Saturday, November 29, 2014

Michael Josephson: Give yourself the gift of gratitude

  For some, Thanksgiving is the beginning of a holiday season filled with joy and happiness at the prospect of spending time with family. For others, it’s a sadder time blemished by bad memories or dread. Some people see their lives filled with abundant blessings and find thankfulness easy and natural; others are so preoccupied with tending to past wounds or current crises that they simply don’t feel grateful.

Friday, November 28, 2014

Hank Sanders: Senate Sketches #1433: I had to hear the President

  I had to hear the President. I had a conference call for 7:00 p.m., Thursday, the very time the President was scheduled to speak. I had to hear the President so I had the conference call moved back to 6:30 p.m. I just had to hear the President.

  The President was going to reveal his executive orders on immigration reform. I had spoken about immigration many times. I had written about immigration a number of times. I had struggled against bad immigration bills in the Alabama Legislature. I had worked with others trying to persuade Congress to pass comprehensive immigration legislation. Immigration was very important issue for me. I had to hear the President.

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Michael Josephson: Surviving critical relatives at family gatherings

  I realize that not everyone lives in a Norman Rockwell world where family gatherings are sources of warmth and good memories. For some, the prospect of holiday get-togethers generates dread and anxiety; they are something to endure, not enjoy.

  One reason is that family members can be tactless and downright cruel when expressing their opinions about perceived foibles, flaws and failures of their relatives, especially in-laws. Often comments are so laden with negative judgment that they could make the Grinch wince.Whether motivated by well-intentioned, but misdirected, love and concern, or by malice, insensitive or unkind words are like spears to the heart.

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Steve Flowers: Inside the Statehouse: Is this the end of Mike Hubbard?

  Mike Hubbard is the political story of the year because our 2014 state elections were so mundane. The October indictment of the Speaker of the Alabama House of Representatives overshadows all other political events in the state, even the reelection of Gov. Robert Bentley, which was a foregone conclusion. In fact, if Hubbard had not been indicted, it would have been the political story of the year.

  Speculation had been rampant for well over a year that the very powerful leader of the House would be indicted by a Lee County Grand Jury. Every time I had lunch at a Montgomery restaurant someone would come up to me and say, “It’s coming down today,” or “Hubbard is turning himself in this afternoon.” About once a month I would get a call with some information. It was always a false rumor. However, the prevailing opinion was that Hubbard inevitably would be indicted.

Monday, November 24, 2014

Jacob G. Hornberger: Rand Paul is wrong. Leave Iraq alone!

  Still opposing the Iraq War in 2003, Senator Rand Paul now wants Congress to declare war against the Islamic State and engage in military action in Iraq. He says that “national security” is at stake.

  I’ve got a better idea: Leave Iraq alone! Hasn’t the U.S. government done enough damage already in Iraq?

Saturday, November 22, 2014

Vanessa Cárdenas: Five facts to know about President Obama’s immigration announcement

  This week President Barack Obama laid out his plans for executive action on immigration. The new program will provide temporary administrative relief and work permits to undocumented immigrants who pass a background check, have lived in the United States for a minimum of five years, and have a child who is a U.S. citizen or legal permanent resident, or LPR. The president’s actions mean that law-abiding immigrants with strong ties to the United States will no longer live under the threat of deportation. This program is modeled after the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, or DACA, program that benefits young people who came to the United States as children. The new executive action also broadens the DACA program by expanding coverage to children who entered the country before January 1, 2010, regardless of their age today. This is undoubtedly a tremendous win for the immigrant community and immigration reform advocates, and most importantly, it paves the way for a broader immigration reform when Congress decides to act.

Friday, November 21, 2014

Michael Josephson: Character is an essential part of competence

  If you were hiring a new CEO, what are the most important qualities you’d look for?

  Surely you’d want a high level of demonstrated competence – knowledge, experience, intelligence, vision, communication, and relationship skills and the ability to motivate, manage, and solve problems. But what about qualities such as honesty, moral courage, accountability, and fairness?

Thursday, November 20, 2014

Gene Policinski: Free Speech can be shield or sword, as Cosby furor shows

  Bill Cosby’s career has been deeply rooted in the possibilities and protections provided by freedom of speech.

  The legendary comedian and actor’s career began with landmark comedy routines in which he tackled sensitive racial subjects. He was the first African American male with a starring role on TV, in the 1960s series “I Spy.”

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Tom Kenworthy: For President Obama, it is all about veto power now

  Similar to former President Bill Clinton before him, President Barack Obama now faces a Republican-controlled Congress, one that will almost certainly be implacably hostile toward progressive governance and determined to put a conservative stamp on the statute books.

  If the past is any guide, a significant part of the agenda of the incoming Congress will be a broad-based attack on the conservation of public lands. The GOP leadership launched exactly that kind of assault after sweeping into power on Capitol Hill in 1995 following an election in which Republicans gained 54 seats in the House and 8 in the Senate. It was the first time since 1954 that Republicans controlled the House, and they had considerable pent-up demands about how the federal government should manage its vast network of national parks, national forests, wildlife refuges, and rangelands.

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Steve Flowers: Inside the Statehouse: What happened in the 6th Congressional District?

  This was probably one of the dullest and least interesting gubernatorial election years in memory. It stemmed from the fact that Robert Bentley was a popular incumbent governor and nobody dared to run against him in the Republican Primary. These days winning the Republican Primary is tantamount to election in the Heart of Dixie.

  The only really exciting race was for the open 6th Congressional District seat vacated by Rep. Spencer Bachus. This district encompasses the suburbs of Birmingham and Jefferson County as well as several surrounding conservative counties. It is home to some of the state’s most affluent enclaves, such as Mountain Brook, Vestavia, Homewood and Hoover. It has been ranked in Washington as one of the most Republican congressional districts in the nation. Therefore, the congressman was elected in the summer GOP Primary.

Monday, November 17, 2014

Hank Sanders: Senate Sketches #1432: Thoughts of my family on Veteran's Day

  It was Veterans Day, which engenders many thoughts within me.  I thought a lot about my brother Thomas Sanders. I did not think much about my other brothers – Sam Arthur Sanders, Charles William Sanders and Douglas McArthur Sanders – who also served in the United States military. I thought about my mother, Ola Mae Sanders, in relationship to Thomas and me.

Saturday, November 15, 2014

Michael Josephson: The intimidating power of integrity

  A teacher once wrote telling me that a parent with a great deal of clout at her school asked her to change attendance records to make her child’s record look better. The teacher said she thought long and hard about the request but eventually refused, knowing it would make the parent angry.

  I commended her moral courage. I wish it didn’t take courage to do the right thing, especially in such a clear case as this, but in the real world people with power often retaliate when they don’t get what they want. This can make our lives difficult.

Friday, November 14, 2014

Hank Sanders: Sketches #1431: You find what you look for

  The old folks often said, “In every dark cloud there is a silver lining.” The dark clouds are indeed looming after Election Day, but I’m looking for the silver lining.

  For me, the clouds are dark on the national level. Republicans now control the U. S. House of Representatives and the U. S. Senate. It’s not the fact that they are Republicans that darkens the clouds, but the fact that they made great gains in the Senate and the House after the following: closing down the government; incessantly demonizing the president; opposing any measure with strong public support to improve the economy; stopping popular measures such as minimum wage; and so on. The clouds are indeed dark, so I am looking for the silver lining.

Thursday, November 13, 2014

Jacob G. Hornberger: A lesson in interventionism in Iraq

  The great Austrian economist Ludwig von Mises pointed out that one government intervention inevitably produces a crisis, which then causes government officials to enact a new intervention to address the crisis. The new intervention, however, produces a new crisis, which then necessitates a new intervention. With each new intervention, the government’s power continues to grow.

  While Mises was referring to economic intervention, the principle applies in other areas. Good examples are the drug war, immigration controls, healthcare, and education, all areas that are characterized by a perpetual series of crises and interventions.

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Michael Josephson: The Golden Rule as the road of honor

  Five hundred years before the birth of Christ, Confucius was asked, “Is there one word that may serve as a rule of practice for all one’s life?”

  He answered, “Reciprocity. What you do not want done to yourself, do not do to others.” This basic principle, now called the Golden Rule, can be found in every major religion and philosophy.

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Steve Flowers: Inside the Statehouse: The Republican landslide dust settles

  In all my years of following Alabama politics, I have never seen as dull an election year as we just witnessed. It stems from the fact that we had an uneventful and noncompetitive governor’s race.

  Historically, Alabamians have turned out more for the governor’s race every four years than for a presidential race. This is dissimilar to the rest of the nation. Most Americans are more excited about who sits in the White House than who sits in the Statehouse.

Monday, November 10, 2014

First look at the fossil-fuel and anti-environment agenda of the next Congress

  After months of speculation about the outcome of last week’s elections, it is now clear that Republicans will control both the U.S. Senate and the House of Representatives starting in January. According to recent analyses of political contributions and advertising spending, fossil-fuel interests—including the conservative billionaire Koch brothers—appear to have played a major role in the races that ultimately decided the balance of power in the Senate. These campaign investments from the oil, gas, and coal industry are likely to have a major impact on the agenda of the coming 114th Congress, as Republican leaders work to pay back the support their fossil-fuel allies provided during the election.

Saturday, November 8, 2014

Sam Fulwood III: Why young, minority, and low-income citizens don’t vote

  On Tuesday, voters across the United States cast their ballots in the 2014 midterm elections. As with any election, there are winners and losers.

  But, dear reader, this column offers neither post-election analysis nor after-the-fact second-guessing–well, at least, not in the well-worn, traditional sense. Instead, I want to use the occasion of Election Day to share an insight into the sad fundamentals of electoral democracy. Regardless of whether a favored candidate won or a popular ballot initiative passed, our nation suffered because of the number of people who didn’t vote at all.

Friday, November 7, 2014

Despite GOP efforts to expunge extremists, several far-right candidates elected

  Despite claiming its success this election cycle came from expunging extremists from its ranks, the GOP managed to let a fair number of candidates with extremist views rooted in conspiracy theories and far-right fears slip through the cracks.

  “Little was left to chance,” The New York Times reported earlier this week. “Republican operatives sent fake campaign trackers — interns and staff members brandishing video cameras to record every utterance and move — to trail their own candidates. In media training sessions, candidates were forced to sit through a reel of the most self-destructive moments.”

Thursday, November 6, 2014

Addressing the gaps in Syria policy in the fight against ISIS

  With the expansion of air strikes against the Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham, or ISIS, into Syria in September, President Barack Obama exposed himself to a new round of criticism from armchair commanders at home and abroad. It is time for the Obama administration to clarify the Syria component of its strategy to combat ISIS.

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

Steve Flowers: Inside the Statehouse: 1964 election still echoes today in Alabama

  You already know the results of yesterday’s general election, but my column had to go to press prior to Tuesday’s vote. Therefore we will discuss and analyze the outcome next week. More than likely there were no surprises. It would be a major upset if any Democrat won a statewide contest on Tuesday.

  We are now one the most Republican states in America. It all began 50 years ago this month. The 1964 election was the bellwether year that Alabama and the Deep South dramatically changed to the Republican Party. On that November day, Alabamians voted for the GOP candidate Barry Goldwater, and we have not looked back.

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

Hank Sanders: Senate Sketches #1430: If you know it’s a test, all you have to do is pass the test

  President Obama is in the throes of Job-like tests. He has been tested on every front from the inception of his presidency. No other president has been tested so often and so severely. Before you reject the truth of this statement, allow me to share a few facts with you.

Monday, November 3, 2014

Michael Josephson: Righteousness is revealed in conduct, not rhetoric

  It’s hard to look at the world and some of the people who seem to get ahead without occasionally asking ourselves why we should be ethical. However normal it is to think like this, the question should be off limits for people who profess strong religious beliefs. After all, what religion does not mandate morality?

Sunday, November 2, 2014

Jacob G. Hornberger: Just another immigration horror story

  Since I grew up on the Texas-Mexico border, I have long become accustomed to heartrending stories involving the U.S. government’s decades-long war against illegal immigrants, but for some reason a front-page story in last week’s New York Times hit me really hard. I don’t see how anyone could read the article and still endorse immigration controls.

  The story details the immigration travails of Javier Flores, a Mexican citizen who illegally entered the United States 13 years ago. His reason? To better his life through labor. He was born and raised in one of the poorest villages in Mexico, named La Mixtequita, which is located in the southern part of the country in the state of Chiapas.

Saturday, November 1, 2014

Senate Sketches #1429: A Giant lived among us: Dr. Paul R. Hubbert

  A Giant lived among us. He has now transitioned to a fully spiritual state. Even in this spiritual state, he is still a Giant. I am proud that I knew the Giant and called him friend.

  The Giant was born on Christmas Day. Some of us smile as we say that it was no accident that he was born on this day. He inspired great devotion and great antipathies. Those who loved him truly loved him. Those who hated him truly hated him. These powerful loves and hates bring to mind another spiritual being born on this same day.