Sunday, August 28, 2016

Jacob G. Hornberger: Do you want a peaceful and prosperous society or not?

  Every Sunday at my church, we are exhorted to pray, among other things, for peace in the world and for the men and women who serve our nation — i.e., the military and the CIA. Naturally, the priests who craft the prayer, along with most of the congregation, fail to see the irony of those two prayers. That is, they fail to see that it is the Pentagon and the CIA whose activities around the world, especially in the Middle East and Afghanistan, are a major reason that Americans live without peace and prosperity.

Saturday, August 27, 2016

SPLC backs consumer protection rule restricting forced arbitration

  The Southern Poverty Law Center joined 286 advocacy groups on August 23 voicing support for the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau’s (CFPB) proposal to restrict the financial industry’s use of forced arbitration – a tactic employed by Wall Street banks and predatory lenders to prevent consumers from challenging illegal practices in court.

  In a letter submitted on the final day of the proposed rule’s public comment period, the groups lauded it as “a significant step forward in the ongoing fight to curb predatory practices in consumer financial products and services.” The CFPB will consider the public’s comments before issuing the final rule.

Friday, August 26, 2016

The Dividends of coastal conservation in the United States

  In his 2015 Earth Day speech at Everglades National Park, President Barack Obama hailed America’s national parks, proclaiming, “We are blessed with the most beautiful God-given landscape in the world.” He is not the only one who feels this way.

  In 2015, more than 1 million people visited the Everglades National Park to enjoy its mangrove forests, sawgrass prairies, and extraordinary wildlife. Located on the southern tip of Florida, it is just one of hundreds of coastal and marine parks, wildlife refuges, and marine sanctuaries in the United States. All of these places were designated to preserve America’s publicly owned natural and cultural treasures, both along its shores and under its seas and Great Lakes. Not only do these jewels of American natural and cultural heritage hold immeasurable intrinsic value, but they also provide bountiful economic benefits to their surrounding communities and to the U.S. economy as a whole. The 1.08 million visitors to Everglades National Park in 2015 spent more than $103 million in nearby communities, helping sustain 1,521 jobs and diversify the economies of the surrounding counties.

Thursday, August 25, 2016

Gene Policinski: Trump, Clinton show value of a free, independent press

  Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton may well be the best things that have happened to a free press in a long time.

  “Best” not in terms of ratings, circulation, advertising or such, though some media will see a temporary bump up.  And it’s certainly not because the pair are singing the news media’s praises.  Far from it. Trump finds time seemingly every day to slam the “corrupt, dishonest, media.” And Clinton hasn’t had a news conference in … well, several reporters covering her campaign said in recent days they have lost track after about 250 on how many days it’s been since she last sat for one.

Wednesday, August 24, 2016

Steve Flowers: Inside the Statehouse: Is this the end of television's political power?

  In 1960, television was a new medium. Most Americans did not have televisions in the early 1950s. However, by 1960 the majority of the country had fallen in love with Lucy and TV.

  Presidential races had been run by party bosses in urban enclaves like New York and Boston. Political parties and party conventions were extremely important. The parties were controlled by longtime political pols and insiders. Powerful governors and senators would control their state delegations at the nominating conventions and would yield inordinate power at a critical point in the process.

Tuesday, August 23, 2016

Richard Cohen: Donald Trump, poll watchers and voter fraud

  The strangest presidential campaign is getting even stranger.

  Donald Trump has recently raised the specter of massive voter fraud, saying that he could lose in Pennsylvania only if “in certain sections of the state they cheat.” And he’s proposed a remedy: volunteer poll watchers.

  It’s a remedy that’s now being trumpeted by white supremacists and far-right conspiracy theorists.

  The great irony here is that we have far more to fear from efforts to combat voter fraud, including the potential for an army of Trump poll watchers, than we do from any actual voter fraud.

Monday, August 22, 2016

Sam Fulwood III: Police gone wild

  The U.S. Department of Justice’s investigation of police misconduct in Baltimore is 163 pages of horror reading.

  Almost Kafkaesque—albeit in a dry, statistic-laden prose—the report details how Baltimore’s nearly 3,000-member police force acts like an occupying military force in some unruly wilderness. The feds wasted no time in getting to the point—indeed, in the opening paragraph of the executive summary, the investigators “[conclude] that there is reasonable cause to believe that [the Baltimore Police Department] engages in a pattern or practice of conduct that violates the Constitution or federal law.”

Sunday, August 21, 2016

Hank Sanders: Senate Sketches #1523: How do we lift our children?

  How do we lift our children? In everything I try to do, my most important mission is to lift our children. I saw our children lifted in a special way last weekend. Before I get to this special lifting, I want to lay the foundation by sharing a family experience that lifted my children.

  When my children were growing up, we would drive to far-off places so they could go along and learn. As we traveled, we shared stories from our life experiences. Among my children’s favorites were the stories of struggle about my growing up. They would ask me over and over again to tell some of the same stories of struggle.

Saturday, August 20, 2016

Craig Ford: Debt is the real reason for the special legislative session

  The Alabama Legislature returned to Montgomery this week for what may end up being only the first of more special legislative sessions.

  Gov. Robert Bentley said the purpose for this legislative session was to vote on a lottery to fund Medicaid and other general fund proposals.

  While the lottery is being debated in the Senate, the Alabama House of Representatives is debating how to spend $850 million from the BP oil spill settlement.

  But the devil is always in the details, and what these bills are really about is debt.

Friday, August 19, 2016

Michael Josephson: Rebuilding your life and reputation

  Larry wrote me the following letter: “I’ve been a small businessman for almost 23 years in a business where people lie, cheat, and steal. I’m sorry to say I became one of them. In the short term it may have helped, but long term it came back to haunt me. There’s no amount of success that’s worth it. I am now 48 years old. I have lost my good name; my values and my ethics have been destroyed. Is there any way I will ever be able to restore my reputation and lead a life of integrity?”