Saturday, October 22, 2016

Redistricting and representation in the 2016 elections and beyond

  Even before a single vote was cast in 2016, decisions made years ago were working to shape the results of November’s election. Usually, the government that is elected when Americans go to the polls reflects the majority of the votes cast. But district lines can be manipulated—a tactic known as gerrymandering—and election districts carved up in ways that block voters from having their voices heard and receiving fair representation.

  Every 10 years, states redraw their voting maps so that their election districts accommodate population changes after the census. In 2010, Republican-led state legislatures undertook a massive effort to redraw their state’s districts for electing members of Congress and state legislatures at the expense of minority and Democratic voters. A memo from the Republican State Leadership Committee explained:

Friday, October 21, 2016

Ryan Lenz: With three weeks to go, talk of 'rigged election' leads to promises of violence

  With only weeks left before Election Day, and Donald Trump refusing to say if he will accept the legitimacy of the vote, the radical right is warning of civil war and violence if Hillary Clinton wins.

  In Wednesday’s presidential debate, the third and final in a brutal campaign that gave legitimacy to extremist ideologies long sidelined in American politics, Donald Trump broke with both his running mate and daughter and refused to say whether he would accept the election results.

  “I will look at it at the time,” Trump said. “I will keep you in suspense.” He followed on Thursday by saying that he would “totally accept” the results, but only if he wins.

Thursday, October 20, 2016

Hank Sanders: Senate Sketches #1532: Making a difference for the better in our lifetime

  It was 7:00 a.m. on a Saturday. We were on the road. I had five others in the van. Two others decided to drive separately. Others would be picked up on the way. We were on our way to make a difference for the better in our lifetime.

  We stopped in Greenville at a fast food place for breakfast. We expected to connect with a group from Montgomery at this spot, but they were not there. We soon discovered that they had a flat tire on the way. We left Greenville headed north toward Montgomery on Interstate 65. We did not travel very far before we spotted them on the other side of the interstate. We found a spot to cross over and turned around. We were on our way to make a difference for the better in our lifetime.

Wednesday, October 19, 2016

Steve Flowers: Inside the Statehouse: Bill Baxley and Squatlow

  Ole Bill Baxley has been in the news a lot this year. He was the lead defense counsel for former Speaker Mike Hubbard’s ethics trial over in Opelika. Baxley practices law in Birmingham and is one of the state’s premier and most expensive criminal defense lawyers. Like a good many of the top defense attorneys, Baxley was first a prosecutor and a doggone good one.

  Baxley was born and raised in Dothan, the heart of the Wiregrass. His family was one of the original settling families in Houston County. His daddy Keener Baxley was the Circuit Judge in Houston and Henry Counties. Mr. Keener had been the district attorney prior to going on the bench. Bill grew up in his daddy’s courtroom. There was no doubt in his mind that he would be a lawyer.

Tuesday, October 18, 2016

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.

Monday, October 17, 2016

America Under Fire: An analysis of gun violence in the United States and the link to weak gun laws

  One of the key questions in the gun debate is whether strong gun laws—such as requiring background checks for all gun sales; limiting who may carry guns and where they may carry them; and providing increased oversight of the gun industry—are effective at reducing gun violence. This is not an easy question to answer, as there are myriad factors that may contribute to the rate of gun violence in any community. In addition to easy access to guns facilitated and enabled by weak gun laws, there are an interconnected web of social and economic issues that can have an impact on rates of violence in a community, such as persistent poverty, lack of employment and educational opportunities, and a breakdown in the police-community relationship that imperils community safety.

Sunday, October 16, 2016

Jacob G. Hornberger: Prepare yourself for blowback from Yemen

  If there is another terrorist attack on U.S. soil, this time because of the death and destruction that the U.S. government is wreaking in Yemen, I can already hear the laments and complaints of statist-Americans: “Oh my gosh, another terrorist attack against us! Why do the terrorists and the Muslims hate us for our freedom and values? Why can’t they see that we’re good people who just want to live our lives in peace? We must now give more power and more money to the Pentagon, CIA, and NSA so that they can keep us safe from those who hate us because we’re good.”

Saturday, October 15, 2016

Billy Corriher: Elected judges rule against LGBT rights more often than appointed judges

  On September 30, Alabama Chief Justice Roy Moore was removed from office—for a second time—for defying federal court orders. The Alabama Court of the Judiciary suspended Moore until the end of his term for violating judicial ethics when he instructed lower court judges to ignore a federal court order to grant marriage licenses to same-sex couples. In January 2016—more than six months after the U.S. Supreme Court’s 2015 ruling in support of marriage equality—Moore ordered Alabama judges “not to issue any marriage licenses” that violate the state’s ban on marriage for same-sex couples. As federal judges handed down marriage equality rulings in recent years, Moore was the only elected judge who ordered lower court judges to defy the Constitution, though several other elected justices either delayed or suggested defiance in marriage equality cases.

Friday, October 14, 2016

Craig Ford: Reviewing the amendments on the November 8th ballot

  When voters cast their ballots next month, they will be voting on more than just the presidential race and other important offices; they will also be deciding the fate of 14 amendments to our state constitution.

  The first amendment is related to the Auburn University Board of Trustees. It changes when some of the board members’ terms expire and adds two additional members to the board. On this amendment, I recommend either voting “yes” or not voting at all.

Thursday, October 13, 2016

Laurence M. Vance: Will tariffs make America great again?

  If there is one issue that Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump is outspoken about, it is U.S. trade policy.

  He says:

       You only have to look at our trade deficit to see that we are being taken to the cleaners by our trading partners. We need tougher negotiations, not protectionist walls around America. We need to ensure that foreign markets are as open to our products as our country is to theirs. Our long-term interests require that we cut better deals with our world trading partners.

       Our country is in serious trouble. We don’t win anymore. We don’t beat China in trade. We don’t beat Japan, with their millions and millions of cars coming into this country, in trade. We can’t beat Mexico, at the border or in trade.