Sunday, October 21, 2018

Violence and hate, that's The Proud Boys in a nutshell

  On October 12, members of the hate group Proud Boys and at least three ultranationalist skinheads attacked protesters outside the Metropolitan Republican Club in New York City.

  By the following Monday, NYPD announced it had enough evidence to charge nine of them.

  Even a few seconds of footage of the attack makes it clear why. In one video, an assailant in a group of at least 15 people kicks a person curled in the fetal position, yelling “Faggot!”

Saturday, October 20, 2018

How banks slid into the payday lending business

  Meet the new payday loan. It looks a lot like the old payday loan.

  Under the Obama administration, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau attempted to rein in abusive payday lending, by, among other measures, forcing lenders to ensure borrowers had the means to pay back their loans. The Trump administration, under interim CFPB Director Mick Mulvaney, is looking to roll back those rules and give payday lenders, who as an industry donated significant amounts of money to Mulvaney when he was a congressman, more room to operate. A high-profile rule proffered by the CFPB to govern payday loans is under review, and Mulvaney’s CFPB has also dropped cases the bureau had previously pursued against payday lenders.

Friday, October 19, 2018

We should protest proposed restrictions on White House protests

  The White House.

  To the world, it’s the image of the United States.

  To Americans, it’s the “us” in U.S. — and the universally recognized metaphor for the president and the administration behind him.

  And for at least 100 years, it’s been the prime spot for demonstrators focused on many of society’s most important issues — war and peace, abortion and gun rights, health care policies and more.

Thursday, October 18, 2018

Steve Flowers: Inside the Statehouse - The Shorty Price story

  Since this is Alabama vs. Tennessee week and we have a governor’s race in three weeks, allow me to share the story of Shorty Price.

  Alabama has had its share of what I call “run for the fun of it” candidates. The most colorful of all these perennial “also ran” candidates was Ralph “Shorty” Price. He ran for governor every time. His slogan was “Smoke Tampa Nugget cigars, drink Budweiser beer and vote for Shorty Price.”

  In one of Shorty’s campaigns for governor, his campaign speech contained this line, “If elected governor, I will reduce the governor’s tenure from four to two years. If you can’t steal enough to last you the rest of your life in two years, you ain’t got enough sense to have the office in the first place.”  He would use recycled campaign signs to save money, and he rarely garnered two percent of the votes in any campaign.

Wednesday, October 17, 2018

Seven implications of protectionism

  In a speech on the campaign trail in 2016, then-Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump said about Hillary Clinton and trade,

    Hillary Clinton unleashed a trade war against the American worker when she supported one terrible deal after another, from NAFTA, to China to South Korea. It doesn’t matter. No matter where she went, the American worker was hurt and you’ll be hurt worse than ever before if she becomes president of the United States. That I can tell you.

  He then promised that a Trump administration would “end that war by getting a fair deal for the American people and the American worker.” “The era of economic surrender will finally be over,” he said. “You’re not going to see it anymore.”

  Donald Trump has now done what he accused Hillary Clinton of doing: He has unleashed a trade war.

Tuesday, October 16, 2018

Michael Josephson: The illusion of success

  Reach for the stars. Pursue goals beyond your grasp. These are good life strategies. We never know how much we can accomplish until we try.

  But what happens when we’re told we must reach the stars or suffer consequences?

Monday, October 15, 2018

Trump's unwitting devotion to socialism

  Donald Trump and, unfortunately, many of his conservative followers, are absolutely clueless when it comes to socialism. You couldn’t find a better example of this phenomenon than a Trump op-ed that was published in USA Today recently. In fact, Trump’s op-ed is a perfect demonstration of the life of the lie that has come to afflict the entire conservative movement.

  In his op-ed, Trump takes Democrats to task for supporting “Medicare for All,” which would essentially be a full-fledged socialist healthcare system. He says that this shows that Democrats are committed to turning the United States into another Venezuela, a country in chaos, crisis, poverty, and violence owing to its socialist economic system.

Sunday, October 14, 2018

Ben Carson wants HUD to stop fighting housing segregation

  Today, a child born to a low-income family and raised in the Tremé neighborhood of New Orleans will have beaten the odds if they live past age 67. They can also expect to make just $20,000 a year by the time they reach their thirties.

  Just a 20-minute drive away, in the Uptown/Carrollton neighborhoods near Tulane and Loyola Universities, that same child could expect to live 20 years longer and take home roughly $53,000 more in annual salary.

Saturday, October 13, 2018

How you vote In November could decide whether you get to vote on a lottery

  The lottery has been talked about for decades in Alabama. There’s no question that the voters support it, but the Alabama Legislature has failed to pass a bill that would let the people vote.

  Two years ago, the lottery almost made it through the legislative process before it died in the Senate. But now the lottery is getting new attention after the Speaker of the Alabama House of Representatives told the press that a lottery would be on the legislature’s agenda next year.

  There’s no question that the lottery could do a lot of good for our state. The most recent estimates are that a lottery could bring in $332 million a year, and that kind of money could solve a lot of problems.

Friday, October 12, 2018

How to prepare for Russia’s October surprise

  Russia is in the business of mind control.

  They’re not doing it through sinister headgear, satellite interference, or dream invasion like in Inception, though.

  Instead, Russia seeks to control the minds of Americans through something we all have and spend arguably too much time on - social media.

  This isn’t news to many of us. For years we’ve heard how Russia infiltrated Facebook and Twitter in an effort to divide our nation during the 2016 election. It seems, however, that Russia’s interference in our last presidential election wasn’t a “one-and-done” deal.

Thursday, October 11, 2018

Trump is rewriting our immigration law to come after families like mine

  Late last month, the Trump administration released a draft rule that would change the way immigration works in the United States. Under the proposal, immigration officials will try to predict whether a person applying for a green card might receive government assistance, like Medicaid or the Supplemental Nutrition Assistant Program, at any point during their future life in the United States. If it seems possible — because the applicant isn’t wealthy or has a disability — then the green card will be denied, even if the applicant has met all of the other criteria.

Wednesday, October 10, 2018

Steve Flowers: Inside the Statehouse – Democrats have three viable candidates, but Republicans will prevail

  In politics, perception is reality. It is perceived and therefore factual that a Democrat cannot win a statewide race in Alabama.

  The proof is in the pudding. We have 29 elected statewide officeholders in the Heart of Dixie. All 29 of them are Republicans.

  In addition, 6 out of 7 of our members in Congress are Republican. We have one lone Democratic member of Congress. Terri Sewell occupies the seat in Congress designed to be held by an African American.

Tuesday, October 9, 2018

'They served their time. Their voices could make a huge difference.'

  Lorena Barnum Sabbs was just 11 years old when she was arrested.

  She was trying to integrate the local movie theater in Americus, Georgia. But when the group of 30 girls refused to leave the balcony, police arrested them and drove them almost an hour away to the Leesburg Stockade. They slept on the cells’ cement floors. They were threatened. A snake was thrown into their cells. Some were held as long as 45 days.

  Their parents didn’t know where they were until a local dogcatcher spread the word. No one could get them out until the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee sent a photographer. Sabbs told the story of her 1963 arrest to Susan Chira, who interviewed more than 50 black women during a voter mobilization bus tour across Georgia, Florida, and Mississippi last week.

Monday, October 8, 2018

Three takeaways from the New York Times’ bombshell Trump investigation

  Last week, The New York Times published a bombshell investigative report alleging that the Trump family engaged in “outright fraud” and other schemes to dodge federal taxes over many years. Through these schemes, the Trump family may have avoided or evaded as much as $500 million of taxes on the transfer of wealth from President Donald Trump’s parents to him and his siblings.

  If true, the revelations in the 14,000-word story are shocking. They bear on Trump’s personal finances, his credibility, his greed, and—perhaps most importantly—his policies. The revelations include:

Sunday, October 7, 2018

Being basically honest

  After a workshop, a fellow came up to me and complained that I had made him feel uncomfortable. “I’m not perfect,” he said, “But I’m basically honest.” His implication was that it’s unfair to expect people to be honest all the time.

  His comment reminded me of a cartoon where one fellow confided to another, “I admire Webster’s honesty, but his insistence on being scrupulously honest is really annoying.”

Saturday, October 6, 2018

Detention system forces people to give up claims to stay in U.S.

  Before fleeing Somalia, Yuusuf was a teacher.

  He was dedicated to education and its ability to empower the next generation of Somalis. But Yuusuf’s passion for teaching also put him in the crosshairs of al-Shabab, the al-Qaida-linked extremist group that has terrorized his country.

  The group opposes Western-style education and is willing to kill teachers and students alike to stop its spread in the region. In 2015, extremists attacked Yuusuf’s school, slaughtering his fellow teachers.

Friday, October 5, 2018

Trump administration’s proposed MATS rollback is a direct attack on women and children

  This week, the Trump administration plans to take initial steps to allow power plants to spew toxic mercury and other hazardous pollution into the air, threatening the health of the American public. Like so many of the Trump administration’s rollbacks, this proposed change to undo the existing Mercury and Air Toxics Standards (MATS) comes with devastating health impacts for pregnant women and children. For this reason, the rollback has been criticized by many and is even opposed by a coalition of utilities and union groups.

  Worst of all, rolling back the MATS is likely to have a disproportionately negative impact on pregnant women and children—in particular, those living in communities located near coal- and oil-fired power plants. Furthermore, data show that people of color and people with disabilities are more likely to live in these communities, further increasing the health disparities that exist between these groups and the general population. Mercury exposure has been linked to severe damage to the lungs, brain, and other organs, and those who are exposed often later experience developmental disorders.

Thursday, October 4, 2018

Steve Flowers: Inside the Statehouse - Some politicos learn lessons the hard way

  For some untold reason or some would say, ungodly reason, I have always been enthralled by and involved in politics. As a boy growing up in Troy, I was tutored and trained in the rules and rituals of Alabama politics by two masters of my county’s political history.

  The probate judge and state representative were my mentors. They both had been in politics for decades. Both mentors had taught me a lot of political tidbits over the years, but when it finally came time for me to make my first foray into the arena, they sat me down. I could tell that I was going to get some sage advice since both were present. They gave me one of the cardinal rules of politics – you run your own campaign and never ever get involved in other people’s races. They said you should be thankful that they elected you to your office. It made sense that it would be arrogant and presumptuous, even if you had been in your post for a while, that you should not offer your opinion on other races. In addition, the old adage applies – you make one ingrate and hundreds of enemies.

Wednesday, October 3, 2018

Lawsuits challenging DeVos’ anti-student higher education agenda

  Under the leadership of Secretary Betsy DeVos, the U.S. Department of Education has sought to unravel protections for college students. In an attempt to push back against the department’s dubious legal maneuvers, a number of state attorneys general, civil rights organizations, and advocacy groups have engaged the courts. The National Student Legal Defense Network (NSLDN), the Harvard Legal Services Center, the National Consumer Law Center, and others have sought to prevent the rollback of crucial regulations and bring more transparency to the department’s decision-making.

Tuesday, October 2, 2018

Social Security is more than unsustainable

  It seems that Russia is having the same problem as the United States when it comes to its government retirement system: the system is unsustainable because the number of retirees receiving benefits is growing faster than the number of workers supporting the system.

  Soon after his inauguration for a fourth term as president of Russia, Vladimir Putin spoke about his plans to cut poverty, boost economic growth, improve medical care, and increase life expectancy. When asked whether the retirement age would be raised, Putin gave an evasive response:

Monday, October 1, 2018

By undermining the ICC, Bolton is compromising America’s values

  In his first speech since becoming President Donald Trump’s national security adviser in April, John Bolton took aim at the International Criminal Court (ICC). Describing the court as “ineffective, unaccountable, and … outright dangerous,” Bolton announced that the Trump administration would use “any means necessary to protect our citizens and those of our allies from unjust prosecution by this illegitimate court.”

  Far from being illegitimate, the ICC has been a critical mechanism for securing accountability and justice since its inception two decades ago. While it has had its challenges, the court is not known to have ever prosecuted cases unjustly. Nevertheless, in his speech, Bolton cited specific measures that the administration would take if the ICC were to pursue actions against the United States and Israel, including banning ICC judges and prosecutors from entering the United States, sanctioning their funds in the United States, and prosecuting them in the U.S. criminal system—although for what crimes is unclear. He also threatened similar actions against any nation or company that assists the ICC in any investigations of Americans.

Sunday, September 30, 2018

Towards a less angry politics

  “When angry, count to ten before you speak; if very angry, count to one hundred.”

  If only we followed the advice of the Founding Fathers.

  Thomas Jefferson, who expressed this sentiment, knew first-hand how politics can lead to indignation. Today, one glance at cable news or Twitter affirms that we too are accustomed to an angry politics.

  What Jefferson also understood, and what I am worried we too often forget, is that anger in politics is to be avoided and tempered, not embraced and weaponized.

Saturday, September 29, 2018

Ensuring the special counsel’s independence if Rosenstein is fired

  President Donald Trump has repeatedly threatened to take drastic action to undermine special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation into the Trump campaign and Russian interference in the 2016 election. His latest target is Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein, who oversees Mueller.

  If Trump seeks to undermine the investigation and obstruct justice by firing Rosenstein, there would be serious concerns about the impartiality of any political official at the U.S. Department of Justice who replaces him. These concerns are heightened by Trump’s repeated demands that the Department of Justice protect him from accountability for his actions. The only way to repair the trust of the American people in the integrity of the investigation would be to follow past precedent and ensure the special counsel is truly independent.

Friday, September 28, 2018

Hank Sanders: Senate Sketches #1633 - I was caught between a rock and a hard place

  Between a rock and a hard place. That’s where I was more than fifty years ago. It involved a rape. No, I didn’t rape anyone. No, I was not raped. But I was caught between a rock and a hard place. It is a burden I carry to this day.

  The term, between a rock and a hard place, goes all the way back to Greek mythology. The rock is hard. The hard place is hard. One cannot move against a rock. One cannot move against a hard place. They are both too hard. Therefore, we can’t move forward and we can’t move backward.

  A terrible injustice happened when two of my young male friends had “forcible sex” with my young female friend. All were my fellow college students. My young female friend did not call it “rape.” She said, “They forced me.” It was rape.

Thursday, September 27, 2018

What you need to know about proposed Constitutional Amendments Three and Four

  On November 6, Alabamians will vote on four proposed statewide constitutional amendments. Although the first two amendments will likely receive the most attention, amendments three and four deserve notice as well. They are, in fact, changes to the longest known constitution in the world.

Wednesday, September 26, 2018

Steve Flowers: Inside the Statehouse - Supreme Court rules states can collect online sales tax

  The State of Alabama’s fiscal year begins next week on October 1. Our state’s finances are not the best in the world. However, they got a boost from the U.S. Supreme Court earlier this year. The high tribunal ruled that states can collect sales tax on internet sales.

  This was one of the most inequitable scenarios I have ever seen. If you went to the corner hardware store or Lowe’s or Walmart to buy a hammer and paint, you paid sales tax. However, if you bought these same items online, you did not. That is not fair to the store or the state. What is even more unfair is if your wife went down to the local dress shop and tried on an expensive dress she liked, and then she came home and bought it online instead of in the store. How fair is that to the store, the clerk at the store, or the state?

Tuesday, September 25, 2018

Corrections should be seen as good things, not weapons for critics

  To err is human — but, it would seem, corrections are not seen by many as divine.

  Inevitably, when journalists in all kinds of mediums start fresh each day, sometimes assembling the equivalent content of a paperback book, mistakes will be made.

  Once upon a time — ironically, in a time when a free press was held in higher public esteem though mistakes were made — corrections were made less frequently and, at least in newspapers, often placed in lesser-read spaces.

Monday, September 24, 2018

Kavanaugh’s credibility chasm

  Amid a crisis in Judge Brett Kavanaugh’s Supreme Court nomination process, new reports suggest that President Trump’s nominee may have been personally involved in a public relations effort to shift blame for sexual assault allegations made against him onto another specific individual with unsubstantiated speculation from an ally. This alone would demonstrate a deep breach of integrity and credibility and would be disqualifying in itself for a position on the highest court in the land. Unfortunately, it also aligns with an entire career using dishonest tactics and statements to advance his personal ambition.

Sunday, September 23, 2018

Hank Sanders: Senate Sketches #1632 - Why there is no Lost Cause

  “Hank, I have to go to Washington, D.C. Can you fill in for me on the panel of the Museum of the Lost Cause Symposium?” Those were the words of Faya Rose Toure, my wife of nearly 49 years. I had a radio program scheduled as well as my weekly law office meeting. But I went to Montgomery for the Museum of the Lost Cause Symposium. The event was organized by Dr. Derryn Moten, chair of the History Department of Alabama State University. I want to share some of what I said or tried to say, or intended to say.

  I say, there is No Lost Cause. It was never lost. It is alive and well. It can be perceived most anytime, most anywhere, in most anything, if we open our eyes, our ears, our minds, and our spirits. In fact, The Lost Cause is more visible in 2018 than at any time in the last 53 years. Just look to the White House. The Lost Cause is not lost.

Saturday, September 22, 2018

Craig Ford: Alabama’s educators are "overwhelmingly well-qualified," so why aren’t we paying them what they are worth?

  Alabama State Superintendent Eric Mackey said last week that Alabama’s public school teachers are “overwhelmingly well-qualified.”

  His assessment came after the Alabama Department of Education issued its latest report cards on the college and university programs that prepare our teachers.

  Our public school teachers do a great job. There’s no doubt about that. And for those of us who have had one or more children grow up in and graduate from our public schools, we know how hard our educators work and how much they sacrifice for our children.

Friday, September 21, 2018

The Trump administration’s new attack on marine monuments

  This past Saturday, September 15, marked the second anniversary of the creation of the Northeast Canyons and Seamounts Marine National Monument—the largest monument in U.S. Atlantic waters. From ancient deep-water corals to an incredibly diverse array of marine mammals, seabirds, and fish, the monument is home to an extraordinary abundance of rare marine life. Unfortunately, even being 150 miles offshore has not spared the monument from the Trump administration’s anti-environment agenda.

Thursday, September 20, 2018

U.S. perversity on peace in Korea

  Just when you think that the U.S. national-security state’s policy toward Korea can’t get more perverse, it does. The latest perversion? Opposing a peace agreement between North Korea and South Korea! Imagine that. And why would U.S. officials oppose such an agreement? Because it would inevitably lead to calls for U.S. troops in Korea to be sent packing home to the United States. After all, when a peace agreement is entered into, what would be the justification for keeping U.S. troops in that faraway land?

Wednesday, September 19, 2018

Steve Flowers: Inside the Statehouse: The 1986 governor's race

  Since this is a gubernatorial election year, allow me to share an epic governor’s race with you.

  The 1986 governor’s race will be remembered as one of Alabama’s most amazing political stories. In 1978, Fob James sent the Three B's, Brewer, Beasley, and Baxley, packing. Brewer and Beasley had been permanently exiled to Buck’s Pocket, the mythical destination for defeated Alabama gubernatorial candidates. However, Bill Baxley resurrected his political career by bouncing back to be elected lieutenant governor in 1982, while George Wallace was winning his fifth and final term as governor. Another player arrived on the state political scene. Charlie Graddick was elected as a fiery, tough, lock ‘em up and throw away the key attorney general. Graddick had previously been a tough prosecuting district attorney in Mobile.

Tuesday, September 18, 2018

Michael Josephson: Responsibilities of management

  Modern managers often utter clichés about wanting employees to “think outside the box,” take risks, and be creative. And while I’m sure companies do appreciate break-through innovative ideas that increase profits, productivity, or quality, the fact is that most organizations are inhospitable to those who challenge old ways of doing things, even practices that are inefficient, useless, or counterproductive.

Monday, September 17, 2018

Interventionists are addicted to interventionism

  In an editorial opposing a U.S.-supported coup in Venezuela, the New York Times gets it right, mostly. Unfortunately, the Times’s editorial board, like so many advocates of foreign interventionism, just cannot let go entirely of its interventionist mindset.

  But let’s first give credit where credit is due. In its September 11 editorial, “Stay Out of Venezuela, Mr. Trump,” the Times makes a good case for non-interventionism in Venezuela, notwithstanding the fact that Venezuela’s ruler, Nicolas Maduro, has developed into a brutal socialist dictator whose “election” was illegitimate. Maduro’s socialism has thrown the country into crisis, chaos, and violence, with Venezuelans on the verge of starvation. More than a million people have fled the country in an attempt to survive.

Sunday, September 16, 2018

“We go on electing politicians who heat the kettles of hate.”

  Addie Mae Collins, Denise McNair, Carole Robertson, and Cynthia Wesley were getting ready for church in the basement ladies’ lounge when the bomb exploded.

  They were killed instantly.

  Addie Mae, 14, and Denise, 11, had been planning to sing in the choir; Carole, 14, and Cynthia, 14, were going to serve as ushers.

Saturday, September 15, 2018

Four ways to improve proposed higher standards for college accreditation

  Last month, the Council for Higher Education Accreditation (CHEA) sought feedback on proposed standards that would raise the bar for college oversight agencies. These agencies, known as accreditation agencies, serve as the gatekeepers to more than $130 billion in federal student grants and loans that flow to more than 6,000 colleges and universities each year. Yet they have been widely criticized as the “watchdogs that don’t bark” due to their failures to hold problematic colleges accountable. As a national voice for accreditation and quality assurance, and the only entity aside from the U.S. Department of Education that formally recognizes accrediting agencies, CHEA’s role in creating higher standards will be critical to improving quality in higher education.

Friday, September 14, 2018

Hank Sanders: Senate Sketches #1631 - The power of slogans infused with action

  Lift Our Votes High; Make Our Voices Sing. Vote or Die. I am sick and tired of being scared and tired, and I am voting on November 6th. Our Vote is Our Voice. So many voting slogans. So many strong messages. All non-partisan. Slogans capture an idea, a spirit, an action in one or so phrases or sentences. Slogans are like symbols in that we see and hear in them what we need or want. Slogans are written and spoken symbols. Slogans are powerful.

Thursday, September 13, 2018

Toxic EPA appointees spell conflict for public health safeguards

  Since taking over as acting administrator for the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) in June 2018, Andrew Wheeler has followed in the footsteps of disgraced former Administrator Scott Pruitt—especially when it comes to prioritizing polluting industries over Americans’ health and well-being. Across the EPA, many former chemical industry insiders have been placed in charge of programs that are meant to protect American communities. Wheeler, for example, previously lobbied for chemical companies and is now directly involved in decisions about a massive Superfund site in New York and New Jersey for which two of his former clients are responsible.

Wednesday, September 12, 2018

Steve Flowers: Inside the Statehouse – Illegal immigrants and the census

  Conservative Republicans like Jeff Sessions have been obsessed with illegal immigrants for years. Sessions is - and has always been - a stickler for obeying the laws of our land. He is the most honest, upright, squeaky clean politician I have ever seen in my lifetime of observing politics in Alabama. He is like Dudley Do Right, only shorter and straighter. He was an Eagle Scout, and you can tell he was not making that up on his resume. He epitomizes a grown-up Eagle Scout. He has never outgrown the straight and narrow path. During his 20-year tenure in the U.S. Senate as our junior senator, he was the ultimate ideologue and one of, if not the most, conservative members of the U.S. Senate. He did not just give lip service to his reactionary positions. He put leg service into every right-wing cause and issue.

Tuesday, September 11, 2018

Understanding Constitutional Amendment One: The Ten Commandments and religious freedom

  For years, discussion over the public display of the Ten Commandments has animated Alabama’s political landscape.

  The issue is so energizing, it seems, that many politicians frame their own races through the lens of this battle––that support for their candidacy is a vote for the Ten Commandments.

  Even so, Alabamians have never actually gotten a chance to vote directly on the issue.

  This November, however, a constitutional amendment sponsored by Sen. Gerald Dial (R) provides that opportunity.

Monday, September 10, 2018

Can social media be “fixed”?

  Last week, executives from Twitter, Facebook and Google testified before Congress. Again. This was the third congressional hearing this year where the internet giants were grilled on their content policies, their privacy and security practices, and their role in democracy.

  It’s been a rough couple of years for social media platforms. They’ve come under fire for so many different things that it can be hard to remember all of them. To recap: For enabling Russian propagandists to influence our presidential election and terrorist organizations to find new recruits. For allowing fake news stories to go viral. For exacerbating political polarization by trapping their users in “filter bubbles.” For giving hate mongers and conspiracy theorists a platform to reach a wider audience. For filtering or down-ranking conservative viewpoints. For collecting private user data and selling it to the highest bidder. For siphoning profits away from struggling local news organizations.

Sunday, September 9, 2018

Still dying for nothing in Afghanistan

  It wasn’t until history class in college that I heard of the Thirty Years War. My immediate reaction was: No way! It just wasn’t possible that a war could last 30 years. Nobody would be that dumb.

  But given that the U.S. war in Afghanistan has now been going on for 17 years, it’s now easier for me to understand how a war could go on for 30 years. Just think: Another 13 years, and the U.S. government can tie that record.

Saturday, September 8, 2018

What the 2017 census data won’t show about families struggling in the Trump economy

  On September 12, the Census Bureau will release its annual data on income, poverty, and health insurance coverage in the United States. These data, collected from the Current Population Survey for calendar year 2017, are expected to show that the national poverty rate continued the downward trajectory it has followed since 2014, measured by both the official poverty measure and researchers’ preferred Supplemental Poverty Measure (SPM), which also counts tax credits and certain in-kind assistance as income. Yet despite this expected decrease, experts anticipate that the typical American family experienced only modest income gains in 2017—if any—and that health insurance coverage rates flatlined.

Friday, September 7, 2018

In a changing climate, access to cooling is a human right

  When I wake at 5:00 a.m. on a summer desert morning, it’s to catch the only cool moments before the day begins. In a few hours, the temperature will rise past 100 degrees, and by mid-day, the dashboard thermometer in my car will read 117 degrees. I keep my children’s car seats covered with old towels and grocery bags to prevent the buckles from heating up like branding irons.

  Along the roadsides, the leaves on the orange trees droop and even the cacti look thirsty. At the Santa Rita Park, dozens of people are stretched out on top of blankets in the grass, taking refuge beneath the few leaning shade trees. Every summer there are seasonal warnings on the news: Remember to stay hydrated. Never leave your pets or children in an enclosed vehicle. Seek out a cool, indoor space during the hottest part of the day.

Thursday, September 6, 2018

Prepare to vote on constitutional amendments, Alabama

  The drought, as they say, is over. Football season is back in Alabama.

  To no one’s surprise, the Alabama Crimson Tide was ranked #1 in both the AP and Coaches preseason polls.

  Almost simultaneously as the return of college football, however, is the beginning of another all-too-familiar season for Alabamians.

Wednesday, September 5, 2018

Steve Flowers: Inside the Statehouse – The 1978 governor's race

  Since this is a gubernatorial election year, let’s reminisce about an epic governor’s race. The 1978 governor’s race is one of the classics in Alabama political lore. That governor’s race between the three heavyweights, former Governor Albert Brewer, Attorney General Bill Baxley, and Lt. Governor Jere Beasley, was expected to be titanic. All three men had last names beginning with the letter “B,” thus, the press coined the phrase “the three B’s.” The Republicans were relegated to insignificance on the gubernatorial stage. Therefore, the winner of the Democratic Primary would be governor.

Tuesday, September 4, 2018

Dangerous racialization of crime in U.S. news media

  From the start of his presidency, Donald Trump has consistently proven his effectiveness at using fear as a political weapon. At his 2016 inauguration, President Trump claimed that the United States was ridden with poverty and “rampant crime,” vowing to put an end to this “American carnage.” Since then, he has perpetuated false claims that murder rates are rising overall, even though violent crime rates declined in the nation’s largest cities in 2017, continuing the national trend of reduced crime. President Trump has also put unauthorized immigrants at the center of crime by exaggerating the scope and threat of MS-13.

Monday, September 3, 2018

If Mississippi can pass a lottery, then so can we

  Alabama can no longer say, “Thank God for Mississippi.”

  The Mississippi Legislature has passed a state lottery, and Mississippi Governor Phil Bryant has said he will sign it into law. This means that Alabama will now be one of only six states in the entire country – and the only state in the south – that does not have a state lottery.

  Year after year, and in survey after survey, the lottery continues to poll extremely well among voters of every background. The lottery isn’t even a partisan issue: whether Democrat or Republican, or liberal or conservative, support for the lottery continues to top 70 percent among all voters.

Sunday, September 2, 2018

Hank Sanders: Senate Sketches #1629 - God works in mysterious ways

  God works in mysterious ways. When I think of Selma and Dallas County, Alabama, I am comforted by this simple thought. I really need such comfort every time I think of Selma and Dallas County, Alabama. Why do I need such comfort in thinking about Selma and Dallas County? I don’t know why the need for such comfort is so great, but I do know that God works in mysterious ways.

  There was great struggle across the South and beyond to secure voting rights for African Americans. There was struggle in Mississippi. There was struggle in Georgia and Florida. There was struggle in South Carolina, North Carolina and Virginia. There was struggle in Tennessee, Arkansas, Louisiana and Texas. There was struggle in various other places. But Selma, Alabama was unique in the struggle for voting rights in America.

Saturday, September 1, 2018

Why won’t conservatives pick a peach?

  The favorite slogan of conservatives has long been “free enterprise, private property, and limited government.” Another conservative favorite is the term “personal responsibility.”

  Since personal responsibility is so important to conservatives, one must ask: Why hasn’t even one conservative taken personal responsibility by traveling to the Midwest and helping farmers pick their crops, given that conservatives are responsible for the massive crop losses that farmers are incurring?

Friday, August 31, 2018

From cable to the White House, the mainstreaming of white nationalism

  It doesn’t take the infiltration of a hate group meeting or a deep dive into extremist chat rooms to be exposed to white nationalist ideas.

  Take Dylann Roof, who murdered nine black churchgoers in Charleston, South Carolina, after a chain of events that started with a simple Google search.

  As Roof wrote in an online manifesto, when he typed the words “black on White crime” into Google, he came across the website of a crudely racist group called the Council of Conservative Citizens. There, he found what he described as “pages upon pages of these brutal black on White murders.”

Thursday, August 30, 2018

Limited government demands more, not less, of Alabama

  In Alabama, politicians and residents alike proclaim the benefits of limited government.

  Appropriately, our state’s motto is Audemus jura nostra defendere, which, when translated into the more popular language of English, reads, “We dare defend our rights”. The phrase in original context––an 18th century poem by Sir William Jones––is followed by the potential thief of rights: “the tyrant while they wield the chain”, i.e. the government.

Wednesday, August 29, 2018

Steve Flowers: Inside the Statehouse - BCA is back, bigger and better than ever

  Alabama Power is and has always been a force in Alabama politics. Some entities may have influence in the Alabama Legislature, but the power company has the ear of folks in all three branches of State government: legislative, executive and judicial.

  To quote the great Dr. Paul Hubbert, if you asked elected Alabama officials who they would call if their ox got into a ditch, it would be an overwhelming vote for Alabama Power. Alabama Power is the friend and confidant that both Democratic and Republican senators and representatives would name. The company is known for listening to legislators and treating them fairly and honestly, and it is truly nonpartisan in its approach.

Tuesday, August 28, 2018

Trump Administration says poverty barely exists and measuring it is ‘arbitrary’

  According to a recent Trump administration report, when poverty is “properly measured,” less than 3 percent of Americans are poor. If that sounds like a dramatic underestimation to you, that’s because it is—the comparable Census Bureau estimate is four times higher. That’s the difference between saying there are about 11 million people with below-poverty incomes in the United States (about the population of Georgia), or 44.8 million (roughly the combined populations of Georgia, New York, Pennsylvania, and West Virginia).

Monday, August 27, 2018

Can Brennan make a First Amendment case? Yes, to ‘us’

  Does former CIA director John Brennan have a First Amendment case against President Trump for pulling Brennan’s national security clearance?

  Definitely – in the court of public opinion, if not automatically in a court of law.

  Our freedom of speech is most protected when we choose to speak out on matters of public concern; in short, when we join in “political speech.” We are protected against government censorship in advance of such speech, and from government retaliation afterwards, and even – though least often considered – also protected against being forced to speak if we chose not to.

Sunday, August 26, 2018

President Trump is stoking white nationalism, exploiting racist fear

  In the days since he was implicated as a co-conspirator in a federal crime, the president – with the help of his allies in the right-wing press – has fallen back on his most basic political strategy: stoking racial resentment and fear.

  He has not only shamelessly exploited a horrible tragedy in Iowa but tweeted out his intention to put the full force of the U.S. State Department behind a white nationalist conspiracy theory.

Saturday, August 25, 2018

Women of color will lose the most if Roe v. Wade is overturned

  The crucial question swirling around President Donald Trump’s nomination of Brett Kavanaugh to replace Justice Anthony Kennedy on the U.S. Supreme Court is just how far right the court will shift. Could Kavanaugh’s appointment gut and even overturn Roe v. Wade? Will the Affordable Care Act’s protections for people with pre-existing conditions be in jeopardy? Will the rich and powerful be emboldened and empowered at the expense of the less fortunate?

  While it is understandably important to reflect on the stakes this nomination will have on the future of the court, it is equally important to consider who will be harmed most if Judge Kavanaugh is confirmed.

Friday, August 24, 2018

Charter schools are keeping promises

  On the campaign trail in 2012, Mitt Romney remarked that “charter schools are so successful that almost every politician can find something good to say about them.”

  Romney was right.

  President Bush told crowds he was a “big believer” in charter schools, President Obama proclaimed National Charter Schools Week year after year, and 2016 presidential candidates Bernie Sanders, Donald Trump, and Hillary Clinton are all on record praising public charter schools.

Thursday, August 23, 2018

Hank Sanders: Senate Sketches #1628 - The power of looking back to move forward!

  Looking back to move forward. This is a powerful concept. It is not a new concept. There is even an African symbol for this concept. It is an eagle-like bird with its head looking back while its feet are facing forward. The name of the concept is Sankofa.

  As a child, I looked back to move forward. I looked back at Thurgood Marshall, the great civil rights lawyer who was the architect of the Brown v. Board of Education Supreme Court ruling. This decision cracked the wall of oppressive segregation constructed by the Plessy v. Ferguson Case of 1896 that forged the specious "separate but equal" doctrine. I looked back and commenced my journey to become a civil rights lawyer.

Wednesday, August 22, 2018

Steve Flowers: Inside the Statehouse – Beth Chapman... on Rane's plane ride?

  Recently, I wrote about Alfa’s influence in Alabama politics. In my August 8 column, I said, the Alabama Farmers Federation still controls the Alabama Legislature. They used to play in the governor’s race. However, they got burned badly by Bob Riley when they helped him get elected, and the first thing he did was stab them in the back. They have slipped around this year, however, and will not only own the legislature but will probably have a good friend in the governor’s office as well.

  The day before the Republican Primary, Kay Ivey was on Jimmy Rane's jet to fly around the state. Boarding with her was Beth Chapman, Alfa’s political consultant. The next night when she came off the platform after giving her appreciation speech, guess who was helping her off the stage and holding her arm so that she would not fall. It was Jimmy Parnell, the Farmers Federation President.

Tuesday, August 21, 2018

Families first, taxpayers last

  Milton Friedman may have put families first, but he put taxpayers last.

  Friedman (1912–2006) was one of the most influential free-market economists of the twentieth century. After receiving his Ph.D. in economics from Columbia University, he worked for the federal government and then taught economics at the University of Chicago for thirty years. In 1976, he received the Nobel Prize in Economics “for his achievements in the fields of consumption analysis, monetary history, and theory and for his demonstration of the complexity of stabilization policy.”

Monday, August 20, 2018

"You people who’ve got gay children, don’t mess up like I did"

  “Half-baked maggot.” “If he wants to be a female, make him a female. A good sharp knife will do the job really quick.”

  That’s what adults in Oklahoma had to say last week about a transgender middle schooler named Maddie who used the girls’ bathroom during her first week at Achille Public Schools. She is 12 years old.

  A parent’s post on Facebook — “the transgender [sic] is already using the girls [sic] bathroom” — attracted adults from outside of the school district. In just a few hours, hundreds of shockingly violent comments had proliferated.

Sunday, August 19, 2018

‘Enemies of the people?’ Simply, plainly — ‘no.’

  As plainly and clearly as one can say or write this:

  Journalism and journalists are not “enemies of the people.”

  A free press brings us the news of the day, from weather to Wall Street, and when done properly, functions as a “watchdog on government.” The public expects that first part, and the First Amendment — on behalf of all of us — protects that last part.

  At many small-town publications and major metropolitan dailies and broadcast outlets big and small, something extraordinary is happening: News outlets are publishing editorials defending a free and independent press, pushing back against those who have attacked them as “enemies,” “despicable people” and purveyors of “fake news.”

Saturday, August 18, 2018

Common roots of the wars on immigrants and drugs

  I just read a very insightful article about the history of the war on drugs, entitled “How America Convinced the World to Demonize Drugs” by J.S. Rafaeli. The central theme of the article is that while nations around the world have their own particular drug laws and drug wars, the overall originator and instigator of the global war on drugs is the U.S. government.

  What particularly fascinated me about the article, however, was the way it showed how the war on drugs originally intersected with the war on immigrants.

Friday, August 17, 2018

Hank Sanders: Senate Sketches #1627 - The frightening force of a powerful personality

  “Why do all these people believe Trump? It’s obvious that he lies all the time. They have documented his lying more than 3000 times in the year and a half he has been president. It makes no sense!” I get some form of this question very often. I may not answer the question, but I address it. I think it’s the frightening force of a powerful personality.

  During the election, one of my grandchildren by foster relationship was a Trump supporter. I talked with him on several occasions. He is well over voting age. Each time my grandchild agreed that it made no sense to support Trump for president. However, the next time I would talk to him, he would be supporting Trump for president.

Thursday, August 16, 2018

Craig Ford: Every school should have a school resource officer

  Now that school has started back, a lot of attention has been given to the issue of school safety and security.

  Concerns over school safety and, particularly, the possibility of a mass shooting are nothing new. Though the Columbine massacre that happened nearly 20 years ago was not the first school shooting, it became the first in a wave of shootings that has plagued this country right up to the shootings in Parkland, Florida and Santa Fe just a few months ago.

  That’s why most school systems throughout Alabama used the summer months to improve school safety by tapping into funds that the Alabama Legislature unearmarked earlier this year.

Wednesday, August 15, 2018

Inside the Statehouse – Brett Kavanaugh to SCOTUS assures Trump a legacy

  The appointment of a United States Supreme Court Justice is one of the most profound legacies that a U. S. President can achieve. The opportunity that President Donald Trump was given to appoint Neil Gorsuch to the High Tribunal last year will be a monumental achievement of the Trump administration.

  The chance to name a second Supreme Court appointment will be a colossal legacy for the Trump presidency. The appointment of two seats on the Supreme Court has given Trump an indelible place in U.S. presidential history.

Tuesday, August 14, 2018

Trump’s war on Turkey for Pastor Brunson

  Every year, thousands of American citizens are incarcerated in foreign countries. Yet, President Trump has decided to go to war to secure the release of only one of them. What gives with that?

  The citizen who is receiving the privileged treatment is Andrew Brunson, an American pastor incarcerated in Turkey. He is charged with participating in an attempted coup in 2016 against Turkey’s president, Recep Tayyip Erdogan.

Monday, August 13, 2018

Learning fiscal responsibility from the fall of MoviePass

  One year ago, a relatively-unknown company announced that, for a monthly fee of $9.95, subscribers could see one movie a day without paying anything at the box office. That’s right – even though the average movie ticket in the U.S. is $9 – a $9.95 monthly subscription could get you into 31 movies.

  Since last August, three million film-goers have subscribed to MoviePass, the company offering this seemingly too-good-to-be-true service.

Sunday, August 12, 2018

Brett Kavanaugh threatens Americans’ fundamental right to vote

  Last week marked the 53rd anniversary of the Voting Rights Act (VRA). In the years since the VRA’s enactment, however, its protections have not gone unchallenged. In a 2013 decision in Shelby v. Holder, a conservative majority on the U.S. Supreme Court gutted Section 5 of the VRA, a provision that prevented certain jurisdictions from unilaterally manipulating their voting policies and procedures. This ruling allowed legislators to enact discriminatory laws that make voting more difficult for both people of color and low-income Americans. With the retirement of Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy this past July, it is essential that the Senate demand a fair, independent nominee who will defend the fundamental rights of Americans.

  Brett M. Kavanaugh is not that nominee. Throughout his career, he has demonstrated a willingness to turn a blind eye to voter suppression and racial discrimination. If Kavanaugh is confirmed, Americans will almost certainly face further erosion of their voting rights.

Saturday, August 11, 2018

Hank Sanders: Senate Sketches #1626 - Injustice is rolling

  Injustice. Injustice. Injustice. Injustice is rolling down like rivers of waters and unrighteousness like a mighty stream. No, I did not make a mistake and put “injustice” where I should have put “justice” or “unrighteousness” where I should have put “righteousness.” No, I am not talking about Biblical times when the prophet Amos lived. Injustice is rolling down like rivers of waters.

  I am not talking about far off places. I am not talking about far-off times. I am not talking about Africa, South America, Asia, etc. I am not talking about past times of slavery and segregation. I am talking about right now. I am talking about right here in Selma, Alabama.

Friday, August 10, 2018

Rollback of EPA clean car standards will cost you at least $500 a year

  On August 2, the Trump administration proposed rolling back the clean car standards, Obama-era regulations that require new cars for model years 2017-2025 to average more than 50 miles per gallon by 2025. In addition to the environmental impact that has already been reported by the New York Times and the Washington Post—which could be massive, since cars and trucks account for 45 percent of U.S. oil consumption and 20 percent of U.S. greenhouse gas emissions—this rollback will be expensive for the American public.

Thursday, August 9, 2018

Who owns your body?

  Norma Brickey, an eighty-two-year-old mother, has been driving the streets of Columbus, Ohio, with a sign in her car window reading, “My son needs a kidney, O positive,” followed by her phone number. Both she and another of her sons have had kidney transplants. All three suffer from polycystic kidney disease, a condition in which cysts form on the kidneys.

  Her son who is still waiting for a kidney transplant goes to dialysis for four hours and then goes to his job as a nurse for 12 hours. He has been on dialysis for almost two years. “This is the year I’m going to find him a kidney,” says his mother. She doesn’t “make extra trips for people to see the sign.” She just does her errands, and almost every day gets a call.

Wednesday, August 8, 2018

Steve Flowers: Inside the Statehouse – Primary political potpourri

  Now that the dust has settled on the primaries, allow me to share with you some thoughts on the Alabama political stage.

  There is an old saying that says, the more things change, the more they stay the same. This old adage is true in Alabama politics.

  First of all, “All politics is local.” In the June 5 primaries, the turnout was about 25 percent on average around the state. However, the ultimate voter turnout was 27 percent due to local races. Alabamians are more interested in who is sheriff and probate judge than who is lieutenant governor or attorney general.

Tuesday, August 7, 2018

How conservative principles benefit the environment: A lesson from Alabama’s red snapper

  Many coastal and red snapper loving Alabamians may find themselves disappointed by recent events.

  On July 16th, the State of Alabama announced that recreational red snapper fishing season would be cut six weeks short. A result of unexpectedly high catch levels this summer, the state reached its annual quota sooner than anticipated.

  For families and anglers who planned trips for late July and August, frustration with the early closing date is understandable. Why should the government be able to regulate an activity as natural as red snapper fishing?

Monday, August 6, 2018

Craig Ford: A new school year is starting, but it should be starting later

  Remember when school didn’t start until after Labor Day? In a matter of days, students all across Alabama will start a new school year, and yet it’s only the second week of August!

  Instead of spending the last few weeks of August working summer jobs or on family vacations, teachers and students are preparing to head back to school. Why?

  It wasn’t always this way. In 2012, the Alabama Legislature passed a school start date bill that mandated a longer summer break for our public schools. It was a bill that had broad bipartisan support. Supporters argued that extending the summer break would benefit families, students, employers, Alabama’s tourism industry, and even the government.

  But then the legislature failed to renew it, and the state did not get to feel the maximum benefits of the law.

Sunday, August 5, 2018

The First Amendment was meant for times like now

  Donald Trump is working the old political shell game again — one that journalists must refuse to play and that every citizen should take as a lesson in civics about the real value of our First Amendment.

  Mere days after a July 20 meeting with the publisher of The New York Times that the White House asked to be “off-the-record,” Trump reversed course and made the conversation public via a series of tweets that ranged from outright fabrication to fanatical claims about the patriotism of journalists and how their work is “putting lives at risk.”

Saturday, August 4, 2018

Hank Sanders: Senate Sketches #1625 - Selma and Dallas County, Lord.... Selma and Dallas County!

  In 1965, the population of Selma was 28,000. Whites were a slight majority. The population of Dallas County was 56,000. Blacks were a slight majority. Selma is the county seat of Dallas County. But these populations don’t tell us nearly enough. One side had everything. The other side had virtually nothing. But that does not tell us enough either.

  In 1965, there were tens of thousands of White registered voters in Selma/Dallas County. There were 327 Black registered voters. Every city and county elected official was White. There was not a single Black elected official in either Selma or Dallas County. Whites had everything. Backs had little or nothing.

Friday, August 3, 2018

Libertarianism in one easy lesson

  It would be hard to imagine a larger deficiency in modern American society than the one we find in the ability of individual citizens to understand their proper relationship with government and each other. Beneath the endless cacophony of varying special-interest groups lies a fundamental misunderstanding of the role we each play in a free society and the role government plays in guaranteeing our place in a free society.

Thursday, August 2, 2018

White nationalists who shouted “Russia is our friend” weren’t just whistling Dixie

  The same day President Trump appeared to side with Vladimir Putin over U.S. intelligence agencies, the Department of Justice unsealed a criminal complaint accusing a woman named Maria Butina of “acting as an agent of a foreign government” — Russia.

  Rubbing shoulders with right-wing figures at the National Prayer Breakfast, Butina allegedly sought to “establish a back-channel of communication” with American politicians who share Russia’s anti-LGBT stance.

  She’s not the only one who saw an opportunity. The most recent National Prayer Breakfast this year was attended by more than 50 Russians.

Wednesday, August 1, 2018

Steve Flowers: Inside the Statehouse – More analysis of the GOP runoff

  Currently, congressmen/women win reelection at a 98 percent rate. The communist politburo does not have that high of a reelection percentage. Maybe we have more in common with the Russians than Washington CNN reporters think.

  It is hard to get beat as an incumbent congressman. Martha Roby tried, but even though she was the most vulnerable Republican incumbent congressperson in the country, she shellacked a former Montgomery mayor, one-term congressman, and doggone good country one-on-one politician - Bobby Bright. She beat him like a rented mule, 68-32.

Tuesday, July 31, 2018

What’s the ‘true threat’ to American journalism and democracy?

  Threats to the survival of a free press seem much in the air these days, from the near-daily online insults hurled from the White House podium to the lunatic who opened fire on an innocent group of news people in Annapolis, Md., on June 28.

  But the greatest danger facing our shared freedom of the press and to journalists’ role in our democracy is not so much either of those factors, as important and tragic as both are.

  Perhaps the greatest — and just as immediate — threat is the ongoing decline in the sheer numbers of those involved in the operating and staffing of newsrooms, for now, felt most strongly in the “print” sector.

Monday, July 30, 2018

Appeals court reinstates lawsuit challenging Alabama’s wage-hike ban

  An appeals court last week reversed a judge’s dismissal of a lawsuit that challenges a state law which blocks Alabama cities from raising the minimum wage.

  The reversal allows the plaintiffs to resume their argument in court that the law discriminates against black, low-wage workers by preserving the racial pay gap.

  Birmingham, a predominantly black city, attempted in 2016 to raise its minimum wage to $10.10 an hour from the federal minimum of $7.25 that is observed by the state. In response, the Alabama Legislature quickly moved to pass a law banning cities from raising the minimum wage above the federal level.

Sunday, July 29, 2018

Omnipotent government, not Trump, is the problem

  Many of the people who are critics of President Trump don’t realize that they themselves are partly responsible for much of what Trump is doing. That’s because over the years they have supported the assumption of dictatorial powers by the president. In doing so, they always assumed that their favorite ideal candidate would end up being the one wielding and exercising such powers. They assumed the risk that someone like Trump would end up being the one doing so.

  The United States was founded as a limited-government republic. What that means was that the charter that brought the federal government into existence strictly limited the powers of the president and the other branches of the government. The idea was that no one should be trusted with dictatorial powers, not even people like George Washington and Thomas Jefferson.

Saturday, July 28, 2018

Hank Sanders: Senate Sketches #1624 - Minoring in the major and majoring in the minor

  My cell phone rang. The caller said: “Senator Sanders, the cops have surrounded your wife near Selma Avenue and Broad Street. It was about nine cops. When I drove by she hollered, ‘Call my husband.’ So I am calling you.”

  I dropped everything and dashed to Selma Avenue and Broad Street. This was the evening of Monday, July 16, 2018, the day before the Democratic Primary Runoff Election for Probate Judge of Dallas County.

Friday, July 27, 2018

Learning from President Trump: Words matter

  “I don’t see any reason why it would be”.

  Those words, voiced by President Donald Trump when asked whether he believed it was true that Russia interfered with the 2016 election, set off a media firestorm.

  Trump, of course, is used to media criticism, but this time was different. Joining the normal critics were a multitude of Fox News hosts including Neil Cavuto, Bret Baier, Brit Hume, Dana Perino, and even Brian Kilmeade of the oft-lauded by Trump Fox and Friends.

Thursday, July 26, 2018

There is no summer vacation for parents in the "gig" economy

  Let the record reflect that I began writing this from beneath my wiggling three-year-old. I had barely cracked open my laptop when he did a backbend across my legs and slid upside-down onto the floor, with a smile so wide I could see the ridges on the roof of his mouth. One of his feet hit my chest and the other hit my laptop, nearly toppling it to the ground. He giggled, and I nearly had a heart attack. My computer is how I keep a roof over our heads, and I can’t afford to replace it.

  Welcome to summer break.

Wednesday, July 25, 2018

Steve Flowers: Inside the Statehouse – GOP Primary Runoff analysis

  The storyline of last week’s GOP Primary Runoff was the extremely low turnout. The big surprises to me were the big victories by Steve Marshall for Attorney General and Martha Roby for Congress. Both winning was not a surprise; however, their margins of victory were impressive.

  Going into the runoff, my guess was that whichever candidate won between Marshall or Troy King, would win by a narrow margin. After all, they had arrived at the runoff in a dead heat of 28 percent each. It is hard to tell how Marshall was able to trounce King by a 62 to 38 margin. The only logical theory would be that he got a sympathy vote from his wife’s death, which occurred during the runoff.

Tuesday, July 24, 2018

Michael Josephson: Kids like to win; adults need to win

  Whether you’re a sports fan or not, you have to acknowledge the powerful cultural influence that sports have on our culture. The values of millions of participants and spectators are shaped by the values conveyed in sports, including our views of what is permissible and proper in the competitive pursuit of personal goals.

  Professional sports and even highly competitive intercollegiate sports seem irreversibly addicted to the idea that sports are basically a business and that the only thing that makes sports profitable is winning. And if that means we have to tolerate egocentric self-indulgent showboating or whining, violence or even cheating, so be it. Clearly these attitudes have invaded youth sports as well. Everywhere we see that a lot of adults — both coaches and parents — need to grow up and realize the game is not about either their egos or ambitions.

Monday, July 23, 2018

What the domestic gag rule means for Title X providers

  From cuts to teen pregnancy prevention funding to attempts to restrict a woman’s constitutional right to access an abortion, women’s reproductive health is under relentless attack from anti-choice policymakers and the Trump-Pence administration. As this barrage of attacks continues, the fate of a vital safety net hangs in the balance: the federal Title X family planning program.

  Almost 4,000 Title X health centers serve more than 4 million low-income women and men every year and provide important family planning and related preventive health services such as birth control, sexually transmitted infection (STI) testing, and cancer screenings. Enacted by the Nixon administration in 1970 after garnering broad bipartisan support, Title X has since saved taxpayers billions of dollars and reduced the country’s rate of unintended pregnancies, unplanned births, and abortions. The program is especially important to young women, women of color, and immigrant women, all of whom typically face systemic barriers to accessing care.

Sunday, July 22, 2018

Mark Zuckerberg’s comments about Holocaust denial are disturbing

  In an interview with a tech magazine published last week, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg said that while he personally finds Holocaust denial "deeply offensive ... at the end of the day, I don't believe that our platform should take that down."

  After a burst of criticism, Zuckerberg clarified his remarks, but only with respect to his personal feelings about those who engage with Holocaust denial. His company's policy, on the other hand, remains. On Facebook, it's officially permissible to proliferate content that denies the crimes of Nazi Germany.

Saturday, July 21, 2018

Hank Sanders: Senate Sketches #1623 - If we looked back a little, we would see our way forward much clearer

  I am not an immigrant. I am not a descendant of immigrants. My fore parents were not immigrants, but they arrived in this country from another continent. They did not come by choice. They came by force and violence. They came in chains, but they were not immigrants.

  Virtually every nationality came to this country as immigrants. Each was escaping something – starvation, religious persecution, incarceration, war, poverty, lack of opportunity, etc. Each was seeking something. My African ancestors did not come seeking anything. My Africans ancestors were not running from anything. They appreciated their life in the Mother Land. They did not want to leave. They came against their will to much worse and horrific situations.

Friday, July 20, 2018

Confirming Kavanaugh would be a disaster for workers and people in poverty

  By now, most of Supreme Court Justice Nominee Brett Kavanaugh’s decisions and speeches have been pored over by both advocates and reporters. But comparatively little attention has been paid to a posture that has defined Kavanaugh’s legal career: a consistent willingness to side with the rich and the powerful over the most vulnerable members of society.

  While retiring Justice Anthony Kennedy generally has a pro-business voting record, he has often broken with the conservative wing of the Court on civil rights cases and issues of environmental law. At times, this led Kennedy to rule in favor of civil rights and against powerful interests.

Thursday, July 19, 2018

Craig Ford: Something has to change

  Americans have been voting for change for as long as I can remember, and the desire for change isn’t limited to one political party. Before President Trump ran on “draining the swamp,” President Obama ran on a slogan of “change you can believe in.”

  In fact, the desire for change might be one of the only things left in politics that everyone can agree on.

  And it isn’t just changing the way our government operates. Most Americans are ready for a change in the way we campaign and how we talk about politics.

Wednesday, July 18, 2018

Steve Flowers: Inside the Statehouse – Notebook from the June 5 Primaries

  You have the results of Tuesday’s runoff elections. I had to go to press with my column before the results were known.

  There are some fantastic runoff races which should be close and interesting. The four best will be Troy King versus Steve Marshall in the Attorney General’s race. The Lieutenant Governor runoff between Twinkle Cavanaugh and Will Ainsworth will be interesting. The Agriculture Commissioner race between Rick Pate and Gerald Dial will be good. It will be interesting to see if Bobby Bright ousted Martha Roby from Congress in the 2nd district.

Tuesday, July 17, 2018

Ask Dr. Bumdinkle: Are open relationships healthy?

  Author's note: Yes, I'm back. It's a condition of my parole to give people advice on trivial matters which they should have the sense to sort out on their own.

Dear Dr. Bumdinkle:

  I love my girlfriend deeply. We may even get married one day. Since we met, we have considered ourselves to be in an "open relationship," which by our standards at least means we're free to romance other people, including having sex, but our emotional bond and the core relationship stays strictly between us. We do not get attached to other people. In other words, despite our flings with others, we always come home to each other. And yet we often get criticized by our friends for sleeping with other people.

Monday, July 16, 2018

Michael Josephson: Are cynics right? Is lying really necessary?

  What do you think? In today’s society, does a person have to lie or cheat at least occasionally to succeed?

  The question isn’t whether occasional liars and cheats sometimes get away with dishonesty; we all have to agree with this. The question is whether you believe people can succeed if they are not willing to lie or cheat.

Sunday, July 15, 2018

Three reasons why you should care about occupational licensing reform

  During my years working in public policy, there have been a handful of issues that have gotten me fired up. Typically when I tell people about them, they have some level of understanding—a state lottery, education and school choice, taxes and budgets, things like that. These days, when I’m asked about the issue I most care about and I say “occupational licensing reform,” I’m often met with blank stares. Once I start explaining the issue, however, people start to understand why it is so important, not just to me, but to all Alabamians.

Saturday, July 14, 2018

Does it really matter that Americans don’t know exactly what the First Amendment says?

  The majority of Americans are supportive of the rights guaranteed by the First Amendment but are also unaware of exactly what those rights are, according to the recently released 2018 State of the First Amendment survey by the First Amendment Center of the Freedom Forum Institute.

  When asked if the First Amendment goes too far in the rights that it protects, more than three-fourths of Americans disagree. That’s fairly good news, but it’s somewhat tempered by the fact that a third of Americans cannot name a single freedom guaranteed by the First Amendment. Another third can only name one. Only one survey respondent out of a sample of 1,009 could name all five. And 9 percent of Americans think that the First Amendment guarantees the right to bear arms. (For the record, that’s the Second Amendment.)

Friday, July 13, 2018

U.S. dictatorial fangs at the World Cup

  In his Fourth of July address to Congress in 1821, entitled “In Search of Monsters to Destroy,” John Quincy Adams warned the American people that if the U.S. government ever became an imperial, interventionist government, it would inevitably become like a dictatorial regime.

  A good example of how right Adams has been shown to be has occurred during the World Cup matches. The dictatorial nature of the U.S. government came through loud and clear in the case of Rafael Martinez, a star soccer player on the Mexican team.

Thursday, July 12, 2018

Hank Sanders: Senate Sketches #1622 - I’ve got independence on my mind!

  Independence is powerful, and there are many dimensions to independence. I have independence on my mind, my heart, and my spirit. So I want to share several personal experiences involving independence. I've got independence on my mind.

  There is our internal independence. There is our external independence. Each will affect the other. However, they are very different. We must understand both. We must seek both.

Wednesday, July 11, 2018

Steve Flowers: Inside the Statehouse – Primary runoffs next week

  Well, folks, if you voted in the Republican primary, you may want to go back to the polls next week and finish selecting the GOP nominees for several important state offices. If you are a Democrat, the only reason you will need to vote on Tuesday is if you have a runoff in a local race, and there are very few of those around.

  We are still a very red Republican state. There are 29 elected statewide officials in Alabama.  All 29 are Republicans. When all the votes are counted in November, that 29 out of 29 figure will more than likely remain the same in the Heart of Dixie. The Blue wave has not reached here. There were twice as many Republican voters, 590,000 to 283,000, as Democratic voters on June 5. 

Tuesday, July 10, 2018

North Korea will never give up its nuclear weapons

  With North Korea accusing Secretary of State (and former CIA Director) Mike Pompeo of engaging in a “unilateral and gangster-like demand for denuclearization,” it should be increasingly obvious to most everyone that North Korea is not going to destroy its nuclear bombs.

  This should not surprise anyone. The dumbest thing that North Korea could ever do is to destroy its nuclear capability. One thing is for sure: No matter how brutal North Korea’s communist regime is, it’s not stupid. The North Koreans know that the second that they were to destroy their last nuclear bomb, North Korea’s leader Kim Jong Un and his communist regime would become one great big nothing-burger in the eyes of President Trump and the U.S. national-security establishment.

Monday, July 9, 2018

Seeing the power of compassion, hope, and work first-hand

  Three years ago, I had the privilege of visiting South America for the first time. During my stay, I—along with the rest of my group—met a family whose story broke our hearts.

  Led by a single mother, the family lived in an aluminum-roofed and mud-filled house in the middle of a village town square, right between two churches. Her adult children still lived with her in their home: one blind and two deaf, blind, and intellectually disabled. Their abusive father abandoned them long ago.

Sunday, July 8, 2018

Survey reveals people believe in media as watchdog

  The most encouraging part of the 2018 State of the First Amendment survey is the public’s embrace of the ideal of the media serving as the watchdog of a free society. The American public recognizes the essential importance of a vibrant and free press to serve the interests of the public as a check against government.

  According to the survey, nearly three-fourths of those surveyed (73%) either strongly agreed or somewhat agreed with the statement – “It is important for our democracy that the news media act as a watchdog on government.”

Saturday, July 7, 2018

‘The Rosa Parks of the transgender movement’

  It’s an open question whether Sylvia Rivera left home or was thrown out. Either way, she said she was relieved to be rid of the “viejita” – or little old lady – who was embarrassed by the child she considered an effeminate grandson.

  Rivera, whose mother died and father abandoned her, was finally on her own. She was only 11 years old.

  By the time she was 17, she would be well on her way to becoming, as one writer would later call her, “the Rosa Parks of the modern transgender movement.”

Friday, July 6, 2018

The Supreme Court’s deference to the Pentagon

  Imagine a county sheriff that took a suspected drug-law violator into custody more than 10 years ago. Since then, the man has been held in jail without being given a trial. The district attorney and the sheriff promise to give the man a trial some time in the future but they’re just not sure when. Meanwhile, the man sits in jail indefinitely just waiting for his trial to begin.

  Difficult to imagine, right? That’s because most everyone would assume that a judge would never permit such a thing to happen. The man’s lawyer would file a petition for writ of habeas corpus. A judge would order the sheriff to produce the prisoner and show cause why the prisoner shouldn’t immediately be released from custody. At the habeas corpus hearing, the judge would either order the release of the prisoner based on the violation of his right to a speedy trial, or he would order the state to either try him or release him.

Thursday, July 5, 2018

Craig Ford: Could next year be the year we finally get a lottery passed?

  Alabamians have been asking for a lottery for years. It continues to be one of the most popular ideas polled year in and year out, yet we still don’t have a state lottery.

  But there’s a chance that could change next year.

  The Alabama Legislature won’t return to Montgomery until after the November general election. But because there will be so many new legislators after the election (since so many incumbent lawmakers are either retiring or running for a different office), and because it will be the first year of the new lawmakers’ terms of office, which is typically when lawmakers are most willing to make big changes, next year could be the year the legislature finally gives the people the chance to vote on a lottery.

Wednesday, July 4, 2018

Steve Flowers: Inside the Statehouse – 4th of July; Trump and Big Jim

  Otto Whittaker wrote the following essay, “I Am the Nation” in 1955 as a public relations advertisement for the Norfolk and Western Railway. The message found in Mr. Whittaker’s essay is still appropriate for this Independence Day, so I have chosen to include it below as part of my weekly column.

  "I was born on July 4, 1776, and the Declaration of Independence is my birth certificate. The bloodlines of the world run in my veins, because I offered freedom to the oppressed. I am many things and many people. I am the Nation.

Tuesday, July 3, 2018

Five dead, more hurt at Annapolis newspaper – a sad, sad story

  Sad. So terribly sad.

  Five people – several after a life’s work reporting on the daily lives of others – are now the subjects of news reports no one wants to write or read.

  On Thursday, police say a man described as having a long-standing grudge against the Capital Gazette newspaper in Annapolis, Md., killed five staffers and injured several more in that small community newsroom. He shot through the glass doors of the paper into a place filled with journalists doing what most in that profession in America do: bring their community the news of itself.

Monday, July 2, 2018

How the latest ACA repeal plan would harm women

  The latest attempt to repeal the Affordable Care Act (ACA) comes from a working group led by former Sen. Rick Santorum (R-PA) and several conservative think tanks and puts in place many of the repeal efforts in the 2017 Graham-Cassidy repeal bill, which failed to pass the U.S. Congress last fall. Despite that millions of people have stood up to say how important access to health care insurance is for their health and financial security, many groups are still trying to take away health care from people, including women and families, across the country. Not only would this so-called Graham-Cassidy 2.0 plan leave millions without coverage, but it would raise prices for people with pre-existing conditions and eliminate essential health benefits that women need, such as maternity care.

Sunday, July 1, 2018

Do immigrants have the right to pursue happiness?

  This Wednesday, July 4, Americans will be celebrating the anniversary of the U.S. Declaration of Independence. An important question arises: How many Americans truly believe in the principles enunciated in the Declaration?

  The real significance of the American Revolution does not lie in the military battles between the English colonists and the English military. Those are interesting from a military-history standpoint, but the battles are of only secondary importance. What shook the world — and has shaken the world ever since — are the principles enunciated by Jefferson: that all men are created equal and are endowed by nature and God with certain fundamental rights.

Saturday, June 30, 2018

At the Supreme Court, a day of infamy for religious freedom

  June 26, 2018 will be long remembered as a day of infamy for religious freedom in America. On that date, the U.S. Supreme Court upheld President Donald Trump’s order restricting entry into the United States for nationals of seven countries, five of which have majority Muslim populations.

  The 5-4 decision in Trump v. Hawaii is nothing less than a proclamation that hostility toward Islam and discrimination against Muslims is now the official policy of the United States of America.

Friday, June 29, 2018

The Poor People’s Campaign is just getting started

  At the National Mall in Washington on Saturday, two huge banners hung on either side of an elevated stage, framing the Capitol building in the background: fight poverty not the poor, they read. That was the central message of the thousands of people who cheered, yelled, chanted, danced, and sang in support of the Poor People’s Campaign: A National Call for Moral Revival.

  Over the past 40 days, more than 2,000 people have been arrested across the country as they demanded a right to adequate food, housing, health care, education, fair wages, and other basic necessities. They stopped traffic, petitioned state legislators, and engaged in other organizing and nonviolent direct action in 40 states and the nation’s capital. Many of those activists were on hand Saturday to mark the completion of the campaign’s first phase as it continues the work that Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and others who founded the original Poor People’s Campaign in 1968.

Thursday, June 28, 2018

We should take Trump’s tweets about due process seriously

  President Trump tweets outrageous things so often that it’s tempting just to shrug them off.

  But when he tweets that immigrants coming across the border should have no due process rights – as he did this weekend – it’s time to stand up and take notice.

  Due process of law is a fundamental bulwark against tyranny. It traces its origins back 800 years to King John and the English Magna Carta. In our Constitution, the principle was first enshrined in the Fifth Amendment and provides that “No person shall … be  deprived of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law.” The same principle was later repeated in the Fourteenth Amendment.

Wednesday, June 27, 2018

Steve Flowers: Inside the Statehouse – Best races of the year have been for Attorney General and Lieutenant Governor

  The best races of the year have been for Alabama Attorney General and Lieutenant Governor, as well as Agriculture Commissioner and for the 2nd Congressional District.

  The Attorney General post is considered the best stepping stone to Governor and U.S. Senator. It is very high profile and prosecutes bad guys who go to jail and cannot vote against you, and you look like a good guy to the rest of the law-abiding voters in the state. Therefore, in recent years it has attracted ambitious politicians rather than veteran, dedicated prosecutors. These aspirants were novices at being lawyers, much less prosecutors. They sought the position for political posturing rather than the job as the state’s top law enforcer. We have not had a tough DA since the days of Bill Baxley and Charlie Graddick.

Tuesday, June 26, 2018

Obstructing justice through pardons is an impeachable offense

  As the investigation into the Trump campaign’s collusion with Russia, led by special counsel Robert Mueller, continues to close in on President Donald Trump, he has started discussing his ability to pardon, even arguing that he could pardon himself despite the long-standing determination to the contrary by the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ). Trump’s legal team has made an equally baseless assertion with respect to his actions to impede the Russia investigation, claiming that “the President’s actions here, by virtue of his position as the chief law enforcement officer, could neither constitutionally nor legally constitute obstruction … and that he could, if he wished … even exercise his power to pardon if he so desired.”

  This view is wrong: It is clear that the president can obstruct justice. And—as reflected in past precedent, a Supreme Court decision, and constitutional history—abuse of the pardon power can constitute such obstruction and be grounds for impeachment.

Monday, June 25, 2018

Hank Sanders: Senate Sketches #1619 - Do you see the Giant?

  I see the Giant. I want you to see the Giant. The Giant walks to and fro, powerfully impacting our lives every minute of every day. The Giant gives, and the Giant takes away. Do you see the Giant?

  I see the Giant. Sometimes it is the Big Good Giant. Sometimes it’s the Big Bad Giant. But it’s always the Giant. Do you see the Giant that’s impacting our lives in every way and at all times?

  We all feel the impact of the Giant. The Giant is always there. But so many do not see the Giant. The Giant protects some of us. It provides for some of us. It pushes some of us along. It lifts some of us. It carries some of us.

Sunday, June 24, 2018

Golden nuggets for free-expression advocates in an unusual case

  The U.S. Supreme Court’s decision in Lozman v. City of Riviera Beach, Florida (17-21) has some golden nuggets for free-expression advocates even though at first glance the opinion might seem quite narrow. The case involved a carping critic of the local government who alleged that city officials concocted a comprehensive plan of retaliation against him, including arresting him at a public meeting after he had filed an earlier open-meetings lawsuit against them.

Saturday, June 23, 2018

The ugly truth about President Trump's extreme anti-immigrant campaign

  President Trump may have backed down from his monstrous policy of separating children from parents who bring them across the border, but the executive order he signed this week was just another exercise in deception – a fig leaf that won’t conceal the ugly truth about the extreme anti-immigrant campaign he’s leading.

  As we all know, Trump didn’t need an executive order to change the policy, one that his homeland security chief initially denied even existed.

  And contrary to Trump’s scapegoating of Democrats – “that’s their law,” he earlier claimed – there was never any law that required him to rip terrified children away from their parents and cram them into kennel-like pens.

Friday, June 22, 2018

Where change happens: The aftermath of sexual harassment

  When sexual harassment occurs, the effects can be devastating and far-reaching for everyone in the workplace. Often the immediate response, quite appropriately, focuses on what should be done to resolve the problem, which includes what actions are needed to protect and empower the survivor and to punish the perpetrator. But, that is only one aspect of the change that must take place.

Thursday, June 21, 2018

Parker Snider: Monopoly and locksmiths

  I love the game of Monopoly. The hope that I will land on expensive properties first, the poker-esque bluffing, and the art of deal-making with unsuspecting friends makes for a great game night.

  Even though I love Monopoly, I don’t always enjoy it. When I’ve missed out on important properties and am mortgaging the few I have left to pay the winner, I’m not having any fun. When it’s obvious I will not win and I slowly move from competitor to benefactor, I’m not thankful and neither are others facing a similar end.

  I think this distaste says something obvious: Monopoly is great for the winner. Crowding out competition and increasing prices because you have the power to do so is a fun sport for the already-powerful yet detrimental to the mobility of others.

Wednesday, June 20, 2018

Steve Flowers: Inside the Statehouse – Judicial races highlighted

  This is not just a gubernatorial year in the Heart of Dixie.

  We have every state constitutional office up for election, and that includes lieutenant governor, attorney general, secretary of state, treasurer, auditor, and Alabama Agriculture Commissioner.

  We also have a good many of the state judicial races on the ballot. We have nine seats on the Alabama Supreme Court. We have five judges on the Court of Criminal Appeals as well as five seats on the Court of Civil Appeals. All of these judicial posts are held by Republicans. Therefore, it is more than likely safe to assume that the winner of the Republican Primary will be elected to a six-year term and can be fitted for their robe, at least by July 17. In fact, Democrats usually do not even field candidates in state judicial races.

Tuesday, June 19, 2018

Trump got played in Singapore, but that’s a good thing

  Conservatives are a fascinating lot. Throughout the Cold War, they steadfastly maintained that the Cold War was necessary because communist tyrants were hell-bent on conquering the United States and subjugating the American people. That is, in fact, why the U.S. national-security establishment intervened in the Korean War and the Vietnam War and sacrificed more than 100,000 U.S. soldiers — supposedly to prevent the communists in North Korea and North Vietnam from ultimately coming to America and taking control of the United States.

  The conservative mantra throughout the Cold War was encapsulated by the title of a book written in 1962 by a conservative curmudgeon named Fred Schwarz: You Can Trust the Communists (to be Communists.) The idea was that the communists were incorrigible liars who had one goal in mind: the defeat and Red takeover of the United States.

Monday, June 18, 2018

Dylann Roof murdered nine people because of a lie about 'black-on-white crime'

  It’s been three years since Dylann Roof massacred nine black parishioners in a Bible study in Charleston, South Carolina.

  As he methodically shot his victims at the historic Emanuel A.M.E. Church with a Glock pistol, court testimony reveals that Roof said, “Y’all are raping our white women. Y’all are taking over the world.”

  How did Roof become so immersed in white supremacist propaganda about black violence that he would be driven to murder?

Sunday, June 17, 2018

Biggest threat to democracy might be the loss of local newspapers

  If you’re reading this column in your local newspaper, congratulations! Just by skimming your eyeballs over this page, whether it’s in print or online, you’re doing a vital service for your hometown, and for democracy as a whole. (Go ahead and take the rest of the day off.)

  It’s no secret that local journalism is in trouble and has been for quite some time. According to a 2017 report from the Pew Research Center, the weekday circulation for U.S. daily newspapers has been on the decline for twenty-eight consecutive years. The Bureau of Labor Statistics notes that between 1990 and 2016, the number of newspaper employees in the U.S. declined from 456,300 to 183,000.

Saturday, June 16, 2018

Hank Sanders: Senate Sketches #1618 - I learned so much, and I lift Bruce Carver Boynton!

  I learned so much. I had heard the stories on many occasions, but I never heard the full story. I did not even know that I had not heard the full story.

  The story is about Bruce Carver Boynton of Selma. The focus is on an act of resistance by a 21-year-old boy/man. It happened way back in 1958. It impacted him for the rest of his life. It impacted a whole lot of people for the rest of their lives. It impacted me for the rest of my life. I was sixteen years old at the time and did not know about this act of resistance. I learned so much.

Friday, June 15, 2018

Trump’s perverse view of patriotism

  In an act of petty revenge against the Philadelphia Eagles, President Trump put on display the concept of patriotism that unfortunately has come to characterize America in the era of the national-security state — a concept that perverts the genuine meaning of patriotism on which America was founded and which characterized the nation throughout the 1800s.

  The controversy began when Trump scheduled a ceremony at the White House to celebrate the Super Bowl win by the Eagles. Most of the members of the team, however, decided to boycott the event, which, not surprisingly, caused Trump to go ballistic. Rather than continue with the ceremony with the ten players who were coming, Trump disinvited the entire team and decided to hold what he considered to be a “patriotic” event at the White House.

Thursday, June 14, 2018

Half-baked? The Supreme Court decision on Masterpiece Cakeshop

  The U.S. Supreme Court decided to “punt” last week on one of its most controversial cases of the year, Masterpiece Cakeshop v. Colorado Civil Rights Commission — choosing a narrow legal rationale rather than the larger issue weighing laws on discrimination versus freedom of religion.

  In doing so, the court made “moot” many of the countless arguments, think pieces, and debates about how the Court’s decision might reshape the landscape of gay rights and religious freedom in the United States.

Wednesday, June 13, 2018

Steve Flowers: Inside the Statehouse – Analysis of the gubernatorial primaries

  Now that the dust has settled from last week’s gubernatorial primaries, let’s analyze the outcomes.

  Governor Kay Ivey and Tuscaloosa Mayor Walt Maddox won very impressive victories. Ms. Ivey beat three well-financed opponents without a runoff. She trounced them. She garnered 56 percent of the vote to 25 percent for Huntsville Mayor Tommy Battle. Evangelist Scott Dawson and Mobile Senator Bill Hightower brought up the rear with 13 percent and 5 percent respectively. All three men worked hard and raised money. It was a daunting task to attempt to defeat a sitting governor.

  The challenge now goes to youthful, vibrant, Tuscaloosa Mayor Walt Maddox, who captured the Democratic nomination with a brilliant and impressive victory.

Tuesday, June 12, 2018

Jacob Hornberger: The bizarre Trump-Kim summit

  Overlooked in all of the hullabaloo over the summit in North Korea between President Trump and North Korean dictator Kim Jong Un are two bizarre things: One, the U.S. government is the root cause of the crisis that Trump is trying to resolve and, two, the fact that South Korean president Moon Jae-in is not an equal player in the summit.

  It’s important to remind ourselves of fundamentals. The Korean War was always been between North Korea and South Korea. It was never a war between North Korea and the United States. That is, North Korea never attacked the United States and it never invaded the United States. In 1950, North Korea attacked and invaded South Korea in an attempt to unify the country under communist rule. Thus, the war has always been a civil war between two halves of what used to be one country (just like the Vietnam War).

Monday, June 11, 2018

Executed for committing war crimes — then honored with a Confederate monument

  We’ve seen the monuments to Jefferson Davis. We’ve seen the ones to Robert E. Lee. But why is there a monument to a Confederate captain executed for war crimes?

  Captain Henry Wirz took command of a Confederate prisoner-of-war camp in Andersonville, Georgia, in 1864. The camp was originally intended to be a temporary holding pen for prisoners who would be exchanged with the Union. It was nothing more than an open-air stockade.

  But within six months of its establishment, Camp Sumter was holding 32,000 Union soldiers. Technically, it was the fifth largest city in the Confederacy.

Sunday, June 10, 2018

Laurence M. Vance: A divergent convergence of epic proportions

  Social Security is in dire straits. Payroll tax increases and benefit cuts are on the horizon.

  According to the latest annual report by the Social Security Board of Trustees (“The 2017 Annual Report of the Board of Trustees of the Federal Old-Age and Survivors Insurance and Federal Disability Insurance Trust Funds”), Social Security’s combined trust funds face depletion in 2034, which means that 23 percent of benefits would lack financing.

  That results from a number of divergent factors.

Saturday, June 9, 2018

Hank Sanders: Senate Sketches #1617 - Fear is powerful!

  Fear is powerful. Fear moves powerfully. Fear can be powerfully destructive. Fear can make us powerfully irrational. Fear is on the loose. Fear is everywhere. Fear is powerful.

  Dr. Robert White, an Alabama State University professor, says that most Black people are fearful. Fear is why Black people cannot overcome White supremacy, both past and present. He speaks of how fear is deeply embedded in our culture because of the violence of slavery, oppression of segregation, and the terror of lynching. Fear makes us turn on each other rather than to each other.

  I know fear firsthand. I know how fear can make us irrational – powerfully irrational. I want to share with you one firsthand experience with fear. It was fifty years ago, but I can still feel the fear, smell the fear, and sense the fear.

Friday, June 8, 2018

Jacob G. Hornberger: Do we still need the Bill of Rights?

  When you think about it, the U.S. Bill of Rights constitutes one gigantic insult against the Pentagon, the CIA, the NSA, and the FBI — yes, the very people that Americans profusely thank for “their service.” That’s because the Bill of Rights implicitly accuses these entities of being grave threats to the rights and freedoms of the American people.

Thursday, June 7, 2018

The UN just published a scathing indictment of U.S. poverty

  The United Nations has released a scathing report on poverty and inequality in the United States. The findings, which will be presented to the U.N. Human Rights Council on June 21, follow an official visit to the United States by Philip Alston, the U.N. special rapporteur on extreme poverty and human rights, to investigate whether economic insecurity in the country undermines human rights.

  The conclusions are damning. “The United States already leads the developed world in income and wealth inequality, and it is now moving full steam ahead to make itself even more unequal,” the report concludes. “High child and youth poverty rates perpetuate the intergenerational transmission of poverty very effectively, and ensure that the American dream is rapidly becoming the American illusion.”

Wednesday, June 6, 2018

Steve Flowers: Inside the Statehouse - Buck’s Pocket

  You voted Tuesday on a crowded ballot.

  Historically in Alabama we have voted more heavily in our governor’s race year than in a presidential year. That is probably because we were more interested in the local sheriff and probate judge’s races, which run in a gubernatorial year, than who is president. The old adage, “all politics is local,” definitely applies in our state.

  We not only have a governor’s race this year, we have all secondary statewide offices - with a good many of them open - including lieutenant governor, attorney general, state treasurer, state auditor, and two seats on the Public Service Commission. We have five seats on the Alabama Supreme Court, one being Chief Justice. All 140 seats in the Alabama Legislature are up for a four-year term. These 35 state Senate seats and 105 House contests are where most of the special interest PAC money will go. And, yes, we have 67 sheriffs and 68 probate judges as well as a lot of circuit judgeships on the ballot.

Tuesday, June 5, 2018

An ongoing outrage, a tragedy — and a puzzling farce

  The reports came like thunderbolts last week: Another journalist beaten to death in Mexico. Two journalists killed in the United States while reporting on a dangerous storm. And a Russian journalist assassinated in Ukraine.

  An ongoing outrage. A terrible tragedy. And — as it developed in Kiev — a puzzling farce.

  The body of Hector Gonzalez Antonio, a correspondent for national daily newspaper Excelsior, was found in Ciudad Victoria, in the northeastern state of Tamaulipas, the sixth journalist killed in the country this year and the second found beaten to death in the last two weeks.

  At least nine journalists were murdered in Mexico in 2017, according to the international group Committee to Protect Journalists.

Monday, June 4, 2018

Jason Fernandes: The fight against cash bail is officially mainstream

  A few weeks ago, Google announced that it would no longer allow bail bond providers to advertise on their platform. The company pointed out that the $2 billion bail bond industry profits off “communities of color and low-income neighborhoods when they are at their most vulnerable,” and said its decision will help protect users from “deceptive or harmful products.”

  Google credited an odd arrangement of organizations for helping them with the decision, including the Essie Justice Group, a collective of women seeking to end mass incarceration, and Koch Industries, a multinational conglomerate run by the richest oil tycoons in the country.

  Facebook announced later that day that it would also ban bail bond ads, but that the details were “still being worked out.”

Sunday, June 3, 2018

On the far-right, Roseanne's cancellation isn't funny

  Roseanne always tried to walk a comedic edge. But, in a tweet about a former aide to President Barack Obama, that edge cut her.

  Now, the far right and the alt-right are trying to stop the bleeding and defend a racist tweet.

  “Roseanne learned today, like most of us, that Valerie Jarret identifies as black. Surprise!” conspiracy theorist and right-wing commentator Mark Dice tweeted.

  Barr is known to traffic in conspiracy theories, racist tweets and questionable comments online, but the tweet that did her in showed former Obama assistant Valerie Jarrett side by side with an ape.

Saturday, June 2, 2018

Parker Snider: State elections matter more than most think

  Washington, D.C. – one of the most visited cities in the world – oozes a sense of superiority and power. How could it not? Our nation’s Capitol building is truly enormous, the Secret Service and Capitol police carry rifles regularly, and the President of the most powerful country in the world lives within its borders.

  Anyone, whether a visitor, summer intern, or permanent resident, feels that they are amongst the most formidable and important people in the world when in Washington.

  This sentiment is mostly true. The President, Congress, and Supreme Court do wield great authority and power to influence our lives – if they choose to use it.

Friday, June 1, 2018

Richard M. Ebeling: The myth that central banks assure economic stability

  The world has been plagued with periodic bouts of the economic rollercoaster of booms and busts, inflations and recessions, especially during the last one hundred years. The main culprits responsible for these destabilizing and disruptive episodes have been governments and their central banks. They have monopolized the control of their respective nation’s monetary and banking systems and have mismanaged them. There is really nowhere else to point other than in their direction.

  Yet to listen to some prominent and respected writers on these matters, government has been the stabilizer and free markets have been the disturber of economic order. A recent instance of this line of reasoning is a short article by Robert Skidelsky on “Why Reinvent the Monetary Wheel?” Dr. Skidelsky is the noted author of a three-volume biography of John Maynard Keynes and a leading voice on public policy issues in Great Britain.