Thursday, May 31, 2018

"He needs long-term care. Apparently we don't have that in the state of Mississippi."

  Tyler Haire was 16 when he was locked up. He was 20 before he went to trial.

  Tyler spent 1,266 days in the Calhoun County jail in Pittsboro, Mississippi, waiting for a mental health evaluation. He had called 911 on Nov. 17, 2012. When police came, they arrested him for stabbing his father’s girlfriend.

  Once in jail, he colored pictures of dragons and aliens for the sheriff and his deputies. Sitting in front of the television, Tyler held his feet and rocked back and forth. He misspelled his own name in two different court documents. He went without any of his prescriptions. He lost 90 pounds.

Wednesday, May 30, 2018

Steve Flowers: Inside the Statehouse – What Richard Shelby's committee chairmanship means for Alabama

  In my book, “Of Goats and Governors: Six Decades of Alabama Political Stories,” I suggest that based on seniority, tenure, power, and prestige that Alabama’s greatest senators have been Lister Hill, John Sparkman, and Richard Shelby.

  Folks, Richard Shelby has probably risen to the front of that triumvirate with his elevation in April to the chairmanship of the Senate Appropriations Committee. 

  The Chairman of the Senate Appropriations Committee makes the ultimate decision about how every federal dollar is spent. Alabama has never had a U.S. Senate Appropriations Chairman in our 200-year history.

Tuesday, May 29, 2018

Growing up as a child of the Little Rock Nine

  On May 27, 1958, Ernest Green became the first black student to graduate from Little Rock Central High School in Arkansas. He was among the group of black teens - known as the Little Rock Nine - who had integrated the school in 1957.

  Sixty years later, we sat down with Green and his daughter, MacKenzie Green, to talk about graduation, Hollywood, and activism today. We conducted the interviews separately but asked them the same questions. Their responses have been edited and condensed, and are presented together.

MacKenzie, what is it like being the child of one of the Little Rock Nine?

  MacKenzie Green: It’s funny because it’s not pressure from him; it’s pressure from me once I figured out who he was. Because it’s not like I grew up with him being like, “I’m Ernest Green, capital E, capital G,” no, it was — he was dad.

  Ernest Green: She’s absorbed this legacy and the history, and she wanted to be her own person. That’s kind of where I started out. I wanted to be my own person. I believed that [Little Rock] Central High at the time offered the best alternative for me, and I couldn’t figure out why I wasn’t there.

Ernest, how did you end up attending Little Rock Central High School?

  EG: This was three years after the Brown [v. Board of Education] decision. The Little Rock school board was under a court order to desegregate in 1957, and spring of ‘57 I decided that I wanted to transfer. I didn’t pay a lot of attention to the process. All I did was to sign a piece of paper that I was willing to be a transfer student. I lived in the Central district, and I sort of left it at that.

What did your parents think?

  EG: My dad had passed, and my mother and my aunt were both schoolteachers. My grandfather was a retired letter carrier. I’m certain they had reservations about my going there, but they never imposed that on my decision. They said they would support me as much as I needed support, and that they were standing behind me. They didn’t think I was making a wrongheaded decision, but I’m certain they took some negative responses from people in the community because everybody in the black community wasn’t sold that this was something they wanted to support.

What kind of pushback did you receive?

  EG: I had a job for the summer as a locker room attendant at the country club. Sometime during the middle of the summer, the school board published the names of the students who were eligible to transfer, and I suspect that they did that to try to intimidate and whittle down the numbers. Of course, that’s what occurred. But while I was working at the country club, I had developed a friendship with one of the members’ sons who was about my age. The day they published my name in the paper, he came screaming into the locker room, very upset, agitated, wanted to know how I could do that. “You seemed like such a nice guy!” So that gave me some indication that this was not going to be a day at the beach, but we clearly didn’t anticipate that they were going to call out troops to bar our entrance.

What has it been like watching MacKenzie get an education in a system very different from the one you integrated?

  EG: It’s what I thought we were fighting to change.

  MG: I just finished my MBA at Columbia, and I remember the last day of orientation fell on the same day as the first day that he got to [Little Rock] Central High. I remember sitting there with one of my classmates and saying, you know, “This is kind of heavy.” I said, “I am starting at this Ivy League institution that didn’t take people who looked like me, and getting a degree that most people that look like me still don’t get.”

  EG: It’s rewarding to see that they don’t have to go through the same hassle that I had at their age. That’s the outcome we wanted to see occur.

  MG: It was a weird time to drop into Columbia, though, because you had the beginning of Black Lives Matter, and then the [2016] election. Sometimes, my peers would look at me for a perfect answer, or to be stressed or outraged. I was actually having a fight with a classmate recently, who was like, “I’m so stressed!” And I said, “That’s not a choice. That’s a state of paralysis that I can’t be in with you.”

MacKenzie, what’s next now that you’ve graduated from Columbia?

  MG: I looked around and said, “Why are there no black people? Why are there no women?” And I thought, “Oh my God, Hollywood!” It’s entertainment, it’s this world where there’s another glass ceiling — in my case a stained glass ceiling — to be broken. Sometimes he’ll look at me and say, “You know you don’t have to be the first at something. You know you can just find something you like,” and I’m like, “Well, I knew you'd say that,” and I go, “But for me, I’ll feel disappointed if you did all of this and then people are like, ‘Well what became of his daughter?’ and they’re like, ‘I heard she’s a really great soulcycle instructor!’”

  EG: MacKenzie has a lot to say. She really knows the subject matter, and I’m proud of what she’s achieved.

  MG: During my time at Columbia, I interned at a bunch of different entertainment brands, Harper’s Bazaar, Paramount Pictures, NBC Universal, so eventually my dream of all dreams is to be the chief marketing officer of a Hollywood studio. I just think there’s something very poetic and beautiful about an industry that was built on “Birth of a Nation” eventually having somebody sitting there looking like the faces that they said were going to destroy the business.

  EG: She has the vision, she has the energy, and I think she has the intelligence that she can achieve that.

  MG: Actually one of his gifts to me when I got the Paramount gig was a “Birth of a Nation” vintage poster. He was like, “When you’re ready, we’ll get it framed and put it up in your office right next to your Columbia MBA.”

  EG: I think she’s the kind of person that needs to be there.

Ernest, what was it like watching MacKenzie graduate from Columbia?

  EG: She’s a lady with a mission. She’s staying on point and trying to complete the things she wants to do.

  MG: There is no finish line to this. My dad taught me that the first one through the wall is the bloodiest.

  EG: I’m sure there’s somebody right now in Little Rock who thinks that we brought down the bubonic plague, we nine, but all you can do is just continue to push.

What was your graduation from Little Rock Central High School like?

  EG: Principal Matthews told me I didn’t have to attend the ceremony, that they would mail me my diploma. I thought about that for about half a millisecond. I didn’t go through all this not to participate in it. The night of the ceremony, they called out all the students who had received awards and scholarships, and I had received a scholarship from Michigan State. They didn’t cite me.

  MG: I was talking about this with my dad today, and he said, “I went to my 50th high school reunion” — not the anniversary of the Little Rock Nine [integrating the high school], but his actual senior high school reunion — and he said, “There was not a single person who was at that 50th reunion who did not think me going to Little Rock was the greatest thing that ever happened. They were so happy I was there, everybody was apparently my friend.” And he says, “That’s the funny thing about right now,” he goes, “Yes, there’s divisiveness, there is fighting, there are these moments of complete and total chaos, but I can guarantee you when, God willing, we have the 60th anniversary of the Colin Kaepernick kneel, people will be sitting around and saying, “I’ve always thought it was the greatest idea ever. I just thought it was so brave.”

  EG: I think there’s no reason to let up and not continue to push.

Especially when Martin Luther King Jr. personally attended your high school graduation.

  EG: Unbeknownst to me, Dr. King was speaking at Pine Bluff, Arkansas, which is 35 to 40 miles from Little Rock, and he wanted to come up and witness my graduation. He was close to Mrs. Bates, who was the head of the NAACP. This was the beginning of his career, so it’s almost impossible for anybody of this generation to believe anybody didn’t know who Dr. King was, but in fact, I’ve always said if local police had known who he was they probably wouldn’t have allowed him into the ceremony. Anyway, he sat with my mother and aunt and grandfather. Afterward, we had a chance to get together briefly. I had a party at the house and after, we said our hellos and all that. I’m a 16-year-old teenager that just graduated from high school, so I was more interested in hanging out with my friends.

  MG: But you know, he didn’t stop. He got to Lehman Brothers and looked at young black men who were coming in, and people would say, “I don’t think he has the potential,” and he’d say, “I see potential. I’m willing to take him on.”

  EG: I feel really recognized that Martin Luther King attended my high school graduation. My mother kept a diary of gifts and things I received, and in that diary is a notation of M.L. King of Montgomery, Alabama. He wrote a check for $15. I’m pretty certain I’m in some very rare company there.

Ernest, how did you juggle carrying on a civil rights legacy with raising small children?

  EG: We really didn’t start getting this kind of recognition until the 25th or 30th anniversary.

  MG: It didn’t seem strange to me that my father had to travel a lot during February, or that sometimes when I picked up the phone and said hello, it’d be like, “This is a call from the White House,” and I’d be like “Dad, it’s for you!” These things felt normal because he created a sense of normalcy. And yet he was on a plane traveling the world! But he traveled with my storybooks and read them to me every night.

  EG: Partly you’ve got duties as a parent, so some of that doesn’t interfere with the weight of history. But I’ve always said that I’m the oldest show-and-tell for each of my kids, from kindergarten through to graduate school. So I’ve gotten used to it.

  MG: I remember I didn’t know he’d been at Nelson Mandela’s inauguration, but he got home on a redeye, slept in the living room in his suit, woke me up the next morning to go to swim practice, and sat through the entirety of practice at 6 o’clock in the morning. He never said like, “Oh, honey, mom’s gonna have to take you to swim practice, I’m so tired, I was at Nelson Mandela’s inauguration.” It’s like, “She’s 8! She doesn’t know or care about any of this, this isn’t what she’s going to remember.”

  EG: We attended a lot of swim practices. But if she was willing to work that hard at it, there’s no reason I couldn’t get up and get her to events and practices and meets. I’ve been to more horse shows and swim meets than any other American I think.

  MG: I’m very good friends with Andy Young’s granddaughter — she and I grew up together — and we used to always tell our peers, “Our parents are alive, as are your parents and your grandparents, and they had an opinion on my father and her grandfather.” And I think now is that time when history is being created where I’m like, “You’re picking the stories you’re either going choose to omit to your grandchildren or the stories you’re going to be proud to tell.”

  EG: I call it the microwave generation, in which you put something in and it pops out in ten seconds. That’s not the case here.

  MG: I think the interesting thing is how the trials of now have created potential for the next generation of great thought leaders and activists to step into their own.

  EG: I always saw it as a very long-term situation. If those who had some opportunity to influence the opinions of other students [at Little Rock Central High] had spoken up a little more, it probably wouldn’t have been as tough a year for us as it turned out to be. I think we’re going to experience this for some while, that the pioneers are the ones who have to create the road and the path and all that.

  MG: That’s what I would hope to impart to my children: that the first step towards change is not easy, but you create an opportunity busting through that wall for others to come behind you.

  EG: [MacKenzie] understands the importance of it. I’m going to be a supporter of hers to the very end.

  This article was published by the Southern Poverty Law Center, an Alabama-based civil rights organization.

Monday, May 28, 2018

Michael Josephson: Memorial Day, a Day of Remembrance

  It’s not just an excuse for a three-day weekend or a day for barbecue and beer.

  Memorial Day is a time for Americans to connect with our national history and core values by honoring those who gave their lives fighting for this country.

  It’s said that this special day to salute fallen Americans was born during the Civil War in Mississippi when a group of grieving mothers and wives who were placing flowers on graves in a Confederate cemetery noticed a neglected graveyard for Union soldiers.

Sunday, May 27, 2018

How Trump can still win his Nobel on Korea

  All is not lost. Despite the fact that President Trump has canceled his much-ballyhooed summit with North Korean dictator Kim Jung Un, the president and his army of Trumpsters and Trumpistas need not despair. There is still an opportunity for him to win his Nobel Prize for Peace.

  First things first, however.

  In 1962, a Cold War curmudgeon named Fred Schwarz published a book entitled "You Can Trust the Communists (to be Communists)". The idea behind the book, of course, was not that you could really trust the communists. The point was the exact opposite. Communists could not be trusted at all, on anything, especially since they were hell-bent on one overarching goal: to turn America Red.

Saturday, May 26, 2018

Four principles for a free community college program that works for all

  Over the last several years, 16 states have implemented free or debt-free community college programs to ease the financial burden on students. These programs recognize that community colleges are an on-ramp to postsecondary education for millions of students, especially students of color.

  New Jersey and Connecticut are currently considering their own free community college legislation. Legislators there should look to how other states have implemented similar legislation in the past and build on the successes of current state programs. But policymakers must also ensure their proposals are not overly restrictive or based on inaccurate assumptions about students. To that end, policymakers in all states should consider the following four key principles in designing new proposals for a free community college system that works for every student.

Friday, May 25, 2018

Civil asset forfeiture and the Alabama Attorney General race

  An unlikely dynamic has emerged in the Alabama Attorney General’s race:  three of the four Republicans running and both Democrats have acknowledged that one of the most powerful local law enforcement tools, the authority to confiscate property from citizens without charging them with a crime, raises serious constitutional questions. Even the lone defender of the status quo, interim Attorney General Steve Marshall, concedes that the public is entitled to more information about how this process known as civil forfeiture works and what happens to cash and property once they fall into the arms of local authorities.

Thursday, May 24, 2018

Jacob G. Hornberger: Time to end foreign aid to Israel (and everyone else)

  Given the recent shooting of unarmed Palestinian protestors at the hands of Israeli soldiers, leaving 58 people killed and 2,700 injured, isn’t it time for the American people to be asking the following question about the role of the federal government in the lives of the American people: Why should any American be forced to subsidize the salaries of the Israeli soldiers who did the shooting and the rifles and bullets they used in the massacre?

  I am referring, of course, to “foreign aid,” the federal program by which American citizens are forced to fund foreign regimes that many would choose not to fund if they had a choice.

  Even those who support the deadly mayhem in Gaza nonetheless would be hard-pressed to explain why anyone should be forced to fund something that violates his own conscience.

Wednesday, May 23, 2018

Steve Flowers: Inside the Statehouse – Less than two weeks to the primaries: The governor’s race

  As we get down to the lick log in the 2018 June primaries, there are few if any surprises brewing in any of the major state races. Polling indicates that all of the contests are about where they were three or four months ago when the races began.

  There is a tremendous amount of apathy and indifference as we head into the final days. This lack of enthusiasm has also affected fundraising. Most of the high-profile races have not attracted the level of spending as races in the past.

Tuesday, May 22, 2018

Calling people 'animals' is dangerous — and we've seen it before

  President Trump said at a conference on sanctuary cities last week: “These are not people. These are animals.”

  His insinuation that immigration status or criminal record somehow determines humanity is not only appalling — it’s dangerous.

  We’ve heard this dehumanizing rhetoric before.

  During the Holocaust, the Nazis called Jews Untermenschen — subhumans. Before the Rwandan genocide, Tutsis were called “cockroaches.” And just recently in our own country, we learned that extremists behind a bomb plot to kill Somali Muslims called their intended victims “cockroaches.”

Monday, May 21, 2018

Jacob G. Hornberger: A Nobel Prize for death to Trump

  Trumpsters are hoping that President Trump is able to enter into a peace treaty with North Korea that brings an end to the Korean War. If Trump is successful, the Trumpsters say, then he should receive the Nobel Prize for Peace.

  Actually, if such a peace treaty does come to pass, it would be more appropriate for Trump to receive the Nobel Prize for Death.

  After all, the Trumpsters are praising Trump for pressuring North Korea into coming to the negotiating table. Let’s assume they are right. What pressure are they referring to?

Sunday, May 20, 2018

Two states are pushing laws to criminalize some protests

  Rightly or wrongly, certain First Amendment issues tend to dominate the national conversation more than others. Bring up President Trump’s tweets criticizing the news media, college campus protests of controversial speakers, or the possibility of the government regulating Facebook and you’re bound to inspire a rousing and possibly heated discussion. Mention that state laws protecting critical infrastructure might actually erode the right to assemble and you’re more likely to get blank stares and a hasty topic change. After all, it’s an issue that combines the freedom of assembly, which barely anyone knows about, with state and local law, which barely anyone cares about. Throw in the word “infrastructure” and it’s practically anti-clickbait.

Saturday, May 19, 2018

Hank Sanders: Senate Sketches #1614 - I appreciate teachers!

  I appreciate teachers. I struggled with teachers, but I appreciate teachers. I even fought with teachers, but I appreciate teachers. This week includes National Teachers’ Day and it is National Teacher Appreciation Week. It gives me a ready-made opportunity to express my profound appreciation for teachers.

  Teaching is one of the most important vocations in our society. In fact, it is a special calling. It is a calling that touches, shapes, and molds young minds for better or for worse. No other vocation provides such an opportunity to touch young, growing minds. Teachers often spend more time with our children than we do. Teaching is a precious gift.

Friday, May 18, 2018

When calling yourself a fascist is "edgy"

  A copy of Mein Kampf. A photo of Timothy McVeigh. A North Korean flag over the couch. An American flag for a doormat. And over the kitchen table, a banner for the hate group Atomwaffen Division.

  The four young men who shared this apartment in Florida got there by way of the internet.

  It started with video games. That led to 4chan, which led to the Daily Stormer, a neo-Nazi website so extreme its followers recently bombarded a Jewish woman and her family with hundreds of threats like, “Put your uppity slut wife Tanya back in her cage, you rat-faced kike. … Day of the rope soon for your entire family.”

Thursday, May 17, 2018

Conservatives, we must be willing to talk about race

  I’m a proud product of public schools. My teachers were dedicated, the curriculum challenging, and the fierce competition between friends forced me to study harder.

  I do have one qualm, though. Thanks to historically-selective textbooks, I remember next to nothing of our nation’s history between the Civil War and World War I. My knowledge of that era is essentially three things: railroads, long-bearded presidents, and Henry Ford’s invention of the Model T.

  I don’t think I’m alone in encountering this knowledge gap. Thankfully, a new museum and memorial in Montgomery fills in some of the spaces left out of my historical timeline and beyond. The memorial demonstrates that, although formally war-less, these decades were anything but peaceful or boring. In fact, many Southerners faced a frightening reality during that period—a reality characterized by racial terrorism.

Wednesday, May 16, 2018

Steve Flowers: Inside the Statehouse - Secondary statewide races on ballot this year

  Folks, we are less than three weeks away from our June 5th primaries. Besides the governor’s race, all of our secondary state constitutional races are on the ballot.

  As we head into the home stretch, there appears to be very little interest in the primary elections. People seem disinterested and disillusioned. There have been a good many scandals and ethics convictions over the past quadrennium, which has put a damper on the enthusiasm generally associated with a gubernatorial election year. Even fundraising has been down considerably.

  This voting ambivalence will result in a lower than normal turnout. This will be an advantage for incumbents and those with name identification.

Tuesday, May 15, 2018

President’s press credential threat will be ‘trumped’ by the First Amendment

  Donald Trump can fantasize all he wants about taking away White House press credentials from news outlets that he doesn’t like.

  It’s unpleasant for the journalists in Trump’s crosshairs to hear such bluster, but journalists and free press advocates ought not to even imagine a moment when, in misplaced solidarity, they all walk out of the White House press room in protest over even one credential being pulled.

  As strong a message as one hopes that would send to the nation, we must remember that Trump can’t really extinguish the constitutionally protected role of journalists as “watchdogs” — but journalists, in a moment of anger and hubris, could abandon it.

Monday, May 14, 2018

Craig Ford: Alabama wants its own bridge to nowhere

  You may have seen ads on TV recently talking about a bridge project in South Alabama. If you hadn’t heard of this project before those ads, you’re not alone.

  Most people, including legislators, were not aware of the plans to build this $87 million taxpayer-funded bridge to nowhere that even many Baldwin County residents are opposed to.

  So what exactly is this bridge, and why are some state leaders pushing it?

Sunday, May 13, 2018

Jacob G. Hornberger: The pathetic U.S. golden dollar

  I recently received a U.S. golden dollar from a vending machine. What a pathetic thing. Golden in color, Wikipedia reports that it actually has “a copper core clad by manganese brass.”

  Needless to say, this golden coin is nothing like the gold coins that, along with silver coins, were the official money of the American people for more than a hundred years. The gold coins that Americans used throughout the 1800s and into the early 1900s were real gold coins, not alloyed coins consisting of base metals, like today’s golden coin.

Saturday, May 12, 2018

The Supreme Court could make unions a lot more radical

  Fed up with the harsh conditions under which they were forced to labor, workers from West Virginia decided to call it quits. Together, they left their jobs, donned red bandanas, and amassed 10,000 strong near Blair Mountain, where a local sheriff had assembled a 3,000-man force of police, hired security, and militia to put them down.

  No, this isn’t the recent West Virginia teachers strike — it’s a 1921 coal miners strike, which escalated into what would come to be known as the Battle of Blair Mountain. The two sides battled for five days until more than 2,000 additional U.S. Army troops entered the fray to crush the workers' rebellion. Up to 100 laborers were killed, hundreds more were injured, and more than 1,000 were arrested. While the uprising seems like an episode relegated to the largely forgotten labor wars of past, the Supreme Court’s upcoming decision on Janus v. American Federation of State, County, and Municipal Employees (AFSCME) may make such conflicts part of the future for unions once again.

Friday, May 11, 2018

Hank Sanders: Senate Sketches #1613 - Unveiling history to heal and lift

  It was informative. It was enlightening. It was painful. It was profound. It was powerful. I am writing about my visit to the opening of the Legacy Museum and the unveiling of the National Memorial for Peace and Justice, both located in Montgomery, Alabama. It is an experience to remember.

  The Legacy Museum was wonderfully presented in holograms, photos, newspaper headlines and articles, plaques, jars of dirt and much more. It traces the pain and degradation and oppression of slavery. It also traces the long reach of slavery and white supremacy through the following: segregation; forced labor; Black codes; lynchings; mass incarceration; police killings; and more. The National Memorial for Peace and Justice documents the scope and brutality of lynching in a unique and powerful way. Each exhibit is informative, enlightening, painful, profound and powerful. Together they are overpowering.

Thursday, May 10, 2018

Laurence M. Vance: People who really deserve a Trump pardon

  President Trump has issued three presidential pardons in the fifteen months he has been in office.

  According to Article 2, Section 2, Clause 1 of the Constitution, the president “shall have power to grant reprieves and pardons for offenses against the United States except in cases of impeachment.” According to the case of Ex parte Garland (1867), the scope of the president’s pardon power is quite broad. And according to United States v. Klein (1871), Congress cannot limit the president’s grant of an amnesty or pardon.

  On August 25, 2017, Trump pardoned Joseph M. Arpaio, the longtime sheriff of Maricopa County, Arizona, for his conviction for criminal contempt of court on July 31, 2017. He had not yet been sentenced.

Wednesday, May 9, 2018

Steve Flowers: Inside the Statehouse – Low voter turnout expected for primaries

  We are less than four weeks away from our June 5th primary. Those of us who follow Alabama politics have pointed to this year as being a very entertaining and interesting gubernatorial year. However, last year’s resignation by Gov. Robert Bentley and the ascension of Kay Ivey from lieutenant governor to the governor’s office has put a damper on the excitement we anticipated in the governor’s race. 

  Kay took over the reins of state government and her appearance as a seasoned veteran of state politics seems to resonate with voters. Polling indicates that the governor’s race is hers to lose.  Therefore, the less she does, the better.  Her support is a mile wide and an inch deep.  A slip and fall could derail her train.

Tuesday, May 8, 2018

Journalists being killed, jailed, threatened – and that’s no joke

  Ten journalists were killed in a series of attacks May 1 in Afghanistan. The week prior, 14 journalists from Turkey’s leading opposition newspaper, Cumhuriyet, were given lengthy jail terms after a show trial based on trumped-up charges. Nine Turkish journalists who worked for Zaman, Turkey’s most widely-read newspaper until it was shuttered by the government, now face life sentences simply for writing columns critical of the government.

  And already this year, at least 26 journalists worldwide have been killed — some in conflict areas but many targeted for murder — according to tallies by the Committee to Protect Journalists and Reporters Without Borders.

  For Americans, that ought to bring sobering perspective – and a refocusing – after the recent burst of media hand-wringing over a barbed routine by comedian Michelle Wolf at the annual White House Correspondents Dinner.

Monday, May 7, 2018

Advancing RBG’s vision of equality in the Trump Age

  Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg has spent her career in unwavering pursuit of equality for women. A biopic of her life, now screening across the country, has been released at a pivotal time for all women—particularly for the Millennial women who adopted her as their icon.

  This generation does not know a world without the advances achieved by the woman affectionately dubbed RBG. But as the country faces significant rollbacks of gender equality laws and conservatives relentlessly work to distort the push for greater equality as unfair or “special treatment,” Millennial women are perfectly poised to use RBG’s framework of equality not only to resist such dangerous regressions but also to push progress even further.

Sunday, May 6, 2018

What Ben Carson doesn’t get about poverty

  “The prescription for the cure rests with the accurate diagnosis of the disease.”

  Apply Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s words to Housing and Urban Development (HUD) Secretary Ben Carson’s latest plan and you’ll see just how brainless public housing policy could become.

  Carson has unveiled a plan that would, among other things, triple the minimum rent for the poorest public housing residents—from $50 to $150. The change would affect an estimated 1.7 million people, 1 million of whom are children.

Saturday, May 5, 2018

Craig Ford: Alabama’s pre-K program continues to lead the nation, but thousands of kids still don’t have access

  When I was growing up, kids didn’t start learning the alphabet until they began kindergarten. Today, kids are expected to be able to write their names and read at least some words before they even begin kindergarten.

  The expectations are higher, and starting off behind everyone else in their class can leave a kid feeling frustrated and affect their self-esteem. Trying to catch up to their classmates can be difficult, and it is hard for teachers and students when some students are ahead of others.

  This is why Alabama’s pre-K program is so important. And the program’s success is undeniable.

Friday, May 4, 2018

Hank Sanders: Senate Sketches #1612: Rev. Dr. F.D. Reese has marched his last march

  Rev. Doctor Frederick Douglas Reese marched his last march on April 5, 2018. He marched from the Earthly Realm into the Upper Realm. He joyfully joined other members of the Courageous Eight. They had already marched their last march.

  I want to lift Rev. Dr. F.D. Reese. I want to also lift the Courageous Eight as I lift Dr. Reese. First, let me tell you about the Courageous Eight. Their names, in alphabetical order, are Ulysses Blackmon, Amelia Boynton-Robinson, Ernest Doyle, Marie Foster, James Gildersleeve, J.D. Hunter, F.D. Reese, and Henry Shannon. Names are important but do not tell us nearly enough. All eight marched for freedom. All eight fought for justice. All eight have marched their last march.

Thursday, May 3, 2018

Ban committee-related campaign contributions to state legislators

  Americans deserve elected officials who fairly represent them and fight for their interests, but too often they lose out to wealthy special interests who can make large campaign contributions to lawmakers. State leaders should fight for strong, clear anti-corruption solutions, including a policy that bars state lawmakers from accepting contributions from special interests with business before the legislative committees on which they sit. Voters overwhelmingly support breaking the link between committee membership and fundraising. 88 percent of voters—including 86 percent of Trump voters—said that they favor barring congressional committee members from raising money from corporations or special interests that fall under the jurisdiction of their committees.

Wednesday, May 2, 2018

Steve Flowers: Inside the Statehouse – Court of Appeals races on the ballot this year

  Alabama's Court of Civil Appeals and Criminal Appeals have several members up for election this year. The folks who sit on these courts essentially have zero name identification. Even when polling is done soon after Alabamians have voted for them, Alabama voters still cannot identify them.

  These courts do just what their name implies. They hear appeals from civil and criminal cases from around the state. They deflect a lot of cases from getting to the Alabama Supreme Court. Most states have these appellate courts. They are similar to and derived from the federal appellate courts.

  Alabama is in the minority of states that elect these judges. All of our judges in Alabama are elected, not only the Supreme and Appellate Court jurists, but also our local Circuit and District Judges. Judges in most states are appointed – usually by the governor. The crafters of our 1901 Constitution gave the people the right to vote on judges, a deference from having a powerful governor.

Tuesday, May 1, 2018

Parker Snider: When the government tells us no

  Sometimes the government tells us no.

  I’m not allowed to sit in the Oval Office and watch President Trump mull over Fox and Friends, ready to Tweet at a moment’s notice. I (begrudgingly) accept that. I also can’t read classified intelligence briefings or call a special session of the Alabama Legislature. I could ask, but I’m quite sure I’d be told no.

  Even so, in the United States, especially when compared to other nations, the government tells us no relatively rarely.

  Sometimes, however, our government tells us no in a most sinister fashion, by disallowing us to use our skills, experience, and knowledge to work.