Monday, June 28, 2010

Joseph O. Patton: Treason is not a political strategy

  “Gather your armies!”

  “Tyrannical government!”

  “I would impeach him!”

  Sounds like a titillating prelude to a Revolutionary War film, right? Not quite, just a few choice lines from tea-bagger extraordinaire, right-wing darling and treason-inciting Congressional candidate Rick Barber’s recent television ad. Although if you follow the script, you’d think Barber was running to be the Grand Dragon of an insurgent, violence-prone militia group rather than a representative of the people of Alabama’s 2nd Congressional District. He sure has a flair for the dramatic, though… I guess you could call him a drama queen.

Sunday, June 27, 2010

Gary Palmer: Revolution from the Pulpits: Patriot Ministers and the War for Independence

  All across the United States, churches will have special services dedicated to Independence Day which falls on a Sunday this year. These services are entirely appropriate because without the influence of the churches in the preceding years, there might not have been a War for Independence. Moreover, the form and function of the Declaration of Independence would have been entirely different.

  The British historian Paul Johnson called the Great Awakening “the proto-revolutionary event, the formative moment in American history, preceding the political drive for independence and making it possible.” He added, “The Revolution could not have taken place without this religious background.”

Friday, June 25, 2010

Eric Alterman: Foolish loudmouths in the military and in the media

  If you take a look at General Stanley McChrystal’s complaints about Vice Joe President Biden, Special Representative for Afghanistan and Pakistan Richard Holbrooke, and U.S. Ambassador to Afghanistan Karl Eikenberry, Spencer Ackerman notes that, “All the criticisms—of Eikenberry, of Jones, of Holbrooke, of Biden—are actually just immature and arrogant snipes at how annoying Team America (what, apparently, McChrystal’s crew calls itself) finds them. This is not mission-first, to say the least.”

  Instead of an explanation of why Ambassador Eikenberry’s objections to present military strategy are misplaced or mistaken, we get snide remarks designed to discredit without deigning to engage, such as, “Here’s one that covers his flank for the history books. Now if we fail, they can say, ‘I told you so.’” “Biden?” suggests a top adviser. “Did you say: Bite Me?” and one aide calls Jim Jones, a retired four-star general and veteran of the Cold War, a “clown” who remains “stuck in 1985.” What the hell does that mean?

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Jacob G. Hornberger: Obama and Chavez, birds of a feather

  In my June 21 blog post, “Barack Obama, Dictator,” I pointed out that President Obama exercised brute dictatorial powers in dictating to BP to hand over $20 billion of corporate money to federal officials, who plan on distributing the loot to victims of the BP oil spill.

  Most everyone is familiar with the term “the rule of law.” Many people, however, don’t understand what it really means. They think that it means that people should obey the law.

  But that’s not what the rule of law means. What it means is this: In a free society, people should never have to answer to the arbitrary dictates of government officials. That type of society is described as one based on the “rule of men.” It is what dictatorship is all about. In a society based on the rule of law, people have to answer only to well-defined and pre-existing laws that have been duly enacted by the legislature.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Steve Flowers: Inside the Statehouse: The Paul Hubbert factor

  As the Republican field for governor began to formulate almost two years ago, the players crystallized early in the game. They all figured that the winner of the primary would have a cakewalk to the governorship because they assumed that an African American congressman named Artur Davis, who had been Barack Obama’s campaign manager in Alabama, would be their Democratic opponent. Therefore, winning the Republican nomination would be tantamount to election.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Joseph O. Patton: Notes on drinking the Kool-Aid

  The strangest things creep through your mind when you’re just kicking back on the porch in the Alabama heat, watching a squirrel trying to get a nut and a golfer on the edge of your yard slinging angry redneck curses at the 16th tee.

  For whatever reason, I was nudged into childhood reminisces - most likely due to the oppressive temperature, possibly even heat stroke - and I thought longingly of Kool-Aid. But not the sugary, powdered goodness that accompanied many youthful activities, but politically-speaking how conservatives have circled the wagons - at least in terms of political discourse - and dismiss everything individuals have to say that may even carry the slightest taste of praise or approval for anything President Obama has said or done, by condescendingly screeching, “You’re drinking the Kool-Aid!” Of course these are the same sheep-like souls who will hastily redraw their maps should Glenn Beck tell them the world is flat, but….

Monday, June 21, 2010

Charles C. Haynes: School censorship undermines what kids learn in civics 

  To find out how the First Amendment is supposed to work in public schools, don’t ask school officials. Ask the kids. Strange as it may seem, many students actually believe what they’re taught in civics class about their constitutional rights.

  Consider Raymond Hosier, a seventh-grader in Schenectady, N.Y. He doesn’t buy his school’s argument that his rosary beads are a “gang symbol” that should be banned. For Raymond, they are an expression of faith that he wears in memory of his uncle who died recently (and who taught Raymond to pray the rosary) and in memory of his brother who died wearing that same rosary in 2005.

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Eric Alterman: Networks to women: "Never on Sunday"

  In a column this past Sunday entitled “No Mystique About Feminism,” New York Times conservative columnist Ross Douthat observes, “When historians set out to date the moment when the women’s movement of the 1970s officially consolidated its gains, they could do worse than settle on last Tuesday’s primaries.” Douthat notes that the female victors won largely running as conservative Republicans, and he offers ambivalent support for Sarah Palin’s claim in her now infamous “mama grizzlies” speech that these new candidates were forging an “emerging, conservative, feminist identity.” Douthat argues that “whether or not Palin or Fiorina or Haley can legitimately claim the label feminist, their rise is a testament to the overall triumph of the women’s movement.” In doing so, he could not resist taking a swipe at what he termed “the peculiar left-wing misogyny that greeted Palin’s candidacy.”

Saturday, June 19, 2010

Gary Palmer: Dads help boys become men

  Summertime is kid time. In my case, it was more specifically "boy time."  When school let out for the summer, I entered an all-male classroom because my dad was a logger and my younger brother and I went to the woods with him. Instead of lazy days spent at the pool, on the playground or sitting in front of a television set-there were no video games-we learned how to work. More importantly, we learned how to be men.

  Before you conjure up visions of two little boys handling a chain saw or driving a log truck, let me set the record straight... we had a lot of fun. We had to work, but we got to be boys in an environment that gave full flight to everything that it means to be a boy. We explored, we climbed, we played in creeks - we even dammed one up. We learned how to shift gears in the truck and later, how to drive one. So while we were learning something about hard work and manhood, we got to be boys, too, in a way that many boys are missing out on today.

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Steve Flowers: Inside the Statehouse: The Ron Sparks, Jim Folsom dynamic

  As the 2010 gubernatorial contest began to formulate almost two years ago, the premier face card in the mix was Lt. Gov. Jim Folsom Jr. He was expected to skate through the Democratic primary unscathed and arrive at the general election dance unblemished by negative ads and with his campaign coffers untapped. It was expected that a strong field of Republicans would clash over the GOP nomination. Throughout their family feud they would pummel each other with negative ads and the winner of the primary would emerge in mid July beaten up and broke. This bruised and broke nominee would face the fresh and flush Folsom with only three months to recover and Folsom would waltz to victory.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Gene Policinski: Why licensing journalists is a bad idea 

  Licensing journalists is an idea that surfaces from time to time. But it’s always a bad idea.

  Such proposals may originate from grudges held by lawmakers, or a political strategy to typecast journalists as biased and out of touch, or the occasional well-meaning soul who equates journalists with lawyers or doctors.

  The latest effort arose in Michigan, where a state legislator proposed a state board through which journalists would voluntarily register — at $10 per license — and that would certify them as having “good moral character” and a basic level of training and experience.

Monday, June 14, 2010

Sheldon Richman: Terrorism: Made in the U.S.A.

  It’s a perilous world, as our so-called leaders love to remind us. And for a change they’re right. It is a perilous world. But guess who is most responsible for the peril to Americans? Those very same “leaders” and a long line of predecessors.

  Moreover, they — along with anyone else who takes time to examine the matter — know that they create the greatest dangers Americans face. They just don’t care. They have bigger fish to fry than keeping Americans safe. Besides, the dangers they create provide excuses for more power.

  Let’s just say what many people already know: the “war on terrorism” produces terrorists. No half-intelligent person could think that U.S. treatment of the Muslim world could have any effect other than to produce violent, vengeful anti-Americanism. Even in the government-friendly mainstream media you will find the facts, though you’ll have to connect the dots yourself.

Saturday, June 12, 2010

Gary Palmer: Another view on the 2010 Alabama Primaries

  The June 1 state primary elections may have marked an historic point in Alabama politics and set the stage for a major political realignment.

  Artur Davis’s campaign for the Democrat gubernatorial nomination garnered most of the attention. Davis, who gave up a secure seat in Congress to run for governor, was as articulate, intelligent and well-qualified a candidate as any the Democrats have had on their ballot. Because he was the first black candidate widely perceived to be a front-runner in the race to become governor, there was tremendous anticipation about his candidacy. But he went down in defeat with only 38 percent of the primary vote.

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Charles C. Haynes: At ground zero, a blowup over a mosque 

  Houston talk-show host Michael Perry couldn’t contain himself. When a listener named Tony called in May 26 to defend a plan to build an Islamic center near New York City’s 9/11 ground zero, Perry exploded.

  “No, no, Tony, you can’t build a mosque at the site of 9/11…. And I’ll tell you this – if you do build a mosque, I hope somebody blows it up… I hope the mosque isn’t built, and if it is, I hope it’s blown up, and I mean that.”

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Steve Flowers: Inside the Statehouse: Recapping the Alabama gubernatorial primaries

  The superstars emerging from the June 1st primaries were Ron Sparks and Dr. Robert Bentley. There were a lot of undecided voters in both parties leading up to last Tuesday’s primaries. Obviously the lion’s share of these voters fell to Bentley and Sparks.

  Sparks, the two-term agriculture commissioner trounced four-term 7th District Congressman Artur Davis 62 percent to 38 percent to capture the Democratic nomination for governor. Sparks was elected agriculture commissioner in 2002, the same year that Davis defeated incumbent Congressman Earl Hilliard to capture the 7th Congressional District seat. Davis was on a fast track in Washington. If he had stayed the course he could have been one of Alabama’s greatest congressmen, and we have had some good ones over the years.

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Eric Alterman: Think Again: Springtime for Hitler

  It’s Nazi Time again in American politics. Several of America’s most noted right-wing pundits are once again fixated on swastikas and skinny mustaches as they seek to explain why Americans should trust their judgment with regard to how to fix our problems. Their goal? To slime anyone who doesn't think the policies pursued by a centrist Democrat such as Barack Obama—or even a committed (albeit pragmatic) liberal like, say, Nancy Pelosi—are somehow indistinguishable from those pursued by the Third Reich.

  Hard to believe? Let’s take a closer look.

Monday, June 7, 2010

Phyllis Bennis: Israel's flotilla massacre: Made in the USA

(ISTANBUL)--When Israeli commandoes launched their pirate-style assault on the unarmed flotilla of ships carrying hundreds of humanitarian aid workers and 10,000 tons of supplies for the besieged Gaza Strip, killing at least nine activists and injuring scores more, part of the operation was labeled "Made in the USA."

  Decades of uncritical U.S. support—including, most recently, the Bush-initiated and Obama-implemented commitment of $30 billion of U.S. tax money in military aid to Israel over a decade--has ensured that Israel's military power (nuclear and conventional) remains unchallengeable. A U.S. pattern of using UN Security Council vetoes to protect Israel from accountability for its crimes has ensured that Israel can do whatever it likes with those U.S.-provided weapons, regardless of which U.S. domestic or international laws may be broken. So U.S. complicity in the recent massacre at sea is beyond question.

Sunday, June 6, 2010

Michael Ciamarra: Critical challenge for Alabama requires long-range planning

  Oftentimes, our state legislators and the governor appear to tackle the urgent, politically expedient and routine issues, without a focus on the long-term. State and federal lawmakers respond to what I like to call the "tyranny of the urgent," which frequently is in response to successful special interests’ lobbying efforts. It is much rarer when a legislative action is accompanied with "long-term strategy" or takes into consideration the future impact of a particular societal trend.

  A good example of neglecting long-term thinking would be the unfunded liabilities of the Alabama Retirement System which few lawmakers are willing to openly discuss. Instead, the legislature raised pensions by 18 percent over the last 10 years, adding an additional $3 billion to the state's, i.e. taxpayers' obligations.

Saturday, June 5, 2010

Gene Policinski: First Amendment claims don’t always win 

  The First Amendment’s five freedoms ensure that government doesn’t run roughshod over our religious-liberty and free-expression rights.

  But sometimes, the First Amendment doesn’t win out.

  Thankfully, it’s not all that often. When it does happen, generally the situation involves balancing one of the First Amendment freedoms — religion, speech, press, assembly and petition — against other parts of the Bill of Rights.

  The threat of terrorism is one such area. Critics of unrestrained speech by our enemies — and sometimes, of opponents at home — have observed that the First Amendment is not "a suicide pact.”

Friday, June 4, 2010

Joshua Dorner: The Prelude to Cheney’s Katrina

  Former Vice President Dick Cheney’s National Energy Policy Task Force concluded in May 2001 that “advanced, more energy efficient drilling and production methods: reduce emissions; practically eliminate spills from offshore platforms; and enhance worker safety, lower risk of blowouts, and provide better protection of groundwater resources.” At that time, with two oilmen in the White House and two more Texans leading an emboldened Republican majority in the House of Representatives, Big Oil had an unprecedented opportunity to set U.S. energy policy.

  Big Oil did not miss the opportunity. A deeper look at the energy legislation based on Cheney’s secret energy task force underscores how the unabashedly pro-oil policies and permissive regulatory environment created during the Bush administration set the stage forCheney’s Katrina—the BP oil catastrophe.

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Digital Roundtable: CCFP editors weigh in on the primary results

Joseph Patton and Josh Carples have appeared as election analysts for WAUD Radio in Auburn and on “First Call with Kevin Elkins” on WLWI 1440 in Montgomery. 

  The Democratic and Republican parties held their respective primaries June 1 to select candidates as their nominees for the November general election. Roughly a third of registered voters in Alabama participated. The run-off election for both parties - which will consist of races in which no candidate received more than 50 percent of the vote - will be held July 13.

Democrat primary for governor:

  Joseph Patton: I was thoroughly surprised that Sparks won by such a margin. I was anticipating a cliff-hanger that might go through the night. I can't help but believe Davis' plan to make himself seem more independent by openly snubbing the state's largest, most influential black political organizations created a backlash that cost him some votes here, especially when he had polled so far ahead through most of this contest. How much of a role do you think that played in this?

  Josh Carples: It’s really hard for me to speculate the amount of votes those decisions lost for Davis. I’m sure some people took that into consideration, but on the other hand, there may have been some that voted for him because of those stances as well, especially if they thought it made him appear more independent.

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Steve Flowers: Inside the Statehouse: The Get acquainted race

  You have an advantage on me as the results from Tuesday’s primaries are known to you as you read this column because the column was sent to your newspaper prior to the vote. Undoubtedly we are looking at a July 13th runoff for governor on the Republican side. The Democratic nominee has been decided.

  The governor’s race is the marquee political event in Alabama politics. This year’s race is even more intriguing because it is the first time in two decades that we have not had an incumbent governor on the ballot.

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Sen. Hank Sanders: Senate Sketches #1198

  Race is powerful. And we are seeing the power of race utilized in unique ways in this Alabama election. Let’s examine the age old saga of race expressed in these new ways and new contexts.

  Race is too often used by persons of one race against persons of another race. It is a well known practice with a long history. But in this election, there are new twists in a context we rarely see.

  Some whites use race to consolidate white voters during elections and some blacks use race to consolidate black voters. But this time, there is a new context: a technically well qualified black person is running for Governor of Alabama in the Democratic Primary against a technically well qualified white. There is also a new twist: a black person is attempting to use the race of other blacks to consolidate whites voters behind him. It’s a new context with new twists in an age old saga.