The first Hindu elected to the House of
Representatives, Tulsi Gabbard of Hawaii, will take the oath of office in a few
weeks — and she has chosen to place her hand on the Bhagavad Gita, a sacred
text of her tradition.
Meanwhile, the woman she replaces in Congress, Mazie
Hirono, will be sworn in as the first Buddhist elected to the U.S. Senate.
That’s a popular protest chant among liberals. It could be heard at many “Occupy” gatherings. It’s a staple at union-backed protests.
We all know that in a democracy, sometimes things go your way and sometimes they don’t. The big question is, how will you react?
For example, many conservatives were disappointed by the results of last month’s elections. Despite high unemployment, sluggish economic growth and an unpopular health care program, a majority of voters returned a staunchly liberal president to office.
Grover Norquist is the founder and president of the conservative tax advocacy group Americans for Tax Reform, a group that advocates for lower taxes and smaller government. The son of a former Polaroid Corporation vice-president, Norquist lived a very comfortable life during his upbringing and received an excellent education in one of Massachusetts best public schools and a college education from Harvard University. Once he graduated with his B.A. and M.B.A., he went on to become an executive director of the National Tax Payers Union. From there he started Americans for Tax Reform group in 1985. Since then he has become a major player in the modern conservative movement with his famous "Taxpayer Protection Pledge." In the pledge, signers promise to "oppose any and all efforts to increase the marginal income tax rates for individuals and/or businesses; and oppose any net reduction or elimination of deductions and credits, unless matched dollar for dollar by further reducing tax rates."
The First Amendment does not empower anyone to hack into websites associated with the controversial Westboro Baptist church and the family members of founder Fred Phelps — even with the best of intentions. But that’s the latest development in the sad saga of that Topeka, Kan.-based church.
The U.S. government’s ongoing dispute with Russian
President Vladimir Putin reflects what a disaster the U.S. government’s “war on
terrorism” has been, at least from the standpoint of moral standing.
Ever since his election, Putin, harkening back to
what he undoubtedly remembers as the fond days of the Soviet Union, has been
taking harsh actions to suppress criticism of him, his actions, and his regime.
To avoid being seen as an opponent of freedom of speech, however, he uses
Russia’s system of a tightly regulated economy and a complex tax system to go
after his critics by charging and prosecuting them with tax and regulatory
I realize that not everyone lives in a Norman
Rockwell world where family gatherings are sources of warmth and good memories.
For some, the prospect of holiday get-togethers generates dread and anxiety;
they are something to endure, not enjoy.
One reason is that family members can be tactless
and downright cruel when expressing their opinions about perceived foibles,
flaws and failures of their relatives, especially in-laws. Often comments are
so laden with negative judgment that they could make the Grinch wince. Whether
motivated by well-intentioned, but misdirected, love and concern, or by malice,
insensitive or unkind words are like spears to the heart.
I’m not sure I’ve ever seen so much flawed reporting
as in the news coverage surrounding the horrific school shootings in Newtown,
Errors abounded. News organizations identified the
wrong man as the shooter, reported that the shooter’s mother was a teacher at
the school and mischaracterized both the killers’ weapons and his access to the
school. One flawed report said that the killer had a run-in with teachers at
the school the day before the massacre.
In recent days Senate Minority Leader Mitch
McConnell (R-KY) and House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) have both suggested that
they might be willing to allow some tax cuts for high-income individuals to
expire. But Sen. McConnell—and evidently Rep. Boehner, as well—are reportedly
still insisting that the Bush tax cuts on investment income be extended.
The Republican leaders’ willingness to discuss top
tax rates is a welcome step forward. But until policymakers address the gap
between tax rates on ordinary income (income from wages, salaries, and so on)
and the tax rates on investment income (capital gains and dividends), they will
not have fully addressed the fundamental unfairness in the tax code.
On December 14, 2012, Americans saw the darkness in
Newtown, Connecticut. And for many of us it is hard to grasp, maybe impossible.
How could a young man be so full of pain and rage that he would take so many
young lives? Where are the answers? What can we do? What “serious”
conversations can be had? What laws can be passed? But the cold darkness
settles on our souls as a steady procession of tiny coffins are lowered into
During the 2012 election year we enjoyed observing
the presidential race nationwide as well as judicial races statewide. However,
probably the most important races for many of you occurred during the dog days
of summer. We had mayor’s races throughout the state this year. All
municipalities with the exception of Montgomery, Birmingham and Mobile elected
their mayor for the next four years.
The mayor of a city is a very high profile post.
Mayors have more influence and importance than most folks realize. It is the
real bastion of decision making when it comes to public policy. They affect
their constituents’ lives every day. The mayor of a city is where the rubber
meets the road in Alabama politics.
Atheists, humanists and other nonreligious people
face discrimination and persecution in many parts of the world, according to
“Freedom of Thought 2012,” a report released this week by the International
Humanist and Ethical Union.
The survey is the first to highlight how people with
no religious affiliation — sometimes dubbed “religious nones” by pollsters —
are often treated as second-class citizens, outsiders or, in some societies,
enemies of the state.
The passage of so-called right-to-work legislation
in Michigan fails to take into consideration the real impact unions have on
both states’ and the nation’s economies and on middle-class Americans.
“Right-to-work” laws weaken unions by making them provide services to union and
nonunion members alike, without making all beneficiaries pay their fair share.
By severely weakening unions, which are vital to strengthening the middle class
and improving the economy, “right-to-work” laws have broad negative consequences.
I’m deep in the bunker, y’all. It’s simply not safe
to wander above ground these days, notably due to the bloodletting inherent to
the “War on Christmas” and the Christian Taliban forcing everyone at gun point
to celebrate Christmas their way. Between overzealous Christians seeking to use
our government as a means of indoctrination to overzealous atheists ripping
candy canes from our hands and sacrificing our inflatable snowmen on altars to
the great atheist god, I’m hesitant to step into the light of day… though I do
need to get the mail.
Benjamin Franklin once said, “Where liberty dwells,
there is my country,” inspiring Thomas Paine to reply, “Where liberty is not,
that is my home.”
We libertarians happen to have been born in what
Paine described as his preferred home — a country in which liberty is not. We
strive to convert our country into one that Franklin preferred, one where
liberty dwells. That’s one of the things that make our movement such a glorious
In many faith traditions, forgiveness refers to more
than sin. It also refers to economic debt. The Hebrew Bible teaches the
practice of Jubilee, where debts are forgiven every seven years. The Koran
urges compassion for debtors in difficult straits, saying their debts should be
postponed until they are “in ease.” In these faith traditions and others,
economic and moral behavior is tightly entwined.
That link—between money and morals—isn’t limited to
the pages of ancient sacred texts, however. You can spot it in today’s news
thanks to a creative new project called the Rolling Jubilee, part of the Strike
Debt campaign, which are both offshoots of the Occupy Wall Street movement and
are tackling a huge problem. According to the Consumer Financial Protection
Bureau, about 30 million Americans are being hounded by debt collection
Now that the dust has settled from the 2012
presidential contest we in Alabama are ready for the real horse race. Unlike
most states where the race for the White House is the marquee event every four
years, our focus has always been on the governor’s race and our local races.
Our forefathers must have envisioned that this would
be the case when our 1901 Constitution was drafted. All our major state races
are on the ballot in gubernatorial years. In 2014, not only will we have a
governor’s race, all seven constitutional offices are up for grabs, including
lieutenant governor, attorney general, treasurer and agriculture commissioner.
In addition, all 140 legislative seats are up for election along with all 67
sheriffs, three members of the Supreme Court, two PSC seats and all seven
members of Congress. It will be quite a year.
That was House Speaker John Boehner's summation of
the fiscal cliff negotiations as of this time last week, in an interview on Fox
Boehner said that plan proposed by President Obama
and Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner to avoid the fiscal cliff, which included
an end to Congress's control of the debt ceiling limit along with $1.6 trillion
in new revenue, was "a non-serious proposal;" particularly because,
as Boehner portrayed it, the proposal contained federal spending that
outweighed its proposed budget cuts.
As the automatic tax increases and spending cuts of
the so-called “fiscal cliff” near the horizon, political pundits continue to
argue whether the government should solve its budget woes by reducing spending,
raising taxes, or some combination of the two. Even the President has engaged
with the trendy narrative of taking a “little more” from “wealthy” Americans to
repair the budget.
Unfortunately, the reality of America’s fiscal
situation has little connection to popular political opinion. Washington’s
problem is excessive spending. Period.
Whether something is labeled speech or conduct can
make all the difference in the outcome of First Amendment lawsuits.
Two cases in point are recent decisions by two
federal district judges reaching opposite conclusions about whether to halt a
new California law that prohibits mental-health providers from conducting
sexual-orientation change therapy — sometimes called “gay-conversion therapy” —
When is enough… enough? The U.S. military and the
CIA have waged war on Cuba for more than 50 years. After a half-century of
invasions, assassination attempts, terrorist attacks, and a cruel and inhumane
economic embargo, it’s time to bring the entire sordid policy toward Cuba to an
end. Not only has it failed to accomplish its purported end — the ouster of the
Castro regime and its replacement by a pro-U.S. dictatorship — it has also
played a major role in the economic misery of the Cuban people. The U.S. government’s
war on Cuba has also constituted a grave infringement on the fundamental rights
and freedoms of the American people.
Twelve years ago Vermont became the first state to
legalize civil unions for gay and lesbian couples. Back then the term “civil
union” was unfamiliar to most Americans, and the Vermont law seemed radical to
many. Its passage triggered fear campaigns and antigay ballot initiatives that
energized conservatives and helped them win elections across the country.
On Election Day 2012 voters in three
states—Maryland, Maine, and Washington—went far beyond civil unions and
supported marriage equality for gay and lesbian couples. Voters in Minnesota
rejected a constitutional amendment that defined marriage as being between one
man and one woman. These victories mark a dramatic shift in public support for
gay and lesbian equality—all in a little more than a decade since Vermont
passed its civil unions bill.
The Roy Moore victory continues to reverberate
throughout the state. Whenever the subject of politics comes up it is the first
subject of conversation.
Undoubtedly it is the political story of the year.
Moore’s amazing resurrection triumph was astonishing. He was written off as an
“also ran” candidate after dismally losing two races for governor in the past
four years. Moore rode his horse to vote in Etowah County in both his primary
and general election victories, and then watched the results flow in,
especially from North Alabama. On both occasions it was evident that he was
riding a wave of fundamentalist evangelical voting that carried him back to his
old job as chief justice. He had been written off as dead, then lo and behold,
to quote an old Baptist hymn, “Up from the grave He arose with a mighty triumph
o’er his foes.”
A successful man known for his philanthropy was
driving his new car through a poor part of town. He’d driven the route hundreds
of times before on his way home.
A young boy tried to flag him down. The man was in a
hurry and didn’t want to get involved, so he pretended he didn’t see him. The
traffic signal turned red, though. As he slowed for it, he heard a loud thud.
The boy had thrown a brick at his car!
This week the U.N. General Assembly voted
overwhelmingly—138 countries in favor, 9 opposed, and 41 abstaining—to upgrade
the status of Palestine from “non-member observer entity” to “non-member
observer state.” That the measure passed was not a surprise. What was a
surprise, however, was the number of close U.S. partners—particularly members
of the European Union—who either voted for the resolution or abstained.
While the conventional wisdom holds that the status
upgrade is largely symbolic, it is important to understand that the symbolism
serves a political purpose. As Palestinian leaders explain it, the U.N. bid was
undertaken in large part out of frustration with the failure of the U.S.-led
peace process of the past several years to produce tangible progress toward the
end of occupation and the creation of a Palestinian state.
Since 2001 the Capital City Free Press has served as an unflinching source of provocative independent commentary in Alabama's River Region. The CCFP is a global, top-rated publication at The Ezine Directory.