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Sunday, April 6, 2008

Alabama: An Iron Curtain is Descending

Larisa Alexandrovna grew up behind the Iron Curtain, so when she compares today's Alabama to the Soviet Union, she is not making idle chatter.

Alexandrovna knows firsthand what the Soviet Union was like. And she has spent time recently in Alabama and reported extensively on GOP shenanigans in our state.

I suspect Alexandrovna, in her piece at Huffington Post, does not make the Soviet/Alabama comparison casually. And I don't think she is engaging in hyperbole.

In fact, as someone who currently is fighting off attempts by GOP authorities to unlawfully seize and auction my house, I can tell you she is frighteningly on target.

Alexandrovna focuses on the federal investigation of employees of Alabama's two-year college system who also serve in the state legislature. Most of these legislators just happen to be Democrats.

Is there reason to find hope in the grimness of modern Alabama? Alexandrovna points to an article by Adam Nossiter of The New York Times, spotlighting the fear and paranoia that reign in Alabama's state house. The good news, Alexandrovna says, is that a newspaper of the Times stature is paying attention.

Writes Nossiter:

The fear is all the more acute in that the current investigation centers on Democrats in their last redoubt of power here, the State Legislature, and takes place against a backdrop of intense partisan ill-feeling. Many here maintain that a former governor, Don Siegelman, who was convicted by federal prosecutors and jailed last year, was singled out because he is a Democrat.

Anger among Democrats was re-stoked last week when Mr. Siegelman emerged from a federal prison after nine months, freed on bond by a federal court in Atlanta that said his appeal had raised substantial questions.

"There's a direct link between the Siegelman debacle and what's going on here," said one legislator, nervously looking around. Like many, he refused to be quoted by name.

Read the following paragraph from Nossiter and consider if Alexandrovna is on target:

Legislators are sweeping their offices for bugs. Routine horse-trading for votes is stymied, for fear it could be misinterpreted. A wary lawmaker agrees to meet a reporter only in a wide-open parking lot. After-hours get-togethers are off.

I can identify with what Alexandrovna and Nossiter are reporting. In recent weeks, my wife and I have had serious discussions about steps we might need to take should Shelby County deputies try to break down our door and throw us into the streets--all because I've had the audacity to write about my experiences in Alabama state courts.

From where I sit, Alexandrovna and Nossiter are telling it like it is.

And one reason people are so fearful is this: Alabama's own press is not about to shine light on corrupt Republicans in the state. In fact, as Harper's Scott Horton has adroitly shown, Alabama newspapers are intimately involved in the scheme.

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