Monday, April 23, 2018

Joseph O. Patton: The Great Pretenders

  Every self-described progressive or person of conscience is quick to tell you how they support social justice and equality. I sure as hell do… and I’m not shy when it comes to expressing it. But what does it say about someone who only brandishes some type of righteous anger when a victim of discrimination or racial profiling looks like them or shares their sexuality, religious preference, gender or some other key characteristic?

Sunday, April 22, 2018

Andrew Sasser: The shared foundation of liberals and conservatives

  Political discussion in the United States is often framed by party allegiance. When people are asked to explain the rationale behind their choice to identify with a specific party, however, they often cannot give an answer beyond listing particular positions that they support or oppose. While an understanding of specific policies is important, limiting debate to the realm of policy misses out on the deeper questions that lie at the heart of any political society.

Saturday, April 21, 2018

Hank Sanders: Senate Sketches #1610: I am not retiring; I am just not running again

  “What are you going to do now that you are retired?” I get some version of this question all the time. Therefore, I decided to write about this concern. I am not retired. I am not retiring.

  I announced in February that I would not run again. I had already qualified to run for a tenth term. I did not withdraw my candidacy before qualifying ended on February 9, 2018. In fact, I only withdrew my candidacy in early March. But I knew in my heart that it was time.

Friday, April 20, 2018

"The Civil War is over, the Confederacy lost and we are better for it."

  In five Southern states, we’re in the middle of Confederate History Month, a dubious designation that’s at odds with the reckoning the region has engaged in since the Charleston church massacre by white supremacist Dylann Roof in 2015.

  Roof’s act of terror began to shake the South out of its 150-year reverence for the Confederacy, a glorification cemented, in part, by the widespread installation of monuments that peaked during the period after Jim Crow was established, and again during the civil rights movement. As the nation mourned the victims in Charleston, grassroots organizers like Take ‘Em Down NOLA modeled the kind of work necessary to persuade local governments to remove these monuments to slavery, white supremacy, and oppression from public places.

Thursday, April 19, 2018

Trump’s executive order on work requirements punishes low-income people for being poor

  President Trump is quietly curtailing access to social safety nets for our nation’s most vulnerable people.

  The executive order he signed last week requiring federal agencies to establish or strengthen work requirements for social services — and reports that his administration is considering a proposal that would allow states to require drug testing for food stamp recipients — is not only heartless, it’s also based on false premises, including the assumption that poor people do not work.

Wednesday, April 18, 2018

Steve Flowers: Inside the Statehouse: Legislative races to watch

  Our antiquated 1901 Constitution was designed to give inordinate power to the Alabama Legislature. During the Wallace years, the King of Alabama politics himself usurped this power and controlled the legislature from the state's executive branch. Over the last couple of decades, the legislature has wrestled this power back and pretty much excluded the governor from their bailiwick. Governors Bob Riley and Robert Bentley were ostracized and pretty much ignored. Their proposed budgets were instantaneously tossed into the nearest trashcan.

Tuesday, April 17, 2018

Craig Ford: How we can make our schools safer

  Education is the most important service our government provides, and one of the top issues impacting education is school safety.

  Unfortunately, it seems like every conversation about school safety always turns into a debate about guns, and nothing ever gets done.

  But there are a lot of things we can – and should – be doing to make our schools safer without even getting into the gun issue. In fact, mass shootings are only one threat to our schools. Kidnappings, sexual assaults, fights and bomb threats are also concerns, and none of those have anything to do with guns.

Monday, April 16, 2018

Trump, Pompeo, and Bolton: The path to war

  President Donald Trump is putting the United States on a dangerous path to devastating wars by shuffling his national security team to assemble a war Cabinet. To fill the position of America’s top diplomat, President Trump has chosen the hawkish current CIA Director Mike Pompeo—a man who notoriously prefers regime change to diplomacy. And newly appointed National Security Adviser John R. Bolton was one of the principal architects and defenders of the Iraq War; wants to abrogate the Iran deal; and appears eager to launch preventive military strikes against North Korea. Both Pompeo and Bolton replace less hawkish advisers and will enable the worst instincts of the already erratic and reckless President Trump. By nominating Pompeo and appointing Bolton, Trump has chosen a path that could lead to war.

Sunday, April 15, 2018

Trump’s trade war destroys our freedom

  It is a fundamental economic axiom that trade raises people’s standard of living. That’s because in every trade, both traders are giving up something they value less for something they value more. As soon as a trade is completed, both actors have raised their standard of living based on their individual, subjective valuations.

  You go to the grocery store and spend $100.You gave up the $100 to get things (groceries) that you valued more than the money. Your standard of living just went up. So did the standard of living of the grocer. He gave up something he valued less (the groceries) for something he valued more (the money).

Saturday, April 14, 2018

Jacob G. Hornberger: Immigration militarism

  Immigration statists are celebrating! Their icon, President Trump, has granted them their long-held wish. He has announced that he intends to militarize the U.S.-Mexico border by dispatching U.S. troops to that part of the country. You know — to defend our borders and our national sovereignty and, of course, to protect us from all those illegal immigrants who are “invading” our country (and stealing our jobs).

  Trump and his acolytes have been terribly frustrated over his inability to get his infamous wall built along the border. Not only has Trump failed to persuade or force Mexico to pay for it, he’s also been unable to get Congress to do so.

Friday, April 13, 2018

Sinclair: Next time, just put your name to the message

  Sinclair Broadcasting’s recent promotional message on the state of today’s news — delivered to its TV audiences nationwide — is as protected by the First Amendment as it was an oafish attempt to hide corporate messaging under the veneer of local news reporting.

  In other words, it was commentary from a conservative company that has a First Amendment right to express its views, but it was also a shoddy tactic that undermined the very thing Sinclair’s leadership claimed to support: good journalism.

Thursday, April 12, 2018

The Intersection of youth activism and faith-based values

  At times, young activists have been accused of being apathetic to the world around them, but history shows that they have played an important role in efforts to achieve critical change through progressive social movements. Today, student activists—some of whom are motivated by their faith—continue to drive such movements. On March 24, 2018, more than one month after the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School shooting in Parkland, Fla., students organized the March for Our Lives, a massive rally demanding policy change to prevent gun violence and increase public safety. With an estimated 800,000 people in Washington, D.C., joined by approximately 800 sister marches across the country and throughout the world, the March for Our Lives was one of the largest youth protests since the Vietnam War.

Wednesday, April 11, 2018

Steve Flowers: Inside the Statehouse: The Congressional race to watch in Alabama

  There are dramatic differences between our congressional delegation of the 1940s-1960s and our group on the Potomac today. Obviously, their partisan badges have changed, as have Alabamians. There is also a tremendous difference in power and seniority of that era versus today’s group. That bygone era of Alabama congressmen was very progressive and they were New Deal Democrats, whereas, our delegation today is one of the most conservative in America.

Tuesday, April 10, 2018

We need Dr. King's radical vision. We don't need a convenient hero.

  It was storming the night Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. delivered his final speech in Memphis, a storm so thunderous it made him jump at the pulpit.

  It was storming again on the 50th anniversary of that speech, the night we arrived in Memphis to take part in the National Civil Rights Museum’s ceremony outside the Lorraine Motel, where King was assassinated in 1968.

Monday, April 9, 2018

Taylor’s Top Eight: End-of-session edition

  It’s been just over a week since the 2018 Regular Session of the Alabama Legislature came to an end. After marinating on this year’s 26 legislative days, here are my takeaways in the final legislative review for 2018.

  There were a few pieces of legislation for which our legislators deserve a round of applause.

Sunday, April 8, 2018

Fifty years after Dr. King’s assassination: I remember most how he lived

  I remember the day like it was yesterday. I was walking across the Harvard Law School Yard. It was dust dark. A fellow Harvard Law School classmate was walking in the opposite direction. He just said, “They killed him.” He didn’t say who they killed, but I knew from the tone, inflection and weight in his voice. It was April 4, 1968. The “him” was Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

  It has now been 50 years since that fateful day. I can still feel the intense pain. I can still feel the exploding hurt. I can still feel the profound loss. Still, I don’t want to focus on the terrible death on that one day. Rather, I want to focus on the life Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. lived during the 14,324 days starting January 15, 1929, his date of birth, and ending April 4, 1968, his date of death. It was truly an extraordinary life.

Saturday, April 7, 2018

Jacob G. Hornberger: Show me your immigration plan

  Whenever liberals or conservatives tell you that they favor immigration controls, one way to stop them dead in their tracks is to say to them: Show me your plan.

  They will stare at you blankly. They will be dumbfounded. They won’t know what to say. It is likely that they will simply respond with something like, “A nation has the right to control its borders.”

  Okay, but what is your plan for making your system of immigration controls work? What is your plan for finally bringing an end to the ongoing, never-ending “immigration crisis” that has lasted for at least 70 years?

Friday, April 6, 2018

Hank Sanders: Senate Sketches #1608: Our children are more powerful and smarter than we know

  Our children are powerful. Our children are far more powerful than we know. They can go where we cannot go. They can do what we cannot do. They can unleash explosive energies that seemed securely bound. They can move those of us who know we need to move but can’t move. Our children are more powerful than we know.

  The power of our children was on full display with the March for Our Lives. There were more than eight hundred thousand participants at just one march in Washington, D.C., our nation’s capitol. And there were more than eight hundred other marches around the world with hundreds of thousands of marchers. That’s great power. But the power of our children did not start with the children of today. It started a long time ago. I can’t go that far back, but I can personally go back more than half a century.

Thursday, April 5, 2018

Craig Ford: The most important decision Alabama will make

  The Alabama Legislative Session has come to an end, but legislators won’t be the ones making the most important decision our government will make this year. The State Board of Education will make that decision in April when they choose our next State Superintendent of Education.

  For all of the high-profile issues that have been raised in this legislative session, public education is still the most important issue our state government is responsible for. The education budget is three times the size of the general fund budget, and what happens in education can impact everything else, including job creation and even prison overcrowding.

Wednesday, April 4, 2018

Steve Flowers: Inside the Statehouse: Makeup of Alabama Legislature unlikely to change this year

  Republicans took control of federal offices and presidential races in 1964 in Alabama. It was referred to as the Goldwater Landslide. The Baxley-Graddick fiasco in 1986 was the game changer for the governorship. In the last 32 years, there have been eight governor’s races. Republicans have won all of them, with one exception. Don Siegelman was an interloper in 1998.

  During that same period, Alabamians have elected all Republicans to every secondary statewide office. There are six secondary constitutional offices. All six are held by Republicans. There are nine justices on the Alabama Supreme Court. There are also 10 judges on the Civil and Criminal Courts of Appeals. These 19 judges are all Republicans. If you add the three seats on the Public Service Commission to this list and include the governor, that is 29 state offices. All 29 are held by Republicans. In addition, we have seven seats in Congress. Six out of seven of our Congressional members are Republicans. Folks, that makes us a pretty Republican state. 

Tuesday, April 3, 2018

Gun violence expert explains the link between inequality and gun deaths

  Support for gun safety laws is at an all-time high. More Americans than ever supported new laws to reduce gun violence—including nearly 70 percent of adults and half of all Republicans. But gun safety measures, while critical, are only the tip of the iceberg in addressing gun violence in the country.

  In both the United States and globally, gun violence is strongly correlated with both poverty and inequality. A recent World Bank study found that inequality helped predict the difference in murder rates between states in the United States—as well as between countries. Suicides, which make up the majority of gun deaths in the country, skyrocket in times of economic distress. The Great Recession alone was linked to more than 10,000 suicides, according to one study.

Monday, April 2, 2018

Environmental safety changes are threatening children’s health

  Imagine learning that water from your tap might be harmful to your family’s health. Imagine that in addition to thinking about the food you feed your children—something you can try to control—you must worry about the water they use to brush their teeth and wash their faces before school. For the past three years, Amy Brown has done just that. When Brown received a letter in 2015 from the NC Department of Environmental Quality warning that her North Carolina home’s water could be contaminated with heavy metals such as lead and mercury, she stopped using it. Today, she and her family continue to use bottled water for basic necessities.

Sunday, April 1, 2018

Jacob G. Hornberger: The best hope for Korea: The North Korean citizenry

  With President Trump’s appointment of John Bolton as his new “national security advisor,” don’t be surprised if the Trump administration again begins banging the war drums against North Korea. Bolton has expressed support for initiating an attack against North Korea if it refuses to dismantle its nuclear bombs and missiles. For what it’s worth, Bolton was also a fervent supporter of the U.S. government’s attack in 2003 on Iraq, a country that, like North Korea, never attacked the United States.

Saturday, March 31, 2018

Efforts by anti-choice advocates to redefine and limit contraception

  The U.S. Supreme Court’s 1973 landmark decision in Roe v. Wade was a critical step forward for women’s equality, establishing vital, constitutionally protected privacy rights that enable women to access abortion services. However, the ruling also became a target for anti-choice politicians and advocates to organize around. Since the Supreme Court’s decision, these groups’ attacks on abortion access have become an everyday reality that reproductive health advocates, providers, and patients must face. From targeted regulation of abortion provider (TRAP) laws to mandatory waiting periods and biased counseling, there is a well-organized and widespread effort to limit a woman’s ability to make decisions about her own reproductive health when it comes to pregnancy.

Friday, March 30, 2018

Hank Sanders: Senate Sketches #1607: Women are powerful!

  Women are powerful. We don’t really appreciate the power of women. We don’t understand or even perceive the real power of women. Even women don’t fully understand their power. We are all weaker for our failure to understand and value the power of women. The month of March is Women’s History Month. Therefore, I want to lift the power of women.

  I began to appreciate the power of women when I was a child. I was in constant conflict with my mother, Ola Mae Sanders. We clashed over and over. I did not prevail in any of these clashes. This woman was too powerful.

Thursday, March 29, 2018

Are high schools teaching students to devalue free speech?

  It seems like every few months we’re treated to the results of a new survey that has something dismaying to report about how young people approach free speech. Last fall, the Brookings Institute reported that college students have a number of misconceptions about how the First Amendment works — a significant percentage believes that it doesn’t protect hate speech and that it requires that an offensive speaker at a public university be matched with another speaker with an opposing view. A recent survey conducted by Gallup and the Knight Foundation found that 37 percent of college students think that shouting down an offensive campus speaker is acceptable; even more troubling, another 10 percent said that violence is also an acceptable tactic for silencing an offensive speaker.

Wednesday, March 28, 2018

Steve Flowers: Inside the Statehouse: Sizing up the 2018 statewide races

  Every Alabama constitutional statewide office is up for election this year. Just like the governor’s office, you can serve two consecutive four-year terms and then you are through.

  Kay Ivey would have been term-limited as lieutenant governor. She could not have run again for that post even though she ascended to the governorship last year. Young Boozer has served his two, four-year term limit as Alabama Treasurer. Young has chosen to not run again for anything. John McMillan has exhausted his eight years as Alabama's Agriculture Commissioner. He is running for State Treasurer and is favored to win that post. John Merrill can run for another four-year term as Secretary of State, which is what he is doing. The same is true for State Auditor, Jim Zeigler.

Tuesday, March 27, 2018

Hank Sanders: Senate Sketches #1606: My last legislative session is coming to an end

  My last legislative session is coming to an end. By the time you read this Sketches there will only be a few meeting days until we adjourn sine die (indefinitely). I am debating what to write about in this Sketches #1607. Should I write specifically about this session? Should I write about my service over the last 35 years? Should I just write? I don’t really know. I just know my last legislative session is coming to an end.

Monday, March 26, 2018

Taylor’s Top Four: Alabama Legislative review for week 11

  The countdown is on! What’s happening as the session winds down? Read below to find out!

1. Gun bills might be finished for this session

  With time quickly winding down in the legislative session, the House Public Safety and Homeland Security Committee had a meeting scheduled on Tuesday to consider several things: a bill that raises the age to by an AR-15 from 18 to 21; a bill that would allow judges to take firearms away from individuals who might use them for self-harm or harm to others; and a bill that would ban the sale of AR-15s and other similar guns. The meeting was canceled due to lack of participation—only 4 of the 11 representatives on the committee showed up for the meeting. Additionally, the house, on Tuesday, left without debating Rep. Will Ainsworth’s (R-Guntersville) bill to arm teachers. With the session expected to end this week and with no action on the bills last week, it appears that time has run out for these bills this session. Speaker Mac McCutcheon (R-Monrovia) has said that Ainsworth’s bill will come up again next session, while Ainsworth has called on Governor Ivey to call a special session to consider school safety proposals.

Sunday, March 25, 2018

Teacher strikes are about more than salaries, and they’re not over

  When I tell stories about the two years I spent as a public school teacher, I instinctively glance at my hands. I’ve learned to cover for it by stretching my arms out in front of me like I’m winding up to pitch, or sliding my hands into my pockets to strike my most casual conversational pose. What I’m actually doing is looking at the piece of graphite that’s still buried in my right palm.

  Every teacher has at least one class that they need to watch at all times, and mine was fifth period English in 2011. They were the students who made substitutes cry, and that once knocked down the temporary wall separating my room from the one next door. One day, after I passed out pencils, I tried to put the extras down on the desk behind me without turning around. I missed and hit the edge of the desk, driving the freshly-sharpened tips straight into my own palm.

Saturday, March 24, 2018

Why prison reform is not enough to fix the U.S. criminal justice system

  The Trump administration kicked off 2018 by expressing a surprising, newfound interest in reforming the country’s prisons and strengthening opportunities for those incarcerated to successfully re-enter their communities upon completion of their sentences. In mid-January, the White House convened a group of conservative governors and advocates for a roundtable discussion on prison reform, organized by President Donald Trump’s senior adviser and son-in-law, Jared Kushner. The president also mentioned prison reform in his 2018 State of the Union speech, stating that “this year we will embark on reforming our prisons to help former inmates who have served their time get a second chance.” Most recently, the White House relaunched a task force initially established by former President Barack Obama—now rebranded as the Federal Interagency Council on Crime Prevention and Improving Reentry—which comprises federal agencies to coordinate the federal government’s policies to reduce recidivism.

Friday, March 23, 2018

Hank Sanders: Senate Sketches #1604: Come share with me!

  Come share with me. If you participated in the 25th Bridge Crossing Jubilee in Selma, then you can remember with me. If you didn’t participate, you can share vicariously with me.

  The Bridge Crossing Jubilee was massive. The 2018 theme was "Many More Bridges To Cross". There were more than 50 events over a four-day period. Not every event is officially sponsored by the Bridge Crossing Jubilee. However, more than 40 of the 50-plus events are official Jubilee events. Still, all events are part of the Jubilee in spirit. The great majority of these events are free.

Thursday, March 22, 2018

The radical right is thriving inside the White House - outside, it's falling apart

  He crisscrossed the country. He fought in court. But white nationalist Richard Spencer has a simple explanation for why he will no longer give speeches on college campuses to spread the racist ideology of the so-called “alt-right.”

  “They aren’t fun anymore,” he said recently.

  Spencer’s explanation — as though white nationalism has ever been, or should ever be, “fun” — was a harbinger of what was to come from the radical right last week.

Wednesday, March 21, 2018

Steve Flowers: Inside the Statehouse: Dramatic gubernatorial race brewing

  When talk turns to politics in Alabama, it usually leads to the governor’s race. In Alabama politics, the governor’s office is the Brass Ring. It is talked about more than anything else around coffee clubs and kitchen tables from Sand Mountain to the Wiregrass. It is comparable to college football being the king of all sports in Alabama.

  This infatuation with the governor’s office is borne out in the state's voting history. In most states, the presidential race sees the largest voter turnout, but that is not the case in Alabama where we have historically voted more heavily in gubernatorial years. Governor race years also have most of the important local offices up for grabs. “All politics is local.”

Tuesday, March 20, 2018

Require background checks for all gun sales

  Under current federal law, some individuals are prohibited from buying and possessing guns for reasons such as a prior felony conviction, history of domestic abuse, or involuntary commitment for mental health treatment. Licensed gun dealers are required to conduct a background check for every gun sale in order to ensure that they are not selling guns to prohibited purchasers.

  However, a substantial gap in the law allows unlicensed sellers—such as private individuals who sell guns online, at gun shows, or anywhere else—to sell guns without first conducting a background check. This means that prohibited purchasers can easily evade the law by buying guns through private transactions.

Monday, March 19, 2018

Taylor’s Top Four: Alabama Legislative Session review for week 10

  The session looks to be winding down, but we aren’t going anywhere! Here’s your recap of week 10 in the Alabama Legislature.

  If you want to receive daily news from across the state and nation straight to your inbox each morning, click here to subscribe to the Alabama Policy Institute’s Daily Clips.

1. General Fund budget has almost cleared its last hurdle 

  On Tuesday, the house passed the 2019 General Fund budget, which passed the Senate in February. The Montgomery Advertiser reported that it was the fastest the budget has passed in years: “‘The Clerk of the House, who’s been here 30 years, said that’s the fastest he’s seen it,’ said House Ways and Means General Fund chair Steve Clouse, R-Ozark. ‘It’s my 24th year, and I know that was the fastest.'” There are a few things in this budget that have been widely talked about this year: a pay raise for state employees, a bonus for state retirees, a funding increase for the Department of Corrections, and another increase for Medicaid.

Sunday, March 18, 2018

Hank Sanders: Senate Sketches #1605: It is so painful, it hurts deep down inside

  Sometimes I have to speak. Sometimes I have to write. I am not anxious to speak. I write every week, but I am not anxious to write. But sometimes I have to write. This is one of those times I have to write. It is so painful, it hurts deep down inside.

  It was a mass murder at a school. Seventeen school children and school personnel died. Another seventeen were shot and injured but did not die. That’s 34 persons shot in one mass shooting, one mass murder.

Saturday, March 17, 2018

Craig Ford: Let’s make universal pre-K a reality

  I believe that everyone between the ages of four and sixty-four should either be in a good school or a good job. That is why one of my long-time goals has been to see every four-year-old in Alabama have access to the state’s nationally-recognized pre-K program.

  The State of Alabama has done a good job in recent years of expanding the program, and expanding the program has received broad, bipartisan support. In fact, in an age where Democrats and Republicans rarely agree on any major issue, pre-K has been the one program that has unified everybody.

  Why is the pre-K program so popular and so important? Because it works!

Friday, March 16, 2018

Rebecca Wood: The bill that would legalize discrimination against my daughter

  My daughter was born 26 weeks into my pregnancy. When Charlie arrived she weighed one pound and 12 ounces, and she was just as long as my finger. During the first few weeks of her life, I watched her overcome what felt like insurmountable obstacles. She struggled to breathe, her stomach wasn’t mature enough to digest food, and her skin was so thin it was agony for her to be held. I worried that we were asking too much of her, but she fought to survive. Today, she is a joyous 5-year-old, though she has residual effects of her significantly premature birth. Charlie was incredibly susceptible to infections, and she has delays in speech and fine motor development. She will go through life with a disability: she needs help tying her shoes, using scissors, and opening her lunch.

Thursday, March 15, 2018

Gene Policinski: The White House is wrong. A free press is ‘the people’

  An angry U.S. president feels hounded by the news media and is infuriated and discouraged with the intense and personal criticism of his domestic and international policies.

  I would suspect virtually all of you read that opening paragraph and thought of Donald Trump – and not of George Washington.

  But, in fact, it was our first president who felt the pressure of critics who attacked not just his administration but his personal integrity: A leading newspaper criticized him for a 61st birthday party it said was “monarchical” – apparently, a real political body slam in 1792. A critical press was a major reason he declined a third term, scholars say.

Wednesday, March 14, 2018

Steve Flowers: Inside the Statehouse: Is this it for Martha Roby?

  Well, folks, the 2018 political year has begun and all of the horses are in the chute. It is going to be a good year for horse races.

  Perennially, the year of the governor’s race has been the best year for Alabama politics. Historically, most Alabamians have been more interested in who they elect as governor than who they elect as president. However, we have really been more interested in who is sheriff than president. If the old adage that “All politics is local” applies in Tip O’Neil’s Massachusetts, it applies doubly in the Heart of Dixie.

Tuesday, March 13, 2018

The problem with privatizing public education for military students

  On March 7, Rep. Jim Banks (R-IN) introduced the Military Education Savings Act of 2018 to divert funding from a long-standing federal program, Impact Aid, into a voucher-like program to pay for private school tuition, tutoring, or homeschooling materials for military families. The bill is modeled off a Heritage Foundation proposal, which is supported by Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos, to create education savings accounts (ESAs) for certain military-connected students—or students who have a parent on active duty. The ESAs would create an account for military-connected students not enrolled in public schools that could be used for private school tuition, private tutoring, online programs, or textbooks. The proposal is yet another attempt to launch private school voucher programs, instead of investing public money in public schools.

Monday, March 12, 2018

We're deporting people who were Americans before the U.S. existed

  The screaming blocks out all other sound. In more than two minutes of footage, the only words audible above the girls’ sobbing:  “Get in the car.” “Mom!” “Where is she going?” “Are you guys alone?” “Yes.”

  The video, posted to Facebook on Thursday, shows at least two Border Patrol agents physically tearing Perla Morales-Luna out of her daughters’ arms and pushing her into a U.S. Customs and Border Protection vehicle.

Sunday, March 11, 2018

Parker Snider: Alabama can do more for its military families

  According to a recent survey, a majority of military family members do not feel that they belong in their local civilian communities. This means that less than half of military families that live in our neighborhoods, shop at our malls, and attend our places of worship feel at home with us.

  Why is this the case?

  Perhaps it is because of one of the staples of military life – regular mandated relocation. Members of our military often have little to no say in where they live or how often they move, something they do an estimated 10 times more than civilian families. Nevertheless, they choose to sacrifice their desires and expectations for the good of our country.

Saturday, March 10, 2018

Taylor’s Top 5: Legislative Session Review for Week 9

  We are back with your recap of another week in Montgomery! What happened last week in the Alabama Legislature and beyond? Read below to find out!

  If you want to receive daily news from across the state and nation straight to your inbox each morning, click here to subscribe to the Alabama Policy Institute’s Daily Clips.

1. Tax cuts might soon be in store for some Alabama families.

  On Thursday, the Alabama House of Representatives passed a modest tax break bill that increases the standard deduction for an estimated 180,000 lower-income Alabamians by a vote of 89-0. Residents who file Married Filing Joint, Head of Family, or Single and make between $20,500 and $32,999 could see a decrease in taxes if they typically accept the standard deduction and do not itemize. Those who file as Married Filing Separate must make between $10,250 and $15,249 to qualify. The bill passed the senate without opposition in January and now heads to Gov. Kay Ivey’s desk.

Friday, March 9, 2018

Richard M. Ebeling: Trump’s protectionist follies threaten a trade war

  President Donald Trump has announced the planned imposition of a new 25 percent tariff on imported steel and a 10 percent tariff on foreign-made aluminum entering the United States. This has brought about threats of trade retaliation by a number of America’s trading partners. The menacing clouds of a possible trade war are showing themselves on the global horizon.

  Claiming that other countries are taking advantage of the U.S., as reflected in American trade deficits, Trump, in one of his infamous tweets, has declared that “trade wars  are good, and easy to win.” How and why? Trump asserted: “Example, when we are down $100 billion with a certain country and they get cute, don’t trade anymore-we win big. It’s easy!”

Thursday, March 8, 2018

Michael Josephson: Truth matters and trustworthiness matters

  Truth matters and it's your moral responsibility to find it. Trustworthiness matters and it's your moral duty to insist on it.

  Never in my lifetime has truth been more important or more elusive.

  Though hard to find, within every mountain of careless claims, unsubstantiated assertions, fallacious reasoning and outright lies, there are true facts and credible sources. It is your moral duty to find them.

Wednesday, March 7, 2018

Steve Flowers: Inside the Statehouse: Political players to watch in 2018

  As the June primaries for our statewide races get closer, there is a lot of media attention on the power being wielded by special interests and PACs. The focus is on the large amount of cash and influence being bet on the horses for governor and the Alabama Legislature.

  The Business Council of Alabama and ALFA are getting prepared to protect their friends and allies and to punish their enemies. These two powerful and money-laden special interests will be players in the 2018 horse races. Surprisingly, these two pro-business organizations are not riding the same horses in a good many races, especially statewide. 

Tuesday, March 6, 2018

Teen activists aren't new.... Celebrating them is

  Last week began with the sixth anniversary of Trayvon Martin's death. It ended with a march commemorating the 53rd anniversary of Bloody Sunday, the day voting rights activists were beaten by lawmen on Selma's Edmund Pettus Bridge.

  By any measure, it was a week steeped in not only the history of racial inequality in America but also in our rich history of activism.

  Nowhere is that more evident than at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, where students have riveted the country with their pleas for gun reform after the horrific Valentine’s Day shooting that left 17 students and teachers dead.

Monday, March 5, 2018

Parker Snider: Increased polarization in politics: Bad for Alabama and the country

  Our politics is increasingly polarized. Yelling matches on cable news are the norm, and those with opposing viewpoints are labeled as bigoted or anti-American. The division has gotten to the point that, according to the Pew Research Center, most Republicans and Democrats have few or no friends in the opposing party.

  The question, therefore, is two-fold: a) What are the causes of increased polarization? and b) Is increased polarization something we need to address?

Sunday, March 4, 2018

Lawrence J. Korb: Trump’s defense budget

  Since coming into office a little more than a year ago, the Trump administration—with help from the Republican-controlled Congress—has added more than $200 billion to the projected levels of defense spending for fiscal years 2017 through 2019. Shortly after taking office, President Donald Trump added $15 billion to former President Barack Obama’s FY 2017 budget, and he proposed an FY 2018 budget of $639 billion. This represented an increase of $56 billion, or 10 percent, over the proposed FY 2017 budget.

  As part of the recent deal to keep the government open, Congress agreed to increase the FY 2018 defense budget to $700 billion—an increase of $108 billion, or 18 percent, above the proposed 2017 budget—and the FY 2019 budget to $716 billion. This means that since Trump took office, the defense budget will have grown by $133 billion, or 23 percent.

Saturday, March 3, 2018

Taylor’s Top 4: Legislative Review for Week 8

  Our prayers and heartfelt condolences go out to Rep. Allen Treadaway and his family after the loss of his daughter Kelsey Treadaway earlier this week. 

  If you want to receive daily news hits from across the state and nation straight to your inbox each morning, click here to subscribe to the Alabama Policy Institute’s Daily Clips.

1. Changes to ethics laws are on the move. . . and then they’re not.

Friday, March 2, 2018

Retaliatory arrest case one of vital importance

  At first glance, a case about a Florida man arrested for speaking at a Riviera Beach City Council meeting doesn’t seem to have the makings of a seminal U.S. Supreme Court decision. But, make no mistake, the case of Lozman v. City of Riviera Beach is vitally important for citizens, particularly citizen-activists and members of the press everywhere.

  Fane Lozman opposed his city council’s attempts to redevelop the marina area where he lived in a floating home. City officials sought to redevelop the waterfront area through the power of eminent domain.

Thursday, March 1, 2018

Jacob G. Hornberger: A heroic lawsuit against the border patrol in my hometown

  A controversy near my hometown of Laredo, Texas, provides a real-life example of the violations of liberty and privacy that come with immigration controls. The issue is especially relevant to the libertarian movement given that some conservative-oriented libertarians continue trying to persuade libertarians to abandon their position in favor of open borders and instead join up with conservatives and progressives by embracing their system of immigration controls.

  According to an article at CourthouseNews.com, a South Texas rancher named Richard Palacios has filed a lawsuit against U.S. Customs and Border Protection in U.S. District Court in Laredo. The lawsuit alleges that the border patrol repeatedly trespassed onto his ranch without a warrant and over Palacios’ repeated objections.

Wednesday, February 28, 2018

Steve Flowers: Inside the Statehouse: Legislative races are heating up

  The Alabama Legislature usually gets very little done during an election year aside from passing the budgets.

  However, the legislature may have to address issues pertaining to prison health care. A federal judge has ruled that our prison mental health care system is “horrendously inadequate.” This year the solution will probably be to simply add $30 to 50 million to the prison budget and kick the can down the road to the next quadrennium.

Tuesday, February 27, 2018

The Year in Hate: Trump buoyed white supremacists in 2017, sparking backlash among black nationalist groups

  President Trump’s first year in office proved to be just as racially divisive as his campaign — but even more consequential.

  “President Trump in 2017 reflected what white supremacist groups want to see: a country where racism is sanctioned by the highest office, immigrants are given the boot and Muslims banned,” said Heidi Beirich, director of the Southern Poverty Law Center’s Intelligence Project. “When you consider that only days into 2018, Trump called African countries ‘shitholes,’ it’s clear he’s not changing his tune. And that’s music to the ears of white supremacists.”

Monday, February 26, 2018

Taylor’s Top 4: Alabama Legislative Review for Week 7

  Didn't last week seem to fly by?

  If you want to receive daily news hits from across the state and nation straight to your inbox each morning, click here to subscribe to the Alabama Policy Institute’s Daily Clips.

1. General fund budget for 2019 has passed the Alabama Senate.

  Last week, the senate passed a budget for the 2019 General Fund (GF) by a 26-2 vote. If this budget passes, it will be the biggest GF budget in a decade. This budget includes  $755 for Medicaid and grants an additional $51 million to the Department of Corrections next year. Check out this run-down of funding increases and reactions from lawmakers in this piece by J. Pepper Bryars with Yellowhammer News. During the debate over the budget on the senate floor, Sen. Bobby Singleton (D-Greensboro) proposed an amendment that would add money to fund a facility that provides vocational training for inmates, similar to the Alabama Therapeutic Education Facility located in Columbiana. The senate approved that amendment 24-6. Another amendment was offered by Sen. Trip Pittman (R-Montrose), chair of the General Fund budget committee, which increased funding to the Alabama Department of Transportation by $4.5 million. The $2 billion budget passed by a vote of 26-2 and will go to the house.

Sunday, February 25, 2018

School walkouts in the wake of ‘Parkland’ — protected by the First Amendment or not?

  The national walkouts that students are currently organizing to call for new gun control legislation are commendable examples of “Generation Z” exercising its First Amendment freedoms. Unfortunately, students, teachers and other staff are likely to run up against legal limits around free speech and protest on school grounds.

Saturday, February 24, 2018

Tax incentives: Not always the answer for Alabama’s economic struggles

  Last month, the state rejoiced with news that Alabama would be the home of a new Toyota-Mazda plant. The plant is expected to bring over 4,000 jobs and billions of dollars in net revenue to the state. With the execution of this deal, known as Project New World, state and local governments will give the two companies around $900 million in tax incentives.

  A tool used by state and local governments, tax incentives attempt to lure large businesses with the hope that the revenue brought in from that corporation will offset the incentive costs. Often, incentives leverage the taxes paid by small businesses and use them to bring a large, untouchable competitor into the state. Although small, loyal businesses pay the high tax rate year after year, tax incentives comprised of that money can hurt or destroy their business. While there are no small businesses competing with Toyota and Mazda, an increased reliance on tax incentives to bring in major consumable goods retailers can hurt local, small businesses that spend years paying into the system.

Friday, February 23, 2018

Conservative myths about Medicaid

  Access to health insurance in the United States is one of the most hotly debated issues in the national discourse. Prior to the implementation of the Affordable Care Act (ACA), 44 million Americans lacked health insurance, including many low-income nonelderly adults who did not fall within traditionally covered Medicaid eligibility groups, including pregnant women, disabled adults, and low-income children. Since the ACA went into effect in 2013, 11.9 million newly eligible people have gained coverage through Medicaid in states that chose to expand their programs. In addition to producing better health outcomes, Medicaid expansion has resulted in new enrollees having access to quality care without the threat of financial turmoil.

Thursday, February 22, 2018

Hank Sanders: Senate Sketches #1602: The Bridge Crossing Jubilee is back in full force!

  The Bridge Crossing Jubilee is back in full force. This is the 25th Jubilee. Twenty-five years is a long time. When this Sketches is published, Jubilee will be about a week away. The Jubilee starts March 1, 2018. But this Jubilee is different in important ways.

  The Jubilee draws tens of thousands each year. One year it drew more than 100,000. It is the largest annual civil rights gathering in the world, and it all happens right here in Selma, Alabama, a city of 20,000. However, people come from across America and faraway places such as Africa, Asia, Europe, South America, the Caribbean and other countries in North America.

Wednesday, February 21, 2018

Steve Flowers: Inside the Statehouse: Short legislative session playing out, but campaigns are taking shape

  The 2018 Alabama Legislative Session will be short and sweet. It is an election year. Historically, during the last year of a quadrennium, the legislature convenes early and passes the budgets, then members go home and campaign for reelection to another term. 

  Our forefathers, who wrote our 1901 Constitution, must have been thinking the same thing because they designed for the fourth year of the quadrennium legislative session to start and end early. It is set by law to begin in early January, whereas it begins in February in most years. This year’s session began January 9 and can run through April 23. The consensus is that they will adjourn sine die earlier than the April deadline. Most observers believe that they will pass the budgets and be out of Montgomery by the end of March and home campaigning by April Fools’ Day.

Tuesday, February 20, 2018

Five ways the Trump budget undermines gun violence prevention and school safety efforts

  In his address to the nation the day after the massacre at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, that killed 17 students and teachers and injured another 14, President Donald Trump vowed to take action, stating that he would soon hold meetings with governors and attorneys general in which “making our schools and our children safer will be our top priority.” He continued, “It is not enough to simply take actions that make us feel like we are making a difference. We must actually make that difference.” However, the president’s actions have already spoken louder than these hollow words. Just two days before the shooting, his administration released its fiscal year 2019 budget, which proposed cutting funding to crucial programs that help prevent gun violence and ensure school safety.

Monday, February 19, 2018

Protect journalists with the same laws that protect all of us

  I understand the motivation behind the proposed Journalist Protection Act, which would make it a federal crime to attack those involved in reporting the news. The legislation comes at a time of particularly vocal attacks on news operations and individual reporters, many of which stem from the highest office in the land.

  I admire the goal — preventing or penalizing misguided thugs who would censor through violence. And I salute California Rep. Eric Swalwell for introducing it in an era in which support for journalism is at an all-time low.

Sunday, February 18, 2018

The Trump budget is full of giveaways to coal and oil companies

  This week, the Trump administration released its proposed budget for funding the federal government in 2019. With extensive cuts to health care, schools, scientific research, and nutrition assistance, Americans across the country would suffer under this proposal. However, there are some clear winners who would benefit from the Trump budget, particularly, the fossil fuel industry.

  After receiving billions in tax cuts at the end of last year, oil and gas companies can expect another year of record-breaking profits. While Exxon alone received $5.9 billion in tax breaks, companies that do oil exploration can expect an additional $190 billion in profits. And Wednesday, the second-largest coal company in the country, Arch Coal, announced the new tax plan would lower their tax rate to “effectively zero.” To pay for these giveaways, the Trump budget proposes cutting several programs that enforce pollution laws, fund clean energy innovation, and protect outdoor places. Trump’s cuts effectively subsidize oil, gas, and coal companies, severely hamper renewable energy growth, all while weakening protections for public health and the outdoors.

Saturday, February 17, 2018

Jacob G. Hornberger: Why do anti-immigrants favor protectionism?

  Okay, I get it: President Trump and his acolytes favor immigration controls because they don’t want people from s***hole countries coming into the United States. What doesn’t makes any sense is why they also favor tariffs, sanctions, embargoes, and other trade restrictions against those s***h countries. After all, by increasing economic misery in those countries, such measures only encourage more people from those countries to come to the United States, the exact opposite of what anti-immigrants want.

Friday, February 16, 2018

John Norris: A bad budget for America’s place in the world

  As President Donald Trump dreams of a military parade in the streets of the nation’s capital and dishes out enormous tax breaks to billionaires, he continues to hobble American diplomacy and international development to an unprecedented degree.

  The budget released this week, while thin on details, calls for devastating cuts of more than 30 percent to diplomacy and development programs from the levels enacted in 2017. These cuts, if adopted, would leave America less equipped to tackle conflict, pandemic disease, and extremism before they reach the nation’s shores; ill-prepared to champion American exports overseas; and more likely to end up in military conflict. It will also cause untold suffering for millions of people—particularly the most vulnerable women and children across the developing world.

Thursday, February 15, 2018

Jacob G. Hornberger: Hating the North Korean Reds

  Among the U.S. government’s worst nightmares is the participation of North Korean athletes in the Winter Olympics, which are being held in South Korea. That’s because Americans might get to know some of the North Koreans, who might just come across as regular people, perhaps even likable.

  That’s not a good thing for a regime that has been committed to regime change for almost 80 years. Given the brutal sanctions that the U.S. government enforces against North Korea and given the distinct possibility that U.S. officials could still initiate a surprise military attack on North Korea or provoke an attack, the last thing U.S. officials want is for the American people to personalize any North Korean citizen.

Wednesday, February 14, 2018

Steve Flowers: Inside the Statehouse: Blogging and political persecution

  I have written about the legendary capitol reporters who use to cover Goat Hill.  There was Bob Ingram of the Montgomery Advertiser, Al Fox of the Birmingham News, Hugh Sparrow of the Birmingham News, Rex Thomas of the Associated Press, Don Martin of UPI and Clarke Stallworth of the Birmingham Post Herald. A young cub reporter named Jim Bennett joined the Post Herald in 1961 and later had a distinguished career in public service. None of these legends is any longer with us.

  Today’s capitol press corps also works hard, they stick with “just the facts” through conscientious research of their stories, and leave out the speculations, “what-ifs”, opinion and political slants.

Montgomery music documentary to screen at Capri on Feb. 20

  The documentary "Commit to the Song: The Joe Thomas Jr. Guitar Pull" will have a hometown screening on Tuesday, Feb. 20 at the Capri Theatre. The screening begins at 5:30 p.m. General admission is $10 or $8 for Capri members. Immediately after the screening, a reception will be held at the Cloverdale Playhouse.

  “Despite deaths and amputation, original music continues to flow from a little community theater in the heart of the South” reads the film’s synopsis - the “little community theater” being the Cloverdale Playhouse in Montgomery. The Joe Thomas Jr. Guitar Pull is a regular songwriters event at the theater and will soon enter its seventh year.

Tuesday, February 13, 2018

Parker Snider: Using our tax breaks and bonuses for things that matter

  “Crumbs”. That’s how House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi characterized the thousand-dollar bonuses and wage increases that companies are offering employees in the wake of federal tax reform. This description has, appropriately, come under attack. Walmart, Alabama’s largest employer, is spending around $400 million on employee bonuses. In fact, according to Americans for Tax Reform, over 3 million Americans will receive tax reform bonuses. These are not crumbs.

Monday, February 12, 2018

Adopting a child is hard - Adopting as an LGBT couple is harder

  When Jay met his foster parents, he was a balding, underweight boy who was afraid he wouldn't be fed.

  The first-grader, an example of the more than 6,000 children who end up in the custody of the Alabama Department of Human Resources, has a condition known as Reactive Attachment Disorder, which causes him to lash out when he makes an emotional attachment. No foster placement lasted six months – until he met Chelsey and Bailey Glassco.

Sunday, February 11, 2018

Jacob G. Hornberger: America - A military nation

  Americans like to think of their country as different from those run by military regimes. They are only fooling themselves. Ever since the federal government was converted into a national-security state after World War II (without a constitutional amendment authorizing the conversion), it has been the Pentagon, the CIA, and the NSA that have run the government, just like in countries governed by military dictatorships.

  Oh sure, the façade is maintained — the façade that is ingrained in all of us in civics or government classes in high school and college: that the federal government is composed of three co-equal, independent branches that are in charge of the government.

Saturday, February 10, 2018

Craig Ford: Educators, retirees deserve a pay raise

  Eleven years is a long time to go without a pay raise. But for educators, state employees and retirees in Alabama, that’s how long it has been. And for retirees and many state employees, they have actually had their pay cut during those eleven years.

  You may be thinking that educators, state employees, and retirees had received raises in recent years, but that isn’t exactly true.

Friday, February 9, 2018

Richard M. Ebeling: Debt ceiling hysteria and profligate government

  Once again, the financial fears have been ratcheted up due to recent announcements by the U.S. Treasury Secretary, Steven Mnuchin, and the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) that by the middle of March 2018 the federal government will have run out of room to continue borrowing due to the official debt ceiling. Some are now calling for scrapping a legal debt ceiling altogether, and to allow Uncle Sam to have an unlimited line of credit. This is a bad idea.

  Back in September 2017, Congress and the President agreed to temporarily suspend the Federal debt ceiling until December 8, 2017. Whatever might be the cumulative outstanding debt at that time would become the new legal ceiling, unless Congress voted to raise it, which did not happen. So when December 8 rolled around, the total federal debt, due to continuing government borrowing in the last months of 2017, came to around $20.5 trillion.

Thursday, February 8, 2018

Hank Sanders: Senate Sketches #1600: The Power of Black History

  Black History Month. Black History. Black. Each phrase moves in its own power. Each word moves in its own power. There is plenty of power in Black history. That’s why Dr. Carter G. Woodson was so visionary when he started Black History Week way back in 1926. Black history is powerful.

  Some ask, “Why do we need a Black History Month”? The answer is easy: the history of Black people in America has been denied, diminished, destroyed, dismissed, etc. To counter that destruction, Black History Week was created for February of each year. It grew into Black History Month starting in 1976. February was chosen by Dr. Carter G. Woodson as the month to celebrate Black History because both Fredrick Douglas and Abraham Lincoln were born this month. Black history is powerful.

Wednesday, February 7, 2018

Steve Flowers: Inside the Statehouse: Could the 2017 U.S. Senate Special Election be Alabama's last?

  A few weeks back my column illuminated the career and influence attained by our senior U.S. Senator Richard Shelby. In the column and in my book, “Six Decades of Alabama Political Stories,” I reference the fact that our current senior senator will be regarded as one of Alabama’s greatest U.S. Senators. I consider Lister Hill, John Sparkman, and Richard Shelby in that triumvirate. However, history more than likely will reveal that Shelby is eclipsing Hill and Sparkman in the annals of senatorial lore.

Tuesday, February 6, 2018

The state of hate in the Union

  In his State of the Union address last week, President Trump congratulated his administration for having “taken historic actions to protect religious liberty.”

  It certainly was historic in October when Trump became the first sitting president to give the keynote address at an annual summit hosted by an anti-LGBT hate group, the Family Research Council.

  And it was historic when his attorney general, Jeff Sessions, issued religious freedom guidance eroding protections for LGBT people after he consulted with another anti-LGBT hate group, the Alliance Defending Freedom.

Monday, February 5, 2018

Taylor’s Top Five: Weekly Legislative Review

  And, we’re back! Taylor’s Top Five is back to fill you in on what you might have missed last week in Montgomery. Hope you enjoy, and let us know if you have any questions on the items discussed below.

1. The Senate approved harsher punishment for possessing fentanyl.

  For those who don’t know what we’re dealing with here, fentanyl, the synthetic cousin of heroin, is one of the driving forces behind the recent opioid crisis and a high number of opioid-related deaths. As reported by the CDC, fentanyl is one hundred times more potent than morphine. Under a bill passed unanimously by the Alabama Senate last week, anyone in possession of two or more grams of the deadly drug will face ten years in prison, with that sentence increasing to twenty-five years if the amount is over four grams. Now that the bill has been approved by the senate, it goes to the house.

Sunday, February 4, 2018

From Politics to Policy: Turning the corner on sexual harassment

  The ongoing public conversation about sexual harassment has led to a torrent of stories about individual experiences, regressive workplace cultures, and the robust reforms needed to help shift the balance of power between perpetrators and their targets. The #MeToo movement has moved from word of mouth to social media and across the world to build on a campaign launched more than a decade ago by activist Tarana Burke and to create solidarity among survivors of sexual harassment. The movement has catapulted the discussion about the persistence and prevalence of workplace sexual harassment into the headlines: Incidents involving prominent, high-profile figures in entertainment, the media, and politics have dominated the airwaves and spurred calls for decisive action.

Saturday, February 3, 2018

Five ways EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt is saying one thing and doing the other

  This month marks one year for Scott Pruitt as administrator of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). While Pruitt and his team have maintained that he is “solely focused on implementing President Donald Trump’s agenda to protect the environment,” his actions contradict these words.

  Rather than upholding the mission of the EPA, Pruitt has continued the pattern he established as the attorney general for Oklahoma, where he sued the EPA 14 times and worked “arm and arm” with the fossil fuel industry. As Politico reported in a review of his actions last year, “Pruitt has rolled back or stalled environmental protections, given the fossil fuel and chemistry industries more sway over public health decisions and taken steps that critics fear will undermine work on pollution cleanups.”

Friday, February 2, 2018

Civil asset forfeiture — guilty until proven innocent

  Jamey Vibbert had owned his car dealership in Dothan, Alabama, for over a decade when authorities seized $25,000 from one of his bank accounts.

  One of Vibbert’s customers had allegedly used illegal drug profits to buy two cars from him. A prosecutor later told the local newspaper that Vibbert, by extension, had committed something “kind of akin to money laundering because you know you’re taking dirty money.”

Thursday, February 1, 2018

Trump has already broken all of the promises he made to workers during the State of the Union

  Tuesday night, President Donald Trump gave his first official State of the Union speech. The script was as expected: He bragged about his tax bill, repeated some promises about infrastructure, and promoted his administration’s latest wish list of anti-immigrant policies. He even claimed to be concerned for “America’s struggling workers.” But a lot was conspicuously absent from the speech—including all the ways his administration has harmed those very workers.

  When he was a candidate, Trump pledged to turn the Republican Party into a “worker’s party.” He claimed that each of his policy decisions would hinge on whether it creates “more jobs and better wages for Americans” and promised to side with workers instead of “special interests” and the “financial elite.” But throughout his first year, he sided with corporations and the wealthy instead.

Wednesday, January 31, 2018

Steve Flowers: Inside the Statehouse: Will 2018 be the year of the woman in Alabama politics?

  This political year of 2018 may very well be the year of the woman in Alabama politics. In Alabama’s 200-year history, only one woman has been elected governor. Lurleen Wallace won in 1966. Only two women have served as governor, Wallace, and our current governor, Kay Ivey. It may be a historic year.

  Sue Bell Cobb, the former Alabama Supreme Court Chief Justice, and the first woman to hold that position, is hoping to be the Democratic standard-bearer. She was elected Chief Justice in 2006, in a very expensive, high-profile battle with Republican Drayton Nabors. She had been a District Court Judge in her native Conecuh County for a long time before running statewide. She was elected to a six-year term as Chief Justice in 2006 but quit after four years.

Tuesday, January 30, 2018

Jacob G. Hornberger: Trump’s dictatorial and destructive tariffs

  It’s amazing that it is still necessary to instruct U.S. presidents on the damage that tariffs do to people. You would think that by the time a person becomes a president of a country, he would be wise enough to know this. Even many progressives and conservatives have finally joined up with us libertarians in opposition to tariffs.

  The subject arises with President Trump’s unilateral decision to impose tariffs on imported solar panels and washing machines. The targeted countries are China and South Korea (yes, the country that Trump and the U.S. national-security state say that they’re interested in protecting from North Korea).

Monday, January 29, 2018

Gene Policinski: Demand truth, not junk news: Lessons of ‘PizzaGate,’ ‘IdiotGate’

  First we had “PizzaGate,” in which a misguided — but heavily armed — young man chasing a ridiculous conspiracy theory fired shots inside a Washington, D.C., pizza parlor in 2016.

  Now, we have what can only be called “IdiotGate,” in which a 19-year old Michigan man has been charged with threatening to gun down CNN staff and on-air journalists after claiming to be upset over “fake news.”

Sunday, January 28, 2018

Taylor’s Top Six: Alabama Legislative review for Week 3

  We’re back with another recap!

  In this week’s Taylor’s Top Six, we’ve got a few updates on things we discussed in the last installment, as well as some new bills that were introduced last week. Let us know what you think of what’s going on in Montgomery!

1. My two favorite words in the English language: tax break.

  There must be something in the water. First a tax break from Washington and now one in Alabama? Under a bill by Sen. Del Marsh (R-Anniston), the standard deduction brackets for lower-income taxpayers would change. Certain taxpayers, depending on how they file their taxes, could see an income tax decrease if they accept the standard deduction and do not itemize. Some folks are saying any tax decrease is good for the taxpayer. Others are concerned with tax dollars leaving the state budget. The bill unanimously passed the senate.

Saturday, January 27, 2018

Hank Sanders: Senate Sketches #1598: Let’s make King celebrations as Dr. King lived

  Sometimes Martin Luther King, Jr. celebrations make me sad. No, I am not sad because there are celebrations. In fact, I am very glad that Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. is celebrated on the third Monday of each January. I remember firsthand the very difficult 15-year struggle from the date of his death to create a national holiday celebrating Dr. King. As we celebrate his birth in the 50th year of his death, sometimes the King celebrations make me sad.

  First, the celebrations make me sad because most do not deal with Dr. King’s dedicated life, sterling example, and continuous struggle. The most we deal with is the last sentence in the last paragraph of his memorable speech spoken during the gigantic march on Washington in 1963. If we dealt with the whole speech, we would make some progress, but we don’t.

Friday, January 26, 2018

Would you believe me if I said I was starving?

  Two weeks ago, I was reading a food blog with instructions on how to throw better dinner parties. In the grand tradition of lifestyle bloggers, the author promised me that everything would be much better if I just stopped trying so hard. He included a recipe for baked ham and suggested that hosts everywhere should just chill out and let guests slice their own sandwiches. Play it right, and everyone would be so happy and full that Ina Garten and her sweet husband Jeffrey would moan with a mix of pleasure and jealousy.

Thursday, January 25, 2018

Scott McPherson: Our heritage of open immigration from s***hole countries

  The history of open immigration in this country makes a favorable case for poor and uneducated immigrants. It might just be the huddled masses we need most.

  From the end of the Mexican War, in 1848, until the 1920s, the only obstacle to travel across the southern border was terrain. Usually poor and uneducated, people crossed and traded across this line without restriction and helped to settle the American West. Hispanic Americans today are known for their strong work ethic and commitment to family, religion, and community.

Wednesday, January 24, 2018

Steve Flowers: Inside the Statehouse: Can a Democrat replicate the Doug Jones miracle in next year's gubernatorial race?

  As the 2018 state elections begin, let’s take one last look at the 2017 Special Election to fill the remaining three years of Jeff Sessions’ six-year term which, by the way, comes up in two years in 2020.

  It is assumed by most astute political observers that the winner, Democrat Doug Jones, cannot win election to a full term in 2020, simply because he is a Democrat. I am not ready to write Doug Jones off so quickly. I would contend that Jones would not be a cupcake to take on after two to three years on the job. Doug Jones knows what he is doing. He is a seasoned political veteran that will hit the ground running in Washington. I believe that he will be a far superior Senator for Alabama than Roy Moore.

Tuesday, January 23, 2018

Discrimination prevents LGBTQ people from accessing health care

  All people who need medical care should be able to see their doctor without worrying about being mistreated, harassed, or denied service outright. The Affordable Care Act (ACA) helped address this issue by prohibiting health care providers and insurance companies from engaging in discrimination. As a result of several court rulings and an Obama administration rule, LGBTQ people are explicitly protected against discrimination in health care on the basis of gender identity and sex stereotypes. However, conservative forces and the Trump-Pence administration are seeking to make it easier for health care providers to discriminate against LGBTQ people and women.

Monday, January 22, 2018

Gene Policinski: Let’s focus on real journalism — not so-called “fake news”

  President Trump’s “Fake News Awards,” posted late Wednesday, were more gimmick than “gotcha” — worth a moment’s attention, perhaps, but not much more.

  Unsurprisingly, the “winners” were CNN, The New York Times, ABC News, The Washington Post, Time and Newsweek. The announcement began by calling out a Times columnist who predicted the economy would sag under Trump and ended with yet another CAPITAL LETTER-laced rant about the ongoing investigation into Russian interference with U.S. elections.

Sunday, January 21, 2018

Alabama Legislative Session: Weeks 1 and 2 review

  Hang on to your wallets. Lawmakers have returned to Montgomery.

  Back by popular demand, Taylor’s Top Four is here to fill you in on the things you ought to know from the legislative session. Since we’ve had a couple of slow weeks in Montgomery for lawmakers, we’ll keep this one short and sweet.

Saturday, January 20, 2018

Why we need to stop calling Trump ‘crazy’ when we really mean ‘dangerous’

  Questions about President Donald Trump hit a fever pitch a few weeks ago following his tweets about the size and potency of his nuclear button. Of course, such questions are nothing new. Throughout the campaign and Trump’s first year in office, news articles, op-eds, and tweets critical of him have routinely deployed words such as “crazy,” “insane,” and “unstable” as epithets. But what are the implications of the use of mental health language in such critiques for how our society views mental illness?

Friday, January 19, 2018

Hank Sanders: Senate Sketches #1597: Alabama has a once in a lifetime opportunity!

  There is a big industry coming to Alabama. It will have a big economic impact. I appreciate that this big industry is coming to Alabama. But there is even a bigger industry that really wants to come to Alabama.

  I want to contrast this big industry coming to Alabama with an even bigger industry that really wants to come to Alabama but has not been invited to come. I will contrast these two industries by their impact on the following: state investment; geographic reach; jobs provided; state revenue; individual citizens; various institutions; etc. I am glad that this big industry is coming to Alabama. I am sorry that the even bigger industry may not be coming to Alabama.

Thursday, January 18, 2018

Trump’s Medicaid work requirements could put at least 6.3 million Americans at risk of losing health care

  Last week, the Trump administration issued policy guidance that effectively ends Medicaid as we know it, allowing states to place punitive work requirements on certain Medicaid recipients—more than 7 in 10 of whom are caregivers or in school. Although these so-called work requirement policies may seem reasonable at first glance, in practice, they’re a way to strip away health insurance from struggling unemployed and underemployed workers. President Donald Trump’s actions are just the latest shoe to drop in his party’s deeply unpopular crusade to undermine Americans’ health care—including the highly popular Medicaid program—and come on the heels of a tax cut that rewards the massively wealthy over working Americans.

Wednesday, January 17, 2018

Steve Flowers: Inside the Statehouse: Tuscaloosa's political influence

  A while back, during Dr. Robert Bentley’s tenure as governor, I wrote a column entitled, “They May as Well Move the Capitol to Tuscaloosa.” Never before in Alabama history has a city had a sitting governor and the state’s senior U.S. Senator hail from that particular place. Even with the departure of Bentley as governor, the Druid City has an inordinate amount of presence in the state’s political sphere of influence.

  Senator Richard Shelby is in his 32nd year as our U.S. Senator. With that kind of seniority comes immense power in Washington. Shelby is Chairman of the Senate Rules Committee and is easily one of the three most powerful U.S. Senators. 

Tuesday, January 16, 2018

"Trump says we don't have to let you in"

  At the foot of the bridge over the Rio Grande, Laura turned to Agent Garza. “When I am found dead,” she said, “it will be on your conscience.”

  Hours earlier, a police officer had stopped Laura on her way home from work in a car with her cousin Elizabeth. She had no license, no registration — and no visa to be in the United States.

  “I can’t be sent back to Mexico,” Laura told Officer Nazario Solis III. “I have a protection order against my ex — please, just let me call my mom and she’ll bring you the paperwork.”

Monday, January 15, 2018

Carl Chancellor: Martin unchained: Radical reformer, nonviolent militant

  It’s that time of year again, the third Monday of January, when we come together as a nation to
commemorate the life and legacy of Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. with church services, elementary school skits, and civic club speeches—much of it seemingly rote tribute.

  Every MLK Day we trot out the same old platitudes, mouth the same old sentiments, and repeat the same old stories. We go through the motions of honoring not so much the man but the myth he has become. We’ve recast King, making him fit into a reshaped American narrative—one that airbrushes an ugly and vicious not-so-distant past into a less than “enlightened” time in history.

Sunday, January 14, 2018

Jacob G. Hornberger: Foreign interventionism is destroying us

  Most everyone acknowledges that James Madison, the father of the Constitution, possessed deep insights into the relationship between liberty and government. One of his important insights involved the relationship between liberty and war:

Saturday, January 13, 2018

Gene Policinski: ‘Weakening’ libel laws is not the right tactic — for anyone

  Making it easier to sue people for libel is not a good idea — for our democracy in general, and even for President Trump and a few of his personal lawyers, in particular.

  Trump has railed against existing legal protections, most recently following the publication of journalist Michael Wolff’s searing book “Fire and Fury: Inside the Trump White House.” On Wednesday, Trump said he will take a “strong look” at the country’s libel laws because they are a “sham and a disgrace and do not represent American values and American fairness.”

Friday, January 12, 2018

Craig Ford: Legislators should not ignore infrastructure, education and jobs just because it is an election year

  The Alabama Legislative Session began this week and, by all accounts, it’s expected to be an uneventful year. The only goal lawmakers seem to have is to pass the budgets and go home.

  But there is a lot of work that can and ought to be done instead of just kicking the can down the road for the next legislature.

  Beyond the typical budget issues, there’s a lot of unfinished business involving our infrastructure, healthcare, education, and jobs that we need to address – and all of these issues go hand-in-hand.

Thursday, January 11, 2018

Sam Berger: Three ways that states can stop ongoing health care sabotage

  This past year has seen a sustained federal attack on state insurance markets. Congress repeatedly sought to repeal the Affordable Care Act (ACA) and significantly cut funding for Medicaid. While these efforts proved unsuccessful, President Donald Trump and his allies in Congress were able to repeal the individual mandate in the regressive tax bill they passed at the end of 2017. And the Trump administration has taken a number of steps to drive up costs and drive down coverage, including by halting billions of dollars in federal payments that help keep people’s deductibles and co-pays low and by directing agencies to seek ways to increase the number of substandard plans in the insurance marketplace without adequate consumer protections.

Wednesday, January 10, 2018

Steve Flowers: Inside the Statehouse: The power and influence of Richard Shelby

  A few months back the Jefferson County Republican Party honored our Senior U.S. Senator, Richard Shelby. It was held at The Club in Birmingham. The view from atop Red Mountain from this elegant club is spectacular, especially at night from the ballroom. The glass enclosure allows you to see the grandeur of the Birmingham skyline. As you glimpse at the scene you can see many of the buildings that are the heart of the University of Alabama - Birmingham. 

Tuesday, January 9, 2018

Five ways to make a difference in 2018

  What will you do this year to be an engaged member of a democratic and tolerant community?

  Here are five items to add to your New Year's resolution list.

1. Pledge to start a conversation

  Your brother routinely makes anti-Semitic comments. Your neighbor uses the N-word in casual conversation. Your classmate insults something by saying, "That's so gay."

Monday, January 8, 2018

Taylor Dawson: It’s time for New Year’s resolutions

  Ah, January, the make-or-break month for New Year’s resolutions. Don’t you think that our elected officials—members of the legislature, state school board, executive branch, and others—should adopt some resolutions? I’ve got a few ideas for them.

1. Commit to protecting taxpayers.

  Want to raise taxes? Meet them with an offset elsewhere. Want to accept additional federal funding? Ask your constituents what they think, and make sure the program for which you’ll be accepting funding won’t put the taxpayers on the hook for an additional financial burden down the road. Want to help more Alabamians find jobs and start businesses? Consider doing something about burdensome occupational licensing restrictions. Fiscal responsibility and standing strong against policies that hurt taxpayers requires resolve, but it isn’t difficult.

Sunday, January 7, 2018

Tribute to Ida B. Wells and the power of the pen

  Born a black woman in rural Mississippi, just before the Emancipation Proclamation, she wasn’t supposed to make an impact on the world. But, she did. With her parents dying at age 16 of yellow fever, it was unlikely she would become nationally known and even internationally renowned. But, she became a household name even across the Atlantic Ocean in Great Britain where she lectured.

  Sadly, many today don’t even know her name. The great A. Leon Higginbotham called her a progenitor of Rosa Parks because she challenged a railway segregation law all the way up to the Tennessee Supreme Court.

Saturday, January 6, 2018

Voter purges prevent eligible Americans from voting

  On January 10, 2018, the U.S. Supreme Court will hear oral arguments in Husted v. A. Philip Randolph Institute, et.al., a case that will determine whether states can remove individuals from voter rolls for simply failing to vote in previous elections. Every American has the fundamental right to vote, but from 2011 to 2014, Ohio removed a reported 846,000 registered Americans from its voter rolls for infrequent voting over a six-year period. This removal was in violation of the National Voter Registration Act.

Friday, January 5, 2018

Jacob G. Hornberger: Sabotaging peace in Korea

  It just might be that the two Koreas are figuring out a way to avoid war, much to the anger and chagrin of President Trump and the U.S. national-security establishment, who are obviously increasingly viewing war as inevitable and even in the best interests of the United States.

  Why, even the U.S. mainstream press, which oftentimes seems to operate as an ex officio spokesman for the U.S. government, appears irritated over North Korea’s initiation of talks with South Korea. The press describes North Korea’s overtures not as an attempt to avoid war but instead as a cynical attempt to “drive a wedge” between the United States and South Korea.

Thursday, January 4, 2018

Hank Sanders: Senate Sketches #1595: Making 2018 one of the best years of my life

  I expect 2018 to be one of the best years of my life. I hope and pray that 2018 is one of the best years of your life. It is great that our best year is not dependent upon our last year. We all can have a great year in 2018.

  What will make 2018 one of the best years of my life? The answer includes family, friends, community, work, and spirituality. These are not all the important areas of life, and they are not necessarily in order of importance. Each is necessary, and each impacts the others to form a great year. I believe that success in these areas of emphasis will result in a very good 2018 for you as well.

Wednesday, January 3, 2018

Steve Flowers: Inside the Statehouse: How Alabama got a new U.S. Senator

  As we enter the 2018 campaign season, many of you have asked me to look back and analyze the 2017 Special Election U.S. Senate race and explain in depth what happened and why. The most asked question is how could a Democrat win a U.S. Senate seat in Alabama, and does this mean that we are now possibly a two-party state? I will give you numerous answers, however, the simple answer to why a Democrat won is that Roy Moore was the Republican nominee. Are we a state that can go either way in an open U.S. Senate seat race? As we have just seen, it is possible but not probable.

  The Democrat, Doug Jones, won in the perfect storm. We will probably never experience this same scenario again. There are two maxims in politics that over my years of following politics never fail and become truer and truer. The more things change, the more they stay the same. One is that money is the mother’s milk of politics. The second is that more people vote against someone or something than vote for someone or something.

Tuesday, January 2, 2018

Lata Nott: The lazy person’s guide to being a good citizen

  You sometimes suspect that you’re not as well-informed as you should be. When you read about that study that found that middle school kids were unable to distinguish paid advertisements from news stories, you shook your head sadly — then secretly wondered if you would do much better. You’ve heard that most people are so entrenched in their own beliefs that even indisputable facts can’t change their minds, and would really like to believe you’re different from most people. (But doesn’t everyone think that?) You have, on at least a couple of occasions, pretended that you were familiar with a subject you actually barely understood.

Monday, January 1, 2018

Top 20 New Years quotations

"Here's to the bright New Year, and a fond farewell to the old; here's to the things that are yet to come, and to the memories that we hold." -Anonymous

"People are so worried about what they eat between Christmas and the New Year, but they really should be worried about what they eat between the New Year and Christmas." -Anonymous