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.

Thursday, May 31, 2018

"He needs long-term care. Apparently we don't have that in the state of Mississippi."

  Tyler Haire was 16 when he was locked up. He was 20 before he went to trial.

  Tyler spent 1,266 days in the Calhoun County jail in Pittsboro, Mississippi, waiting for a mental health evaluation. He had called 911 on Nov. 17, 2012. When police came, they arrested him for stabbing his father’s girlfriend.

  Once in jail, he colored pictures of dragons and aliens for the sheriff and his deputies. Sitting in front of the television, Tyler held his feet and rocked back and forth. He misspelled his own name in two different court documents. He went without any of his prescriptions. He lost 90 pounds.

Wednesday, May 30, 2018

Steve Flowers: Inside the Statehouse – What Richard Shelby's committee chairmanship means for Alabama

  In my book, “Of Goats and Governors: Six Decades of Alabama Political Stories,” I suggest that based on seniority, tenure, power, and prestige that Alabama’s greatest senators have been Lister Hill, John Sparkman, and Richard Shelby.

  Folks, Richard Shelby has probably risen to the front of that triumvirate with his elevation in April to the chairmanship of the Senate Appropriations Committee. 

  The Chairman of the Senate Appropriations Committee makes the ultimate decision about how every federal dollar is spent. Alabama has never had a U.S. Senate Appropriations Chairman in our 200-year history.

Tuesday, May 29, 2018

Growing up as a child of the Little Rock Nine

  On May 27, 1958, Ernest Green became the first black student to graduate from Little Rock Central High School in Arkansas. He was among the group of black teens - known as the Little Rock Nine - who had integrated the school in 1957.

  Sixty years later, we sat down with Green and his daughter, MacKenzie Green, to talk about graduation, Hollywood, and activism today. We conducted the interviews separately but asked them the same questions. Their responses have been edited and condensed, and are presented together.

MacKenzie, what is it like being the child of one of the Little Rock Nine?

  MacKenzie Green: It’s funny because it’s not pressure from him; it’s pressure from me once I figured out who he was. Because it’s not like I grew up with him being like, “I’m Ernest Green, capital E, capital G,” no, it was — he was dad.

  Ernest Green: She’s absorbed this legacy and the history, and she wanted to be her own person. That’s kind of where I started out. I wanted to be my own person. I believed that [Little Rock] Central High at the time offered the best alternative for me, and I couldn’t figure out why I wasn’t there.

Ernest, how did you end up attending Little Rock Central High School?

  EG: This was three years after the Brown [v. Board of Education] decision. The Little Rock school board was under a court order to desegregate in 1957, and spring of ‘57 I decided that I wanted to transfer. I didn’t pay a lot of attention to the process. All I did was to sign a piece of paper that I was willing to be a transfer student. I lived in the Central district, and I sort of left it at that.

What did your parents think?

  EG: My dad had passed, and my mother and my aunt were both schoolteachers. My grandfather was a retired letter carrier. I’m certain they had reservations about my going there, but they never imposed that on my decision. They said they would support me as much as I needed support, and that they were standing behind me. They didn’t think I was making a wrongheaded decision, but I’m certain they took some negative responses from people in the community because everybody in the black community wasn’t sold that this was something they wanted to support.

What kind of pushback did you receive?

  EG: I had a job for the summer as a locker room attendant at the country club. Sometime during the middle of the summer, the school board published the names of the students who were eligible to transfer, and I suspect that they did that to try to intimidate and whittle down the numbers. Of course, that’s what occurred. But while I was working at the country club, I had developed a friendship with one of the members’ sons who was about my age. The day they published my name in the paper, he came screaming into the locker room, very upset, agitated, wanted to know how I could do that. “You seemed like such a nice guy!” So that gave me some indication that this was not going to be a day at the beach, but we clearly didn’t anticipate that they were going to call out troops to bar our entrance.

What has it been like watching MacKenzie get an education in a system very different from the one you integrated?

  EG: It’s what I thought we were fighting to change.

  MG: I just finished my MBA at Columbia, and I remember the last day of orientation fell on the same day as the first day that he got to [Little Rock] Central High. I remember sitting there with one of my classmates and saying, you know, “This is kind of heavy.” I said, “I am starting at this Ivy League institution that didn’t take people who looked like me, and getting a degree that most people that look like me still don’t get.”

  EG: It’s rewarding to see that they don’t have to go through the same hassle that I had at their age. That’s the outcome we wanted to see occur.

  MG: It was a weird time to drop into Columbia, though, because you had the beginning of Black Lives Matter, and then the [2016] election. Sometimes, my peers would look at me for a perfect answer, or to be stressed or outraged. I was actually having a fight with a classmate recently, who was like, “I’m so stressed!” And I said, “That’s not a choice. That’s a state of paralysis that I can’t be in with you.”

MacKenzie, what’s next now that you’ve graduated from Columbia?

  MG: I looked around and said, “Why are there no black people? Why are there no women?” And I thought, “Oh my God, Hollywood!” It’s entertainment, it’s this world where there’s another glass ceiling — in my case a stained glass ceiling — to be broken. Sometimes he’ll look at me and say, “You know you don’t have to be the first at something. You know you can just find something you like,” and I’m like, “Well, I knew you'd say that,” and I go, “But for me, I’ll feel disappointed if you did all of this and then people are like, ‘Well what became of his daughter?’ and they’re like, ‘I heard she’s a really great soulcycle instructor!’”

  EG: MacKenzie has a lot to say. She really knows the subject matter, and I’m proud of what she’s achieved.

  MG: During my time at Columbia, I interned at a bunch of different entertainment brands, Harper’s Bazaar, Paramount Pictures, NBC Universal, so eventually my dream of all dreams is to be the chief marketing officer of a Hollywood studio. I just think there’s something very poetic and beautiful about an industry that was built on “Birth of a Nation” eventually having somebody sitting there looking like the faces that they said were going to destroy the business.

  EG: She has the vision, she has the energy, and I think she has the intelligence that she can achieve that.

  MG: Actually one of his gifts to me when I got the Paramount gig was a “Birth of a Nation” vintage poster. He was like, “When you’re ready, we’ll get it framed and put it up in your office right next to your Columbia MBA.”

  EG: I think she’s the kind of person that needs to be there.

Ernest, what was it like watching MacKenzie graduate from Columbia?

  EG: She’s a lady with a mission. She’s staying on point and trying to complete the things she wants to do.

  MG: There is no finish line to this. My dad taught me that the first one through the wall is the bloodiest.

  EG: I’m sure there’s somebody right now in Little Rock who thinks that we brought down the bubonic plague, we nine, but all you can do is just continue to push.

What was your graduation from Little Rock Central High School like?

  EG: Principal Matthews told me I didn’t have to attend the ceremony, that they would mail me my diploma. I thought about that for about half a millisecond. I didn’t go through all this not to participate in it. The night of the ceremony, they called out all the students who had received awards and scholarships, and I had received a scholarship from Michigan State. They didn’t cite me.

  MG: I was talking about this with my dad today, and he said, “I went to my 50th high school reunion” — not the anniversary of the Little Rock Nine [integrating the high school], but his actual senior high school reunion — and he said, “There was not a single person who was at that 50th reunion who did not think me going to Little Rock was the greatest thing that ever happened. They were so happy I was there, everybody was apparently my friend.” And he says, “That’s the funny thing about right now,” he goes, “Yes, there’s divisiveness, there is fighting, there are these moments of complete and total chaos, but I can guarantee you when, God willing, we have the 60th anniversary of the Colin Kaepernick kneel, people will be sitting around and saying, “I’ve always thought it was the greatest idea ever. I just thought it was so brave.”

  EG: I think there’s no reason to let up and not continue to push.

Especially when Martin Luther King Jr. personally attended your high school graduation.

  EG: Unbeknownst to me, Dr. King was speaking at Pine Bluff, Arkansas, which is 35 to 40 miles from Little Rock, and he wanted to come up and witness my graduation. He was close to Mrs. Bates, who was the head of the NAACP. This was the beginning of his career, so it’s almost impossible for anybody of this generation to believe anybody didn’t know who Dr. King was, but in fact, I’ve always said if local police had known who he was they probably wouldn’t have allowed him into the ceremony. Anyway, he sat with my mother and aunt and grandfather. Afterward, we had a chance to get together briefly. I had a party at the house and after, we said our hellos and all that. I’m a 16-year-old teenager that just graduated from high school, so I was more interested in hanging out with my friends.

  MG: But you know, he didn’t stop. He got to Lehman Brothers and looked at young black men who were coming in, and people would say, “I don’t think he has the potential,” and he’d say, “I see potential. I’m willing to take him on.”

  EG: I feel really recognized that Martin Luther King attended my high school graduation. My mother kept a diary of gifts and things I received, and in that diary is a notation of M.L. King of Montgomery, Alabama. He wrote a check for $15. I’m pretty certain I’m in some very rare company there.

Ernest, how did you juggle carrying on a civil rights legacy with raising small children?

  EG: We really didn’t start getting this kind of recognition until the 25th or 30th anniversary.

  MG: It didn’t seem strange to me that my father had to travel a lot during February, or that sometimes when I picked up the phone and said hello, it’d be like, “This is a call from the White House,” and I’d be like “Dad, it’s for you!” These things felt normal because he created a sense of normalcy. And yet he was on a plane traveling the world! But he traveled with my storybooks and read them to me every night.

  EG: Partly you’ve got duties as a parent, so some of that doesn’t interfere with the weight of history. But I’ve always said that I’m the oldest show-and-tell for each of my kids, from kindergarten through to graduate school. So I’ve gotten used to it.

  MG: I remember I didn’t know he’d been at Nelson Mandela’s inauguration, but he got home on a redeye, slept in the living room in his suit, woke me up the next morning to go to swim practice, and sat through the entirety of practice at 6 o’clock in the morning. He never said like, “Oh, honey, mom’s gonna have to take you to swim practice, I’m so tired, I was at Nelson Mandela’s inauguration.” It’s like, “She’s 8! She doesn’t know or care about any of this, this isn’t what she’s going to remember.”

  EG: We attended a lot of swim practices. But if she was willing to work that hard at it, there’s no reason I couldn’t get up and get her to events and practices and meets. I’ve been to more horse shows and swim meets than any other American I think.

  MG: I’m very good friends with Andy Young’s granddaughter — she and I grew up together — and we used to always tell our peers, “Our parents are alive, as are your parents and your grandparents, and they had an opinion on my father and her grandfather.” And I think now is that time when history is being created where I’m like, “You’re picking the stories you’re either going choose to omit to your grandchildren or the stories you’re going to be proud to tell.”

  EG: I call it the microwave generation, in which you put something in and it pops out in ten seconds. That’s not the case here.

  MG: I think the interesting thing is how the trials of now have created potential for the next generation of great thought leaders and activists to step into their own.

  EG: I always saw it as a very long-term situation. If those who had some opportunity to influence the opinions of other students [at Little Rock Central High] had spoken up a little more, it probably wouldn’t have been as tough a year for us as it turned out to be. I think we’re going to experience this for some while, that the pioneers are the ones who have to create the road and the path and all that.

  MG: That’s what I would hope to impart to my children: that the first step towards change is not easy, but you create an opportunity busting through that wall for others to come behind you.

  EG: [MacKenzie] understands the importance of it. I’m going to be a supporter of hers to the very end.

  This article was published by the Southern Poverty Law Center, an Alabama-based civil rights organization.

Monday, May 28, 2018

Michael Josephson: Memorial Day, a Day of Remembrance

  It’s not just an excuse for a three-day weekend or a day for barbecue and beer.

  Memorial Day is a time for Americans to connect with our national history and core values by honoring those who gave their lives fighting for this country.

  It’s said that this special day to salute fallen Americans was born during the Civil War in Mississippi when a group of grieving mothers and wives who were placing flowers on graves in a Confederate cemetery noticed a neglected graveyard for Union soldiers.

Sunday, May 27, 2018

How Trump can still win his Nobel on Korea

  All is not lost. Despite the fact that President Trump has canceled his much-ballyhooed summit with North Korean dictator Kim Jung Un, the president and his army of Trumpsters and Trumpistas need not despair. There is still an opportunity for him to win his Nobel Prize for Peace.

  First things first, however.

  In 1962, a Cold War curmudgeon named Fred Schwarz published a book entitled "You Can Trust the Communists (to be Communists)". The idea behind the book, of course, was not that you could really trust the communists. The point was the exact opposite. Communists could not be trusted at all, on anything, especially since they were hell-bent on one overarching goal: to turn America Red.

Saturday, May 26, 2018

Four principles for a free community college program that works for all

  Over the last several years, 16 states have implemented free or debt-free community college programs to ease the financial burden on students. These programs recognize that community colleges are an on-ramp to postsecondary education for millions of students, especially students of color.

  New Jersey and Connecticut are currently considering their own free community college legislation. Legislators there should look to how other states have implemented similar legislation in the past and build on the successes of current state programs. But policymakers must also ensure their proposals are not overly restrictive or based on inaccurate assumptions about students. To that end, policymakers in all states should consider the following four key principles in designing new proposals for a free community college system that works for every student.

Friday, May 25, 2018

Civil asset forfeiture and the Alabama Attorney General race

  An unlikely dynamic has emerged in the Alabama Attorney General’s race:  three of the four Republicans running and both Democrats have acknowledged that one of the most powerful local law enforcement tools, the authority to confiscate property from citizens without charging them with a crime, raises serious constitutional questions. Even the lone defender of the status quo, interim Attorney General Steve Marshall, concedes that the public is entitled to more information about how this process known as civil forfeiture works and what happens to cash and property once they fall into the arms of local authorities.

Thursday, May 24, 2018

Jacob G. Hornberger: Time to end foreign aid to Israel (and everyone else)

  Given the recent shooting of unarmed Palestinian protestors at the hands of Israeli soldiers, leaving 58 people killed and 2,700 injured, isn’t it time for the American people to be asking the following question about the role of the federal government in the lives of the American people: Why should any American be forced to subsidize the salaries of the Israeli soldiers who did the shooting and the rifles and bullets they used in the massacre?

  I am referring, of course, to “foreign aid,” the federal program by which American citizens are forced to fund foreign regimes that many would choose not to fund if they had a choice.

  Even those who support the deadly mayhem in Gaza nonetheless would be hard-pressed to explain why anyone should be forced to fund something that violates his own conscience.

Wednesday, May 23, 2018

Steve Flowers: Inside the Statehouse – Less than two weeks to the primaries: The governor’s race

  As we get down to the lick log in the 2018 June primaries, there are few if any surprises brewing in any of the major state races. Polling indicates that all of the contests are about where they were three or four months ago when the races began.

  There is a tremendous amount of apathy and indifference as we head into the final days. This lack of enthusiasm has also affected fundraising. Most of the high-profile races have not attracted the level of spending as races in the past.

Tuesday, May 22, 2018

Calling people 'animals' is dangerous — and we've seen it before

  President Trump said at a conference on sanctuary cities last week: “These are not people. These are animals.”

  His insinuation that immigration status or criminal record somehow determines humanity is not only appalling — it’s dangerous.

  We’ve heard this dehumanizing rhetoric before.

  During the Holocaust, the Nazis called Jews Untermenschen — subhumans. Before the Rwandan genocide, Tutsis were called “cockroaches.” And just recently in our own country, we learned that extremists behind a bomb plot to kill Somali Muslims called their intended victims “cockroaches.”

Monday, May 21, 2018

Jacob G. Hornberger: A Nobel Prize for death to Trump

  Trumpsters are hoping that President Trump is able to enter into a peace treaty with North Korea that brings an end to the Korean War. If Trump is successful, the Trumpsters say, then he should receive the Nobel Prize for Peace.

  Actually, if such a peace treaty does come to pass, it would be more appropriate for Trump to receive the Nobel Prize for Death.

  After all, the Trumpsters are praising Trump for pressuring North Korea into coming to the negotiating table. Let’s assume they are right. What pressure are they referring to?

Sunday, May 20, 2018

Two states are pushing laws to criminalize some protests

  Rightly or wrongly, certain First Amendment issues tend to dominate the national conversation more than others. Bring up President Trump’s tweets criticizing the news media, college campus protests of controversial speakers, or the possibility of the government regulating Facebook and you’re bound to inspire a rousing and possibly heated discussion. Mention that state laws protecting critical infrastructure might actually erode the right to assemble and you’re more likely to get blank stares and a hasty topic change. After all, it’s an issue that combines the freedom of assembly, which barely anyone knows about, with state and local law, which barely anyone cares about. Throw in the word “infrastructure” and it’s practically anti-clickbait.

Saturday, May 19, 2018

Hank Sanders: Senate Sketches #1614 - I appreciate teachers!

  I appreciate teachers. I struggled with teachers, but I appreciate teachers. I even fought with teachers, but I appreciate teachers. This week includes National Teachers’ Day and it is National Teacher Appreciation Week. It gives me a ready-made opportunity to express my profound appreciation for teachers.

  Teaching is one of the most important vocations in our society. In fact, it is a special calling. It is a calling that touches, shapes, and molds young minds for better or for worse. No other vocation provides such an opportunity to touch young, growing minds. Teachers often spend more time with our children than we do. Teaching is a precious gift.

Friday, May 18, 2018

When calling yourself a fascist is "edgy"

  A copy of Mein Kampf. A photo of Timothy McVeigh. A North Korean flag over the couch. An American flag for a doormat. And over the kitchen table, a banner for the hate group Atomwaffen Division.

  The four young men who shared this apartment in Florida got there by way of the internet.

  It started with video games. That led to 4chan, which led to the Daily Stormer, a neo-Nazi website so extreme its followers recently bombarded a Jewish woman and her family with hundreds of threats like, “Put your uppity slut wife Tanya back in her cage, you rat-faced kike. … Day of the rope soon for your entire family.”

Thursday, May 17, 2018

Conservatives, we must be willing to talk about race

  I’m a proud product of public schools. My teachers were dedicated, the curriculum challenging, and the fierce competition between friends forced me to study harder.

  I do have one qualm, though. Thanks to historically-selective textbooks, I remember next to nothing of our nation’s history between the Civil War and World War I. My knowledge of that era is essentially three things: railroads, long-bearded presidents, and Henry Ford’s invention of the Model T.

  I don’t think I’m alone in encountering this knowledge gap. Thankfully, a new museum and memorial in Montgomery fills in some of the spaces left out of my historical timeline and beyond. The memorial demonstrates that, although formally war-less, these decades were anything but peaceful or boring. In fact, many Southerners faced a frightening reality during that period—a reality characterized by racial terrorism.

Wednesday, May 16, 2018

Steve Flowers: Inside the Statehouse - Secondary statewide races on ballot this year

  Folks, we are less than three weeks away from our June 5th primaries. Besides the governor’s race, all of our secondary state constitutional races are on the ballot.

  As we head into the home stretch, there appears to be very little interest in the primary elections. People seem disinterested and disillusioned. There have been a good many scandals and ethics convictions over the past quadrennium, which has put a damper on the enthusiasm generally associated with a gubernatorial election year. Even fundraising has been down considerably.

  This voting ambivalence will result in a lower than normal turnout. This will be an advantage for incumbents and those with name identification.

Tuesday, May 15, 2018

President’s press credential threat will be ‘trumped’ by the First Amendment

  Donald Trump can fantasize all he wants about taking away White House press credentials from news outlets that he doesn’t like.

  It’s unpleasant for the journalists in Trump’s crosshairs to hear such bluster, but journalists and free press advocates ought not to even imagine a moment when, in misplaced solidarity, they all walk out of the White House press room in protest over even one credential being pulled.

  As strong a message as one hopes that would send to the nation, we must remember that Trump can’t really extinguish the constitutionally protected role of journalists as “watchdogs” — but journalists, in a moment of anger and hubris, could abandon it.

Monday, May 14, 2018

Craig Ford: Alabama wants its own bridge to nowhere

  You may have seen ads on TV recently talking about a bridge project in South Alabama. If you hadn’t heard of this project before those ads, you’re not alone.

  Most people, including legislators, were not aware of the plans to build this $87 million taxpayer-funded bridge to nowhere that even many Baldwin County residents are opposed to.

  So what exactly is this bridge, and why are some state leaders pushing it?

Sunday, May 13, 2018

Jacob G. Hornberger: The pathetic U.S. golden dollar

  I recently received a U.S. golden dollar from a vending machine. What a pathetic thing. Golden in color, Wikipedia reports that it actually has “a copper core clad by manganese brass.”

  Needless to say, this golden coin is nothing like the gold coins that, along with silver coins, were the official money of the American people for more than a hundred years. The gold coins that Americans used throughout the 1800s and into the early 1900s were real gold coins, not alloyed coins consisting of base metals, like today’s golden coin.

Saturday, May 12, 2018

The Supreme Court could make unions a lot more radical

  Fed up with the harsh conditions under which they were forced to labor, workers from West Virginia decided to call it quits. Together, they left their jobs, donned red bandanas, and amassed 10,000 strong near Blair Mountain, where a local sheriff had assembled a 3,000-man force of police, hired security, and militia to put them down.

  No, this isn’t the recent West Virginia teachers strike — it’s a 1921 coal miners strike, which escalated into what would come to be known as the Battle of Blair Mountain. The two sides battled for five days until more than 2,000 additional U.S. Army troops entered the fray to crush the workers' rebellion. Up to 100 laborers were killed, hundreds more were injured, and more than 1,000 were arrested. While the uprising seems like an episode relegated to the largely forgotten labor wars of past, the Supreme Court’s upcoming decision on Janus v. American Federation of State, County, and Municipal Employees (AFSCME) may make such conflicts part of the future for unions once again.

Friday, May 11, 2018

Hank Sanders: Senate Sketches #1613 - Unveiling history to heal and lift

  It was informative. It was enlightening. It was painful. It was profound. It was powerful. I am writing about my visit to the opening of the Legacy Museum and the unveiling of the National Memorial for Peace and Justice, both located in Montgomery, Alabama. It is an experience to remember.

  The Legacy Museum was wonderfully presented in holograms, photos, newspaper headlines and articles, plaques, jars of dirt and much more. It traces the pain and degradation and oppression of slavery. It also traces the long reach of slavery and white supremacy through the following: segregation; forced labor; Black codes; lynchings; mass incarceration; police killings; and more. The National Memorial for Peace and Justice documents the scope and brutality of lynching in a unique and powerful way. Each exhibit is informative, enlightening, painful, profound and powerful. Together they are overpowering.

Thursday, May 10, 2018

Laurence M. Vance: People who really deserve a Trump pardon

  President Trump has issued three presidential pardons in the fifteen months he has been in office.

  According to Article 2, Section 2, Clause 1 of the Constitution, the president “shall have power to grant reprieves and pardons for offenses against the United States except in cases of impeachment.” According to the case of Ex parte Garland (1867), the scope of the president’s pardon power is quite broad. And according to United States v. Klein (1871), Congress cannot limit the president’s grant of an amnesty or pardon.

  On August 25, 2017, Trump pardoned Joseph M. Arpaio, the longtime sheriff of Maricopa County, Arizona, for his conviction for criminal contempt of court on July 31, 2017. He had not yet been sentenced.

Wednesday, May 9, 2018

Steve Flowers: Inside the Statehouse – Low voter turnout expected for primaries

  We are less than four weeks away from our June 5th primary. Those of us who follow Alabama politics have pointed to this year as being a very entertaining and interesting gubernatorial year. However, last year’s resignation by Gov. Robert Bentley and the ascension of Kay Ivey from lieutenant governor to the governor’s office has put a damper on the excitement we anticipated in the governor’s race. 

  Kay took over the reins of state government and her appearance as a seasoned veteran of state politics seems to resonate with voters. Polling indicates that the governor’s race is hers to lose.  Therefore, the less she does, the better.  Her support is a mile wide and an inch deep.  A slip and fall could derail her train.

Tuesday, May 8, 2018

Journalists being killed, jailed, threatened – and that’s no joke

  Ten journalists were killed in a series of attacks May 1 in Afghanistan. The week prior, 14 journalists from Turkey’s leading opposition newspaper, Cumhuriyet, were given lengthy jail terms after a show trial based on trumped-up charges. Nine Turkish journalists who worked for Zaman, Turkey’s most widely-read newspaper until it was shuttered by the government, now face life sentences simply for writing columns critical of the government.

  And already this year, at least 26 journalists worldwide have been killed — some in conflict areas but many targeted for murder — according to tallies by the Committee to Protect Journalists and Reporters Without Borders.

  For Americans, that ought to bring sobering perspective – and a refocusing – after the recent burst of media hand-wringing over a barbed routine by comedian Michelle Wolf at the annual White House Correspondents Dinner.

Monday, May 7, 2018

Advancing RBG’s vision of equality in the Trump Age

  Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg has spent her career in unwavering pursuit of equality for women. A biopic of her life, now screening across the country, has been released at a pivotal time for all women—particularly for the Millennial women who adopted her as their icon.

  This generation does not know a world without the advances achieved by the woman affectionately dubbed RBG. But as the country faces significant rollbacks of gender equality laws and conservatives relentlessly work to distort the push for greater equality as unfair or “special treatment,” Millennial women are perfectly poised to use RBG’s framework of equality not only to resist such dangerous regressions but also to push progress even further.

Sunday, May 6, 2018

What Ben Carson doesn’t get about poverty

  “The prescription for the cure rests with the accurate diagnosis of the disease.”

  Apply Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s words to Housing and Urban Development (HUD) Secretary Ben Carson’s latest plan and you’ll see just how brainless public housing policy could become.

  Carson has unveiled a plan that would, among other things, triple the minimum rent for the poorest public housing residents—from $50 to $150. The change would affect an estimated 1.7 million people, 1 million of whom are children.

Saturday, May 5, 2018

Craig Ford: Alabama’s pre-K program continues to lead the nation, but thousands of kids still don’t have access

  When I was growing up, kids didn’t start learning the alphabet until they began kindergarten. Today, kids are expected to be able to write their names and read at least some words before they even begin kindergarten.

  The expectations are higher, and starting off behind everyone else in their class can leave a kid feeling frustrated and affect their self-esteem. Trying to catch up to their classmates can be difficult, and it is hard for teachers and students when some students are ahead of others.

  This is why Alabama’s pre-K program is so important. And the program’s success is undeniable.

Friday, May 4, 2018

Hank Sanders: Senate Sketches #1612: Rev. Dr. F.D. Reese has marched his last march

  Rev. Doctor Frederick Douglas Reese marched his last march on April 5, 2018. He marched from the Earthly Realm into the Upper Realm. He joyfully joined other members of the Courageous Eight. They had already marched their last march.

  I want to lift Rev. Dr. F.D. Reese. I want to also lift the Courageous Eight as I lift Dr. Reese. First, let me tell you about the Courageous Eight. Their names, in alphabetical order, are Ulysses Blackmon, Amelia Boynton-Robinson, Ernest Doyle, Marie Foster, James Gildersleeve, J.D. Hunter, F.D. Reese, and Henry Shannon. Names are important but do not tell us nearly enough. All eight marched for freedom. All eight fought for justice. All eight have marched their last march.

Thursday, May 3, 2018

Ban committee-related campaign contributions to state legislators

  Americans deserve elected officials who fairly represent them and fight for their interests, but too often they lose out to wealthy special interests who can make large campaign contributions to lawmakers. State leaders should fight for strong, clear anti-corruption solutions, including a policy that bars state lawmakers from accepting contributions from special interests with business before the legislative committees on which they sit. Voters overwhelmingly support breaking the link between committee membership and fundraising. 88 percent of voters—including 86 percent of Trump voters—said that they favor barring congressional committee members from raising money from corporations or special interests that fall under the jurisdiction of their committees.

Wednesday, May 2, 2018

Steve Flowers: Inside the Statehouse – Court of Appeals races on the ballot this year

  Alabama's Court of Civil Appeals and Criminal Appeals have several members up for election this year. The folks who sit on these courts essentially have zero name identification. Even when polling is done soon after Alabamians have voted for them, Alabama voters still cannot identify them.

  These courts do just what their name implies. They hear appeals from civil and criminal cases from around the state. They deflect a lot of cases from getting to the Alabama Supreme Court. Most states have these appellate courts. They are similar to and derived from the federal appellate courts.

  Alabama is in the minority of states that elect these judges. All of our judges in Alabama are elected, not only the Supreme and Appellate Court jurists, but also our local Circuit and District Judges. Judges in most states are appointed – usually by the governor. The crafters of our 1901 Constitution gave the people the right to vote on judges, a deference from having a powerful governor.

Tuesday, May 1, 2018

Parker Snider: When the government tells us no

  Sometimes the government tells us no.

  I’m not allowed to sit in the Oval Office and watch President Trump mull over Fox and Friends, ready to Tweet at a moment’s notice. I (begrudgingly) accept that. I also can’t read classified intelligence briefings or call a special session of the Alabama Legislature. I could ask, but I’m quite sure I’d be told no.

  Even so, in the United States, especially when compared to other nations, the government tells us no relatively rarely.

  Sometimes, however, our government tells us no in a most sinister fashion, by disallowing us to use our skills, experience, and knowledge to work.

Monday, April 30, 2018

We know the citizenship question will hurt the census. Alabama already tried it.

  Common sense tells you that adding a question to the 2020 Census asking about citizenship status will depress response rates from an immigrant community already traumatized by President Trump’s incendiary rhetoric and deportation machinery. But common sense was not enough for the Trump administration.

  Certainly, it was not enough for Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross, whose department is responsible for administering the census and who has bowed to pressure from the Justice Department to include a citizenship question. Refusing to acknowledge the question’s predictable impact, Ross has instead insisted that “no one [has] provided evidence that reinstating a citizenship question on the decennial census would materially decrease response rates.”

Sunday, April 29, 2018

Hannity Hassle: Let’s apply ‘The Five W’s and How’

  If the burning national question of the moment is whether Fox News Channel star Sean Hannity is a “journalist” or not, let’s use the long-held set of journalistic questions to investigate: The proverbial who, what, when, where, why and how?

  First, the “who”: Sean Patrick Hannity is a cable TV conservative talk show host and best-selling author. Most recently he is said to serve as an unpaid advisor to President Trump — some say that relationship is so close that he “has a desk” at the White House. Hannity was born in New York City and has spent much of his broadcast career there.

Saturday, April 28, 2018

Confederate monuments are going down. Lynching memorials are going up.

  The markers are about the size of a man. The color of bricks made from Alabama’s red clay, they hang from the roof, one for every county in America where a person was lynched.

  Appearing first at eye level, the markers read like headstones. But as the floor descends, they hang ever more ominously overhead, until visitors are forced to crane their necks — like the spectators who once gawked at the mutilated bodies of the black men and women who had been hung.

  The National Memorial for Peace and Justice, the nation’s first major memorial to the victims of lynching during the era of Jim Crow, opened this week in Montgomery, Alabama. It’s intended to help our country confront the racial atrocities of the past so that we can begin the path toward reconciliation.

Friday, April 27, 2018

Steve Flowers: Inside the Statehouse: Alabama Supreme Court races on the ballot this year

  Among the plethora of races on the ballot this year are the important seats on the Alabama Supreme Court. We have an unprecedented five out of nine seats up for election.

  Our Alabama Supreme Court as well as our Court of Criminal Appeals are extremely conservative, pro-business, and all Republican.

  This conservatism dates back to the 1980s and 1990s. During that two-decade run, the plaintiff lawyers controlled and dominated our Supreme Court. We were known throughout the country as a plaintiff’s paradise. It was like a fairytale jackpot justice system. It was not uncommon for ludicrous multimillion-dollar verdicts to be upheld daily for all types of cases. We were called "Tort Hell" by Time Magazine.

Thursday, April 26, 2018

The Prince-DeVos plan to privatize American institutions

  Despite President Donald Trump’s pledge to “drain the swamp” in Washington, D.C., it often seems like he is creating one. Take Erik Prince, the founder of Blackwater Worldwide—now known as Academi—and his sister, U.S. Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos, who both are leading efforts to privatize American institutions.

  Recently, Prince, the current chair of Frontier Services Group, took center stage in special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation into Russia’s interference in the 2016 elections. It appears that Prince served as then-President-elect Trump’s surrogate to establish a back channel to connect Trump and Russian President Vladimir Putin.

Wednesday, April 25, 2018

Parker Snider: A guide to fake news

  More than once every day.... That’s how often President Trump publicly calls something “fake”—be it a story, poll, or news organization.

  Just weeks ago, Facebook CEO and Founder Mark Zuckerberg testified before Congress about, among other things, the proliferation of falsities on his social media platform, including in Alabama’s special election for U.S. Senate last year.

  We see the term everywhere, hear it lobbied daily on cable news, and use it ourselves (although perhaps often in jest).  But what really is fake news, and how do we spot it?

Tuesday, April 24, 2018

Michael Josephson: The peculiar concept of “ethics laws”

  Cynicism about the ethics of elected officials may be at an all-time high, continually fueled by news stories of outright corruption or bad judgment. At every level of government there are politicians who can’t seem to recognize or resist conflicts of interest, inappropriate gifts, improper use of the power or property entrusted to them, or the discrediting impact of shameful private conduct.

  Thus, it’s no surprise that news media are continually shining a light on real and perceived improprieties and putting the heat on federal, state, and city legislatures to pass new and tougher ethics laws to restore public trust.

Monday, April 23, 2018

Joseph O. Patton: The Great Pretenders

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

Sunday, April 22, 2018

Andrew Sasser: The shared foundation of liberals and conservatives

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

Saturday, April 21, 2018

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

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

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

Friday, April 20, 2018

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

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

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

Thursday, April 19, 2018

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

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

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

Wednesday, April 18, 2018

Steve Flowers: Inside the Statehouse: Legislative races to watch

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

Tuesday, April 17, 2018

Craig Ford: How we can make our schools safer

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

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

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

Monday, April 16, 2018

Trump, Pompeo, and Bolton: The path to war

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

Sunday, April 15, 2018

Trump’s trade war destroys our freedom

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

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

Saturday, April 14, 2018

Jacob G. Hornberger: Immigration militarism

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

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

Friday, April 13, 2018

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

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

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

Thursday, April 12, 2018

The Intersection of youth activism and faith-based values

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