Wednesday, May 23, 2018

Steve Flowers: Inside the Statehouse – Less than two weeks to the primaries: The governor’s race

  As we get down to the lick log in the 2018 June primaries, there are few if any surprises brewing in any of the major state races. Polling indicates that all of the contests are about where they were three or four months ago when the races began.

  There is a tremendous amount of apathy and indifference as we head into the final days. This lack of enthusiasm has also affected fundraising. Most of the high-profile races have not attracted the level of spending as races in the past.

Tuesday, May 22, 2018

Calling people 'animals' is dangerous — and we've seen it before

  President Trump said at a conference on sanctuary cities last week: “These are not people. These are animals.”

  His insinuation that immigration status or criminal record somehow determines humanity is not only appalling — it’s dangerous.

  We’ve heard this dehumanizing rhetoric before.

  During the Holocaust, the Nazis called Jews Untermenschen — subhumans. Before the Rwandan genocide, Tutsis were called “cockroaches.” And just recently in our own country, we learned that extremists behind a bomb plot to kill Somali Muslims called their intended victims “cockroaches.”

Monday, May 21, 2018

Jacob G. Hornberger: A Nobel Prize for death to Trump

  Trumpsters are hoping that President Trump is able to enter into a peace treaty with North Korea that brings an end to the Korean War. If Trump is successful, the Trumpsters say, then he should receive the Nobel Prize for Peace.

  Actually, if such a peace treaty does come to pass, it would be more appropriate for Trump to receive the Nobel Prize for Death.

  After all, the Trumpsters are praising Trump for pressuring North Korea into coming to the negotiating table. Let’s assume they are right. What pressure are they referring to?

Sunday, May 20, 2018

Two states are pushing laws to criminalize some protests

  Rightly or wrongly, certain First Amendment issues tend to dominate the national conversation more than others. Bring up President Trump’s tweets criticizing the news media, college campus protests of controversial speakers, or the possibility of the government regulating Facebook and you’re bound to inspire a rousing and possibly heated discussion. Mention that state laws protecting critical infrastructure might actually erode the right to assemble and you’re more likely to get blank stares and a hasty topic change. After all, it’s an issue that combines the freedom of assembly, which barely anyone knows about, with state and local law, which barely anyone cares about. Throw in the word “infrastructure” and it’s practically anti-clickbait.

Saturday, May 19, 2018

Hank Sanders: Senate Sketches #1614 - I appreciate teachers!

  I appreciate teachers. I struggled with teachers, but I appreciate teachers. I even fought with teachers, but I appreciate teachers. This week includes National Teachers’ Day and it is National Teacher Appreciation Week. It gives me a ready-made opportunity to express my profound appreciation for teachers.

  Teaching is one of the most important vocations in our society. In fact, it is a special calling. It is a calling that touches, shapes, and molds young minds for better or for worse. No other vocation provides such an opportunity to touch young, growing minds. Teachers often spend more time with our children than we do. Teaching is a precious gift.

Friday, May 18, 2018

When calling yourself a fascist is "edgy"

  A copy of Mein Kampf. A photo of Timothy McVeigh. A North Korean flag over the couch. An American flag for a doormat. And over the kitchen table, a banner for the hate group Atomwaffen Division.

  The four young men who shared this apartment in Florida got there by way of the internet.

  It started with video games. That led to 4chan, which led to the Daily Stormer, a neo-Nazi website so extreme its followers recently bombarded a Jewish woman and her family with hundreds of threats like, “Put your uppity slut wife Tanya back in her cage, you rat-faced kike. … Day of the rope soon for your entire family.”

Thursday, May 17, 2018

Conservatives, we must be willing to talk about race

  I’m a proud product of public schools. My teachers were dedicated, the curriculum challenging, and the fierce competition between friends forced me to study harder.

  I do have one qualm, though. Thanks to historically-selective textbooks, I remember next to nothing of our nation’s history between the Civil War and World War I. My knowledge of that era is essentially three things: railroads, long-bearded presidents, and Henry Ford’s invention of the Model T.

  I don’t think I’m alone in encountering this knowledge gap. Thankfully, a new museum and memorial in Montgomery fills in some of the spaces left out of my historical timeline and beyond. The memorial demonstrates that, although formally war-less, these decades were anything but peaceful or boring. In fact, many Southerners faced a frightening reality during that period—a reality characterized by racial terrorism.

Wednesday, May 16, 2018

Steve Flowers: Inside the Statehouse - Secondary statewide races on ballot this year

  Folks, we are less than three weeks away from our June 5th primaries. Besides the governor’s race, all of our secondary state constitutional races are on the ballot.

  As we head into the home stretch, there appears to be very little interest in the primary elections. People seem disinterested and disillusioned. There have been a good many scandals and ethics convictions over the past quadrennium, which has put a damper on the enthusiasm generally associated with a gubernatorial election year. Even fundraising has been down considerably.

  This voting ambivalence will result in a lower than normal turnout. This will be an advantage for incumbents and those with name identification.

Tuesday, May 15, 2018

President’s press credential threat will be ‘trumped’ by the First Amendment

  Donald Trump can fantasize all he wants about taking away White House press credentials from news outlets that he doesn’t like.

  It’s unpleasant for the journalists in Trump’s crosshairs to hear such bluster, but journalists and free press advocates ought not to even imagine a moment when, in misplaced solidarity, they all walk out of the White House press room in protest over even one credential being pulled.

  As strong a message as one hopes that would send to the nation, we must remember that Trump can’t really extinguish the constitutionally protected role of journalists as “watchdogs” — but journalists, in a moment of anger and hubris, could abandon it.

Monday, May 14, 2018

Craig Ford: Alabama wants its own bridge to nowhere

  You may have seen ads on TV recently talking about a bridge project in South Alabama. If you hadn’t heard of this project before those ads, you’re not alone.

  Most people, including legislators, were not aware of the plans to build this $87 million taxpayer-funded bridge to nowhere that even many Baldwin County residents are opposed to.

  So what exactly is this bridge, and why are some state leaders pushing it?