Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Nina Hachgian: Neocons can’t shake Cold War mentality

  Robert Kagan’s opinion piece in The Washington Post last week was right about one thing—President Barack Obama is indeed moving away from America’s national security approach of 1947. It is about time. That strategy was designed for the Cold War, which we won 20 years ago. It simply cannot work today, as we found out the hard way during the Bush administration’s various misadventures around the globe.

  To keep Americans safe from the most dire threats, the Obama administration has to work with others. American power would not be enough, even if we had 10 times the enormous amount we do. And, unfortunately, America does not always get to choose its partners. In Kagan’s world, we can solve the most dire and urgent threats with the assistance of our democratic allies alone. If only it were that easy.

Sunday, March 28, 2010

Gary Palmer and Harold See: Another strategy for fighting the health care reform law

  Health care reform was rammed through Congress. What should we do?

  In 1842, Mellen Chamberlain interviewed 91-year-old Levi Preston, who had fought the British at Concord Bridge on April 19, 1775. Chamberlain asked if he fought because of the Stamp Act. Preston said no. The tea tax? He never drank it. How about the great treatises of the time? He never read them. He said he spent his time reading the Bible, Watt’s Psalms and Hymns and the Almanac.

  Why then had Preston fought at Concord? “Young man, what we meant in going for those red coats was this: we always had governed ourselves, and we always meant to. They didn’t mean we should.”

  Our Constitution, recognizing that government tends to accumulate power, provides checks and balances. Federalism is the check of the states on the federal government.

Saturday, March 27, 2010

Charles C. Haynes: When politics and religion trump science, education suffers

  At a time when American students rank an abysmal 21st in science literacy when compared with students around the world, state legislatures should be passing laws to strengthen science education — or at least refrain from enacting bills that make matters worse.

  Instead, politicians in a growing number of states are muddying the science-education waters by pushing legislation that requires schools to “teach the controversy” about evolution, global warming and other scientific theories.

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Josh Carples: Will conservatives stand against socialism?

  With the passage of the new health care bill now complete with the president’s signature, the rhetoric has continued to escalate, complete with ominous predictions of the downfall of America as it travels down the road to socialism.

  While fear-mongering seems to have become the norm in recent years – with terrorists, WMD, yellowcake uranium, mushroom clouds, Muslim, death panels, rationing and communism replacing the older ones such as gay Teletubbies – the one that appears to have gained the most traction is “socialism.”

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Michael Josephson: Character Counts: Forgiving without condoning or forgetting

  I suspect all of us have been hurt in deep and lasting ways by the words or acts of another. It’s normal in such situations to feel hostility toward, be angry with, and make negative judgments about the person who hurt us. If we continue to think we’re right to be offended, the tendency is to carry the hurt and resentment in the form of a grudge. Usually this causes far more unhappiness for us than the person we’re mad at.

  Some religions speak of forgiveness as a moral duty, others simply as a worthy virtue. Still others impose certain preconditions on the wrongdoer before he or she is entitled to be forgiven. Whatever your religious views, it’s clear to psychologists that the ability to forgive is closely correlated to happiness and mental health.

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Andy Worthington: Republican witch-hunters embrace dictatorship

  Are there no depths to which conservatives will not sink in their ardent embrace of the war on terrorism? The latest monstrosity from the right came courtesy of Keep America Safe, a toxic organization headed by Liz Cheney, the daughter of former Vice President Dick Cheney, who recently put out a disgraceful TV ad, “Who Are the Al-Qaeda Seven?”

  The ad questioned the loyalty and patriotism of nine lawyers in the Justice Department who had represented prisoners at Guantánamo before joining the DOJ.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Joe Bageant: From Wall Street to Skank Street: Poking the frog at Gunther's Garage

  If you have the balls to stand up to Gunther Gatlin, and pay in cash, you just might manage to get him to do his job, which is fixing cars. Gunther's Garage is jammed in between an unpainted shotgun shack and a weedy vacant lot on a skanky little side street in Winchester, Virginia. The place is really an illegal junkyard, but slips through the city code masquerading as a garage.

  Patronizing Gunther's is not for wallflowers, gays, feminists or Yankees. You do not go there unless you don't mind being insulted. Gunther has a habit of greeting customers with remarks such as: "So what the hell is your problem?" Once he addressed a gay guy as "Twinkles." Sometimes he will just stand there, grease all over his Hawaiian shirt, pulling on his suspenders, and with a poignant pause, ask what a customer thinks is wrong with the vehicle. He listens thoughtfully, eyes toward the ground, then looks up and says, "Well that's the dumbest goddamned thing I ever heard."

Monday, March 15, 2010

Eric Alterman and Danny Goldberg: Think again: Listen up, Progressives, talk radio matters

  Did you know that when the White House and members of the media mention "code words like 'diversity' and 'equality'" what they are really proposing is "communist revolution?"

  Did you know that Osama bin Laden's remarks about global warming are almost identical to "those of the average, run-of-the-mill leftist, like Obama or Harry Reid or Nancy Pelosi or the entire Democrat Party?" Or that the "global warming scam" is "an effort by the left to destroy capitalist economies?"

  Here's one I'll bet you didn't know: President Barack Obama was "advised by [the] Ft. Hood Shooter."

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Joseph O. Patton: Don’t ask, don’t tell… at the prom?

  She simply wanted to attend prom with the person she loves.

  Itawamba County, Mississippi’s school district is canceling prom - not due to a lack of funding, security threats or any other tangible reason. They’re killing prom for the entire student body of the area because 17-year-old Constance McMillan wants to attend with her girlfriend, a fellow student.

  The ACLU has sued on McMillen’s behalf, but whether this prom ever takes place or not, the damage has been done.

  Sadly it’s indicative of a nation that is still plagued by narrow-mindedness and bigotry. After all, unless President Obama fulfills his promise to overturn it - and to date, he hasn’t - our federal government will continue to utilize institutionalized discrimination via its repressive and discriminatory “Don’t ask, don’t tell” policy. When our own central government openly exercises discriminatory policies, it shouldn’t surprise us when similar actions are executed at a lower level - even a high school prom.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Charles C. Haynes: Fighting over prayers in the name of Jesus

  Meetings of the Board of Commissioners in Forsyth County, N.C., have long opened with mostly Christian prayers — and a majority of the commissioners are determined to keep it that way. As far as they’re concerned, what the Christian majority wants, the Christian majority should get.

  Last month, however, a federal judge called a halt to the practice of praying in the name of Jesus. Although the county argued that its recently revised policy was now constitutional because it permits religious leaders of all faiths to pray on a first-come, first-served basis, the judge ruled that most prayers were Christian in violation of the First Amendment’s prohibition against government advancing one religion over others.

  Undeterred, the commissioners have vowed to fight on, voting 4-3 on February 22 to appeal the court’s decision — backed by $300,000 raised by citizens outraged by the ruling.

Saturday, March 6, 2010

Nina Hachigian: Has America lost its mojo?

  Our northern neighbors are concerned. Perhaps buoyed by hosting the Winter Olympics, a Canadian TV interviewer asked me about a “touchy” subject recently: Has America lost its mojo? How are Americans feeling these days? Are we going to be OK again?

  I had to be honest that Americans are in the dumps. Many of us are experiencing the hardest times of our lives, and meanwhile China, India, and others seem to have bounced right back. Our national gloom explains why the ruminations on America’s decline are coming fast and furious. Book titles tell the story: The Post American World, The End of Influence, When China Rules the World, Freefall.

  It is bleak now, but America should step back from the ledge because the future is looking up. Here are 10 things to remember about America and decline.

Friday, March 5, 2010

Gary Palmer: The Battle over bingo is not over

  In the February 28, 2010 edition of The Birmingham News, Sen. Roger Bedford dismissed the inexcusable actions of the crowd of people who disrupted a lawful and peaceful rally against the spread of electronic bingo casinos in Alabama. Protesters arrived on seven commercial buses and carried professionally designed and printed signs, then positioned themselves in front of the Alabama State House while attempting to shout down every speaker.

  If you are interested in seeing what actually happened that day, watch this 2-minute video to see the lengths to which these powerful gambling interests will go to overwhelm and silence any opposition.

  Despite the decidedly negative impact of the protesters, Bedford and other state senators have tried to downplay and even justify the protesters’ actions as frustration over not being allowed to vote on legalizing gambling. All during the legislative session, gambling interests have pounded the airwaves with “let the people vote” ads which have helped give political cover to senators who claim to be “personally” opposed to gambling, but are for “allowing the people to vote.”

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Sheldon Richman: Obama’s phony populism

  President Obama likes to portray himself as a man of the people. But a look behind the veil shows this to be a deception. Take the financial regulatory overhaul brewing in Washington.

  I know what you’re thinking: What could better illustrate Obama’s bona fides as a champion of the people? He wants to regulate the banking industry after the recent debacle and is being fought by the banks and the Republicans. Doesn’t this clearly demonstrate his pro-people agenda?

  A closer looks reveals the real story to be something quite different. First, there has never been an unregulated banking industry in the United States. You can look it up. And since 1914 we’ve had a central bank, the Fed, whose regulatory powers have only increased over the decades. Several other agencies also regulate the banks. There are regulators at the state level too.

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Gary Palmer: The Real costs of the legislature killing the charter school bill

  Once again the Democrat majority that controls the Alabama State Legislature did what they so often do -- fail the parents and children of Alabama. The latest abuse of their legislative majority is the killing of a bill that would allow charter schools in Alabama.

  Charter schools are independent public schools allowed to operate with much the same flexibility as private schools. Charter schools can set objectives and hire the teachers and staff necessary to achieve those objectives. They do not have the restrictions placed on public schools when it comes to firing incompetent staff or teachers. In addition, if charter schools fail to educate adequately, they can be closed.

  Although they are under state law and are usually authorized by a state or local government agency or college, they have much greater independence in establishing budgets and academic programs. Charter schools can be a tremendous benefit to communities with failing schools where the majority of students come from highly disadvantaged backgrounds. And that is what makes the killing of the charter school bill so disappointing.