Friday, July 25, 2014

Gene Policinski: Examining the new importance of ‘where’ we speak

  When we say something that might be threatening, how much does where we say it matter?

  The U.S. Supreme Court agreed in June to examine that question from a new angle – the increasingly popular method of online comments and posts on social media, as distinct from directed or face-to-face exchanges.

  The First Amendment generally shields us from being punished for what we say, but there are exceptions, among them what is called a “true threat.”

Thursday, July 24, 2014

Sheldon Richman: In forein affairs, not doing anything is the thing to do

  The heartbreaking violence in the Middle East, Ukraine, and elsewhere carries many messages, but here’s one Americans shouldn’t miss: The United States — no matter who the president is — cannot manage world conflict. The corollary is that when a president tries to manage it, things will usually get worse. Foresight is always defective, and tragic unintended consequences will prevail.

  The foreign-policy “experts” in both major political parties, and the intelligentsia generally, think otherwise. No matter who holds power, we can expect the opposition to complain that the chief executive poorly anticipated and thus improperly responded to world events.

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Missing the point: The real impact of native mascots and team names

  The debate over the racist name and mascot of the professional football team based in the nation’s capital, the “Redskins,” has reached a fever pitch in recent months. Fifty U.S. senators signed a letter urging the National Football League, or NFL, to take action and change the name. The U.S. Patent and Trademark Office recently canceled several of the team’s trademarks because they were disparaging to American Indian and Alaska Native, or AI/AN, people and communities. And several media outlets across the country have stopped printing and using the name, including the San Francisco Chronicle, Slate, and The Seattle Times.

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Steve Flowers: Inside the Statehouse: The rise of George C. Wallace

  The 1962 Alabama governor’s race really began in 1958. The governor’s office and the race for it was the big show in Alabama politics in that era. Being a U.S. Senator was secondary in Alabama politics. Governor is still probably the most important and glamorous political position today, but it certainly was at that time.

  Television had not come into its own. Most Alabamians did not own a television. There were no southern major league baseball teams to follow, such as the Atlanta Braves who were still in Milwaukee at that time. The closest team was the St. Louis Cardinals and they were miles away and not really in the south. The Grand Ole Opry was only on the radio on Saturday night. Therefore, southerners had to include politics as a prime source of their entertainment.

Monday, July 21, 2014

Michael Josephson: The Greyhound Principle

  Racing dogs are trained to chase a mechanical rabbit that always goes a little faster than the fleetest dog. This causes them to run faster than they otherwise would.

  Companies that annually set overly ambitious performance objectives for their employees employ this greyhound principle. To a point, it works. Most people achieve more when expectations are set high.

Saturday, July 19, 2014

Sally Steenland: Hobby Lobby’s win is a loss for religious liberty

  When I first heard last year that Hobby Lobby and other for-profit corporations were claiming religious liberty rights for themselves, the notion sounded so ludicrous that it felt like a joke. After all, corporations do not have bodies or souls, do not worship, do not get baptized or bar mitzvahed, and do not bend their knee in prayer.

  Corporations are legal constructions, set up to be wholly separate entities from their owners. This wall of separation exists to differentiate the actions of corporations from their owners and to shield the owners from personal liability for corporate debts and lawsuits. Despite this reality, the Supreme Court took Hobby Lobby’s claims seriously and heard the case in March. The Court decided in favor of Hobby Lobby on June 30, ruling that corporations do, in fact, have religious liberty.

Friday, July 18, 2014

Clay Calvert: Telling the police to f*** off is risky First Amendment business

  “Fuck the fucking cops they ant shit but fucking racist basturds.”

  Regardless of whether those “basturds” are inglorious or otherwise, who among us hasn’t wanted, at one time or another, to utter similar stinging sentiments, perhaps in a hasty fit of rage or simply after getting pulled over in a speed trap? Even putative American princess and erstwhile sweetheart Reese Witherspoon has told off the police, rendering her illegally blonde.

Thursday, July 17, 2014

Bundy ranch standoff was highly coordinated, reflecting threat of larger far-right militia movement

  The standoff between federal agents and armed supporters of a Nevada rancher earlier this year was a highly coordinated effort by far-right militiamen that has since energized volatile extremists who are increasingly targeting law enforcement officers.

  The Southern Poverty Law Center report – War in the West (PDF)– contains new details about the April standoff between the U.S. Bureau of Land Management (BLM) and militiamen sympathetic to rancher Cliven Bundy, which was seen as a victory within the antigovernment “Patriot” movement after federal agents pulled out despite Bundy owing more than $1 million in grazing fees and fines to the federal government.

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Hank Sanders: Senate Sketches #1414: The power of a nice house

  A nice house makes such a difference in our lives. I vividly recall the difference it made in my life. It changed the way I saw myself. It changed the way I saw my family. It changed the way my family saw me and others in the family. A nice house made a powerful difference in my life.

  I know that in our moments of idealism we say that material things should not make a difference. Maybe they should not, but they do. An appealing house makes a powerful difference in our lives.

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Steve Flowers: Inside the Statehouse: How segregation ruled the ’58 governor’s race

  As the 1958 Alabama governor’s race dawned, the shadow of Big Jim Folsom loomed over the scene. Even though Big Jim could not be on the ballot, because the Alabama Constitution prohibited a governor from succeeding himself, his larger than life presence was pervasive.

  Although Big Jim was prohibited from seeking a record third term in 1958, the aspirants could not decide if they wanted his support or not. On one hand he was popular with rural Alabamians, but on the other hand, his second term had been as tumultuous and chaotic as his first and probably more scandalous and corrupt.