Thursday, June 30, 2016

Edwin J. Feulner: Defeating the next strain of terrorism

  It's been only 15 years since the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001. But when you look at how the terrorist threat has evolved since then, it seems as if a century or more has gone by.

  Things have been changing — fast. And if our response doesn't change, and just as quickly, we're practically begging for trouble. Not another Sept. 11, necessarily — but another Orlando. Another Fort Hood. Another San Bernardino.

  Indeed, the sheer magnitude of Sept. 11 can almost blind us to the metastasizing danger out there. Most people are aware, of course, that attacks such as the one in Orlando have occurred, and that the attacker had terrorist connections. Few people are aware that Orlando was the 86th plot of Islamist terror in the United States since Sept. 11.

Wednesday, June 29, 2016

Steve Flowers: Inside the Statehouse: The fall of Mike Hubbard

  The older you get the more you realize that old adages you heard as a child are true. There is a political maxim that says, “power corrupts and absolute power corrupts absolutely.” It could very aptly be applied to the Mike Hubbard saga.

Tuesday, June 28, 2016

Michael Josephson: Being decisive

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

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

Monday, June 27, 2016

The Ongoing battle to protect the precious right to vote

  The story of the civil rights movement sometimes overlooks the individual stories that collectively helped to ensure the right to vote. The story of Fannie Lou Hamer, who was jailed, physically abused, and degraded all because she wanted to register to vote. The story of now-Rep. John Lewis (D-GA), who was beaten nearly to death on the Edmund Pettus Bridge as he marched across Alabama to ensure full access to voting rights. These stories of suffering, pain, indignity, and perseverance—along with countless others of poll taxes, lynchings, beatings, and degrading interactions—paved the way to the Voting Rights Act. The story of the Voting Rights Act should not be relegated to the pages of children’s history books but instead lifted up as a legacy of triumph that should be protected and maintained.

Sunday, June 26, 2016

Craig Ford: It’s pride – not the people – that Governor Bentley knows

  One of the most famous scriptures in the Bible says, “Pride goeth before destruction, and haughtiness before a fall.” That scripture kept running through my mind this past week as Gov. Robert Bentley repeatedly claimed that he knows the people of Alabama “better than anyone” and that they are not interested in impeaching him.

  That is a bold claim to make and one that is also easily proven wrong.

  Governor Bentley didn’t seem to know the people of Alabama so well when he was proposing $700 million in tax increases last year. The governor wasn’t listening to the people of Alabama when he signed legislation that transferred $80 million out of the education budget.

Saturday, June 25, 2016

Trump's evangelical board reads like a who's who of the anti-LGBT extremist Right

  Two days after a massacre at an Orlando LGBT nightclub by a lone gunman, GOP presidential candidate Donald Trump tweeted a “thank you” to the LGBT community for what he apparently believes is support for his candidacy.

  The tweet included the line, “I will fight for you while Hillary brings in more people that will threaten your freedoms and beliefs.”

  A week later, Trump met with hundreds of conservative evangelical leaders in New York City at an invitation-only event organized by former presidential candidate Ben Carson, who was working in conjunction with other groups including the Family Research Council, an anti-LGBT hate group. At the event, Trump called religious liberty “the No. 1 question,” and he promised to appoint anti-abortion Supreme Court justices.

Friday, June 24, 2016

Hank Sanders: Senate Sketches #1515: Victory into defeat and defeat into victory

  Every defeat is a victory for somebody. Every victory is a defeat for somebody. This is true in sports, in politics, and in life. In the 2016 Alabama Legislative Session, there were defeats that were victories and victories that were defeats.

  Governor Robert Bentley’s $800 million prison bond bill was defeated, but it was really a victory. They said that the bill would lead to the construction of four new prisons and increase the number of prison beds. However, we could not get any details and there were no provisions to ensure that the nearly $800 million would be used exclusively for prisons. In fact, it appears that some political leaders were promised millions of dollars for other projects. Montgomery Mayor Todd Strange stated that the city would get $10 million for a project not related to prisons. There were even rumors that a former elected official would control the entire $800 million project. Given the current allegations against various public officials, to borrow eight tenths of a billion dollars with an open end is crazy. This defeat was really a victory.

Thursday, June 23, 2016

Charles C. Haynes: After Orlando, reclaiming our common humanity

  Horrific events like the heartbreaking tragedy in Orlando — the deadliest mass shooting in U.S. history — bring out the best and the worst in the American character.

  After Omar Mateen murdered 49 people and injured 53 others, many clergy who rarely, if ever, acknowledge the LGBT community in positive terms offered prayers for LGBT people — actually reciting the letters. This one, brief shining moment was both unprecedented and heartening.

  On the worst side of the ledger, however, a small minority of clergy used the shooting as an opportunity to preach hate in the name of religion.

  Mere hours after the attack, two Christian ministers posted videos of their sermons (since deleted by YouTube) celebrating the murder of 49 “pedophiles” and “predators.”

Wednesday, June 22, 2016

Steve Flowers: Inside the Statehouse: Friendships that are bigger than politics

  One of my most cherished lifetime memories is the almost two decades I served in the Alabama House of Representatives. It was because of the lifetime friends made during that era.

  The House was not as partisan as it is today. This day and time it seems like legislators do not mix and mingle with different party members. They get in their caucuses and stay put. When I was in the House, although we were of different parties, we all got along regardless of whether we disagreed on issues.

Tuesday, June 21, 2016

Jacob G. Hornberger: Interventionism is a rotten tree with rotten fruit

  Fifty-one State Department officials are calling on President Obama to expand U.S. interventionism in Syria by initiating a bombing campaign against the Syrian government. Apparently they’re not satisfied with the great “success” that their philosophy of interventionism has brought to Iraq, Libya, Syria, Pakistan, Yemen and the rest of the Middle East. They want the U.S. national-security state’s death machine to bring even more death and destruction than it has already brought to that part of the world for the past 25 years.

Monday, June 20, 2016

Charleston shooting anniversary: More work remains to end extremist violence

  A year ago last week, a young white supremacist gunned down nine black parishioners at a historic church in Charleston, South Carolina, marking the violent start to a lethal year of extremist violence in the United States.

  In San Bernardino, California, in the coming months, Islamist radicals would kill 14 people.

  In Colorado Springs, Colorado, an anti-abortion extremist would shoot three people to death at a Planned Parenthood clinic.

Sunday, June 19, 2016

Michael Josephson: What I’ve learned: The perspective from 13-year-olds

  A few years ago I got a note from Sam Rangel, an eighth-grade teacher in Corona, California. He distributed some of my commentaries on “What I’ve Learned” to his students and asked them to write down what they’d learned over the past year or in their lives. Here’s the world of growing wisdom from the 13-year-old perspective:

Saturday, June 18, 2016

Gene Policinski: Free speech – not always what we want to hear

  We need to hear things that we don’t agree with, if only to be better prepared to argue against such ideas.

  A free exchange of views is a foundational element of the First Amendment and its metaphorical home ground, the “Marketplace of Ideas.” There is no other reasonable approach to public discourse in a society dedicated to free expression.

  To act otherwise — to suppress speech, even that to which one is vehemently opposed — is to betray core principles on which this nation is based.

Friday, June 17, 2016

David Dinielli: Elected leaders must acknowledge Orlando gunman targeted LGBT community

  From the earliest hours of the tragedy in Orlando, one fact was not in dispute: The worst mass shooting in U.S. history was committed by a killer who targeted LGBT people for murder.

  The LGBT community didn’t need to see a manifesto. We didn’t need to wait for the results of a full investigation. We knew – as soon as it happened, because of the fact that Pulse is a gay bar – that the killer had decided to slaughter LGBT people.

  We also felt it in our gut because we’ve been targeted for years. The Southern Poverty Law Center’s own analysis of FBI data shows that LGBT people are far more likely to be victimized by violent hate crime than any other minority group. Among LGBT people, people of color are the most frequent victims of hate crimes and were the majority of those murdered at Pulse, where each Saturday was Latin Night.

Thursday, June 16, 2016

Hank Sanders: Senate Sketches #1514: When you dig one ditch, you better dig two....

  My dear mother used to say, “When you dig one ditch, you better dig two, for the trap you set just may be for you.” Mahalia Jackson also shared this sentiment. I bet she got it from my mother. (Smile). Some powerful leaders dug a ditch. It was dug with veiled attacks on females, African Americans, Hispanics, the poor, the left out, the locked out and those with handicaps. It was a deep, wide ditch. But when you dig one ditch, you better dig two, because the trap you set just may be for you.

Wednesday, June 15, 2016

Steve Flowers: Inside the Statehouse: Some Alabama lawmakers have decades of service to their credit

  A few Friday nights ago, a large throng of people gathered at The Club in Birmingham despite a torrential thunderstorm. The event was called Jubilee for Jabo. It was a commemoration of Jabo Waggoner’s 50 years of service in the Alabama Legislature.

  Jabo Waggoner, Jr. has made his mark in Alabama political history. He began his career in the Alabama House of Representatives in 1966, as a 29 year old freshman House member from Jefferson County. He served 30 years in the House. He has now represented Jefferson and Shelby Counties in the Alabama Senate for over 20 years. The speakers who lauded Jabo were former Gov. Bob Riley, former Lt. Gov. Steve Windom and Dr. Swaid N. Swaid. It could have included hundreds of friends who have served with Jabo over the years, yours truly included.

Tuesday, June 14, 2016

Craig Ford: Breaking the pattern of corruption in Alabama politics

  We’ve all heard the famous saying, “power corrupts, and absolute power corrupts absolutely.” It’s more than just a saying really. It’s a lesson from history that Alabama leaders have continued to repeat over and over again.

  The conviction of House Speaker Mike Hubbard, the suspension and pending hearing of Chief Justice Roy More, and the various investigations (from federal and state prosecutors, to the Alabama Legislature) of Gov. Robert Bentley are all symptoms of the abuse of absolute power.

Monday, June 13, 2016

Michael Josephson: We expect more of adults

  Although 11-year-old Mark wasn’t much of an athlete, his dad urged him to play youth baseball. Mark liked to play, but he was hurt by the remarks of teammates and spectators whenever he struck out or dropped a ball. Just before the fourth game of the season, Mark told his dad he didn’t want to go. “I’m no good,” he said, “and everyone knows it.”

  His father urged him to stick with it. “Just do your best,” he said. “That’s all anyone can ask. Your best is good enough.”

Sunday, June 12, 2016

Craig Ford: Six years later and still no jobs

  They say the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different result. That also happens to be a pretty good description of our state's leadership for the last six years.

  For six years Alabama’s leaders have talked about “jobs, jobs, jobs” and bragged about how they’ve made us one of the most pro-business states in the country, but the facts don’t back that claim up.

  Chief Executive magazine recently printed their “Best and Worst States for Business” issue. CEOs from all over the country weighed in to rank each state. Alabama ranked in the middle, at 20th.

Saturday, June 11, 2016

Federal judge: Alabama must recognize marriage equality ruling

  A federal judge ruled this week that Alabama officials must abide by the U.S. Supreme Court’s ruling legalizing same-sex marriage despite contrary statements by the Alabama Supreme Court– a victory for the Southern Poverty Law Center and other civil rights groups that fought to secure marriage equality in the state.

  The permanent injunction issued by U.S. District Judge Callie V. Granade, which applies to the attorney general and all probate judges in Alabama, mandates that state officials issue same-sex marriage licenses and recognize such marriages in accordance with the high court’s ruling last year. The district court’s ruling comes after the Alabama Supreme Court refused to withdraw an order earlier this year that said the state was not bound by a federal court decision that struck down the state’s same-sex marriage ban months before the U.S. Supreme Court’s historic ruling in June 2015.

Friday, June 10, 2016

Charles C. Haynes: ‘I am America’

  “I am America,” Muhammad Ali famously declared. “I am the part you won’t recognize. But get used to me – black, confident, cocky; my name, not yours; my religion, not yours; my goals, my own. Get used to me.”

  And get used to him we did. So much so that when Ali is memorialized this week, millions of people throughout the United States and millions more across the globe will join in honoring the man known simply as “The Greatest.”

Thursday, June 9, 2016

Robert G. Wilkerson: Memorial Day's missing note

  It’s good to remember and honor those who died in our many wars. However, as some of us know, the good is often the enemy of the best. We have recently observed Memorial Day. Through television, we have seen memorial services, both large and small, near and far. Through thousands of speeches, we have been encouraged to remember the fallen. Yet, there has been one supremely important note missing from most speeches.

Wednesday, June 8, 2016

Steve Flowers: Inside the Statehouse: Goat Hill memories

  While observing the Alabama Legislature the other day, I fondly remembered a very eventful day as a young man. As a teenager, I grew up working at the Capitol as a page in the House and Senate.

  Albert Brewer had been elected to the House from Morgan County in his late 20’s and became Speaker in only his second term. He would eventually let me sit beside him in the Speaker’s box and tell me why certain bills were assigned to certain committees and the probable fate of each piece of proposed legislation.

Tuesday, June 7, 2016

Darrio Melton: We can do big things if we do them together

  On June 4, 1968, California voters went to the polls and resoundingly supported a man who has been regarded as an icon of their generation: Robert F. Kennedy. Only four hours after the polls closed, Kennedy declared victory and addressed his supporters. As he made his way out of the ballroom, he was shot and fatally wounded.

  Yesterday was the anniversary of his death, and with today being the California primary, I can’t help but think about the legacy “Bobby” left, summarized succinctly in one of his most famous quotes: “The purpose of life is to contribute in some way to making things better.”

Monday, June 6, 2016

Mel Jackson: Is the Electoral College outdated?

  In the infancy of the United States of America and while forming the Constitution, our Founding Fathers solved a dilemma - how to elect our very first president to lead a nation consisting of thirteen individualized states, distrustful of centralized governments, and desiring to have their own rights. The nation was small, with less than four million inhabitants of mostly rural communities, and relatively uneducated. Transportation, communication, and the daily news was slow. The Founding Fathers felt that the average citizen may not have been able to gather the needed information regarding the various candidates from the different states to select a president with the popular vote. It was assumed that each state would want to elect their "favorite son" which would give the most populated state the wining advantage. So, they created the Electoral College.

Sunday, June 5, 2016

Richard M. Ebeling: Individual liberty and the rule of law

  We live at time when, increasingly, the U.S. government operates in arbitrary and discretionary ways. Government regulatory agencies seemingly have unrestrained powers over land-use, business manufacturing and enterprise, the workplace and the environment under broad legislative mandates. And proposals are now frequently being made for ad hoc restrictions and prohibitions on freedoms of speech, press, religion and association.  The principle and practice of individual liberty, therefore, is under serious attack.

  The history of liberty and prosperity is inseparable from the practice of free enterprise and respect for the rule of law. Both are products of the spirit of classical liberalism. But a correct understanding of free enterprise, the rule of law, and liberalism (rightly understood) is greatly lacking in the world today.

Saturday, June 4, 2016

Gene Policinski: ‘A journalist by any other name’ … should just report

  Donald Trump is mad at the press. Many in the press are mad at Donald Trump. And much of the public apparently is mad at both.

  Whew.  Welcome to the “marketplace of ideas,” 2016-style. Lots of heat. Occasionally, a little bit of light. And this year, all taking place at the hyper-space speed of social media.

  It’s not like we haven’t seen this before — long before — in the heady air around the presidency, just slower. Revolutionary War writer and activist Thomas Paine and second term President George Washington traded insults of “hypocrisy and treachery” and “careless, ungrateful, virulent” in a Philadelphia newspaper in 1796, near the end of Washington’s second term.

Friday, June 3, 2016

Craig Ford: Are we truly honoring our veterans?

  As we remember those who sacrificed all on the battlefield, let's not forget those who still suffer every day.

  As you celebrated Memorial Day this week, how did you take time to honor our veterans and, specifically, those who did not come back home alive?

  Our country officially recognizes two days out of the year, set aside in remembrance of those who have served our country. Veterans Day, celebrated in November, is in honor of all those who have served, whether it was in peace time or war, while Memorial Day is specifically set aside to remember those who died in service to our country.

Thursday, June 2, 2016

Hank Sanders: Senate Sketches #1512: It’s graduation time!

  It’s graduation time - high school graduations, middle school graduations, elementary graduations, kindergarten graduations, college graduations. It’s graduation time.

  I was the commencement speaker at a kindergarten graduation, but I’m not going to write about that graduation. I attended an elementary school graduation, a first grade graduation, a second grade graduation and a community college graduation, but I am not writing about these graduations. I am writing about one graduate - an extraordinary graduate. It’s graduation time.

  This graduation story commenced in 1951, nearly 65 years ago. The Graduate was one of eight children – seven born in the marriage of Elvira Harrel and Arthur Coleman, Sr. and one outside the marriage. Seven of the children, a mother and a father, lived in a three room shotgun house – a kitchen, a middle room and a front room - in Marion Junction, Dallas County, Ala. The Graduate’s family was not just poor; they were “po.”

Wednesday, June 1, 2016

Steve Flowers: Inside the Statehouse: With the Alabama Legislature, sometimes less is better

  Sometimes the best thing that the Alabama Legislature can do in a session is to pass very little legislation. That can be said of this year’s regular legislative session, which ended several weeks ago. Not many bills made it through the legislative labyrinth.

  Gov. Robert Bentley made a proposed $800 million prison construction bond issue the cornerstone of his legislative agenda. It failed, but it wasn't surprising given Bentley’s irrelevance in the legislative process. The surprising aspect is that the proposal got any traction at all.