Friday, August 29, 2014

Michael Josephson: Excellence is achievable

  As I watched nearly five dozen eager graduates of the Los Angeles Police Academy throw their hats in the air celebrating their achievement, I knew they were the survivors of a rigorous training, and that their journey wasn’t over.

  Ahead of them would be a full year of supervised field training, and it’s unlikely all of them would make it through their probation.

Thursday, August 28, 2014

Jacob G. Hornberger: The Murder of James Foley

  In response to the Islamic State’s execution of American journalist James Foley, President Obama referred to Foley’s killers as a “cancer.” That, of course, implies that anti-American terrorism is like a disease, one that strikes at nations willy-nilly, without rhyme or reason.

  Obama’s cancer metaphor for ISIS brings to mind what President Bush said about al Qaeda after the 9/11 attacks — that the terrorists were motivated by hatred for America’s freedom and values.

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Hank Sanders: Senate Sketches #1420: Acting in faith

  We spoke in faith. We prayed in faith. We sang in faith. We marched in faith. It is the same faith the children of Israel had when they marched around the impregnable walls of Jericho some 3,500 years ago and the walls came tumbling down.

  We spoke in faith. We prayed in faith. We sang in faith. We marched in faith. It is the same faith of which the children of Birmingham spoke, prayed, sang and marched with some fifty years ago and the walls of legal segregation came tumbling down.

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Steve Flowers: Inside the Statehouse: Fobbed in ‘78

  The 1978 Alabama governor’s race between the three heavyweights, former Governor Albert Brewer, Attorney General Bill Baxley, and Lt. Governor Jere Beasley, was expected to be titanic. All three men had last names beginning with the letter “B.” The press coined the phrase “the three B’s.” The Republicans were relegated to insignificance on the gubernatorial stage. The winner of the Democratic Primary would be governor.

Monday, August 25, 2014

Sam Fulwood III: Will the troubles in Ferguson point toward a new way forward?

  Perhaps I’m getting ahead of myself by writing a presumptuous summation of the turmoil roiling the streets of suburban St. Louis. After all, it’s been just a few weeks since the fateful moment when a Ferguson, Missouri, police officer shot and killed unarmed 18-year-old Michael Brown. How can I be certain this event and its immediate aftermath will yield historical significance?

  Well, I can’t. Yet I’m compelled to look ahead, hoping there is greater meaning in the death, destruction, and despair of today’s news. The future has to be better. So I trust that what’s happening in the street-level conflicts and clashes in Ferguson are the birthing pains of a new American social order, one that will be more inclusive of all voices and not defined exclusively by predominately white political, economic, or military wishes.

Saturday, August 23, 2014

Charles C. Haynes: ‘Cross at Ground Zero’: History lesson or state religion?

  At a time when Americans are deeply divided over the meaning of “separation of church and state,” a ruling from the 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals last week provides a much-needed case study in how the First Amendment’s establishment clause is supposed to work.

  In a unanimous decision, the three-judge panel dismissed a challenge by atheists to the display of a cross-shaped beam at the National Sept. 11 Memorial and Museum at Ground Zero in New York City.

Friday, August 22, 2014

Richard Garrett: The Alabama Legislature must respond to tort liability expansion

  Last Friday, the Alabama Supreme Court denied a rehearing in the case of Wyeth v. Weeks. This let stand a holding that name-brand drug manufacturers can be held liable for alleged misrepresentations or failures to warn in regard to generic drugs that they did not manufacture or distribute. The Court’s reasoning is shared by a very small minority of courts, both federal and state. To quote Justice Murdock in his dissent:

Thursday, August 21, 2014

Hank Sanders: Senate Sketches #1419: The Jericho Wall March

  Joshua fit the Battle of Jericho and the walls came tumbling down. This is a refrain from a Negro spiritual made famous by the late great Mahalia Jackson. This refrain came to mind as I contemplated an upcoming Jericho Wall March.

  The story of Joshua and the walls of Jericho is a powerful Biblical story of faith, unity, marching, crumbling walls and victory. We are currently in a Jericho moment. Therefore, we need the Joshua kind of faith, unity and moral action to bring down the modern day Jericho walls.

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Gene Policinski: Media and Missouri: What the heck is going on?

  What in the heck is going on with the police in Ferguson, Mo., and journalists?

  The St. Louis suburb has been the scene of peaceful protests and charged emotions, and nightly chaos and occasional looting, since the Aug. 9 shooting death of a black teenager, Michael Brown, by police officer Darren Wilson.

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Steve Flowers: Inside the Statehouse: Sympathy for the governor

  Albert Brewer began the writing of George Wallace’s political obituary by beating him in the first primary in 1970. However, Wallace arose from the grave by playing his ever-present race card. He trumped Brewer with the race issue in the primary runoff and came from behind to win, thus, resurrecting his political career. Wallace would be governor again for a third time.

Saturday, August 16, 2014

Michael Josephson: Planned abandonment

  Management guru Peter Drucker advocated a practice he called planned abandonment. He stressed how important it is that managers develop the wisdom and courage to regularly review what their organization is doing and determine whether it’s worth doing. He urged executives to note and resist the systemic and emotional forces that make it difficult to abandon activities that drain resources, detract from central goals, or otherwise impede progress.

Thursday, August 14, 2014

Sam Fulwood III: Correcting the media’s skewed perspective

  Alarmed and frustrated by the news reports of a police officer shooting and killing an unarmed black teenager last weekend in a St. Louis suburb, C.J. Lawrence, an attorney from Jackson, Mississippi, monitored the horrific scenes as they unfolded on traditional and social media outlets. Through it all, Lawrence imagined what it might be like if he was the subject of the media’s unflinching stare.

  Eighteen-year-old Mike Brown was shot shortly after noon on Saturday in Ferguson, Missouri, a predominately African American community of about 21,000 people just northwest of the greater St. Louis metropolitan area. Details surrounding the shooting remain sketchy, but the outrage is undeniable, sparking protests against the police. Some rioting and looting occurred on Sunday night, and police responded with tear gas and rubber bullets. More-peaceful protests took place Monday night as marchers challenged police with shouts of “Don’t shoot me!” Meanwhile, the Federal Bureau of Investigation opened on Monday a civil rights inquiry into the shooting.

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Hank Sanders: Senate Sketches #1418: All we have to do is pass the test

  “When you are being tested, all you have to do is pass the test.” These are words of wisdom from my dear mother who passed on from this world seventeen years ago. I called up her words because I am being tested. You are being tested. We are being tested. We just have to remember that all we have to do is pass the test.

  It is painful for me to see where we are in Alabama and where we are headed. I see it on so many fronts: voting; health care; education; jobs; workers’ rights; women’s rights; immigration; civil justice; criminal justice; political extremism; etc. I don’t despair; I just tell myself that it’s a test, and all we have to do is pass the test.

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Steve Flowers: Inside the Statehouse: The epic Wallace vs. Brewer showdown

  Upon Lurleen Wallace’s death in May of 1968, Lt. Governor Albert Brewer moved up to the governorship. Brewer was no novice in state government. He came to the legislature from Morgan County at a very early age and rose quickly to become Speaker of the Alabama House of Representatives during his second term. He won the 1966 lieutenant governor’s race against two state senators without a runoff.

Monday, August 11, 2014

Melissa Boteach: Reimagining our social contract

  Every year, the Bureau of the Census releases its estimate of how many Americans lived below the federal poverty line at a specific point in time during the previous year. For the past several years, the official poverty rate has remained steady at about 15 percent.

  Hearing this statistic, one might conclude that the same 15 percent of Americans remain stuck at the bottom, year in and year out, constituting the nation’s poor. But look beyond the point-in-time data, and you will find an important but rarely discussed fact: It is not the same 15 percent year after year.

Saturday, August 9, 2014

Michael Josephson: Grocery store ethics

  You can tell a lot about people’s character by how they act at the grocery store. I remember being in a crowded store when there was a shortage of shopping carts. A prosperous-looking fellow was pushing a cart when another man stopped him.

  “Excuse me,” the second man said, “but this is my cart.”

  The first guy looked really annoyed. Instead of apologizing, he protested, “But someone took my cart.”

Friday, August 8, 2014

Brandon Demyan: Big government’s Uber problem

  As Birmingham continues its evolution to become a modern and relevant city, recent ordinances designed to make it difficult for food trucks, Uber, and other innovative businesses to operate are putting that vision in reverse.

  What is Uber?

Thursday, August 7, 2014

Brendan Duke: How overtime reform will grow the economy from the middle out

  Our overtime system is broken. Just 18 percent of full-time workers have guaranteed overtime rights today. And unless the Department of Labor modernizes the overtime rules, 0 percent will have them by 2030 if current trends continue.

  Without guaranteed overtime rights, employers can easily misclassify workers who spend most of their time at the cash register or restocking shelves as overtime-exempt “executives” or “professionals” and avoid paying them overtime—1.5 times their hourly wage or the equivalent for salaried workers.

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

Hank Sanders: Senate Sketches #1417: We must celebrate August 6th!

  August 6 ought to be a day of great celebration but it is not. President Jimmy Carter ought to celebrate August 6. President Bill Clinton ought to celebrate August 6. President Barack Obama ought to celebrate August 6. But they don’t.

  You and I ought to celebrate August 6. Everyone in the United States of America ought to celebrate August 6. African Americans especially ought to celebrate August 6. But we don’t.  August 6 is barely recognized, not to speak of celebrated.

Tuesday, August 5, 2014

Steve Flowers: Inside the Statehouse: Lurleen Wallace takes the stage

  After Ryan De Graffenreid’s plane crash and death in February of 1966 the governor’s race was wide open. De Graffenreid would have been governor in a cakewalk, but it was now a new ballgame with less than ten weeks until the May election. George Wallace mulled it over for a few weeks, then the amazing story of his wife Lurleen Wallace running for governor came to fruition. George would be her number one advisor.

Monday, August 4, 2014

Michael Josephson: Accountability in the workplace

  Lately I’ve been spending a lot of time consulting with large companies concerned with strengthening their ethical culture.

  Although I’m sure the leaders I work with care about ethics and virtue for their own sake, I know the driving force to seek outside assistance is self-interest. The risk of reputation-damaging and resource-draining charges resulting from improper conduct is so high that it’s a matter of prudence and responsible stewardship to stress ethical values and moral principles.

Saturday, August 2, 2014

Hank Sanders: Senate Sketches #1416: Don't stir in mess

  “Don’t stir in mess,” my mother said on many occasions. “It makes worse the sight and smell.” She did not mean just physical mess but any kind of mess. I see mess all the time.

  Every elected official encounters mess. Every public personality encounters mess. In fact, most of us encounter mess of one kind or another. We just have to remember not to stir in it.

Friday, August 1, 2014

Charles C. Haynes: In a world of sectarian violence, what can be done?

  Last week, the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria – the extremist movement now occupying large swaths of territory in the region – forced the last Christians out of the Iraqi city of Mosul.

  Images of desecrated churches, looted homes and ruined lives now serve as the obituary for one of the world’s oldest Christian communities.