Monday, August 30, 2010

Joseph O. Patton: The Real Robert Bentley steps forward

  Sorry, but arrogance won’t endear you to Alabama voters, Dr. Bentley….

  As the campaigning days roll by, ticking down to Game Day in November, we’re increasingly seeing Robert Bentley - the GOP’s nominee for governor - for who he truly is.

  At a candidate forum in Arab, Alabama, the popular subject of an education lottery slipped into the dialogue. When questioned about opponent Ron Sparks’ proposal, Bentley dismissively swiped it down and offered no solution of his own, no alternative. But he didn’t stop there… Like a scolding schoolmarm, Bentley pointed at the audience of voters and lectured them, arguing that it’s their responsibility to provide for their children’s post-secondary education.

Saturday, August 28, 2010

Gary Palmer: Liberals fear renewed interest in founding principles

  One of the positives outcomes from America’s current crisis is a resurgent interest in our Constitution and the Declaration of Independence.

  Liberals decry this new interest in founding principles as misguided and perhaps even dangerous. But then that is to be expected. Liberals know that once people figure out how much the progressive agenda has corrupted our Constitution and undermined our freedoms, there will be a political backlash that will bring change that liberals don’t believe in or want.

Friday, August 27, 2010

Our Stand: District 2, House of Representatives - Your vote will mean nothing

  We have long believed that media outlets issuing endorsements in political races should refrain from back-handed, half-hearted endorsements. It leads readers to wonder, “What was the point of that?”

  Voters in Alabama’s U.S. House of Representatives 2nd District have no actual decision to make in this race though. Based on Bobby Bright’s voting record while in office and Martha Roby’s rhetoric, both would vote the same way on major issues, regardless of their professed party affiliation. Roby has admitted as much by virtue of directing her campaign attacks at House Speaker Nancy Pelosi rather than her actual opponent.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Robert Bluey: How-to guide for cleaning up Obama’s mess

  President Obama hit the campaign trail last week and returned to a familiar theme of attacking his critics for lacking ideas on key policy issues.

  “They're offering fear, and they're offering amnesia,” Obama said at a Democrat fundraiser in Los Angeles. “My campaign, you’ll recall, our slogan was, ‘Yes, we can.’ Their slogan is, ‘No, we can’t.’ On every item.”

  Chiding conservatives for a lack of policy solutions is a regular talking point for the White House. It’s a tactic Obama has used to elevate his own ideas for America’s problems—albeit ideas that resemble Socialist schemes to rapidly grow the size of government.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Steve Flowers: Inside The Statehouse: The Future of the Alabama Legislature

  The new governor, whoever is elected this year, when they enter the governor’s office in January of 2011 will be walking onto the deck of the Titanic. Never in my lifetime, nor most of yours, have we witnessed the likes of the horrific dilemma the new governor will face when he takes over the reigns of state government. However, this spring as I sat observing the Alabama Legislature it became obvious that the governor will not be alone. The legislature will be an equal partner in the impending disaster. They also will be facing the tsunami with the new administration.

  The chaos and discord in the senate has rendered them more like a sideshow in a circus than a legislative body. They have been rudderless for the entire quadrennium and will probably remain so for the next four years. The lieutenant governor, who was the leader of the senate for a century, has been removed from power and the senators are left to run the asylum. The lieutenant governor presides but the power of the gavel has been diminished and the job is meaningless.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Sam Fulwood III: The Cost of lying about the president’s religion

  Like so many other commentators who’ve written on the subject during the past week, my colleague Sally Steenland struck a generous a tone in her tongue-in-cheek assessment of the people who said in a new poll that they believe President Obama is a Muslim. I am not as kind in my assessment of the nearly one in five respondents who admit to believing this nonsense fed to them by right-wing zealots.

  Oh, I don’t question for a minute that 18 percent of the respondents told researchers from the Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life that they doubt the president is a Christian. Those people probably did say that—despite President Obama’s public and repeated declarations otherwise. But I’ll tell you what Steenland and others who have bemoaned the poll’s findings have been too polite to say: Anyone who claims the president is a Muslim is lying. Or crazy. Or very possibly, both.

Monday, August 23, 2010

Joseph O. Patton: The Push Poll: An exercise in deceit and cowardice

  Here we go again….

  You’d think it would be simple to wage a campaign for elected office - you determine what issues are important to you, what you plan to do if elected, then you hit the trail and attempt to convince voters that you’re the best candidate for the job. And yet increasingly - and sadly - campaigns are devolving into a game of who can make the other guy look bad.

  Enter Alabama State Representative David Grimes - Republican, District 73 - and the most virulent form of campaign cancer in our system of elections - push polls. For those of you unfamiliar with the concept, a campaign or affiliated group strings together a disingenuous, false allegations-driven series of questions that frankly, aren’t questions at all. They’re loaded and are intended to plant a negative opinion of, or at least cast serious doubts in a prospective voter’s mind about the opposing candidate. In a simpler sense, it’s tantamount to asking someone: “Have you stopped beating your wife yet?”

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Senator Hank Sanders: Senate Sketches # 1211

  “My one vote does not count,” is a refrain that I have heard many times. I took exception each time. I take exception now – strongly.

  Did you know that Hitler became head of the Nazi Party in 1923 by one vote? What would have happened if Adolph Hitler had failed by one vote? Would we have had the Second World War? Would millions of soldiers have died in war and millions of citizens in concentration camps? That’s the power of one vote.

  Our one vote always counts. It counts if we don’t vote. It counts twice if we do vote.  When we don’t vote, our one vote counts against that for which we stand. When we vote, our one vote counts once against that for which we stand and once for that which we stand. Our one vote always counts.

Saturday, August 21, 2010

Gene Policinski: Defending First Amendment rights is different from endorsing the message

  Whether or not a Muslim community center and mosque in New York City is built near the former World Trade Center site remains to be seen.

  And whether or not a Kansas-based church can continue its anti-homosexual protests near military funerals remains to be determined — quite likely in the U.S. Supreme Court.

  In both instances there are heartfelt objections from those who have suffered, either from the Sept. 11 attacks or the loss of a loved one in combat. But beyond the passion, politics and propriety of those two hot-button debates, there is an important First Amendment point.

Friday, August 20, 2010

Gary Palmer: Judge's ruling undermines the Constitution

  On August 4, 2010, a federal judge in California broke new ground for abusive judicial activism when he ruled that California’s amendment defining marriage as only between a man and a woman was unconstitutional.

  Federal District Judge Vaughn Walker not only struck down California’s Proposition 8 that prohibits homosexuals from marrying. His ruling also undermined the rule of law, mocked the right of the people to govern themselves, redefined the laws of nature, espoused his own version of human history and questioned the legitimacy of the Bible. He even singled out the teachings of the Southern Baptists and other evangelical churches along with Orthodox and Catholic churches as examples of bigoted views on homosexuality.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Josh Carples: American values at risk near Ground Zero

  Some may still not know that there is no mosque at Ground Zero. The controversy surrounding the Park 51 Islamic community center has been elevated from a local zoning issue to a national, and in some ways international, discussion. Maybe “argument” is a better word.

  If we take away emotion and begin to search for facts, the first glaring fact we will notice is that the phrase “Ground Zero Mosque” which has been in many news headlines is wrong. Many news outlets, to be more precise, at least added the word “near” as in calling it a mosque “near Ground Zero.” More specifically, it is two blocks away.

  To some, two blocks is not far enough.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Steve Flowers: Inside The Statehouse: The State of gambling in Alabama

  Political polling may not be an exact science. However, a poll today conducted by a professional top notch firm can most times be taken to the bank. The polling on this year’s political races has been right on the money. The pollsters nailed a good many of the primary races right on the head. Primaries are more difficult to predict than general elections because of the uncertainty as to who is going to show up to vote. You can pretty much bet that their readings will render the outcome in November fairly accurately.

  Speaking of polling and betting the polling numbers on the gambling issue in Alabama are revealing. It is obvious that over the last twelve years there has been a glaring incremental increase in tolerance toward gambling and a lottery among Alabama’s electorate. An up and down clean vote on a lottery today would pass substantially. People overwhelmingly want to vote on whether the state should tax and regulate electronic bingo. The majority would favor allowing bingo.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Joe Bageant: Understanding America's class system: Honk if you love caviar!

  How about them political elites, huh? Five million bucks for Chelsea Clinton's wedding, 15K just to rent the air-conditioned shitters -- huge chrome and glass babies with hot water and everything. No gas masks and waxy little squares of toilet paper for those guys.

  Yes, it looks big time from the cheap seats. But the truth is that when we are looking at the political elite, we are looking at the dancing monkey, not the organ grinder who calls the tune. Washington's political class is about as upwardly removed from ordinary citizens as the ruling class is from the political class. For instance, they do not work for a living in the normal sense of a job, but rather obtain their income from abstractions such as investment and law, neither of which ever gave anybody a hernia or carpal tunnel. By comparison, the ruling class does not work at all.

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Nicholas Bormann: The Case for a private military - Let the market take a shot

  Previously, I've speculated on the possibility of an all-private military. The idea: instead of having the Department of Defense do the work at recruiting, training and then deploying our military personnel, the federal government could just handle the top-level strategy then hire out for troops to implement it. Unconventional? Yes. Effective? Possibly.

  Currently, the U.S. army is staffed on an all-volunteer basis. People have to willingly choose to put their life on the line. That system just isn't working -- the military is facing a serious recruitment shortage. When you look at the numbers, it's obvious why:

  An enlisted private with less than two years experience will receive $17,366 for a year's service (not including benefits, etc.) After becoming a captain and serving for more than six years, pay would be $61,405 -- if you survive that long. Compare that to the median pay for a security guard at $29,854 with a built-in job benefit of not being shot at regularly, and the recruitment shortage starts making a lot more sense.

Saturday, August 14, 2010

Lawrence J. Korb: Alarmist defense cuts won’t help the deficit

  The Pentagon will spend more than $700 billion in the upcoming fiscal year on defense—more than the rest of the world combined and more than at any time in our history except for World War II. The defense budget, exclusive of war costs, has grown in real terms for 13 straight years—the longest period of sustained grown in our nation’s history—and it is now higher than at the height of the Reagan-era buildup. Pentagon spending is the third-largest item in the overall federal budget after Medicare and Social Security and has grown by more than 6 percent since President Obama came into office.

Friday, August 13, 2010

Gary Palmer: Who do Americans trust?

  Do Americans trust Congress as a collective institution? Not according to a recent Gallup public opinion poll which showed that Americans rank Congress below Health Maintenance Organizations (HMOs), big business and organized labor. In fact, Congress is ranked dead last in the “confidence” category. The polling data shows only 11 percent have a “great deal” or “a lot of” confidence in Congress while half of Americans now say they have “very little” or “no” confidence in Congress.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Sheldon Richman: What they do in our name

  Thanks to Wikileaks and heroic leakers inside the military, we now know the U.S. government has killed many more innocent Afghan civilians than we were aware of heretofore. We also know that American military and intelligence personnel roam Afghanistan assassinating suspected bad guys. Sometimes they kill people they later acknowledge weren’t bad guys at all. “Bad guys,” like “Taliban,” is implicitly defined as anyone who resists the U.S. occupation force and the corrupt puppet government it keeps in power.

  What other atrocities are our misleaders and misrepresentatives committing in our name?

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Senator Hank Sanders: Senate Sketches # 1210

  My wise mother gave me some advice in graphic language: “Son, when you marry, I hope you don’t have a girlfriend on the side. But I know men, and it’s likely to happen. But if you do, I want you to promise me to never treat a girlfriend better than you treat your wife.” It is a lesson with applications in other areas of life.

  Governor Bob Riley was in Selma last Friday to help treat an industrial wife like we treat industrial girlfriends. I considered but did not share my mother’s admonition about how to treat a wife and a girlfriend because I was introducing the governor.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Will McCorkle: Is Race-baiting setting back racial and national progress?

  If you look at U.S. political history, there is a common theme. The rich and powerful have to find a way for the poor and middle class to support their cause and economic ideas. To do this, they often use race. One example would be the way poor Southern whites supported the Confederacy during the Civil War, even though the economic system of plantations and slavery was actually limiting their own possibilities. The poor southerners would at least be more powerful and not have to worry about the African-Americans around them if the system continued the way it was. Another famous example was Nixon's Southern Campaign, where he used the Republican's own opposition to the Civil Rights Movement to convince white southerners to switch to the Republican Party... and it worked.

Monday, August 9, 2010

Dedrick Muhammad: Dishonoring MLK’s legacy

  What do Beck, Palin, and the NRA have to do with the 1963 March on Washington?

  This year's anniversary of the historic 1963 March on Washington promises to be memorable. Though big commemorations aren't typical for 47thanniversaries, thousands will be in the streets on August 28 commemorating the march, including many people advancing a social agenda that would make Martin Luther King Jr. roll over in his grave.

  Flamboyant talk-show host Glenn Beck has called for a national rally on the anniversary at the exact same location as the historic protest, the Lincoln Memorial. Beck's rally theme is "Restoring Honor." According to his website, this "celebration of America" won't be political. Well then, why have Sarah Palin scheduled to deliver the keynote speech, and why is the National Rifle Association endorsing this right-wing spectacle?

Sunday, August 8, 2010

Michael Josephson: Character Counts: Fixing toxic relationships

  Are there people in your life who regularly cause you to feel bad about yourself?

  Most of us care what others think of us, so knowing that someone doesn’t like or approve of the judgments we’ve made or how we look can be hurtful. And when we’re judged by someone whose approval we crave, such as a parent, spouse, teacher, or boss, the criticism can cause intense distress and damage self-esteem.

  Harsh or relentless disparagement from people who love us, often clothed as caring advice or helpful prodding, can be particularly toxic.

Saturday, August 7, 2010

Gary Palmer: Missouri rejects Obamacare

  During the dog days of August, people typically are not interested in another state’s primary election or referendum vote. But when Missouri voters approved a ballot initiative opposing the individual mandate in the Obama health care bill, they got the entire nation’s attention.

  On August 3rd, Missouri voters passed a referendum by a margin of 79 – 21 percent to opt their state out of the individual mandate portion of the federal health care law passed by the Democrats in March. Earlier this year, a similar resolution was introduced in the Alabama Legislature but was killed by the Democrats who control the legislature.

Friday, August 6, 2010

Ian Millhiser, Jeff Krehely: Living out the true meaning of our creed

  U.S. District Chief Judge Vaughn Walker declared Wednesday the basic truth that gay couples love just as intensely, care for their children just as deeply, and are entitled to the very same dignity as straight spouses. And that is just one small part of his opinion. Indeed, if Judge Walker’s reasoning is upheld on appeal, Perry v. Schwarzenegger—which struck down California’s ban on same-sex marriage, Proposition 8—will be the judiciary’s single most important blow against inequality since the Supreme Court’s landmark decision in Brown v. Board of Education.

  Walker offers at least four different reasons why Proposition 8 offends the Constitution. But the most striking is his holding that sexual orientation qualifies as a “suspect class,” a determination which means that discrimination against gay men and lesbians is subjected to the highest level of constitutional scrutiny.

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Senator Hank Sanders: Senate Sketches # 1209

  I am awed by the power inherent in the benefit of the doubt. We use the phrase broadly, but we rarely recognize its vast powers. The benefit of the doubt affects every aspect of our lives.

  When others give us the benefit of the doubt, we can do little wrong. When we are denied the benefit of the doubt, we can do little right. If we are given the benefit of the doubt, we can do a lot with a little. If we are denied the benefit of the doubt, it takes a lot to do a little. The benefit of the doubt is just that powerful.

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Steve Flowers: Inside The Statehouse: How Robert Bentley did it

  One of the amazing stories that emerged from our gubernatorial primaries was the dissolution of the political adage that money talks in politics. Most pundits pegged Bradley Byrne to be the odds on favorite to win the GOP nomination because he had the big business special interest money solidly behind him. During the course of the primary and runoff his campaign raised and spent $6.9 million. In comparison, Dr. Robert Bentley spent $1.8 million. This is an amazing almost 4 to 1 disparity. That, my friends, is unheard of in Alabama or anywhere else.

  The second anomaly in the GOP contest was the fact that Bentley won without using negative ads. This is highly unusual in today’s political world. Voters continually lament the caustic and mean spirited virulence displayed in political attack ads. However, the sad truth is that they are used because they work. In this case, they did not.

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Gary Palmer: JournoList scandal further undermines media credibility

  In 2005, an editorial in the Columbia Journalism Review warned that “… if journalism is seen as just another hungry special interest, the public will toss the good out with the bad. That may already be happening.” The recent exposure of the “JournoList” scandal has proven that warning to be prophetic.

  The now-defunct JournoList was an online community created by a journalist for other journalists. Washington Post blogger Ezra Klein created an invitation-only site where 400 print, radio, TV and Internet journalists could share views and ideas. But during the 2008 presidential campaign, it became a venue through which some of the JournoList members conspired to limit negative reporting on Obama while also attacking the McCain campaign.

Monday, August 2, 2010

Charles C. Haynes: Is the tea-party movement Islamophobic?

  The current wave of anti-mosque protests around the country represents a new threat to the religious freedom of Muslims in America — a threat directed not just at terrorists who act in the name of Islam, but at all Muslims and Islam itself.

  Incidents of discrimination and bias aimed at Muslim Americans have been rising since the 9/11 terrorist attacks. But anti-Muslim rhetoric has taken an ominous turn in recent months as a growing number of political and community leaders — some with tea-party affiliations — have begun warning of a “Muslim takeover” of America.