Thursday, January 31, 2013

Elizabeth Robinson: Public school choice: A personal story

  Alabama is a beautiful state with many attractions, both in its natural beauty and in the slower pace of living our hospitable people prefer.

  While our drawls and small towns are a quaint reminder of our heritage, the refusal of state policymakers to implement the educational reforms necessary to make our schools more successful and our children more prepared for life after their formal education are definite black marks on our state’s reputation.

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Ian M. MacIsaac: Speculatron 2016: Hillary Clinton, Joe Biden, and the silent primary from hell

  If the Democratic Party nominates Hillary Clinton for president in 2016, they will win. If they nominate Joe Biden, they will lose. Which way will they go?

  From the beginning of the 2016 “silent primary” of fundraisers, buzz, and public opinion, the vast majority of figurative money has been on Secretary Clinton over Vice President Biden. Despite repeated denials of interest in a second presidential run, she has long seemed the most obvious pick, considering how close she came to being the nominee in 2008.

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Steve Flowers: Inside the Statehouse: Down to the last pennies

  The state is now two months into the 2013 fiscal year. This is the year that all financial experts pointed to as the year of reckoning. It was postponed for three years because of the Obama administration’s federal deficit spending stimulus spree. This manna from heaven rained down on all of the states and allowed them to temporarily postpone the pain and suffering caused by the national recession, which has raged now for close to a decade.

Monday, January 28, 2013

Ilya Shambat: The Cheapness of Hitler comparisons

  Hitler comparisons are a dime a dozen, and the more they are used the more the actual wrongdoings of Hitler are cheapened. There are people comparing Obama to Hitler. There are people all over the Internet who are always ready with a Hitler comparison. The more this goes on, the more the memory of the Holocaust is insulted. And the more the real wrongs done in WWII become trivialized.

Saturday, January 26, 2013

Cameron Smith: Alabama Supreme Court undermines property rights

  At the end of 2012, while Alabama families were focused on the holidays, the Alabama Supreme Court issued an opinion that undermined private property rights in Alabama and created a significant deterrent to economic investment in the state.

  In 2003 and 2004, M&N Materials, Inc. purchased property in an unincorporated area of Madison County with the intention of operating a quarry. Because the M&N property was adjacent to but outside of the corporate limits of the town of Gurley, residents who opposed the quarry could not stop M&N from using their private property in a manner consistent with their business.

Friday, January 25, 2013

Gene Policinski: Freezing websites is not a legitimate form of protest

  The Web-based protest group Anonymous is asking the White House to consider endorsing a kind of website attack as protected by the First Amendment.

  The group claims the cyberattack tactic – which effectively freezes targeted Web pages for a time – should be protected as a new-age form of assembly and protest.

  “Instead of a group of people standing outside a building to occupy the area, they are having their computer occupy a website to slow (or deny) service of that particular website for a short time,” says a line in the posted petition on the White House site, “We the People.”

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Eric Alterman: The ‘Virtually Voiceless’

   When literary critic Lionel Trilling wrote in 1950 that liberalism was “not only the dominant but even the sole intellectual tradition” in the United States, he meant it as a lament. He noted that while some conservative opposition to liberal thought did exist, its proponents remained inarticulate and could “express themselves” only through “irritable mental gestures.” He also wrote of the fear that liberalism would grow flat and flaccid without a worthy intellectual sparring partner to keep it fresh.

  Liberals today face an even graver situation, as conservatism threatens to run off the rails of reality entirely, and liberalism is thus once again in danger of having no real intellectual opposition to force internal questioning or truth seeking about what works and what does not in the present political era.

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Edwin J. Feulner: Coveting the golden goose

  Are tax hikes on the way? Some federal lawmakers hope so. “It’s a great opportunity to get us some more revenue,” Sen. Charles E. Schumer, New York Democrat, recently said of the upcoming debate over the federal budget.

  You know what that means: calls to raise taxes on the rich. Lawmakers can’t seem to refrain from eyeing the golden goose.

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Steve Flowers: Inside the Statehouse: The ballad of Terry Dunn

  A cornucopia of significant political events occurred during the closing month of the year that may very well have slipped under the radar screen. That is not unusual given the fact that one of the most significant occurrences of 2012 was the demise of the daily newspapers in Birmingham, Mobile and Huntsville. The state’s three former largest newspapers in the state’s three largest cities have basically gone out of business and only print a paper three days a week with stale news. The state lost some of its best journalists along with the ability to gather and report investigative inquiries into the machinations of state politics.

Monday, January 21, 2013

Joseph O. Patton: Not on our parade

  The trolls apparently set their alarms early for today. Before the crowds began to assemble in Washington, D.C., social media websites were already littered with hate-fueled, divisive and often race baiting tinged venom. It’s nothing new – such behavior had become common before Barack Obama even took office in 2009.

  The president has been cast as a Muslim, a communist, a socialist, a Marxist… and countless other misguided, typically misapplied terms by those who have no grasp of what any of those words mean. He has been the target of a record number of assassination threats, conspiracy theories… and of course biased, falsehood-driven attacks from tin foil hat-wielding hacks posing as reporters as well as the usual suspects at Fox News.

Carl Chancellor: Martin Unchained: Radical reformer, nonviolent militant

  It’s that time of year again, the third Monday of January, when we come together as a nation to commemorate the life and legacy of Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. with church services, elementary school skits, and civic club speeches—much of it seemingly rote tribute.

  Every MLK Day we trot out the same old platitudes, mouth the same old sentiments, and repeat the same old stories. We go through the motions of honoring not so much the man but the myth he has become. We’ve recast King, making him fit into a reshaped American narrative—one that airbrushes an ugly and vicious not-so-distant past into a less than “enlightened” time in history.

Sunday, January 20, 2013

Jacob G. Hornberger: Germany’s repatriation of gold

  Germany has announced that it’s going to repatriate 374 metric tons of its gold that it has stored with the Federal Reserve in New York City. While Germany claims that it will continue leave 1200 tons of gold in the United States, this might actually be the start of a full removal of its gold and its return to Germany. In fact, Germany also announced a full repatriation of all 374 metric tons of its gold from France.

  Why would Germany do that? It says that the reason is so that it can have plenty of gold reserves available at home in the event of a monetary crisis. The gold would enable Germany to purchase foreign currencies or, actually, most anything else, in the event of a crisis, reflecting, once again, that gold is real money.

Saturday, January 19, 2013

Scott Lilly: House Republicans still haven’t learned lessons from their 1995 government shutdown

  House Republicans have been contemplating their next move in the fiscal showdown this week as they huddle during their annual retreat in Williamsburg, Virginia. There is a real sense of Armageddon in the air. President Obama took them on directly with respect to the central issue on their agenda, preserving low tax rates for high income individuals, and won—not by a little but by a lot.

Thursday, January 17, 2013

Gary Palmer: Don’t look to Washington, look to the states

  In the immediate aftermath of the 2012 elections, many people concluded that the conservative movement was all but lost. But who would have thought that only five weeks after the election, conservatives would be celebrating a landmark victory?

  Following the re-election of President Barack Obama and the Republican embarrassment in the U.S. Senate races no one would have believed that any state would be able to muster support for passage of right-to-work legislation in any state. Yet on December 11th, in spite of fierce opposition from Michigan labor unions, the Michigan State Legislature passed legislation that Gov. Rick Snyder signed making Michigan the 24th right-to-work state.

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Charles C. Haynes: In 2013, escalating battles over claims of conscience

   Let’s start the New Year with a conundrum as old as the Republic:

  When religious convictions clash with secular laws, how far should government go to accommodate religious claims of conscience?

  From Colonial conflicts over the refusal of Quakers to take up arms to the more recent refusal of Jehovah’s Witnesses to salute the flag, American history is replete with robust arguments over the limits of “free exercise of religion” as guaranteed by the First Amendment.

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Steve Flowers: Inside the Statehouse: Bingo!

  The year 2012 did not come to an end with a whimper when it comes to newsworthy happenings. A number of significant events occurred in December.

  VictoryLand, the State’s premier privately owned casino, reopened quietly on a Tuesday afternoon with very little fanfare. However, it appears that publicity and advertising are not necessary to attract patrons to the glamorous facility located along interstate I-85 in Macon County. Public officials and the local citizenry have been waiting for the reopening of their largest employer and economic engine for over two years.

Monday, January 14, 2013

Eric Alterman: More Tea Party fiction

  The number of Americans who call themselves members of the Tea Party is down to just eight percent, according to a recent Rasmussen poll. This is just one-third of the number of Americans who claimed membership in April 2010, shortly after the passage of the Affordable Care Act. Twenty-four percent was never a very high number, particularly given the breathless press coverage the movement inspired. This is, after all, a country where the majority rules. But the decline to 8 percent—a far smaller percentage of Americans than even those who claim to believe in UFOs—is entirely predictable in hindsight, considering just how much nonsense one had to believe in order to take seriously the absurdities that Tea Party leaders spouted. The movement’s leaders spewed so many simultaneous falsehoods and contradictions that it was a full-time job merely to try and track them.

Saturday, January 12, 2013

Cameron Smith: The Constitutional collision between the First and Second Amendments

  Since the tragedy of the Newtown shootings, politicians and pundits have argued tirelessly that either the Second Amendment is inviolable or gun ownership should be further restricted to "legitimate" functions and limited inventories.

  But the issue is about far more than guns. Our country is beginning to witness a head-on collision between the exercise of the First and Second Amendments.

Friday, January 11, 2013

Philip E. Wolgin: Top 5 reasons why citizenship matters

  As the Obama administration and Congress gear up to fix our nation’s deeply flawed immigration system, the fight over immigration reform will revolve not simply around the question of what to do with the 11 million undocumented immigrants living in the country, but how to resolve their status.

  Over the past few months, a number of prominent senators such as Marco Rubio (R-FL), Jon Kyl (R-AZ), and Kay Bailey Hutchinson (R-TX) have floated the idea of offering permanent legal status for unauthorized immigrants living in the country with no direct path to citizenship as a “compromise” solution instead of full comprehensive immigration reform. By creating a permanent underclass with little chance of full integration into the nation, these proposals have rightly received strong backlash from advocacy groups such as United We Dream, elected officials such as San Antonio Mayor Julián Castro, and the Congressional Hispanic Caucus.

Thursday, January 10, 2013

Jacob G. Hornberger: Minimum-wage folly

  One of the most interesting, albeit frustrating, aspects of being a libertarian is having to repeatedly show the fallacies behind statist thinking. No matter how many times we libertarians destroy statist reasoning behind statist policies, the statists just keep coming back and proposing the same fallacious and destructive policies.

  Perhaps the best example of this phenomenon involves the minimum wage, which involves a government-mandated minimum amount that employers are required by law to pay their hourly workers. Of all the policies that characterize the statist philosophy, this one is quite possibly the most ludicrous of them all.

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Steve Flowers: Inside the Statehouse: Barking at the Obama Care moon

  During the 2012 elections, Republicans denounced the President’s Affordable Care Act as pure socialism. They proclaimed that they were going to repeal it if President Obama was defeated at the polls.

  However, it would not have been as simple as that. Not only would President Obama have needed to lose, Republicans would have had to pull off a double coup by also taking control of the U.S. Senate. The GOP lost on both efforts. In fact, they lost seats in the Senate. Therefore, whether you like it or not, the Affordable Care Act, infamously known as Obama Care, will proceed as the law of the land.

Monday, January 7, 2013

Gene Policinski: We need to see the Gitmo proceedings

  As things now stand, Americans will not be able to see TV coverage of upcoming 9/11-related trials from Guantanamo Bay.

  The situation is regrettable — but easily remedied.

  A military judge last week said he had no authority to override an earlier decision by the Department of Defense that denied requests by the defense attorneys for the accused and by and news-related groups to televise the trials. In late November, the Pentagon said it would provide ample transparency for the proceedings through news coverage, a remote viewing site at Fort Meade, Md., and a website that posts transcripts of the pre-trial proceedings within 24 hours of hearings.

Saturday, January 5, 2013

Jacob G. Hornberger: Guns and tyranny

  There are three important things to remember about the Second Amendment. First, it doesn’t give people the right to own guns. Second, it is an implicit acknowledgement that the U.S. government is the biggest threat to the freedom and well-being of the American people. Third, the rationale for enacting the Second Amendment was to ensure that the American citizenry retained the means to violently resist tyranny by the federal government.

Friday, January 4, 2013

Gene Policinski: What’s at stake in publishing public records such as gun permits

  Plenty of folks went a’ gunning verbally for the editors of the New York state newspaper that last month published the names and addresses of local pistol-permit holders.

  The nationwide flap over the special report has caused a deluge of negative e-mails, delivery of least one packet of suspicious powder and — in what many gleefully noted — led the newspaper to position armed security guards at its headquarters building.

Thursday, January 3, 2013

Joseph O. Patton: Martha Roby bakes a cake

  I have never expected much from Alabama’s Congressional delegation – no soaring oratory, no landmark legislation. I just assume they’ll trumpet the usual talking points about Jesus and guns, gay folks and Muslims, and to a lesser extent poor folks and anyone whose skin color dares to differ from their own. And of course women, especially single women, whose uteruses have become quite popular with today’s Republican Party.

  I’m not too shaken when one of them utters something painfully embarrassing which casts the entire state in a bad light… As a native of the Deep South I’m not flabbergasted by ignorant utterances or people speaking in racist tongues even as they cower behind a Bible. It’s as common as kudzu and adultery facilitated by the bed of a pickup truck.

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

Cameron Smith: GOP support for fiscal cliff tax bill: Tactical or terrible?

  Over the last few years, Washington politicians created a “crisis” where a combination of tax hikes, spending cuts, and reaching the federal debt limit stood to send a hobbled American economy back into a recession.

  Instead of comprehensively dealing with the problems in a timely fashion, legislators waited until mere weeks before beginning serious negotiations to avoid falling off the “fiscal cliff.”

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

Steve Flowers: Inside the Statehouse: Going against the national flow

  As we begin the New Year, let us take one last look back at the 2012 presidential year in Alabama politics.

  Our forefathers must have been clairvoyant to see that we in the Heart of Dixie would be more interested in state and local politics than presidential contests. Unlike many states, who elect most of their officials in presidential years, we in Alabama are just the opposite. There were very few state races on the ballot in 2012. Only five seats on the Alabama Supreme Court were up for election and only one of those was contested.