Monday, February 28, 2011

Ken Paulson: Speech gets ugly online, but it's still free

  It’s not nice to defame the dead.

  The admonition not to speak ill of the deceased goes back centuries, but today anyone with Internet access and attitude can take to the Web to even scores or attack total strangers.

  Karla O’Malley of Overland Park, Kan., saw that firsthand. She happened upon a Christmas Eve car accident and tried to comfort a boy injured in the crash. When he died, she visited a memorial website for the young man and was horrified to see that someone posted a comment wishing the boy had suffered more. In an interview with the Kansas City Star, O’Malley said, “There is a time and place for mourners to be left alone.”

Sunday, February 27, 2011

Ian MacIsaac: Libyan insurrection gains U.S. support

Saturday Feb. 26

8:15 P.M. Central time (4:15 A.M. Libyan time)

  The Libyan insurrection against dictator and self proclaimed “Leader and Guide of the Revolution” Muommar al-Qaddafi has grown from a series of riots on February 16th in the eastern city of Benghazi into a full-bore militarized rebellion around the middle of last week, a movement which today controls more the majority of the country’s territory. The revolutionaries have closed in on the nation’s capital, Tripoli, located in the northwest of the country. Qaddafi, the country’s dictator of almost 42 years has holed himself up in his compound there, and is fighting—as he and his son Saif proclaimed they would—“to the last bullet” against the pro-democracy insurrection taking over his country: the third wave of major protests that have turned the eyes of the world toward North Africa since December 2010.

Saturday, February 26, 2011

Gary Palmer: Four hundred years later, KJV is still influential

  This year marks the 400th anniversary of the King James Version (KJV) of the Bible that William Lyon Phelps said is "... is the foundation of Anglo-Saxon civilization."

  In 1604, King James I commissioned 54 scholars from Oxford and Cambridge Universities to produce one uniform translation of the Bible that all denominations could accept. It's unlikely that there has ever been another group of translators whose collective expertise in biblical languages was equal to this group.

Friday, February 25, 2011

Senator Hank Sanders: Senate Sketches # 1237

  Jubilee time is a coming. Voting Rights Celebrations are a coming. People get ready.  Joyful but meaningful times are a coming.

  The National Voting Rights Celebration starts the third Sunday in February, 2011 which will have passed by the time you read this. Everybody knows about the Bridge Crossing Jubilee but few acknowledge the Celebration. I want you to know and understand that the Celebration is much broader than the Jubilee.

  The Jimmy Lee Jackson Memorial Program held in Perry County on the third Sunday in February kicks off the National voting Rights Celebration. It continues until the Second Friday in March, covering several weeks and lots of events.

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Danielle Moodie-Mills, Aisha C. Moodie-Mills: Justice for All: President reverses DOMA Policy

  Remember that piece of paper called the Constitution with that little section called the Bill of Rights that’s supposed to ensure that all Americans are treated equally under the law? Well, the Obama administration signaled this week that same-sex married couples are entitled to the same protections guaranteed in the Constitution such as Social Security benefits, joint taxes, and health insurance coverage as their heterosexual counterparts.

  In an extraordinary shift in policy this week, the president announced the Department of Justice will no longer defend the Defense of Marriage Act, or DOMA. Under DOMA, which was passed in 1996, the federal government has the right not to recognize the marriages of same-sex couples.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Steve Flowers: Inside The Statehouse: Remembering the incomparable Howell Heflin

  One of the most humorous and entertaining political orators we have witnessed in Alabama political lore was our former U.S. Senator Howell Heflin. Judge Heflin, as he was affectionately known throughout the state, was a pure political wit. He had the ability to spin a story or tell a joke with the aplomb of Jay Leno. His candid off the cuff wit has actually been captured in statements he made in the congressional record. He had a repertoire of jokes that was priceless and boundless.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Gene Policinski: Egypt’s first steps toward liberty remind us of our own

  A small group, using the latest technology, excites fellow citizens with the concepts and possibilities of freedom after years of battling a repressive regime.

  As the protests grow more visible and vocal, armed representatives of the current regime try to interrupt, intimidate or imprison those calling for freedom, for an end to domination by a despot.

  Against all odds, this populist revolt succeeds. The seeds of democracy have been sown.

  Sound familiar?  In 2011, it’s a story involving bloggers, Tweets and demonstrations in Egypt and elsewhere in the Mideast that we’ve watched unfold with amazing rapidity. But for Americans, that same path to freedom harkens back to pamphleteers, village greens, Liberty Trees, 1776 and our own Declaration of Independence and Revolutionary War.

Monday, February 21, 2011

Eric Alterman: A Real Tea (pity) Party

  In its apparently endless quest to assuage the sensitive feelings of all the victimized right-wingers in America one day at a time, The Washington Post published Steve Hendrix’s sob story of the pain and suffering experienced by Washington’s “tea party residents” who live in a city where “home can at times feel like enemy territory.”

  How bad is it? Well, a man at another table in a coffee shop said “sorry” and walked away from one guy. And another one had to experience the pain of being asked whether “your boyfriend listens to Glenn Beck.” Apparently, the notion that self-proclaimed “tea party patriots” listen to Glenn Beck is the kind of thing one hears “in the left-wing news media ... they don't know any real tea party people.” No wonder Tea Party member Brian says, “I fear for my country." He is, after all, “just more tolerant than they are."

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Laurence M. Vance: The Ultimate in nanny-state paternalism

  Aside from the air we breathe, nothing is more important than the food and drink we consume. Not healthcare, not employment, not housing — nothing. Obviously, the best healthcare, the highest-paying job, and the biggest mansion in the world can’t do anything for you if you don’t eat. For someone to dictate to someone else the food and drink he should and shouldn’t consume is the ultimate in paternalism; for the state to tell someone the food and drink he should and shouldn’t consume is the ultimate in nanny-state paternalism.

Friday, February 18, 2011

Cameron Smith: President’s budget tests resolve of American people

  On February 14, 2011, President Obama delivered to Congress a $3.7 trillion budget proposal for fiscal year 2012 (FY2012). Rather than respond to the American people and demonstrate lessons learned from the stinging rebuke of the last election cycle, the President asked for more deficit spending and continued to avoid politically difficult choices.

  The Washington debt culture depends on many Americans misunderstanding the relationship between a deficit and the national debt. A deficit or surplus is the difference between what the government takes in and what the government spends IN ONE YEAR.  If the government takes in more than it spends, the government has a surplus. When the opposite is true, the government has a deficit. When the amounts are the same, the government has a balanced budget. The national debt is basically the accumulation of repeated deficits.

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Steve Flowers: Inside The Statehouse: The Art of redistricting

  Many times I marvel at the magnitude of brilliance displayed by our founding fathers in their drafting of our Constitution and basic governmental foundations. Their foresight and perceptions were marvelous. It is almost as though they foresaw the travails that would transpire and then crafted intricate provisions for addressing these travesties of past and present developments in our nation’s 233 years.

  The basic laws and parliamentary procedures are amazingly resilient and apropos to every era. It is as though the founding fathers had a glimpse of the future in a prescient crystal ball.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Charles C. Haynes: At Super Bowl, God doesn't make the cut

  In the perennial post-game buzz about Super Bowl ads, the buff body of the new GoDaddy girl (aka Joan Rivers) was a big hit this year. So was the pugnacious pug dog flattening his owner to grab the Doritos. And, of course, who can forget the woman who got smacked in the head with a soft-drink can?

  But the most intriguing ad may be the one Super Bowl viewers didn’t see: A 30-second piece about “John 3:16” — a Bible verse much-quoted by Christians and often spotted on signs in football stadiums. (“For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.”)

Monday, February 14, 2011

Brian Walsh: 17-year-old Ashley's so-called 'crime'? A paring knife in her lunch sack

  "Zero tolerance" policies continue to result in injustices to our nation's public school students. In one of the latest examples, a North Carolina school district's application of zero tolerance may cause 17-year-old senior Ashley Smithwick, described by local media as a standout student-athlete, to miss the rest of her senior year.

  Far worse, local prosecutors' apparently wooden enforcement against Ashley of a poorly written and dangerous criminal law may end up tacking a lifelong criminal conviction onto Ashley's resume, thus hamstringing her ability to attend the college of her choice.

Saturday, February 12, 2011

Donna Cooper: Ineffective and Unfair: Conservatives target preventive health care for the ax

  It seems we’ve entered the season of shortsighted thinking. With 50.7 million uninsured Americans, Republicans are on a rampage to repeal the Affordable Care Act. Adding insult to injury, the most recent House Republican plan to cut the federal budget deficit this fiscal year took a scalpel to $10 billion in federal grants that provide health care to indigent women and children, slashing $2 billion in federal funding that is bound to have very expensive consequences.

Friday, February 11, 2011

Gary Palmer: Excessive government spending is a bi-partisan problem

  It is time for Republicans in Congress to cut federal spending as promised and keep faith with the voters who put them back in the majority.

  According to a report released on February 8th from Rasmussen Reports, 1954 was the last time government spending in the U.S. declined in one year's time. Federal, state and local governments alike are now reaping the consequences of decades of excessive spending and poor stewardship of taxpayers' money. Unlike the federal government that can print more money, state and local governments are being forced to balance budgets or risk going bankrupt. In a February 7th article, The Wall Street Journal reported that "Governors around the U.S. are proposing to balance their state's budgets with a long list of cuts and almost no new taxes, reflecting a goal by politicians from both parties to erase deficits chiefly by shrinking government. So, if states can do it, why can't the federal government?"

  That is a good question that Democrats and Republicans alike should have to answer.

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Senator Hank Sanders: Senate Sketches # 1235

  History is powerful. It tells us that which once seemed impossible became possible, then probable, then reality. It also tells us that which seems impossible now, can become possible, then probable, then reality. History is a road map of the past and of overcoming. If we use history, it becomes a guide to the future and a force for our coming new challenges. Black history is also history and therefore powerful in the same way.

  I speak a good bit throughout the year but I speak more in February than in any three months put together. That’s because it’s Black History Month. I have speeches scheduled for February in the following places: Monroeville; Butler; Gadsden; Albany, GA; Jacksonville, AL; Montgomery; Selma; Huntsville; two in Lowndes County, Burkeville and Fort Deposit; and two in Greene County. A couple of these are not strictly about Black history but become about Black history anyway. I try to respond to every February speech request because Black history is that important.

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Steve Flowers: Inside The Statehouse: Surveying the new "ethical" landscape

  The first legislative regular session of the quadrennium is looming. Our new Republican led majority House and Senate will convene on March 1 for the four month 2001 session. There are a good many GOP freshmen in the group. However, they are no longer greenhorns. They have an organizational and special session under their belts.

  The sweeping and significant overhaul of our state ethics laws passed by these legislators shortly after they were elected may very well be looked at four years from now as their hallmark accomplishment of this term. This ethics reform legislation passed by this GOP led legislature will change the culture of Montgomery.

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Sheldon Richman: The Unraveling of U.S. Mideast Policy

  The blow to U.S. foreign policy by the popular uprising in Egypt cannot be overstated. The Egyptians’ demand that Hosni Mubarak, who has ruled Egypt with an iron hand and billions of American taxpayer dollars, step down is unquestionably a major setback to the U.S. governing class and its plans for the Middle East. Since the end of World War II, critics of U.S. policy have warned that defying the people of the region in favor of authoritarian ruling elites was doomed to failure. As things now begin to unravel, we see that those critics were right.

  President Obama and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton say they support the aspirations of the Egyptian people. Previous officials have said that too. But let’s be clear. American officials support those aspirations only so long as they do not impede U.S. policy. Those officials are smart enough to know that if the Egyptian people have no way to let off steam, the lid will blow. So when the president says he supports reform, he means reform no deeper than necessary to take pressure off whatever the U.S. government regards as important.

Monday, February 7, 2011

Charles C. Haynes: County can uphold religious freedom by taking Commandments down

  It’s not every day that a school board votes unanimously to ignore legal advice, defy Supreme Court precedent and invite litigation.

  But that’s exactly what happened earlier this month in Giles County, Va., when members of the board ordered school administrators to hang the Ten Commandments on the walls of the county’s five public schools.

  Rehang, actually. Until December 2010, framed copies of the Decalogue had been displayed in schools alongside copies of the Constitution for more than 10 years. Following a complaint from the Freedom From Religion Foundation, the district’s superintendent (on the recommendation of counsel) took the commandments down.

Saturday, February 5, 2011

Michael Ettlinger, Adam Hersh: There are foolish things to defund in the federal budget

  What do we have to do, be hit on the head with a brick before we regulate financial markets? Well, actually, we already did get hit on the head with a brick—or the economic equivalent thereof—the worst recession since the Great Depression due in large part to the negligent supervision of our financial markets by regulators during the George W. Bush administration. And yet, there’s serious talk about nipping new regulatory enforcement in the bud by starving the implementing agencies of funds. How many bricks is this going to take?

  For all its failings, Congress doesn’t like getting hit in the head by economic bricks. So, voila! In 2010 Congress went through a very painful process of passing financial market regulatory reform. The representatives of Wall Street, however, did their best to make the regulation as weak as possible. The resulting legislation isn’t perfect—arguably, it didn’t go far enough or put authority in all the right places—but there is no serious question that it’s way better than the brick-inviting system that existed before.

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Ian MacIsaac: Health Care: The American Political Soap Opera, Vol. 612—A Dispatch from Sunny Florida!

   The situation has gone to hell down in Florida! While the rest of us were busy discovering where Tunisia was on a map and learning about Egyptian politics for the first time since the pharaohs, the courts in Florida were busy initiating the very early stages of a high-level legal fuckaround involving the Obama administration’s 2010 Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act: specifically, the part of the law that requires all Americans to purchase (hopefully cheaper-than-before) health insurance by 2014. A Florida judge named Robert Vinson has just ruled the health care bill unconstitutional on the basis of this provision. The Justice Department is sending the case to the 11th Court of Appeals, but either way they rule someone will petition the 11th Court’s ruling. From there this bugger’s got nowhere to go but right on up to the highly conservative US Supreme Court, which is a Big Deal for all of us and a Bad Deal for the Democrats and the Obama administration, which does not have a numerical majority of close friends on the SCOTUS. Yep, now only a matter of a nice pointless pre-SCOTUS show trial, a few months, and lots of wasted money and angry lawyers. Ho ho. God Bless America.

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Steve Flowers: Inside The Statehouse: From Hill to Hubbard

  The overwhelming Republican tidal wave that engulfed the South in November basically washed away every white conservative Democrat in the region. The most conservative Blue Dog Congressional Democrats bit the dust from Texas to Georgia, including Alabama.

  However, there was one anomaly. In Montgomery a young ardent and earnest Democrat named Joe Hubbard defeated a Republican to win a seat in the Alabama House of Representatives. He was one of only a handful of Democrats nationwide to unseat a Republican in a legislative seat.

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Edwin Feulner, Ph.D.: Still not making the grade

  “I’ve seen the people at 4 o’clock in the morning, waiting, hoping that they would win a seat for their child in a better school. This is not fair. Parents deserve more choices.”

  That’s Bill Cosby, voicing his support for National School Choice Week. His words capture the real issue at stake here: Too many children are being robbed of a good education. And their parents, despite a desperate desire to change that situation, feel helpless. They’re stuck with whatever the local public school gives them.

  Now, many communities across the country are blessed with good public schools and caring teachers. But many other kids, especially those in low-income neighborhoods, are not. For those who are unfortunate enough to grow up in these areas, going to school is an ordeal, not an opportunity.