Saturday, December 31, 2016

Michael Josephson: Change your attitude and change your life

  The tradition of making New Year’s Resolutions reflects one the very best qualities of human nature – the ability to reflect on and assess our lives in terms of the goals we set for ourselves and the principles we believe in. It’s still not too late to formulate a self-improvement plan to make our outer lives and inner selves better by adopting more positive attitudes, living up to our highest values, and strengthening our relationships.

  Start with your attitudes, the way you think and feel about important things like your job, the people in your life, and, of course, yourself.

Friday, December 30, 2016

Sharon Shahid: Notable front pages in 2016

  2016 will be remembered as the year of losses, upsets and upset victories. The sports world suffered the loss of one its greatest athletes — heavyweight champion Muhammad Ali — and saw the end of the longest title drought in Major League Baseball. The rest of the world witnessed the passing of icon after icon, and was caught off guard as populism swept the globe, and country after country became the latest venue for the worst mass shootings or terrorist acts in history.

Thursday, December 29, 2016

David L. Hudson Jr.: First Amendment freedoms need “breathing space”

  “Breathing space” remains one of the most important concepts in First Amendment phraseology and jurisprudence. Government officials should not create an atmosphere or pass laws where individuals are chilled from speaking out and expressing their ideas. Oftentimes, more questionable speech is protected in order to provide “breathing space” for other expression.

Wednesday, December 28, 2016

Steve Flowers: Inside the Statehouse: Icons we lost in 2016

  At the close of every year my tradition is to acknowledge the passing of significant political players in Alabama. We have truly lost some political icons in the Heart of Dixie this year.

  Lucy Baxley passed away in October in Birmingham at 78. She was born on a farm in rural Houston County in the community of Pansy. She went to school at Ashford. After graduation from high school she went to work at the courthouse in Dothan and worked for Judge Keener Baxley.

  When Judge Baxley’s son, Bill, got elected attorney general in 1970, young Bill Baxley asked Lucy to come to Montgomery to be his administrative assistant. Eight years later she and Bill married. She was an integral part of Baxley’s first campaign for governor in 1978.  Bill became Alabama Lieutenant Governor in 1982, then lost in the race for governor in 1986.  Soon, thereafter, Bill and Lucy ended their ten year marriage.

Tuesday, December 27, 2016

Aman Tumukur Khanna: The strange customs and traditions of New Year

  The New Year is celebrated with much gaiety, enthusiasm and happiness all over the world, and there are many customs and traditions, even superstitions attached to the celebrations. Some of them are unique and interesting while some of them are rather strange and weird!

  The underlying theme of celebrating the New Year is looking forward to a period of happiness, good fortune, prosperity and good health, and putting behind a time of conflicts, mistakes and worries. Fireworks, music, dancing, parades, and feasting are all common across various cultures and faiths. The one shared belief globally is that specific actions taken on New Year's Day or at the stroke of midnight on New Year's Eve when one minute merges into the other, greatly influence how the New Year unfolds.

Monday, December 26, 2016

Michael Josephson: The seven Cs of character

  As you consider your goals for the New Year, I hope you’ll think about working on your character. No, you’re not too old and I don’t mean to imply you’re a bad person. As I’ve said often, “you don’t have to be sick to get better.” In fact, it’s a lot easier to make a good person better than a bad person good.

  The struggle to be better takes place during our daily choices.

Sunday, December 25, 2016

Cameron Findlay: Christmas traditions around the world

The Democratic Republic of Congo

  On Christmas Eve, churches hold musical evenings and a nativity play which often goes on all night. The plays begin with the creation of the Garden of Eden and ends with King Herod killing all baby boys, with the birth of the baby Jesus timed for midnight. On Christmas Day, carol singers walk through the villages before they return home to make the final preparations for their outfits and offerings for the Christmas service.

South Africa

  Christmas in South Africa is celebrated as it is in much of the western world with one exception - as Christmas Day falls during the middle of the country's summer, it is spent outside. Once the heat of the day has subsided, families flock to the beach to light their grills and cook. South Africans see Boxing Day as a day of charity, a day where boxes of food and clothing are gathered up and given to the poor.

Saturday, December 24, 2016

Renee Lee: Retail - why I hate Christmas

  I work in retail, therefore, I hate Christmas. Yes, that's what I said: I HATE CHRISTMAS. People often cluck their tongues and shake their heads in appalled disbelief when I tell them this, and then they often follow up the shaking of their heads with the same response: "I love Christmas because people are nicer to each other."

  Obviously these people do not and have never worked in a grocery store during the holiday season. Wherever these kinder, gentler folk are, they definitely aren't anywhere near my place of employment. Of course, I work at the customer service desk, which on any given day, is over-crowded with pissed off patrons demanding refunds and making general threats in order to get free food. During the holidays, this volatile behavior inevitably increases twofold, only to be compounded by the insane repetition of the Muzak in the background playing the 975th version of "White Christmas."

Friday, December 23, 2016

Liz Kennedy: Trump’s dangerous, unprecedented, and unconstitutional conflicts of interest

  President-elect Donald J. Trump’s private business holdings present foreign and domestic conflicts of interest that are severe and unprecedented for an American president. Last week, instead of getting clarity about the president-elect’s plans to address these conflicts of interest in a long-promised press conference, Americans were left with little more that another vague pledge about transferring operations and nothing about transferring ownership. As the office in charge of overseeing executive branch ethics noted, this is wholly inadequate. To protect the interests of the American people and the integrity of the presidency, Trump must resolve his conflicts of interest or resign from office.

  As it stands, Trump will be in violation of the Constitution the day he takes office because a key anti-foreign corruption provision, the Emoluments Clause, bars the president from receiving payments or things of value from foreign states or their agents. As America’s founders understood, if foreign governments can give payments to federal officials, then those federal officials can be bought.

Thursday, December 22, 2016

Craig Ford: Remembering Christmas

  What does Christmas mean to you? It’s a question that will probably get a different answer from every person you ask. Every family has their own traditions and customs that make Christmas unique to them.

  Of course, certain things about Christmas are universal. For every Christian, Christmas is a time when we celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ. He is literally the reason for the season; the “Christ” in “Christmas.”

  But even many who aren’t Christians still celebrate Christmas and embrace its values.

Wednesday, December 21, 2016

Steve Flowers: Inside the Statehouse: Looking back and looking forward

  Historically speaking, Alabamians have been more interested in the governor’s race than presidential politics.

  From 1876 to 1964, we were a totally Democratic state, more so out of tradition than philosophy. The hatred for the radical Republican Reconstruction imposed on the South made an indelible mark on white southern voters. It was so instilled that there are a good many stories told throughout the South where a dying grandfather would gather his children and grandchildren around his deathbed and gaspingly admonish them, “Two things I’m gonna tell y’all before I die – don’t ever sell the family farm and don’t ever vote for a damn Republican.”

Tuesday, December 20, 2016

The Infrastructure of the Great Outdoors

  Millions of Americans who visit national parks, live near national forests, or make their living from the enjoyment and use of America’s public lands now face deep uncertainty about how President-elect Donald Trump plans to manage the nation’s natural resources. These roughly 5.5 million square miles of public lands and ocean amount to a valuable system of natural infrastructure, which each president is tasked with governing. While on the campaign trail, President-elect Trump indicated a measure of commitment to protecting public lands, but it remains to be seen whether he will manage these resources on behalf of all Americans.

Monday, December 19, 2016

Michael Josephson: 12 hard-won life changing insights

  Perhaps the only major advantage of getting older is the prospect of getting wiser. I think I’ve learned a great many things over the years but here are a dozen of my most treasured insights.

1) I am still a work in process; that as long as I can think I can learn.

2) I still have a lot to learn but if I keep learning I will get better; and the better I get, the happier I will be.

3) Trying to be a good person doesn’t get any easier and that being a good person often requires me to do the right thing even when it costs more than I want to pay.

Sunday, December 18, 2016

Hank Sanders: Senate Sketches #1540: Jeff Sessions cannot do justice as head of the Justice Department

  It was March of 1986. I was in Washington, D.C. before the Senate Judiciary Committee testifying against the nomination of Jefferson Beauregard Session for Federal District Judge. His nomination was not confirmed. Now, some 30 years later, we are faced with his nomination again. This time, it’s for United States Attorney General to head the U.S. Justice Department. This governmental agency helps pick all nominees for federal judges, U.S. attorneys and some other positions. More importantly, the Attorney General is charged with doing justice for all. In my opinion, Jeff Sessions cannot do justice as head of the Justice Department.

Saturday, December 17, 2016

Romina Boccia: Home-sharing under attack

  Many homeowners and renters are using platforms like Airbnb, VRBO, and HomeAway to make extra cash. On a short-term basis, they rent out spare rooms in their homes — maybe even the entire house or apartment — to out-of-towners to help make the monthly mortgage or rent. Only a small minority of these providers are “pros,” buying up properties for the sole purpose of renting them out on home-sharing platforms.

  The real pros, however — hotel chains and hotel workers’ unions — don’t like this upstart competition. They’re working to get home-sharing banned or effectively regulated out of existence.

Friday, December 16, 2016

Laurence M. Vance: Trump sends property rights up in flames

  Alongside Catholicism and Protestantism, the primary religion in the United States is not Islam or Judaism but the American civic religion. The Pledge of Allegiance is the creed of this religion and the American flag is its chief symbol.

  In the American civic religion, the worst sin that an American can commit is to refuse to pledge allegiance to the flag or to desecrate it. Federal law contains numerous provisions regarding the use, handling, display, and disposal of the flag.

  After some college students recently burned American flags on their campuses, President-elect Donald Trump tweeted, “Nobody should be allowed to burn the American flag — if they do, there must be consequences — perhaps loss of citizenship or year in jail!”

Thursday, December 15, 2016

Hank Sanders: Senate Sketches #1539: Walking is so powerful

  Walking is so powerful. I don’t mean the placing of one foot in front of the other. I don’t mean taking one step at a time. These acts may be powerful in their own right, but I mean something more. I mean all the things that walking does for the human body, human mind and human spirit. With all the challenges of this ten-county Senate District I represent, I need every bit of power walking provides. Walking is so powerful.

Wednesday, December 14, 2016

Steve Flowers: Inside the Statehouse: Gearing up for Alabama politics in 2017

  While the presidential race played out this year, several things happened in Alabama politics that went under the radar.

  First, a federal appeals court upheld the Alabama Legislature’s measure that bans PAC to PAC transfers. The new Republican legislative majority that marched into the Statehouse in 2011 set out to destroy and bury the last bastion of Democratic power in the state – the once omnipotent Alabama Education Association. They succeeded.

Tuesday, December 13, 2016

Jacob G. Hornberger: The coming economic fascism

  The recent efforts by President-elect Donald Trump and Vice-President-elect Mike Pence against Carrier Corp. provide us with a signpost of the economic fascism that lies ahead after both men take office. Whatever might be said about economic fascism, one thing is for sure: it is contrary to the principles of economic liberty, private property, the free market, and the rule of law.

  Targeting Carrier for daring to move some of its operations to Mexico, Pence, as governor of Indiana, offered the company a package of tax incentives to induce the company to keep some of its operations in Indiana. At the same time, Trump announced that as president he will punish any American company that moved abroad with the imposition of a high tariff on any goods it wished to ship into the United States.

Monday, December 12, 2016

Rebecca Buckwalter-Poza: Making justice equal

  Access to justice is now more critical than ever. In the United States, Americans need a lawyer’s help for everything from avoiding an unjust eviction to preventing a wrongful conviction. Yet, effective legal assistance remains out of reach for the majority of Americans. The gap between legal needs and the services available exacerbates systemic inequities and disadvantages that will only grow over the next four years.

  For two years, Mary Hicks paid $975 per month for a run-down Washington, D.C., apartment. When she contacted the landlord about mold and mildew in the bathroom and holes in the walls, he did nothing. After Mary began to withhold rent, her landlord sued her.

Sunday, December 11, 2016

Charles C. Haynes: Standing Rock: Historic win for Native American religious freedom

  On December 4, the two-year struggle by the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe to protect their sacred land and water ended – at least for now – when the Obama administration denied the easement needed to complete the Dakota Access Pipeline.

  The cancelled route, located one-half mile from the tribe’s reservation in North and South Dakota, would have allowed the pipeline to cross under the Missouri River, an action that the tribe believes would threaten their life-giving water and destroy sacred sites.

  Human rights advocates are savoring the moment. In the long, ugly history of persecution, exploitation, broken treaties, unkept promises and adverse court decisions, the victory at Standing Rock is a rare win for Native American religious freedom.

Saturday, December 10, 2016

SPLC prompts 50 Alabama cities to reform discriminatory bail practices

  Fifty cities in Alabama have changed their bail practices to ensure that poor people charged with minor offenses no longer languish in jail when they can’t afford to post bond – reform that comes after the Southern Poverty Law Center urged municipal courts across the state to end practices that unfairly punish the poor.

  The 50 cities collectively account for 40 percent of the state’s population.

  Instead of incarcerating people who don’t have money to post bond for minor infractions such as loitering, littering, disorderly conduct, and driving with a suspended license, the cities are either releasing them with a court date or taking into account their ability to pay before imposing bond.

Friday, December 9, 2016

Jacob G. Hornberger: The problem is foreign interventionism, not Muslims

  With Donald Trump’s accession to the presidency, the U.S. anti-Muslim crusade is going into full swing. According to an article in the November 14 issue of the Washington Post, hate crimes against Muslims hit their highest level since 2001. An article in the Post last week stated that four mosques have received letters stating that Trump will do to Muslims what Hitler “did to the Jews.”

  Ever since the 9/11 attacks, religious bigots have used that event as the excuse to go after Muslims. The problem with their mindset — or at least one problem with their mindset — is that they're letting their religious bigotry prevent them from recognizing that the root cause of anti-American terrorism is not based on religion but instead on the U.S. government’s interventionist foreign policy in the Middle East and Afghanistan.

Thursday, December 8, 2016

Craig Ford: New buildings won't solve Alabama's prison problem

  Prisons could be the issue that defines the Alabama Legislature in 2017. Gov. Robert Bentley has said he may call a special session to address the issue, and he has indicated that he will revive the prison construction bill he first proposed in his 2016 State of the State address.

  In recent years, numerous lawsuits have been filed relating to the conditions in our prisons. Violence and riots have increased as the number of corrections officers has decreased, and even the federal government has begun an investigation of violence, rape and overcrowding in our prisons.

Wednesday, December 7, 2016

Steve Flowers: Inside the Statehouse: Ethics law could stifle charitable giving

  It is Christmas time, and since Alabama is one of the most charitable states in the nation, I would expect that many of us are in the giving mood and plan to help many worthy causes across our great state. Unfortunately, it appears that some recent rulings by the Alabama Ethics Commission are going to make it more difficult for charities across the state to raise the funds that they need to serve our communities.

  Many charities in Alabama are concerned that an unintended consequence of recent Commission interpretations of the ethics law is that it could restrict the ability of public officials and employees and their family members to be involved in fundraising for charities and other organizations that they support, including public schools and universities.

Tuesday, December 6, 2016

Hank Sanders: Senate Sketches #1538: Culture is pervasive, powerful, stealthy and long lasting

  Culture is pervasive. Culture is powerful. Culture is stealthy. Culture is long lasting. Culture is the vessel that transmits our values. Culture determines so much about us. And we don’t even know it’s happening to us. I was reminded of the power of culture a few weeks ago.

  We gathered in our hometown of Bay Minette, Ala., for our annual Thanksgiving reunion. There were 13 children born into the family, but one died as a baby and the other died in Vietnam at the age of 22. Nine of the eleven living children gathered with their children, grandchildren, and great grandchildren. Other relatives and friends came including children of the two siblings who did not come. We learned so much about and from each other. Culture is pervasive.

Monday, December 5, 2016

Jacob G. Hornberger: The Cuban embargo destroyed Americans’ freedom

  Amidst increasing speculation that President-elect Trump is going to reverse the Obama administration’s attempts to normalize relations with Cuba, this would be a good time for Americans to start pushing back against any further destruction of their rights and liberties at the hands of their own government. A good place to start pushing back is by standing firm in favor of a lifting of the decades-long failed, deadly, and destructive U.S. economic embargo against Cuba.

  In the Declaration of Independence, a document whose principles Americans celebrate every Fourth of July, Thomas Jefferson observed that everyone has fundamental, God-given rights with which no government can legitimately interfere.

Sunday, December 4, 2016

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.

Saturday, December 3, 2016

Craig Ford: Alabama’s public schools do not "suck"

  Gov. Robert Bentley made headlines a few weeks ago when he told an audience at a public forum that our public school system “sucks.”

  But Governor Bentley is wrong about our public school system.

  Alabama’s high school graduation rate rose 18 percent between 2011 and 2015. Today, 89.3 percent of students graduate high school in Alabama: the third highest graduation rate in the country!

Friday, December 2, 2016

Sam Fulwood III: Embracing an accurate depiction of the American story

  In the wake of the presidential election, one theme in the postmortem emerges very clearly: Our land is starkly divided. The divisions cut through us on so many levels; we’re separated along axes of black and white; men and women; urban and rural; affluent and poor. And that’s just to name a few.

  As The New York Times’ Tim Wallace wrote: “For many Americans, it feels as if the 2016 election split the country in two.” Indeed, this idea of “Two Americas” isn’t new. Former North Carolina Sen. John Edwards made national headlines with a famous speech at the 2004 Democratic National Convention, in which he declared, “The truth is, we still live in a country where there are two different Americas.”

Thursday, December 1, 2016

Gene Policinski: Back to the “basics” in a new way

  There’s no one “key” to why so many believe that journalists missed the rise and election of Donald Trump as president — and that’s a good thing to keep in mind for the future.

  There’s no easy answer to why so many Americans are so critical of the press, so distrustful of news reports and so convinced — particularly post-election — that journalists are out of step and out of touch.

  And yet, a fair amount of speculation in print and on television — including great gobs of gassy talk show speculation — seems focused around ideas that it was Facebook foolishness, retweets of “fake news” or even “the death of facts” that were responsible for Trump’s rise from pre-primary punch line to being president-elect.

Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Steve Flowers: Inside the Statehouse: Senate scramble begins

  It is definite that our Junior Senator Jeff Sessions is going to be President-Elect Donald Trump’s Attorney General, as well as his closest advisor.

  Sessions will be confirmed by the Senate. He has been a respected member of the Senate for 20 years. He has an impeccably clean history of integrity. Even though he is and has been one of the Senate’s most ardent right wing conservatives, the Democratic senators on the left respect him. He has served on the Senate Judiciary Committee his entire tenure and he has voted to confirm liberals to the high court even though he disagreed with them philosophically.

Tuesday, November 29, 2016

Reports reveal alarming pattern of hate incidents and bullying across the country since election

  The Southern Poverty Law Center today released two reports documenting how President-elect Donald Trump’s own words have sparked hate incidents across the country and had a profoundly negative effect on the nation’s schools.

  Joined by human rights and education leaders at a press conference in Washington, D.C., the SPLC called on Trump to take responsibility for his actions and to repair the damage he had caused.

  “Mr. Trump claims he’s surprised his election has unleashed a barrage of hate across the country,” said SPLC President Richard Cohen. “But he shouldn’t be. It’s the predictable result of the campaign he waged. Rather than feign surprise, Mr. Trump should take responsibility for what’s occurring, forcefully reject hate and bigotry, reach out to the communities he’s injured, and follow his words with actions to heal the wounds his words have opened.”

Monday, November 28, 2016

Open questions on national security for President-Elect Donald Trump

  The Center for American Progress National Security and International Policy team is deeply committed to the democratic values that have made America great and is collectively determined to ensure that America remains secure, prosperous, and just.

  The initial steps taken by President-elect Donald Trump, including the nomination of several manifestly unsuited candidates for key national security positions, raise a series of very serious questions that the administration will need to answer in the days and weeks ahead.

Sunday, November 27, 2016

Hank Sanders: Senate Sketches #1537: Calling on the spirit of Gideon for these times

  Last week I was in such a struggle that I called upon my deceased mother. She told me to tell you that we must be at our best when things get bad. You may ask, “How can we be at our best?” In response I call upon a powerful biblical example.

  First, let me briefly share how bad things are. Many of us will have the whole United States government arrayed against us rather than protecting us. You can fill in the details of all the ways that will play out. Suffice it to say that it is very bad when the whole U.S. government is against you. The question is, “How can we be at our best when things get really bad?”

Saturday, November 26, 2016

Craig Ford: Alabama needs early voting

  There’s nothing more American than going to the polls on Election Day and casting your vote. I love Election Day! But I don’t love waiting in line for hours before I get to cast my ballot.

  On November 8th, more than two million Alabamians went to the polls. And far too many of us ended up having to wait in line for two or more hours just to cast our ballots. There’s something fundamentally wrong about that!

  Voters shouldn’t be punished because they can’t go vote until they get off work. And when the weather is bad, voters shouldn’t have to wait in lines so long that they can’t even stand inside the building. Early voting would reduce the length of lines and wait times, and allow voters to vote earlier in the week if the weather is expected to be bad on Election Day.

Friday, November 25, 2016

David L. Hudson, Jr.: Federal appeals court upholds South Carolina anti-profanity law

  You better not curse within hearing distance of a church or school in South Carolina. That’s because the state has a law that specifically bans such profanity.

  Krystal Johnson challenged the constitutionality of the law after she was arrested for breaking it.   Johnson had called the police to have their assistance in obtaining car keys from a family member. When a police officer responded, Johnson was within 50 to 60 yards of a church. She allegedly said: “[t]his is some motherfucking shit.” The officer arrested her for violating the anti-profanity law.

Thursday, November 24, 2016

Top 25 Thanksgiving quotations

  "It is therefore recommended ... to set apart Thursday the eighteenth day of December next, for solemn thanksgiving and praise, that with one heart and one voice the good people may express the grateful feelings of their hearts and consecrate themselves to the service of their divine benefactor ..." -Samuel Adams, father of the American Revolution on November 1, 1777 (adopted by the 13 states as the first official Thanksgiving Proclamation)

  "Gratitude is the sign of noble souls." -Aesop's Fables

  "Thanksgiving is possible only for those who take time to remember; no one can give thanks who has a short memory." -Anonymous

Wednesday, November 23, 2016

Steve Flowers: Inside the Statehouse: How it all started for Richard Shelby

  Our Senior U.S. Senator Richard Shelby will begin his sixth six-year term in January. He is an Alabama treasure. Over the past 30 years as our Senator he has brought millions of federal dollars home to Alabama.

  Richard Shelby currently reigns as Alabama’s most prominent political figure. He is one of Alabama’s three greatest Senators in history along with Lister Hill and John Sparkman. Shelby is easily one of the most influential political figures in the nation.

Tuesday, November 22, 2016

Sharon Shahid: Now trending: Hoaxes and fake news

  In 1835, the story that was trending in New York City involved the discovery of batlike creatures on the moon by a powerful telescope of “vast dimensions” located at the Cape of Good Hope in South Africa.

  According to the spunky New York Sun, the groundbreaking penny paper that published the exclusive story, the four-foot-tall talking creatures had wings composed of thin membranes, with short, glossy hair the color of copper. The story, complete with an artist’s rendering of life on the moon, ran in six parts, captivating readers still mesmerized by the real-life appearance of Halley’s comet.

Monday, November 21, 2016

Republican ACA repeal bill would unravel the market even before it goes into effect

  Last year, both the Senate and House of Representatives passed a bill to repeal major parts of the Affordable Care Act, or ACA; the bill was subsequently vetoed by President Barack Obama. Unlike previous repeal attempts, this bill was able to reach the president’s desk thanks to the budget reconciliation process, which allowed it to bypass a Senate filibuster.

  Since a reconciliation bill does not require 60 votes in the Senate, it may represent the most likely vehicle for congressional Republicans and President-elect Donald Trump to repeal the ACA. Although it would not include a replacement for the ACA, Republicans may argue that delaying the date at which key provisions kick in would provide enough time for a smooth transition.

  This is a fallacy. Even with a delayed effective date, the reconciliation bill approach would cause massive disruption and chaos in the individual market for health insurance. The complete unraveling of the market would occur by the end of 2017.

Sunday, November 20, 2016

Michael Josephson: I just have to outrun you

  During a camping trip, Sam and Tom saw a bear coming their way. Sam started to take off his backpack and told Tom he was going to run for it. When his surprised friend said, “You can’t outrun a bear,” Sam replied, “I don’t have to outrun the bear. I just have to outrun you.”

  Sadly, this look-out-for-number-one mentality is common in business, politics, and sports. Everywhere, basically good people engage in — and justify — selfish, short-sighted conduct that treats coworkers, colleagues, and teammates as competitors rather than comrades.

Saturday, November 19, 2016

Jeff Sessions: Champion of anti-Muslim and anti-immigrant extremists

  Alabama Senator Jeff Sessions, one of President-elect Donald Trump’s closest advisers during his campaign and his selection for U.S. attorney general, has longstanding and extensive ties to both anti-immigrant and anti-Muslim extremist groups.

  Sessions, who has served in the U.S. Senate since 1997, has for years been the key bridge between the anti-immigrant movement and Congress. His efforts to combat comprehensive immigration reform legislation have won him plaudits across the nativist landscape.

Friday, November 18, 2016

Craig Ford: Time for accountability

  The election is over and now the real work begins. Part of that work means holding our leaders accountable for their promises and commitments, and both sides of the aisle have plenty to be held accountable for.

  Republicans now have absolute power across all branches of our federal and state government. Republicans have not had this much power since Reconstruction after the Civil War. We have a new president who has promised sweeping changes, and there is no one to stand in his way.

  Americans were clear when they voted that they want change. If change does not come, it will be because Republicans have failed to deliver.

Thursday, November 17, 2016

Hank Sanders: Senate Sketches #1536: We must be at our best when things get bad

  I desperately called on my dear mother. Across the chasm of her death nearly 20 years ago, she reminded me of what she said to me and to her many children nearly 60 ago. I felt her spirit moving within me. I was strengthened. Now, I can go on.

  I will share with you why I called upon my mother on this occasion. However, before I share the why, I want to share with you what she said so many years ago. At the time, we were nine children, a mother and a father living in a three-room house. Mind you, not a three-bedroom house, but a three-room house – a kitchen, a middle room and a front room.

Wednesday, November 16, 2016

Steve Flowers: Inside the Statehouse: 2018 is closer than you think

  Donald J. Trump’s election to the presidency left the pollsters and pundits from every media outlet and news network with egg on their face. It also left them with their mouths ajar in shock.

  Every poll and every pundit had Hillary Clinton winning the presidency. It was assumed that the Electoral College advantage for a liberal Democrat was impregnable. Trump’s amazing surprise victory will be recorded as one of the biggest upsets in modern political history. It will be compared to and was very similar to the upset victory that Harry Truman pulled off against Thomas Dewey in 1948.

Tuesday, November 15, 2016

Liz Kennedy: Voter suppression laws cost Americans their voices at the polls

  The integrity of U.S. elections depends on every eligible American being able to cast a vote that is counted. Yet this year, the first presidential election in 50 years without the full protection of the Voting Rights Act, many Americans across the country were blocked from having their voices heard in the democratic process.

Monday, November 14, 2016

Sharon Shahid: News ratings trumped credibility

  After one of the nastiest and most divisive presidential campaigns in recent memory, business tycoon Donald Trump is president-elect of the United States.

  It will probably take some time for the country to scrub out the mud that stained our democracy and gargle away the bad taste left in our collective mouths. But the country is still standing, and the ideals of the First Amendment remain firmly in place.

Sunday, November 13, 2016

Jake Desyllas: Immigration controls are socialist

  In the classical-liberal age of 19th-century Europe, there were no immigration controls. Here is how Gustav Stolper — a German economist, classical liberal, and an immigrant — described the world he had known:

       This economic and social system of Europe [before 1914] was predicated on a few axiomatic principles. These principles were considered safe and unshakable…. They were freedom of movement for men, for goods, and for money. Everyone could leave his country when he wanted and travel or migrate wherever he pleased without a passport. The only European country that demanded passports (not even visas!) was Russia, looked at askance for her backwardness with an almost contemptuous smile. Who wanted to travel to Russia, anyway?

Saturday, November 12, 2016

Charles C. Haynes: Religious freedom in the age of Trump

  In the end, this election wasn’t decided by Russian hacking, sexual assault charges, “blood coming out of her whatever,” the FBI or any of the other extraordinary moments that defied the norms of political behavior and discourse. “We the People” decided it.

  Enough of us were so angry, alienated and frustrated that we were willing to roll the dice on a presidential candidate whom, if the exit polls are correct, a vast majority of voters consider unqualified to lead the most powerful nation in the world. Day-after message? Blow up the country and see what happens.

  The overriding issue wasn’t health care, taxes, jobs, climate change (barely mentioned) or even the ridiculous “wall.” The issue was – and is – what kind of country are we, do we want to be?

Friday, November 11, 2016

Remembering America’s veterans in 2016

  This Veterans Day—as on all Veterans Days—we at the Center for American Progress, especially those who have served, pause to honor the brave men and women who serve or have served in the U.S. Armed Forces—especially those who have given their lives or suffered physical or mental wounds in the course of defending this great nation. We also pay tribute to the families who have lost a loved one, suffered from the wounds of war, and dealt with frequent deployments away from home in order to make this service possible.

Thursday, November 10, 2016

Stephen Piggott: White nationalists and the Alt-Right celebrate Trump’s victory

  The radical right is celebrating the election of Donald Trump whose campaign brought attention to their issues not seen in decades. Some even claimed that a white revolution had begun.

  Recording an ecstatic video at an Election Night party, Richard Spencer, head of the National Policy Institute, exclaimed, “The Alt-Right Just won!” In the morning, Spencer tweeted:

Wednesday, November 9, 2016

Michael Josephson: There are two kinds of people

  There are two kinds of people in the world: those who think there are two kinds of people in the world and those who think those who think there are two kinds of people in the world are self-righteous jerks.

  A listener called me to task concerning a story about a man who told his son there are two kinds of people: those who return their shopping carts and those who don’t.

Tuesday, November 8, 2016

David L. Hudson Jr.: Federal appeals court upholds removal of college student for Facebook posts

  A public college had the authority to remove a nursing student from its program for Facebook posts without violating the First Amendment, a federal appeals court has ruled. The decision emphasizes the danger that students take when posting profane or unprofessional remarks online.

  Craig Keefe sued officials at Central Lakes College after they removed him from the Associate Degree Nursing Program for lack of professionalism. The concern arose from several of Keefe’s Facebook posts, which included the following:

Monday, November 7, 2016

Alabama Secretary of State John Merrill's comments on voter registration are cynical, ignorant

  In an interview with a documentary filmmaker, Alabama Secretary of State John Merrill attacked automatic voter registration as the “sorry and lazy way out” and cited the sacrifices made by civil rights leaders like Rosa Parks, Martin Luther King Jr., and Rep. John Lewis (D-Ga.) as a reason not to make voting more accessible to more Americans.

Sunday, November 6, 2016

Ganesh Sitaraman: Reforming regulation

  The debate over federal regulation has long been at the center of political contests. But surprisingly, the degree of agreement about regulation is considerable. No serious commentator denies that regulation is essential to ensuring well-functioning markets; protecting the health and safety of workers and families; and preventing fraud, corruption, and theft. Smart regulation is what makes cars safe to drive, lakes and rivers safe to swim in, and food safe to eat. At the same time, every serious commentator recognizes that poorly designed regulations can be detrimental; they can stack the deck in favor of special interests, prevent competition, and inhibit innovation.

Saturday, November 5, 2016

Sharon Shahid: Media soul-searching in store after election

  The history-making 2016 presidential campaign has been handicapped like a horse race, play-by-played like a boxing match, and has the international appeal of a World Cup soccer tournament. With all that running, punching and kicking, it’s no wonder the U.S. electorate is exhausted as the campaign nears the finish.

  This politics-as-sports mentality has been reflected in headlines too numerous to count, essentially turning one of democracy’s most sacred rights into a gaming event. When the postmortem on the presidential election begins Nov. 9, the media’s failure to adequately live up to their reputation as the Fourth Estate, the watchdogs of government, should take up substantial space in the pathology report.

Friday, November 4, 2016

Paid Leave 101

  Every day, millions of Americans are forced to juggle work and family responsibilities. At the same time, U.S. policies have not kept pace with the needs of modern workers. Without family-friendly workplace policies such as paid sick days and paid family and medical leave, employees often find achieving a work-life balance to be a herculean task—and in many cases, a myth. Employees deserve protections that enable them to take care of themselves and their families as they strive to do their best work for their employers.

Thursday, November 3, 2016

David L. Hudson Jr.: Federal judge: School officials justified in suspending student for cyberbullying

  What happens when cyberbullying laws and policies collide with a student’s First Amendment free-speech claims? A recent federal district court decision out of New Jersey recently struck the balance in support of cyberbullying laws.

  Bryshawn Dunkley, a senior at Cedar Creek High School during the 2013-14 school year, received a two-day suspension for a YouTube video criticizing a football teammate. A couple months later, he received an additional nine-day suspension for Twitter postings from an account he co-managed with another student. The Twitter account featured several messages referring to female students as “hoes” and also used the word “nigga.”

Wednesday, November 2, 2016

Steve Flowers: Inside the Statehouse: What this election means for the U.S. Supreme Court

  We will vote to select the 44th President of the United States Tuesday. The next president will be a New Yorker. Whoever is selected will enter the Oval office with the most unfavorable poll ratings of any president in recent memory. This election will epitomize the old adage that George Wallace once told, and that is, “more folks vote against someone than for someone.”

  There is no question that our country is drifting to the left in terms of ideology. We in Alabama are conservative - pro-life, pro-gun, Christians with a desire for a strong military and sound fiscal government. All of these philosophical tenets align with the Republican Party. The Democratic Party is on the opposite side. We have two very diverse parties in America.

Tuesday, November 1, 2016

Anisha Singh: This Election Day, Americans cannot afford to take a seat

  On November 8, millions of Americans will head to the polls to vote for their elected representatives at the local, state, and national levels. While the stakes are high for everyone, they are particularly high for those voters whose rights have historically been denied or scrutinized. Indeed, many communities of color remain blocked from the polls by voter suppression laws and insufficient language assistance.

Monday, October 31, 2016

Sharon Shahid: Newspaper endorsements: Do they matter?

  The historic 2016 presidential campaign is making some newspapers do things they’ve historically never done.

  On Sept. 30, USA TODAY’s editorial board broke a 34-year tradition of non-endorsements and made a full-page case of why Donald Trump is “unfit for the presidency.”

  “He is erratic. … ill-equipped. … traffics in prejudice. … his business career is checkered. … he speaks recklessly. … has coarsened the national dialogue. … is a serial liar,” the national newspaper stated.

Sunday, October 30, 2016

Scott Faubion: Halloween, home haunts, and horror movies are about escaping reality

  What is it about horror movies and Halloween that get me (and millions of other people) excited each fall? Is it the crisp autumn air or the candy corn that puts sparkles in our eyes? Is it classic horror movies, such as Friday the 13th or Nightmare on Elm Street, that get us excited? Not exactly. It is the sense of escape that Halloween brings that gets us excited.

  I theorize that it is the idea of escaping our daily routines, playing dress up, and becoming enthralled by spine-tingling thrillers that excites us each October. October is that time of year that adults can pretend to be children again and play make-believe. Of course, it all starts with a scary costume (or funny costume).

Saturday, October 29, 2016

Michael Josephson: Suitability versus capability

  A critical maxim of management is: “Suitability is as important as capability.” Capability asks, “Can they do the job?” Suitability asks, “Are they right for the job?”

  If the job isn’t a good fit, it’s not a good job.

  Yes, an employee has to have (or be able to readily acquire) the skills and knowledge required for excellent job performance, but compatibility can be more critical than capacity.

Friday, October 28, 2016

Hank Sanders: Senate Sketches #1533: The power of being prepared!

  She was prepared. I saw it in her cream-colored pant suit. She was prepared. I saw it in her steps as she marched out on the stage. She was prepared.

  I saw it in how she smiled and waved. She was prepared. I saw it in her handshake with the moderator. She was prepared, and it manifested itself in so many ways.  When we were growing up over sixty some years ago, we had a term that said so much. This moment reflected the sum of that statement.  I saw it in her entire being. She was, as we used to say, “cool, calm and collected.” She was prepared.

Thursday, October 27, 2016

Voter suppression is real: Americans must remain vigilant

  In 2016, Americans will not have the full protections of the Voting Rights Act during a presidential election for the first time in 50 years. Signed into law in 1965, the Voting Rights Act protected the right to vote—the most fundamental pillar of American democracy—and ensured that all Americans, no matter their race or ethnicity, had access to the voting booth. This access was not easily achieved but was essential to ensure that the voices of all Americans could be heard. However, recent changes in the voting landscape have endangered this critical access ahead of next month’s election.

Wednesday, October 26, 2016

Steve Flowers: Inside the Statehouse: How Jim Martin nearly broke the Democratic South in 1962

  The year was 1962. John F. Kennedy was President. Camelot was in full bloom. The Congress was controlled by Democrats only because the South was solidly Democratic. The Southern bloc of senators and congressmen was all Democrats. Because of their seniority, they controlled both houses of Congress, especially the Senate. The issue of civil rights was a tempest set to blow off the Capitol dome. Kennedy was under intense pressure to pass major civil rights legislation. However, he was up against a stone wall to get it past the powerful bloc of Southern senators.

Tuesday, October 25, 2016

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?

Monday, October 24, 2016

Our Stand: Know your amendments

  There are 14 constitutional amendments that will be appearing on the November 8 ballot. Our editorial board weighs in below with a brief description of each and where the Capital City Free Press stands on each measure.

Amendment 1: This measure would add two at-large members to the Auburn University Board of Trustees to "enhance the diversity of the board." It would also set the expiration of terms so that no more than three Trustees' terms would expire at the same time.

  We urge you to vote yes. A more diverse AU Board of Trustees would better serve the Auburn University System.

Amendment 2: This amendment would prevent the use of monies allocated to Alabama's state parks from being spent on other government functions. It would also enable the Department of Conservation to contract some services pertaining to state parks to non-state entities.

  We strongly urge our reads to vote yes. For far too long, Alabama lawmakers have raided revenues intended to fund our state parks to reallocate elsewhere. This practice has led to at least temporarily closing some parks and leaving others at near-crippling levels of low funding. As one of Alabama's greatest resources available to the public, our state parks should be equitably and fully funded, so approving this measure is a must.

Sunday, October 23, 2016

Gene Policinski: Threats of murder, injury are not ‘politics’ — nor patriotism

  Let’s put this as simply as possible.

  Patriotism does not involve threatening others with injury or death, no matter how dire you believe the results of voting on Nov. 8 will be for you or your fellow citizens.

  Sending such notes or leaving such telephone messages for reporters, editorial writers, television correspondents or newspaper publishers is not defiant bravery. Death threats are unhinged criminal acts that debase the very notion of a democratic republic on which the United States was founded.

Saturday, October 22, 2016

Redistricting and representation in the 2016 elections and beyond

  Even before a single vote was cast in 2016, decisions made years ago were working to shape the results of November’s election. Usually, the government that is elected when Americans go to the polls reflects the majority of the votes cast. But district lines can be manipulated—a tactic known as gerrymandering—and election districts carved up in ways that block voters from having their voices heard and receiving fair representation.

  Every 10 years, states redraw their voting maps so that their election districts accommodate population changes after the census. In 2010, Republican-led state legislatures undertook a massive effort to redraw their state’s districts for electing members of Congress and state legislatures at the expense of minority and Democratic voters. A memo from the Republican State Leadership Committee explained:

Friday, October 21, 2016

Ryan Lenz: With three weeks to go, talk of 'rigged election' leads to promises of violence

  With only weeks left before Election Day, and Donald Trump refusing to say if he will accept the legitimacy of the vote, the radical right is warning of civil war and violence if Hillary Clinton wins.

  In Wednesday’s presidential debate, the third and final in a brutal campaign that gave legitimacy to extremist ideologies long sidelined in American politics, Donald Trump broke with both his running mate and daughter and refused to say whether he would accept the election results.

  “I will look at it at the time,” Trump said. “I will keep you in suspense.” He followed on Thursday by saying that he would “totally accept” the results, but only if he wins.

Thursday, October 20, 2016

Hank Sanders: Senate Sketches #1532: Making a difference for the better in our lifetime

  It was 7:00 a.m. on a Saturday. We were on the road. I had five others in the van. Two others decided to drive separately. Others would be picked up on the way. We were on our way to make a difference for the better in our lifetime.

  We stopped in Greenville at a fast food place for breakfast. We expected to connect with a group from Montgomery at this spot, but they were not there. We soon discovered that they had a flat tire on the way. We left Greenville headed north toward Montgomery on Interstate 65. We did not travel very far before we spotted them on the other side of the interstate. We found a spot to cross over and turned around. We were on our way to make a difference for the better in our lifetime.

Wednesday, October 19, 2016

Steve Flowers: Inside the Statehouse: Bill Baxley and Squatlow

  Ole Bill Baxley has been in the news a lot this year. He was the lead defense counsel for former Speaker Mike Hubbard’s ethics trial over in Opelika. Baxley practices law in Birmingham and is one of the state’s premier and most expensive criminal defense lawyers. Like a good many of the top defense attorneys, Baxley was first a prosecutor and a doggone good one.

  Baxley was born and raised in Dothan, the heart of the Wiregrass. His family was one of the original settling families in Houston County. His daddy Keener Baxley was the Circuit Judge in Houston and Henry Counties. Mr. Keener had been the district attorney prior to going on the bench. Bill grew up in his daddy’s courtroom. There was no doubt in his mind that he would be a lawyer.

Tuesday, October 18, 2016

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.

Monday, October 17, 2016

America Under Fire: An analysis of gun violence in the United States and the link to weak gun laws

  One of the key questions in the gun debate is whether strong gun laws—such as requiring background checks for all gun sales; limiting who may carry guns and where they may carry them; and providing increased oversight of the gun industry—are effective at reducing gun violence. This is not an easy question to answer, as there are myriad factors that may contribute to the rate of gun violence in any community. In addition to easy access to guns facilitated and enabled by weak gun laws, there are an interconnected web of social and economic issues that can have an impact on rates of violence in a community, such as persistent poverty, lack of employment and educational opportunities, and a breakdown in the police-community relationship that imperils community safety.

Sunday, October 16, 2016

Jacob G. Hornberger: Prepare yourself for blowback from Yemen

  If there is another terrorist attack on U.S. soil, this time because of the death and destruction that the U.S. government is wreaking in Yemen, I can already hear the laments and complaints of statist-Americans: “Oh my gosh, another terrorist attack against us! Why do the terrorists and the Muslims hate us for our freedom and values? Why can’t they see that we’re good people who just want to live our lives in peace? We must now give more power and more money to the Pentagon, CIA, and NSA so that they can keep us safe from those who hate us because we’re good.”

Saturday, October 15, 2016

Billy Corriher: Elected judges rule against LGBT rights more often than appointed judges

  On September 30, Alabama Chief Justice Roy Moore was removed from office—for a second time—for defying federal court orders. The Alabama Court of the Judiciary suspended Moore until the end of his term for violating judicial ethics when he instructed lower court judges to ignore a federal court order to grant marriage licenses to same-sex couples. In January 2016—more than six months after the U.S. Supreme Court’s 2015 ruling in support of marriage equality—Moore ordered Alabama judges “not to issue any marriage licenses” that violate the state’s ban on marriage for same-sex couples. As federal judges handed down marriage equality rulings in recent years, Moore was the only elected judge who ordered lower court judges to defy the Constitution, though several other elected justices either delayed or suggested defiance in marriage equality cases.

Friday, October 14, 2016

Craig Ford: Reviewing the amendments on the November 8th ballot

  When voters cast their ballots next month, they will be voting on more than just the presidential race and other important offices; they will also be deciding the fate of 14 amendments to our state constitution.

  The first amendment is related to the Auburn University Board of Trustees. It changes when some of the board members’ terms expire and adds two additional members to the board. On this amendment, I recommend either voting “yes” or not voting at all.

Thursday, October 13, 2016

Laurence M. Vance: Will tariffs make America great again?

  If there is one issue that Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump is outspoken about, it is U.S. trade policy.

  He says:

       You only have to look at our trade deficit to see that we are being taken to the cleaners by our trading partners. We need tougher negotiations, not protectionist walls around America. We need to ensure that foreign markets are as open to our products as our country is to theirs. Our long-term interests require that we cut better deals with our world trading partners.

       Our country is in serious trouble. We don’t win anymore. We don’t beat China in trade. We don’t beat Japan, with their millions and millions of cars coming into this country, in trade. We can’t beat Mexico, at the border or in trade.

Wednesday, October 12, 2016

Steve Flowers: Inside the Statehouse: From Hugo Black to Jeff Sessions?

  Our junior U.S. Senator Jeff Sessions has risen to national prominence in this pivotal presidential year. His arch conservative senate voting record and impeccable pedigree as one of the most rock solid Republicans in the U.S. Senate has made him a marquee persona among right wing Fox News conservatives throughout the country.

  During the GOP Presidential Primary debates earlier this year, the aspirants would refer to him and insinuate that Sessions was in their corner. However, the ultimate victor, Donald Trump, won the early support of Sessions primarily due to their common opinion on immigration.

Tuesday, October 11, 2016

Gene Policinski: Two ongoing questions: What’s fit for the Web? And, what doesn’t ‘fit’?

  So, consider the internet to be one, big ole’ bucket of free expression — news and information pouring in constantly.

  And then consider what would you want poured into that bucket?  What would you keep out?

  Those two simple questions likely will occupy much time and talk over the next years,  if not the next decades, as we are forced to consider the nature of the stuff — speech, news and information — that goes into and comes out of the World Wide Web.

Monday, October 10, 2016

The Path to 270 in 2016

  When discussing elections, political analysts and commentators frequently talk about overarching fundamentals—such as the state of the economy, demographic shifts, trends in partisanship, and the popularity of the sitting president—that together indicate the contours and likely outcome of a particular race. In the political science community, these factors are generally believed to matter more than the specific tactics of campaigns or the characteristics of candidates. With the nomination of businessman Donald Trump as the Republican candidate for president, these assumptions are being seriously tested in 2016.

Sunday, October 9, 2016

Craig Ford: State employees should be a budget priority in 2017

  Imagine you went for nine years without a pay raise. Now imagine that during those nine years, your boss made you start paying more for your health insurance and retirement plan. Now imagine that your boss laid off about one out of every five of your coworkers, forcing you to do their jobs as well as your own.

  For nearly 30,000 Alabamians, that situation is not something they have to imagine; it’s the reality of their lives.

  Public employees often get a bad rap. They get called “bureaucrats” and are resented by political leaders who see their jobs as “government waste.”

Saturday, October 8, 2016

Hank Sanders: Senate Sketches #1530: I wonder why it’s so different for a woman than a man

  I could not help but wonder. As I prepared to watch the first 2016 presidential debate, I wondered. As I sat watching the debate, I wondered.  As I talked with others after the debate, I wondered.

  I wondered what would happen if the characters, circumstances, and situations of each of the major presidential candidates were reversed but their genders remained the same. I first wondered to myself. Now I want to wonder with you in this Sketches.

Friday, October 7, 2016

David B. Muhlhausen: Bring back PART: The case for evidence-based fiscal discipline

  Though tax revenues are at all-time highs, Washington continues to spend hundreds of billions of dollars more than it collects every year. As a result, the federal government now carries an enormous amount of debt: more than $19.5 trillion. It now owes more than our nation produces (i.e., debt far exceeds Gross National Product).

  Clearly, Washington needs to reel in its out-of-control spending. To do that, policymakers should fund only those programs that actually work and defund programs that don’t.

Thursday, October 6, 2016

Josh Carples: The myth of election cycle values

  Churches in the South get political. I’m not accusing them of violating their nonprofit statuses en masse, but growing up, there were always the voter guides provided by organizations like the Christian Coalition, which always leaned heavily conservative and heavily towards the Republican Party.

  Of course, they would never claim to be endorsing a specific candidate, just a set of values, as they would argue. And of course, that is their right.

  From the Jerry Falwell types and the Moral Majority to the 2004 election where every news show talked of "values voters" to the ongoing summits held by such a name, it was ingrained from an early age - character matters, values matter.

  So after all these decades of preaching about voting for good character and family values, I must ask my Christian friends: what happened?

Wednesday, October 5, 2016

Steve Flowers: Inside the Statehouse: The legendary Julian McPhillips

  During this election year I have watched all the politics on television. In order to judge the coverage I have perused all the channels. Over the years political observers have bemoaned the fact that certain networks are biased. Folks, I am here to tell you that they are. There is no doubt Fox is a Republican channel and MSNBC and CNN are Democratic networks.

  George Wallace used to strut around the country running for president as a third party candidate, rhetorically saying there ain’t a dime's worth of difference in the national Republican and Democratic parties. Well, I am here to tell you there is a huge difference. They are miles apart philosophically. They ought to rename the Democratic Party the Liberal Party because believe me, they are liberal. They ought to rename the Republican Party the Conservative Party because believe me, they are conservative.

Tuesday, October 4, 2016

Michael Josephson: The twists and turns of life

  Years ago, Rabbi Steven Carr Reuben introduced the New Year rituals of Rosh Hashanah by holding up a long, coiled ram’s horn. Pointing out the twists and turns, he used the shofar as a metaphor for life. “No one’s life,” he said, “is straight and predictable.” Twists, dips and bends, as well as ups and downs are inevitable.

Monday, October 3, 2016

The People have spoken: Consistent support for the Clean Power Plan

  August 2016 marked the first anniversary of the finalization of the Clean Power Plan, or CPP, which provides a regulatory framework for states to cut carbon pollution from existing power plants by 32 percent from 2005 levels by 2030. It is a central tenet of the U.S. plan to achieve the climate goals established in last year’s Paris Agreement.

  Over the past year, opponents of the CPP—including coal companies, many electric utilities, and their elected allies—have left no stone unturned in their bid to undo these carbon pollution standards.

Sunday, October 2, 2016

Protecting the right to vote in the 2016 elections

  The real measure of election integrity is that every eligible American can cast a vote that is counted. But this fundamental right is being threatened in the 2016 elections. Fourteen states will have new laws cutting back on voting rights and access in place for the first time in a presidential election. In 2013, the U.S. Supreme Court removed core legal protections for voting rights that were enshrined in the Voting Rights Act in its Shelby County v. Holder decision. Now, in further fallout from that decision, the U.S. Department of Justice, or DOJ, announced that the agency will cut back a key voting rights protection—the federal election observer program—that the country has relied on for more than 50 years to prevent voter suppression at the polls.

Saturday, October 1, 2016

Laurence M. Vance: Free trade is fair trade

  As relayed by Harvard economics professor and chairman of George W. Bush’s Council of Economic Advisers, N. Gregory Mankiw, “The Princeton economist Alan Blinder once proposed Murphy’s Law of economic policy: ‘Economists have the least influence on policy where they know the most and are most agreed; they have the most influence on policy where they know the least and disagree most vehemently.’”

Friday, September 30, 2016

Michael Josephson: Moral courage — The engine of integrity

  Mignon McLaughlin tells us, “People are made of flesh and blood and a miracle fiber called courage.”

  Courage comes in two forms: physical courage and moral courage. Physical courage is demonstrated by acts of bravery where personal harm is risked to protect others or preserve cherished principles. It’s the kind of courage that wins medals and monuments. Moral courage may seem less grand but it is more important because it’s needed more often.

Thursday, September 29, 2016

Hank Sanders: Senate Sketches #1529: It’s easy to take strong positions when others bear the burden

  I answered the phone with a big, “Hey!”  

  “How are you?” he said.

  “I just called to see how you are doing.” I could tell by the rhythm of his voice that it was much more than concern for me.  I inquired about his well-being. I thought that I was prepared for anything.

  Let me say up front that I will not mention the young man’s name. He lives hundreds of miles from Alabama. I really want to protect his identity. However, I need to share this discussion because it touches on so many issues.

Wednesday, September 28, 2016

Steve Flowers: Inside the Statehouse: Tales from the Elite

  Alabama’s most famous political restaurant and watering hole for 50 years was Montgomery’s Elite Restaurant. Until it closed around 1995, the Elite (pronounced “E-light”) was the place to eat and be seen. Many a political deal was struck at its back tables.

Tuesday, September 27, 2016

25 years of of Roy Moore's unconstitutional efforts to mix law and religion

  Since his appointment as a state circuit judge in 1992, Alabama Chief Justice Roy Moore has put his personal religious views above the law and the U.S. Constitution, frequently bringing religion into the courtroom and basing judicial opinions on his Biblical beliefs. He has been removed from office once for disobeying the federal judiciary on the matter, and now he again faces a trial for violating judicial ethics for refusing to recognize federal court rulings on same-sex marriage. Here is a timeline of events leading up to the September 28 trial in the Alabama Court of the Judiciary.

Monday, September 26, 2016

Alexandra Thornton: Tax simplification that works for everyone

  The idea of simplifying the U.S. tax code is perennially appealing. Yet proposals to simplify the tax code often promise more than they can deliver, by dramatically changing the balance of who pays taxes or significantly reducing tax receipts needed to fund government services.

Sunday, September 25, 2016

Michael Josephson: The power of kindness

  I’ve mentioned before that, despite my great admiration for people who are instinctively and consistently kind, kindness does not come naturally to me. Yet the older I get, the more I agree with Abraham Heschel, who said, “When I was young, I admired clever people. Now that I am old, I admire kind people.” Henry James was more emphatic when he said, “Three things in human life are important: The first is to be kind. The second is to be kind. And the third is to be kind.”

Saturday, September 24, 2016

Craig Ford: VictoryLand reopening is a victory for democracy

  I have always believed that gambling is an issue that should be decided by the voters. And I will never understand why, in the middle of the biggest economic recession our country has seen since the Great Depression, our state leaders chose to put hundreds of people out of work and shut down legally operating casinos throughout the state.

  The legal battles that followed have cost the taxpayers millions of dollars and cost the state millions more in lost revenue that would have been coming in from the taxes paid by these casinos and their employees.

Friday, September 23, 2016

Racial and gender diversity sorely lacking in America’s courts

  This month a group of African American voters sued Alabama under the Voting Rights Act, alleging that its system of at-large elections for the state’s three appellate courts discriminates against black voters. Since 1994, every black candidate for the state’s 19 appellate judgeships has lost to a white candidate. As ThinkProgress noted, “At-large elections have been a common tactic across the country” to minimize the political influence of voters of color. A similar lawsuit was recently filed in Texas. Around 40 percent of Texas’ population is Latino, yet only 5 of the 76 justices who have served on the Texas Supreme Court since 1945—a mere 6.6 percent—have been Latino.

Thursday, September 22, 2016

Hank Sanders: Senate Sketches #1528: God is still at work

  I was standing in the pulpit of the Pleasant Hill Baptist Church. I was both pained and pleased. I was pained because it was a memorial service for a woman who died so very young. I was pleased to be there for her family and others on the 45th anniversary of her death. As I stood, I decided to talk to the person being memorialized. I was moving by the spirit.

  Margaret Ann Knott is her name. She died at the tender age of 19. On 9/11 in the year 1971, she and others were protesting the discriminatory firing of Black teachers in Choctaw County, Alabama. A White man angrily drove his car into the group of youth, snuffing out the life of Margaret Ann Knott. That’s what brought us to this memorial moment on September 11, 2016. Here is some of what I said or intended to say or tried to say.

Wednesday, September 21, 2016

Steve Flowers: Inside the Statehouse: Reflections on the special session

  Folks, I have been observing and participating in the legislative process for over 50 years. Lest you think I am really old, I started paging in the Alabama Legislature when I was 12, served in the House of Representatives close to two decades, and have been reporting on the legislative process for now close to two decades, and I am here to tell you I have not seen a more up and down roller coaster ride than the recently completed special session to deal with the lottery issue.

  Extraordinary special sessions of the legislature are the way to go to get something accomplished if you are governor. The legislature has to address the topic for which the governor has called the special session. It is referred to as “the call.”

Tuesday, September 20, 2016

Michael Josephson: The truth about trust and lies

  Honesty may not always pay, but lying always costs.

  Reputation, trust and credibility are assets no organization can afford to lose and the surest way to lose them is to lie.

  Building trust is like building a tower, stone by stone. But no matter how high or strong the tower seems, if you remove a stone from the bottom the tower will collapse. That’s what lying does — it removes the foundation stone of trust.

Monday, September 19, 2016

L.C. Holt from ‘You’re Next’ completes first feature film

  Known by horror fans for his acting work in films such as You’re Next, V/H/S 2 and Pop Skull, L.C.
Holt has stepped behind the camera to write and direct his first feature film Spiritus.

  With the tagline “It’s lonely being dead,” the film tells the story of a troubled girl named Marjorie Hines. One year after her mysterious death, Marjorie’s tormented spirit returns to seek bloody vengeance on those responsible.

  “We were able to tell this story in an interesting, nonlinear way,” said Holt. “The story unfolds piece by piece as each of Marjorie’s friends, along with an unscrupulous documentary filmmaker, start to uncover secrets surrounding the circumstances of her death.”

Gene Policinski: Sometimes, it would seem, artificial intelligence… isn’t

  As we hurtle through the innovative and endlessly updated second decade of the 21st century, the prospects seem brighter and better than ever that our new web and social media tools will help us better communicate and more effectively confront serious challenges like terrorism.

  But then, there are the reminders that the Algorithmic Age is still in its infancy and that all the programming in the virtual world sometimes falls short of good old people brainpower. And therein are the early warning signs that tech companies need to take in consideration of free expression rights into the inevitable — and perhaps even desirable — tilt toward AI over human “editors” controlling the flow of information.

Sunday, September 18, 2016

Rhonda Brownstein: Federal guidance for police in schools won’t stop criminalization of kids

  Earlier this month, the federal government offered guidance to school districts that use police officers to keep order in their public schools. To say guidance is needed is a vast understatement.

  Since the deployment of officers in schools became routine across the country, there’s been no shortage of reports about children being pepper-sprayed, handcuffed, roughed up and otherwise abused by officers – often for nothing more than typical adolescent behavior.

  In many jurisdictions, school officials have essentially turned over routine disciplinary matters to the police.

Saturday, September 17, 2016

Jacob G. Hornberger: 9/11 evil did not cancel pre-9/11 evil

  Immediately after the 9/11 attacks, President Bush and other U.S. officials declared that the attackers were motivated by hatred for America’s freedom and values. It was a lie, one of the biggest ever told by U.S. officials. The truth was that the attackers were motivated by anger and rage over pre-9/11 U.S. government interventionism in the Middle East, especially the large number of people, including children, that the U.S. military and the CIA had been knowingly and intentionally killing in Iraq prior to 9/11.

Friday, September 16, 2016

Michael Josephson: Be what you want to be

  “What will you be when you grow up?”

  It’s a serious question. As kids, we knew we were going to be something and that to be something was to be someone. Even as our ambitions changed, we knew what we were going to be was important and our choice.

  When I entered UCLA Law School in 1964, I wanted to do good. Yet when I graduated three years later, I just wanted to do well. My life’s mission had changed, not as the result of conscious choice but as a surrender to the momentum of an elaborate matchmaking ritual: the ultimate competition to get job offers from the most prestigious employers and to attain the most hard-to-get jobs.

Thursday, September 15, 2016

Craig Ford: Want to save the state money?

  Our state government has money problems.

  It’s the reason we keep calling the Alabama Legislature back into special legislative sessions year after year to fix problems that should have been fixed during the regular legislative sessions.

  It’s the reason we have racked up almost a billion dollars in debt.

Wednesday, September 14, 2016

Steve Flowers: Inside the Statehouse: All politics is local

  There is no truer adage in the political world than “all politics is local.” Therefore, the best politics and the best governing in the state is at the local level. The mayors of cities and towns throughout Alabama are the real governors of the state.

  Running a city is a full time job. It is the where the rubber meets the road. They are the closest to the people. It is more important to the average voter whether their garbage has been picked up on time or their utility bill is too high, than if we build a wall to keep Mexicans out of Texas or that Hillary Clinton hid her emails. These mayors get blamed for the garbage not being picked up on time and especially if their water bill is too high.

Tuesday, September 13, 2016

Hank Sanders: Senate Sketches #1527: The Special Legislative Session drama

  It was the Final Act of the Special Legislative Session Drama. Was it good? Was it bad? Was it in between? I don’t know, but I am truly glad that this was the Final Act of this Special Legislative Session Drama.

  We had been major players in this Special Session Drama before. Let’s call it Act One and Act Two. We had expected this to be a One Act Drama ending on August 24. It did not. We then expected just one more act – Act Two. The Session was supposed to end on August 26. It did not. We were back for Act Three on Tuesday, September 6. It was supposed to end in one day. It did not. It did end on September 7, 2016. It was the Final Act of this Special Legislative Session Drama.

Monday, September 12, 2016

Sam Fulwood III: Football fever and patriotic fervor

  San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick’s refusal to stand for the playing of the national anthem before preseason NFL games has football fans—and nonfans—flapping their jaws about something that has nothing to do with punting, passing, or running. Rather, Kaepernick has sparked a debate about the meaning of protest and patriotism in sports.

  The playing of the national anthem is a pre-kickoff ritual that goes back decades, usually without notice or comment. In fact, Kaepernick’s silent protest drew little attention until he was asked about it after the third preseason game. According to an ESPN transcript of an interview with Kaepernick, the quarterback explained he was making a personal statement to draw attention to social injustices in America. He said:

Sunday, September 11, 2016

Michael Josephson: Moving beyond 9/11

  I’ve become increasingly ambivalent about the way we commemorate the dark days and months that began on September 11th, 2001.

  Each year the memories and all the feelings they evoke are less vivid. Thus, the news articles, commentaries and TV specials about the 9/11 attacks serve as important reminders, not only of the immeasurable loss of life and the permanent degradation of our sense of security, but of the lessons we should have learned from the events and its aftermath.

  Of course, it’s important and appropriate that we pause to honor with reverence and gratitude the lives lost and mangled and the noble efforts of those who struggled mightily to rescue them.

Saturday, September 10, 2016

Craig Ford: Once again, the legislature has failed to let the people vote

  After nearly two decades of waiting, it seemed like the people of Alabama were finally going to get the chance to vote on a lottery.

  On July 27, Gov. Robert Bentley announced, “We need your help solving our funding crisis. I'm giving you the opportunity to vote on a statewide lottery.” And the governor deserves credit for pushing the lottery and getting farther than any other governor has since former Gov. Don Siegelman was in office.

Friday, September 9, 2016

Billy Corriher: Big Business is still dominating state Supreme Courts

  The U.S. Chamber of Commerce, the billionaire Koch brothers, and their big business allies have engaged in a decades-long effort to elect pro-corporate judges to state courts. In 1971, a corporate lawyer named Lewis F. Powell Jr. wrote a secret memo to the chamber arguing that big business was under attack from institutions he perceived as liberal: academics, the media, college students, and politicians. He also cited the public’s support for legislation to protect consumers and the environment. Powell lamented that “few elements of American society today have as little influence in government as the American businessman, the corporation, or even the millions of corporate stockholders.” Powell suggested a solution:

Thursday, September 8, 2016

Jacob G. Hornberger: Should states control their borders?

  Given the decades-long, ongoing controversy over immigration, a question must naturally be asked: Should the states of the United States be given the authority to control their respective borders? That is, should they have the same power to control their borders that the federal government has to control the nation’s borders?

  To clarify, I’m not asking whether state borders should be abolished. I’m asking whether state governments should be empowered to control the free movements of goods and people from other states into their states.

Wednesday, September 7, 2016

Steve Flowers: Inside the Statehouse: The rising role of Jeff Sessions

  Throughout this year’s prodigious presidential selection process, our junior senator, Jeff Sessions, has been at the forefront. He has become the darling of the extreme right throughout the country. He is and has been one of the most conservative members of the U.S. Senate for close to two decades now. Throughout his tenure in the Senate, he has been consistently ranked as one of the five most conservative members of this august body.

  It is because of Sessions' staunch conservatism that he is probably the most popular major political figure in Alabama. He adroitly reflects the philosophy and values of arguably the most conservative state in America.

Tuesday, September 6, 2016

Sam Fulwood III: Stepping away from racism

  During a 1960 televised interview on NBC’s “Meet the Press,” the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. decried, “One of the shameful tragedies [is] that 11 o’clock on Sunday morning is one of the most segregated hours, if not the most segregated hours, in Christian America.”

  Much in American life has changed in the more than half century since King argued that no Christian church could follow the teachings of Jesus Christ and remain segregated. Legal segregation of public facilities and transportation systems are no longer enshrined in law. Yet the intimacy and privacy of worship remains, for the most part, racially separate.

Monday, September 5, 2016

Charles C. Haynes: Genocide in Syria: Who lives, who dies, who cares?

  A controversial milestone was reached on August 29 when the U.S. government announced that 10,000 Syrian refugees have been resettled in our country so far this year, reaching the target set by the Obama administration for 2016.

  Calling this number “a floor, not a ceiling,” administration officials promised more to come as a steady trickle of Syrians make it through the rigorous two-year vetting process.

  Although the numbers are modest – one-fifth of one percent of the nearly 5 million Syrian refugees – 10,000 is far better than zero as advocated by some candidates during the presidential campaign.

Sunday, September 4, 2016

Craig Ford: Alabama Senators killed the lottery - Will they kill the BP bill, too?

  The governor called the Alabama Legislature into a special legislative session this summer with two things in mind: pass a lottery and pass a spending plan for the BP oil spill settlement. So far, the legislature hasn’t done too well with passing either of these bills.

  The lottery came as close to passing as any lottery bill has since Gov. Don Siegelman’s bill went to the voters in 1999, and I’d like to commend the governor for his leadership on getting the bill through the House, even though I disagreed with the split in funding.

Saturday, September 3, 2016

Hank Sanders: Senate Sketches #1525: A eulogy for Alabamians who did not have to die

  It was a eulogy for so many deceased human beings. It was a eulogy for so many deceased human beings whose names we don’t know. It was a eulogy for so many deceased human beings who we can’t say exactly when and where they died. It was a eulogy for so many deceased human beings who did not have to die. A eulogy, a eulogy, a eulogy.

  This funeral was unique. The place was the steps of the Alabama State House. The time was Wednesday, August 24, 2016 at 11:00 a.m. The names of the deceased were unknown. It was a unique eulogy at a unique funeral, a mock funeral. However, it was dead serious. The funeral dramatized the deaths of up to 1,800 Alabamians over the last three years. The entire funeral was a protest led by SOS (the Save Ourselves Movement for Justice and Democracy). It was a mock funeral, but the deaths were real. It was a mock funeral, but the emotions of the moment were real. A eulogy, a eulogy, a eulogy.

Friday, September 2, 2016

Jacob G. Hornberger: Sell Amtrak

  If we learned anything from the 20th century, it’s that socialism is a disaster. It never works. It never has worked. It  never will work. It is an inherently defective system.

  So, why is it then that Americans continue to embrace socialist programs?

  Among the best examples of this phenomenon is Amtrak, the government-owned and government-operated passenger train service.

Thursday, September 1, 2016

Give states the freedom to regulate drones

  In late June, a drone nearly collided with an aircraft carrying 500-gallon buckets of water to douse a wildfire in southern Utah. Incidents like this have been used to feed the narrative that drones are so dangerous that they must be regulated by the feds, leaving no room for states to act on their own.

  Utah has disproved that claim.

  Within weeks of the near collision, Utah Governor Gary Herbert signed into law a bill dealing with drone interference in emergency firefighting operations. Utah’s prompt action shows that states can and do act to protect the public without prodding from or preemption by Washington.

Wednesday, August 31, 2016

Steve Flowers: Inside the Statehouse: Labor Day in Alabama

  With Labor Day approaching, it signifies that the long hot summer will soon be coming to an end. It seems that the summers are getting hotter and hotter. I was born and raised in south Alabama, so I was accustomed to long, hot summers. I remember when there was no air conditioning in houses or cars. It was hot, but seems hotter today. I think we have gotten softer. It also seems that we do not have the spring or fall seasons anymore. All of a sudden one day in mid-May, it is 86 degrees and it never goes below that through mid-September, or maybe even October. We have about 5 months out of the year where the temperature is mostly in the 90s.

  This Monday is Labor Day. It usually does not cool off much, but we Alabamians seem to think that Labor Day marks the unofficial end of summer. I guess it is because it also usually marks the beginning of college football season. For those of us who are political junkies, Labor Day also marks the beginning of the political season.

Tuesday, August 30, 2016

Extremist File: What is the Alt-Right?

  The Alternative Right, commonly known as the Alt-Right, is a set of far-right ideologies, groups and individuals whose core belief is that “white identity” is under attack by multicultural forces using “political correctness” and “social justice” to undermine white people and “their” civilization. Characterized by heavy use of social media and online memes, Alt-Righters eschew “establishment” conservatism, skew young, and embrace white ethno-nationalism as a fundamental value.

Monday, August 29, 2016

Michael Josephson: Too poor to give

  When Teresa, a widow with four young children, saw a notice that members of her church would gather to deliver presents and food to a needy family, she took $10 out of her savings jar and bought the ingredients to make three dozen cookies. She got to the church parking lot just in time to join a convoy going to the home that was to receive the congregation’s help.

  The route was familiar, and she was stunned when the cars pulled up in front of her house. When the pastor saw her, he said, “We never expected you to join us, Teresa. We know it’s been a great struggle since your husband died, and we all wanted to support you.”

Sunday, August 28, 2016

Jacob G. Hornberger: Do you want a peaceful and prosperous society or not?

  Every Sunday at my church, we are exhorted to pray, among other things, for peace in the world and for the men and women who serve our nation — i.e., the military and the CIA. Naturally, the priests who craft the prayer, along with most of the congregation, fail to see the irony of those two prayers. That is, they fail to see that it is the Pentagon and the CIA whose activities around the world, especially in the Middle East and Afghanistan, are a major reason that Americans live without peace and prosperity.

Saturday, August 27, 2016

SPLC backs consumer protection rule restricting forced arbitration

  The Southern Poverty Law Center joined 286 advocacy groups on August 23 voicing support for the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau’s (CFPB) proposal to restrict the financial industry’s use of forced arbitration – a tactic employed by Wall Street banks and predatory lenders to prevent consumers from challenging illegal practices in court.

  In a letter submitted on the final day of the proposed rule’s public comment period, the groups lauded it as “a significant step forward in the ongoing fight to curb predatory practices in consumer financial products and services.” The CFPB will consider the public’s comments before issuing the final rule.

Friday, August 26, 2016

The Dividends of coastal conservation in the United States

  In his 2015 Earth Day speech at Everglades National Park, President Barack Obama hailed America’s national parks, proclaiming, “We are blessed with the most beautiful God-given landscape in the world.” He is not the only one who feels this way.

  In 2015, more than 1 million people visited the Everglades National Park to enjoy its mangrove forests, sawgrass prairies, and extraordinary wildlife. Located on the southern tip of Florida, it is just one of hundreds of coastal and marine parks, wildlife refuges, and marine sanctuaries in the United States. All of these places were designated to preserve America’s publicly owned natural and cultural treasures, both along its shores and under its seas and Great Lakes. Not only do these jewels of American natural and cultural heritage hold immeasurable intrinsic value, but they also provide bountiful economic benefits to their surrounding communities and to the U.S. economy as a whole. The 1.08 million visitors to Everglades National Park in 2015 spent more than $103 million in nearby communities, helping sustain 1,521 jobs and diversify the economies of the surrounding counties.

Thursday, August 25, 2016

Gene Policinski: Trump, Clinton show value of a free, independent press

  Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton may well be the best things that have happened to a free press in a long time.

  “Best” not in terms of ratings, circulation, advertising or such, though some media will see a temporary bump up.  And it’s certainly not because the pair are singing the news media’s praises.  Far from it. Trump finds time seemingly every day to slam the “corrupt, dishonest, media.” And Clinton hasn’t had a news conference in … well, several reporters covering her campaign said in recent days they have lost track after about 250 on how many days it’s been since she last sat for one.

Wednesday, August 24, 2016

Steve Flowers: Inside the Statehouse: Is this the end of television's political power?

  In 1960, television was a new medium. Most Americans did not have televisions in the early 1950s. However, by 1960 the majority of the country had fallen in love with Lucy and TV.

  Presidential races had been run by party bosses in urban enclaves like New York and Boston. Political parties and party conventions were extremely important. The parties were controlled by longtime political pols and insiders. Powerful governors and senators would control their state delegations at the nominating conventions and would yield inordinate power at a critical point in the process.

Tuesday, August 23, 2016

Richard Cohen: Donald Trump, poll watchers and voter fraud

  The strangest presidential campaign is getting even stranger.

  Donald Trump has recently raised the specter of massive voter fraud, saying that he could lose in Pennsylvania only if “in certain sections of the state they cheat.” And he’s proposed a remedy: volunteer poll watchers.

  It’s a remedy that’s now being trumpeted by white supremacists and far-right conspiracy theorists.

  The great irony here is that we have far more to fear from efforts to combat voter fraud, including the potential for an army of Trump poll watchers, than we do from any actual voter fraud.

Monday, August 22, 2016

Sam Fulwood III: Police gone wild

  The U.S. Department of Justice’s investigation of police misconduct in Baltimore is 163 pages of horror reading.

  Almost Kafkaesque—albeit in a dry, statistic-laden prose—the report details how Baltimore’s nearly 3,000-member police force acts like an occupying military force in some unruly wilderness. The feds wasted no time in getting to the point—indeed, in the opening paragraph of the executive summary, the investigators “[conclude] that there is reasonable cause to believe that [the Baltimore Police Department] engages in a pattern or practice of conduct that violates the Constitution or federal law.”

Sunday, August 21, 2016

Hank Sanders: Senate Sketches #1523: How do we lift our children?

  How do we lift our children? In everything I try to do, my most important mission is to lift our children. I saw our children lifted in a special way last weekend. Before I get to this special lifting, I want to lay the foundation by sharing a family experience that lifted my children.

  When my children were growing up, we would drive to far-off places so they could go along and learn. As we traveled, we shared stories from our life experiences. Among my children’s favorites were the stories of struggle about my growing up. They would ask me over and over again to tell some of the same stories of struggle.

Saturday, August 20, 2016

Craig Ford: Debt is the real reason for the special legislative session

  The Alabama Legislature returned to Montgomery this week for what may end up being only the first of more special legislative sessions.

  Gov. Robert Bentley said the purpose for this legislative session was to vote on a lottery to fund Medicaid and other general fund proposals.

  While the lottery is being debated in the Senate, the Alabama House of Representatives is debating how to spend $850 million from the BP oil spill settlement.

  But the devil is always in the details, and what these bills are really about is debt.

Friday, August 19, 2016

Michael Josephson: Rebuilding your life and reputation

  Larry wrote me the following letter: “I’ve been a small businessman for almost 23 years in a business where people lie, cheat, and steal. I’m sorry to say I became one of them. In the short term it may have helped, but long term it came back to haunt me. There’s no amount of success that’s worth it. I am now 48 years old. I have lost my good name; my values and my ethics have been destroyed. Is there any way I will ever be able to restore my reputation and lead a life of integrity?”

Thursday, August 18, 2016

Rhetoric vs. Reality: Paid family and medical leave

  Access to comprehensive paid family and medical leave strengthens all American families because everyone potentially needs to take off from work at some point to recover from an illness, care for a family member, or welcome a new child. But the United States is the world’s only advanced economy that does not guarantee some form of paid leave for workers. The result is that only 12 percent of private-sector workers in the United States have paid family and medical leave. In most American families, all the parents in the home are employed, meaning there is no full-time stay-at-home caregiver, and the majority of American families rely on a female breadwinner or co-breadwinner. Paid family and medical leave policies are already working across the United States, as cities, states, and individual employers embrace them. But without a national solution, millions of workers and their families are left out.

Wednesday, August 17, 2016

Steve Flowers: Inside the Statehouse: Will the running mates matter?

  Political experts and historians have consistently chronicled the fact that vice presidential choices have no significant effect on the outcome of the presidential race.

  However, this has been a very unconventional presidential political year. My assessment is that the selection of Mike Pence by Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton’s choosing Tim Kaine were extremely wise and helpful decisions. If for nothing else, I believe that Pence insures Indiana for the GOP and Kaine sews up the pivotal swing state of Virginia for Hillary. They are both very popular in their home states and are capable and stable choices.

Tuesday, August 16, 2016

Jacob G. Hornberger: The military base dole

  During my recent visit to my hometown of Laredo, Texas, as I was heading out of town toward Corpus Christi, I passed by the former site of Laredo Air Force Base. Serving as a training base for new pilots, the base was a prominent part of Laredo life when I was growing up.

  During that time, public officials and much of the citizenry were scared to death that the base might close. Like many people on the dole and like many other American communities with military bases, Laredoans were convinced that without LAFB, the city would die.

Monday, August 15, 2016

Ending the pass-through tax loophole for Big Business

  In 2012, more than 100,000 big U.S. businesses managed to shelter billions of dollars of income in a single tax haven and pay no corporate income tax on it.

  This tax haven is not Panama, Switzerland, or the Cayman Islands. In fact, it cannot even be found on a map—rather, it exists in the pages of the U.S. tax code. These businesses—with revenue of more than $10 million each—managed to pay no U.S. corporate income tax by pretending to be small businesses and thus saved their wealthy owners billions of dollars.

Sunday, August 14, 2016

Laurence M. Vance: Prohibition is alive and well

  The Eighteenth Amendment to the Constitution that instituted Prohibition was proposed by Congress in December 1917, ratified by the requisite number of states in January 1919, and took effect in January 1920.

  The first and relevant section of the Amendment reads:

       After one year from the ratification of this article the manufacture, sale, or transportation of intoxicating liquors within, the importation thereof into, or the exportation thereof from the United States and all the territory subject to the jurisdiction thereof for beverage purposes is hereby prohibited.

Saturday, August 13, 2016

Craig Ford: The state giveth and the state taketh away

  When it comes to pay raises for our educators, the state giveth and the state taketh away.

  This year was supposed to be the first time our public educators received a true raise since 2008. Before that, the Alabama Legislature cut educators’ and state employees’ pay by 2.5 percent (by making them pay more for their benefits), and tried to make up for it a couple of years later by giving 2 percent back.

  They called it a raise, but educators were still bringing home a half-percent less than they were before the changes to their benefits.

Friday, August 12, 2016

Hank Sanders: Senate Sketches #1522: What’s at stake in the Special Session?

  What will this looming special legislative session bring? Will it bring fiscal solutions for Medicaid? Will it bring solutions for the hemorrhaging General Fund? Will it bring an expansion of Medicaid? Will it bring long-lurking gambling efforts to a head? Will it bring better or worse public education? What will this looming special session bring?

  Medicaid was underfunded by $85 million in the 2016-2017 General Fund. This morphs into a billion dollar loss when we factor in matching federal funds and grants. Payments for services by doctors have already been cut by 50 percent. Doctors with large Medicaid practices will be crushed. Rural hospitals teetering on the brink will tumble over. Something must be done. What will this looming special legislative session bring?

Thursday, August 11, 2016

Black families work more, earn less, and face difficult child care choices

  Families across the United States are facing a child care crisis, but African American families are especially hard hit by the rising cost of child care and limited options for working families. Today, three in four African American children under age 6 have all residential parents in the workforce. By comparison, the rate is only 63 percent for non-African American children. For decades, African American women have worked at higher rates than other women, meaning that child care has long been a necessity for these families.

Wednesday, August 10, 2016

Steve Flowers: Inside the Statehouse: Is it time for a lottery?

  As anticipated, a special legislative session of the Alabama Legislature has been called by Gov. Robert Bentley. The session is set to begin this Monday, August 15.

  Dr. Bentley has bemoaned the fact that the legislature refused to grant Medicaid the $85 million they said they needed in the budget fiscal year, which begins October 1.

Tuesday, August 9, 2016

Sam Fulwood III: Voting rights victories are pyrrhic but worth celebrating

  Over the past month, a set of state-level voter suppression laws have fallen like shaky dominoes on a tilted floor.

  In decision after decision, courts have clearly and unambiguously rendered clear-eyed rulings—from Texas to Wisconsin to North Carolina to Kansas to Michigan to North Dakota—arguing that these state legislatures willfully pushed racist laws with the exclusive intent to restrict African Americans and other voters of color from exercising their franchise rights.

Monday, August 8, 2016

Charles C. Haynes: Republicans, Democrats and the stakes for religious freedom

  As this strange, unorthodox and downright scary presidential campaign heads into the final stretch, let’s pause to consider what’s at stake for religious freedom in this election.

  Like motherhood and apple pie, religious freedom is universally popular with members of both major parties. But you don’t have to read far in the party platforms to discover that Republican and Democratic definitions of religious freedom could not be farther apart in meaning and application.

  According to the GOP platform, religious freedom involves, among other things:  Defending marriage as the union between one man and one woman; passing laws protecting people of faith who refuse service to same-sex couples; and displaying the Ten Commandments in public places.

Sunday, August 7, 2016

Craig Ford: It will take more than a lottery

  In less than two weeks, the Alabama Legislature will return to Montgomery to take up a lottery bill that no one has seen.

  Gov. Robert Bentley, who has prided himself on using “the element of surprise” when it comes to calling special legislative sessions, has still not released any details or even had any conversations with legislators about the lottery he plans to introduce.

  All the governor has said is that his lottery will be used for the General Fund budget instead of the education budget.

Saturday, August 6, 2016

Hank Sanders: Senate Sketches #1521: It was an unforgettable week!

  It was a series of unforgettable moments. The moments were cast over four days. Each day had multiple unforgettable moments. Each day was unforgettable in its own way. Each day built on the previous day. For me, it was up close and personal.

  Day One. First Lady Michelle Obama’s speech was unforgettable. She spoke so beautifully and powerfully. She touched something deep inside of me that exploded throughout my being. I was moved to tears. She calmed and lifted the convention waters. She set extremely high standards for the speakers to follow.

Friday, August 5, 2016

House GOP proposals would make health coverage less secure for all Americans

  Seven years after first promised, Speaker of the House Paul Ryan (R-WI) has released a vague policy white paper that outlines how House Republicans would attempt to replace the Affordable Care Act, which has expanded health insurance coverage to more than 20 million Americans since 2010 at a cost of billions of dollars less than expected. The document is a comprehensive list of conservatives’ recycled, unpopular ideas. Instead of designing a health care system that works for all Americans, the paper outlines a plan to quarantine people who are old and/or sick in separate, more expensive, and unsustainable markets. These reforms would transfer assistance from low-income people to high-income people and from the sick to the healthy. They would not only raise costs for older and less healthy Americans but also would destabilize the entire health care system, shift costs to patients and families, and make everyone’s coverage less secure.

Thursday, August 4, 2016

Michael Josephson: Lying is like drunk driving

  Sometimes lying makes our lives easier. If you want the day off, just call in sick. If your boss asks if you’ve finished a report, say you left it at home. And if an irate customer calls, just make up a good cover story. Technically these are lies, but since no one’s hurt, what’s the big deal?

  We tell ourselves they’re harmless, but are they really? Telling lies is like drunk driving. If we’re lucky, we won’t get caught and no one will get hurt. Still, drunk driving is wrong because it’s irresponsible to recklessly endanger human life. Most lies are wrong because they recklessly endanger human relationships. What’s more, lies are habit-forming. The more lies we tell, the easier it becomes, so we tell more lies.

Wednesday, August 3, 2016

Steve Flowers: Inside the Statehouse: As the world turns in Alabama politics

  Now that the national conventions are over and we have had a glimpse of what to expect in the upcoming fall presidential contest, let us turn our attention back to our good ole Alabama politics.

  Even though we do not have any good state races this year, it does not mean that we have not had our share of political happenings. We have been so active that we have garnered national publicity.

  Let us reminisce and get caught up on our soap opera, As the World Turns in Alabama Politics. As the year began we knew that the Mike Hubbard corruption trial would finally unfold. It ended in a convincing conviction and the removal of the once powerful speaker from office and legislative leadership.

Tuesday, August 2, 2016

Richard M. Ebeling: The entitlement state and America’s fiscal crisis

  The Republican and Democrat Party Conventions are now behind us, but through all the cheers and jeers, hoopla and poopla, warnings of a dark and dangerous future or promises of a bright and beautiful shape-of-things-to-come, one of the most serious shadows hanging over America was hardly mentioned at all: the unsustainability of the “entitlement” programs of the welfare state.

  In fact, Clinton and the Democrats have proposed to both maintain and expand the redistributive state, and Trump has expressed his intention of not challenging Social Security or Medicare.

Monday, August 1, 2016

Sam Fulwood III: Broadening our policy awareness to include urban Native Americans

  Every now and then I discover something that restructures what I previously thought I knew. Like the first time I heard that the overwhelming majority of the nation’s 5.4 million Native Americans live in urban areas—not on struggling, hard-scrabble reservations.

  Who knew? Not me. In all honesty, I rarely have thought much about where or how Native Americans live in the United States, and—I dare say it—I doubt most Americans have either.