29 Aug 2014
By Brandon Moseley
Alabama Political Reporter
U.S. Representative Martha Roby (R) from Montgomery commented on the growing threat that ISIS, the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria, poses to the United States.
Rep. Roby said in a written statement, “I am deeply concerned about the growing threat posed by ISIS, and so are my constituents. I have reviewed footage and photographs of innocent men, women, and children being crucified and beheaded, including the beheading of American journalist James Foley. When the tactics ISIS uses are so brutal that al Qaeda denounces them, we are talking about a next-level terrorist ideology. Even worse, this group is well-funded, well-organized and has demonstrated military-style skills and discipline.”
Congresswoman Roby said, “I agree with General Dempsey, the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, who said, ‘This is an organization that has an apocalyptic, end-of-days strategic vision which will eventually have to be defeated.’...We must prepare to take decisive military action to combat the threat ISIS poses. I look to our battle-tested military leaders to craft a strategically-wise course of action and to President Obama to command accordingly. Certainly, limited air strikes in Iraq have slowed ISIS's progress. However, it is clear more will be required to end this threat.”
Rep. Roby said, “This situation also emphasizes the need to secure our borders. I have long warned of the terrorism risk that exists with a porous border. Reports that these terrorists could have access to Western passports show how real that risk is.”
“As always, the United States must learn from the past. Appeasing groups that seek a cultural, religious or ethnic ‘cleansing’ only emboldens them. ISIS is killing anyone who does not conform to its bastardized, barbaric form of Islam, and they will not stop unless they are ended...At the same time, the hollowing of our military forces has left us in a depleted state of military readiness. I believe the confluence of our misguided foreign policy and compromised military readiness has contributed to this problem festering and growing to the point that we are now threatened.”
The conservative congresswoman said that, “American must lead in the world, ensuring peace through strength.”
According to original reporting by Fox News, Reuters and the Associated Press, over the weekend, assisting joint efforts by the Iraqi Army and Kurdish Peshmerga fighters to retake the Mosul dam, the largest in Iraq.
If ISIS were to control the dam, they could intentionally open the gates and send a wave of floodwater into the nearby cities of Irbil and Mosul, meaning the dam must be in allied hands before any serious effort to retake Mosul, the second largest city in Iraq.
Kurdish Gen. Tawfik Desty said his troops now control the eastern part of the dam and that fighting continues. ISIS took the dam on August 7 following their capture of Mosul in June, The Kurds told Fox News that they have also retaken the town of Teleskof, in northern Iraq, and a few other surrounding villages.
ISIS also massacred dozens of Yazidi men in the town of Sinjar on Saturday and kidnapped their wives and children. U.S. drones captured footage of the massacres.
The Islamic militant group believes that the Yazidis are devil worshippers.
Iraqi and Yazidi leaders told Reutes that ISIS has buried Yazidi men alive, killed children and kidnapped women to be slaves. The Kurds claim that over 500 of the Kurdish speaking religious minority were killed following ISIS’s taken of Sinjar.
Also troubling are reports of Americans who have joined ISIS. Two American ISIS fighters have reportedly been killed in fighting in Syria and some reports claim that as many as 300 Americans may have joined the barbaric terrorist group, which has threatened to launch massacres in the United States.
Congresswoman Martha Roby represents Alabama’s Second Congressional District.
29 Aug 2014
By Representative Bradley Byrne (AL-1)
As college football season rolls around, people are starting to show their school pride. From the Crimson Tide to the Auburn Tigers to our newest team, the South Alabama Jaguars, there is a lot of excitement over football season. But is there the same level of excitement for what is happening in our college classrooms?
In lower Alabama, we are blessed with many great institutions of higher learning. Mobile is home to the University of South Alabama, Spring Hill College, and the University of Mobile. We also have Columbia Southern, an online university based in Orange Beach.
For some reason, when we talk about higher education, we too often forget about our state’s strong two-year college system. Here in Southwest Alabama, we have Bishop State in Mobile, Faulkner State in Bay Minette, Alabama Southern in Monroeville, and Jefferson Davis in Brewton.
I strongly believe that having a flourishing system of higher education is the key to economic prosperity. I can’t stress enough how important Alabama’s institutions of higher learning are to our continued progress on economic development. The top question of any prospective employer is almost always the same: “Does Alabama have the skilled workforce to sustain our business?”
We need the specialty skilled engineers that are trained at our four-year universities, but, just as importantly, we also need the community college-trained specialty workers. One is no more important than the other. Our four-year colleges must work together with our community colleges, and even our high schools, to make sure they are all meeting the needs of the workforce.
That’s why last week I convened a meeting of higher education presidents and administrators from our area to talk about issues ranging from accreditation to paying student-athletes to financial aid reform. As former chancellor of Alabama’s two-year college system, I have always been a strong proponent of higher education, and I understand many of the unique challenges our colleges and universities face.
Currently, Congress is in the process of reauthorizing the federal legislation that governs our nation’s higher education system, known as the Higher Education Act. The legislation, which was first signed into law back in 1965, requires updating through a process known as reauthorization about every five years. The legislation was last reauthorized in 2008.
As Alabama’s only member on the House Committee on Education and the Workforce, I have taken an active role in the reauthorization process. Instead of passing one large bill, we have instead focused on a piecemeal approach of smaller, more manageable bills that address some of the challenges facing our colleges and universities.
From simplifying the federal financial aid process to reducing the accessibility gap, our approach strives to get the federal government out of the way and provide targeted support. Just as with our K-12 education system, our educators and administrators are having to spend too much time complying with federal mandates instead of actually preparing our workforce. I am working to change that culture of bureaucracy.
So, just as our state is known for outstanding performance on the football field, I want us to be known equally as well for our hard work in the classroom. A strong higher education system breeds a strong economy, and that has never been truer than it is today.
-Representative Bradley Byrne (AL-1)
28 Aug 2014
By Lee Hedgepeth
Alabama Political Reporter
WASHINGTON, D.C. – Baker Hostetler, the law firm that authored the memo exposing the money funneling scheme between officials in the Republican State Leadership Committee, a national GOP PAC, and Speaker of the Alabama House – then ALGOP chairman – Mike Hubbard, will now take on a new, even more high profile role: suing the President of the United States.
David Rivkin, a partner at the D.C.-based law firm, has been chosen as the primary lawyer in moving forward with a suit against U.S. President Barack Obama, authorized by a vote of the House of Representatives earlier this month.
According to officials with Speaker of the U.S. House John Boehner, the five month contract with Baker Hostetler authorizes $500 an hour for legal services provided, up to a cost cap of $350,000.
The suit authorized by the House stems from concerns that President Obama has overstepped his Executive authority through the use of Executive actions, administrative orders taken without the approval of Congress.
He has garnered particular criticism for some of these Executive orders which, have allowed for delays in, for example, the implementation of certain provisions of the Affordable Health Care Act. These actions, some say, constitute a legally unsupported denial to enforce the law.
Rivkin, who will now represent the House in the suit, has publicly laid out his expansive theory in relation to this purported overreach in power in previous lectures, likely a factor in the decision to hire his firm.
That theory was essentially summed up in a statement released by the House Administration Committee Chairwoman when the announcement of the choice of counsel was made:
“No President is above nor should operate beyond the limits of the Constitution,” she said....The House of Representatives, using regular order and the powers that the Constitution has provided, calls upon our government's system of checks and balances and ask the judicial branch to examine the President's failure to faithfully execute the laws.”
Baker Hostetler was the firm chosen by the Republican State Leadership Committee to investigate the groups relationship with Alabama politician Mike Hubbard, which they determined to be “politically toxic” and likely “illegal.”
29 Aug 2014
By Brandon Moseley
Alabama Political Reporter
Alabama Lt. Governor Kay Ivey (R) has announced that she has launched a tour of Alabama military installations.
Lt. Gov. Ivey said in a written statement, “My time in office can be characterized by my efforts to support our military. Strengthening our military assets has been a primary pillar of my service. I have long been an ardent patriot and supporter of our military men and women. My father, an Army officer, fought on the battlefields in Europe during World War II. Throughout my years in public service, I have encouraged our youth to become citizen leaders and serve their communities, State, and Nation. Like most Alabamians, patriotism is one of my core values.”
Lt. Gov. Iveny is the Chair of the Jobs Creation and Military Stability Commission (MSC) which is tasked with developing a coordinated, statewide approach to protecting and strengthening Alabama’s military bases so we don’t lose bases from the anticipated next round of Base Realignment and Closure (BRAC) cuts.
Lt. Gov. Ivey said, “Alabama is home to four major military installations: Maxwell Air Force Base, Ft. Rucker Army Post, Anniston Army Depot, and Redstone Arsenal. Nearly 12,000 active duty members, 22,000 Reserve and National Guard personnel, and more than 420,000 veterans live in Alabama. In these times of persistent conflict, the Department of Defense looks to Alabama to complete missions that are vital to our Nation’s overall defense strategy. Our service men and women have answered the call time and time again.”
The Conservative Lt. Governor continued, “Military in our State is not only critical to our national security, but it’s a major economic engine. And like any engine, it needs maintenance. Local communities surrounding the military installations and State leaders have a great responsibility to maintain and retain the military’s interests and secure those assets. MSC started from the ground up. We assembled a group of top-notch retired military officers, local officials, business leaders, and state lawmakers. Now for the first time, military officials, the business community, and State leaders are communicating in an intentional and strategic way.”
Ivey said that she has recently launched a tour of several military installations, including Guard and Reserve units. These trips are focused on meeting with leadership and studying and discussing the critical needs of Alabama’s military bases. Ivey said that there’s no replacement for first-hand experience and face-to-face communication.
Ivey wrote in her statement, “I began the tour at the 908th Airlift Wing at Maxwell Air Force Base where I met with Wing Commander Colonel Adam Willis and other key leadership. The 908th has an impressive 50-year history and is strategically located to carry out combat support and humanitarian missions on a workhorse of an aircraft, the C-130. The 908th generates a $69.3 million economic impact and employs 1,200 people. Typical of military units, it’s a well-oiled machine. Airmen take great care and personal pride in their work, and it shows. I enjoyed meeting the C-130 pilots and navigators and exploring the giant aircraft. It’s no wonder the C-130 has been in continuous production longer than any other military aircraft. It’s truly a marvel of American ingenuity and engineering that has stood the test of time.”
The C-130 can transport utility helicopters, armored vehicles, personnel, wounded, and standard palletized cargo up to 42,000 pounds to and from combat or natural disaster zones utilizing less than desirable runways or airdrop its load directly to U.S. forces.
Col. Willis showed Ivey the aging control tower and hangars that need improvement. The condition and capabilities of facilities are important factor in the BRAC process, where Congress and the Pentagon decide whether a state gets to keep its military base or not.
Ivey said, “The C-130 is important to the 908th and the 908th is important to Alabama. The MSC is committed to providing the 908th with the support it needs to continue its mission. Over the next few months, I will visit other military installations and I look forward to reviewing their needs. Congress has not decided when it will authorize the next round of BRAC, but we are on the right track to be ready when it does.”
For the last five years, the United States has been cutting its defense capabilities and hollowing out its force anticipating peace in the Middle East that never actually comes. U.S. armed forces are currently engaged in Iraq fighting ISIS and providing aid to refugees. A smaller force needs fewer military bases.
Lt. Governor Kay Ivey his running for a second term. Her opponent in the November General Election is former Cullman State Representative James Fields (D).
28 Aug 2014
By Lee Hedgepeth
Alabama Political Reporter
MONTGOMERY – In a letter dated August 27, the Office of Attorney General Luther Strange notified State Representative and Democratic candidate for AG Joe Hubbard that they will not be providing a response to a legal question for which Hubbard had asked for an official AG's opinion.
Rep. Hubbard, D-Montgomery, had asked for an official AG opinion on the legality of transfers from one political campaign committee to another, a practice that has come to light within the ALGOP in the last few day with the disbursement of funds left from the campaign coffers of now retired Congressman Jo Bonner.
Over the last year, Bonner's principal campaign committee, of no use to him any longer, is dispensing its funds to state GOP candidates.
Hubbard's legal understanding, however, was that such transfers violate the PAC-to-PAC transfer ban signed into law by former Governor Bob Riley, so he requested a formal opinion.
Instead of a formal opinion, Hubbard received a letter from the AG's office claiming they had no legitimate duty to issue an opinion based on his request.
“Legislators are not among the public officials entitled to receive opinions... As a courtesy to legislators, this Office has given opinions to legislators if there is some nexus between the question posed and a perceived legislative duty,” the letter reads.
“Your present question does not appear to be one under which we can give a formal opinion. I regret that I will be unable to provide you with an opinion on this matter,” it concluded.
Notably, Representative Hubbard brought to the forefront an earlier contribution to Attorney General Strange that appeared to be funneled through a charitable nonprofit, a charge Strange denied, though the money was returned out of an “abundance of caution” by the Strange campaign.
Strange will face Hubbard in the November elections.