Wednesday, January 31, 2018

Steve Flowers: Inside the Statehouse: Will 2018 be the year of the woman in Alabama politics?

  This political year of 2018 may very well be the year of the woman in Alabama politics. In Alabama’s 200-year history, only one woman has been elected governor. Lurleen Wallace won in 1966. Only two women have served as governor, Wallace, and our current governor, Kay Ivey. It may be a historic year.

  Sue Bell Cobb, the former Alabama Supreme Court Chief Justice, and the first woman to hold that position, is hoping to be the Democratic standard-bearer. She was elected Chief Justice in 2006, in a very expensive, high-profile battle with Republican Drayton Nabors. She had been a District Court Judge in her native Conecuh County for a long time before running statewide. She was elected to a six-year term as Chief Justice in 2006 but quit after four years.

Tuesday, January 30, 2018

Jacob G. Hornberger: Trump’s dictatorial and destructive tariffs

  It’s amazing that it is still necessary to instruct U.S. presidents on the damage that tariffs do to people. You would think that by the time a person becomes a president of a country, he would be wise enough to know this. Even many progressives and conservatives have finally joined up with us libertarians in opposition to tariffs.

  The subject arises with President Trump’s unilateral decision to impose tariffs on imported solar panels and washing machines. The targeted countries are China and South Korea (yes, the country that Trump and the U.S. national-security state say that they’re interested in protecting from North Korea).

Monday, January 29, 2018

Gene Policinski: Demand truth, not junk news: Lessons of ‘PizzaGate,’ ‘IdiotGate’

  First we had “PizzaGate,” in which a misguided — but heavily armed — young man chasing a ridiculous conspiracy theory fired shots inside a Washington, D.C., pizza parlor in 2016.

  Now, we have what can only be called “IdiotGate,” in which a 19-year old Michigan man has been charged with threatening to gun down CNN staff and on-air journalists after claiming to be upset over “fake news.”

Sunday, January 28, 2018

Taylor’s Top Six: Alabama Legislative review for Week 3

  We’re back with another recap!

  In this week’s Taylor’s Top Six, we’ve got a few updates on things we discussed in the last installment, as well as some new bills that were introduced last week. Let us know what you think of what’s going on in Montgomery!

1. My two favorite words in the English language: tax break.

  There must be something in the water. First a tax break from Washington and now one in Alabama? Under a bill by Sen. Del Marsh (R-Anniston), the standard deduction brackets for lower-income taxpayers would change. Certain taxpayers, depending on how they file their taxes, could see an income tax decrease if they accept the standard deduction and do not itemize. Some folks are saying any tax decrease is good for the taxpayer. Others are concerned with tax dollars leaving the state budget. The bill unanimously passed the senate.

Saturday, January 27, 2018

Hank Sanders: Senate Sketches #1598: Let’s make King celebrations as Dr. King lived

  Sometimes Martin Luther King, Jr. celebrations make me sad. No, I am not sad because there are celebrations. In fact, I am very glad that Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. is celebrated on the third Monday of each January. I remember firsthand the very difficult 15-year struggle from the date of his death to create a national holiday celebrating Dr. King. As we celebrate his birth in the 50th year of his death, sometimes the King celebrations make me sad.

  First, the celebrations make me sad because most do not deal with Dr. King’s dedicated life, sterling example, and continuous struggle. The most we deal with is the last sentence in the last paragraph of his memorable speech spoken during the gigantic march on Washington in 1963. If we dealt with the whole speech, we would make some progress, but we don’t.

Friday, January 26, 2018

Would you believe me if I said I was starving?

  Two weeks ago, I was reading a food blog with instructions on how to throw better dinner parties. In the grand tradition of lifestyle bloggers, the author promised me that everything would be much better if I just stopped trying so hard. He included a recipe for baked ham and suggested that hosts everywhere should just chill out and let guests slice their own sandwiches. Play it right, and everyone would be so happy and full that Ina Garten and her sweet husband Jeffrey would moan with a mix of pleasure and jealousy.

Thursday, January 25, 2018

Scott McPherson: Our heritage of open immigration from s***hole countries

  The history of open immigration in this country makes a favorable case for poor and uneducated immigrants. It might just be the huddled masses we need most.

  From the end of the Mexican War, in 1848, until the 1920s, the only obstacle to travel across the southern border was terrain. Usually poor and uneducated, people crossed and traded across this line without restriction and helped to settle the American West. Hispanic Americans today are known for their strong work ethic and commitment to family, religion, and community.

Wednesday, January 24, 2018

Steve Flowers: Inside the Statehouse: Can a Democrat replicate the Doug Jones miracle in next year's gubernatorial race?

  As the 2018 state elections begin, let’s take one last look at the 2017 Special Election to fill the remaining three years of Jeff Sessions’ six-year term which, by the way, comes up in two years in 2020.

  It is assumed by most astute political observers that the winner, Democrat Doug Jones, cannot win election to a full term in 2020, simply because he is a Democrat. I am not ready to write Doug Jones off so quickly. I would contend that Jones would not be a cupcake to take on after two to three years on the job. Doug Jones knows what he is doing. He is a seasoned political veteran that will hit the ground running in Washington. I believe that he will be a far superior Senator for Alabama than Roy Moore.

Tuesday, January 23, 2018

Discrimination prevents LGBTQ people from accessing health care

  All people who need medical care should be able to see their doctor without worrying about being mistreated, harassed, or denied service outright. The Affordable Care Act (ACA) helped address this issue by prohibiting health care providers and insurance companies from engaging in discrimination. As a result of several court rulings and an Obama administration rule, LGBTQ people are explicitly protected against discrimination in health care on the basis of gender identity and sex stereotypes. However, conservative forces and the Trump-Pence administration are seeking to make it easier for health care providers to discriminate against LGBTQ people and women.

Monday, January 22, 2018

Gene Policinski: Let’s focus on real journalism — not so-called “fake news”

  President Trump’s “Fake News Awards,” posted late Wednesday, were more gimmick than “gotcha” — worth a moment’s attention, perhaps, but not much more.

  Unsurprisingly, the “winners” were CNN, The New York Times, ABC News, The Washington Post, Time and Newsweek. The announcement began by calling out a Times columnist who predicted the economy would sag under Trump and ended with yet another CAPITAL LETTER-laced rant about the ongoing investigation into Russian interference with U.S. elections.

Sunday, January 21, 2018

Alabama Legislative Session: Weeks 1 and 2 review

  Hang on to your wallets. Lawmakers have returned to Montgomery.

  Back by popular demand, Taylor’s Top Four is here to fill you in on the things you ought to know from the legislative session. Since we’ve had a couple of slow weeks in Montgomery for lawmakers, we’ll keep this one short and sweet.

Saturday, January 20, 2018

Why we need to stop calling Trump ‘crazy’ when we really mean ‘dangerous’

  Questions about President Donald Trump hit a fever pitch a few weeks ago following his tweets about the size and potency of his nuclear button. Of course, such questions are nothing new. Throughout the campaign and Trump’s first year in office, news articles, op-eds, and tweets critical of him have routinely deployed words such as “crazy,” “insane,” and “unstable” as epithets. But what are the implications of the use of mental health language in such critiques for how our society views mental illness?

Friday, January 19, 2018

Hank Sanders: Senate Sketches #1597: Alabama has a once in a lifetime opportunity!

  There is a big industry coming to Alabama. It will have a big economic impact. I appreciate that this big industry is coming to Alabama. But there is even a bigger industry that really wants to come to Alabama.

  I want to contrast this big industry coming to Alabama with an even bigger industry that really wants to come to Alabama but has not been invited to come. I will contrast these two industries by their impact on the following: state investment; geographic reach; jobs provided; state revenue; individual citizens; various institutions; etc. I am glad that this big industry is coming to Alabama. I am sorry that the even bigger industry may not be coming to Alabama.

Thursday, January 18, 2018

Trump’s Medicaid work requirements could put at least 6.3 million Americans at risk of losing health care

  Last week, the Trump administration issued policy guidance that effectively ends Medicaid as we know it, allowing states to place punitive work requirements on certain Medicaid recipients—more than 7 in 10 of whom are caregivers or in school. Although these so-called work requirement policies may seem reasonable at first glance, in practice, they’re a way to strip away health insurance from struggling unemployed and underemployed workers. President Donald Trump’s actions are just the latest shoe to drop in his party’s deeply unpopular crusade to undermine Americans’ health care—including the highly popular Medicaid program—and come on the heels of a tax cut that rewards the massively wealthy over working Americans.

Wednesday, January 17, 2018

Steve Flowers: Inside the Statehouse: Tuscaloosa's political influence

  A while back, during Dr. Robert Bentley’s tenure as governor, I wrote a column entitled, “They May as Well Move the Capitol to Tuscaloosa.” Never before in Alabama history has a city had a sitting governor and the state’s senior U.S. Senator hail from that particular place. Even with the departure of Bentley as governor, the Druid City has an inordinate amount of presence in the state’s political sphere of influence.

  Senator Richard Shelby is in his 32nd year as our U.S. Senator. With that kind of seniority comes immense power in Washington. Shelby is Chairman of the Senate Rules Committee and is easily one of the three most powerful U.S. Senators. 

Tuesday, January 16, 2018

"Trump says we don't have to let you in"

  At the foot of the bridge over the Rio Grande, Laura turned to Agent Garza. “When I am found dead,” she said, “it will be on your conscience.”

  Hours earlier, a police officer had stopped Laura on her way home from work in a car with her cousin Elizabeth. She had no license, no registration — and no visa to be in the United States.

  “I can’t be sent back to Mexico,” Laura told Officer Nazario Solis III. “I have a protection order against my ex — please, just let me call my mom and she’ll bring you the paperwork.”

Monday, January 15, 2018

Carl Chancellor: Martin unchained: Radical reformer, nonviolent militant

  It’s that time of year again, the third Monday of January, when we come together as a nation to
commemorate the life and legacy of Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. with church services, elementary school skits, and civic club speeches—much of it seemingly rote tribute.

  Every MLK Day we trot out the same old platitudes, mouth the same old sentiments, and repeat the same old stories. We go through the motions of honoring not so much the man but the myth he has become. We’ve recast King, making him fit into a reshaped American narrative—one that airbrushes an ugly and vicious not-so-distant past into a less than “enlightened” time in history.

Sunday, January 14, 2018

Jacob G. Hornberger: Foreign interventionism is destroying us

  Most everyone acknowledges that James Madison, the father of the Constitution, possessed deep insights into the relationship between liberty and government. One of his important insights involved the relationship between liberty and war:

Saturday, January 13, 2018

Gene Policinski: ‘Weakening’ libel laws is not the right tactic — for anyone

  Making it easier to sue people for libel is not a good idea — for our democracy in general, and even for President Trump and a few of his personal lawyers, in particular.

  Trump has railed against existing legal protections, most recently following the publication of journalist Michael Wolff’s searing book “Fire and Fury: Inside the Trump White House.” On Wednesday, Trump said he will take a “strong look” at the country’s libel laws because they are a “sham and a disgrace and do not represent American values and American fairness.”

Friday, January 12, 2018

Craig Ford: Legislators should not ignore infrastructure, education and jobs just because it is an election year

  The Alabama Legislative Session began this week and, by all accounts, it’s expected to be an uneventful year. The only goal lawmakers seem to have is to pass the budgets and go home.

  But there is a lot of work that can and ought to be done instead of just kicking the can down the road for the next legislature.

  Beyond the typical budget issues, there’s a lot of unfinished business involving our infrastructure, healthcare, education, and jobs that we need to address – and all of these issues go hand-in-hand.

Thursday, January 11, 2018

Sam Berger: Three ways that states can stop ongoing health care sabotage

  This past year has seen a sustained federal attack on state insurance markets. Congress repeatedly sought to repeal the Affordable Care Act (ACA) and significantly cut funding for Medicaid. While these efforts proved unsuccessful, President Donald Trump and his allies in Congress were able to repeal the individual mandate in the regressive tax bill they passed at the end of 2017. And the Trump administration has taken a number of steps to drive up costs and drive down coverage, including by halting billions of dollars in federal payments that help keep people’s deductibles and co-pays low and by directing agencies to seek ways to increase the number of substandard plans in the insurance marketplace without adequate consumer protections.

Wednesday, January 10, 2018

Steve Flowers: Inside the Statehouse: The power and influence of Richard Shelby

  A few months back the Jefferson County Republican Party honored our Senior U.S. Senator, Richard Shelby. It was held at The Club in Birmingham. The view from atop Red Mountain from this elegant club is spectacular, especially at night from the ballroom. The glass enclosure allows you to see the grandeur of the Birmingham skyline. As you glimpse at the scene you can see many of the buildings that are the heart of the University of Alabama - Birmingham. 

Tuesday, January 9, 2018

Five ways to make a difference in 2018

  What will you do this year to be an engaged member of a democratic and tolerant community?

  Here are five items to add to your New Year's resolution list.

1. Pledge to start a conversation

  Your brother routinely makes anti-Semitic comments. Your neighbor uses the N-word in casual conversation. Your classmate insults something by saying, "That's so gay."

Monday, January 8, 2018

Taylor Dawson: It’s time for New Year’s resolutions

  Ah, January, the make-or-break month for New Year’s resolutions. Don’t you think that our elected officials—members of the legislature, state school board, executive branch, and others—should adopt some resolutions? I’ve got a few ideas for them.

1. Commit to protecting taxpayers.

  Want to raise taxes? Meet them with an offset elsewhere. Want to accept additional federal funding? Ask your constituents what they think, and make sure the program for which you’ll be accepting funding won’t put the taxpayers on the hook for an additional financial burden down the road. Want to help more Alabamians find jobs and start businesses? Consider doing something about burdensome occupational licensing restrictions. Fiscal responsibility and standing strong against policies that hurt taxpayers requires resolve, but it isn’t difficult.

Sunday, January 7, 2018

Tribute to Ida B. Wells and the power of the pen

  Born a black woman in rural Mississippi, just before the Emancipation Proclamation, she wasn’t supposed to make an impact on the world. But, she did. With her parents dying at age 16 of yellow fever, it was unlikely she would become nationally known and even internationally renowned. But, she became a household name even across the Atlantic Ocean in Great Britain where she lectured.

  Sadly, many today don’t even know her name. The great A. Leon Higginbotham called her a progenitor of Rosa Parks because she challenged a railway segregation law all the way up to the Tennessee Supreme Court.

Saturday, January 6, 2018

Voter purges prevent eligible Americans from voting

  On January 10, 2018, the U.S. Supreme Court will hear oral arguments in Husted v. A. Philip Randolph Institute,, a case that will determine whether states can remove individuals from voter rolls for simply failing to vote in previous elections. Every American has the fundamental right to vote, but from 2011 to 2014, Ohio removed a reported 846,000 registered Americans from its voter rolls for infrequent voting over a six-year period. This removal was in violation of the National Voter Registration Act.

Friday, January 5, 2018

Jacob G. Hornberger: Sabotaging peace in Korea

  It just might be that the two Koreas are figuring out a way to avoid war, much to the anger and chagrin of President Trump and the U.S. national-security establishment, who are obviously increasingly viewing war as inevitable and even in the best interests of the United States.

  Why, even the U.S. mainstream press, which oftentimes seems to operate as an ex officio spokesman for the U.S. government, appears irritated over North Korea’s initiation of talks with South Korea. The press describes North Korea’s overtures not as an attempt to avoid war but instead as a cynical attempt to “drive a wedge” between the United States and South Korea.

Thursday, January 4, 2018

Hank Sanders: Senate Sketches #1595: Making 2018 one of the best years of my life

  I expect 2018 to be one of the best years of my life. I hope and pray that 2018 is one of the best years of your life. It is great that our best year is not dependent upon our last year. We all can have a great year in 2018.

  What will make 2018 one of the best years of my life? The answer includes family, friends, community, work, and spirituality. These are not all the important areas of life, and they are not necessarily in order of importance. Each is necessary, and each impacts the others to form a great year. I believe that success in these areas of emphasis will result in a very good 2018 for you as well.

Wednesday, January 3, 2018

Steve Flowers: Inside the Statehouse: How Alabama got a new U.S. Senator

  As we enter the 2018 campaign season, many of you have asked me to look back and analyze the 2017 Special Election U.S. Senate race and explain in depth what happened and why. The most asked question is how could a Democrat win a U.S. Senate seat in Alabama, and does this mean that we are now possibly a two-party state? I will give you numerous answers, however, the simple answer to why a Democrat won is that Roy Moore was the Republican nominee. Are we a state that can go either way in an open U.S. Senate seat race? As we have just seen, it is possible but not probable.

  The Democrat, Doug Jones, won in the perfect storm. We will probably never experience this same scenario again. There are two maxims in politics that over my years of following politics never fail and become truer and truer. The more things change, the more they stay the same. One is that money is the mother’s milk of politics. The second is that more people vote against someone or something than vote for someone or something.

Tuesday, January 2, 2018

Lata Nott: The lazy person’s guide to being a good citizen

  You sometimes suspect that you’re not as well-informed as you should be. When you read about that study that found that middle school kids were unable to distinguish paid advertisements from news stories, you shook your head sadly — then secretly wondered if you would do much better. You’ve heard that most people are so entrenched in their own beliefs that even indisputable facts can’t change their minds, and would really like to believe you’re different from most people. (But doesn’t everyone think that?) You have, on at least a couple of occasions, pretended that you were familiar with a subject you actually barely understood.

Monday, January 1, 2018

Top 20 New Years quotations

"Here's to the bright New Year, and a fond farewell to the old; here's to the things that are yet to come, and to the memories that we hold." -Anonymous

"People are so worried about what they eat between Christmas and the New Year, but they really should be worried about what they eat between the New Year and Christmas." -Anonymous