Sunday, May 30, 2010

David Lorango: BP oil spill: A Flip-flop on regulation

  Take a look at some of the comments over on the Wall Street Journal regarding the BP oil spill. You will notice certain trends, but the most glaring among them is this: the government failed to adequately regulate the oil industry.

  That's right. The government failed to regulate the oil industry.

  Excuse me if I'm missing something, but I assumed that the "drill, baby, drill" slogan was about the government NOT regulating the oil industry.

Saturday, May 29, 2010

Gary Palmer: We are still Americans

  In all of America's wars during my lifetime, I had never personally known someone killed in action... until April 28th. On that day, in the Helmand province of Afghanistan, Lance Corporal Thomas Rivers, Jr. gave his last full measure of devotion. Rivers was a team leader with 1st Squad, 1st Platoon, Alpha Company, 1st Battalion, 2nd Marines Regiment.

  That morning, his father Tom had just finished his morning Bible study and had prayed for Thomas as he did every morning. Just after 7am, he was in the kitchen making coffee when he heard the sound of a car door shut in front of his home. When he looked out, he saw three Marines walking to his front door.

Friday, May 28, 2010

The Secret office emails

Editor's note: I, Joseph O. Patton, am guilty of gossiping about my coworkers and sharing tales of office drama with Capital City Free Press Managing Editor Josh Carples... and he does little to discourage me from doing so. In fact, he suggested our correspondence might work as a humorous article (see below). The names have been changed to protect the innocent... and the neurotic. And if this doesn't entertain you, then you can blame Josh because it was his idea.

Wednesday, September 20

9:17 am

  Joseph: Josh, these people are not right.

  First there is Gina. Gina was moved from one desk to another. She cleaned, sanitized, decorated, etc. that poor cubicle for two hours solid! She was sweating profusely. You would have thought they had forced her into a tuberculosis ward. Our supervisor finally had to stop her and tell her that she needed to go open the mail. I asked her finally (mild sarcasm included) if she was trying to "feng shui" her desk.

  Then there is Joan. She is a pure nut, barking out loud - which I'm told is actually a laugh - at random times when no one is speaking to her. She also wears this bright red smock as if she were a hairdresser and regularly scrubs her hands with rubbing alcohol. I thought this was bad enough until I hauled some materials to another office with her yesterday and found out that she carries a ruler to press the elevator buttons with… while barking of course.

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell by the numbers: The Military loses patriotic men and women every day

  The House this week could take an important step forward in bringing equality to the military by passing an amendment that would repeal “Don’t Ask Don’t Tell” as part of the fiscal year 2011 Defense Authorization bill. DADT is the discriminatory policy that prevents gay and lesbian soldiers from serving openly in the military. The Senate Armed Services Committee is also considering a similar amendment.

  Defense Secretary Gates called earlier this year for a Pentagon working group to begin drafting a plan for enacting a repeal to the ban, and that proposal is due to the secretary, Joint Chiefs, and president later this year. Congressional passage of repeal would ensure that all parts of government—legal and military—can move forward together once the Pentagon’s proposal is completed.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Steve Flowers: Inside the Statehouse: Countdown to the Alabama primaries

  As we enter the last few days of campaigning leading up to next Tuesday’s Democratic and Republican primaries the candidate’s messages may get muffled by the Memorial Day weekend. Voters may be more interested in vacationing, picnicking or barbequing than political television ads. However, we will wake up from the revelry of the first summer holiday weekend to face a full slate of candidates from governor to coroner.

  We will begin the process by picking the successor to two-term Republican Governor Bob Riley. The Democrats will pick their nominee for governor on Tuesday.  Because there only two aspirants, there will be no need for a runoff. Four-term Democratic Congressman Artur Davis has forfeited his safe congressional seat to seek to become the first African American governor of the Heart of Dixie. His opponent is two-term Agriculture Commissioner Ron Sparks. They have waged a spirited battle.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Gary Palmer: Greek debt crisis a warning to U.S.

  The focus of the 2010 elections is shaping up to be about the importance of limited government and, of all things, the country of Greece gives us a working example of why this is so important.

  Greece functioned as a “super nanny” by providing expensive lifetime entitlements to all of its citizens and is a government that abandoned any pretense to limits. It is also a government that is flat broke and now dependent on the European Union and the United States to save it. Thus, Greece is the latest example of the failure of socialism.

Sunday, May 23, 2010

Charles C. Haynes: Separation of church and state: fact or fiction? 

  Not so very long ago, “separation of church and state” was as American as motherhood and apple pie. Despite perennial debates over the degree of separation, public support for the principle itself has been strong for much of our history.

  But in today’s culture-war climate, the very mention of “separation of church and state” is enough to trigger a bitter argument over the relationship of government and religion in the United States.

  Consider the current fight over the social studies curriculum in Texas. For months now the Democratic minority on the Texas Board of Education has been sparring with the Republican majority (mostly social conservatives) over what to teach students about the establishment clause of the First Amendment.

Saturday, May 22, 2010

Jacob G. Hornberger: Rand Paul, civil rights, and more liberal hypocrisy on race

  I recently wrote two articles in which I criticized liberals for being two-faced and hypocritical when it comes to racial issues. The articles, which concerned the minimum wage, a longtime favorite government program among liberals whose negative effects fall disproportionately on blacks, were entitled “Why Do Daily Kos and Alternet Favor a Racist Government Program?” and “Free Teenagers: Repeal the Minimum Wage.”

  Of course, I could also have written an article pointing out the decades-long liberal support of the drug war, another vicious government program whose adverse consequences have long fallen disproportionately on blacks and Hispanics. See, for example, this list of articles.

  Thus, it’s not a coincidence that liberal icon Barack Obama, a drug user himself (he smoked dope and snorted cocaine when he was young and smokes tobacco today) and his Democratically controlled Congress are not only not ending the drug war but instead are ramping it up, even encouraging the Mexican government’s use of the military to wage the drug war in Mexico.

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Michael Josephson: Character Counts: Righteousness is revealed in conduct, not rhetoric

  It's hard to look at the world and some of the people who seem to get ahead without occasionally asking ourselves why we should be ethical. However normal it is to think like this, the question should be off limits for people who profess strong religious beliefs. After all, what religion does not mandate morality?

  To authentically religious people, the motivation toward virtue is grounded in the acceptance of a nonnegotiable duty to be a good person in the eyes of God, not in anticipation of personal benefits. Dishonest, irresponsible, or unfair conduct is simply wrong.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Steve Flowers: Inside the Statehouse: Troy King vs. Luther Strange

  The governor’s race is always the marquee event in Alabama politics. That will be especially true this year because the race is wide open. This is the first time that an incumbent governor has not been on the ballot in 20 years.

  However, the Republican primary for attorney general may very well be as interesting and competitive as any contest on the ballot this year. The winner of this battle royale between incumbent Troy King and challenger Luther Strange will be the odds on favorite to take home all the marbles in the fall. Alabama voters have tended to favor a Republican in the attorney general’s office for two decades now.

  Troy King is facing the toughest challenge of his young political life. He has been attorney general for over six years having ascended to the post when Bill Pryor was appointed to the federal bench. King was appointed by Gov. Bob Riley to fill Pryor’s unexpired term as attorney general. Prior to that Riley had made King his legal advisor.

Monday, May 17, 2010

Gene Policinski: Don’t make me laugh, they might sue you 

  What is it about humor that all too often results in situations that decidedly are not a laughing matter?

  Free speech in comedy attracts controversy as well as belly laughs, and in the case of two "South Park" television episodes this season that attempted to feature the Prophet Muhammad, even death threats.

  A quick review of this ironic “laugh track”: Lenny Bruce’s run-ins with local police over his language in the 1950s and '60s; CBS’ 1969 cancellation of the Smothers Brothers TV show, with its biting political satire against Presidents Lyndon Johnson and Richard Nixon; George Carlin’s “seven dirty words” stand-up routine that wound up at the heart of a landmark 1978 Supreme Court case; and the post-9/11 flap over Bill Maher’s wise-guy observation about terrorists and courage.

Saturday, May 15, 2010

Gary Palmer: Whistling past the fiscal graveyard

  With all the talk of proration and deep cuts in state spending, most people in Alabama are well aware of the dire financial condition of the state of Alabama. What they probably do not realize is that the situation is even worse than it appears and is getting worse.

  Alabama, like almost every other state, is carrying massive unfunded liabilities for state and education employee pensions and health benefits that are requiring massive payments to remain solvent. Almost $1 billion of the $5.6 billion 2011 education budget passed during the last legislative session was to keep Alabama’s pension programs funded. Just over $1 billion more was appropriated to keep the health benefits programs funded.

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Joe Bageant: Lost on the fearless plain

Big Brother's got that ju-ju, Gaia's got the blues -- hologram, carry me home!

 Ajijic, Mexico

  I've spent most of this week watching American television and movies. I leave the TV on all night long. I toss and turn with my bad back, and bad lungs, catch a rerun episode of “Two and a Half Men,” or “CSI,” and conk out again. Then I awaken to the U.S. morning talk shows. It's a grueling regimen, only for the strong… or the lonely. For periodic relief, I switch to Mexican television (be patient, I really am going somewhere with this). 

  Mexican TV is not one iota better than American television, but is veeerrry heavy on the booty. More than heavy… astronomical. Think all-but-bare tits and ass close-ups every fifteen seconds, straight through commercials, dramas, comedy shows, history shows, and even the news where possible. Every show but the bullfights and that old nun who comes on at 10 pm, who invariably drives me back to the U.S. channels.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Steve Flowers: Inside the Statehouse: Grading the Alabama Legislative Session

  When compared to the other three years of the quadrennium the 2010 legislative session should be considered a success. First of all, anytime the legislature passes the budgets on time it should be considered an accomplishment. This year they passed the Education and General Fund Budgets with days to spare but very little time or effort was expended in crafting and drafting these budgets. The documents have no rhyme or reason when compared to the actual fiscal needs. The legislature simply passed something knowing full well that the wheels are going to come off about the same time that the budgets go into effect in October.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Daniel Hawes: Throwing mud at the Tea Party

  Due to the vast majority of minorities in this country voting for more liberal candidates, politicians and clever special interest groups have perverted the notion of conservatism into many people's minds as "the opposition." Race is perhaps the most divisive issue facing our country today, whether or not you believe it is, and it is most often the liberals pushing the ideas on the rest of us when their views otherwise are not well received. A recent example can be the liberal's depiction of the Tea Party movement and the citizens associated with the cause.

Sunday, May 9, 2010

Sheldon Richman: Immigration, civil liberties, and the drug war

  Arizona’s horrid law empowering cops to demand that people show their “papers” when suspected of being in the country without government permission holds an important lesson for both so-called progressives and conservatives. It’s a lesson about a seemingly separate issue: drugs.

Saturday, May 8, 2010

Christian E. Weller, Luke Reidenbach: The Cost of risk in the oil market: How risk premiums are paid

  The inexorably spreading oil disaster on the Gulf Coast highlights once again the risks associated with drilling, pumping, transporting, and refining petroleum. The costs of this particularly catastrophic oil gusher won’t be known for years, but they will certainly be large, including the clean up, and the lost current and future business for fisheries and tourism (and the wide range of manufacturing and services sectors that depend on these two industries) along the Gulf Coast. Then there’s the money spent on cleaning up this Texas-sized mess that could have been used more productively for other purposes.

Friday, May 7, 2010

Gary Palmer: Broken promises: A Summary of the last four years

  Most of the media coverage of the 2010 Alabama legislative session has been an evaluation of what was, or was not, accomplished in the last session. To get an accurate picture, Alabama citizens should evaluate the entire body of work of the legislature and look at the four legislative sessions since the election in 2006.

  The first thing to note is that the first legislative session following the 2006 election was convened in the midst of an investigation of state legislators and two-year colleges and the final session closed with the FBI investigating corruption involving state legislators and gambling interests.

Thursday, May 6, 2010

Charles C. Haynes: Take 'national' out of National Day of Prayer 

  Last month U.S. District Judge Barbara Crabb dared go where no judge has gone before and declared the National Day of Prayer unconstitutional. Don’t look for her name on the short list of Supreme Court nominees anytime soon.

  Judge Crabb stayed her order pending appeal, permitting official prayer-day observances to go forward as planned today.

  In her emperor-has-no-clothes decision, Judge Crabb exposed the long-standing but much-ignored contradiction between the First Amendment’s prohibition against government endorsement of religion and annual presidential proclamations calling on Americans to pray.

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Steve Flowers: Inside the Statehouse: Will Alabama's Congressional delegation get shaken up this year?

  Last week we examined the probability of Republicans picking up seats in Congress in this year’s midterm elections. These seats were won because of the economy and they may be lost because of the economy. The economy was bad in 2008. It is still bad in 2010. If you live by the sword you die by the sword. If you win because of the economy you will lose because of the economy.

  What about our seven member Alabama delegation? For two decades we had five Republicans and two Democrats. That changed in 2008 when Bobby Bright captured the 2nd District, which had been in Republican hands for 44 years. That made us four Republicans and three Democrats. However, that only lasted for one year as freshman Democrat Parker Griffith turned coats and became a Republican after one year in Congress. This was somewhat of a surprise. The more likely switch would have been Bright, who was sitting in a proven Republican seat.

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Michael Josephson: Character Counts: Do bad people think they’re good?

  When she was 6, my daughter Carissa asked, “Do dumb people think they’re smart?” Answering her own question, she added, “They probably do because they’re dumb.”

  This made me think: “Do bad people think they’re good?” I wouldn’t be surprised if most do. In fact, I think all of us are ethical in our own eyes. The human tendency to rationalize, to justify our conduct in our own minds, provides a powerful anesthetic to our conscience. Think of all the athletes, politicians, religious leaders, and business executives who’ve been caught in wrongdoing who feel more like victims than villains.
Self-interest has a powerful tendency to disable our objectivity and befuddle our commitment to live up to moral principles.

Saturday, May 1, 2010

Michael Ciamarra: The 2010 winner is Rep. Jack Williams and the ban on human trafficking

  The 2010 regular session of the Alabama Legislature ended as it began: with three big issues looming over everything else. The bills were often accompanied by boisterous and contentious political posturing and the rhetoric was colorful and at times, way over the top. Weary legislators faced a final gambling vote (take care of special interests), ten-year road projects (special interests approving election year goodies), and a short-term solution to the Prepaid Affordable College Tuition shortfalls (44,000 PACT contract holders and well-organized grassroots lobbying efforts) in the final two days of the session.