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.