Saturday, July 31, 2010

Rev. Dr. Susan Brooks Thistlethwaite: Calling out the hatemongers

  Progressive faith activists are on the march this summer, challenging the misperceived monopoly of conservatives who for far too long have tried to establish themselves as the sole guardians of faith, morality, and values. Interfaith groups, Christian groups, and even seminary students and faculty are all involved in this new faith activism, working proactively, not reactively, to present progressive faith values in strong and yet less-divisive ways than the angry hate-filled rhetoric of the extreme far right. From radio ads to blogs and YouTube videos, diverse people of faith are countering the distortions of the extreme right wing while demonstrating the inclusiveness of faith communities united in pursuit of social justice.

Friday, July 30, 2010

Steve Flowers: Inside the Statehouse: Friends and neighbors politics

  In 1949 Dr. V.O. Key, Jr. wrote a book entitled, “Southern Politics in State and Nation.” His book is considered the bible of southern political history. It is still the cornerstone textbook of choice for most courses on southern politics taught at universities throughout the country.

  When Key writes about Alabama he has a chapter devoted to a unique but clear premise regarding our state’s politics at that time. His theory is called the “friends and neighbors” politics of Alabama. According to Key, “A powerful localism provides an important ingredient of Alabama factionalism. Candidates for governor tend to poll overwhelming majorities in their home counties and to draw heavy support in adjacent counties.”

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Letter to the editor: "Menopause The Musical"

 Editor's note: The following is in response to Joseph O. Patton's article titled "The Night They Drove the Alabama Shakespeare Festival Down," published July 20.

Hi Joseph,

  I enjoyed your post and wanted to take a moment to comment on your thoughts.

  Our Artistic Director recently spoke to a group of hospitality professionals at a lunch meeting. He discussed this year's season, which also includes a world premiere by author and playwright Pearl Cleage which ASF commissioned, an encore production of the Broadway musical Peter Pan, two world premieres co-commissioned by the Department of Tourism based on little-known, real Montgomerians living here at the beginning of the Civil War, Julius Caesar, Much Ado About Nothing and an American comedy about the making of Gone with the Wind called Moonlight and Magnolias. He also spoke about his reason for bringing back Menopause the Musical, despite its obvious, un-apologetically populist nature.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Sheldon Richman: Government has run amok since 9/11

  Those who understand the exploitative nature of big government suspected that the U.S. response to the 9/11 attacks had little to do with the security of the American people and much to do with power and money. Still, the magnitude of the scam, as revealed by the Washington Post last week, is astonishing.

  Naturally, the politicians justify the growth in intelligence operations on national security grounds. To make sure such attacks never happen again, they said, new powers, agencies, personnel, and facilities were imperative.

  Now the truth is out: the post–9/11 activity has been an obscene feeding frenzy at the public trough. Any resemblance to efforts at keeping Americans safe is strictly coincidental.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

What will happen to small businesses if health care reforms are repealed

  Conservatives’ efforts to repeal the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act would have dire consequences for small business owners and their employees. That’s because small businesses are big beneficiaries of health care reforms that will help make health coverage more affordable, thus preserving wages, eliminating job lock, saving jobs, and increasing profits and competitiveness.

What small business employers and employees lose if the new law is repealed

  Repeal would mean that small business owners will continue to drop health coverage for their employees in the face of escalating costs. The percentage of small businesses offering coverage has been steadily dropping, down from 68 percent in 2000 to 59 percent in 2007. If the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act is repealed, that downward trend would continue.

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Gene Policinski: Court ruling questions rationale for FCC’s control of TV

  What do you do when you hear foul language on television?

  As for me, sometimes I cringe, sometimes I don’t. Sometimes I’m surprised, sometimes disappointed, and sometimes the words just come and go without much effect.

  If I’m offended, I change the channel. But sometimes I intentionally tune to a channel knowing that I’m going to hear language that I wouldn’t want even my two adult sons to use.

Saturday, July 24, 2010

Gary Palmer: Ground Zero is no place for symbol of Muslim conquest

  A classic image of American resilience and character is the picture of the New York firefighters raising an American flag over the smoldering ruins of the World Trade Center in the aftermath of the terrorist attack on 9/11.

  To radical Islamists gloating and celebrating the murder of almost 3,000 people, the image of that act had to dampen their enthusiasm. Raising our flag made it apparent that America would not surrender or bow to the terrorists’ insanity nor make an apology for America’s so-called sins against the world.

  The flag symbolizes our values and our freedom which is something radical Islamists fear much more than they fear our will to fight back. Our flag standing amid the ruins of the World Trade Towers was extremely important because it symbolized that Americans were not a conquered people.

Friday, July 23, 2010

Sam Fulwood III: Racist charges recall a bygone era

  In the latest twist of an ongoing mud wrestling match, a conservative Tea Party sympathizer dredged up a film clip to prove that racists live and breathe within the NAACP. In the grainy, low-quality video, a black woman is telling a black audience about how she slow-walked her efforts to help a white family save its family farm.

  Shirley Sherrod, the former director for rural development in Georgia for the U.S. Department of Agriculture, made the remarks at an NAACP meeting in March. After the video clip migrated from an obscure website into the nation’s media bloodstream, the wheels fell off Sherrod’s life. NAACP President Ben Jealous denounced Sherrod, even though she had been speaking at an NAACP event. Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack demanded she resign, apparently because he (and some in the White House and the NAACP) feared the political blowback if Sherrod were on the job and the vast, right-wing conspiracy ran with this story.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Ken Paulson: Sophomoric speech is free speech, too

  Some school memories are more golden than others.

  While we've all benefited from the good teachers and school administrators in our lives, it's hard to shake the memories of those who either didn't teach us very well or treated us badly.

  Students in the pre-digital era pretty much just had to grin and bear it. We would grumble to our friends or complain to our parents, but we weren't going to get an audience with the school board.

  Times have changed. The current generation is armed with social media, and it's payback time.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Announcement: The managing editor of the Capital City Free Press will be on the air Thursday, July 22

  Josh Carples, managing editor of the Capital City Free Press, is scheduled to appear on the second hour of “First Call with Kevin Elkins” tomorrow morning. The show airs from 7 to 9 on 1440 AM.

  Carples, along with founder and publisher Joseph O. Patton, have appeared as election/political analysts on talk radio programs previously, including “First Call” last week, but this appearance will mark a first since Thursdays are generally reserved for religious discussions.

  The program can be streamed live, free of charge, online:

  The Capital City Free Press was launched in 2001 as a full-service online magazine, specializing in independent commentary and arts and entertainment coverage from the River Region. After a nine-month hiatus it was re-launched in blog form in October of 2009.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Joseph O. Patton: The Night they drove the Alabama Shakespeare Festival down

  Throughout a quarter of a century, I’ve experienced innumerable fond moments attending productions at the Alabama Shakespeare Festival. And the glimmer never fades. When the lights start to dim on the Festival Stage or the Octagon, I’m always filled with an unbridled sense of excitement typically only felt on Christmas morning… or during the Iron Bowl. From the higher-brow flourishes of a Shakespearian work to a more down to earth offering such as, “Always… Patsy Cline,” I’ve never walked out of those Zeus-sized doors with any hint of disappointment in tow. Until “Menopause The Musical” came along….

  When ASF “staged” the production I was mortified to witness it, even more so because I was foolish enough to pay for it. Not because I’m some insufferable theatre snob but because the so-called play is simply awful. Want a synopsis? Hold on to your box seats! A group of women sing pilfered pop songs in which the lyrics have been bastardized and supplanted with sophomoric references to menopause symptoms. It’s like Beavis and Butthead for women experiencing hot flashes. And after the 37th reference to night sweats and cranky hormones, the awkward attempts at humor fade just a wee bit. Onto my description of the plot itself: There isn’t one. Each song is shallowly strung together by bits of vapid dialogue. Curtain.

Monday, July 19, 2010

Joe Bageant: Waltzing at the Doomsday Ball: Capitalism is dead, but we still dance with the corpse

Ajijic, Jalisco, Mexico

  As an Anglo European white guy from a very long line of white guys, I want to thank all the brown, black, yellow and red people for a marvelous three-century joy ride. During the past 300 years of the industrial age, as Europeans, and later as Americans, we have managed to consume infinitely more than we ever produced, thanks to colonialism, crooked deals with despotic potentates and good old gunboats and grapeshot. Yes, we have lived, and still live, extravagant lifestyles far above the rest of you. And so, my sincere thanks to all of you folks around the world working in sweatshops, or living on two bucks a day, even though you sit on vast oil deposits. And to those outside my window here in Mexico this morning, the two guys pruning the retired gringo's hedges with what look like pocket knives, I say, keep up the good work. It's the world's cheap labor guys like you -- the black, brown and yellow folks who take it up the shorts -- who make capitalism look like it actually works. So keep on humping. Remember: We've got predator drones.

Friday, July 16, 2010

Digital Roundtable Election 2010: On to November... A Preview of major races in the Alabama general election

  Capital City Free Press founder and publisher Joseph O. Patton and managing editor Josh Carples have appeared as election/political analysts for several River Region talk radio programs. Wednesday, as guests on “First Call” hosted by Kevin Elkins on WLWI 1440 AM, they discussed the results of the Tuesday run-off election and previewed some of the races for November. The following is an expanded discussion of the races on the ballot. Wednesday’s CCFP analysis of the gubernatorial race can be read here:

Patton: The Tea Party may be a hot topic, but mere buzz doesn’t win elections and the 2nd Congressional District run-off proved that. For all the controversy and national media he garnered and the resulting controversy, Rick Barber could not translate that into a majority of votes. I truly believe voters are genuinely upset with Congress and the president right now, but they’re not willing to cast a ballot for someone like Barber who appears to be on the fringe by seemingly advocating violence and inciting treason in his campaign ads. Barber was short on solutions and overflowing with misdirected anger. Simply running down elected leaders doesn’t equate to having a viable campaign platform.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Digital Roundtable Election 2010: Sparks vs. Bentley: It’s on!

  Capital City Free Press founder and publisher Joseph O. Patton and managing editor Josh Carples have appeared as election/political analysts for several River Region talk radio programs. Today they were guests on “First Call” hosted by Kevin Elkins, WLWI 1440 AM, and discussed the results of the Tuesday run-off election and previewed some of the races for November. The following is an expanded discussion of the governor’s race.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Steve Flowers: Inside the Statehouse: Counting down to November

  This week will determine who the Republican nominee for governor will be as well as for two other secondary statewide offices. However, a good many of this fall’s contenders were selected without runoffs on June 1st.

  Our senior U.S. Senator, Richard Shelby, was nominated over nominal opposition. He received 84 percent of the primary vote and will face similar token opposition in November. He is coasting to a fifth six-year term. He is generally conceded to be Alabama’s most prominent political figure. He is also one of the most powerful senators in Washington.

Announcement: The Capital City Free Press returns to radio Wednesday, July 14

  Montgomery, Alabama’s premier online source for the most diverse, insightful and provocative commentary returns to the radio airwaves Wednesday, July 14.

  Capital City Free Press founder and publisher Joseph O. Patton and managing editor Josh Carples will be appearing on “First Call with Kevin Elkins,” airing 7 - 9 am on WLWI 1440 AM in Montgomery to offer analysis on the previous day’s run-off election and to preview the coming general election in Alabama. The program can be streamed live, free of charge, online:

  A “digital roundtable” discussion with analysis of the election results will be published online following the appearance.

  Patton and Carples have appeared as election/political analysts for several talk radio programs in Montgomery and Auburn and wrote and produced the weekly satirical radio segment, “Goat Hill Gossip,” which aired on WAUD 1230 AM.

  The Capital City Free Press was launched in 2001 as a full-service online magazine, specializing in independent commentary and arts and entertainment coverage from the River Region. After a nine-month hiatus it was re-launched in blog form in October of 2009.

Monday, July 12, 2010

Gebe Martinez and Angela Maria Kelley: Federal lawsuit against Arizona protects people and the Constitution

  It is not often that the federal government files a lawsuit against a state; so when it does, it must have good reason.

  It had plenty of good reasons last week when the Obama administration reasserted the federal government’s responsibility to set and enforce immigration policy by filing a lawsuit challenging the legality of Arizona’s new immigration control law.

  The U.S. Department of Justice was forced to take action because Arizona’s immigration law violates the U.S. Constitution. Allowing Arizona S.B. 1070 to stand would only invite other states and cities to enact their own immigration enforcement laws and usurp the federal responsibility over an issue that must be handled at the national level.

Saturday, July 10, 2010

Gary Palmer: Kagan confirmation tests Republicans’ will to fight

  During Elena Kagan’s confirmation hearings, it became evident that she does not believe that Americans possess natural rights, rights that our Founding Fathers believed are self-evident, naturally belong to all people and pre-exist government. It was their view that legitimate governments are not created to grant these rights; rather, they are created to protect these rights.

  Among the natural rights that belong to every individual and that the Founding Fathers recognized as existing outside of government are the right to keep and bear arms and the right to speak on any subject or about any policy or politician. The Founding Fathers were careful to craft the Bill of Rights in such a way that it was absolutely clear that the proper role of the government was to protect our pre-existing rights.

Friday, July 9, 2010

Senator Hank Sanders: Senate Sketches #1205

  It’s powerful to read our history. It’s more powerful to hear our history.  It is most powerful to see our history. During the last week or so, I saw our history with my own eyes.

  For the sake of clarity, let me say up front that I claim all history of Africans as mine since I am of African descent. However, as quiet as it is kept, Egyptian history is also European history for so much of what we attribute to Greece came from Egypt. We are all touched by the history of Egypt.

  Now that this matter is cleared up, I saw our history with my own eyes on a 9-day trip to Egypt, originally known as Kemet. It was an experience I shall never forget.

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Joseph O. Patton: Don’t read this while driving.. K? LOL.

  As the city of Prattville enacts its ban on texting while driving and the city of Montgomery considers doing the same - to include cell phone usage while driving - some citizens are lashing out, insisting that they need to be able to text or chat on the phone while driving and that the government should not interfere with these activities, arguing that such issues are a “personal responsibility.” Those dying on our roads as a result of such reckless behavior would likely beg to differ….

  Texting while driving accounted for nearly a third of all traffic accidents in the United States in 2008, so we’re not discussing an isolated problem or merely a handful of people behaving dangerously and jeopardizing the lives of others (NHTSA - National Highway Traffic Safety Administration). Over 80 percent of Americans admit to texting while driving (NHTSA). It’s a certified public hazard.

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Steve Flowers: Inside the Statehouse: Countdown to the July 13 runoff election

  The marquee match up in next Tuesday’s upcoming runoff races is the Republican gubernatorial contest between Bradley Byrne and Dr. Robert Bentley. The winner will emerge as the favorite to succeed Gov. Bob Riley. It has been a fun and interesting Republican race with lots of twists and turns.

  The obvious surprise has been the emergence of Dr. Robert Bentley. If he prevails in the runoff Tuesday he will be tough to beat in the fall. His negatives are so low that it appears hardly anyone dislikes him. His campaign mantra declaring Alabama’s economy is so bad that we need a doctor and his promise not to take a salary as governor until the economy recovers are as good a slogan as I have seen since Albert Brewer’s 1970 declaration that Alabama needs a fulltime governor.

Monday, July 5, 2010

Charles C. Haynes: Treatment of Christian campus group doesn’t pass smell test 

  When the U.S. Supreme Court decided Christian Legal Society v. Martinez on June 28, was it a victory for nondiscrimination, as one side claims — or an example of religious discrimination, as the other side argues? “Discrimination,” it seems, is in the eyes of the beholder.

  In this case, the eyes that count belong to the five justices who sided with the University of California Hastings College of the Law, ruling that requiring recognized student groups to accept any student as a member or leader — dubbed the “all-comers” policy — is “a reasonable, viewpoint neutral condition.”

Sunday, July 4, 2010

Gary Palmer: The Newburgh Conspiracy: The Last Temptation of Washington

  An enthusiastic John Adams wrote to his wife Abigail, “The second day of July 1776 will be the most memorable epocha in the history of America. I am apt to believe that it will be celebrated by succeeding generations as the great anniversary festival. It ought to be commemorated as the Day of Deliverance by solemn acts of devotion to God Almighty. It ought to be solemnized with pomp and parade, with shows, games, sports, guns, bells, bonfires, and illuminations from one end of this continent to the other from this time forward forever more.”

Michael Josephson: Democracy is about respectful discourse

  On this 4th of July, I hope you will take time to experience pride in and appreciation for the great qualities of our country.

  One quality of our democracy is that every citizen is a public official. Thus, the passionate advocacy of political convictions is not only a right, it’s a patriotic obligation.

  What worries me, however, is the tendency of many basically good people to be overcome with self-righteous certainty that they’re right and that those who disagree with them are wrong.

Friday, July 2, 2010

Joe Bageant: Live from Planet Norte: America's totalitarian democracy and the politics of plunder, or, life is a titty tuck and a Dodge truck

Winchester, Virginia

  Starting with the Homeland Security probe at Washington's Reagan Airport, arrival back in the United States resembles an alien abduction to a planet of bright lights, strange beings and incomprehensible behavior. The featureless mysophobic landscape of DC's Virginia suburbs seems to indicate that homogeneity and sterility are the native religions… especially after spending eight months in Mexico's pungent atmosphere of funky, sensual open air markets, rotting vegetation, smoking street food grills, sweat, agave nectar and ghost orchids.

  The uniformity on Planet Norte is striking. Each person is a unit, installed in life support boxes in the suburbs and cities; all are fed, clothed by the same closed-loop corporate industrial system. Everywhere you look, inhabitants are plugged in at the brainstem to screens downloading their state-approved daily consciousness updates. iPods, Blackberries, notebook computers, monitors in cubicles, and the ubiquitous TV screens in lobbies, bars, waiting rooms, even in taxicabs, mentally knead the public brain and condition its reactions to non-Americaness, which may be defined as anything that does not come from of Washington, DC, Microsoft or Wal-Mart.

Thursday, July 1, 2010

Steve Flowers: Inside the Statehouse: Recapping the Republican gubernatorial primary, Part II

  Bradley Byrne’s bold challenging of Paul Hubbert’s omnipotence on Goat Hill was like waving a red flag in front of a raging bull. As we said last week, Hubbert’s fiefdom is to completely control the education budget and policy. That is his sandbox. He does not mind allowing the governor to play in his sandbox because after all he is the governor. However, he thinks it somewhat rude and arrogant if you come to play in his sandbox and kick sand on him.