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.’”