Thursday, November 15, 2018

Voters repudiate President Trump and GOP policy agenda—2020 re-election is uncertain

  Americans took to the polls in record numbers in the 2018 midterms, shifting party control of the House of Representatives and sending a clear message of disapproval to President Donald Trump and congressional Republicans. Although the president and his party gained ground in the U.S. Senate, primarily in states Trump won handily, they failed to capitalize on the low unemployment rate or overall positive sentiments about the economy. The signature GOP legislative achievement of the first two years—the $1.5 trillion tax cut that passed last year —failed to boost Republicans’ chances overall and hurt candidates in several seats. Subsequently, they lost in major suburban and urban districts across the country and also lost ground in some rural areas.

Wednesday, November 14, 2018

Steve Flowers: Inside the Statehouse – Kay Ivey, our 55th governor

  The legendary Alabama storyteller Kathryn Tucker Windham used to say, “Alabama is like a big front porch.” She was right, and I have found that to be the case my entire life. Even recently, as I’ve traversed the state, I am always amazed at how you can visit with someone in one part of the state who is kin to or were college roommates with someone in another corner of Alabama. 

  The Alabama that Kay Ivey and I grew up in was even more like a front porch. Ivey grew up in Wilcox County where her family had been for generations. Therefore, she knew most everybody in the county and Camden. There were and still are less than 12,000 people in Wilcox County. There have always been more pine trees than people in the county. 

Tuesday, November 13, 2018

Long lines, broken machines, voter ID laws: Welcome to the neo-Jim Crow

  Felon disenfranchisement was designed to “preserve the purity of the ballot box,” or in other words, the whiteness of the electorate.

  By the time the Alabama Supreme Court issued that opinion in 1884, Florida had already beaten it to the punch. Florida outlawed voting for anyone convicted of a felony in 1868, at the very same time that it began to convict more black people of felonies.

  Exactly 150 years later, Florida voters finally overturned that discriminatory policy, re-enfranchising 1.5 million people in a single stroke last Tuesday. The news that Florida had passed Amendment 4, giving as many as 40 percent of the state’s black men the right to vote, was cause for celebration around the country and certainly here at the Southern Poverty Law Center, where we invested heavily to support its passage.

Monday, November 12, 2018

Thank you, veterans

  A cold north wind chilled the backs of their necks as they waited outside the church. Tired, hungry, and homesick, the soldiers of the 353rd Infantry stood like time-worn statues against the tattered and war-worn buildings of stone. Some of them had dreamed of seeing France one day, but not like this. All they wanted now was a hot meal, a bath, and a good night's sleep in their own beds back home.

  It was November 11th, 1918, and these brave individuals had given their all to defend the freedoms of millions of people they would never meet. Slowly the minutes ticked by and, after what seemed like forever, the moment finally arrived. The Armistice was signed, and on the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month, World War I, "the war to end all wars," was over.

Sunday, November 11, 2018

Hank Sanders: Senate Sketches #1639 - Government is powerful in what it does and does not do

  Government is powerful. Government is powerful in what it does. Government is powerful in what it does not do. We often focus on what government does. We also focus on what government fails to do. For this brief moment, let’s explore what government refuses to do. I want to share two recent examples of what government has refused to do. I participated in two press conferences within the last week or so, one concerning each example. Government is powerful in what it does. Government is powerful in what it does not do.

Saturday, November 10, 2018

The Paradoxical Commandments

  In 1968, when Kent M. Keith was a 19-year-old sophomore at Harvard University, he wrote “The Paradoxical Commandments” as part of a booklet for student leaders. He describes the Commandments as guidelines for finding personal meaning in the face of adversity:

1. People are illogical, unreasonable, and self-centered. Love them anyway.

2. If you do good, people will accuse you of selfish ulterior motives. Do good anyway.

3. If you are successful, you will win false friends and true enemies. Succeed anyway.

Friday, November 9, 2018

Rhetorical hyperbole protects free speech

  Rhetorical hyperbole is a concept important to the protection of free speech under the First Amendment. Many benefit from the principle, including protestors, sportswriters, editorialists and even the President of the United States.

  When the United States Supreme Court created the true threat doctrine in Watts v. United States (1969), the Court emphasized that care must be taken to ensure that in the pursuit of punishing true threats, the government doesn’t infringe on protected speech. The Court determined that a young African-American protestor named Robert Watts engaged in “political hyperbole” when he criticized the draft by saying that “the first person he would put in his scope is L.B.J” referring to President Lyndon Baines Johnson. In other words, the Supreme Court recognized that Mr. Watts engaged in “political hyperbole” rather than uttering a true threat.

Thursday, November 8, 2018

Big Business’s bonanza week in the Supreme Court

  Large corporations and special interests often target the legal rights of consumers and workers in an effort to increase their profits. Now, with the confirmation of Judge Brett Kavanaugh to the U.S. Supreme Court, a 5-4 conservative majority is even more likely to rule in favor of big business.

  Last week, the Supreme Court began its November sitting, hearing oral arguments in six cases. Four of these cases threaten to undermine consumer and labor rights; issues include forced arbitration, class-action lawsuits, and overseas liability. Over the past four decades, corporate interests have spent tens of millions of dollars supporting conservative nominees to the Supreme Court. Corporate interests primarily spend this money on ad campaigns for nominees that are targeted at the senators who will vote on these nominees’ confirmations. This trend accelerated over the past two years, as dark money organizations funded by pro-corporate sponsors spent more than $15 million to help ensure the confirmations of Justices Neil Gorsuch and Brett Kavanaugh.

Wednesday, November 7, 2018

Steve Flowers: Inside the Statehouse - More than an election going on in Alabama politics

  Our gubernatorial election year politics ended yesterday. However, there have been other political maneuverings and developments going on behind the scenes that could ultimately have more long-term ramifications in the Heart of Dixie.

  The selection of a new Business Council of Alabama leader is imminent and will probably occur in the next few days. In addition to this, the jockeying and wrangling for the U.S. Senate seat in 2020 have begun.

Tuesday, November 6, 2018

Trump plays the white nationalist card – again

  Every day, it seems like there’s a new outrage from President Trump.

  In an interview released October 30, Trump said he’s preparing an executive order to eliminate the constitutional guarantee of birthright citizenship.

  It’s an obvious, election-eve ploy to light a fire under white voters who are anxious and resentful about our nation’s changing demographics and culture.