrong with a Tax Collector’s records, she is obviously doing the job we elected her to do! Also, it will be a travesty if a candidate with the years of experience Patrick Douglass has in the Tax Assessor’s office loses to a realtor, we’ll know that the only thing that matters to voters in this County is the letter after the name!

  3. Thank you all for the comments. It does help to get other folk's take aways from the session and being able to talk to folks as well. Everybody is definitely welcome to add their comments. I think it is helpful.