Sunday, June 16, 2019

Hank Sanders: Sketches #1670 - Little things can be so powerful!

  Little things can be powerful. We are conditioned to look for the big things in life. We think they are more powerful and more rewarding. Big things can be powerful and rewarding, but they are few and far between. Little things are many and come daily. Little things can be so powerful.

  A 'thank you' can be powerful. A 'thank you' lifts. A 'thank you' shows appreciation. A 'thank you' connects. A 'thank you' adds value. I often say "thank you" to my employees. Two of them have responded over the years with words to this effect: “You don’t have to say thank you to me. This was part of my job.” I believe that a 'thank you' is a gift. A gift transcends the realm of “have to.” A 'thank you' can make a moment. A 'thank you' can transform a day.

Saturday, June 15, 2019

More U.S. dictatorship against Cuba

  Lamenting dictatorship in Cuba, the U.S. government has decided to tighten restrictions on the freedom of Americans to travel to Cuba. Never mind that the restrictions were not enacted by Congress and signed into law by President Trump. When it comes to fighting totalitarian dictatorship, the reasoning goes, it’s necessary to adopt dictatorial policies here at home.

  Freedom of travel has long been considered a fundamental, natural, God-given right with which no government, not even the U.S. government, can legitimately infringe upon. Recall the Declaration of Independence, which Americans will be celebrating on the Fourth of July. It holds that liberty is among the rights with which all people have been endowed by their Creator. When God endows people with certain rights, including the right of freedom of travel, it goes without saying that Caesar behaves illegitimately when he infringes on such rights.

Friday, June 14, 2019

Corporal punishment in school disproportionately affects black students, students with disabilities

  Corporal punishment in school may seem like a practice that has long since disappeared from U.S. public schools, but every school day, there are students who are punished by being struck by an educator – proof that corporal punishment remains a painful reality in thousands of public schools.

  While 31 states have banned corporal punishment in schools – recognizing its harmful effects on students – 19 states still allow its use in a school setting. Even within states that allow the practice in schools, corporal punishment is banned in child care centers, foster care settings, and juvenile detention centers. In these 19 states, laws barring the practice in such settings sometimes describe corporal punishment as inappro­priate, abusive, and unethical – all the while, the practice continues in their public schools.

Thursday, June 13, 2019

The U.S. Women’s Soccer Team is fighting for better pay and the rest of women’s sports depends on it

  When it comes to iconic U.S. soccer teams, none tops the 1999 U.S. Women’s National Team. That squad is still so special today because its tournament run, culminating in a shootout victory over China before a huge crowd in Pasadena’s Rose Bowl, created a wave of change that led to more funding and resources for the women’s national team as well as the founding of the first North American women’s soccer league.

  When asked about the ‘99ers, as they’re known, at U.S. Soccer media day last month, forward Alex Morgan simply replied: “Now it’s our turn to make our mark.”

Wednesday, June 12, 2019

Steve Flowers: Inside the Statehouse - Past prominent state legislators

  The 2019 Alabama Legislative Session is now in the books. As each session is observed, it is apparent that primary, powerful state senators control the flow and outcome of any and all legislative sessions.

  Current Alabama state Senators Del Marsh, Jabo Waggoner, Greg Reed, and Arthur Orr wield immense influence.

  This has been true throughout history. The annals of political history reveal powerful state senators. Some of the most prominent include: Roland Cooper, the “Wily Fox from Wilcox”, Joe Goodwyn of Montgomery, Walter Givhan of Dallas County, Ryan DeGraffenreid, Sr. of Tuscaloosa, and later his son, Ryan, Jr. also of Tuscaloosa. The legendary Alabama state Senator Bob Wilson, Sr. of Jasper was powerful in his day.

Tuesday, June 11, 2019

Hank Sanders: Sketches #1669 - To impeach or not to impeach

  To impeach or not to impeach? That is the question. Every time we view or read or listen to our televisions, radios, newspapers, internet, and other media, we face the question: Should President Trump be impeached? I have a thought or two to share on the issue of impeachment. To impeach or not to impeach.

  “If a president, vice president, and other civil officers commit treason, bribery or other high crimes and misdemeanors, the U.S. Congress has the authority to impeach them.” This authority is provided in Article 2 of the United States Constitution. This provision is 230 years old but has been utilized just three times in history to try to impeach a president.

Monday, June 10, 2019

Changing demographics of mass incarceration

  After decades of constructing a system of mass incarceration, it appears that our nation is beginning to turn the tide.

  Some of the Deep South states that incarcerate the highest percentage of their residents – like Louisiana, Georgia, and Mississippi – have enacted reforms that are beginning to bring down their prison populations. At the same time, the federal prison population has decreased by 40,000 since peaking at 219,000 in 2013.

  But it’s just a beginning. It will take much more reform to end the era of mass incarceration. It’s a period that began in the early 1970s – just after the civil rights movement – when President Richard Nixon declared a “war on drugs” following a “law and order” presidential campaign calculated to appeal to white anxieties about the changing social order.

Sunday, June 9, 2019

China’s scary rise as a regional hegemon

  What could be scarier than the rise of a regional hegemon? Right? It conjures up an image of a giant Transformer, one who is going on the march and stomping through smaller nearby nations and imposing its will on them. Scary!

  That’s the situation with China. While President Trump’s trade war that he has initiated with China gets most of the focus, the U.S. government’s aim with China goes much further than that. It goes to China’s rise as a regional hegemon, something that U.S. officials are always on the lookout for and that they will smash out of existence before the regional hegemon can become a global hegemon.

Saturday, June 8, 2019

Craig Ford: Equal pay bill is a huge step in the right direction

  One of the positive things to come out of the 2019 Alabama Legislative Session is a piece of legislation that has finally brought pay equality to the state.

  Until last week, Alabama was one of only two states in the country that doesn’t have any laws requiring equal pay for equal work. The other state, if you were wondering, is Mississippi.

  This bill has been in the works since 2016, and the version that finally passed is the product of negotiation and compromise that ultimately received the approval of the business community and unanimous support from both houses of the Alabama Legislature.

Friday, June 7, 2019

Discomforting facts about World War II

  Given the predictable accolades regarding the 75th anniversary of D-Day in World War II — it’s important for Americans to keep in mind some discomforting facts about the so-called good war:

1) Prior to U.S. entry into World War II, the American people were overwhelmingly opposed to entering the conflict. That’s because of two things: (1) the non-interventionist foreign policy that was the founding policy of the United States and that had remained the foreign policy of the United States for more than 100 years; and (2) the horrible waste of men and money that had been expended on America’s intervention into World War I, not to mention the massive destruction of liberty that came with that war.

2) It was only because President Franklin Roosevelt intentionally provoked and maneuvered the Japanese into attacking at Pearl Harbor, where U.S. destroyers were conveniently based (FDR had wisely removed the carriers), that the U.S. ended up entering the conflict. Even many Roosevelt apologists now acknowledge what he did but defend it by arguing that his actions were for the greater good, i.e., preventing the Nazis from supposedly conquering the world. But what does it say about a democratic society in which people are overwhelmingly opposed to entering a particular war and in which their president circumvents that will by provoking and maneuvering a foreign regime into attacking the United States?

3) Hitler never had the ability to conquer the United States, much less the world. After all, his forces proved unable to cross the English Channel to conquer England. At the risk of belaboring the obvious, it would have been militarily impossible for Hitler’s forces to cross the Atlantic Ocean and successfully invade and conquere the United States.

4) Mainstream historians and newspapers have long pointed out that defeating Germany saved Europe from Nazi control. But it was always clear from the beginning that Hitler was moving east, not west — toward the Soviet Union, whose communist regime he considered the real enemy of Germany (just as the U.S. would consider the Soviet Union to be the real enemy of the United States after the war was over). It was England and France that declared war on Germany, not the other way around. If England and France had not declared war on Germany, it is a virtual certainty that the war would have been between Germany and the Soviet Union — i.e., Nazism versus communism, while the Western powers stood aside and let them fight it out among themselves.

5) The reason that England declared war on Germany was to honor the guarantee that England had given to Poland. But it was an empty guarantee because England knew that it lacked the military capability to free the Poles from German control. At the end of the war and ever since, mainstream historians and newspapers have waxed eloquently about how “we” defeated the Nazis. The operative word, however, is “we” because “we” included the Soviet Union, which was ruled by one of the most brutal communist regimes in the world. It was the Soviet Union that ended up controlling Poland … and Czechoslovakia … and all of Eastern Europe … and also the eastern half of Germany. So, yes, the Poles were freed from Nazi tyranny at the end of the war only to be made to suffer for the next 45 years under communist tyranny. U.S. officials and mainstream historians and commentators have always called that a “victory” for freedom. The Poles and Eastern Europeans have always felt differently about such a “victory.”

6) Virtually no Jews were saved by the war. By the time the war was over, almost all of them were dead. Of course, it should be kept in mind that when Hitler offered to let German Jews leave Germany in the 1930s, the Roosevelt administration, like all other nations around the world, said that they could not come to the United States. The reason? Anti-Semitism, the same anti-Semitism that afflicted Nazi Germany. Google “Voyage of the Damned” for more information.

7) After the war was over, U.S. officials immediately converted Hitler’s enemy (and America’s wartime partner), the Soviet Union, into America’s new official enemy, which, Americans were told, was an even bigger threat to the United States than Hitler had been. The fierce anti-communist mindset that had driven Hitler was now adopted by U.S. officials. Their Cold War against their wartime partner and ally was used to convert the federal government from a limited-government republic to a national-security state, a type of totalitarian structure that brought coups, assassinations, regime-change operations, alliances with dictatorial regimes, installation of dictatorial regimes, and ever-increasing budgets and power to the Pentagon, the CIA, and the NSA. In fact, the national-security branch of the federal government ultimately became the most powerful branch. Additionally, there was the entire anti-communist crusade engaged in by U.S. officials and the mainstream press against anyone who had socialist, communist, or even leftist leanings. (“Have you now or have you ever been a member of the Communist Party?”)

8) The Cold War brought U.S. interventions in North Korea and Vietnam, which cost the lives of more than 100,000 American men as well as countless injuries, not to mention the massive death and destruction that U.S. forces wreaked on the people of North Korea and North Vietnam. U.S. officials claimed that absent intervention, the dominoes would fall to the Reds with the final domino being the United States. Despite the stalemate in Korea and the total defeat of U.S. forces in Vietnam at the hands of the communists, the dominoes never fell and the United States is still standing.

9) Mainstream historians and newspapers claim that Hitler would have ultimately conquered the United States and the world had he not been stopped. Of course, that’s impossible to say but it’s a problematic assertion given that Germany would have been just as weak and devastated as the Soviet Union was by the end of the war. War makes a nation weaker, not stronger. What we do know is that after the war, U.S. officials said that the Soviet Union, Hitler’s enemy and America’s wartime partner, was hell-bent on conquering the United States and the world. They never succeeded or even came close. If the United States could survive the communist Soviet Union, there is no reason to conclude that it couldn’t have survived a Nazi Germany.

  A U.S. president surreptitiously embroils the country in a war that the American citizenry overwhelming opposed, a war that left Eastern Europe and half of Germany under communist control for 45 years and that also gave us the Cold War, the Korean War, and the Vietnam War as well as the conversion of our government to a totalitarian-like national-security state, along with the anti-communist crusade, assassination, coups, regime-change operations, and alliances with dictatorial regimes. That’s quite a “victory.”

  For more discomforting facts about World War I, World War II, and America’s other foreign wars, read The Future of Freedom Foundation's book, The Failure of America’s Foreign Wars, edited by Richard Ebeling and Jacob Hornberger.

  About the author: Jacob G. Hornberger is founder and president of The Future of Freedom Foundation.

  This article was published by The Future of Freedom Foundation.

Thursday, June 6, 2019

Six ways to reduce gun violence in America

  Gun violence in the United States is a public health crisis.

  It goes beyond the mass shootings that grab the nation’s attention. Every day, gun violence takes lives from communities all across the country in the form of suicides, unintentional shootings, and interpersonal conflicts that become fatal due to easy access to guns.

  In this country, an average of 35,000 people are killed with guns every year—96 each day.

Wednesday, June 5, 2019

Steve Flowers: Inside the Statehouse - Legends of Girls State

  For almost 100 years, two of the best annual events for young Alabama high school leaders in Alabama have been the Alabama Boys State and the Alabama Girls State programs.

  These events are sponsored by the American Legion and the American Legion Auxillary. Boys State and Girls State are sponsored nationwide by the American Legion. The programs epitomize the American Legion’s mission to honor those who have bought us our American freedom.

  The Girls State and Boys State programs bring the brightest high school leaders together every June. These young Alabama leaders will be Alabama’s governmental leaders in the future.

Tuesday, June 4, 2019

Challenging the whitewashed history of women’s suffrage

  Recently members of the U.S. House of Representatives wore yellow roses to commemorate the passage of the 19th Amendment in the lower chamber on May 21, 1919.

  Today marks the 100th anniversary of the passage of the 19th Amendment by the two-thirds Congressional majority – an action that sent the amendment granting women the right to vote to the states for ratification.

  But we must not forget that while the 19th Amendment was momentous, the reality was that it did not grant the franchise to all women in the United States. In practice, it ensured the franchise for primarily white, middle- and upper-class women; women of color largely did not enjoy the right to vote.

Monday, June 3, 2019

Sotomayor once again is the most speech-protective justice

  U.S. Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor, as she has done in the public employee First Amendment context and often in Fourth Amendment cases, recently proved to be the justice most protective of individual liberty. She demonstrated her solicitude for free speech in an unusual retaliatory arrest case out of Alaska, where a patron at a winter sports festival was arrested for disorderly conduct.

  The majority of the court ruled in Nieves v. Bartlett (2019) that the lack of probable cause will generally defeat a retaliatory arrest claim, even if the arresting officer had some underlying animus. Writing for the majority, Chief Justice John Roberts wrote that “the presence of probable cause should generally defeat a First Amendment retaliatory arrest claim.” In other words, if law enforcement officers have a valid basis for an arrest, a person can’t claim retaliation.

Sunday, June 2, 2019

Trump’s new union-busting rule will wallop home health workers

  Earlier this month, the Department of Health and Human Services finalized an obscure rule that could have huge implications for an estimated 800,000 independent home health providers paid directly by the state for Medicaid-funded services. Under the rule, these workers will no longer be able to assign deductions from their paychecks to cover things like insurance premiums, retirement contributions, and union dues. The rule singles out the most isolated home health workers who are not employed or paid via agencies; those who are can assign deductions at will.

  Advocates argue the rule is designed to suppress unions by making it more difficult to collect dues. And there’s more than union dues at stake: Home care providers could, for example, experience lapses in health coverage by failing to keep up with premiums.

Saturday, June 1, 2019

Delay of Harriet Tubman $20 bill undergirded by racism, misogyny

  Throughout my life, Harriet Tubman symbolized strength, courage, and determination.

  The abolitionist hero was the only woman of color in our school’s American history book while I was growing up in the 1970s and ‘80s. It was Tubman’s selfless and tenacious efforts to free enslaved people that inspired my own desire to make a difference in the world. That’s why I joined the board of directors for the Southern Poverty Law Center and now serve as its interim president.

  Last week, Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin announced that the Trump administration is delaying the release of the new $20 bill featuring Tubman. Originally, it was scheduled for release in 2020 to coincide with the 100th anniversary of the passage of the 19th Amendment, which granted women the right to vote. Mnuchin now indicates it will not be in circulation until 2028, long after Trump has left office. He claimed the delay was based on a more immediate need to focus on anti-counterfeiting features of currency beginning with the $10 and $50 bills.