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Thursday, September 15, 2011

Have Democrats Become a Hopeless Cause in Alabama--and Elsewhere?

Jere Beasley

How did the Democratic Party get into such disarray that it lost two special elections this week--one for a normally safe Congressional seat in New York and one for a toss-up seat in Nevada?

We can't offer a one-size-fits-all answer to that question. But part of the explanation might come from here in Alabama, where a party elder admitted he hasn't "voted for a Democratic governor for a pretty good while."

With friends like that . . . well, you know how the rest of that goes.

Any list of the most prominent Democrats in Alabama surely would include Jere Beasley. A former lieutenant governor who served briefly as governor after an assassination attempt on George Wallace, Beasley is perhaps the best known trial lawyer in Alabama. His firm, Beasley Allen of Montgomery, is seen by many as the premier plaintiffs' outfit in the state. Sources tell Legal Schnauzer that Beasley still has the clout to be a kingmaker in Alabama Democratic circles.

So we had a jaw-dropping moment this week when reading a wide-ranging interview with Beasley, conducted by Neal Vickers at examiner.com. The article, titled "Tea Party: A Movement of Lemmings," offers up Beasley's view that the Tea Party movement is hurting the cause of good government in America.

We certainly agree with him there. In fact, the interview gets off to a rousing start, with Beasley stating that a third-party candidacy could make the 2012 election one of the most tumultuous races in American history. He says the Tea Party appeals to the same voters who went for Wallace in the 1960s. From the Vickers interview:

[Beasley] says he thinks the Tea Party undermines the efforts to provide good government.

"Even though Congress, under threats by the Tea Party zealots, concocted a debt agreement that sold out middle income Americans, the Tea Party groups still weren’t satisfied. They continue to do everything they can to destroy what’s left of the American Dream."

Monday, during a telephone interview, he was asked to expand on those ideas.

Beasley: "The Tea Party was put together by two brothers who are billionaires [Charles and David Koch] and their interests are not really in line with the thinking and the needs of most common, everyday folks. People take the tea party line not realizing exactly who's behind it and who's financing it."

Sounds like Beasley has the Tea Party figured out, doesn't it? But then comes this exchange:

Beasley: "The think tanks who have been financed by these billionaires have sort of changed public opinion. . . . . You have people, for example, today in America voting against their own economic interests, voting for the interest of the super-rich to their detriment. And they don't really realize exactly what's going on in my opinion.

Q: "You're a Democrat . . ."

Beasley: "Well, I haven't voted for a Democratic governor in a pretty good while in Alabama. I'm a Democrat, but probably vote as an independent. I'm like most folks, I vote for the person."

Whoa, let's see if I have this straight: Beasley bemoans the fact that certain Americans are so feeble-minded that they vote against their own economic interests. But then he seems to admit that he has been voting Republican in Alabama gubernatorial races. That's a trial lawyer voting for candidates who tend to be backed by Karl Rove and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce.

And "I vote for the person"? As Homer Simpson might say, "That's the mating call of the loooooser!"

Is Jere Beasley any smarter than the folks he more or less calls clueless? Heck, Beasley might be the biggest ding dong of all. First, he admits he has betrayed the party that has supported trial lawyers for years. Then, he implies that he voted for former Republican Governor Bob Riley, a man with documented ties to GOP felons Jack Abramoff and Michael Scanlon.

Beasley is concerned about "good government," but he voted for perhaps the most corrupt governor in Alabama history, a man who rose to power on the strength of $13 million in Mississippi gaming money, funneled through Abramoff and Scanlon?

Perhaps Beasley has created a new political animal. You might call it a sub-species of the DINO (Democrat In Name Only.) Beasley is a DWDVD (Democrat Who Doesn't Vote for Democrats).

No wonder the Democratic Party is like a driver whose car is stuck in a ditch beside a lonely Alabama highway--in the middle of the night, in heavy rain, with criminals on the loose, and no cell phone in sight.

Here, we think, is the sad truth: Jere Beasley, and quite a few other Alabama Democrats, might talk a good game about the needs of "everyday folks." But they really are interested in protecting the interests of moneyed elites. They also are interested in cold, hard cash.

Why might Jere Beasley have voted for Bob Riley? Let's return to our post from earlier this year about a bogus lawsuit Beasley Allen filed against Taco Bell. That suit, claiming Taco Bell did not use real beef products, made national news before being withdrawn. From our post:

Homewood attorney Rob Riley, the son of former GOP governor Bob Riley, has worked with Beasley Allen on a number of cases. These include lawsuits against nursing homes and a rollover-death case involving a GEO Tracker. Founding partner Jere Beasley has referred to Riley as "a good lawyer" in press reports.

Translation: When Jere Beasley sees dollar signs in the distance, he's more than happy to jump in bed with Bob Riley's son. He's also happy to ignore Rob Riley's sleazy background:

Beasley might want to check out a federal lawsuit, filed in 2008 under the False Claims Act (FCA), claiming that a firm Riley owns engages in Medicare fraud and other illegal activity.  Performance Group LLC provides physical-therapy services and counts Riley among its owners. At least two members of the University of Alabama at Birmingham (UAB) medical staff have been affiliated with Performance Group.

Jere Beasley apparently is so busy pressing his lips to Bob Riley's behind that he can't see what ails his own party. Key Democrats around the country seem to share a similar affliction--they are so busy caving in to GOP demands that they don't notice their supporters putting out "I'm Staying Home On Election Day" signs.

Perhaps FireDogLake summed it up best the other day, in a piece titled "If You Want Democrats to Vote, You Need to Give Them a Reason to Vote." From the FDL piece:

The jobs bill is a good start, to be sure. But if the pattern holds, it will get whittled down to a bunch of miscellaneous tax cuts, and we will be told — again — to be happy with what we got.

And this is telling: there is still no “Issues” tab on the Obama 2012 campaign site. What does the President want to do with a second term? What is he willing to fight for? What are the Democratic priorities?

I don’t think Democratic voters know the answer to these questions, and that’s kind of a problem.

It sure is a problem. Having Democratic "leaders" who don't vote for Democrats might also be a problem. We learned that lesson from Jere Beasley.


Robby Scott Hill said...

I'm afraid that many folks from my generation didn't take our history classes seriously enough. My teachers & professors got the message across to me about the Civil & Humans Rights struggles of the 50s & 60s. When former President of the Alabama State Bar, Fred Gray, came to Jones School of Law & autographed my copy of "Bus Ride to Justice" I eagerly devoured the text. Gray who could not gain admission to a law school in Alabama went to Ohio's Case Western Reserve & tricked the racist President of the Bar at that time into sending him the study materials for the bar by mail.

Gray was the Attorney for MLK & Rosa Parks. He argued the cases that overturned segregation & voter suppression in Alabama. Gray warned us that the new discrimination is insidious in its nature because it is based on economics & it catches not only the majority of Blacks, but the Poor White as well.

I just don't understand why Poor Whites who have been knocked out of the Middle Class are willing to buy into the Tea Party story & vote against their own economic interests in order to keep the majority of Blacks & Hispanics off balance & on the run. White People are convinced their Rich White "friends" are going to reach down & help them after the Blacks & Hispanics have been sufficiently subdued, but they are in for a major shock! Poor & White is the new Black.

legalschnauzer said...

Thanks for a thoughtful comment, Rob. You raise some great points. I wonder how much Obama really understands the civil rights struggle--and what it means to Americans, of all colors.

Close to home, I wonder how much Obama cronies Artur Davis and Abdul Kallon understand about the civil rights struggle. Kallon keeps a low profile, but he is perhaps Obama's most important appointee here, and I've seen evidence that he is an absolute joke as a judge--a complete tool for his former employer, Bradley Arant. Will be writing much more about that.

The general public has no idea how bad a judge Abdul Kallon is. I sort of expect screw ups from an old-fart Reagan appointee like Bill Acker. But Kallon is every bit as bad as Acker or any other right wing flunky.

Why is Kallon so bad? I think it's because of the issues you raise. He has no clue about American history and the civil rights struggle. Neither he nor Obama seem to have the slightest appreciation for the U.S. Constitution.

Count me as one AL progressive who definitely will not be voting for Obama.

Redeye said...

"Here, we think, is the sad truth: Jere Beasley, and quite a few other Alabama Democrats, might talk a good game about the needs of "everyday folks." But they really are interested in protecting the interests of moneyed elites. They also are interested in cold, hard cash."

So now we know LS. I suspected as much for a long time, but this certainly confirms and vindicates my suspicions.

"I just don't understand why Poor Whites who have been knocked out of the Middle Class are willing to buy into the Tea Party story & vote against their own economic interests in order to keep the majority of Blacks & Hispanics off balance & on the run. White People are convinced their Rich White "friends" are going to reach down & help them after the Blacks & Hispanics have been sufficiently subdued, "

You hit the nail on it's head RSH. The democratic party is referred to as the N loving party, and white folks would rather die than be called that. As a matter of fact they would rather lose an election than stand up for the rights of black folks. I'm not including brown folks or our LBGT gay brothers and sisters in the mix because they are deemed to be acceptable, where blacks are not.

Great post LS. Thanks for your thoughtful, courageous and just stand. You get it.

Max Shelby said...

Beasley has done a lot of 'bidness' with the state so what would you really expect from him than to hedge his bets?
Personally, I think his attack on the TP is more to placate the republican establishment (who cannot stand them) than it is to appeal to any democrats.
Typical crafty lawyer verbiage from where I sit.

Redeye said...

republicans can't stand the tea party? Could have fooled me.

legalschnauzer said...


I think it's the GOP hierarchy, the corporatists, who are concerned about the Tea Party. I think they are afraid the Tea Party might lead to the nomination of such fringe candidates that the corporate agenda will be imperiled. I think it's like the friction that long has existed between the "pro business" GOP and the pro lifers. The GOP has courted the Tea Party, but I suspect they now are concerned about the TP's strength--and the fact the TP seems serious about things like debt reduction, which the business crowd doesn't really care about. Heck, the business crowd and the pro war crowd built the debt, its theirs.

Robby Scott Hill said...

The Democrat & Republican hierarchies are both corporatist. Democrats will listen to your bitches & gripes, take you out to dinner & give you a full body massage topped off with a big, sloppy wet kiss before they bend you over & stick the sausage in you. Republicans will just go ahead & jump your bones & say you were asking for it, but in the end you're going to get screwed either way.

Anonymous said...

When I think of Jere Beasley, I think of this quote from his May 2011 Jere Beasley Report "U.S. Attorney Leura Canary. I may be the
only “Democrat” in Alabama who believes
that Leura has done a good job, but the
truth is, she really has."
(Bottom of page 3)

legalschnauzer said...


Thanks so much for sharing. That is mind blowing. That probably comes from his ties to the Riley.

LongTimeRez said...

"...in the end you're going to get screwed either way."

LOLOL.... Robby Scott Hill you tell it like it is--no whining, weeping or wailing.