Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Joseph O. Patton: Interview with an angry drag queen

Author’s note: Perhaps I’ve become rusty in the realm of interviewing subjects, but this was just plain traumatic all around. Nonetheless, here’s my interview with the upstart drag queen (female impersonator) Miss Fallopiana Fontaine Fabrege.

Gary Palmer: Stand up, speak up and step up in 2010

  At the start of each year, people make resolutions or set goals. Here is a suggestion for a resolution for 2010… do something that will make a difference. It is easier than you think and the impact you can have could be greater than you have ever imagined.

  I got this idea from a book entitled “The Butterfly Effect” by Alabama native and international best-selling author Andy Andrews. The book’s name is based on the theory, developed by American mathematician and meteorologist Edward Lorenz, that a butterfly could flap its wings and set molecules of air in motion, which would move other molecules of air that in turn would move other molecules of air. This movement of air molecules causing the movement of other molecules of air would become so great that they would eventually be capable of starting a hurricane on the other side of the planet. This phenomenon was called “the butterfly effect.”

Joseph O. Patton: How some make excuses for criminal behavior

Editor’s note: The original version of this article appeared in the July 2008 edition of the Capital City Free Press

  The current screaming and gnashing of teeth over red light cameras and police checkpoints in Montgomery raise an entirely more pressing issue: When did our collective view on crime shift so drastically that we completely disregard illegal behavior and instead nitpick how someone is busted for such behavior?

  Take the City of Montgomery’s new practice of utilizing red light cameras at major intersections: Despite the fact that there is clear photographic evidence of offenders running red lights - and in the process, breaking the law, being reckless and endangering other motorists and even pedestrians - many citizens of the Capital City inexplicably think it’s a greater issue that the ticket is being issued by a clerk wielding computer software  and reviewing the captured images instead of an actual uniformed officer brandishing a radar gun--the fact that the offenders have broken the law seems entirely irrelevant to the detractors of this new program. Granted, there are a few cases in which the offender is driving a vehicle registered in someone else’s name, but the ticket in such a scenario can easily be appealed… though quite frankly, that’s simply a risk you take whenever you allow someone else to drive your car.

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Joseph O. Patton: My letter to Santa

Dear old fat man with the unruly beard who only owns one tacky red and white outfit (which is sorely dated) and whose reindeer disrespectfully leave big ole dooky turds on my roof each December 25th:

  First off, I must inform you that I have been a very good boy this year... more or less… sometimes… okay, a little… and you can’t prove otherwise because those particular court records are sealed. Ergo, I am submitting the following wish list which I trust you will peruse with all due haste and hook me up accordingly:

Renee Lee: Getting out of jury duty

  Last week, I dyed my hair orange - not red, not the subtle hue of a delicate tiger lily bloom, but bright, shiny traffic cone orange. This is actually not an unusual occurrence. I've dyed my hair various less-than-conservative shades on the color wheel, and invariably I have received contrasting responses that have ranged from "Hey, cool!" to genuine concern from those who believe that I am yet another victim of the devil's crack rock.

  This kind of stuff has never bothered me, though. I have come to realize that there are certain individuals who can't handle discrepancies in what they consider to be "normal." I have also come to realize that I am and always will be one of those discrepancies. In fact, I celebrate it, and occasionally I even use it to my advantage.

Monday, December 21, 2009

Carl Falotico: Don't spend the TARP money on job creation

  The Unites States got some unexpected good news the other day when it was announced that losses from the Troubled Asset Relief Program would be about $200 billion lower than was predicted this summer. This means that overall the program is expected to cost just $141 billion out of the $700 billion that was budgeted for it (not a bad price given it probably played a big role in preventing a global depression). As good as this is, politicians are already planning on how to spend this "extra" money. Specifically President Obama has been outlining a plan to use the TARP money for a job creation, and while I think that's a great goal, I'm against it.

  Why would an unemployed person be against a job creation bill? For two reasons, because there is no money to pay for it, and because that's what the original stimulus bill was supposed to do.

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Senator Steve French and Michael Ciamarra: The Promise of charter schools

  Alabama has a tremendous opportunity to quickly improve the quality of education outcomes in the state. If we want to answer the questions, “What does Alabama have to do to succeed in the next five to ten years?’ and “What do we want our education outcomes to look like in five to ten years?” with bold vision, it is obvious we need to take dramatic actions. Preparing our students for meaningful lives and 21st century challenges cannot be accomplished within the constraints of our current one-size-fits all public school model.

  We must trust the experience in other states, where leading educators have come together to start more challenging schools with a new set of rules focused on success for students versus security for adults. They have done this by creating laws that enable the creation of public charter schools.

Friday, December 18, 2009

Joe Bageant: The Devil and Mr. Obama

Barack promised change -- and sure enough, things changed for the worse...

  Well lookee here! An invite from my limey comrades to recap Barack Obama's first year in office. Well comrades, I can do this thing two ways. I can simply state that the great mocha hope turned out to be a Trojan horse for Wall Street and the Pentagon. Or I can lay in an all-night stock of tequila, limes and reefer and puke up the entire miserable tale like some 5,000-word tequila purged Congolese stomach worm. I have chosen to do the latter.

  As you may know, Obama's public approval ratings are taking a beating. Millions of his former cult members have awakened with a splitting hangover to find their pockets turned inside out and eviction notices on the doors of their 4,000 square foot sub-prime mortgaged cardboard fuck boxes. Many who voted for Obama out of disgust for the Bush regime are now listening to the Republicans again on their car radios as they drive around looking for a suitable place to hide their vehicles from the repo man.

  Don't construe this as support for the GOP. It's just the standard ping-ponging of disappointment and disgust that comes after the honeymoon is over with any administration. Most Americans' party affiliations are the same as they were when Bush was elected. After all, Obama did not get elected on a landslide by any means; he got 51 percent of the vote.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Gary Palmer: Wonder of Christmas transcends war and worry

  Christmas holds different meanings for different people. For most of us, when you get past the stress of shopping and decorating, there is a sense of peace and joy and just plain childlike wonder at Christmas that transcends everything else. And nothing elicits those feelings quite so well as hearing Christmas hymns.

  In fact, at least for a short while, a Christmas hymn stopped a war 95 years ago and restored a sense of humanity and common decency to the combatants on both sides. Known as the Christmas Truce of 1914, on Christmas Eve the stillness of a cold moonlit night was broken by the voices of German soldiers singing “Stille Nacht, Heilige Nacht” from their trenches.

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Charles C. Haynes: Hark! The herald angels sing — or maybe not

  ’Twas the nightmare before Christmas late last month for Michael Stratechuk of Maplewood, N.J., when a federal appeals court upheld a local school district policy barring religious music from school events during the holiday season.

  Stratechuk, a parent with two children in the district, filed suit in 2004, arguing that eliminating sacred music from holiday programs discriminates against Christianity in violation of the First Amendment. On Nov. 24, the 3rd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals disagreed, ruling that public schools are not constitutionally compelled to include religious music.

Friday, December 11, 2009

Gary Palmer: Why I signed the Manhattan Declaration

  On November 20, 2009 a group of nationally known and respected Christian leaders set forth an historic declaration.

  The Manhattan Declaration is a long overdue message from men and women of faith to all those in political power from state and local governments to the federal government and its myriad bureaucracies. The Declaration focuses on three foundational principles of justice and the common good on which the signers will not compromise: the sanctity of human life in all stages and conditions; the dignity of marriage as the conjugal union of husband and wife; and religious liberty and freedom of conscience.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Josh Carples: Religious dogma does not equal morality

  Recently, The Anniston Star ran an article titled “Wheel Power” which examined a service offered by Jacksonville State University to prevent students from driving under the influence of alcohol. Nicknamed the “drunk bus,” a bus travels around campus and the city each Thursday and Friday from 10 p.m. until last call, picking up students and dropping them off.

  The article states, “Since JSU launched the safety route in August, the number of alcohol-related arrests has dropped,” and that in “October 2008, police arrested 18 people for driving drunk, six of whom were students. This October, he said, 12 people were charged with DUI, and only two were students.”

  The line of the article that is alarming is this one: “But to the people who despise it, mainly a local religious group, it’s an excuse to drink, a way of getting a dangerous drug into the hands of students, a waste of money.”

Monday, December 7, 2009

CapCity Exclusive: 10 Questions for Jesus

  Editor's note: This interview was conducted by Josh Carples, Capital City Free Press managing editor.

  Twitter has proven to be a useful tool for many, and a while back, I (@joshcarples) discovered that Jesus himself was now using it (@OfficialJesus). He doesn't use Old English as the New Testament would have you believe, and for a deity (or "magic" as Sarah Silverman would say), he is very down-to-earth.

  We at the Capital City Free Press (follow @TheCCFP and editor/publisher @JosephOPatton) decided that since the decorations are up and the music has been going since right after Halloween, it seems the perfect time to get in touch with Jesus.

  He was kind enough to answer these ten questions. Enjoy.

Saturday, December 5, 2009

Gary Palmer: Climate change scandal: Fraud undermines global warming agenda

  For those of us who have had doubts about the so-called scientific consensus supporting global climate change, our skepticism may prove to be well-founded and now well-documented.

  On November 17th a file containing 1,079 emails and approximately 3,500 other files from the Climate Research Unit (CRU) of the University of East Anglia in England was posted on the Internet. These emails and files, which were obtained and posted either by a hacker or a whistleblower inside the CRU, expose what appears to be serious scientific fraud and the attempted cover-up of the manipulation of critical global temperature data which serves as the primary basis for the push for an international policy on climate change.

  For years there has been growing skepticism among highly reputable scientists and experts in statistics about the validity of the climate change science, particularly the computer models on which so many of the global climate change policies depend. There is little question that global climate change occurs; the real question is whether or not climate change is caused by human activity (anthropogenic) or is part of a natural cycle which human activity can do little to significantly influence.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

CapCity Classic: Renee Lee: Retail... why I hate Christmas

  I work in retail, therefore, I hate Christmas. Yes, that's what I said: I HATE CHRISTMAS. People often cluck their tongues and shake their heads in appalled disbelief when I tell them this, and then they often follow up the shaking of their heads with the same response: "I love Christmas because people are nicer to each other."

  Obviously these people do not and have never worked in a grocery store during the holiday season. Wherever these kindler, gentler folk are, they definitely aren't anywhere near my place of employment. Of course, I work at the customer service desk, which on any given day, is over-crowded with pissed off patrons demanding refunds and making general threats in order to get free food. During the holidays, this volatile behavior inevitably increases twofold, only to be compounded by the insane repetition of the Muzak in the background playing the 975th version of "White Christmas."

Saturday, November 28, 2009

Charles C. Haynes: Why gay-marriage friends, foes need one another

  Same-sex marriage advances in one region, then retreats in another, making the United States a two-nation nation on this issue — now and for years to come. Advocates on both sides are in the majority somewhere, but in the minority somewhere else.

  That’s why two church-state encounters this month, in two very different parts of the country, are instructive reminders that in a deeply divided society winners are very unlikely to take all.

  First in Utah, where the Mormon Church — the dominant faith in the state with considerable religious and political influence — announced support for gay-rights legislation before the city council in Salt Lake City. After the church’s endorsement, laws banning discrimination against gays in unemployment and housing passed the council unanimously on Nov. 10.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Joseph O. Patton: Taking back Thanksgiving!

  I am genuinely elated to report that I have survived another Thanksgiving… or rather what remains of this rapidly deteriorating national holiday. I ate, I watched football, I napped. God ordained back in the Plymouth Rock days that we adhere to this sacred ritual, right? And doing so enables me to show my Turkey Day pride, to get my festive gobble-gobble swerve thang on… and have gas until New Year’s from all that gorging.

  But increasingly each year something else is ominously creeping into the view from my yam-tinted glasses, vulgarly tinkling on my Thanksgiving joy and ruthlessly pushing all the pilgrim imagery to the side - it’s name, Christmas.

  Now I’m not one to trip on the sanctity of our Lord and Savior’s birth and the Immaculate Contraception and so forth… three wise guys on a camel train and a big ole happy star… etc., etc. But can’t the Baby Jesus wait His turn? He gets His big day every December 25th according to the Gregorian calendar. And it’s not like we’re gonna forget that important date… after all, every retail outlet from New York City to San Francisco will be shoving an artificial tree and piped-in Christmas carols up our collective ass before Halloween even passes. Would you like to purchase an advent calendar to go with your Freddy Krueger mask? 

Joe Bageant: The Iron cheer of empire: No free tortillas in the Workhouse Republic

Ajijic, Mexico

  Every afternoon when I knock off from writing, after I suck down a Modelo beer and take an hour nap, I step out onto the 400-year-old cobbled street, with its hap-scatter string of vendors lining both sides. All sorts of vendors--vegetable vendors, vendors of tacos, chicharrones, chenille bedspreads and plucked chickens, cigarros, soft drinks, sopa and suet. Merchants whose business address consists of a card table in front of their casita.

  Here in this working class neighborhood on Calle Zaragoza, tourists seldom venture, and the neighborhood merchants' customers are their neighbors. Their goods are the common fare of daily family life in Mexico. Today, at a table less than two blocks away, I purchased a dozen brown eggs, with the idea of making huevos rancheros. The purchase took three quarters of an hour, and included stumbling but cheerful half English/half Spanish conversations with the six vendors between my casita and the table of Gabriel, the old egg and cheese vendor with an artificial leg and wizened smile who assures me that rooster-fertilized eggs make a man go all night. "I am too old to care about that," I half speak, half gesture in that rudimentary sign language understood everywhere. "Hawwww" he chortles and says something in Spanish I cannot understand. An English speaking bystander, a teenager with a backward baseball cap and dressed in "L.A. sag," translates: "He says his pendejo is as hard as his plastic leg. You still alive! You never too old!"

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Michael Josephson: Character Counts: How much are you willing to pay for money?

  Disdain for money is a common theme among moralists and philosophers. But money’s not the problem. It’s what people do to get it and what they do with it when they get it.

  In "Fiddler on the Roof," a poor man sings of his daydreams of the wonderful life he’d have if he were a rich man. And surely it would be better. As someone once said, “I’ve been poor and I’ve been rich. Rich is better.”

  Yet the Biblical warning that “love of money is the root of all evil” reminds us to be aware of the difference between need and greed.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Gary Palmer: Give thanks for the faith, courage and vision that brought the Wall down

  As we prepare to celebrate Thanksgiving, there is one thing that you should add to the list of things we should all be thankful for… the fall of the Berlin Wall.

  Twenty years ago, on November 9, 1989, a remarkable moment in the history of mankind took place when the East German government abruptly announced that their people were free to cross into West Germany. By evening, thousands from East and West Germany had gathered at the Brandenburg Gate, singing, crying and rejoicing. Some brought picks, chisels and hammers and began chipping away at what was perhaps the most visible symbol of the Cold War.

Monday, November 16, 2009

Joseph O. Patton: Debunking the “pro-life” myth

  Though I do not share their stance, I’ve always been respectful of those who claim to be “pro-life.” Oversimplifying a bit, but in short I think the rights of the mother come before the “rights” of a potential child. I also do not approve of any branch of government attempting to dictate to a woman what she can and cannot do with her own body. And yet, I completely agree that there are far too many abortions occurring in this country and that we should all work collectively to educate those who are sexually active - especially teens - and more firmly instill a better sense of responsibility in our young people.

  I do value and can sympathize with those who fervently hold true to their personal values and religious upbringing when it comes to the sensitive and controversial aspects of abortion - views that lead them to honestly and genuinely oppose most - if not all - instances of terminating a pregnancy.

  Increasingly, however, it seems self-described pro-lifers only value “life” in a hypocritical, narrowly-defined, marginal and selective way…

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Jacob G. Hornberger: Foreign-policy blowback at Ft. Hood

  Amidst all the debate over whether the Ft. Hood killer is a terrorist, murderer, enemy combatant, traitor, sleeper agent, or insane person, there is one glaring fact staring America in the face: what happened at Ft. Hood is more blowback from U.S. foreign policy in the Middle East, specifically the occupations of Iraq and Afghanistan. Even at this early stage of the investigation, the evidence is virtually conclusive that the accused killer, Maj. Nidal Malik Hasan, was motivated to kill U.S. soldiers at Ft. Hood by deep anger and rage arising from the things that the U.S. government has been doing to people in the Middle East for many years.

  Oh, I can already hear the interventionists exclaiming, “You’re a justifier! You’re justifying what he did!”

  Isn’t that what they said after the 9/11 attacks, when we libertarians pointed out that those attacks were motivated by the deep anger and rage that had boiled over in the Middle East because of what the U.S. government had been doing to people there?

Rick Green: Feasibility and realities of secession

  For the most part, this is not the firebrand revolutionary movement of the 13 original States’ secession from England or the armed rebellion of the Southern States to form the Confederate States of America in the early 1860s. There are some individuals and organizations that advocate armed rebellion and hate in general. But for the most part the articles I have read advocate secession as a peaceful and legal matter.

  Some advocate that the United States is too big and complicated for a central government to oversee and control, that the politicians in Washington are self serving if not outright corrupt, there is too much diversity across the nation to be controlled by a central “every law fits all” government and that the current Democrat and Republican parties are out of touch with reality and needs of the people they are supposed to be representing.

Michael Josephson: Character Counts: Does sportsmanship matter?

  To lots of athletes, coaches, and fans, sportsmanship is an outdated concept. Like the Miss Congeniality Award in beauty contests, many think it’s for runners-up and losers.

  The barbarians believe rules are made to be broken, that it’s wise and proper to do whatever you can get away with.

  Did you see the of University of New Mexico soccer player Elizabeth Lambert violently yanking an opponent’s pony tail and tripping, shoving, punching, and kicking a host of other players?
  Women’s soccer has become a rough, physical game, but still there are rules that govern the sport, define fair play, and prohibit dangerous acts that can produce serious injuries.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Michael Ciamarra: Can states protect themselves against massive health care intrusion?

  As the U.S. House of Representatives leadership muscled through its complex, bureaucratic overhaul of 17 percent of our economy, states have not been waiting on the final outcome, if any, in the U.S. Senate.

  Alabama State Rep. Mac Gipson (R-Prattville) will introduce in the 2010 session of the Legislature the Alabama Health Care Freedom Act constitutional amendment that will protect the rights of patients to make their own health care choices. Further, his measure prohibits penalties levied on patients for declining participation in any big government passed Pelosi/Obama health care plan. To date, 22 states have introduced similar initiatives.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Joseph O. Patton: When did God appoint Representative Bridges as the new Gay Czar?

  There are those people… the ones who would callously steal candy from children or abuse their pet without remorse… and then there’s Alabama Rep. DuWayne Bridges (R-Valley), who I would argue ranks firmly among them.

  Pandering to all those in his district and beyond who seem to think gays and lesbians are second-class citizens, he’s introducing a bill in the Alabama House that would prohibit public universities from offering benefits to the domestic partners of their gay and lesbian employees. Bridges’ legislation, which I’m taking the liberty of calling ‘The Bigot Bill,’ is reportedly in response to UAB offering such benefits beginning last month, and UAH, which is scheduled to follow suit in January.

  Bridges’ argument is beyond weak, laden with obnoxious whining that the State should not pay for such things because it will somehow increase the burden on taxpayers. Lest we forget, taxpayers in Alabama have the lowest tax burden in the country as it is. (Roll Tide!) It’s humorous considering only an itty-bitty fraction of Alabamians are gay, and even fewer will declare so publicly, much less live openly as part of a same-sex couple. After all, the legions of Bubbas throughout The Heart of Dixie who thrive on Bud Light, stockpiling guns and beating their common-law wives don’t take too kindly to “queers” anyway. Suffice it to say, very, very few same-sex couples would be participating in this program, not because they don’t want to provide for their partner, but because “coming out” in Alabama is about as endearing as giving someone leprosy for Christmas.

CapCity Classic: Joseph O. Patton: How I survived nine minutes of Dick Cheney

Editor’s note: This article first appeared in the August 2002 edition of the Capital City Free Press in Patton’s column, “Off the record….”

Monday, July 22

3:07 pm:
  I tried to get out of it. Given that my employer, The Montgomery Independent, had published a lengthy prelude to this event last week, I don't see why I am baking in the mid-summer Alabama heat waiting for the man they call Dick Cheney. I've been told this man runs the great nation we live in but still only gets second billing for it. Poor guy.

  But my publisher insisted I vacate the comfy confines of our office and bounce over to one of the Capital City's certified gems, the Blount Cultural Park, which accommodates the Alabama Shakespeare Festival, the Montgomery Museum of Fine Arts, a cadre of temperamental swans, some Republican blood money and a few underage couples sucking face after dark.

  Cheney should be arriving at 5 pm, just in time for rush hour, to officially dedicate a new portion of the park. I'm assuming it's just another slow day at the White House.

Saturday, November 7, 2009

Joe Bageant: Obama's fight for reform... Lay off the footwork and throw a punch!

  Almost a year after the Great Giddy Swarming of the Obamians last November, some of the revelers are waking up with one booger of a hangover. And they are asking themselves, "What were we thinking when we had that tenth drink of Democratic Party Kool-Aid?" It was a clear cut case of seduction and date rape. The spike in the drink was, of course, hope. Poor pathetic American liberals. Forever doomed to be naive freshmen at the senior beer bash.

  We try to take comfort in that we won't have to listen to or look at John McCain or Sarah Palin for four years, except in the American Legion Magazine and in Palin's case, as a centerfold in the next issue of Middle Aged Skin. Okay, we really are grateful. But could the pathetic McCain-Palin clown act possibly have created much more havoc than what we are seeing?

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Gary Palmer: The Difference between an inhabitant and a citizen

  America is beset with crises… economic, financial, moral, and health care… and the list could go on. Americans have to be asking themselves how the most powerful, most prosperous nation in the world got itself into such a condition.

  In an article entitled “Great Nations Need Great Citizens” first published in July 1992, former Colorado Governor Richard Lamm wrote, “America talks endlessly about the follies of its leaders, but what about the follies of its citizens? America in many respects faces more of a ‘citizenship’ problem than a leadership problem.”

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Charles C. Haynes: Say what you want, hate-crimes bill protects free speech

  Editor’s note: On Oct. 28, President Obama signed into law the defense-funding bill that included the hate-crimes measure.

  After years of heated debate, the Senate gave final approval on Oct. 22 to legislation already passed by the House that expands federal hate-crimes statutes to include sexual orientation and gender identity. President Obama has promised to sign it into law.

  Last-ditch efforts by many conservative Christian groups have failed to stop the bill – known as the Matthew Shepard and James Byrd, Jr. Hate Crimes Prevention Act, after the gay man murdered in Wyoming in 1998 and the African-American man dragged to his death behind a pickup truck in Texas that same year.

Saturday, October 31, 2009

Gary Palmer: Two more rulings in bingo battle

  The latest rulings on the legality of electronic bingo in Jefferson and Walker Counties raise serious questions about the legality of these operations in other parts of the state. These rulings, along with the ruling in September by Federal Circuit Court Judge Lynwood Smith, have strengthened the legal case that many believe will result in the Alabama State Supreme Court declaring electronic bingo illegal in this state.

  While these rulings apply only to the jurisdictions in which they were rendered, all three established a significant baseline that will very likely impact gambling operations in other counties. Essentially, all three judges concluded that so-called “electronic bingo” is not bingo as understood by Alabama state law.

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Sen. Hank Sanders: Senate Sketches #1169

  What do we do when we have several things of importance to do at the same time in different places? Do we just decide which is most important and participate in that one? If so, how do we decide which is most important? On the other hand, do we try to find a way do all of them or as many as possible? What do we do and why?

  It was Saturday morning. I had come to Montgomery the night before for the Alabama New South Coalition (ANSC) Annual Fall Convention. The day’s session started at 9 am. I felt strongly that I should be at this convention. First, I have not missed but one semi-annual convention since 1986, a total of 48 conventions. It has been important that I participate in each during these 24 years and as president emeritus of ANSC, it was now more important than ever. Secondly, I had a convention assignment: present the gubernatorial candidates to speak at the luncheon.

Sen. Hank Sanders: Senate Sketches #1168

  Sometimes we really want to do something but one little thing stands in our way. Sometimes we allow that small thing to stop us from doing the big thing we want to do. Sometimes we overcome that small thing to do the big thing and sometimes we don’t. I faced such a choice this week.

  The big thing was a special occasion. A friend and fellow struggler was being honored. It was important that I be there with her and her family and friends for this occasion. I really wanted to be there but one small thing stood in the way.

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Joseph O. Patton: America first?

  It seems conservatives and the Republican Party have a woefully short memory. Throughout each waking hour of the Bush presidency, every time any well-intentioned American - regardless of party affiliation - dared to question or comment on the president’s defense or national security policies, Bush’s henchmen, hate radio blowhards and conservatives in general would lash out with unprecedented venom. En masse they would hound, harass, belittle, demean and even question the patriotism of anyone who exhibited such unbridled audacity by merely engaging in debate and being inquisitive. The bloodthirsty conservative gang would all but have these people tarred and feathered on the front lawn of the White House… assuming Dubya was on yet another vacation down in Crawford tossing hay for a photo-op of course.

  “The White House must stop dithering while America’s armed forces are in danger,” said Dick Cheney at a Neocon coven meeting this week. My, my, how the rules have changed!

Friday, October 23, 2009

Gary Palmer: Personal attacks don’t change Alabama’s education facts

  On October 4, the Mobile Press-Register published an opinion article by Alabama State Superintendent of Education Dr. Joe Morton disparaging a column that I wrote concerning the academic outcomes for Alabama school children as reported by the Alabama State Department of Education.

  In August, I pointed out that there is a significant gap between what the Alabama State Department of Education reports for proficiency results for Alabama school children and what other national tests such as the National Assessment of Education Progress (NAEP) report. That was not my first article on this topic. In November 2007, I wrote about a report entitled The Pangloss Index: How States Game the No Child Left Behind Act. According to that report, states were lowering standards to improve education results in order to comply with the No Child Left Behind law (NCLB.)

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

John Feffer: Obama must pick gurneys over guns

  We're close to our spending limit on the nation's credit card. The bank bailout, the stimulus package, the Iraq War and the overall military budget: each is costing more than $500 billion.

  Now the Obama administration is looking at two more hefty charges: a national health care plan and a surge in Afghanistan. It's time to make a decision. We can't do both guns and gurneys. After all, we're looking at a $1.6 trillion government deficit for 2009. That's what our entire national debt used to be in the early 1980s.

  The last time we tried to fight a major war and launch an ambitious domestic program, we ultimately failed at both. The war was in Vietnam and the domestic program was called the Great Society. The Obama administration can still learn from the failures of the Lyndon Johnson era before it succumbs to failures of its own.

Michael Josephson: Character Counts: Parenting by lying

  A new study titled “Parenting by Lying” reports that the vast majority of parents tell their children that lying is wrong. Nevertheless, almost all parents admit they lie to their children for a wide variety of reasons. In addition to lies concerning fantasies about the Tooth Fairy and Santa Claus, parents lie to influence behavior and manipulate emotions.

  Parents make up all sorts of lies to get their children to behave. Many parents admit to telling their kids that something bad, sometimes something very bad, will happen if they don’t brush their teeth, eat their vegetables, go to sleep, or stop crying. Threats included: a monster will get you, you’ll get pimples, or the police will take you away. Sometimes the lie promised something nice: you’ll become a beautiful princess or you’ll develop superpowers.

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Nicolas Dumesnil de Glapion: Henriette DeLille: A True Southern "Saint"

  Just a little under six weeks before Abraham Lincoln signed the Emancipation Proclamation, the following obituary appeared in a New Orleans, La. newspaper:

  "Last Monday died one of these women whose obscure and retired life was nothing remarkable in the eyes of the world but is full of merit before God.... Without ever having heard speak of philanthropy, this poor maid had done more good than the great philanthropists with their systems so brilliant yet so vain. Worn out by work, she died at the age of 50 years after a long and painful illness borne with the most edifying resignation."

  Henriette DeLille was born to a well-to-do New Orleans family in 1813. While still a girl, she began visiting the sick and the aging of her race, slave and free. By the age of 22 her mother suffered a nervous breakdown and was declared mentally incompetent and unable to manage her own assets. Henriette was granted guardianship of her mother’s assets and after providing for her mother’s care, Henriette sold off the rest of the estate and started an unrecognized order of nuns, The Sisters of the Presentation.

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Charles C. Haynes: Cheerleading for Christ: not in public schools

  The varsity cheerleaders at Lakeview-Fort Oglethorpe High School are getting their 15 minutes in the news media spotlight this week. Unfortunately, much of the sound-bite coverage may serve only to fuel the ignorance and strife over the role of religion in public schools.

  In case you missed it, on Sept. 28 school officials in Catoosa County, Ga., reluctantly barred the cheerleaders from holding banners with Bible verses for the football team to burst through when they take the field — a ritual that has been performed religiously for at least six years.

  A recent banner read: “I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 3:14).

Gary Palmer: The Columbus Hoax: Promising what can't be delivered

  It occurred to me that an incident which took place on October 13, 2009 in Columbus, Ohio might just be the best analogy of how socialized health care is being sold to the American public.

  According to media reports, a woman pulled up to a Burlington Coat Factory in a Hummer limousine, walked to the store check-out counter and loudly announced that she had just won the lottery and would pay for everyone’s purchases up to $500 and she would stay until the store closed.

  Not only did people flood the cash register lines, they phoned their friends and relatives to tell them the good news. According to one Columbus police officer, there were at least 500 people in the store aisles and another 1,000 outside trying to get in. Unfortunately for all those people with their shopping carts full, the lady had not won the lottery and she could not pay for everyone’s purchase.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Josh Carples: Sen. Sessions should be ashamed

  With congratulations to Minnesota’s junior senator, Al Franken, on his recent legislative accomplishment, should come a denunciation of our own Senator Jeff Sessions.

  Here is the background: a 19-year-old female contractor employee for KBR, a subsidiary of Halliburton, was gang-raped by her co-workers while working in Iraq. After the assault, she was locked in a shipping container for more than 24-hours. Because of fine-print in her employment contract, she was informed that she was not allowed to sue her employer. The contract clause made sexual assault allegations to be subject to arbitration. Keep in mind that the assault would normally be a criminal matter, but this occurred in Iraq, outside U.S. criminal jurisdiction.

Sheldon Richman: Exit Afghanistan and leave Iran alone

  The Obama administration’s quest to control the health-insurance industry has dominated the headlines for months, but finally — with the news out of Iran and Afghanistan —foreign policy has again asserted itself. It was almost easy to forget that the United States maintains a worldwide empire, but the reminders came leaping off the front pages and the television screens.

  Word that the U.S. commander in Afghanistan wants 40,000 more troops and that Iran has a hitherto undisclosed uranium-enrichment facility gave the empire enthusiasts something to get excited about. The advocates of Pax Americana tell us that we must “win” in Afghanistan and be ready to bomb Iran if the leaders there don’t prostrate themselves to the U.S. government forthwith. 

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Nicolas Dumesnil de Glapion: Squirming out of the 'race boxes'

  Since the '60s and Martin Luther King's crusade to free all Americans from the stigma of racial hatred, racial favoritism and racial bullying, a great deal has changed. Among other things, the self-appointed black leadership-claiming its legitimacy from the Civil Rights Movement and its line of descent from MLK himself-has metamorphosed from an underdog position to the one it enjoys today, namely as the supreme arbiter of all questions that deal with race in the United States. These leaders, who include representatives of government and government-sponsored agencies, academics at prestigious universities, high-level civil servants and politicians, media spokespersons, free-lance intellectuals and opinion-makers, generally lean to the left in their thinking, which greatly endears them to the white, left-oriented media marshals, who seem determined to expiate their own guilt over past racial injustices by embracing as Holy Writ any kind of politically correct twaddle regarding "race" that their black colleagues put forth.

Sen. Hank Sanders: Senate Sketches #1167

  What is legal is not always right. What is right is not always legal. This has been my mantra to elected officials and others for many years. It was my mantra to one elected official for more than 30 years. Before I share more about this elected official, allow me to illustrate the truth of this mantra: Segregation laws were legal, but they were not right. Violating these laws was right but not legal. Enough said!

  Now back to the elected official. I have known Johnny Jackson for nearly 40 years. I was close to his family over the years, often eating at his mother’s home when she was alive.  I really began working closely with Johnny Jackson in 1978, helping him incorporate the White Hall area into a town. He was never paid for his time and effort. I was never paid for mine.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Joe Bageant: Howling in the belly of the Confederacy

  How can the region of America that gave us lynching, Jim Crow, Harry Byrd, George Wallace, Taliban Christianity, David Duke, the KKK, Bible hair, Tammy Fay Bakker, congregational snake handling, the poll tax, inbreeding, and chitterlings possibly take another step back down the stairs of human evolution? Beats the hell out of me. But somehow here in the Shenandoah Valley of Virginia we have managed it.

Joseph O. Patton: Fourth down and… fail!

  Former Auburn-Montgomery Chancellor Roy Saigo humorously told former Montgomery Mayor Emory Folmar - with his tongue planted squarely in his cheek - that the university would form a football team… as soon as it started a sumo wrestling team. If only that remains true…

  I was disheartened to read in the AUMnibus that my alma mater is taking its first steps toward bringing football to its campus. I’m certainly not opposed to college football (“Rammer Jammer, Yellowhammer, Give ‘em Hell, Alabama!”), but dressing AUM up with football is like trying to fit Madonna with a chastity belt - it’s not a practical or attractive idea.

Joseph O. Patton: Guess who’s back?

  Granted it’s painfully cliché… but it can also be true: Never say never.

  It was less than a year ago that Josh Carples - managing editor of the Capital City Free Press - and I put down our pens. After seven years, countless headaches and over 15,000 steady readers, we called it a day. But like a stalking ex or a severe case of indigestion, we simply couldn’t shake the desire to write, inform, enlighten and provoke. And that damn online magazine that practically ran our lives since 2001 kept leering at us at from the shadows, teasing and taunting, unwilling to disappear. So the best advice I’ve ever received I am now following: Don’t give up… give in!