Under Boss Bob Riley, Alabama Republicans have so corrupted the law that it's physically hazardous to be an ambitious Democrat. And if you're a Republican, even the old rule "don't get found in bed with a dead girl or a live boy" is apparently no longer operative.
It has been this way since Riley's first election, in 2002, when Baldwin County officials (all Republicans) staged a recount after all the Democrats had gone home and "found" the 6,000 votes necessary for him to beat incumbent Democrat Don Siegelman.
This was just the start of things for Siegelman, who soon found himself on a Solzhenitsyn-like journey through the world of partisan justice, eventually spending nearly two years in a federal jail. It was, as the blog Firedoglake later wrote, a total frame-up, made possible only by the complete corruption of the federal government -- from Birmingham all the way to the White House.
Allegedly, Siegelman was taking money illegally from Robert Scrushy, CEO of HealthSouth, a sports medicine outfit convicted of fraud the year before he stood trial with Siegelman. But as Scott Horton of Harpers Magazine later learned, Republican operatives were tampering with both the jury and the evidence, having secret meetings with the Judge, and convicting Siegelman through a U.S. Attorney married to a Riley strategist who was (despite her supposed recusal from the case) handling strategy behind the scenes.
All of this was eventually revealed, long after the fact, by Republican attorney Dana Jill Simpson, who told U.S. House investigators she was on a phone call between Rove and Alabama Republicans talking about doing a political "hit" on Siegelman.
This was all done in public, just as Soviet Show Trials were conducted in public. I followed the bleatings of Alabama bloggers concerning the issue at Voic.Us, and was especially taken with the hard work of an anonymous Alabamian calling himself The Legal Schnauzer. He was eventually revealed to be an employee of the University of Alabama-Birmingham, and was fired. Earlier he had his home seized, illegally, and auctioned off by authorities.
Much of the Republican-Soviet effort was directed by U.S. Attorney Alice Martin, a Rove protege who according to Horton also engaged in phony "voter fraud" schemes, created a scandal out of whole cloth that forced Democratic legislators out of their seats for having second jobs in junior colleges, and directed the Siegelman effort from the beginning.
It's an amazing tale. But it would not be possible save for the political apathy of Alabama voters, who increasingly find themselves torn between white Republican corruption and black Democratic corruption. The latter serves the interest of the former as well as Martin does, because it keeps the majority in line and makes a true reform movement impossible.
If Alabamians want honest government, under any party, by people of any race, the tools with which to gain it are in their hands. They have to demand it, and vote for it on both primary and general election days. They also have to reject all appeals to their bigotry, whether based either on race, sex, religion or sexual orientation.
But asking an Alabamian to give up bigotry is like asking an alcoholic to give up drinking. You can only change alcoholics one at a time. How do you change a whole state?