Every week at Reran Tragedy, Editor-in-Chief Cal Alabaster Jr. draws on his considerable experience in Southern politics to round up news, notes, and blatantly pasted-in press releases that readers may have otherwise missed.
MONTGOMERY — Alabama legislators return to Montgomery this week following their spring break, and members of the still relatively new Republican majority do so with great concern.
They say they are starting to wonder whether Alabama’s many and great structural and fundamental problems—as a government and a society—can be solved by their majority’s relentless tax breaks and morality-preaching legislative agenda.
“We’ve clearly made great strides from where the Democrats left things,” Speaker Mike Hubbard said. “But they didn’t really do anything. At all. And it’s not like they were unkind to corporations or not tossin’ Christ about left and right, except for [Sen. Roger Bedford, D-Russellville] and his Satanic rituals of course. So if doing something is a basic improvement, how do we know that what we’re doing is the right thing for Alabama at all?”
“As a member of both Democratic and Republican majorities down here, this has been by far the most productive group I’ve ever been a part of,” said Sen. Gerald Dial, R-Lineville, while he was filing a bill that would ban oral sex despite a Supreme Court ruling rendering laws such as his measure unconstitutional.
Dial also was preparing a companion bill that would somehow “create jobs” by offering millions in state tax subsidies to companies that somehow deter Alabamians from performing or enjoying oral sex.
“But our productivity as a Legislature is leading toward what exactly?” he asked. “Sure, we’ve given a lot of big companies tax breaks, but the economy really doesn’t feel all that much better and I don’t know that many more people who’ve went back to work. Makes you wonder whether we’ve hit the right path.”
Facing down the state’s lawmakers are massive budget deficits. Huge cuts, if not outright elimination of government services have been proposed to make up the gaps. By sending state workers onto unemployment rolls and further fraying the state’s already hole-ridden social safety net that has been overloaded during a prolonged recession, leaders could frustrate the state’s economic recovery by going through with the cuts.
Still, that prospect is far more palatable to Republican leaders than raising revenue by evening out the state’s quite giving tax system. They think.
“Raise taxes? Hell, I’m doin’ the damn opposite, tossin’ out tax dollars to anybody who comes dressed up in a suit and sounds like they at least formed a freakin’ LLC,” said Rep. Barry Mask, R-Wetumpka, who has sponsored tax giveaways to large corporations who probably don’t even need them to create jobs in the state. “Sure, I wonder whether what I’m doin’ is the right thing. Hell, we might have to leave the disabled kids in a ditch in Florida by the time this session’s over. But hell, I don’t know no better way of doin’ things. Because there isn’t one, is there?”
Sen. Phil Williams, R-Rainbow City, has filed or sponsored several moralistic bills, including the Alabama “personhood” amendment and an attempt to make some divorces harder to obtain. He said he is beginning to have some doubts too.
“I just filed bills that would ban sex that could harm the life of a sperm and keep women from wearing any sort of undergarment that had not been sniffed by a preacher to see if it’s got the Devil in it—because obviously we don’t want the Devil in Alabama women’s sacred and untouched birthing canals,” he said. “But yet, I wonder sometimes. It’s not like the kids have got any shortage of people telling them that Jesus is good and the Devil is bad. And we keep paying employers instead of doing more to get high-level skills that workers need to get good jobs, even if they’re not white color jobs. Are we doing the right thing?
“Maybe it’s just the Devil getting into my head. I knew I should have had Brother Mike take a whiff of that fedora.”
Bedford said that if Democrats were still in charge, they would be running things much differently.
“Well, we’d goof around and ignore all the problems and then pass a budget near the end, all the while finding cushy do-nothing jobs for ourselves and generally doing whatever we needed to do to get re-elected—probably toss some money at some corporations or someone who creates ‘ jobs’ and do something that shows the voters think we really love Jesus like they done do,” said Bedford as he drew a pentagram in chalk in a committee room while an unsuspecting goat munched on some hay in a cage nearby.
“That’s what we call legislatin’ here in Alabama.”
Black Birmingham family dies while City Council passes resolutions honoring black children wronged or killed in other states
The Birmingham City Council last week briefly suspended all city services while honoring black people who have been wronged or killed in other states, in the process letting a black family die in a raging fire in Ensley.
The Council first voted to suspend all city services until it was done passing a series of resolutions honoring black residents who have been wronged by government entities in other states over the past year, with a final vote at the bottom of its agenda reactivating the city government.
Around the same time, an electrical fire broke out at an Ensley apartment complex that was never properly inspected by city officials. One black family became trapped when part of the structure collapsed. As flames moved in, a frustrated firefighter who came in his own vehicle alerted the family as to what was happening.
“Oh God,” shouted Janet Reagan, 44, a mother of four, out of her apartment window to the firefighter. “Why don’t they just suspend the rules and move things up? We’re going to die!”
Yet the Birmingham City Council had just passed a resolution locking the doors to the council chamber and refusing any information from the outside world—including pressing public dangers to Birmingham residents—in response to the plight of black schoolchildren in Illinois whose complaints were ignored for a month when a science teacher suspended his lesson plans and exclusively read posts on the white supremacist site Stormfront during class time.
Reagan then asked if the fire trucks would at least reach her family quickly as the flames seemed to be closing in faster. Unfortunately, the Council had ordered the trucks to be quartered in Chilton County in solidarity with the family of a young black girl who was struck by a fire truck in New Jersey and ignored by firefighters who were speeding to battle a small brush fire in a white neighborhood.
The girl was also made an honorary citizen of Birmingham, for some reason.
“What? That doesn’t make any sense!” Reagan shouted out the window. “Why don’t you just take steps at home to try not be quite as much of unfair assholes to black people and make sure your services in a majority black city are actually competent? All you do by standing around and making dead people ‘honorary citizens’ is shout ‘I’d rather people look at my ass instead of actually quietly taking steps to solve problems like these at home.’
“Oh my God, the flames are getting closer! Help us! Somebody please help us!”
The Council slowly but surely moved through its agenda. Finally, just before the Council could vote to reinstate city services, Councilor Carole Smitherman decided to give a 15-minute soliloquy about the importance of government doing what it can to help black people.
“Are you kidding me?” Reagan yelled. “No one cares what Carole Smitherman sa—!”
The roof then collapsed, killing Reagan and her family.
Alabamians react to the consideration of a health care law they don’t understand by a Supreme Court they don’t understand
Alabamians had no damn idea what was going on last week when the Supreme Court considered the constitutionality of the health care law that a Democratic Congress passed two years ago at the president’s behest.
But that did not stop them from commenting on it.
“I hope that when Mutant Law Jesus, when he done come down from his mountain of horses where they keep him and the Constitution locked up, drags the son-of-a-bitchin’ law out in the damn street and burns the tar out of it,” said Keith Matthews, 51, a Limestone County tile plant worker who would actually benefit from the law because it prevents insurers from denying him coverage because of his pre-existing heart condition. “I don’t want no government hosing me down with pig feces because I didn’t want to get a flu shot because I don’t like kissin’ my doctor’s fat ass. Why they keep making laws that don’t serve nobody but people who like hurting poor people like myself?”
Those from traditionally Democratic areas of the state were somewhat more supportive.
“I don’t think I like government sayin’ who gets herpes, but I am happy that they are going to pay me for not getting sick,” said Katrina Shaker, 27, a Fairfield doctor’s office secretary who has no idea what the law really does. “That seems like it’ll be nice. I can’t wait to vote on the Supreme Court’s ruling.”
Still, many said they would be happy if the Supreme Court struck the law down.
“I got the foot warts, and I don’t like the government sending a death panel to kill me or paying for abortions just because I can’t get rid of the foot warts,” said Jean-Marie Hartsock, 37, a Bay Minette housewife who also does not really know what the law does. “Whoever has got their hands on your foot warts has got their hands on you and what you can do, and I’m glad that the Supreme Court is going to ban gay marriage by rewriting the Constitution to make sure that doesn’t happen.”
This week in Alabama history
On April 1, 1862, Gov. John Gill Shorter issued an order banning the production of hard alcohol in Confederate Alabama. He proclaimed that alcohol makers were “converting food necessary to sustain our armies and people into poison to demoralize and destroy them.”
And that’s why Shorter is remembered as an asshole.
Reran Tragedy is Weld’s satirical blog about politics and life in Alabama and the South. Much of what you will read here is fictionalized, except for all the parts that are unfortunately true because they are about politics and life in Alabama and the South. You can like this blog on Facebook.
The artist known as Cal Alabaster Jr., if that is his or her real name, may or may not also be the author of the Alabama humor blog called “King Cockfight.” If true, you may read Cal’s work there at kingcockfight.wordpress.com. You can also follow Cal on Twitter @KingCockfight or email Cal at firstname.lastname@example.org.