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.