Thursday, June 30, 2011

Michael Linden: Rich people’s taxes have little to do with job creation

  We’ve pointed out that even though conservatives seem obsessed with the top income tax rate, overall economic growth was actually stronger during periods of higher tax rates. But maybe we missed the point. Maybe what conservatives are really concerned about is job growth, not overall economic growth. Maybe they have some convoluted argument about how the tax rate for rich people is incredibly important for creating jobs.

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Steve Flowers: Inside The Statehouse” The Free State of Winston

  When Alabama was being settled in the early 1800’s our first settlers were diverse in their origins. Our river regions were the most desirable lands. Indeed this is where the Indians lived. They realized the importance of water and the abundant fishing for their sustenance besides the natural advantage offered by these waters. The river basins also offered the most fertile soil for cultivation.

  Among these river basins is a swath of land across the middle of the state that extends from Georgia to Mississippi. This area is known as the Black Belt. This region of our state is called the Black Belt because of the rich, black, luminous soil found there. This rich black soil is perfect for growing cotton. The people who settled the Black Belt were looking for new cotton lands. They had burned up their soil in the east coast of Virginia by planting the cash crop cotton continuously year after year. The soil they found in the Black Belt was much better than their worn out soil in the tidelands. Therefore, the people who settled in the Black Belt were primarily planters from Virginia and Georgia.

Sunday, June 26, 2011

Ian M. MacIsaac: The Misdeeds of Clarence Thomas

  For the majority of this country’s history, the Supreme Court has stood as our national model of impartiality and justice. Our High Court was the last forum of decision-making in Washington removed from the petty political concerns of things like lobbying and reelection campaigns and all the money-grubbing.
  But it seems that truly nothing is sacred anymore in today’s post-American era of conservative radicalism, not even the Supreme Court.

Friday, June 24, 2011

Eric Alterman: Network on the verge of a nervous breakdown

  Fox News is nothing if not impressive. No matter how harsh the criticism it endures, the network somehow always manages to prove itself even worse than we had previously imagined. In the wake of some devastating reporting on the internal operations of the outfit, discussed here, Chris Wallace of “Fox News Sunday” invited comedian/wise man Jon Stewart on the show this past Sunday.

  Fox did not have the nerve to allow the interview to run in a coherent fashion. “Fox edited me to seem like a woman having a nervous breakdown,” Stewart said on “The Daily Show” Monday night following the broadcast.

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Cameron Smith: Fetal pain law likely viable

  This month Governor Robert Bentley signed the Alabama Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act into law. Alabama follows Nebraska, Idaho, Oklahoma, Kansas and Indiana with legislation designed to restrict abortions based on scientific evidence that a fetus may feel pain as early as 20 weeks after fertilization.    

  Research has shown that, as early as 20 weeks of gestation, a fetus has physiological and behavioral responses to pain stimuli. While opponents argue that the fetal experience is qualitatively distinct from the sensation most adults experience as pain, many concede that a human fetus has both hormonal and neural responses to pain stimulus.    

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Steve Flowers: Inside The Statehouse: Alabama and the GOP presidential primary

  The month of June in Alabama has seen the culmination of one of the most productive legislative sessions in state history, the beginning of a sensational gambling trial and record breaking sweltering heat.

  Next year will be an election year but it is a presidential election year, which is not the big year for Alabama voters. Historically we have not gotten too excited about presidential politics. This is probably because we have never been a factor.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Gene Policinski: Breitbart is one in long line of reviled, revered media gadflies

  Conservative blogger Andrew Breitbart is highly partisan, frequently newsworthy — and, likely depending on your political views, to be roundly admired or soundly criticized.

  But Breitbart is credited by all with first reporting the indiscreet tweets of Rep. Anthony Weiner, D-N.Y.  It’s the latest in a series of headline incidents involving the digital entrepreneur and his unique new-media mix of publishing, sensationalism and political advocacy.

Monday, June 20, 2011

Ian M. MacIsaac: A Study in Michele Bachmann, crazy lady of the 2012 Republican primary

Author's note: This is the final piece in a three-part series on Republican presidential candidates. The first concerned Newt Gingrich, and was published May 20; the second concerned Tim Pawlenty, Mitt Romney, and Jon Huntsman , and was published May 26.

  I was surprised to see Michele Bachmann on the screen as I tuned in for the June 13 Republican presidential primary debate… She hasn’t even announced, has she? I thought to myself.

  I could barely believe her presidential candidacy had become a legitimate possibility—and then reality—in the first place.

Saturday, June 18, 2011

Gary Palmer and Cameron Smith: Immigration: Feds fail and Alabama acts

  Recently Alabama enacted an immigration law characterized as "Arizona-style," "tough," and even "troubling" by political pundits and interested stakeholders. Unfortunately the most radical aspect of many of the recently passed state immigration laws, including Alabama's, is not their content but rather that they seek to enforce immigration laws in the first place.

  Enforcement of our federal immigration law has been so weak for so long that most people do not realize that many of the "novel" provisions of Alabama's law have been on the federal books for years. Lost in the many inflammatory critiques of the state's new immigration law is that it mostly mirrors existing provisions in Title 8 of the United States Code.

Friday, June 17, 2011

Jennifer Marshall: Federal budget no easy moral question

  "Budgets are moral documents." So religious voices, rightly, have reminded us in recent months. Now, Catholic and Protestant leaders have launched an initiative called "Circle of Protection" to make federal antipoverty spending untouchable in the ongoing conversation about how to save future generations of Americans from crushing debt.

  "As Christians, we believe the moral measure of the debate is how the most poor and vulnerable people fare," argues a statement on Circle of Protection's website. "Funding focused on reducing poverty should not be cut."

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Charles C. Haynes: Circumcision ballot measure is assault on religious freedom

  Californians like to vote on just about everything — which may explain why the state has become an ungovernable mess.

  But now San Francisco has gone a ballot measure too far by giving voters an opportunity to ban male circumcision of minors when they go to the polls this November. If it passes, the law would effectively prohibit Jews and Muslims from practicing their faith within city limits.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Steve Flowers: Inside The Statehouse: The difference with a Republican legislature

  Alabama’s most prolific and legendary politician, George Wallace, used to say there’s not a dime’s worth of difference between the Democratic Party and the Republican Party. Wallace’s words were never accurate when it came to the national political parties. The two parties have always been quite different philosophically on the national stage. However, I thought that on the state level Wallace was right but after seeing the Republican takeover of the state legislature my assessment has to be reevaluated. Folks, there is a difference and the proof is in the pudding.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Joseph O. Patton: Helping conservatives be conservatives

  I am deeply concerned about my conservative friends, neighbors and the like. I'm convinced if you're gonna adhere to a set of values, employ those values at the ballot box, to influence your fellow Americans in letters to the editor and to lobby your elected officials, you should at least be true to your word and not contradict yourself with every breath. So in a heartfelt effort to be the helpful type I aspire to be, I've compiled this checklist of sorts. Perhaps it can be of assistance to those who claim to be conservative but only talk the talk....

  Stop claiming you want the government out of your life while simultaneously lobbying your elected officials to pass laws that would infringe on a women's reproductive rights, outlaw same-sex marriage and curb legal gambling.

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Ian M. MacIsaac: Fear and loathing across Haiti: then, too, but especially now

  I have an article on Michele Bachmann to write, but occasionally one’s sense of justice can be so violated that a joke run for president just doesn’t seem important enough to write about at the moment.

  One of these moments came for me this week. Wikileaks released a series of U.S. diplomatic cables concerning the Caribbean nation of Haiti. The lion’s share of the cables concerned the US-backed 2004 overthrow of Haiti’s perhaps first truly honest leader, Jean-Bertrand Aristide, and the leftist Haitian political party, Fanmi Lavalas, which Aristide founded almost thirty years ago and led for many years. In particular the cables concerned the recent exclusion of Fanmi Lavalas from the country’s April presidential election this year, an event which brought the weakness of Haitian electoral democracy to the forefront once again in what U.S. ambassadors called "emasculation of the [Haitian] opposition."

Saturday, June 11, 2011

Gary Palmer: Is this the best we can do?

  In his centennial address to Congress in 1876, President James A. Garfield said, “Now, more than ever before, the people are responsible for the character of their Congress. If that body be ignorant, reckless or corrupt, it's because the people tolerate ignorance, recklessness and corruption. If it be intelligent, brave and pure, it is because the people demand these high qualities to represent them in the national legislature.”

  He added, “If the next centennial does not find us a great nation … it will be because those who represent the enterprise, the culture, and the morality of the nation do not aid in controlling the political forces.”

Friday, June 10, 2011

Laurence M. Vance: Is a constitutional convention necessary?

  The evisceration of the Fourth Amendment by the U.S. Supreme Court in the recent case of Kentucky v. King should forever put to bed the idea that we need a convention to propose amendments to the Constitution in order to regain control of the federal government.

  While seeking a drug bust after a “controlled buy” of crack cocaine, police in Lexington, Kentucky, kicked in the door of the wrong apartment after they supposedly “smelled marijuana,” “could hear people inside moving,” and believed that “drug related evidence was about to be destroyed.” Once inside, the police found three people smoking marijuana, powder and crack cocaine, and drug paraphernalia. Police eventually entered the correct apartment and found the suspect whom they initially sought.

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Charles C. Haynes: As gay rights advance, should religious groups get accommodation?

  When rights claims collide, what’s the collateral damage to society?

  That’s the painful question this week out of Illinois, site of the latest conflict between gay-rights laws and religious convictions.

  When the state’s new civil-unions law took effect June 1, a Catholic diocese in northern Illinois ended its state-funded adoption and foster-care program rather than be required to place children with same-sex couples.

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Steve Flowers: Inside The Statehouse: The Reapportionment game

  For generations we in Alabama observed the partisan gridlock in Washington as something that transpired far away in the nation’s capitol. That was probably because we were a one party state for many years. Our ancestors were determined to be Democrats to their death after the vindictive shackles of Reconstruction were overthrown. The oppression and vengeance enacted on the South by the radical Republicans after the Civil War made the South Democratic for close to 100 years.

  When I arrived in the legislature in 1982 there were only a handful of Republicans in the 105 member House. They were from the silk stocking suburbs of Birmingham, Mobile and Montgomery. They could have had their caucus in a phone booth.

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Michael Linden, Michael Ettlinger: The Bush tax cuts are the disaster that keeps on giving

  Ten years ago today, the first round of Bush tax cuts became law. But what if they hadn’t? What would our fiscal situation look like if history had been different in just one respect: if we’d never implemented President George W. Bush’s eponymous tax policies? The short answer is that the debate over federal debt levels would be entirely different. In that alternate world, total debt as a share of GDP would be under 50 percent this year—instead of pushing 70 percent—and it would be expected to stay under 60 percent for the rest of the decade. That’s well below the levels causing such great consternation in Washington.

  Bear in mind that President Bush inherited perhaps the strongest federal balance sheet in postwar history. There were record-high surpluses, debt was at around 30 percent of GDP and falling, and the Congressional Budget Office projected that the federal government would be debt free by 2009. The country was in great fiscal shape to deal with any crises or emergencies coming down the road, and it was even ready to deal with the coming retirement of the baby boom generation.

Monday, June 6, 2011

James Carafano, Ph.D. and Owen Graham: While North Korea and Iran collaborate, China covers up

  A new UN report documents that Iran is working with North Korea in developing ballistic missile technology. Specifically, the report finds that the two nations are transferring prohibited “ballistic missile-related items” via air shipments, in direct violation of UN sanctions.

  Want to read more about it? Sorry, you can’t. China is blocking release of the report.

  China has a history of bottling up inconvenient reports, and it’s little wonder they worked to squash this one. According to leaked passages, the illicit transfers involved “trans-shipment through a neighboring third country.” Several UN diplomats said that this country was China.

Friday, June 3, 2011

Ask Dr. Bumdinkle: Why hide your fruit?

Disclaimer: Don't be a jackass. "Ask Dr. Bumdinkle" is for entertainment purposes only.

Dr. Dingleberry or Whatever:

  As a gay man, I get so irritated and disgusted when I run into another gay dude and he's putting up this front by using phrases like, "sup," and calling his friends, "bro." It's so phony. And usually the guy is wearing a ball cap and wants to talk about sports and crap like that. It's like a whole routine.

Crosby Burns, Jeff Krehely: Gay and transgender people face high rates of workplace discrimination and harassment

  Gay and transgender individuals continue to face widespread discrimination in the workplace. Studies show that anywhere from 15 percent to 43 percent of gay people have experienced some form of discrimination and harassment at the workplace. Moreover, a staggering 90 percent of transgender workers report some form of harassment or mistreatment on the job. These workplace abuses pose a real and immediate threat to the economic security of gay and transgender workers.

  Congress should work quickly to pass the Employment Non-Discrimination Act, or ENDA, to ensure that all Americans are judged in the workplace based on their skills, qualifications, and the quality of their work. Right now, too many of our country’s gay and transgender workers are being judged on their sexual orientation and gender identity— factors that have no impact on how well a person performs their job.

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Josh Carples: Survival means working together

  Lately, it seems we have been inundated with bad news. This year is proving to have a busier-than-normal tornado season, which followed devastating earthquakes and resulting tsunamis, floods and predictions of the upcoming hurricane season.

  We have witnessed the devastation in the 24-hour news cycle, seen photos of destroyed houses, flooded towns and videos of sheer terror as people try to survive tornado touchdowns.

  And the aftermath is where you really witness the humanity. Through the death counts and devastation, you see neighbors helping neighbors, strangers helping strangers, and people miles away raising money in an attempt to make things better for those affected.

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Steve Flowers: Inside The Statehouse: Gambling corruption goes to court

  The sensational and much anticipated gambling corruption case comes to trial this Monday in Federal Court in Montgomery. Presiding over the case will be the very highly regarded senior federal jurist in the Middle District, Myron Thompson. Judge Thompson has been on the federal bench in Montgomery for over 30 years having been appointed by President Jimmy Carter in the late 1970’s.

  There were originally twelve defendants. That number has dwindled to nine with three having pled guilty prior to the trial. The latest to plead guilty was Country Crossing developer Ronnie Gilley, who bailed out in late April just six weeks prior to the trial.