Sunday, January 31, 2010

Sheldon Richman: The Only way to get money out of politics

  Last week’s Supreme Court ruling striking down the ban on corporate and union spending at election time is both a blessing and a curse. On the one hand, removing a legal barrier to free speech is always a good thing in itself. Government shouldn’t dictate who can speak or from where people may get their information. This is more than a matter of abstract freedom; it’s also a practical matter. More contentiousness in politics is better than less. Free-wheeling debate is more likely to produce good outcomes than a controlled flow of information.

  But there is a downside to the ruling that we should freely acknowledge. If history and recent times are any indication, big corporations and unions will use their new freedom of political speech to promote bad ideas. By “bad ideas” I mean proposals for more government interference with our lives and liberty. (Not that the spending ban kept them from doing that in other ways.)

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Charles C. Haynes: Beyond the shouting, what the law really says about religion

  Because good news is all too rare in our culture wars, Americans should welcome a common-ground agreement released this week titled “Religious Expression in American Public Life: A Joint Statement of Current Law.” (Download the report, which is a PDF document.)

  Drafted by a diverse group of religious-liberty advocates, educators and scholars, the document represents the first-ever consensus on how the law addresses the role of religion in the public square in the United States.

Monday, January 25, 2010

Joseph O. Patton: Introducing Alabama’s next Attorney General…

  In case you missed it, Mobile District Attorney John Tyson (D) announced he was running for the office of Alabama Attorney General today. I know, it looked like he was being appointed as Bob Riley’s new anti-gambling crusader head henchman, and that‘s what the press release contended, but in truth he was laying the groundwork to get elected AG, to go a second round with Troy King in November.

  No one has forgotten the slime-throwing embarrassment of the 2006 AG’s race, especially Tyson. For a man with his crime-fighting record, he should have stomped King flat with his eyes closed and one hand tied behind his back. But as Deep South custom dictates, the very people who always tout their so-called family values - King and his cronies - managed to ride a trail of their own slime past Tyson and back into office when the polls closed, slinging every variety of muck they could scoop up with their hands.

Gary Palmer: Abortion still an issue in health care reform

  President Obama and the Democrat leadership in Congress have created a major political dilemma for themselves in their efforts to nationalize our health care system. The dilemma they face is over abortion.

  Obama made some specific promises to Planned Parenthood and others in the abortion industry and to pro-abortion interest groups. Basically, they promised to deliver more children to their clinics by removing virtually all restrictions on abortions. In fact, in a speech to Planned Parenthood during the presidential campaign, Obama said, “The first thing I would do as president is sign the Freedom of Choice Act (FOCA).” He added, “On this fundamental issue I will not yield and Planned Parenthood will not yield.”

Saturday, January 23, 2010

Daniel Corsair: Supreme Court gives United States of America back to Britain and the world

  It was just announced that in a 5 to 4 decision, the United State's Supreme Court voted to allow corporations the ability to spend unlimited amounts of money on campaign ads. It is said that this ruling wipes out decades of legislation which worked to provide the American people with a voting system that was intent on only supporting the American voter.

  I have scoured the Constitution and the Declaration of Independence and nowhere do I find that our forefathers intended for our country to be controlled by businesses, corporations or foreigners. Because so much of our country has been bought up by foreigners, foreign companies and corporations, the Supreme Court has given our country away to the world and severely diminished the rights of the American people.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Josh Carples: Cutting through the Massachusetts senate race hype

  Let's be real about the Massachusetts senate race for a second. If Martha Coakley was serious about winning, she would have done some things differently.

  Whether it was her directly or her handlers, she allowed her campaign to come across as arrogant and out-of-touch with regular people. Complaining about having to shake hands in the cold and relying completely on the “star power” of the big-name Democrats to stump for her – rather than her getting out there herself like her opponent did – allowed her to come across that way, not to mention taking a week vacation between the recent primary (Dec. 8) and the election (Jan. 19).

  Those campaign failures, along with not resonating with voters, will make any progress of the president's agenda more difficult – not that things were going smoothly to begin with.

Monday, January 18, 2010

Sheldon Richman: National security: The Big fraud

  The hand-wringing about the would-be Christmas Day airplane bomber and the politicians’ tiresome declarations that it will never happen again miss the point: As long as the U.S. government pursues its imperial program of invasion, regime change, occupation, and sponsorship of corrupt governments in the Muslim world, Americans will be targets for avengers. This does not excuse the killing of innocents — it merely points out an inevitable chain of events.

  It’s either foreign intervention and retaliatory terrorism or nonintervention and security. There’s no third way.

Saturday, January 16, 2010

Joe Bageant: Bass boats and queer marriage

The battle for the American soul is over and Jay Leno won

Ajijic, Jalisco, Mexico

  Holy smoking Jesus, America is losing its middle class! “We're taxing the middle class out of existence,” charge the conservatives. “The middle class is being hollowed out,” wail the liberals, pouring forth great mock turtle tears (although one wonders how such a vacuum, as middle class life in America could be further hollowed).

  For both political camps, high dudgeon over “the vanishing middle class” is supposed to represent some sort of “new populism.” Not that the populace disagrees with them, mainly because the populace, if we are referring to the genuine America populace, hasn't the slightest notion of the definition of populism. But the word sounds like it has to do with popularity, the highest virtue in the American mind, and can even lead to the celestial heights called celebrity. So what the hell, they're willing to run with it. 

  In any case, much overwrought political theater is being dedicated to the subject of the middle class’ demise… if demise is the right word for losing its ability to engorge on commodities at obscene levels.

Josh Carples: Why Donald Miller misses the point on Pat Robertson’s new low

  Donald Miller wrote a very good response regarding the newest Pat Robertson foot-in-mouth moment regarding the suffering going on after the devastating earthquake in Haiti. If you missed the original comment, Robertson said the country is cursed because many years ago a pact was made with the devil to free them from French control. Classy, right?

  Miller, on his blog, sets out to ease the anger by calling his fellow Christians to pity Robertson and show him that God is not impressed with religious posturing. His blog is geared toward Christians – he is a Christian author, and I would say a good one after reading his book “To Own a Dragon” – and I say that to put the post in proper context.

I think that Miller gets it mostly right in his take on the situation. He says, “Many controlling personalities are drawn to the idea of a severe, vengeance oriented God,” and says that Robertson was “sadly irresponsible” for making “such a devastatingly shocking statement in the context of great hurt.”

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Michael Josephson: Character Counts: The Intimidating power of integrity

  A teacher once wrote telling me that a parent with a great deal of clout at her school asked her to change attendance records to make her child’s record look better. The teacher said she thought long and hard about the request but eventually refused, knowing it would make the parent angry.

  I commended her moral courage. I wish it didn’t take courage to do the right thing, especially in such a clear case as this, but in the real world people with power often retaliate when they don’t get what they want. This can make our lives difficult.

Saturday, January 9, 2010

Gary Palmer: Democrats have one last chance to keep their promises

  When the 2010 legislative regular session begins on Tuesday, January 12th, the Democrat leadership that currently controls the Alabama State Legislature will have one last chance to honor the written “covenant” they presented to the voters of Alabama prior to the 2006 election. They have had three chances to keep the promises they publicly made to the people of Alabama. They have failed to do so each time.

  Less than three months before the last election, Democrat leaders held press conferences in four Alabama cities on August 16, 2006 to announce an election campaign platform they called their “Covenant for the Future.” The Democrats presented this covenant to the voters of Alabama as their party’s top legislative priorities if re-elected and given control of the State Legislature.

Friday, January 8, 2010

Joseph O. Patton: Please don't read this if you're an Auburn football fan!

  Football rivalries, especially those emanating from the Deep South, tend to get ugly… I’m talkin’ Hatfield and McCoy ugly. The Auburn University versus University of Alabama feud takes the cake when it comes to being the most absurd fan pissing contest though, which is unfortunate and embarrassing for those of us living in this state.

  Despite the history of unbridled nastiness, I was nonetheless taken aback by the sheer number of Auburn fans who dug in their heels counting down to the BCS National Championship Game, abruptly and yet whole-heartedly converting to Texas Longhorns. You’d think they’d like to see their home state team - their greatest rival, fans who are their friends, family, co-workers, neighbors, etc. - bring home the big one. But no… they were flashing their fangs and fervently praying for a Texas victory. Though ironically enough, you’d think if nothing else and for selfish reasons, Auburn would want the badge of honor involved in nearly beating the team who ultimately became tops in the entire country.

  Is it simply bitterness from still being behind in the Iron Bowl series? Is it jealously arising from comparing the number of national championships Alabama has won, total bowl appearances, number of SEC championships versus Auburn’s record in those same areas? Who knows… but such behavior reminds me of a spoiled brat spewing third grade insults on a playground, and everyone knows he’s only doing it due to his own crippling insecurities and self-loathing, so he’s trying to tear down those around him in a pathetic effort to feel better about himself.

Thursday, January 7, 2010

Sheldon Richman: Not so strange health-care bedfellows

  One thing can be said on behalf of the health-insurance overhaul currently shaping up in Washington: it has revealed the curious bedfellows that politics creates. Congress almost certainly will pass a bill that compels every American to have medical insurance. If his employer doesn’t offer it, he’ll have to buy it himself or be fined.

  This justifiably offends everyone who believes in individual freedom. By what right do politicians order us to buy medical coverage? They say they have a good reason: if everyone were forced to buy health insurance, the premiums would be lower for sick people, who file more claims than healthy people do. I mean no disrespect to sick people, but that’s a lousy reason to force the healthy to buy insurance they don’t want. In a truly free society, force would be used only to protect innocent life from aggression. Keeping insurance premiums down falls short of that standard.

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Joseph O. Patton: How I survived Mardi Gras in Mobile

Editor's note: This article originally appeared in the March 17, 2000 edition of the AUMnibus, the student newspaper of Auburn Montgomery. It was also released through two national college news wires.

  I will freely admit that I had strong misgivings about letting loose on the grand city of Mobile, Ala., during the madness of Mardi Gras -- especially with my girl-crazy assistant, Matt "lookin' for love in all the wrong places" Jorgensen.

  The sky was clouded over Montgomery before we hit the road, and it was under those foreboding skies that some idiot at the Super Lube overfilled my oil tank, causing my baby, the Buick, to overheat and take an unexpected rest stop in the parking lot of a Mexican restaurant. If it weren't for a kindly gentleman with a spray bottle full of water and whatever voodoo he worked under the hood, the four-doored wonder would still be taking a nap.

  About three or four hours later, we rolled into Mobile. Matt had a headache from an overdose of the Dixie Chicks, and I had a half-numb ass from all the driving.

  We offered the obligatory salutations to Matt's family and scooted over to his neighbor's yard, where a handful of overly cheerful folks were gathered around a mysterious 20-gallon pot. For some reason, I had visions of those silly witches from "Macbeth."

Saturday, January 2, 2010

Joseph O. Patton: Troy King’s hypocrisy on the “Cornhusker Kickback”

  The pot has formally called the kettle black… and while we’re at it, I’m calling Troy King an insufferable hypocrite.

  King - along with a coven of other Republican state attorneys general - is calling for an investigation into the deal-making as part of the recently drafted health care reforms in the U.S. Senate, specifically concessions made to the state of Nebraska in order to land the support of Senator Ben Nelson.

  Whether you approve of the wheeling and dealing, such quid pro quo, back-scratching bargaining is the hallmark of all America’s representative bodies, from Congress to each and every state legislature and even city councils and county commissions. If you have issues with such practices, you might want to reconsider our form of government - a representative democracy ain’t always pretty, y'all! But would you prefer socialism, communism or even a theocracy or a totalitarian form of government though?

  King’s claim that this rush to investigation isn’t “political” is like Bill Cosby claiming he doesn’t like Pudding Pops. Each participating attorney is a Republican and the target of the investigation is of course a Democrat. Doing that math doesn’t require a calculator.

Friday, January 1, 2010

Charles C. Haynes: Unhappy New Year for religious liberty

  Good riddance to the aughts, naughts or ohs. By whatever name, the first decade of the 21st century has been devastating for religious liberty in much of the world.

  The statistics are numbing. According to a study released this month by the Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life, nearly 70 percent of the world’s 6.8 billion people now live in countries with high restrictions on religious beliefs and practices.