Wednesday, September 30, 2020

Steve Flowers: Inside the Statehouse - Alabama’s budget year begins this week; COVID-19 has played havoc

  The new fiscal year begins this week for Alabama's government. We have two budgets, a General Fund and an Education Budget. Both budgets have experienced a devastating loss in revenues due to the coronavirus. The Education Budget was drastically reduced from what was originally expected at the beginning of the calendar year in January.

  The Education Budget receives the revenues generated from our sales and income taxes in the state. Therefore, the downturn in the economy is especially heartbreaking for educators, teachers, schools, and universities.

Tuesday, September 29, 2020

Pessimists have been saying America is going to hell for more than 200 years

  Pessimism looms large in America today. It’s not just because of Donald Trump, the vicar of fear and violence. It’s COVID-19, a faltering economy, the growing power of Russia, and China, fires, and climate change – you name it.

  Journalists and analysts have launched warnings: American democracy is about to end; the American century is about to end; the American era is about to end. If Trump loses, there’s no certainty that the U.S. will make it to the other side of potential political chaos.

Monday, September 28, 2020

6 ways mail-in ballots are protected from fraud

  Voter fraud is very rare whether people vote in person or by mail. That much is clear from a large body of research.

  One of us is a political scientist at the University of Washington, and the other is a former elections commissioner who now studies voting laws. We can explain why voter fraud is so rare – especially for mail-in ballots, which have drawn both the interest and concern of many people this year.

Sunday, September 27, 2020

The truth about President Trump’s track record on child care

  On January 20, 2017, reporters at The Washington Post interviewed people who attended President Donald Trump’s inauguration. One of the attendees was a single mother of two from Maryland who worked as a massage therapist; she said that she hoped Trump would follow through on his pledge to make child care more affordable. Yet four years later, as the coronavirus crisis enters its seventh month in the United States, parents are struggling to find child care as they work essential jobs or attempt to work from home while supervising children.

  Not only has Trump failed to deliver on his promise of making child care affordable for families, his administration’s inability to control the COVID-19 pandemic and provide adequate funds to safely reopen and fund child care has threatened the collapse of the entire industry. Due to these policy failures, many child care providers have been forced to shut their doors for good—and many more will follow suit if they do not receive federal help soon.

Saturday, September 26, 2020

19 years after 9/11, Americans continue to fear foreign extremists and underplay the dangers of domestic terrorism

  On a Tuesday morning in September 2001, the American experience with terrorism was fundamentally altered. Two thousand, nine hundred and ninety-six people were killed as the direct result of attacks in New York, Washington, D.C., and Pennsylvania. Thousands more, including many first responders, later lost their lives to health complications from working at or being near Ground Zero.

  Nineteen years later, Americans’ ideas of what terrorism is remain tied to that morning.

Friday, September 25, 2020

Foreign investors were big winners from Trump’s tax law

  Three years ago this month, President Donald Trump promised to enact a “pro-American tax reform.” But the tax overhaul that he signed into law late 2017 was anything but “pro-American.” In fact, as the Center for American Progress pointed out when the tax cut passed, some of its biggest winners were wealthy foreign investors. Recent estimates show that the Trump tax law has given larger tax cuts to foreign investors over the past three years than it has to middle- and working-class Americans in all of the states that Trump carried in 2016—combined.

Thursday, September 24, 2020

Hank Sanders: Sketches #1737 - Whatever you count, that’s what you will have the most of

  My mother, Ola Mae Sanders, was a very wise woman. She had a seventh-grade education, but she was wise way beyond her schooling. She was a poor person, but she was wise way beyond her poverty. She had a bunch of children, but she was wise way beyond her huge family of fifteen. She was just a very wise woman with many wise sayings. One such saying was, Whatever you count, that’s what you will have the most of.

Wednesday, September 23, 2020

Steve Flowers: Inside the Statehouse - All politics is local

  With it being a presidential election year, an election for one of our United States Senate seats, and all of the interest that goes along with those high-profile contests, it has gone under the radar that most of our cities in the state had elections for mayor and city council seats last month. Mayors serve four-year terms, and to most Alabamians, they are the most important votes they will cast this year.  

  The job of mayor of a city is a difficult and intricate fulltime, 24-hours-a-day dedication to public service. They make more decisions that affect the lives of their friends and neighbors than anyone else. The old maxim, “All politics is local,” is epitomized in the role of mayor. Folks, being mayor of a city is where the rubber meets the road.

Tuesday, September 22, 2020

Can Trump and McConnell get through the 4 steps to seat a Supreme Court justice in just 6 weeks?

  United States Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg died on Sept. 18, thrusting the acrimonious struggle for control of the Supreme Court into public view.

  President Trump and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell have already vowed to nominate and confirm a replacement for the 87-year-old justice and women’s rights icon.

  This contradicts the justification the Republican-controlled Senate used when they refused to consider the nomination of Merrick Garland, President Barack Obama’s pick for the Court after the death of Antonin Scalia in February 2016.

Monday, September 21, 2020

Ruth Bader Ginsburg helped shape the modern era of women’s rights – even before she went on the Supreme Court

  Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg died on Friday, the Supreme Court announced.

  Chief Justice John Roberts said in a statement that “Our nation has lost a jurist of historic stature.”

  Even before her appointment, she had reshaped American law. When he nominated Ginsburg to the Supreme Court, President Bill Clinton compared her legal work on behalf of women to the epochal work of Thurgood Marshall on behalf of African-Americans.

Sunday, September 20, 2020

Vaccine mandates vs. religious beliefs – the legal arguments for the upcoming coronavirus lawsuits

  The longer COVID-19 rages on, the more the United States appears to be hanging its hopes on the development and rapid, mass distribution of a vaccine.

  Getting a safe and effective vaccine out to the public could be a game-changer health experts believe. But stopping the virus’s spread will only happen if enough people choose – or are required – to get vaccinated.

  But while some people may see it as their “patriotic duty” to get vaccinated, others won’t.

Saturday, September 19, 2020

Bridging America’s divides requires a willingness to work together without becoming friends first

  Amid two crises – the pandemic and the national reckoning sparked by the killing of George Floyd – there have been anguished calls for Americans to come together across lines of race and partisanship. Change would come, a USA Today contributor wrote, only “when we become sensitized to the distress of our neighbors.”

  Empathy born of intimacy was the pre-pandemic solution to the nation’s fractured political landscape. If Americans could simply get to know one another, to share stories and appreciate each other’s struggles, civic leaders argued, we would develop a sense of understanding and empathy that would extend beyond the single encounter.

Friday, September 18, 2020

Faith and politics mix to drive evangelical Christians’ climate change denial

  U.S. Christians, especially evangelical Christians, identify as environmentalists at very low rates compared to the general population. According to a Pew Research Center poll from May 2020, while 62% of religiously unaffiliated U.S. adults agree that the Earth is warming primarily due to human action, only 35% of U.S. Protestants do – including just 24% of white evangelical Protestants.

  Politically powerful Christian interest groups publicly dispute the climate science consensus. A coalition of major evangelical groups, including Focus on the Family and the Family Research Council, launched a movement opposing what they describe as “the false worldview” of environmentalism, which supposedly is “striving to put America, and the world, under its destructive control.”

Thursday, September 17, 2020

Trump’s law-and-order campaign relies on a historic American tradition of racist and anti-immigrant politics

  The Republican Party made it clear in its national convention that it intends to make restoring “law and order” central to this fall’s presidential campaign.

  As he did when he first ran in 2016, President Donald Trump highlighted law and order in his 2020 acceptance speech.

  “Your vote,” Trump said, “will decide whether we protect law-abiding Americans and whether … we will defend the American way of life or allow a radical movement to completely dismantle and destroy it.”

Wednesday, September 16, 2020

Steve Flowers: Inside the Statehouse - The presidential race is underway

  Now that the national political party conventions are over and the nominees have been coronated, the battle royale for the White House is in full throttle. The nominees, Donald Trump and Joe Biden, will shatter the age barrier. Whoever is elected will be the oldest person ever elected president. If Donald Trump is reelected, he will be 75 when sworn in.  If Joe Biden wins, he will be close to 79.  When I was a young man, folks at that age were in the nursing home... if they were alive. By comparison, 60 years ago when John Kennedy was elected, he was 42.

Tuesday, September 15, 2020

Monuments ‘expire’ – but offensive monuments can become powerful history lessons

  Historical monuments are intended to be timeless, but almost all have an expiration date. As society’s values shift, the legitimacy of monuments can and often does erode.

  This is because monuments – whether statues, memorials, or obelisks – reveal the values of the time in which they were created and advance the agendas of their creators.

Monday, September 14, 2020

The white supremacist origins of modern marriage advice

  When I was conducting research for my new book on the destructive aspects of modern heterosexual relationships, I started looking into the archives of early 20th-century books about courtship and marriage written by physicians and sexologists.

  In the process, I made a discovery that would radically alter my understanding of why so many parts of heterosexual culture remain mired in violence and inequality.

Sunday, September 13, 2020

Judicial tyranny in the drug war

  If you still have any doubts about the tyranny of the federal government’s beloved “war on drugs,” perhaps the case of Juan Carlos Seresi, Vahe Andonian, and Nazareth Andonian will remove them.

  Back in 1991, a federal judge named William D. Keller sentenced these three men to 500 years in jail for a non-violent drug offense—i.e., laundering drug money.

  Yes, you read that right — 500 years!

Saturday, September 12, 2020

Getting a flu shot this year is more important than ever because of COVID-19

  With the coronavirus still spreading widely, it’s time to start thinking seriously about influenza, which typically spreads in fall and winter. A major flu outbreak would not only overwhelm hospitals this fall and winter but also likely overwhelm a person who might contract both at once.

  Doctors have no way of knowing yet what the effect of a dual diagnosis might be on a person’s body, but they do know the havoc that the flu alone can do to a person’s body. Public health officials in the U.S. are therefore urging people to get the flu vaccine, which is already being shipped in many areas to be ready for vaccinations this month.

Friday, September 11, 2020

Moving beyond 9/11

  I’ve become increasingly ambivalent about the way we commemorate the dark days and months that began on September 11th, 2001.

  Each year the memories and all the feelings they evoke are less vivid. Thus, the news articles, commentaries, and TV specials about the 9/11 attacks serve as important reminders, not only of the immeasurable loss of life and the permanent degradation of our sense of security, but of the lessons we should have learned from the events and its aftermath.

Thursday, September 10, 2020

How to read coronavirus news and learn what you actually need to know about staying safe in the pandemic

  With COVID-19, a news story that may be 100% accurate can still unintentionally mislead readers about the greatest threats of the pandemic. The unintended outcome results from a lesson taught to every journalism student: Use “real people” to “humanize” the news.

  The “real person” in COVID-19 stories may be a mom concerned about her child getting sick in the classroom, used as an example in an article about schools reopening. It may be the family member of a person who died from COVID-19 who gives a moving account for a story about the virus’s effects on young adults.

Wednesday, September 9, 2020

Steve Flowers: Inside the Statehouse - 1960 presidential race marked beginning of television as premier political medium

  The 1960 presidential race between Richard Nixon and John Kennedy is considered by many political historians to be a landmark presidential contest. This race for the White House, exactly 60 years ago, marked a pivotal change in presidential election politics when the advent of television became the premier medium for political candidates.  

  John Kennedy was a 42-year-old, charismatic, Democrat U.S. Senator from Massachusetts. Richard Nixon was a veteran politico who was vice president under the popular war hero President General Dwight “Ike” Eisenhower.

Tuesday, September 8, 2020

When police stop Black men, the effects reach into their homes and families

  While much of the world was sheltering in place in the fallout from the COVID-19 pandemic, many Americans’ undivided attention was focused squarely on Minneapolis, Minnesota, where George Floyd was killed at the hands – and knees – of the police.

  Floyd’s murder evoked memories of other murders by the police, including those of Walter Scott, Eric Garner, Philando Castile, and Samuel DuBose. Most recently, another unarmed Black man, Jacob Blake, was shot seven times in the back in Kenosha, Wisconsin.

Monday, September 7, 2020

Why are there so few women CEOs?

  Women comprise about 47% of the U.S. workforce yet they make up barely a quarter of all senior executives at large U.S. public companies. Even worse, only about 5% of Standard & Poor’s 500 companies have female CEOs.

Sunday, September 6, 2020

Trump’s foreign policy is still ‘America First’ – what does that mean, exactly?

  At the Republican National Convention, supporters of President Trump’s reelection bid have celebrated his attempts to build a Mexico border wall, his promise to “bring our troops home”, and his pledge to end U.S. “reliance on China.”

  All are components of the “America First” agenda Trump ran on in 2016. Back then, he promised to “shake the rust off America’s foreign policy.”

Saturday, September 5, 2020

How to talk to vaccine skeptics so they might actually hear you

  An estimated 24,000 to 62,000 people died from the flu in the United States during the 2019-20 flu season. And that was a relatively mild flu season, which typically starts in October and peaks between December and February.

  The latest computer model predicts 300,000 deaths from COVID-19 by Dec. 1.

Friday, September 4, 2020

While the U.S. is reeling from COVID-19, the Trump administration is trying to take away health care

  The death toll from COVID-19 keeps rising, creating grief, fear, loss, and confusion.

  Unfortunately for us all, the pain only begins there. Other important health policy news that would ordinarily make headlines is buried under the crushing weight of the coronavirus. Many have not had time to notice or understand the Trump administration’s efforts to wreck health care coverage.

Thursday, September 3, 2020

It’s time to stop the deadly rhetoric and the dangerous dodge of "both-siderism"

  The fatal shooting of a man reported to be affiliated with the far-right group Patriot Prayer last Saturday night on the streets of Portland should not have happened.

  I’m angry that Aaron “Jay” Danielson’s life was taken from him. I’m angry about every one of the lives taken in the 100 days since George Floyd’s murder. Whether the victims are Trump supporters, Black Lives Matters protesters, or law enforcement officers, the deaths that have occurred in this time of upheaval are wrong. We mourn each of these lives, regardless of ideology. And we mourn the lost futures of those who were convinced that taking the life of another human being is how we solve our societal problems.

Wednesday, September 2, 2020

Steve Flowers: Inside the Statehouse - Labor Day

  Labor Day is upcoming on Monday. In bygone days, it was the benchmark day for campaign season to start. Historically, Labor Day barbecues were events where political campaigns had their roots. Camp stew and barbecued pork were devoured while folks listened to politicians promise how they were going to bring home the pork.

  The most legendary political Labor Day barbecues have been held in the Northwest corner of the state. There were two legendary barbecue events in that neck of the woods that were a must-go-to event for aspiring and veteran politicians, both locally and statewide.

Tuesday, September 1, 2020

Police solve just 2% of all major crimes

  As Americans across the nation protest police violence, people have begun to call for cuts or changes in public spending on police. But neither these nor other proposed reforms address a key problem with solving crimes.

  My recent review of 50 years of national crime data confirms that, as police report, they don’t solve most serious crimes in America. But the real statistics are worse than police data show. In the U.S., it’s rare that a crime report leads to police arresting a suspect who is then convicted of the crime.