Saturday, September 30, 2017

Hank Sanders: Senate Sketches #1581: “Vote or die!”

  Vote or die! The slogan shouted at me. I stopped in my tracks. I wanted to think. The “Vote or die” slogan kept ringing in my head. It had such power. The slogan kept shouting at me, “Vote or die!” My mind asked, “How do we die if we fail to vote?” The first answer came easily: Health care! Health care is central to our existence. Virtually every “developed country” makes health care a right and therefore a priority. But not in these United States of America, the most “developed country” in the world.

Friday, September 29, 2017

Angela Rosa: Fighting for my life, again, under Trump

Content Warning: The following article contains graphic depictions of domestic violence.

  For 22 years, I did what many Americans do: I worked, I attended college, and I worked some more. I paid my taxes, I voted with my heart just as much as with my mind, and I obtained a career. I did everything right.

Thursday, September 28, 2017

Arpaio claims he was target because of ‘birther’ involvement

  Former Arizona sheriff Joe Arpaio, a guru of right-wing conspiracy theories, is spreading a new one, and this time it’s about him.

  In his first “interview” since being pardoned of a crime last month by President Trump, Arpaio claims he was prosecuted by the Justice Department because of his earlier involvement in the “birther” movement.

  “I don’t think it was so much the illegal roundups. . . I think it was the birth certificate issue they [the Obama administration] were mainly after me about,” Arpaio told American Free Press.

Wednesday, September 27, 2017

Steve Flowers: Inside the Statehouse: Jim Allen's place in Alabama history

  As one of America’s most conservative states, we have a history of electing very conservative senators. Jeff Sessions proved to be one of the most arch-conservative members of the U.S. Senate during his 20-year tenure.

  Another arch-conservative that served 10 years in the Senate from 1968 to 1978 was the great Jim Allen. Jim Allen had an illustrious career in Alabama politics. He was born and raised in Gadsden. He served in the Alabama House and the Alabama Senate from his native Etowah County. He was elected to his first term as Lieutenant Governor of Alabama in 1950, and to a second term in 1962. He was Lieutenant Governor during George Wallace’s first term as Governor. He was also a very successful lawyer in Gadsden.

Tuesday, September 26, 2017

Gene Policinski: Patriotism, respect for flag cannot be ‘ordered’

  Donald Trump is singing the wrong song about freedom, patriotism and First Amendment values.

  Over the weekend, Trump:

    -Called on NFL owners to fire players who kneel or otherwise protest during the national anthem and display of the American flag

    -Said fans should stop going to games to punish NFL team owners who fail to dismiss those players

    -Observed that patriotism should be required of athletes in return for “the privilege of making millions of dollars” on the field.

Monday, September 25, 2017

House Republican budget would eliminate critical disaster relief funding

  Families in Texas, Florida, Puerto Rico, and the U.S. Virgin Islands are beginning the hard work of rebuilding their lives in the wake of Hurricane Harvey and Hurricane Irma. House Republicans, however, are proposing to eliminate some of the critical tools people will need.

  When a natural disaster hits, affected communities rely on federal resources to rebuild homes, schools, and highways. But the proposed fiscal year 2018 House majority budget eliminates programs that provide disaster relief and the administrative resources needed to deploy funding quickly and effectively. If implemented, the budget will eliminate the Community Development Block Grant program, the office within the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) that administers relief funds; eliminate the Legal Services Corporation, which provides free legal services to affected families; and eliminate AmeriCorps, which sends volunteers to help with disaster cleanup.

Sunday, September 24, 2017

Trump's anti-immigrant crusader

  Stephen Bannon may have left the White House, but anti-immigrant nativism didn't go anywhere.

  President Trump made that abundantly clear when he trumpeted an “America first” philosophy at the U.N. General Assembly last week, touting the importance of national sovereignty and warning that “major portions of the world are … going to hell.”

  Behind the speech was none other than Stephen Miller, Trump’s anti-immigrant chief policy adviser.

Saturday, September 23, 2017

Quiet attack on the ADA making its way through Congress

  In the current political climate, the assault on Americans with disabilities is no longer limited to attempts to strip them of health care, take away the services millions need to live independently and to work, or make deep cuts to programs that help many make ends meet. Now a bill making its way through Congress threatens to roll back the civil rights of people with disabilities by exactly 27 years. The bill, misleadingly titled the ADA Education and Reform Act of 2017, would hack away at the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) of 1990, the landmark civil rights law that prohibits discrimination on the basis of disability and mandates that people with disabilities have “equal opportunity” to participate in American life.

Friday, September 22, 2017

Hank Sanders: Senate Sketches #1580: Earth is shouting: Stop!

  The Earth is protesting. The Earth protests when terrible storms rage. The Earth protests when tsunamis ravage our coasts. The Earth protests when earthquakes shatter our communities. The Earth protests when fires burn our lands and homes. The Earth protests when waters flood our communities. The Earth protests when droughts invade our lands. The Earth protests when polar ice caps melt and oceans rise. The Earth is protesting. The Earth is shouting out in its most powerful language.

Thursday, September 21, 2017

Veterans living paycheck to paycheck are under threat during budget debates

  President Donald Trump and congressional Republican leaders have promised to “take care” of America’s veterans—but the congressional and presidential budgets, which will be debated this fall, threaten several programs that help ensure basic living standards for veterans and their families, including Medicaid, affordable housing programs, job training, and nutrition assistance. Rather than taking care of America’s veterans and their families, the budget resolution is expected to pave the way for massive tax cuts, 61 percent of which would benefit the richest 1 percent of Americans.

Wednesday, September 20, 2017

Steve Flowers: Inside the Statehouse: The final stretch

  The very interesting and entertaining Republican Primary for our open U.S. Senate seat culminates Tuesday with a clash between two titans. Judge Roy Moore and Big Luther Strange will be in a Titanic battle to fill the seat left vacant when Jeff Sessions became U.S. Attorney General.

  We will see if Moses with his Ten Commandments and Hebrew children of rural Alabama can slay the Philistine Mountain Brook giant.

Tuesday, September 19, 2017

Gene Policinski: Speaking your mind, when free speech has consequences

  Some people like Donald Trump and say nice things about him.

  Some people don’t like Donald Trump, and some say things about Donald Trump that are unkind, hurtful and downright insulting. Some people say those things on social media.

  And sometimes people who like Donald Trump respond to those comments.

  All of that is fine in free speech terms. And all of that pretty well sums up the tempest in a TV teapot over ESPN host Jemele Hill tweeting last week that the president was a “bigot” and a “white supremacist who has largely surrounded himself with other white supremacists.”

Monday, September 18, 2017

Déjà vu: Fighting for school integration in 2017

  History was repeating itself for U.W. Clemon.

  More than 40 years after winning a school desegregation case in Alabama, he found himself in a courtroom arguing once again for the integration of the very same school district.

  “I never envisioned that I would be fighting in 2017 essentially the same battle that I thought I won in 1971,” Clemon told The New York Times Magazine. “But the battle is just not over.”

Sunday, September 17, 2017

Two million parents forced to make career sacrifices due to problems with child care

  Child care is a pressing economic issue for working families across the country. At a time when 65 percent of young children have all available parents in the workforce, high-quality child care is a necessity. The exorbitant cost of child care has become a significant burden for parents who need it to support their families. Millions of parents must make an impossible choice between paying more than they can afford for child care; settling for cheaper, lower-quality care; and leaving the workforce altogether. Parents who decide to leave the workforce to become full-time caregivers stand to lose much more than just their salaries, earning less in benefits and retirement savings over the long run.

Saturday, September 16, 2017

Richard Cohen: President Trump must push back against the hate he's unleashed

  As events in Charlottesville last month reflect, President Trump’s incendiary rhetoric has energized the white supremacist movement.

  By signing the bipartisan congressional resolution against hate, he now has committed himself to undo the damage he has caused. We hope Congress will hold his feet to the fire and ensure that he lives up to his commitment.

Friday, September 15, 2017

Household incomes are rising again, but share going to middle class is at record low

  The latest Census Bureau data show that for the second straight year, the typical U.S. household saw its income rise in inflation-adjusted terms in 2016, the last year of the Obama administration, and incomes have now recovered to approximately pre-Great Recession levels. The median U.S. household income was $59,039 in 2016, a 3.2 percent increase from real 2015 levels.

  While the data contain some good news, the overall story is still quite bleak.

Thursday, September 14, 2017

Steve Flowers: Inside the Statehouse: Previewing 2018

  As I mentioned last week, we will have a plethora of political contests to follow next year, and the field is beginning to formulate.

  The governor’s race is always the marquee event. However, the most important races will be for the 35 Senate and 105 House of Representatives seats. These legislative races will be where most of the special interest money will gravitate.

Wednesday, September 13, 2017

Craig Ford: Should Alabama Superintendent of Education Michael Sentance be fired?

Editor's Note: Multiple Alabama news sources reported September 13 that Michael Sentance had resigned his position.

  On Thursday, the Alabama Board of Education will meet to discuss terminating State Superintendent Dr. Michael Sentance’s contract.

  Politics has surrounded Dr. Sentance’s time in Alabama, starting even before he was hired. And if the Board decides to fire him, his supporters will claim that politics was the driving factor.

  Dr. Sentance was the preferred choice of those who support charter schools and diverting tax dollars away from public schools to fund scholarships for private schools. And with his job on the line, most – if not all – of those who have publicly supported him have been those who support charter schools and the Accountability Act scholarship program.

Tuesday, September 12, 2017

Lata Nott: State high courts can provide greater free-speech protections

  Forty years ago in the Harvard Law Review, U.S. Supreme Court Justice William Brennan described state constitutions as “a font of individual liberty, their protections often extending beyond those required by the Supreme Court’s interpretation of federal law.” Brennan urged state high courts to provide needed protections to individual liberty, particularly as the U.S. Supreme Court began cutting back on individual freedoms.

Monday, September 11, 2017

5 Ways Congress can help to rebuild stronger and safer communities after Harvey

  Hurricane Harvey delivered a devastating and deadly blow to Houston, southeast Texas, and parts of Louisiana. The storm unleashed unprecedented amounts of rain—more than 50 inches in some areas—and caused catastrophic flooding that consumed communities, including the entire Houston area. As of this writing, the storm has killed at least 70 people, destroyed or damaged more than 185,000 homes, and inflicted economic costs that could rise as high as $190 billion.

  It will take years for many Texas and Louisiana residents to recover from the storm. For others, recovery will never happen unless federal, state, and local officials channel disaster assistance into rebuilding strategies that will reduce the costs, health impacts, and loss of life brought on by floods and extreme weather events. Scientists are confident that climate change will only intensify storms like Harvey in the future, as sea level rise contributes to bigger storm surges, warmer oceans fuel more powerful winds, and rising air temperatures trigger heavier downpours.

Sunday, September 10, 2017

We need activists now more than ever

  As Attorney General Jeff Sessions announced the termination of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program last week, he said, “We are a people of compassion.”

  But there is nothing compassionate about rescinding DACA for Mohammad Abdollahi. Iranian, gay, and a DACA recipient, Abdollahi would be in extreme danger if he were deported to a country that carries out the death penalty for “repeated acts” of homosexuality.

Saturday, September 9, 2017

Jacob G. Hornberger: Interventionism and the Korean crisis

  If war ends up breaking out in Korea, President Trump, the Pentagon, and the CIA will be announcing that it was all North Korea fault. They’ll say that North Korea was “begging for war,” and that the United States was “forced” to act to protect “national security.” Of course, in the process they will be ignoring the interventionist sanctions that the United States and the United Nations have imposed on North Korea for decades, an indirect act of war that has targeted and killed countless North Korean citizens.

Friday, September 8, 2017

LaShawn Y. Warren: Race and the creditability of the church

  Since President Donald Trump came to office in January, many have expressed outrage, disappointment, and sheer disgust over his inability to exercise moral leadership. At no time has that deficiency been more evident than in the wake of the August white supremacist rally in Charlottesville, Virginia. Instead of offering words to catalyze healing and unity, the president made racially inflammatory remarks that not only pandered to the Ku Klux Klan, neo-Nazis, and other terrorist hate groups, but also drew moral equivalence between hate groups and anti-racist demonstrators. Ideally, the nation would look to the office of the president for moral clarity. It is increasingly clear that this leadership will not come from President Trump.

Thursday, September 7, 2017

Hank Sanders: Senate Sketches #1578: When we lose our health, we lose everything

  When we have our health, we have everything. The old folks repeated this saying to us over and over. I have come to understand that while we may not have everything when we have our health, we have a great deal that is a critical foundation to our getting everything we need. Moreover, I’ve heard people say, “I would give everything to have my good health again.”

  We must have doctors to have our health. We must have nurses to have our health. We must have hospitals to have our health. We must have nursing homes to have our health. We must also have other health-related institutions to have our health. When we have our health, we have a chance to get everything we need. When we lose our health, we lose everything.

Wednesday, September 6, 2017

Steve Flowers: Inside the Statehouse: The 2018 election pot is already boiling

  Labor Day is the traditional kickoff to an election year. Folks, our quadrennial gubernatorial election year is going to be a doozy. We are in for one heck of a political election season next year.

  Besides the governor’s race, we have an open lieutenant governor’s race, an open attorney general’s race, an open treasurer’s race, and an open agriculture commissioner’s race. We have statewide races for Alabama Secretary of State and Alabama Auditor. We have five seats up for election on the Alabama Supreme Court. One of those will be a hotly contested battle for Chief Justice. We have two seats up for election on the Alabama Public Service Commission.

Tuesday, September 5, 2017

The War on Medicaid is moving to the states

  In the early 1960s, as the Johnson administration worked to enact Medicare and Medicaid, then-actor Ronald Reagan traveled the country as a spokesman for the American Medical Association, warning of the danger the legislation posed to the nation. “Behind it will come other federal programs that will invade every area of freedom as we have known it in this country,” he said in one widely distributed speech. “Until one day … you and I are going to spend our sunset years telling our children and our children’s children what it once was like in America when men were free.”

  Reagan set the tone for a conservative war against Medicaid that is now in its 52nd year. Recent congressional proposals to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act would have reduced Medicaid enrollment by up to 15 million people, and, despite being defeated, congressional Republicans aren’t done yet: It’s likely they will attempt to gut the program during the upcoming budget debate. Meanwhile, more than half a dozen conservative governors are trying to take a hatchet to the program—at the open invitation of the Trump administration—through a vehicle known as a “Medicaid waiver.”

Monday, September 4, 2017

DACA recipients’ economic and educational gains continue to grow

  Since it was first announced on June 15, 2012, the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) policy has provided temporary relief from deportation as well as work authorization to approximately 800,000 undocumented young people across the country. As research has consistently shown, DACA has not only improved the lives of undocumented young people and their families but has also positively affected the economy more generally, which benefits all Americans.

Sunday, September 3, 2017

Disaster might not discriminate, but recovery does

  There was nowhere to go from the kitchen counter.

  Trina Moore had already called the Coast Guard. The four children in her care were stretched out on top of the dishwasher, clutching pillows almost as big as they were while they slept. One little girl, hooked up to a ventilator, sat awake: She was watching the brown, murky water still rising towards her. It was 4:30 in the morning.

  Moore and her family are some of the countless Texans who had to fend for themselves this past week in the face of what the University of Wisconsin has determined was a one-in-1,000 year flood event that occurred when Hurricane Harvey made landfall in Houston.

Saturday, September 2, 2017

Sharon Lauer: Why celebrate Labor Day?

  Samuel Gompers, founder and longtime president of the American Federation of Labor, summed up this holiday's importance with these words: "All other holidays are in a more or less degree connected with conflicts and battles of man's prowess over man, of strife and discord for greed and power, of glories achieved by one nation over another. Labor Day... is devoted to no man, living or dead, to no sect, race, or nation."

Friday, September 1, 2017

Tax cuts hidden in Congress’ tax reform, explained

  In a joint statement on July 27, top Republican policymakers in the House and Senate, along with President Donald Trump’s top two officials responsible for tax policy, re-upped their commitment to passing “comprehensive tax reform.” With the help of business groups and conservative organizations backed by the Koch brothers, they plan to ramp up their campaign for tax reform over this Labor Day weekend.

  The language that Republicans are using to push these proposals—“make taxes simpler, fairer, and lower” for American families—sounds appealing. But the policies on their wish list are almost entirely tax cuts, and almost all of the benefits (99.6 percent under House Speaker Paul Ryan’s plan) will go to the top 1 percent of taxpayers.