Sunday, February 17, 2019

Donald Trump - America’s elected dictator

  After losing his battle against Congress to secure funding for his wall along the U.S.-Mexico border, President Trump is declaring that that the congressional rebuff is irrelevant anyway. The reason? Trump is declaring an “emergency” under the “National Emergencies Act,” which, he says, authorizes him to spend U.S. taxpayer money on the wall without congressional authorization. He’s going to have the U.S. military, which will dutifully follow his orders, construct his Berlin Wall.

  Trump’s action is the very essence of dictatorship. Check out other dictators around the world — Maduro in Venezuela, Ortega in Nicaragua, Diaz-Canel in Cuba, Kim Jong-Un in North Korea, el-Sisi in Egypt, and Zi in China. They don’t have to jack around with congresses. They have the authority to just act or order. That’s what makes them dictators.

Saturday, February 16, 2019

Six things to know before the second Trump-Kim summit

  On February 27 and 28, U.S. President Donald Trump will meet with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un in Vietnam. This second summit could answer a key question: Does Trump remain only interested in the appearance of progress, or can he extract genuine concessions from North Korea on its nuclear program?

  When Trump and Kim met for the first time on June 12, 2018, in Singapore, they promised “to cooperate for the development of new U.S.–DPRK relations and for the promotion of peace, prosperity, and security of the Korean Peninsula and of the world.” Yet beyond establishing vague areas of diplomatic focus and promising to return the remains of U.S. prisoners of war (POWs) and military personnel listed as missing in action (MIA), there were no concrete agreements on denuclearization. While Trump has repeatedly claimed that the Singapore summit was a success, there is scant evidence that North Korea has changed its behavior since then. Indeed, some observers believe that the United States gave up more than it received by providing a global platform for one of the world’s most brutal dictators without any tangible return.

Friday, February 15, 2019

Hank Sanders: Sketches #1653 - When we don’t know our full history, we cannot tap into our full power

  I love history. I loved history as a child. I especially loved Black History. I loved Black history, but I did not understand the power of Black history. I had to look back from a decades-later perch to fully understand the power of Black history. I do not want our youth of today to have to look back decades later to fully understand the power of Black history. I want all people to better understand the power of history. I know the power of Black history.

  I returned to the South because of the power of Black history. I left the Deep South at 18 years of age. I returned several years later to attend Talladega College. I left again for the state of Massachusetts to attend law school. I returned to the South again. The real reason I returned both times to the South sprung from the power of Black history.

Thursday, February 14, 2019

Farming’s next generation has nowhere to grow

  The farmland clearinghouse ads read a bit like listings on a dating site, but way more practical:

    Ernst Weissing is seeking to rent 20+ acres of tillable farmland in southeastern Minnesota. Land with a barn or pole shed and access to water is preferred; no house is required.

    Kelly Schaefer is seeking to rent 20 acres of farmland in Minnesota, Arkansas, Oklahoma or Kentucky. Land with pasture, fencing, water, power, outbuildings and a house is preferred.

Wednesday, February 13, 2019

Steve Flowers: Inside the Statehouse – AEA... dead or not?

  The Alabama Education Association (AEA) was the most powerful and influential political organization in Alabama for close to three decades. The late Dr. Paul Hubbert was the builder and king of this powerful organization. He became known as the King of Goat Hill. He reigned omnipotently over the Alabama Legislature.

  All dynasties have to end. The AEA reign began to end with Dr. Hubbert’s retirement. The choice to succeed Dr. Hubbert with Henry Mabry was devastating for the organization. Mabry’s ludicrous and foolhardy stay was the worst nightmare that Hubbert could have imagined.

Tuesday, February 12, 2019

Reclaiming religious freedom

  Last month, the most religiously diverse U.S. Congress in our nation’s history was sworn into office. For proponents of religious liberty, this was an incredible opportunity to celebrate this fundamental American right. At the same time, however, the current political context raises crucial challenges to religious liberty that this Congress must urgently address. Even as more religious minorities are elected to our nation’s highest offices, protections for those groups are widely being stripped away. And in recent years, many self-proclaimed religious liberty advocates have instead done much to abuse this right by privileging the religious beliefs of a select few over the freedom of all people. Their efforts have eroded the separation of church and state in order to discriminate against specific vulnerable communities. The right to religious liberty should protect these communities and all people from discrimination—not cause them harm.

Monday, February 11, 2019

Hank Sanders: Sketches #1652 - The Jubilee is coming!

  The Jubilee is coming! The Jubilee is upon us! The 27th Annual Bridge Crossing Jubilee is coming to Selma, Alabama. It is less than a month away. It arrives on Thursday, February 28th and continues through Sunday, March 3rd. The Jubilee is really upon us!

  The Jubilee is massive. There are 40-50 events over the four-day Jubilee period. Additional events not sponsored by the Jubilee take place as well. There is so much happening. The Jubilee is massive in many ways.

Sunday, February 10, 2019

The shutdown shook faith in government jobs, and that’s bad for everyone

  The federal government has reopened after the longest shutdown in history, which caused federal workers to miss two paychecks and cost the economy $11 billion dollars — $3 billion of which will never be recouped. The scariest part, though, might be that this horror show is starting to seem normal.

  This is the third time the government has shut down in the last year and — unless President Donald Trump drops his demand for a border wall — everything from the national parks to the National Science Foundation could be closing up shop again on Feb. 16.

  In the face of all that, America’s federal workers are thinking twice about their careers — and that’s bad for workers and the country.

Saturday, February 9, 2019

Hurtling toward bankruptcy

  The federal government owes people almost $22 trillion. That means that American taxpayers owe people almost $22 trillion. That’s because the federal government has no money of its own. The money it gets comes entirely from American taxpayers. That’s what the IRS is for — to make certain that everyone sends his or her required amount of taxes to the federal government to enable it to cover its expenditures.

  According to usdebtclock.org (which is an Internet spectacle worth looking at), federal tax revenue amounts to around $3.3 trillion. The amount of federal expenditures is over $4.1 trillion. That means that almost another trillion dollars will be added to the government’s debt load, making it $23 trillion.

Friday, February 8, 2019

Burnout is a capitalism problem, not a millennial one

  Over the weekend, the New York Times ran another iteration in the conversation about millennial burnout, this time focusing on the hustling economy — a topic that has been amply critiqued in recent years. Writer Erin Griffith explored “toil glamour” and the high expectations to love the work you’re doing so much that you’ll put in long hours at the hustle. #RiseAndGrind, you’re falling behind. It followed on Anne Helen Petersen’s incredibly popular Buzzfeed piece on millennial burnout that focused on debt, disrupted career paths, dashed dreams, and reluctance to do errands.

  The fundamental flaw of such pieces — often beautifully written and deeply intimate — is that they are personal. They highlight the struggles of a narrow swath of the authors’ generation but fail to consider the larger implications that their experiences may have for the country as a whole. They bemoan a failure to achieve a promised life, but this life was only promised to, and expected by, a specific group of people.