Friday, July 31, 2015

Additional ethics complaint filed against Alabama chief justice for defying federal judiciary

  Alabama Chief Justice Roy Moore continues to “flout and violate” the state’s code of judicial ethics following a ruling by the U.S. Supreme Court that legalized same-sex marriage across the country, according to a new supplement filed this week in the Southern Poverty Law Center’s ongoing ethics complaint against Moore.

  “Justice Moore has been removed from office for unethical actions once before, but it’s clear that he hasn’t learned his lesson,” said SPLC President Richard Cohen. “It’s obviously unethical for him to urge defiance of a United States Supreme Court ruling. He needs to understand that he is a judge, not a preacher.”

Thursday, July 30, 2015

Hank Sanders: Senate Sketches #1468: The Voting Rights Act at 50 and the Legal Defense Fund at 75

  The Voting Rights Act at 50; the NAACP Legal Defense Fund at 75: Landmark Law That Transformed America. I was one of four panelists at the Smithsonian Museum in Washington, D. C. On this special occasion. I had planned what I was going to say, however, I did not say what I had planned because the format was different than I expected. It was a question and answer session throughout that was streamed live on the Smithsonian’s web site. The session will also be airing on C-SPAN in August. The following is what I had planned to say.

Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Steve Flowers: Inside the Statehouse: Bentley's bizarre behavior

  During the press conference three weeks ago announcing the historic BP settlement and windfall for the state, Governor Robert Bentley repeatedly said, “The $55 million a year to the General Fund is fantastic, but it will not solve the state’s long term financial woes. It only accomplishes about 12 percent of what we need. We’re still going to have a Special Session to address the need for new revenue, and we will call it for late summer.”

Tuesday, July 28, 2015

James L. Gattuso: Amazon and antitrust: Should Washington sue to make books more expensive?

  As Americans set out to the beach this summer with their favorite novels in hand, federal officials are being asked to sue the nation's largest bookseller, Why? For not having higher prices.

  A group of authors and competing booksellers recently petitioned the Department of Justice to open an antitrust investigation into the activities of the online retailer. Their complaint, expressed in separate letters to DOJ from the American Booksellers Association and Authors United, is not that the firm charges too much for books, but too little.

Monday, July 27, 2015

Darrio Melton: Broadband Internet is critical to the future of Alabama

  If the statistics hold, seven out of ten people reading this article will be doing so on a laptop using the Internet. Among all American adults, 56 percent have used a cell phone to access news in the last week.

  Needless to say, the Internet has changed the way that we access news and stay up-to-date with current events. It has changed the way we stay in touch with friends and family, pay bills and make purchases.

Saturday, July 25, 2015

Michael Josephson: The blue stone and the white lie

  This story is about a truth-versus-caring ethical dilemma I once had. I think I did the right thing, but I keep wondering if there was a better way.

  I was putting my two-year-old to bed when Abrielle, who was four, came screaming down the hall in a panic. Samara, the five-and-a-half-year-old, was right behind her equally terrified. “I swallowed a stone. I don’t want to die,” Abrielle cried in terror.

Friday, July 24, 2015

Charles C. Haynes: When combatting extremism, schools are the long game

  Propaganda works.

  Consider Mohammad Abdulazeez, the young man who shot and killed five service members in Chattanooga, Tennessee last week.

  According to FBI reports, Abdulazeez was inspired to “martyrdom” through listening to the hate-filled sermons of Anwar al-Awlaki, the al Qaeda recruiter killed by an American drone strike in 2011.

  Or consider Dylann Roof, the suspect in the murder of nine African American churchgoers in Charleston, South Carolina earlier this summer.

Thursday, July 23, 2015

Craig Ford: Our governor should stop playing games

  Two weeks ago, Gov. Robert Bentley surprised everyone when he called the special legislative session. Legislators had expected the governor to wait until mid-August to call the session, but the governor said he wanted to use “the element of surprise” and take pressure off legislators over the gambling issue.

  The people of Alabama expect their leaders to work together, and Governor Bentley’s use of “the element of surprise,” as he chose to put it, is not in the spirit of that. The reason this crisis wasn’t solved during the regular legislative session is because House and Senate Republicans wouldn’t work together, and neither of them wanted to work with the governor. Legislators and the governor need to be able to work together during this special session, and that can’t happen when state leaders decide to play political games.

Wednesday, July 22, 2015

Steve Flowers: Inside the Statehouse: An eventful Alabama summer

  The week leading up to the Fourth of July had a lot of fireworks. In fact, my guess is that when we look back at the year 2015, we will look to that week as the most momentous of the year. It was like bang, bang, bang!

  The declaration by the U.S. Supreme Court that same sex marriage is the law of the land may be one of the most monumental court decisions in decades and unquestionably the landmark ruling by the high tribunal this year.

Tuesday, July 21, 2015

James Bovard: Cops and donuts don’t mix

  On a Sunday morning early last summer, I was driving south across the Potomac River to a hike in Fairfax County, Virginia. The previous night the hike leader posted online a map of the jaunt. It looked like a typical suburban stroll until I saw a Dunkin’ Donuts marked near the start point. As the Food and Drug Administration has warned, donuts can be addictive and publicizing the location of donut stores can utterly destroy people’s free will. (Or maybe I am confusing this with the FDA’s hectoring on cigarettes.)

Monday, July 20, 2015

Hank Sanders: Senate Sketches #1466: A huge economic project really wants to come to Alabama

  A huge economic development project wants to come to Alabama. It’s just raring to come. It wants to come so badly that it will come without any tax breaks, any cash, any infrastructure investment, any job training or anything else. It’s been trying to come for some time. It is convinced that it can do great good for Alabama and that Alabama can do good for it. Of course, we Alabamians truly love economic development, and a huge economic project really wants to come to Alabama.

Saturday, July 18, 2015

Sam Fulwood III: Atticus Finch and Bill Cosby—fallen heroes?

  In what must be the greatest literary shocker of the past century, Harper Lee’s Go Set a Watchman—a companion to the widely read 1961 Pulitzer Prize winner To Kill a Mockingbird—went on sale Tuesday, detonating the sterling reputation of a much beloved and respected fictional hero.

  In Lee’s latest work, Atticus Finch—the stolid, strong-willed white lawyer who, in To Kill a Mockingbird, risked his social standing within a small-minded Alabama town in the 1930s by defending an innocent black man wrongly accused of raping a white woman—is shown to have become an anti-black racist.

Friday, July 17, 2015

Craig Ford: The smart way to spend the BP money

  Alabama won a huge victory last week when the BP Oil settlement was announced. As a part of that settlement, the state will receive $2.3 billion dollars over the next 18 years, with a billion of those dollars being given to our state’s General Fund budget. That means legislators now have to determine what is the best use of that money.

  Smart leaders, like Rep. Steve Clouse (R-Ozark) and Sen. Arthur Orr (R-Decatur) who Chair the state House and Senate General Fund Budget Committees, see this as an opportunity to pay back the state’s existing debts. I couldn’t agree more. Over the last few years the state has withdrawn over $598 million from the rainy day account in the Alabama Trust Fund. So far, even though a bill was passed setting a schedule to pay it back, we’ve only deposited $15 million in the account.

Thursday, July 16, 2015

Michael Josephson: Using all your strength

  A young boy was walking with his father along a country road. When they came across a very large tree branch the boy asked, “Do you think I could move that branch?”

  His father answered, “If you use all your strength, I’m sure you can.”

Wednesday, July 15, 2015

Steve Flowers: Inside the Statehouse: A cautionary tale for Robert Bentley

  A good many of you let me know that you agreed with my column last week when I suggested that stealing from the Special Education Trust Fund budget to resolve the dilemma in the General Fund is not the solution needed during the extraordinary special session.

  This potential raid on the school children’s and teachers’ money is not the first time that this idea has been suggested. Every time a crisis comes up in the General Fund, some governor will try to raid the Education Trust Fund. The most powerful governor in state history tried to do it, and now 50 years later Governor Robert Bentley is testing the water. Believe me, if George Wallace could not succeed at it in his prime and when he owned the legislature, Robert Bentley sure cannot do it today.

Tuesday, July 14, 2015

Jacob G. Hornberger: Iran's criminal justice system reminds us of ours

  The judicial procedures that Iranian officials are using in the criminal trial of Washington Post correspondent Jason Rezaian remind us of our judicial system here in the United States. No, not the federal judicial system here within the United States but rather the U.S. judicial system that the Pentagon and the CIA have established and operate at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.

Monday, July 13, 2015

Achieving the president’s goals for increased next-generation vehicle use

  Although state and federal policymakers are laying the groundwork for an electric car future, progress has been slower than anticipated.

  During his 2008 presidential campaign, Barack Obama announced a goal of putting 1 million advanced technology vehicles—plug-in hybrid electric or electric vehicles, or EV—on the road by 2015. In 2011, President Obama reiterated this goal and launched several initiatives designed to drive consumer demand for next-generation vehicles and to spur new research and development. And in 2012, he announced another initiative, the EV-Everywhere Grand Challenge, which created a collaboration of engineers, scientists, and industry to develop by 2022 EV models that are as affordable as 2012 gasoline-powered cars.

Saturday, July 11, 2015

James Jay Carafano: Get ready for the next wave of trouble with North Korea

  While the White House winds up its deal on the future of Iran’s nuclear program, angst abounds in U.S. national security circles. Contributing to the anxiety over how the Tehran regime will act in the future is knowledge of how the Pyongyang regime has acted in the past.

  For years, the North Korean government dabbled in deals and threats, stringing along the international community, until it became an established nuclear weapons power. Who is to say Iran isn’t playing the same game? In the end, the US could wind up with two nuclear headaches instead of one.

Friday, July 10, 2015

Craig Ford: You can’t fix something you don’t believe in

  For months, we have been told that the state needs at least another $200 million to avoid catastrophe. We have been told that we are broke because the way we budget for our state government is broken.

  Unfortunately, what we have been told is true: our government is broke, and it is broken. But you can’t fix something if you don’t believe in it, and our state leaders don’t believe in government.

Thursday, July 9, 2015

Hank Sanders: Senate Sketches #1465: An open letter to Dr. Ben Carson

Dear Dr. Carson:

  I appreciate your excellent accomplishments as a physician. I am truly impressed by your great medical skills and leadership. I was inspired by how you overcame huge odds to become a world-renowned surgeon. I was glad to see you considering running for president as a Republican. Then you absolutely shocked me. I was shocked when you said that the Affordable Care Act, widely known as ObamaCare, “is the worst thing since slavery.” Your words pierced my heart and weighed on my spirit.

Wednesday, July 8, 2015

Steve Flowers: Inside the Statehouse: The tale of two budgets

  As the legislative session was winding down, it was obvious no solution was going to be found for the beleaguered General Fund Budget. The Governor Bentley's $541 million tax increase proposal had been ignored. Although he still kept preaching that this was the prescription for the ailing General Fund, the good doctor’s prognosis and recommended course of treatment was completely disregarded.

Tuesday, July 7, 2015

Charles C. Haynes: After gay marriage, can we move from battleground to common ground?

  In recent years, religious freedom — or, more precisely, religious freedom claims — have been front and center in the battle over same-sex marriage.

  From bitter debates in Arizona and Indiana to the grand compromise in Utah, proponents and opponents have shouted past one another about if and when to grant exemptions for conscientious objectors to same-sex marriage.

  The Supreme Court’s decision on June 26 in Obergefell v. Hodges recognizing gay marriage as a constitutional right will not end this debate. But it might, just might, move people of goodwill on both sides from battleground to common ground on how best to balance competing visions of equality and liberty.

Monday, July 6, 2015

Michael Josephson: Being decisive

  Frank is a new supervisor who wants to do well. Maria consistently comes in late. When he confronts her, she makes a joke out of it.

  Hoping to win friendship and loyalty, Frank is painfully patient with her, but Pat, a conscientious employee, urges him to do more. Soon others begin to come in late, and Pat quits. Frank feels victimized, but he has no one to blame but himself.

Saturday, July 4, 2015

Gene Policinski: New thought on ‘the flag’ – and a new lyric line for ‘Dixie’

  Amid all the discussion and debate over public display of the Confederate flag, where do Americans actually agree or disagree?

  A new survey shows that a majority of all Americans agree with banning the Confederate battle flag from license plates, public buildings and store shelves.

  But a majority of white and Hispanic respondents, asked what they think when they see the contested flag, don’t identify it as a symbol of racial bias against African Americans, even though an overwhelming number of African  Americans do.

Friday, July 3, 2015

Sam Fulwood III: Confronting white privilege

  In a remarkably straightforward and honest essay that’s perfectly timed to make sense of current events, Katherine Speller lays out the argument for “why it’s not racist to talk about white privilege.”

  “We know these conversations can be really hard to have,” Speller posted Tuesday morning on the website. “They involve taking a critical look at not only our lives, but the society we live in and the power structures that have been in place since way before we were born.”

Thursday, July 2, 2015

Steve Flowers: Inside the Statehouse: The VictoryLand revival

  Last week’s verdict that VictoryLand be allowed to reopen is justice served. The people of Macon County voted for a constitutional amendment to allow for electronic bingo. The issue of pari-mutuel style casino betting and the closing of the ultramodern and successful luxury gaming resort in Macon County has been laid to rest.

  There have been extensive studies and articles that crystallize several obvious observations. First of all, gambling or gaming is an extremely profitable venture, and it is apparent that most Alabamians and Americans gamble whether it be online, through a bookie, or via a lottery. By the way, 48 of the 50 states receive revenue from gambling. Alabama and Utah are the only states that do not.

Wednesday, July 1, 2015

Richard Cohen: Either comply or resign else you're just being arrogant

  Since the U.S. Supreme Court ruled last week that bans on same-sex marriages are unconstitutional, we've seen many Alabama probate judges – including Steven Reed in Montgomery, Alan King in Jefferson County, and Don Davis in Mobile – say that they'll comply with the law by issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples.

  But some Alabama probate judges say that they'll get out of the marriage business altogether.