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Like a strong acid, Special Interest politics is powerfully corrosive. A basically good man with basically good beliefs, if he does not hold these beliefs with depth and strength of conviction, will not encounter it unscathed. It will change him for the worse and do it with surprising quickness. Governor Bob Riley, unfortunately, fits this description.
There are men who resist being charmed into orbit as a little satellite by the strong gravitational pull of Special Interests. They are able to withstand it, because they operate by principles. They are guided by a clear understanding and firm commitment to what is right. What is right determines the ends they seek and the means they use to reach them.
Those who succumb to Special Interests become enslaved in its system like the rotating planets unable to escape the power of the sun. Such a pitiful fate is the result of men who operate by pragmatism. In other words, they are guided by whatever works to achieve their goals, whether right or wrong. In fact, a pragmatist's definition of what is right is whatever is effective in accomplishing his plans. Pragmatists, of course, are aware of society's standards and can show great ingenuity in concealing their real agenda while playing along with what is acceptable. A veteran pragmatist is usually a cold-blooded calculator fully aware of his deceitfulness. A beginner, however, is in denial about what he is doing, justifying himself with all kinds of excuses. The truth is exposed, though, by certain principles essential to pragmatism. These identify a man as part of the Special Interests system whether he admits it to himself or not. Three of these practices have been used by Governor Riley in dealing with the issue of taxes.
The first practice is using words strictly as tools to get a desired result without regard for their truthfulness. Though one man cannot see into another man's heart, the intent of the heart is revealed by what is done. Riley's desired result was winning the votes of conservative Alabamians who felt strongly that the state took too much of their hard-earned money in taxes. Riley promised what they wanted: tax cuts and no tax increases. He won their support and won the election. Whether he admits it to himself or not, Riley's words were nothing but tools to get what he wanted. There was no intention of conveying truth to his listeners, only manipulating their thoughts to his own advantage. This is no baseless charge. What Riley did after elected is evidence that it is true. In the earliest months of his term He tried to raise income taxes, unsuccessfully, thank goodness. In his determination to get more money from the citizens, however, he instituted a yearly reappraisal of property taxes, changing it from every four years. The public does not seem aware yet of how much their tax burden will increase by this action. It is hoped they will realize before the primary elections.
An anecdote heard this week suggests that this might happen. An Alabama couple had a Riley for Governor sign in their yards at the request of a good friend. When they received their property tax bill, it had gone from $1300 to $2400. They took down the Riley sign, got a Judge Roy Moore sign from a Roy Moore supporter and put it up instead. Saying anything needed to get elected and doing the opposite when in office is an identifying trait of a Special Interest player.
The second practice has to do with relationships. A Special Interest player will disregard a man's views, character, motives, history - everything, if he believes that the man can help him achieve his goal of some personal benefit.
In a boastful tone, Senator Hank Sanders of Selma - much will be said about him shortly - wrote in the Demopolis Times on April 3rd how he and Representative John Knight helped bring together Governor Riley and Paul Hubbert - also the focus of later pages - to work out the details of the tax cut bill recently passed. If that sounds innocent or commendable, you are not seeing the picture clearly. Letting Paul Hubbert craft a tax cut bill is like contracting with the fox to build a safe chicken house. An alliance with Hubbert is to be in partnership with a bitter opponent of everything that Republicans champion. He is a staunch Democrat catering to liberals and the worst kind of left wing activists. He loves big government and big taxes.
What, in the name of Ronald Reagan, was Governor Riley doing submitting to be desecrated and eviscerated - gutted - at the hands of Paul Hubbert something as sacred to Republican beliefs as a tax cut bill?
It is a cavil - meaning, an empty argument - to claim such a compromise was necessary to get the bill passed. Republicans expect a Republican governor to present legislation faithful to Republican positions, then fight hard to get it through. They expect compromise to be a final resort not a first choice, and if it comes down to compromising, they expect their leader to hold with tenacity every Republican point, going only so far and no further, letting the thing die rather than letting it morph into something pleasing to the opposition.
What, after all, made this bill absolutely necessary? From a conservative perspective, it was not necessary, for it accomplishes virtually no Republican goals. Governor Riley is no fool, however, and he saw some benefit in the bill's passage. Since the bill does not advance the conservative and Republican agenda, it is reasonable to suggest that, perhaps, it is Riley's agenda of personal benefit that is advanced, some quid-pro quo hidden from the public, in which case, Special Interests beat the people out of their democracy one more time.
The third practice takes the facts of what has actually occurred and manipulates them into whatever deception is to the manipulator's greatest advantage. A current campaign blitz triumphantly states that Governor Riley fulfilled his promise of a tax cut to Alabamians. A polite way to describe such a claim is to call it misleading, but let us dispense with politeness and be mere blunt: it is a lie, one way or the other.
If the tax cut crafted by Riley and Hubbert was what he was planning when he made the promise - for only by doing what one intended can a promise be kept - then the promise itself was deceptive. The great multitude of Alabamians who carry almost the total tax burden believed he was promising tax relief to them. The Riley-Hubbert bill, however, is so anemic, and limited to the very lowest incomes in its impact, that this great multitude was virtually ignored. Paul Hubbert made sure of that, and Riley apparently agreed. When conservative Alabamians elected a Republican governor to cut taxes, they were not thinking in the paltry terms characterized by the bill that was passed.
If, on the other hand, Riley planned real tax relief for all Alabamians when he made his promise - and newspapers quote him as saying he wanted something bigger - how can he claim he fulfilled that promise, for he most certainly did not?
A little more pondering leads to a distasteful conclusion. The ads claiming Riley kept his tax cut promise were not done rashly. They were made with careful calculation and ran only when Riley and his camp were confident they would help him get re-elected. That means they calculated that Alabama's voters were ignorant enough, gullible enough and unthinking enough to swallow their deception hook, line and sinker. Are they right or wrong? The answer will be known from the results of the upcoming election. What is already known is this: such an arrogant, superior attitude toward Alabama's people should fill every one of them with righteous indignation.
That is all for the governor's office. We move on to take a look at the legislature. Brace yourself.
Can Roy Moore of Alabama take on these special interests?
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The words of the covenant are the Ten Commandments
The Ten Commandments were in the Ark of the Covenant, written on stone tablets. They are the only verses that we are commanded to post in our homes (Deuteronomy 6:9). Therefore, the Ten Commandments is the most important passage of Scripture.
Requirements to keep the Ten Commandments
Deuteronomy 11:18-23, 26-28
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