Thoughts on Thanksgiving


JEFF MARTIN, Publisher
and daughter Olivia

By Jeff Martin

Smoke bellows from the neighboring chimneys as a nip of autumn can be felt in the air. Without so much as a care in the world, children jump in fresh piles of leaves and race bicycles down the sidewalk. From every direction the smell of food teases the senses. Front lawns are decorated with family friendly football games. There is the hustle and bustle in kitchens up and down the street, dining tables are extended and the fine crystal placed. The evening is spent playing board games and drinking hot chocolate. Two gas stations and a convenience store remain open as retail stores prepare for Friday’s sales.
   Okay, so maybe I’m describing a family Thanksgiving from 1977. This Thanksgiving we most likely will order Chinese takeout  on Thursday, but don’t fret we will break bread and feast on Friday with family or at least with those who aren’t squabbling with one another.
  In all seriousness though, Thanksgiving is the start of the holiday season. It is a time of tradition. It is a time to be thoughtful of others. It is a time of giving.
  It is the time of year we put aside political differences and petty bickering and welcome extended family and friends into our homes and around our tables. It is a time of peace, understanding and reflection.
  My family is fortunate and blessed. We have much to be thankful for and very little to complain about.  That isn’t the case for everyone. The holiday season for some can be a lonely and depressing time.
   Thanksgiving also brings the ringing of the bells and I encourage everyone to give big and often. The Salvation Army, which exists to meet human need wherever, whenever, and however it can, will be collecting monetary donations throughout the city until Christmas Eve, so lets fill those red kettles up.
  Volunteers to ring the bell are always in high demand. It is a rewarding and fun activity for the entire family to participate and only takes a few hours of your time. Call 334-265-0218 to volunteer.
  Donations dropped into the red kettles, go beyond spreading holiday cheer. The money also funds the Salvation Army’s year-round programs like the shelter, soup kitchen, and emergency assistance, none of which would be possible without volunteers to ring in the donations.
   This week also marks a milestone of sorts.  I will officially hand over much of my caregiving duties of our former neighbor Patrick, who celebrated his 50th birthday on Monday, to the Central Alabama Aging Consortium. The organization provides a variety of Home and Community based services to the region’s senior and disabled populations and their caregivers. The primary goal is to develop, coordinate, and support services in the community that support an active and independent life-style where those we serve can live and thrive.
   Recently, as I delivered Patrick his weekly groceries I couldn’t help but reflect how far he has come since we found him basically left for dead a year and a half ago. Betsy and I remain grateful to all of those who helped, because it wasn’t something we could have done alone.
  The holiday comradely will be short lived as the Crimson Tide and Auburn Tigers will take the field for one of the most anticipated Iron Bowls of all time Saturday.
  War Eagle, Safe Travels and God Bless.

A preponderance of evidence exists



By Jeff Martin

Mitt Romney once said, “Innocent until proven guilty is for criminal convictions, not elections.” Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said he believes the female accusers and that Roy Moore should step down. Sen. Cory Gardner says in a statement that he believes the women and that they spoke with “courage and truth.” Sen. Ted Cruz dropped his support and even Alabama Sen. Richard Shelby told reporters Monday that Moore should consider dropping out.

A few weeks ago I wrote that an endorsement of Roy Moore was an endorsement of his beliefs and while most Washington Republicans are distancing themselves from him, it appears he will remain, for now, the poster child of the Alabama GOP.

Harvey Weinstein, Louis C.K., Kevin Spacey. I know of no one who doubted the accusers of these Hollywood elitists. And then there is Roy Moore.

While he might be considered a pariah outside of Alabama, since being accused of multiple sexual assaults while in his 30’s, many local Republicans remain in his corner, including some of the same who called for Robert Bentley’s resignation for cheating on his wife.

Perry Hooper Jr. when asked if he was satisfied with Moore’s denial said, “He’s an honest man. A man of integrity.” Others went further, defending Moore even on the assumption the story was true. State Auditor Jim Zeigler, in an absurd statement compared the situation to the biblical parents Joseph and Mary, and said even if true it is “much ado about very little.” David Hall, the GOP chair in Marion County and a candidate for the Alabama legislature said, “It wouldn’t affect whether or not I’d vote for him,” adding there’s nothing wrong with a 30-year old single male asking a 16-year old out on a date (editors note: one of the girls was 14). Bibb County GOP chair Jerry Pow said he would vote for Moore even if Moore had committed a sex crime against a girl.

And Congressman Mo Brooks said, the GOP agenda is “vastly more important than contested sexual allegations.” To which I say, you have got to be kidding me?!?! Former Congressman Anthony Weiner, who recently pled guilty and is in prison for sexting a 15-year-old girl might have taken his chances with a jury had he committed his crime in Alabama, no wait…Weiner is a Democrat, he would have been hung.

These men who support Moore have me begging the question. What would they do if a 32-year old man stripped down to his tighty-whities and fondled their 8th grade daughter?

The reluctant victims who continue to come forward have nothing to gain and everything to lose by telling their stories.

Teresa Jones, also a deputy district attorney for Etowah County in the early 80’s, told CNN, “It was common knowledge that Roy Moore dated high school girls, everyone we knew thought it was weird.”

And if the first four accusations weren’t enough, Monday came the bombshell. Beverly Nelson claimed Moore sexually assaulted her shortly after she turned 16 in the back parking lot of a restaurant in Gadsden where she worked as a waitress.

Nelson, a Trump supporter, is prepared to testify under oath and produced a flirtatious note from Moore in her high school yearbook. Moore claims he doesn’t know her.

Think what you will, but the Washington Post who broke the original story had plenty of naysayers when it correctly, and justifiably, took down a President in 1972 and it has been awarded the Pulitzer Prize for National Reporting three years running.

Moore’s cheerleaders cry foul claiming this was a hit piece orchestrated by Washington Republicans who supported Luther Strange or disgruntled Democrats, but the truth is this was a story broken by several investigative reporters doing their job and following a lead.

My advice to Alabama Republicans is to vote for Doug Jones on December 12th. If you don’t like how he represents after two years you will have the opportunity to replace him, but I can assure you a Moore victory will do permanent damage to the Alabama GOP, similar to what happened with Alabama Democrats in 1986.


Trump’s Tweet of the Week: Why would Kim Jong-un insult me by calling me “old,” when I would NEVER call him “short and fat?” Oh well, I try so hard to be his friend – and maybe someday that will happen!


Time for Congress to get serious



By Jeff Martin

Prayer isn’t enough; it’s time we demand Congress have a serious debate on gun control and to adequately fund our mental health system.

I own a gun, actually several. A shotgun, hunting rifle and a few handguns make up my personal arsenal. But, I believe that unless you are living in an episode of The Walking Dead there is no need for most people to own a semi-automatic weapon.

Shootings today are so frequent that we seldom even react to them. And mass shootings occur so often, 273 this year alone, that they are replaced by another incident usually before the next news cycle. It is past time for Congress to begin serious dialogue and explore all options to decrease gun violence and mass shootings.

A license is required to drive a car, get married and just about everything else. Why no license to own a gun? Only 29 percent of voters oppose stricter gun laws and 88 percent favor required background checks on all gun sales.

But, that pesky National Rifle Association and all of their campaign money always manage to cloud the minds of Congress, who time after time ignore their constituency for the deep pockets of the gun industry.

Stricter gun control will not prevent all tragedies, but it would make it tougher for the bad guys to kill, especially in mass, like the horror in Las Vegas that lasted only minutes, but injured or killed more than 500 people.

Paul Gionfriddo, president of Mental Health America, gave this perspective about the most recent Texas church massacre.

“Yesterday, our country once again was faced with the horror of another mass shooting, this time while Americans were praying in a church in Texas.

The president and others on Capitol Hill were quick to say this was not a gun issue, but a mental health issue. That’s just talk that masks inaction on their part.

In fact – this wasn’t a mental health issue. It increasingly appears to have been a preventable tragedy – if public officials had been listening to mental health advocates for the past several years. Every time we have been asked to react to events like these, we have pointed out the obvious – that one of strongest predictors of future violence is past violence. This particular tragedy might well have been prevented if an individual with a history of domestic violence had, as a matter of public policy, been prevented or restricted from obtaining weapons to allow him to engage in more violence.

To say that gun violence is solely a mental health issue is simply wrong. Most people with mental health concerns are never violent. That said, it is true that the mental health system in this country – the system on which the victims of this horrifying assault will now rely – is broken. Many people who need treatment for a variety of mental illnesses, including PTSD, cannot get it due to lack of access and affordability— and policymakers force too many to wait until a crisis stage before asking for help.

If leaders of our country are sincerely interested in fixing our mental health system, they need to show it now. President Trump proposed this year a 20 percent cut in mental health block grant funding to states that directly impacts those dealing with mental illnesses. Congress spent countless hours debating inadequate health care proposals that would have dismantled Affordable Care Act protections for people with mental illnesses.

Congress needs to protect funding for mental health for children and adults, not obliterate it. President Trump should put the power of the presidency behind adequately funding the system.

The families of those who died and who were injured will be affected by this event for the rest of their lives. Long after the physical wounds have healed, the trauma will remain. It is critically important that we recognize and understand this, and do all that we can to offer the help and support that these individuals, families, and loved ones need.

MHA will continue to work for prevention and early intervention services, for integration, for peer-to-peer services, and for all services leading to recovery; for protection of the essential mental health benefits people need; for parity protections; and for choices in care, services, and supports for people with mental health concerns. We sincerely hope that all of our public officials will do the same – and act before they talk.”