Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Michael Josephson: Surviving critical relatives at family gatherings

  I realize that not everyone lives in a Norman Rockwell world where family gatherings are sources of warmth and good memories. For some, the prospect of holiday get-togethers generates dread and anxiety; they are something to endure, not enjoy.

  One reason is that family members can be tactless and downright cruel when expressing their opinions about perceived foibles, flaws and failures of their relatives, especially in-laws. Often comments are so laden with negative judgment that they could make the Grinch wince.Whether motivated by well-intentioned, but misdirected, love and concern, or by malice, insensitive or unkind words are like spears to the heart.

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Steve Flowers: Inside the Statehouse: Is this the end of Mike Hubbard?

  Mike Hubbard is the political story of the year because our 2014 state elections were so mundane. The October indictment of the Speaker of the Alabama House of Representatives overshadows all other political events in the state, even the reelection of Gov. Robert Bentley, which was a foregone conclusion. In fact, if Hubbard had not been indicted, it would have been the political story of the year.

  Speculation had been rampant for well over a year that the very powerful leader of the House would be indicted by a Lee County Grand Jury. Every time I had lunch at a Montgomery restaurant someone would come up to me and say, “It’s coming down today,” or “Hubbard is turning himself in this afternoon.” About once a month I would get a call with some information. It was always a false rumor. However, the prevailing opinion was that Hubbard inevitably would be indicted.

Monday, November 24, 2014

Jacob G. Hornberger: Rand Paul is wrong. Leave Iraq alone!

  Still opposing the Iraq War in 2003, Senator Rand Paul now wants Congress to declare war against the Islamic State and engage in military action in Iraq. He says that “national security” is at stake.

  I’ve got a better idea: Leave Iraq alone! Hasn’t the U.S. government done enough damage already in Iraq?

Saturday, November 22, 2014

Vanessa Cárdenas: Five facts to know about President Obama’s immigration announcement

  This week President Barack Obama laid out his plans for executive action on immigration. The new program will provide temporary administrative relief and work permits to undocumented immigrants who pass a background check, have lived in the United States for a minimum of five years, and have a child who is a U.S. citizen or legal permanent resident, or LPR. The president’s actions mean that law-abiding immigrants with strong ties to the United States will no longer live under the threat of deportation. This program is modeled after the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, or DACA, program that benefits young people who came to the United States as children. The new executive action also broadens the DACA program by expanding coverage to children who entered the country before January 1, 2010, regardless of their age today. This is undoubtedly a tremendous win for the immigrant community and immigration reform advocates, and most importantly, it paves the way for a broader immigration reform when Congress decides to act.

Friday, November 21, 2014

Michael Josephson: Character is an essential part of competence

  If you were hiring a new CEO, what are the most important qualities you’d look for?

  Surely you’d want a high level of demonstrated competence – knowledge, experience, intelligence, vision, communication, and relationship skills and the ability to motivate, manage, and solve problems. But what about qualities such as honesty, moral courage, accountability, and fairness?

Thursday, November 20, 2014

Gene Policinski: Free Speech can be shield or sword, as Cosby furor shows

  Bill Cosby’s career has been deeply rooted in the possibilities and protections provided by freedom of speech.

  The legendary comedian and actor’s career began with landmark comedy routines in which he tackled sensitive racial subjects. He was the first African American male with a starring role on TV, in the 1960s series “I Spy.”

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Tom Kenworthy: For President Obama, it is all about veto power now

  Similar to former President Bill Clinton before him, President Barack Obama now faces a Republican-controlled Congress, one that will almost certainly be implacably hostile toward progressive governance and determined to put a conservative stamp on the statute books.

  If the past is any guide, a significant part of the agenda of the incoming Congress will be a broad-based attack on the conservation of public lands. The GOP leadership launched exactly that kind of assault after sweeping into power on Capitol Hill in 1995 following an election in which Republicans gained 54 seats in the House and 8 in the Senate. It was the first time since 1954 that Republicans controlled the House, and they had considerable pent-up demands about how the federal government should manage its vast network of national parks, national forests, wildlife refuges, and rangelands.

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Steve Flowers: Inside the Statehouse: What happened in the 6th Congressional District?

  This was probably one of the dullest and least interesting gubernatorial election years in memory. It stemmed from the fact that Robert Bentley was a popular incumbent governor and nobody dared to run against him in the Republican Primary. These days winning the Republican Primary is tantamount to election in the Heart of Dixie.

  The only really exciting race was for the open 6th Congressional District seat vacated by Rep. Spencer Bachus. This district encompasses the suburbs of Birmingham and Jefferson County as well as several surrounding conservative counties. It is home to some of the state’s most affluent enclaves, such as Mountain Brook, Vestavia, Homewood and Hoover. It has been ranked in Washington as one of the most Republican congressional districts in the nation. Therefore, the congressman was elected in the summer GOP Primary.

Monday, November 17, 2014

Hank Sanders: Senate Sketches #1432: Thoughts of my family on Veteran's Day

  It was Veterans Day, which engenders many thoughts within me.  I thought a lot about my brother Thomas Sanders. I did not think much about my other brothers – Sam Arthur Sanders, Charles William Sanders and Douglas McArthur Sanders – who also served in the United States military. I thought about my mother, Ola Mae Sanders, in relationship to Thomas and me.

Saturday, November 15, 2014

Michael Josephson: The intimidating power of integrity

  A teacher once wrote telling me that a parent with a great deal of clout at her school asked her to change attendance records to make her child’s record look better. The teacher said she thought long and hard about the request but eventually refused, knowing it would make the parent angry.

  I commended her moral courage. I wish it didn’t take courage to do the right thing, especially in such a clear case as this, but in the real world people with power often retaliate when they don’t get what they want. This can make our lives difficult.