The Wire

  • VIDEO: Trump is a ‘serious threat to U.S. national security” — Retired Gen. Barry McCaffrey

  • Alabama growth lagging behind — Decatur Daily

    “According to U.S. Census estimates for 2017, Alabama’s population growth lags behind most of the country and most of its neighbors in the Southeast. The likely consequence is Alabama will lose a U.S. House seat (and an Electoral College vote) in the reapportionment to follow the 2020 census.”

    “The Public Affairs Research Council of Alabama looked at the numbers and found two major contributors to the state’s slow growth: Alabama’s death rate and a lack of inbound international migration. Alabama’s death rate is appalling. At 10.8 deaths per 1,000 in 2017, it’s the second-highest in the nation, after West Virginia. This shouldn’t come as a surprise. Alabama is a poor state, and poverty is a leading cause of premature death. But Alabama has a whole host of pathologies, from obesity to smoking to poor prenatal care.”

    “Alabama has reversed recent trends when it comes to inbound migration from other states. “For the first time in several years, Alabama had a positive rate of domestic in-migration — more people moving to the state than leaving for other states,” PARCA reports. But inbound migration still lags behind that in neighboring Tennessee, Georgia, Florida and South Carolina.”

  • Anderson Cooper (Alex Moffat) interviews Jeff Sessions (Kate McKinnon) — SNL

1 day ago

Jeff Sessions is right to sue California for ignoring federal immigration laws

America may be a country of immigrants, but it’s also a country of laws. No one is exempt from those laws regardless of what some local officials in sanctuary cities may think.

As you may have seen on the news recently, Attorney General Jeff Sessions recently announced a lawsuit against the State of California for failure to completely cooperate with federal immigration enforcement officers.  I stand with AG Sessions’ decision.

From the mayors and local politicians disregarding federal immigration law to the illegal immigrants they are prioritizing over American citizens, it’s about time we hold these lawless individuals accountable.


The “leaders” in these cities are violating their oath of office and the Constitution.  They should be immediately removed from their positions and the illegal immigrants they are protecting should be deported. Period.

I agree with President Trump that we need to strengthen our borders.  We should build the wall and we should continue to support law enforcement’s crackdown on violent foreign gangs like MS-13.

These efforts mean nothing though if illegal immigrants and criminals can continue to seek refuge in some of our country’s largest cities.

It boils down to fairness, safety and what it means to be a sovereign nation.

A country without borders is hardly a country at all. I’m fed up with seeing the tax dollars from hard-working families across East Alabama go to cities who snub their nose at the very ideals that make America great.  Congress should withhold funding from sanctuary cities that refuse to uphold federal law.

President Trump has proven his tough stance on illegal immigration is much more than just campaign rhetoric. He has already done so much to curtail our illegal immigration crisis but he can’t do it alone.

Elected officials – from the state and local level to Members of Congress – must do their part.

And if they refuse, then they aren’t fit for public service.

U.S. Rep. Mike Rogers is a Republican from Saks.

(Image:U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement/Flickr)

2 days ago

Licensing away economic prosperity in Alabama

Do you want to alleviate poverty in Alabama? Do you want to curb the power of special interest groups over government agencies? Do you want more affordable goods and services in basic industries?  Do you want to help disadvantaged groups find good jobs and become productive citizens? Do you want to reduce the population of our overcrowded prisons?

If you answered yes to any of these questions, you should read a new report published by the Alabama Policy Institute titled “The Costs of Occupational Licensing in Alabama.”


Coauthored by Daniel Smith (Troy University), Courtney Michaluk (Troy University), David Hall (Troy University), and Alex Kanode (George Mason University), the report details the effects of occupational licensure on our state.

What is occupational licensure? In short, it’s governmental regulation requiring people to obtain a license before entering into certain trades or fields.

Sounds harmless, right? Aren’t these regulations in place to protect consumers from exploitation and inexpert practices? Such reasoning led to the rise in occupational licensure, which today extends to several zones of economic activity.

However well-meaning, occupational licensure has had unintended consequences on the people it’s designed to protect. Instead of helping average consumers, it lines the pockets of industries that have lobbied to regulate away entrepreneurial forces that drive down costs.

If you’re poor and trying to find low-skilled work as a barber, manicurist, eyebrow threader, hair stylist, school bus driver, or shampoo assistant, you must obtain a license first. This license may be prohibitively expensive because of renewal fees, coursework, continuing education, and so forth.

“Alabama licenses a total of 151 occupations,” according to the report, “covering over 432,000 Alabama workers, which represents over 21 percent of the labor force.” Think about that: more than two of every 10 people working in Alabama need a license to do what they do for a living. Licensing boards governing admission standards and prerequisites can mandate expensive training and dues that don’t affect the quality of industry services.

Economists refer to occupational licensure as a barrier to entry. Barriers to entry ensure that those already within a profession or trade can raise prices to artificially high levels, in effect squeezing out competition by using the mechanisms of government to control the market.

Inflated prices harm low-income families who cannot afford to buy what they could have bought if the market had set prices based on natural supply and demand. Spouses of military service members often suffer from occupational licensure because, when they move from state to state, they must jump through hoops to enter the licensed profession in which they practiced in other jurisdictions.

Occupational licensure is, in short, a net burden on the economy, escalating prices, limiting consumer choice, and restricting economic mobility.  The API report estimates that the overall costs of occupational licensure in Alabama exceed $122 million. That’s a lot of money. What can be done to keep some of it in the hands of the ordinary people who need it most?

The report proposes five reforms for Alabama policymakers:

1. “[T]hey can reform current procedures for extending occupational licensing to new occupations and mandate thorough review processes to ensure that licensing is not extended to new occupations without a demonstrable and severe threat to consumer safety that cannot be overcome with the market mechanisms, such as consumer or expert reviews, reputation, guarantees, or private certification, or the already existing government laws, such as those dealing with liability, fraud, misrepresentation, and false advertising.”

2. “[T]hey can establish procedures to systematically review all licensure requirements for currently licensed occupations to ensure that they do not require unnecessary or excessive requirements or costs for licensure.

3. “[T]hey can systematically review all currently licensed occupations to determine, individually, whether a demonstrable severe threat to consumer safety exists. If not, they can remove occupation licensing entirely for those occupations.”

4. “[They] can explore licensure reforms that specifically target ex-offenders” to reduce the prison population and criminal recidivism.

5. “[They] can … explore occupational licensing reform with military members and their families in mind.”
A short article cannot capture the nuance and particulars of the entire report; readers should view the report for themselves to make up their own minds.

During this time of partisan divide and political rancor, people of good faith on both the left and the right can agree that something needs to be done about occupational licensure. The problem cannot continue to grow. It presents a unique opportunity for Republican and Democratic lawmakers to come together to ease economic burdens on the people of Alabama. Let’s hope they seize it.

(Image: Pixabay)

Allen Mendenhall is associate dean at Faulkner University Thomas Goode Jones School of Law and executive director of the Blackstone & Burke Center for Law & Liberty.

4 days ago

I’m a high school student in Alabama who didn’t walk out to protest guns – here’s why

Students across the nation walked out of class for 17 minutes today – one minute for each victim in the recent school shooting in Florida – demanding that Congress pass gun control legislation.

The protest was organized by the youth branch of the Women’s March, which claimed that students were calling for universal background checks, restraining orders to disarm people who display signs of violent behavior, and a ban on so-called “assault weapons.”

This movement is popular among high school students and many walked out of their classes.

I was not one of them. Here’s why.


I have been raised in a conservative household and have conservative views. I am also a devout Christian who holds a biblical worldview — interpret that as you may. I believe that the Second Amendment is as important today as it was in 1791 when the Bill of Rights was added to our constitution.

I also believe that the walkout was nothing but an act.

Some said it was simply to honor the victims. I’d have participated if that had been the case, but the group organizing the protest was capitalizing on the death of 17 innocent men and women to pass their political agenda … and they used our nation’s youth as pawns to reach their goal.

Many of my peers blame these shootings on the gun but not the person who made the conscious decision to pull the trigger. A gun, on its own, isn’t capable of killing anyone, though. It’s just a tool in the hands of the man who chooses to wield it.

Students believe that by protesting and lobbying Congress that somehow the violence in our schools will change, but I am afraid they are mistaken.

We cannot rely on Congress to legislate morality and we cannot rely on it to prevent another mass shooting like the one in Parkland.

The true power lies in the hands of the students. I firmly believe that my peers who walked out to protest can indeed cause a true change if they choose to address the root cause.

And the root cause is … our own selfishness.

Most students who engage in mass acts of violence are typically social outcasts with circumstances that drive them to commit mass murder out of a need for revenge or attention.

So if you want to act to prevent the next school shooting, look around you.

Do you see the student sitting all alone? Go sit with them and build a friendship, it might be tough but it can make a difference.

Do you know the student who lashes out in class seeking attention? Engage them, ask to help them with the assignment or ask for their help.

Do you see a student being bullied? Stand up for them and offer your friendship!

If you truly want to fix our schools, look up from your phones and look around for someone needing your help.

We accomplish nothing by walking out and averting our eyes from the problem.

So instead of waiting on Congress to act, let’s bring about change by our own hands.

(Image: TIME/YouTube)

Andrew Staton is a senior at Virgil I. Grissom High School in Huntsville.

1 week ago

Alabama trooper shortage is a matter of life and death — trooper advocate


Between late 2010 and the end of 2014, the state of Alabama did not hire a single state trooper. Despite this freeze, we still had over 400 state troopers.

Now we have less than 300.

That leaves us over 700 men and women short of the number that we need (1000) according to the Center for Advanced Public Safety at the University of Alabama.

In fact, since that hiring freeze, trooper levels have dipped 22% further. The year before the freeze there were 333 fatal accidents on Alabama roads. Last year there were 848.

That’s a 155% increase in roadway fatalities.

After spending the last 21 years as a state trooper, I can assure you there’s a clear correlation between those numbers. There is no question that more troopers on the road deter accidents and saves lives.

Response times can be measured in hours, not minutes in rural counties. Many times troopers are handling multiple counties, covering hundreds of miles. Ideally backup is a few minutes away, but at current levels, it could be 45 minutes or more. We’ve reached a point in staffing where it’s no longer just a safety concern for the people we serve, it’s a safety concern for our officers.

The force continues to grow older with a shrinking applicant pool to replace them. Many in our current force are eligible for retirement or will be soon. Without the ability to offer competitive salaries and benefits, those pools will continue to shrink.

It’s not just a manpower shortage, resources are scarce as well. Troopers head out onto the highways in cruisers that are past their useful life, with equipment that needs to be replaced. Safety concerns are exponentially compounded when you’re understaffed and under-equipped.

Alabama doesn’t have unlimited funds, but the state is in a very different economic situation than we were in 2010. The unemployment rate has hit record lows, the economy is growing, and the state budgets are in better shape than they’ve ever been. One of the primary functions of Government is protecting its citizenry and that begins with a properly funded state police unit.

This notion was borne out in a recent survey of Alabamians. 75% of respondents believe a lack of Troopers is leading to unsafe roadways. 75% also think Troopers should receive more funding, even if it means making other cuts in the budget.

The decision to serve the people of this state was an easy one, but the job can be anything but. Our current funding level makes it nearly untenable. Alabama has a long history of unwavering support of our first responders. Please encourage your lawmakers to continue that tradition.

(David Steward is president of the Alabama State Trooper Association)