Friday, August 31, 2018

From cable to the White House, the mainstreaming of white nationalism

  It doesn’t take the infiltration of a hate group meeting or a deep dive into extremist chat rooms to be exposed to white nationalist ideas.

  Take Dylann Roof, who murdered nine black churchgoers in Charleston, South Carolina, after a chain of events that started with a simple Google search.

  As Roof wrote in an online manifesto, when he typed the words “black on White crime” into Google, he came across the website of a crudely racist group called the Council of Conservative Citizens. There, he found what he described as “pages upon pages of these brutal black on White murders.”

Thursday, August 30, 2018

Limited government demands more, not less, of Alabama

  In Alabama, politicians and residents alike proclaim the benefits of limited government.

  Appropriately, our state’s motto is Audemus jura nostra defendere, which, when translated into the more popular language of English, reads, “We dare defend our rights”. The phrase in original context––an 18th century poem by Sir William Jones––is followed by the potential thief of rights: “the tyrant while they wield the chain”, i.e. the government.

Wednesday, August 29, 2018

Steve Flowers: Inside the Statehouse - BCA is back, bigger and better than ever

  Alabama Power is and has always been a force in Alabama politics. Some entities may have influence in the Alabama Legislature, but the power company has the ear of folks in all three branches of State government: legislative, executive and judicial.

  To quote the great Dr. Paul Hubbert, if you asked elected Alabama officials who they would call if their ox got into a ditch, it would be an overwhelming vote for Alabama Power. Alabama Power is the friend and confidant that both Democratic and Republican senators and representatives would name. The company is known for listening to legislators and treating them fairly and honestly, and it is truly nonpartisan in its approach.

Tuesday, August 28, 2018

Trump Administration says poverty barely exists and measuring it is ‘arbitrary’

  According to a recent Trump administration report, when poverty is “properly measured,” less than 3 percent of Americans are poor. If that sounds like a dramatic underestimation to you, that’s because it is—the comparable Census Bureau estimate is four times higher. That’s the difference between saying there are about 11 million people with below-poverty incomes in the United States (about the population of Georgia), or 44.8 million (roughly the combined populations of Georgia, New York, Pennsylvania, and West Virginia).

Monday, August 27, 2018

Can Brennan make a First Amendment case? Yes, to ‘us’

  Does former CIA director John Brennan have a First Amendment case against President Trump for pulling Brennan’s national security clearance?

  Definitely – in the court of public opinion, if not automatically in a court of law.

  Our freedom of speech is most protected when we choose to speak out on matters of public concern; in short, when we join in “political speech.” We are protected against government censorship in advance of such speech, and from government retaliation afterwards, and even – though least often considered – also protected against being forced to speak if we chose not to.

Sunday, August 26, 2018

President Trump is stoking white nationalism, exploiting racist fear

  In the days since he was implicated as a co-conspirator in a federal crime, the president – with the help of his allies in the right-wing press – has fallen back on his most basic political strategy: stoking racial resentment and fear.

  He has not only shamelessly exploited a horrible tragedy in Iowa but tweeted out his intention to put the full force of the U.S. State Department behind a white nationalist conspiracy theory.

Saturday, August 25, 2018

Women of color will lose the most if Roe v. Wade is overturned

  The crucial question swirling around President Donald Trump’s nomination of Brett Kavanaugh to replace Justice Anthony Kennedy on the U.S. Supreme Court is just how far right the court will shift. Could Kavanaugh’s appointment gut and even overturn Roe v. Wade? Will the Affordable Care Act’s protections for people with pre-existing conditions be in jeopardy? Will the rich and powerful be emboldened and empowered at the expense of the less fortunate?

  While it is understandably important to reflect on the stakes this nomination will have on the future of the court, it is equally important to consider who will be harmed most if Judge Kavanaugh is confirmed.

Friday, August 24, 2018

Charter schools are keeping promises

  On the campaign trail in 2012, Mitt Romney remarked that “charter schools are so successful that almost every politician can find something good to say about them.”

  Romney was right.

  President Bush told crowds he was a “big believer” in charter schools, President Obama proclaimed National Charter Schools Week year after year, and 2016 presidential candidates Bernie Sanders, Donald Trump, and Hillary Clinton are all on record praising public charter schools.

Thursday, August 23, 2018

Hank Sanders: Senate Sketches #1628 - The power of looking back to move forward!

  Looking back to move forward. This is a powerful concept. It is not a new concept. There is even an African symbol for this concept. It is an eagle-like bird with its head looking back while its feet are facing forward. The name of the concept is Sankofa.

  As a child, I looked back to move forward. I looked back at Thurgood Marshall, the great civil rights lawyer who was the architect of the Brown v. Board of Education Supreme Court ruling. This decision cracked the wall of oppressive segregation constructed by the Plessy v. Ferguson Case of 1896 that forged the specious "separate but equal" doctrine. I looked back and commenced my journey to become a civil rights lawyer.

Wednesday, August 22, 2018

Steve Flowers: Inside the Statehouse – Beth Chapman... on Rane's plane ride?

  Recently, I wrote about Alfa’s influence in Alabama politics. In my August 8 column, I said, the Alabama Farmers Federation still controls the Alabama Legislature. They used to play in the governor’s race. However, they got burned badly by Bob Riley when they helped him get elected, and the first thing he did was stab them in the back. They have slipped around this year, however, and will not only own the legislature but will probably have a good friend in the governor’s office as well.

  The day before the Republican Primary, Kay Ivey was on Jimmy Rane's jet to fly around the state. Boarding with her was Beth Chapman, Alfa’s political consultant. The next night when she came off the platform after giving her appreciation speech, guess who was helping her off the stage and holding her arm so that she would not fall. It was Jimmy Parnell, the Farmers Federation President.

Tuesday, August 21, 2018

Families first, taxpayers last

  Milton Friedman may have put families first, but he put taxpayers last.

  Friedman (1912–2006) was one of the most influential free-market economists of the twentieth century. After receiving his Ph.D. in economics from Columbia University, he worked for the federal government and then taught economics at the University of Chicago for thirty years. In 1976, he received the Nobel Prize in Economics “for his achievements in the fields of consumption analysis, monetary history, and theory and for his demonstration of the complexity of stabilization policy.”

Monday, August 20, 2018

"You people who’ve got gay children, don’t mess up like I did"

  “Half-baked maggot.” “If he wants to be a female, make him a female. A good sharp knife will do the job really quick.”

  That’s what adults in Oklahoma had to say last week about a transgender middle schooler named Maddie who used the girls’ bathroom during her first week at Achille Public Schools. She is 12 years old.

  A parent’s post on Facebook — “the transgender [sic] is already using the girls [sic] bathroom” — attracted adults from outside of the school district. In just a few hours, hundreds of shockingly violent comments had proliferated.

Sunday, August 19, 2018

‘Enemies of the people?’ Simply, plainly — ‘no.’

  As plainly and clearly as one can say or write this:

  Journalism and journalists are not “enemies of the people.”

  A free press brings us the news of the day, from weather to Wall Street, and when done properly, functions as a “watchdog on government.” The public expects that first part, and the First Amendment — on behalf of all of us — protects that last part.

  At many small-town publications and major metropolitan dailies and broadcast outlets big and small, something extraordinary is happening: News outlets are publishing editorials defending a free and independent press, pushing back against those who have attacked them as “enemies,” “despicable people” and purveyors of “fake news.”

Saturday, August 18, 2018

Common roots of the wars on immigrants and drugs

  I just read a very insightful article about the history of the war on drugs, entitled “How America Convinced the World to Demonize Drugs” by J.S. Rafaeli. The central theme of the article is that while nations around the world have their own particular drug laws and drug wars, the overall originator and instigator of the global war on drugs is the U.S. government.

  What particularly fascinated me about the article, however, was the way it showed how the war on drugs originally intersected with the war on immigrants.

Friday, August 17, 2018

Hank Sanders: Senate Sketches #1627 - The frightening force of a powerful personality

  “Why do all these people believe Trump? It’s obvious that he lies all the time. They have documented his lying more than 3000 times in the year and a half he has been president. It makes no sense!” I get some form of this question very often. I may not answer the question, but I address it. I think it’s the frightening force of a powerful personality.

  During the election, one of my grandchildren by foster relationship was a Trump supporter. I talked with him on several occasions. He is well over voting age. Each time my grandchild agreed that it made no sense to support Trump for president. However, the next time I would talk to him, he would be supporting Trump for president.

Thursday, August 16, 2018

Craig Ford: Every school should have a school resource officer

  Now that school has started back, a lot of attention has been given to the issue of school safety and security.

  Concerns over school safety and, particularly, the possibility of a mass shooting are nothing new. Though the Columbine massacre that happened nearly 20 years ago was not the first school shooting, it became the first in a wave of shootings that has plagued this country right up to the shootings in Parkland, Florida and Santa Fe just a few months ago.

  That’s why most school systems throughout Alabama used the summer months to improve school safety by tapping into funds that the Alabama Legislature unearmarked earlier this year.

Wednesday, August 15, 2018

Inside the Statehouse – Brett Kavanaugh to SCOTUS assures Trump a legacy

  The appointment of a United States Supreme Court Justice is one of the most profound legacies that a U. S. President can achieve. The opportunity that President Donald Trump was given to appoint Neil Gorsuch to the High Tribunal last year will be a monumental achievement of the Trump administration.

  The chance to name a second Supreme Court appointment will be a colossal legacy for the Trump presidency. The appointment of two seats on the Supreme Court has given Trump an indelible place in U.S. presidential history.

Tuesday, August 14, 2018

Trump’s war on Turkey for Pastor Brunson

  Every year, thousands of American citizens are incarcerated in foreign countries. Yet, President Trump has decided to go to war to secure the release of only one of them. What gives with that?

  The citizen who is receiving the privileged treatment is Andrew Brunson, an American pastor incarcerated in Turkey. He is charged with participating in an attempted coup in 2016 against Turkey’s president, Recep Tayyip Erdogan.

Monday, August 13, 2018

Learning fiscal responsibility from the fall of MoviePass

  One year ago, a relatively-unknown company announced that, for a monthly fee of $9.95, subscribers could see one movie a day without paying anything at the box office. That’s right – even though the average movie ticket in the U.S. is $9 – a $9.95 monthly subscription could get you into 31 movies.

  Since last August, three million film-goers have subscribed to MoviePass, the company offering this seemingly too-good-to-be-true service.

Sunday, August 12, 2018

Brett Kavanaugh threatens Americans’ fundamental right to vote

  Last week marked the 53rd anniversary of the Voting Rights Act (VRA). In the years since the VRA’s enactment, however, its protections have not gone unchallenged. In a 2013 decision in Shelby v. Holder, a conservative majority on the U.S. Supreme Court gutted Section 5 of the VRA, a provision that prevented certain jurisdictions from unilaterally manipulating their voting policies and procedures. This ruling allowed legislators to enact discriminatory laws that make voting more difficult for both people of color and low-income Americans. With the retirement of Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy this past July, it is essential that the Senate demand a fair, independent nominee who will defend the fundamental rights of Americans.

  Brett M. Kavanaugh is not that nominee. Throughout his career, he has demonstrated a willingness to turn a blind eye to voter suppression and racial discrimination. If Kavanaugh is confirmed, Americans will almost certainly face further erosion of their voting rights.

Saturday, August 11, 2018

Hank Sanders: Senate Sketches #1626 - Injustice is rolling

  Injustice. Injustice. Injustice. Injustice is rolling down like rivers of waters and unrighteousness like a mighty stream. No, I did not make a mistake and put “injustice” where I should have put “justice” or “unrighteousness” where I should have put “righteousness.” No, I am not talking about Biblical times when the prophet Amos lived. Injustice is rolling down like rivers of waters.

  I am not talking about far off places. I am not talking about far-off times. I am not talking about Africa, South America, Asia, etc. I am not talking about past times of slavery and segregation. I am talking about right now. I am talking about right here in Selma, Alabama.

Friday, August 10, 2018

Rollback of EPA clean car standards will cost you at least $500 a year

  On August 2, the Trump administration proposed rolling back the clean car standards, Obama-era regulations that require new cars for model years 2017-2025 to average more than 50 miles per gallon by 2025. In addition to the environmental impact that has already been reported by the New York Times and the Washington Post—which could be massive, since cars and trucks account for 45 percent of U.S. oil consumption and 20 percent of U.S. greenhouse gas emissions—this rollback will be expensive for the American public.

Thursday, August 9, 2018

Who owns your body?

  Norma Brickey, an eighty-two-year-old mother, has been driving the streets of Columbus, Ohio, with a sign in her car window reading, “My son needs a kidney, O positive,” followed by her phone number. Both she and another of her sons have had kidney transplants. All three suffer from polycystic kidney disease, a condition in which cysts form on the kidneys.

  Her son who is still waiting for a kidney transplant goes to dialysis for four hours and then goes to his job as a nurse for 12 hours. He has been on dialysis for almost two years. “This is the year I’m going to find him a kidney,” says his mother. She doesn’t “make extra trips for people to see the sign.” She just does her errands, and almost every day gets a call.

Wednesday, August 8, 2018

Steve Flowers: Inside the Statehouse – Primary political potpourri

  Now that the dust has settled on the primaries, allow me to share with you some thoughts on the Alabama political stage.

  There is an old saying that says, the more things change, the more they stay the same. This old adage is true in Alabama politics.

  First of all, “All politics is local.” In the June 5 primaries, the turnout was about 25 percent on average around the state. However, the ultimate voter turnout was 27 percent due to local races. Alabamians are more interested in who is sheriff and probate judge than who is lieutenant governor or attorney general.

Tuesday, August 7, 2018

How conservative principles benefit the environment: A lesson from Alabama’s red snapper

  Many coastal and red snapper loving Alabamians may find themselves disappointed by recent events.

  On July 16th, the State of Alabama announced that recreational red snapper fishing season would be cut six weeks short. A result of unexpectedly high catch levels this summer, the state reached its annual quota sooner than anticipated.

  For families and anglers who planned trips for late July and August, frustration with the early closing date is understandable. Why should the government be able to regulate an activity as natural as red snapper fishing?

Monday, August 6, 2018

Craig Ford: A new school year is starting, but it should be starting later

  Remember when school didn’t start until after Labor Day? In a matter of days, students all across Alabama will start a new school year, and yet it’s only the second week of August!

  Instead of spending the last few weeks of August working summer jobs or on family vacations, teachers and students are preparing to head back to school. Why?

  It wasn’t always this way. In 2012, the Alabama Legislature passed a school start date bill that mandated a longer summer break for our public schools. It was a bill that had broad bipartisan support. Supporters argued that extending the summer break would benefit families, students, employers, Alabama’s tourism industry, and even the government.

  But then the legislature failed to renew it, and the state did not get to feel the maximum benefits of the law.

Sunday, August 5, 2018

The First Amendment was meant for times like now

  Donald Trump is working the old political shell game again — one that journalists must refuse to play and that every citizen should take as a lesson in civics about the real value of our First Amendment.

  Mere days after a July 20 meeting with the publisher of The New York Times that the White House asked to be “off-the-record,” Trump reversed course and made the conversation public via a series of tweets that ranged from outright fabrication to fanatical claims about the patriotism of journalists and how their work is “putting lives at risk.”

Saturday, August 4, 2018

Hank Sanders: Senate Sketches #1625 - Selma and Dallas County, Lord.... Selma and Dallas County!

  In 1965, the population of Selma was 28,000. Whites were a slight majority. The population of Dallas County was 56,000. Blacks were a slight majority. Selma is the county seat of Dallas County. But these populations don’t tell us nearly enough. One side had everything. The other side had virtually nothing. But that does not tell us enough either.

  In 1965, there were tens of thousands of White registered voters in Selma/Dallas County. There were 327 Black registered voters. Every city and county elected official was White. There was not a single Black elected official in either Selma or Dallas County. Whites had everything. Backs had little or nothing.

Friday, August 3, 2018

Libertarianism in one easy lesson

  It would be hard to imagine a larger deficiency in modern American society than the one we find in the ability of individual citizens to understand their proper relationship with government and each other. Beneath the endless cacophony of varying special-interest groups lies a fundamental misunderstanding of the role we each play in a free society and the role government plays in guaranteeing our place in a free society.

Thursday, August 2, 2018

White nationalists who shouted “Russia is our friend” weren’t just whistling Dixie

  The same day President Trump appeared to side with Vladimir Putin over U.S. intelligence agencies, the Department of Justice unsealed a criminal complaint accusing a woman named Maria Butina of “acting as an agent of a foreign government” — Russia.

  Rubbing shoulders with right-wing figures at the National Prayer Breakfast, Butina allegedly sought to “establish a back-channel of communication” with American politicians who share Russia’s anti-LGBT stance.

  She’s not the only one who saw an opportunity. The most recent National Prayer Breakfast this year was attended by more than 50 Russians.

Wednesday, August 1, 2018

Steve Flowers: Inside the Statehouse – More analysis of the GOP runoff

  Currently, congressmen/women win reelection at a 98 percent rate. The communist politburo does not have that high of a reelection percentage. Maybe we have more in common with the Russians than Washington CNN reporters think.

  It is hard to get beat as an incumbent congressman. Martha Roby tried, but even though she was the most vulnerable Republican incumbent congressperson in the country, she shellacked a former Montgomery mayor, one-term congressman, and doggone good country one-on-one politician - Bobby Bright. She beat him like a rented mule, 68-32.