Tuesday, January 17, 2017

Donald Trump, Betsy DeVos, and a pay-to-play nomination

  Billionaire activist Betsy DeVos and her family have given a massive $4 million to the Republicans who will decide whether to confirm her as Trump’s secretary of education, according to a new analysis by the Center for American Progress.

  DeVos’ hearing begins this Wednesday, and her family has donated a quarter of a million dollars alone to the members of the education committee who are tasked with vetting her nomination. The DeVos family has given a total of more than $950,000 to 21 senators who will have the opportunity to vote on her confirmation.

Monday, January 16, 2017

The Wisdom and Philosophy of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

  For a man who never reached the age of 40, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., left a powerful and
important body of thought. He was a preacher and orator, so rather than writing in the form of books or treatises, Dr. King spoke to the world in sermons and speeches and a few articles.

  His impact and image as a social activist is so prominent that I think his contributions as a philosopher are underestimated. Here is a very brief tour of a few things he said worth noting.

Sunday, January 15, 2017

Sam Fulwood III: Bending toward justice

  As Donald Trump prepares to move into the White House, his impending presidency nonetheless refutes the now-fraught notion of American exceptionalism—an idea that our society is self-governed by informed citizens whose individual actions collectively work for the best interests of those who live in the nation. As this political theory goes, the United States stands alone among nations in world history as the “shining city upon a hill.”

  Rarely is this argument challenged as the nationalistic hubris that it is. Americans—and many others around the world—accept it as fact, I suspect, because they want to believe its veracity. Until now. Donald Trump promises to plunge a wooden spike through the heart of anyone who fantasized that the political horrors that befuddle lesser nations could never happen here.

Saturday, January 14, 2017

Michael Josephson: Do you know when to back off?

  I’ve talked before about the ethical obligation to treat others with respect by attentive listening. Today, I want to talk about the flip side of respect: the duty to back off and accept the fact that while others should listen to us, we can’t demand that they agree with us.

  Such unreasonable demands are especially prevalent when someone in authority (boss or parent) lectures, criticizes, sermonizes, or berates an employee or child well past the point of legitimate communication. But it isn’t just people of authority who seek to impose their ideas through bulldozer tactics.

Friday, January 13, 2017

Jacob G. Hornberger: U.S. bombs and anti-American terrorism

  When the next terrorist attack against Americans takes place, you can be certain that there will still be at least a few Americans, including within the Pentagon and the CIA, who will come out with their standard line about how the terrorists are motivated by their hatred for America’s freedom and values. A few others will claim that the attacks are part of some centuries-old caliphate conspiracy by Muslims to take over the world.

  Consider this: According to a story on Alternet, the U.S. government dropped at least 26,171 bombs in seven Muslim-majority countries in 2016. In a related article on the same subject, Code Pink co-founder Medea Benjamin said that this amounts to three bombs every hour, 24 hours a day.

Thursday, January 12, 2017

Fact Sheet: Affordable Care Act repeal

  Despite the fact that only 26 percent of Americans support repealing the Affordable Care Act, or ACA, congressional Republicans currently plan to repeal much of the ACA early next year. In addition, they plan to delay the implementation of this repeal by three years since they do not yet have a specific replacement.

Wednesday, January 11, 2017

Steve Flowers: Inside the Statehouse: What Trump's presidency means for Alabama

  Alabama is going to fare wall under President Trump. There is an old adage that says, “Those that bake the pie get to eat it.” We truly baked the pie for Trump. We overwhelmingly supported him in the GOP primary and helped him secure the nomination. We then gave him one of the largest mandates in the nation in the November General Election.

  Trump is indeed returning the favor. He has named our own Jeff Sessions Attorney General. His confirmation hearings begin this week. In addition, speculation is that Alabama’s Bill Pryor is on a very short list to be named to the U.S. Supreme Court by Trump to fill the vacancy on the Court created by the passing of Antonin Scalia.

Tuesday, January 10, 2017

Laurence M. Vance: Time to smack down the Small Business Administration

  In 2012, Barack Obama elevated the administrator of the Small Business Administration (SBA) to a Cabinet-level position, where the office had been under Bill Clinton. The current administrator, Maria Contreras-Sweet, is unknown to the overwhelming majority of Americans, as are the thirty-three administrators who preceded her. This ignorance is about to change, for, according to a statement issued last month by Donald Trump,

    My “America First” agenda is going to bring back our jobs and roll back the burdensome regulations that are hurting our middle-class workers and small businesses. To help push our agenda forward, I am pleased to nominate Linda McMahon as the head of the Small Business Administration.

Monday, January 9, 2017

Rex Tillerson’s Big Oil ties endanger the climate and national security

  The direct link between climate change threats and the duties of the secretary of state is strong. As droughts, floods, heat waves, and other symptoms of a warming world increase both in number and intensity—throughout the Middle East, Africa, Asia, the Arctic, Europe, and the United States—the next U.S. secretary of state will face urgent pressure to curb climate change and manage the effects of a warming planet that can no longer be avoided. Failure to do so will damage the global economy and destabilize an already wobbly security landscape, with potentially dire consequences for U.S. national security interests.

  The next U.S. secretary of state must, as Secretary John Kerry has, protect U.S. foreign policy and security interests and demonstrate a track record of personal and diplomatic credibility. President-elect Donald Trump’s nominee for the job, former ExxonMobil CEO Rex Tillerson, does not meet those qualifications.

Sunday, January 8, 2017

Michael Josephson: We shape our own character

  Character may determine our fate, but character is not determined by fate.

  There’s no doubt that our character has a profound effect on our future. What we must remember, however, is not merely how powerful character is in influencing our destiny, but how powerful we are in shaping our own character and, therefore, our own destiny.