Monday, December 31, 2012

Charles C. Haynes: In 2012, the rise of a new religious America

  The first Hindu elected to the House of Representatives, Tulsi Gabbard of Hawaii, will take the oath of office in a few weeks — and she has chosen to place her hand on the Bhagavad Gita, a sacred text of her tradition.

  Meanwhile, the woman she replaces in Congress, Mazie Hirono, will be sworn in as the first Buddhist elected to the U.S. Senate.

  Welcome to the new religious America.

Saturday, December 29, 2012

Steve Flowers: Inside the Statehouse: The financial plague

  As the end of the year approaches the story of the year has to be the state of the economy. Therefore, the political story of the year has to be the sad financial state of the State.

  The legislature and governor spent 2012 wrestling with the state of the general fund of Alabama. It has been an uphill battle that will likely not dissipate or subside as we approach 2013.

Friday, December 28, 2012

Edwin J. Feulner: Unions take a swing at democracy

  “This is what democracy looks like!”

  That’s a popular protest chant among liberals. It could be heard at many “Occupy” gatherings. It’s a staple at union-backed protests.

  We all know that in a democracy, sometimes things go your way and sometimes they don’t. The big question is, how will you react?

  For example, many conservatives were disappointed by the results of last month’s elections. Despite high unemployment, sluggish economic growth and an unpopular health care program, a majority of voters returned a staunchly liberal president to office.

Thursday, December 27, 2012

Colby Scullion: Grover Norquist: A clandestine agenda

  Who is Grover Norquist?

  Grover Norquist is the founder and president of the conservative tax advocacy group Americans for Tax Reform, a group that advocates for lower taxes and smaller government. The son of a former Polaroid Corporation vice-president, Norquist lived a very comfortable life during his upbringing and received an excellent education in one of Massachusetts best public schools and a college education from Harvard University. Once he graduated with his B.A. and M.B.A., he went on to become an executive director of the National Tax Payers Union. From there he started Americans for Tax Reform group in 1985. Since then he has become a major player in the modern conservative movement with his famous "Taxpayer Protection Pledge." In the pledge, signers promise to "oppose any and all efforts to increase the marginal income tax rates for individuals and/or businesses; and oppose any net reduction or elimination of deductions and credits, unless matched dollar for dollar by further reducing tax rates."

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Gene Policinski: Hacking the Westboro church is not the way to counter its hate

  The First Amendment does not empower anyone to hack into websites associated with the controversial Westboro Baptist church and the family members of founder Fred Phelps — even with the best of intentions. But that’s the latest development in the sad saga of that Topeka, Kan.-based church.

Sunday, December 23, 2012

Jacob G. Hornberger: No moral standing to criticize Putin

  The U.S. government’s ongoing dispute with Russian President Vladimir Putin reflects what a disaster the U.S. government’s “war on terrorism” has been, at least from the standpoint of moral standing.

  Ever since his election, Putin, harkening back to what he undoubtedly remembers as the fond days of the Soviet Union, has been taking harsh actions to suppress criticism of him, his actions, and his regime. To avoid being seen as an opponent of freedom of speech, however, he uses Russia’s system of a tightly regulated economy and a complex tax system to go after his critics by charging and prosecuting them with tax and regulatory violations.

Saturday, December 22, 2012

Michael Josephson: Surviving critical relatives at family gatherings

  I realize that not everyone lives in a Norman Rockwell world where family gatherings are sources of warmth and good memories. For some, the prospect of holiday get-togethers generates dread and anxiety; they are something to endure, not enjoy.

  One reason is that family members can be tactless and downright cruel when expressing their opinions about perceived foibles, flaws and failures of their relatives, especially in-laws. Often comments are so laden with negative judgment that they could make the Grinch wince. Whether motivated by well-intentioned, but misdirected, love and concern, or by malice, insensitive or unkind words are like spears to the heart.

Friday, December 21, 2012

Ken Paulson: After Newtown: The real toll of ‘journalistic bedlam’

  I’m not sure I’ve ever seen so much flawed reporting as in the news coverage surrounding the horrific school shootings in Newtown, Conn.

  Errors abounded. News organizations identified the wrong man as the shooter, reported that the shooter’s mother was a teacher at the school and mischaracterized both the killers’ weapons and his access to the school. One flawed report said that the killer had a run-in with teachers at the school the day before the massacre.

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Seth Hanlon: Congress should close the carried interest loophole

  In recent days Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) and House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) have both suggested that they might be willing to allow some tax cuts for high-income individuals to expire. But Sen. McConnell—and evidently Rep. Boehner, as well—are reportedly still insisting that the Bush tax cuts on investment income be extended.

  The Republican leaders’ willingness to discuss top tax rates is a welcome step forward. But until policymakers address the gap between tax rates on ordinary income (income from wages, salaries, and so on) and the tax rates on investment income (capital gains and dividends), they will not have fully addressed the fundamental unfairness in the tax code.

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Cameron Smith: So this is Christmas?

  On December 14, 2012, Americans saw the darkness in Newtown, Connecticut. And for many of us it is hard to grasp, maybe impossible. How could a young man be so full of pain and rage that he would take so many young lives? Where are the answers? What can we do? What “serious” conversations can be had? What laws can be passed? But the cold darkness settles on our souls as a steady procession of tiny coffins are lowered into the ground.

  So this is Christmas?

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Steve Flowers: Inside the Statehouse: Where the real power lies

  During the 2012 election year we enjoyed observing the presidential race nationwide as well as judicial races statewide. However, probably the most important races for many of you occurred during the dog days of summer. We had mayor’s races throughout the state this year. All municipalities with the exception of Montgomery, Birmingham and Mobile elected their mayor for the next four years.

  The mayor of a city is a very high profile post. Mayors have more influence and importance than most folks realize. It is the real bastion of decision making when it comes to public policy. They affect their constituents’ lives every day. The mayor of a city is where the rubber meets the road in Alabama politics.

Monday, December 17, 2012

Charles C. Haynes: Religious freedom: not just for the religious

  Atheists, humanists and other nonreligious people face discrimination and persecution in many parts of the world, according to “Freedom of Thought 2012,” a report released this week by the International Humanist and Ethical Union.

  The survey is the first to highlight how people with no religious affiliation — sometimes dubbed “religious nones” by pollsters — are often treated as second-class citizens, outsiders or, in some societies, enemies of the state.

Saturday, December 15, 2012

Katie Murphy: The Value of unions and the consequences of ‘right-to-work’ laws

  The passage of so-called right-to-work legislation in Michigan fails to take into consideration the real impact unions have on both states’ and the nation’s economies and on middle-class Americans. “Right-to-work” laws weaken unions by making them provide services to union and nonunion members alike, without making all beneficiaries pay their fair share. By severely weakening unions, which are vital to strengthening the middle class and improving the economy, “right-to-work” laws have broad negative consequences.

Friday, December 14, 2012

Joseph O. Patton: Meanwhile, back in the middle…

  I’m deep in the bunker, y’all. It’s simply not safe to wander above ground these days, notably due to the bloodletting inherent to the “War on Christmas” and the Christian Taliban forcing everyone at gun point to celebrate Christmas their way. Between overzealous Christians seeking to use our government as a means of indoctrination to overzealous atheists ripping candy canes from our hands and sacrificing our inflatable snowmen on altars to the great atheist god, I’m hesitant to step into the light of day… though I do need to get the mail.

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Jacob G. Hornberger: The Glory of libertarianism

  Benjamin Franklin once said, “Where liberty dwells, there is my country,” inspiring Thomas Paine to reply, “Where liberty is not, that is my home.”

  We libertarians happen to have been born in what Paine described as his preferred home — a country in which liberty is not. We strive to convert our country into one that Franklin preferred, one where liberty dwells. That’s one of the things that make our movement such a glorious one.

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Sally Steenland: Forgive us our debts

  In many faith traditions, forgiveness refers to more than sin. It also refers to economic debt. The Hebrew Bible teaches the practice of Jubilee, where debts are forgiven every seven years. The Koran urges compassion for debtors in difficult straits, saying their debts should be postponed until they are “in ease.” In these faith traditions and others, economic and moral behavior is tightly entwined.

  That link—between money and morals—isn’t limited to the pages of ancient sacred texts, however. You can spot it in today’s news thanks to a creative new project called the Rolling Jubilee, part of the Strike Debt campaign, which are both offshoots of the Occupy Wall Street movement and are tackling a huge problem. According to the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, about 30 million Americans are being hounded by debt collection agencies.

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Steve Flowers: Inside the Statehouse: Alabama’s 2014 drama is already brewing

  Now that the dust has settled from the 2012 presidential contest we in Alabama are ready for the real horse race. Unlike most states where the race for the White House is the marquee event every four years, our focus has always been on the governor’s race and our local races.

  Our forefathers must have envisioned that this would be the case when our 1901 Constitution was drafted. All our major state races are on the ballot in gubernatorial years. In 2014, not only will we have a governor’s race, all seven constitutional offices are up for grabs, including lieutenant governor, attorney general, treasurer and agriculture commissioner. In addition, all 140 legislative seats are up for election along with all 67 sheriffs, three members of the Supreme Court, two PSC seats and all seven members of Congress. It will be quite a year.

Monday, December 10, 2012

Ian M. MacIsaac: Freeze, this is a stickup: hostage negotiations in the fiscal cliff crisis

  "We're nowhere."

  That was House Speaker John Boehner's summation of the fiscal cliff negotiations as of this time last week, in an interview on Fox News Sunday.

  Boehner said that plan proposed by President Obama and Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner to avoid the fiscal cliff, which included an end to Congress's control of the debt ceiling limit along with $1.6 trillion in new revenue, was "a non-serious proposal;" particularly because, as Boehner portrayed it, the proposal contained federal spending that outweighed its proposed budget cuts.

Sunday, December 9, 2012

Michael Josephson: Give good memories

  In a society preoccupied with the quest for material possessions, it’s easy to overlook the fact that our most valuable possessions are our best memories.

  Good memories are a form of wealth. They are not simply something we own, they become part of who we are. Through our memories we can literally re-live and re-experience past pleasures.

  So, if you want to give a gift that truly keeps on giving, use the opportunities of holiday gatherings to give good memories.

Saturday, December 8, 2012

Cameron Smith: The Free-fall and the fiscal cliff

  As the automatic tax increases and spending cuts of the so-called “fiscal cliff” near the horizon, political pundits continue to argue whether the government should solve its budget woes by reducing spending, raising taxes, or some combination of the two. Even the President has engaged with the trendy narrative of taking a “little more” from “wealthy” Americans to repair the budget.

  Unfortunately, the reality of America’s fiscal situation has little connection to popular political opinion. Washington’s problem is excessive spending. Period.

Friday, December 7, 2012

David L. Hudson, Jr.: ‘Gay-conversion therapy’: Is it speech or conduct?

  Whether something is labeled speech or conduct can make all the difference in the outcome of First Amendment lawsuits.

  Two cases in point are recent decisions by two federal district judges reaching opposite conclusions about whether to halt a new California law that prohibits mental-health providers from conducting sexual-orientation change therapy — sometimes called “gay-conversion therapy” — with minors.

Thursday, December 6, 2012

Jacob G. Hornberger: It’s time to end the war against Cuba

   When is enough… enough? The U.S. military and the CIA have waged war on Cuba for more than 50 years. After a half-century of invasions, assassination attempts, terrorist attacks, and a cruel and inhumane economic embargo, it’s time to bring the entire sordid policy toward Cuba to an end. Not only has it failed to accomplish its purported end — the ouster of the Castro regime and its replacement by a pro-U.S. dictatorship — it has also played a major role in the economic misery of the Cuban people. The U.S. government’s war on Cuba has also constituted a grave infringement on the fundamental rights and freedoms of the American people.

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Sally Steenland: The Political and cultural embrace of marriage equality is growing

  Twelve years ago Vermont became the first state to legalize civil unions for gay and lesbian couples. Back then the term “civil union” was unfamiliar to most Americans, and the Vermont law seemed radical to many. Its passage triggered fear campaigns and antigay ballot initiatives that energized conservatives and helped them win elections across the country.

  On Election Day 2012 voters in three states—Maryland, Maine, and Washington—went far beyond civil unions and supported marriage equality for gay and lesbian couples. Voters in Minnesota rejected a constitutional amendment that defined marriage as being between one man and one woman. These victories mark a dramatic shift in public support for gay and lesbian equality—all in a little more than a decade since Vermont passed its civil unions bill.

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Steve Flowers: Inside the Statehouse: The Moore factor

  The Roy Moore victory continues to reverberate throughout the state. Whenever the subject of politics comes up it is the first subject of conversation.

  Undoubtedly it is the political story of the year. Moore’s amazing resurrection triumph was astonishing. He was written off as an “also ran” candidate after dismally losing two races for governor in the past four years. Moore rode his horse to vote in Etowah County in both his primary and general election victories, and then watched the results flow in, especially from North Alabama. On both occasions it was evident that he was riding a wave of fundamentalist evangelical voting that carried him back to his old job as chief justice. He had been written off as dead, then lo and behold, to quote an old Baptist hymn, “Up from the grave He arose with a mighty triumph o’er his foes.”

Monday, December 3, 2012

Michael Josephson: Not everyone in need has a brick

  A successful man known for his philanthropy was driving his new car through a poor part of town. He’d driven the route hundreds of times before on his way home.

  A young boy tried to flag him down. The man was in a hurry and didn’t want to get involved, so he pretended he didn’t see him. The traffic signal turned red, though. As he slowed for it, he heard a loud thud. The boy had thrown a brick at his car!

Saturday, December 1, 2012

Matthew Duss: U.N. status upgrade for Palestine presents new dynamic

  This week the U.N. General Assembly voted overwhelmingly—138 countries in favor, 9 opposed, and 41 abstaining—to upgrade the status of Palestine from “non-member observer entity” to “non-member observer state.” That the measure passed was not a surprise. What was a surprise, however, was the number of close U.S. partners—particularly members of the European Union—who either voted for the resolution or abstained.

  While the conventional wisdom holds that the status upgrade is largely symbolic, it is important to understand that the symbolism serves a political purpose. As Palestinian leaders explain it, the U.N. bid was undertaken in large part out of frustration with the failure of the U.S.-led peace process of the past several years to produce tangible progress toward the end of occupation and the creation of a Palestinian state.

Friday, November 30, 2012

Gary Palmer: Governor Bentley makes right choice for Alabama

  Alabama Governor Robert Bentley has made the right decision not to set up the health exchanges created by The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA). Contrary to what some state Democrats and other supporters of big government say, Bentley’s decision is legally and fiscally on solid ground.

  Given the Supreme Court opinion upholding PPACA and the re-election of President Obama, the assumption that PPACA, his single major accomplishment from his first term, would face little resistance to its full-implementation was wrong from the beginning.

Thursday, November 29, 2012

Charles C. Haynes: In Christmas wars, it’s all or nothing

  In the angry eyes of Christians in Santa Monica, Calif., Damon Vix is the atheist who stole Christmas.

  Vix is blamed for the city’s decision to ban all private displays in Palisades Park, ending a tradition of 14 Nativity scenes erected by church groups in the park every December for the last 60 years.

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Sally Steenland: Are we finally nearing the tipping point on climate change?

  If you drop a frog into a pot of boiling water, it will shriek and frantically try to escape. Drop that same frog into a pot of warm water, however, and gradually turn up the heat, and it will drift off to sleep and die.

  Some version of that second scenario is happening to us right now. I’m not saying we’re on the brink of perishing, but on a range of issues—from climate change to gun violence to women’s reproductive health—incremental changes have lulled us into complacency, relaxing our sense of danger and weakening our response reflexes.

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Steve Flowers: Inside the Statehouse: Macon County fights back

  It would appear that being a state legislator is an exciting and challenging experience. Some of you might think that a legislator’s average day is spent molding public policy and debating important measures that could have dramatic effects on the lives of their constituents. However, let me tell you from experience that much of a legislator’s day in Alabama is spent voting on mundane local bills that only apply to individual counties.

  Our state constitution is antiquated and restricts the power of county commissioners. Therefore, legislators spend an inordinate amount of time voting on local bills like whether Fayette County can buy a tractor. Unfortunately, these local issues have to appear on a statewide ballot for your final approval. This year was no different. There were three local amendments. However, there were some constitutional amendments on this year’s ballot that actually will have ramifications and significance.

Monday, November 26, 2012

Larry M. Elkin: The Electoral College isn’t the problem

  You don't hear many people defending the Electoral College these days. But is it the undemocratic relic that its critics claim, or is it a constitutional bastion of federalism, a place where states can still flex their muscle over the most powerful office in Washington, D.C.?

  It turns out that where you stand on the Electoral College depends largely upon where you sit.

Saturday, November 24, 2012

Gene Policinski: Petraeus affair reminds us how little is private

  National attention to the Petraeus affair is driven by everything from morbid curiosity to concern for national security. But for most of us, issues of privacy and the First Amendment also should take center stage.

  As shown by the FBI’s relatively quick trip through the online missives of Gen. David Petraeus’ trysts, not much — if any — of our electronic communication is genuinely “private,” not even for the director of the world’s largest spy agency.

Friday, November 23, 2012

Elizabeth Robinson: Business owners denied First Amendment protections

  On November 19th, U.S. District Judge Joe Heaton ruled that Hobby Lobby, the arts and crafts chain, and other for-profit companies must pay for the coverage of contraceptives such as birth control, the “morning-after pill” and the “week-after pill,” regardless of the religious convictions of the owners. In his ruling denying an injunction on certain provisions of The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA), Judge Heaton said “…the court has not found [that]… for-profit companies such as Hobby Lobby and Mardel have a constitutional right to the free exercise of religion.”

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Josh Carples: Warning: The War on Christmas is in full effect

  It’s getting closer and closer to December, which means keeping track of Jews and Muslims fighting in Gaza is pointless because there’s a bigger war that’s been raging for years: the War on Christmas.

  Yes, each year, this seasonal war seems to get bloodier and louder. Chants of “It’s Merry F*****g Christmas, you atheist f*****s!” can be heard from the Shoppes at Eastchase to the Capitol dome.

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Steve Flowers: Inside the Statehouse: Alabama by the numbers

  In surveying the results from the election returns from two weeks ago, you realize that the country is deeply divided. It is as though we live in two Americas.

  Voters nationwide are definitely in two different camps, especially on social issues. Democrats are fervently in favor of same-sex marriage, legalized abortion and social welfare programs. The Republicans are totally opposite on these issues just as adamantly, if not more so.

Monday, November 19, 2012

Michael Josephson: We are what we think

  In the early 1900s, a little-known philosopher named James Allen wrote a powerful essay called “As a Man Thinketh” in which he argued that we are what we think, that a person’s character is the sum of his thoughts. He declared that the power to control our thoughts (whether we use that power or not) is the ability to mold our character and shape our destiny.

  This is a profound insight, making us personally responsible not only for our conduct but for our circumstances.

Saturday, November 17, 2012

Ken Paulson: Anonymous speech at risk in Memphis case

  The Shelby County (Tenn.) Commission continues to press for a court order requiring the Memphis Commercial Appeal to reveal the identity of readers who posted more than 9,000 comments on its website. It’s an enormously broad request that raises serious questions about First Amendment protections and the privacy rights of those who posted to the site anonymously.

  The commission wants the information for a lawsuit contending that the lifting in suburban Shelby County of a statewide ban on new municipal school districts was at least partly racially motivated. The commission believes it can help make that case by securing the names of everyone who commented anonymously on 45 Commercial Appeal articles appearing in its newspaper and website between Nov. 19, 2010, and July 12, 2012.

Friday, November 16, 2012

Jane Farrell: Myth vs. Fact: Paid sick days

  Critics of paid sick days argue that additional benefits for employees mean greater overhead for businesses and, consequently, fewer jobs. But these claims are both oversimplified and off-base. Below are the most common misconceptions about paid sick leave—a vital policy that more than 40 million American workers still lack.

Myth: Paid sick days hurt businesses.

Fact: Businesses would be the greatest beneficiaries of paid sick days.

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Sheldon Richman: Republican reconsideration of immigration

“Those are my principles. If you don't like them I have others.” — Groucho Marx

  Apparently Groucho has been elected chairman of the Republican National Committee.

  Mitt Romney’s loss to Barack Obama has so shocked the Republican Party that it now is willing to question long-held positions. If defeat prompts Republicans to abandon anti-freedom convictions, that’s all to the good — even if the abandonment is motivated by cynicism.

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Ask Dr. Bumdinkle: Hoping to secede!

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

  As a proud American who believes in the Floundering Fathers’ belief that Jesus should run our government and black folks should not be allowed to be black folks, I’m joining the movement to petition the President to consider a request from my home state Alabama – Roll Tide! – to secede from the Union.

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Steve Flowers: Inside the Statehouse: Savoring the status quo in Alabama

  The 2012 presidential election year is now history and nothing has changed. There is absolute status quo in Washington. You have the same president, the same Democratic majority in the Senate and the same Republican majority in the U.S. House of Representatives. That, my fellow Alabamians, is a recipe for continued gridlock.

  Our federal government has to find a way to get along and end deficit spending. We have to come to grips with our spending more money than we bring in or we will continue to exacerbate our vulnerability and decline as a nation.

Monday, November 12, 2012

Ian M. MacIsaac: Sudden resignation of CIA director David Petraeus leaves unanswered questions and ruined careers

  The revelation of David Petraeus's extramarital affair with his biographer Paula Broadwell has dominated post-election Washington and news media, and brought President Obama's reelection honeymoon to an abrupt end.

  Many have exhibited shock at the sudden downfall of one of America's most decorated and celebrated generals and national security leaders. Even more have questioned why a full-on FBI probe was necessary to uncover something that had more to do with the CIA director's personal life than any issue of national security.

Michael Josephson: Ask what can you do for your country

  In 1961, President John F. Kennedy, invoked my generation to “Ask not what your country can do for you — ask what you can do for your country.”

  We are fortunate to live in a free and democratic society where millions of civilians and soldiers serve their fellow citizens. Today is Veteran’s Day and the weekend provided the nation a special opportunity to honor and express gratitude to the millions of living military veterans and thousands of active duty men and women who have or are serving our country.

Saturday, November 10, 2012

Gene Policinski: True effect of big campaign spending unclear

WASHINGTON — There’s one result from the election that we likely won’t know for months or even years: the full meaning of this year’s massive run-up in campaign spending.

  The U.S. Supreme Court, in its Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission decision in 2010, freed corporations, unions and others to spend as much on elections as they wish — setting up the circumstances for the financial version of Superstorm Sandy in this year’s races.

  The Court voted 5-4 that limits on corporate spending violated First Amendment political free-speech rights. Justice Anthony Kennedy, writing for the majority, said there was “no basis for the proposition that, in the context of political speech, the Government may impose restrictions on certain disfavored speakers.”

Friday, November 9, 2012

Cameron Smith: A Conservative hoping for change

  As pundits across the country sift through the electoral debris, President Obama’s re-election affords an opportunity for Republican introspection. The recent election demonstrates that American political ideologies, cultural demographics, and even the level of political engagement are transitioning in a way not seen in generations. Conservatives face the challenge of determining how the principles of limited government, individual responsibility, strong families, and free markets can regain a foothold during the change.

  Republicans need to be frank about the election results. Their electorate ran a “moderate” candidate against a President whose largest policy accomplishments have been poorly received during a period of lackluster economic performance. Instead of a Reaganesque sweep, Republicans failed to gain any meaningful traction. In fact they actually lost ground. Arguing that the President did not win as many electoral votes as he did in 2008 is about as useful as finding a silver lining in being beaten by two touchdowns instead of three.

Thursday, November 8, 2012

Ian M. MacIsaac: Romney's whitewater runs dry

  Mitt Romney lost on Tuesday for a lot of reasons. He was a flip-flopper and a serial liar; he was a wooden campaigner and repeatedly proved himself incapable of connecting with average people; he was a caricature of all the worst aspects of the "one percent."

  But Romney did not lose last night purely through personal failings. In retrospect, any Republican candidate would have likely lost last night. The problem? There simply were not enough white people.

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Gadi Dechter: Why President Obama’s victory is a victory for the middle class

“Middle-out” economics defeated supply-side economics

  Politicians have always paid lip service to the middle class, but voters in this election were offered a clear choice between a vision of economic growth that magically trickles down from the top and one driven by a strong middle class.

  President Barack Obama’s campaign presented a sharp alternative to the supply-side dogma that has dominated Washington, D.C., since the late 1970s—and continues to hold conservatives in thrall. Supply-side thinking, embraced by 2012 Republican presidential nominee and former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney, holds that cutting taxes on the rich will unleash a torrent of investments that will spur economic growth.

Monday, November 5, 2012

Our Stand: Our courts, our state and our very sense of justice require Bob Vance

  The contrast in candidates seeking Alabama’s top judicial post could not be more obvious. We have a choice between public service versus ego inflation; competence versus recklessness; fairness versus an individual’s selfish personal agenda.

  Roy Moore’s contributions to Alabama’s legal landscape are nonexistent. His entire career has been littered by a self-serving need for attention and to use Alabama taxpayers’ dollars as a means to promote himself and his agenda. Regardless of one’s religious convictions or political philosophy, this should not be the role of any individual in a position to dispense justice. If Moore wants to spend his days seeking celebrity status, we suggest he accept a role on a reality TV program. Alabamians deserve better. Our court system deserves better.

Our Stand: Alabama voters have plenty of amending to consider

  Since having the longest and most amended constitution in the world just isn’t good enough, Alabama voters will get to delve into the mire again Tuesday, as 11 statewide amendments will appear on the ballot. Here we offer our take on each:

Amendment 1: Yes. The benefits of the Forever Wild Fund are something most Alabamians should agree upon. Voting ‘yes” would extend the program for another 20 years. This land preservation program utilizes a sliver of interest earned from oil and gas leases to acquire and protect land for public use. First approved in 1992, it’s a wildly popular program and benefits hunters, fishers, and taxpayers in general who simply want to preserve our lands, protect them and enjoy them.

Saturday, November 3, 2012

Gene Policinski: Free speech or threat? A tough call sometimes

  A white supremacist faces sentencing for soliciting violence against a juror after a federal appeals court in Chicago decided that even though he never openly asked for anyone to kill or harm the person, his online posts were clear enough.

  The decision is another reminder that although the government cannot successfully prosecute a person, or a court send them to jail, because of mere ideas, the time, place and manner in which a person speaks — or even their intended audience — makes a difference.

Friday, November 2, 2012

Gary Palmer: Billy Graham speaks to voters

  In every election voters focus on where the candidates stand on issues and that is certainly important. But have you ever seriously considered where you stand on the issues? Do your views on the issues or your preferences for candidates truly reflect your values and what you truly believe?

  Rev. Billy Graham has challenged people to carefully consider their spiritual values before casting their votes. In an ad that first appeared in The Wall Street Journal, Rev. Graham is encouraging Americans to base their choices on biblical principles and urges people ”… to vote for those who protect the sanctity of life and support the biblical definition of marriage between a man and a woman.”

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Steve Flowers: Inside the Statehouse: Countdown to election day

  The nation will elect our 45th president this Tuesday. The word elect is a misnomer. We do not elect our president. They are selected by the Electoral College. This is a travesty. It is amazing and appalling that in a country that espouses being the greatest democracy in the world that we do not have a direct election of the president in which the candidate who receives the most votes from all of the voters throughout the entire nation wins.

  If you are watching the election returns on television Tuesday night and you keep watching the tally of votes nationwide, you are wasting your time and the television network is wasting its time along with doing you an injustice.

Monday, October 29, 2012

Gene Policinski: ‘Mug shot’ sites pose First Amendment dilemma

  You can’t put a price on justice — but some are trying to charge a fee to fix what others call an injustice.

  There’s nothing good about getting arrested, even if the charges are dismissed or you’re found innocent at trial. The same goes for having a “mug shot” — a photo made at a jail or holding area — taken and filed with a county lockup or police department, complete with ID information.

Saturday, October 27, 2012

Sheldon Richman: Americans should reject Obama-Romney foreign policy

  If we needed evidence of the impoverishment of American politics, the so-called debate between President Barack Obama and Mitt Romney gave us all we could ask for.

  We normally expect a debate to highlight some disagreement, but in American politics disagreement is reserved for minor matters. The two parties — actually the two divisions of the uni-party that represents the permanent regime — agree on all fundamentals. If you need proof, observe how the establishment media treated Ron Paul, who challenged the permanent regime’s basic premises on foreign policy, civil liberties, and monetary control. He dug too deep.

Friday, October 26, 2012

Our Stand: Choose substance over pure politics in PSC race

  Voters have a clear choice November 6 in the race for the presidency of the Alabama Public Service Commission. One candidate carries a solid record of laudable service to state taxpayers and the other is merely a political opportunist.

  Lucy Baxley has compiled a well-respected and hard-earned record as a public servant. From her tenure as Alabama’s State Treasurer, Lieutenant Governor and in her first term as president of the PSC, she has proven to be a tireless advocate for the responsible use of state dollars and as a fighter for Alabama’s citizens.

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Ken Paulson: When faith and football don’t mix

  You can throw a Hail Mary at a public school football game, but you can’t actually hail Mary. That distinction is at the heart of a flurry of incidents this fall in which public universities and high schools are being challenged for conducting prayers before football games. In recent months:

-The University of Tennessee-Chattanooga announced that it would no longer hold public prayers before football games, while the UT campus in Knoxville said it was retaining them at Neyland Stadium. The decisions came after accusations by the Freedom From Religion Foundation that the practice violates the separation of church and state.

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Cameron Smith: Amendment 4: Choosing right over racism

  Over the last few weeks, the Alabama Education Association (AEA) and a number of Democrat lawmakers have led the charge to preserve racist language in Alabama’s Constitution by opposing Amendment 4 on the November 6 ballot.

  Amendment 4 deletes language in Section 256 of Alabama’s Constitution relating to “elective” segregated schools and repeals poll tax provisions. In short, Section 256 of the Constitution of 1901 which required the Legislature to “establish, organize, and maintain a liberal system of public schools” was clearly unconstitutional under the Supreme Court’s 1954 ruling in Brown v. Board of Education because it also contained a provision requiring segregated schools. As a result, Alabama voters removed the offending language in 1956 with Amendment 111 and simultaneously eliminated the right to a public education in Alabama.

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Steve Flowers: Inside the Statehouse: Where the power truly rests

  Our congressional delegation will more than likely return intact in two weeks. All seven of our members of Congress must run every two years. However, very few are ever sent home. Members of Congress have the highest retention rate of any political group in the world, with the exception of the Soviet Communist Politburo.

  Once a person is elected to Congress they have a 90% chance of reelection. The percentage increases after they have been in office for several terms. Most people in the private sector wish they had that kind of job security.

Monday, October 22, 2012

Crosby Burns: Latino support for equality goes far beyond marriage

  The Pew Hispanic Center recently released yet another poll confirming that a majority of Latinos support marriage equality for same-sex couples.

  According to the poll, 52 percent of Latinos favor affording same-sex couples the rights and responsibilities of marriage, with 34 percent opposed. Six years ago Latino attitudes on the issue were virtually flipped. In 2006 only 31 percent of Latinos supported marriage equality, with 56 percent opposed it.

Sunday, October 21, 2012

Michael Josephson: The Road to significance

  The most traditional way to measure the quality of one’s life is to evaluate success by listing accolades, achievements, and acquisitions. After all, in its simplest terms, success is getting what we want and most people want wealth and status.

  Yet, as much pleasure as these attributes can bring, the rich, powerful, and famous usually discover that true happiness will elude them if they do not have peace of mind, self-respect, and enduring loving relationships.

Saturday, October 20, 2012

Ken Paulson: Court finds Mo. students’ off-campus posts not protected

  The 8th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals has found that students who built a website with provocative content are not protected by the First Amendment and can be punished for their postings.

  A three-judge panel found that the students’ site contained sexist and racist comments that led to disruptive behavior at their high school in Lee’s Summit, Mo.

  Steven and Sean Wilson created a website called NorthPress in 2011, offering commentary about Lee’s Summit North High School. Though they claimed the site was intended to be viewed by just a handful of friends, word spread, and the boys were suspended.

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Gary Palmer and Cameron Smith: Amendment 8: Clearing the air on Alabama’s legislative pay

  On the November ballot, Alabamians will vote on a state constitutional amendment to change the manner in which their legislators are compensated. Those who remember the Alabama Legislature’s 61 percent self-awarded pay raise in 2007 might be understandably skeptical about a ballot proposal created by legislators regarding their own pay. But a careful review of the legislative pay amendment should allay that skepticism.

  The current legislative pay structure has left many Alabamians confused about what legislators are paid. Currently, legislative compensation includes $10 per day while the legislature is in session and a monthly expense allowance of $4,174 with an automatic cost-of-living increase each April 1st. Between the official salary and the expense allowance, legislators are making an average of slightly less than $52,000. Other per diem and travel reimbursements only increase that amount for some legislators.

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Sam Fulwood III: Right-wing executives threaten employees over election results

  In an act that smacks of medieval feudalism, ASG Software Solutions Chief Executive Officer Arthur Allen sent an email to the Naples, Florida-based firm’s 1,000 employees in 70 offices worldwide that threatened employees’ jobs if GOP presidential nominee Mitt Romney isn’t elected president.

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

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

  One of the most far reaching and significant accomplishments enacted by the legislature earlier this year is the revamping of the state’s retirement benefit system for state workers. The legislature’s changes to pension benefits for future teachers and public employees should save taxpayers billions and ensure the viability of the state retirement system for decades.

  The changes will only affect new employees. All current public employees are unaffected. The new measures will apply to future employees beginning January 1, 2013.

Monday, October 15, 2012

Crosby Burns: ‘Religious liberty’ does not give people a license to discriminate

  Last week lawmakers in nine state legislatures launched “religious freedom” caucuses aimed at helping “legislators set state-specific agendas for strengthening religious liberties.”

  Religious liberty should be protected. It should be safeguarded. And it should be valued. But if this past year is any indication of what these caucuses’ real policy goals are, their efforts will not be about protecting, safeguarding, and valuing religious liberty. Instead, they will be about promoting an agenda that rolls back women’s health and rights and curtails equality for gay Americans, all behind the guise of “religious liberty.”

Saturday, October 13, 2012

David L. Hudson, Jr.: Mass. official urges town to rethink profanity ban

  The town of Middleborough, Mass., should repeal a provision passed last June that empowered police officers to issue civil tickets for cursing in public, the state’s attorney general has determined.

  In 1968, Middleborough passed a disorderly conduct byline regulating public profanity. It provides: “Whoever having arrived at the age of discretion accosts or addresses another person with profane or obscene language in a street or other public place, may be punished by a fine of not more than $20.00 dollars.”

Friday, October 12, 2012

Elizabeth Robinson: Diverse pro-life groups present loving choices for mothers and unborn babies

  One of the oft-chanted maxims of the pro-choice movement is, “Keep your hands off my body.” And it is a mantra that has never settled with me. While I can certainly understand wanting to keep a stranger’s hands away, I have always wondered why those advocating for abortion never allowed the unborn child to voice the same refrain.

  The most basic argument surrounding the pro-life versus pro-choice issue is one of rights. The rights of the unborn child weighed against the rights of the woman carrying it, but the current judicial climate places the burden on scientific advancement to prove when life begins. The current standard of “viability” has already replaced the outmoded trimester standard implemented under Roe v. Wade, and some states like Alabama have passed “fetal pain” laws, which pushed the mark further to the twentieth week, when the child has a nervous system developed enough to feel pain.

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Steve Flowers: Inside the Statehouse: No contest in Alabama

  The November 6th Presidential Election is less than four weeks away. It will not be very close or interesting here in the Heart of Dixie. The only question to be decided is the margin by which Mitt Romney will slaughter Barack Obama in the state.

  It was ugly four years ago. McCain beat Obama 64 to 36 in 2008. My guess is that it will be by about the same numbers this year. That, my friends, is what you call a landslide. In some corners it can be referred to as a shellacking.

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Sam Fulwood III: Remembering James Meredith

  Fifty years ago on October 1, James Meredith became the first African American to enroll at the University of Mississippi—a historical fact that could easily have gone unremarked upon in this column. As a general rule, I don’t enjoy looking into history’s rearview mirror.

  But I’m pausing for a moment of reflection, thanks largely to my friend and CAP colleague Sally Steenland, who bounded into my office yesterday to announce what a big deal it was on October 1, 1962, when Meredith enrolled at Ole Miss.

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Sheldon Richman: The hubris of Romney and Obama

  Mitt Romney, whose bid to unseat Barack Obama looks more desperate every day, senses he’s found a weakness in his rival. In a foreign-policy speech, he blasted Obama over the upheaval in the Arab world, saying, “This is a time for a president who will shape events in the Middle East.”

  Romney is making two claims: that Obama has failed to shape events in the Middle East and that he, Romney, will succeed.

  Could the hubris of a man seeking power be plainer? Does anyone with even a minimum ability to think clearly believe that Romney could “shape events” there?

Friday, October 5, 2012

Michael Josephson: The Yuppie lifestyle and satisfaction

  T.S. Eliot said, “Half of the harm that is done in this world is due to people who want to feel important. They do not mean to do harm…they are absorbed in the endless struggle to think well of themselves.”
  How do we feel important? Often, it’s by trying to obtain an image of success created by a culture that prizes getting ahead in terms of money and career. Think how much more integrity there would be if we understood how futile it is to pursue the empty vessel of prosperity.

Sally Steenland: Five issues that expand the notion of what it means to ‘vote your values’

  Soon after the 2004 presidential election, the Pew Research Center conducted a national exit poll to determine which issues were the most important to voters. Pollsters read from a list that included abortion, same-sex marriage, the environment, health care, and the Iraq war, among others. Based on the responses they got, the Pew survey concluded that religious conservatives—or so-called “values voters”—had helped determine the outcome of that election due to their intense opposition to abortion and marriage equality. The term “values voter” caught on and soon became shorthand for conservative voters who cast their ballots based on their opinions on these two social issues.
  But there was a problem with the results of the poll. Pew’s list of values issues was limited to abortion and marriage equality, while issues such as poverty and the environment were on a separate list of issues that fell outside the “values” framework. The implication was clear: Voters who were motivated by opposition to the war or tax cuts for the wealthy, who were pro-environment or supported universal health care, must be motivated by something other than their values.

Thursday, October 4, 2012

Edwin J. Feulner, Ph.D.: Marriage at risk in America

  “Marriage is a wonderful institution,” H.L. Mencken once quipped, “but who would want to live in an institution?” Great line. But in the real world, the more we learn about marriage, the more we realize how vital it is.

  For example: Social science finds that more than 30 percent of single-parent families with children are poor. The figure for married families: 7 percent. Contrary to conventional wisdom, the overwhelming majority of non-married fathers have jobs and typically earn more than the mother. If the couple was married and the father stayed in the home, the probability of child poverty would drop by nearly two-thirds. Wedding ceremonies could dramatically reduce child poverty, and it wouldn’t cost the government a penny.

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Cameron Smith: Alabama's unlikely allies in education reform

  The winds of change are blowing through America’s education system for the first time in a generation, and Alabama would be wise to catch the breeze coming from some unexpected directions.

  For the last several decades, teachers unions have been staunch allies of the Democrats, serving as both a source of funding and as boots on the ground during elections. According to the National Institute on Money in State Politics, in 2010 teachers unions nationwide gave more than $33 million to Democrats and slightly less than $3 million to Republicans.

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Steve Flowers: Inside the Statehouse: Alabama’s budgetary apocalypse

  It is basic public policy that you either have to raise taxes or reduce government services. It has become a cardinal sin in Republican politics to even say the word tax much less enact any increase in revenue. Our legislature is now overwhelmingly Republican and they are real Republicans. They take their no new tax pledge seriously as does our Republican governor. Therefore, when the dicing and crafting of the 2013 budget was being processed, new revenue enhancement measures were not on the table. It is doubtful that you will see any tax increase proposals any time soon in the Heart of Dixie.

  The state’s new budget year begins this week. It will be horrendous. There are draconian cuts to basic state services. Alabama has a constitutional amendment that mandates a balanced budget. We are in dire straits but at least we are not engaged in deficit spending like other states. California is teetering on bankruptcy.

Monday, October 1, 2012

Andy Worthington: Obama releases names of cleared Guantánamo prisoners; now it’s time to set them free

  On September 21, as part of a court case, the Justice Department released the names of 55 of the 86 prisoners cleared for release from Guantánamo in 2009 by Barack Obama’s Guantánamo Review Task Force, which consisted of officials from key government departments and the intelligence agencies. The Task Force’s final report was issued in January 2010.

  Until now, the government has refused to release the names, hindering efforts by the prisoners’ lawyers — and other interested parties — to publicize their plight.

Saturday, September 29, 2012

Gordon T. Belt: Banned Books Week: Defending our freedom to read

  “I cannot live without books.” — Thomas Jefferson.

  Of all Jefferson’s inspiring and thought-provoking quotes, this one is among my favorites. As the First Amendment Center’s librarian, I have a special affinity for books, and as someone academically trained as a historian, I have an appreciation for the Founding Fathers and for the important words they left behind.

  Banned Books Week — Sept. 24 through Oct. 1 — is an annual recognition by librarians and book-minded people that the First Amendment should never be taken for granted. I believe the freedoms embraced by the Founding Fathers in the 45 words of the First Amendment also speak to an implied freedom to read, yet history shows us that the struggle to maintain that freedom has never been easy.

Friday, September 28, 2012

Eric Alterman: The Media and climate science: ADHD or deliberate deception?

  Dr. François Gonon, a neurobiologist at the University of Bordeaux, together with his colleagues recently published an article in The Public Library of Science, taking a foray into media criticism. Using attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder, or ADHD, for his experiment metaphor, Gonon and company searched the databases PubMed and Factiva for articles on ADHD. They found that 47 papers on ADHD received coverage in 347 articles in English-language newspapers during the 1990s. From these, The Economist reports, Gonon’s team picked 10 papers that had enjoyed fully 223 of the news articles.

  What happened next, if you’ll forgive me, turned out to be a case of journalistic ADHD. While 67 later studies examined those selected 10, the second batch received attention in only 57 newspaper articles total, with most of them focusing on only two such studies. Gonon’s conclusion: An “almost complete amnesia in the newspaper coverage of biomedical findings.”

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Gary Palmer: Elections reflect our values

  In just over a month people will be going to the polls to vote for president and for other candidates. The presidential election will primarily center on these issues: economic growth; jobs and unemployment; government debt and spending; and health care and taxes.

  All of these issues are to a certain extent measurable in that we have a sense of how these issues will impact us individually and how they define the overall well-being of the country. But are these the real measures of the health and well-being of America? Does annual economic growth or our unemployment rate, our national debt or the level of government spending or even our tax rates and health care options determine the health and well-being of America?

  The answer is no.

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Mike Walker: Voter suppression – The Real devil in the details!

  Recently I was involved in a conversation on Facebook about voting rights. I had shared a link about Hank Sanders, a Democratic State Senator from Alabama, being denied the right to vote and I commented that this situation was the result of Republican efforts to limit voting by certain minority groups. Senator Sanders represents the city of Selma in the Alabama State Senate and has been a leader in civil and voting rights in this southern state for decades. As it turns out, in the cited case, Senator Sanders was not denied access to a ballot for identity or racial purposes, but was allowed to file a provisional ballot pending the resolution of a dispute regarding his place of residence. A good friend rightly pointed out my error and I apologized. I had failed to do my homework.

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Steve Flowers: Inside the Statehouse: Another amendment is on the way

  There will be an amendment on the November ballot that will probably be approved by Alabama voters. The amendment will reduce legislative compensation. This proposition may garner more votes than Romney does against Obama.

  Most voters disapprove of the very controversial 61% pay raise the legislature gave itself in 2007. That legislative vote, which occurred during the opening session of 2007 and increased legislative compensation from $36,660 annually to $53,338, has been a festering issue for over five years. The sustained outrage is extremely unusual. In past years, an egregious legislative act has been passed early in the quadrennium and late into the night usually on a voice vote.

Monday, September 24, 2012

Michael Josephson: Kids like to win; adults need to win

  Whether you’re a sports fan or not, you have to acknowledge the powerful cultural influence that sports have on our culture. The values of millions of participants and spectators are shaped by the values conveyed in sports, including our views of what is permissible and proper in the competitive pursuit of personal goals.

Saturday, September 22, 2012

Sheldon Richman: Romney, taxes, and dependence on government

  Mitt Romney isn’t just out of touch; he’s also out of sync with the movement to shrink government. In an interview clarifying his now-infamous speech to donors, captured on clandestine video, Romney said, “I think people would like to be paying taxes.”

  Come again? He also said, “The good news is if you are doing well enough financially that you can pay a tax.”

  That’s good news?

Friday, September 21, 2012

Ken Paulson: When police kill, public has right to information

  There’s often tension between government and the press about access to public information. Typically, the news media strive to use public-records laws to obtain information about government expenditures and decision-making.

  What’s on the mayor’s city-issued credit card? Does that ambitious new developer have business ties to members of the city council? Will plans for this development have a potential impact on the environment?

  Getting answers to questions like those are almost always in the public interest, but scrutinizing the actions of government is never more important than when a member of the public is killed.

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Gary Palmer: The Other message of the September 18 amendment vote

  The voters of Alabama have spoken and decided to give Alabama’s elected officials more time to sort out the reforms needed to put Alabama’s fiscal house in order. The message from the proponents of the September 18 constitutional amendment was this: taking $437.4 million ($145.8 million per year for three years) out of the ATF and cutting by more than half the oil and gas royalties that flow into the ATF was the only way to avoid certain calamity in the state of Alabama. By outspending opponents of the amendment by a factor of ten, that message was heard loud and clear.

  But that was not the only message from this vote. The way some key Republican leaders in the Alabama Legislature are interpreting the vote, the people of Alabama didn’t just vote to give the legislature more money to avert a budget crisis, they voted to give the legislature an opportunity to make sensible budget reforms instead of forcing across-the-board cuts had the amendment failed.

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Mike Walker: The Real story behind Romney’s 47%

Let Them Eat Cake

  “There are 47% of the people who will vote for the President, no matter what. Alright, there are 47% who are with him, who depend on government, who believe that they are victims, who believe government has the responsibility to care for them, who believe they are entitled to healthcare, to food, to housing.”

  - Mitt Romney caught on an open mike in September 2012

  You have got to be kidding me! Goddamn this pompous, arrogant asshole and the silver spoon he rode in on. He’s the guy who was born on third base and thinks he hit a triple. Do you want to know the REAL issue in this country with the 47% worthless, miserable, human beings who Romney wants to scrape off the soles of his $1500 shoes? Here it is in a nutshell.

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Steve Flowers: Inside the Statehouse: Girl power!

  Since my column appears in most of Alabama’s small to midsize local newspapers, as might be expected, a good many of you liked my column of two weeks ago entitled, “Small Town Boys Succeed.”

  Amazingly, almost all of America’s presidents and practically all of Alabama’s governors of the past century have hailed from small town America or small town Alabama. My assumption and prediction is that when I am dead and gone and someone analyzes the same subject a hundred years from now it will read, “Girls who grew up in small cities succeed.”

Monday, September 17, 2012

Mike Walker: Why do they hate America? Another of George W. Bush’s big lies.

The Dark Ages in America

  “Americans are asking, ‘Why do they hate us?’ They hate what they see right here in this chamber: a democratically elected government. Their leaders are self-appointed. They hate our freedoms: our freedom of religion, our freedom of speech, our freedom to vote and assemble and disagree with each other.”
  George W. Bush – Joint address to Congress

  September 20, 2001

  They DO seem to hate us, don’t they?  Those Muslims, those “A-rabs”, those guys in turbans?  Muslims attacked us on 9/11, in November of 2009, a Muslim attacked us at Fort Hood, TX, and now Muslim mobs are attacking our embassies in the Arab world, recently killing the Ambassador to Libya and several other US State Department employees. Those are the main ones, but yes, there have been other significant attacks against us led by Islamic terrorists. George W. Bush stated clearly and unequivocally in 2001 that they hate us for our freedoms! Really?

Sunday, September 16, 2012

Ian M. MacIsaac: A National tragedy made partisan

  A national tragedy at the United States Consulate in Benghazi, Libya became a partisan spectacle Wednesday. Lacking a clear foreign policy difference with President Obama, Mitt Romney decided that exploiting the deaths of State Department officials was a safer bet than being seen standing with the president on anything.

  Before all the dead in Benghazi had even been accounted for, as the consulate there literally continued to burn and protestors continued to climb the gates of the embassy in Cairo, Egypt, the Romney campaign was already sending out press releases calling President Obama "disgraceful" and criticizing the president for apologizing for America and leading from behind.

Saturday, September 15, 2012

Gene Policinski: Honoring the documents that keep us free

  Constitution Day has become an annual fixture each Sept. 17 in the nation’s schools since it was mandated by Congress in 2004 — and 2012 may well be the best year yet for understanding its history and appreciating its meaning.

  A few days ago, the nation took notice of the 11th anniversary of the 9/11 terror attacks in New York and Washington, D.C., and the thwarted attack that ended in a Pennsylvania field. Make no mistake, the terrorists’ ultimate target was more than our national buildings and monuments, more than the thousands of innocents who died — it was our nation’s way of life, its economic system as well as its laws and freedoms.

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Our Stand: The only option

  Alabama voters are being presented with a choice to be voted upon September 18, but an honest assessment of the amendment which would transfer nearly half a billion dollars from a state trust fund to shore up the state’s operating budget reveals there is only one viable option. It’s a do-or-die scenario.

  Lawmakers want to borrow $437 million from the Alabama Trust Fund – a savings account resting on royalties from the state’s oil and gas reserves – to temporarily bandage a gaping wound in the General Fund, the state’s main operating budget. The Alabama Legislature failed to solve the issue – one that stems all the way back to Bob Riley’s tenure as governor – so voters will be forced to approve the measure or trust that the legislature can go back into session and pass a viable alternative before the clock runs out October 1, the beginning of the new fiscal year.

  Though many voters are justifiably concerned about shifting these dollars around, they should be more worried about how the legislature would respond if we fail to approve the measure. The problem has lingered for years, and during the last regular session, our lawmakers failed to act again. Why trust them now, especially when they’ll only have 12 days to remedy the problem should the referendum fail?

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Steve Flowers: Inside The Statehouse: How we got here

  A good many of you have asked me to weigh in on the oil and gas money diversion referendum next Tuesday. As most of you know, I do not endorse or disavow issues or candidates. My purpose is to inform and entertain you as to the goings on in the world of Alabama politics. Therefore, allow me to explain this situation and the impending referendum offered by the legislature.

  There was a television series that enthralled me several decades ago called “Rich Man, Poor Man.” It was a series about two brothers. One did well, the other faired poorly. Our state budgets are similar. We have one budget, the Education Budget, which receives 70% of all tax revenues. It is the rich man. The General Fund garners 30% of the revenues. It is the poor man.

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Ken Sofer: Remembering 9/11

  America pauses today to remember the innocent men and women who lost their lives in the World Trade Center, the Pentagon, and a field in central Pennsylvania 11 years ago. Our citizens honor the police officers, firefighters, and EMTs who entered burning buildings and dangerous conditions that day, many losing their lives in the process of saving others. We remember them even as their families mourn their loss.

Monday, September 10, 2012

Tim Kelly: The GOP’s gold plank

  The 2012 Republican Party platform contains a plank concerning a possible return to the gold or other metallic standard. The US dollar has been a fiat currency since President Richard Nixon suspended its convertibility to gold on August 15, 1971.

  The plank reads,

       Determined to crush the double-digit inflation that was part of the Carter Administration’s economic legacy, President Reagan, shortly after his inauguration, established a commission to consider the feasibility of a metallic basis for U.S. currency. The commission advised against such a move. Now, three decades later, as we face the task of cleaning up the wreckage of the current Administration’s policies, we propose a similar commission to investigate possible ways to set a fixed value for the dollar.

Saturday, September 8, 2012

Ken Paulson: Online anonymity no sure thing in libel cases

  Those who anonymously damage the reputations of others on the Internet may have a rude awakening. They’re not as anonymous as they believe. We’ve seen a number of cases in recent months in which judges have upheld subpoenas that give libel-suit plaintiffs the identities of those who have been posting ugly things about them:

-In July, a federal district judge in Idaho ruled that the Spokesman Review in Spokane, Wash., would have to turn over the name of an anonymous commenter who speculated that $10,000 apparently missing from a political committee might be stuffed inside the chairwoman’s blouse.

Friday, September 7, 2012

Dr. John Hill: Is relatively small federal funding controlling Alabama education?

  When Alabama’s State Board of Education voted 7-2 to adopt Common Core State Standards two years ago, it joined 45 states and three U.S. territories. The Common Core, created by the National Governors Association’s Center for Best Practices and the Council of Chief State School Officers, standardized education curricula among the states with the aim of better preparing students for college and the modern workforce.

  One year later, the Board reconvened to consider rescinding its earlier decision. Even though Gov. Robert Bentley joined the opposition on the grounds that he believed the standards were tantamount to a federal takeover of public education, the Board voted 6-3 to follow the Common Core.

Thursday, September 6, 2012

Sam Fulwood III: Obama at the DNC: How different is America from what he hoped for in 2004?

  Almost immediately after then-Illinois State Sen. Barack Obama stepped away from the podium at Boston’s Fleet Center during the 2004 Democratic National Convention, the pundits predicted his brilliant keynote speech would catapult him into a successful run for president of the United States.

  As it turned out, they were prescient. Now, eight years later, President Obama returns to the podium tonight to deliver yet another speech at the Democratic National Convention. In the intervening eight years, the nation is so much different and, in many ways, not so changed at all.

  This is a story about then and now. It begins with boundless optimism, born of the rosy afterglow following Obama’s 2004 speech that some wanted to believe heralded a post-racial period in American history. Of course, that’s not how the story has unfolded. Indeed, since that speech, nothing about Obama’s time on the national stage has suggested a narrowing of racial concerns in the nation.