Sunday, February 26, 2017

Joe Valenti: First prepaid cards, then the rest of your wallet

  The U.S. Congress has wasted no time rolling back Obama-era regulations affecting health, safety, and the environment, and Americans’ wallets may be next.

  Congress is expected to soon attempt a rollback of a new Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, or CFPB, rule on prepaid debit cards used by millions of Americans. Through a once-obscure law known as the Congressional Review Act, the U.S. House of Representatives and Senate can quickly vote to undo rules put in place by federal agencies and even block regulators from considering new ones.

Saturday, February 25, 2017

Michael Josephson: The Media – Enemies or guardians of democracy

  Is the truth still important? I know I tread dangerous ground inserting myself into the growing conflict between President Trump and the media he has labeled the “enemy of the American people.”  Much wiser and more informed folks than me have responded to this charge which escalated substantially a continuous campaign to discredit news organizations that we have counted on to tell us what’s going on and to hold people in power accountable. The problem is more complicated than it seems, and the stakes are higher than many people realize. To be sure the businessification of major media organizations has blurred the line between news and entertainment.

Friday, February 24, 2017

Hank Sanders: Senate Sketches #1550: The past, present and future that binds us all together

  There is a nexus of the past and the present and the future. The past is very important. The present is extremely important. The future is critically important. Each is separate, and yet all are tied together. The nexus of past and the present and the future binds us together.

  The Bridge Crossing Jubilee is just two weeks away, commencing Thursday, March 2nd and running through March 6th. The National Voting Rights Celebration is already upon us. The future is rushing headlong toward us, and we don’t know what to do. The nexus of the past, the present and the future binds us together.

Thursday, February 23, 2017

Sam Fulwood III: President Trump has cheapened the dignity of his office

  It hasn’t even been a full month yet, but many of us who pay close attention to Washington feel like the Trump administration has aged us a full decade. Every day begins with a fearful peek at President Donald Trump’s latest insomniac posting on Twitter.

  Who is he attacking today? A fashion retailer? Or the all-knowing purveyors of “fake news?” Perhaps a beloved civil rights leader and member of Congress? In a way, starting the day with Trump’s tweets is like reading the comics before the front-page news.

  As tempting as it might seem, however, the president’s online hijinks are no laughing matter. It’s serious business when the leader of the free world expresses pique and ire daily in 140 characters or less.

Wednesday, February 22, 2017

Steve Flowers: Inside the Statehouse: The twisting paths of Bentley and Strange

  As I have suggested to you, we are looking at one momentous 2018 election year, and it has already begun. Get this, folks, we have an open governor’s race. We have openings at Lieutenant Governor, Attorney General, State Treasurer, Agriculture Commissioner, three seats on the Alabama Supreme Court, including the Chief Justice position, all 35 Alabama Senate seats, all 105 House seats, one hotly contested congressional seat, as well as 67 sheriffs. Folks, that’s the most political marquee year in my long political life. If media outlets do not make money next year, they ain’t ever gonna make any money.

  As though the aforementioned cavalcade was not enough of a circus, we’ve got ourselves an open U.S. Senate seat. I believe that Ringling Brothers Circus closed in deference to us in the Heart of Dixie and our roadshow Vaudeville act called Alabama politics.

  Governor Robert Bentley has been a great ringleader. He is quite a show. Poor ole Bentley has relegated himself to not only being irrelevant, but considered a clown as well.

Tuesday, February 21, 2017

Gene Policinski: At long last, the stuff of journalism

  The resignation of National Security Adviser Michael Flynn. White House internal disputes that stall policy decisions. Even a mini-crisis involving North Korea.

  At long last: the stuff of journalism.

  After seeming eons of the squishiness of reporting on campaign claims and counter-claims, email investigations that went nowhere, and distractions including faux-home TV shopping pitches, late-night tweets and daytime insults, a free press is now in full-operating mode in the role that the nation’s founders intended: as a watchdog on government.

Monday, February 20, 2017

Michael Josephson: A tribute to Lincoln

  I wish we still celebrated Lincoln’s birthday. I’m an Abraham Lincoln groupie. By sheer good fortune, my son Justin was born on his birthday, my daughter Abrielle was named after him, and one of our dogs is named Lincoln. My favorite place in Washington D.C. is the Lincoln Memorial where I stand in awe of the magnificent eloquence of this self-educated, self-made man.

  His ability to empathize and his genuine caring for others is constantly revealed in his letters and speeches. And though he felt the pain of others as deeply as any man could, fate and duty made him commander in chief during our nation’s bloodiest war.

Sunday, February 19, 2017

Jacob G. Hornberger: Trump and Duterte: Birds of a feather

  When it comes to the drug war, the verdict is in: The big, drain-the-swamp, anti-establishment president, Donald Trump, is turning out to be just like all the other mainstream establishment politicians. He made that clear last week in a speech before a group of law-enforcement officials, where he vowed to be “ruthless” in the war on drugs. Trump told the group:

     We’re going to stop the drugs from pouring in. We’re going to stop those drugs from poisoning our youth, poisoning our people. We’re going to be ruthless in that fight. We have no choice. And we’re going to take that fight to the drug cartels and work to liberate our communities from their terrible grip of violence.

Saturday, February 18, 2017

Hank Sanders: Senate Sketches #1549: The Transformative power of Black history

  “That Black History stuff is just going to make Black people mad.” Both Whites and Blacks made variations of this expression to me many years ago. At the time, I could not really explain the fatal flaw in their reasoning. I can now because I know how Black History made me love, not hate.  I know how Black History made me peaceful, not mad.

  When I was a child, I was always angry, always overreacting, and always being mean. I did not understand my meanness at the time. I did not know that I was really angry with myself. Even when I came to this realization, I did not understand why I was so angry with myself. Black History helped me to understand myself, Black people and all people. Black History made me love, not hate. Black History made me peaceful, not mad.

Friday, February 17, 2017

Why Americans should care about Russian hacking

  Russia’s interference in the 2016 presidential election was an attack on the American people, threatening the integrity and legitimacy of the democratic process, as well as the outcome of the election. And yet, the Intelligence Community Assessment on Russian activity in the election found that this was but the most recent and aggressive expression to date of a longstanding Russian desire to sow chaos and instability in the United States. Russia’s meddling in the 2016 election should be a wake-up call to every American about the diverse ways in which Russian malicious cyberactivity could affect every aspect of their lives.

  The so-called information warfare campaign ordered by Russian President Vladimir Putin during the election is part-and-parcel of a longstanding and multi-faceted Russian intelligence strategy that “blends covert intelligence operations—such as cyberactivity—with overt efforts by Russian Government agencies, state-funded media, third-party intermediaries, and paid social media users or ‘trolls’” in order to cripple its adversaries. The election is not the first time Russian cyberactors have been successful. Over the past decade, Russian hacking groups—many of which are backed by the government—have successfully deployed a technology-based strategy to infiltrate, tamper with, and steal sensitive information across government, military, banking, and communications systems in the United States and Europe.