Wednesday, April 04, 2007

Outlander of the Day ~ Rep. Richard Laird

While we could go with Rep. DuWayne Bridges just as easily, that Christian Soldier was named OOTD some days back. Both Richard Laird and DuWayne Bridges are quoted in the reporting of AP's Bob Johnson regarding the failure of Rep. Thomas Jackson, D-Thomasville, to get a vote on his legislation which would allow gourmet beer to finally be sold in Alabama. Since Alabama currently limits alcohol content to 6% for beer, these expensive beers are hard to come by here in Alabama.

I'll share some quotes from Mr. Johnson's reporting but I'll point out that DuWayne is a Republican rather than a Democrat. While Richard Laird is officially a Democrat most everyone knows this is in name only. DINO is certainly applicable.

I can't see us doing something that's going to encourage people to drink more and get drunk faster," said Rep. DuWayne Bridges, D-Valley. Bridges said the measure would increase the problem of teenagers drinking by making more potent brew available to them. "Our children don't need to increase their alcohol consumption," Bridges said.

Jackson said the bill would allow the sales of gourmet and imported beers, but would not change the alcohol content in most American made beers."Budweiser will still be Budweiser. Miller will still be Miller. That's what the kids drink," Jackson said. He said most of the beers that would be affected are expensive, costing as much as $7 a beer.

But Rep. Richard Laird, D-Roanoke, said young people would still find a way to drink the stronger beer."The only thing this bill will do is just get our young people dead a whole lot faster," Laird said.

Here's the link to some audio of these two moral and intellectual giants of East Alabama. The link also shows some stubborn facts that destroy what Laird and Bridges are claiming. Listening is good but listening while you read is even better. The Laird-Bridges "reasoning" goes something like this:
Laird: Prohibition was bad. Those antiquated laws have a foundation in the law ... That's the Bible ... It's bad enough we have beer sales even at 6%. I haven't read the proposed legislation.

Bridges: 30% of fatalities in Alabama are alcohol related and if this passes it could go up to 60%. Why do we have to be like forty six other states? Being backwards is a positive. I don't know what you said but you're wrong.

First of all, that 30% figure that Rep. Bridges is using seems to have been pulled out of his behind. I can find little that would suggest that's anywhere near accurate yet maybe he's talking of traffic fatalities. I figured tobacco and obesity and cancer and ... might be a larger concern for our state. Wonder if DuWayne sells cigarettes and greasy food at his truck stop? I think all but the most reactionary of Alabama's citizens know there is plenty that other states are doing that we ought to emulate. Many have for instance have a lower alcohol fatality figure and have gourmet beers available. Facts are truly stubborn things!

Rep. Laird and Rep. Bridges have simply let their fundamentalism interfere with their functioning. Neither is down in Montgomery to carry out their views on scripture. Even if they would vote against the bill once on the floor to simply help prevent it from coming up for a vote is truly poor form. I'd also expect that their morality as to poor people, fairness, etc. gets put aside when their Big Mule backers need them to vote a certain way. Let's find out where Mr. Laird and Mr. Bridges stand on Constitutional reform. If they are against reform, then we'll know the score.

Also, as a sorry sinner that knows a fair amount about beer and other spirits, plus young folks to boot, I'll guarantee you that their ignorance is stunning. Kids will hardly touch the darker beers that we have now. They'll find gourmet beers very unappealing. I personally drink less dark beer than I might of the watered down versions. The more substantive brews just have more texture or something that fills folks up. If kids want to get drunk there are plenty of far more cheap, powerful options already sold in ABC stores and elsewhere. Also, isn't it illegal for kids to buy alcohol now? What you fundamentalist fools did was simply to limit adults choices via your misplaced understandings of morality and the "devil's drink".

With these men living in and representing East Alabama, don't they know that their own constituents can just drive over to Georgia where this type legislation passed some years back? I live in a dry county anyways yet that's another post on another day.

Finally, a tip of the tam is due Dan at Between the Links for his posting and advocacy on this and many other issues. We'll all soldier on I hope so that perhaps one day this type of "leadership" no longer has a place in Alabama. Peace ... or War!

UPDATE - I just got off the phone with Representative Laird. In fact I rudely hung up on him saying, "I'll do everything I can to retire you. Goodbye!" He'd said he was in favor of the "article by article" approach. He was worried about "the lobbyist". He said folks in Montgomery simply weren't sharp enough to figure out everything at once. I told him I saw that lack of smarts demonstrated by his comments in connection with the beer bill yesterday. My God!

UPDATE #2 - My old computer is acting rather contrary today so the last update prematurely ended. Here's a portion of an email I got the other day on Constitutional reform which sums up what I wanted to tell Richard Laird. Since he's got the Big Mules' talking points ready I'll just share those from the good guys.

Legislators should vote to pass the bill to "Let the People Vote" for a Constitution Convention. They should trust the people enough to let us vote on the question of calling a Constitution Convention.

If the people can be trusted to put them in office, they can be trusted to vote for or against a new Constitution. It is the People's decision!

Tell those who are worried about "special interests" taking over the Convention, that there are safeguards in the Bills. First, 210 delegates (equally divided between men and women) mean that even if legislators or special interest advocates are delegates, they are balanced by other citizens. Secondly, no one can donate more than $100 to any one candidate, so special interest groups can't flood any candidate with influence money. Lobbyists may provide nothing of value and the Media will follow the Convention carefully.

Citizens will have three chances to vote under the Bill. (1) They can vote in February of 2008 to approve or disapprove holding a Convention. (2) They can vote in June of 2008 to elect delegates to a Citizen Convention to write a new Constitution. (3) They can vote for or against the new Constitution in November of 2010.

Tell those who think writing a new constitution is "scary" that Alabama has done this six times and most states have rewritten their constitutions many times. Citizens were trusted to do this before and can be trusted to do this again.

Check out ACCR's website for more information and to get copies of the Bills:

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