Friday, May 31, 2013

Our Stand: Boy Scout bashing pastors deserve rebuke

  The Boy Scouts of America’s decision to rescind its ban on “openly gay” Scouts predictably stoked a mean-spirited and divisive response, notably from misguided types who mistakenly think the Bible should be used as a tool of oppression. We did not, however, expect such venom from ordained heads of churches.

  Greg Walker, pastor of First Baptist Church in Helena, Ala. told the Associated Press this week that he could not allow a group that “openly supports a sinful lifestyle” to meet in the church he leads.

Thursday, May 30, 2013

Sheldon Richman: Obama’s willful foreign-policy blindness

  Republicans are upset about President Obama’s May 23 foreign-policy address, yet politics aside, it’s hard to say why. “We show this lack of resolve, talking about the war being over,” Senator Lindsey Graham (R-SC) told Fox News Sunday.

  But four days later in his Memorial Day remarks, Obama said, “Our nation is still at war.”

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Sally Steenland: Sequestration hurts all of us, not just our most vulnerable

  It’s Day 90 of sequestration—the across-the-board spending cuts that went into effect March 1, which the Obama administration predicted would be devastating and conservatives insisted wouldn’t be so bad. Three months in, it’s worth asking how harmful the phased-in cuts have been—although that depends on whom you ask.

  When sequestration cuts furloughed air-traffic controllers in April, airline travelers rose up in fury. Congress responded with a quick legislative fix that “unfurloughed” the controllers and returned flight delays to annoying, rather than infuriating, levels.

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Steve Flowers: Inside the Statehouse: The next generation

  Historically, the Alabama Legislature has not been a good stepping stone to governor. In fact, Robert Bentley is the only person in modern Alabama political history to go directly from the legislature to the governor’s office.

  However, the legislature is an excellent training ground for being governor. You learn how state government works and how to craft a budget. Regardless, it has been a difficult route from which to launch a statewide political career. Probably because it does not lend itself to garnering statewide name identification, yet you become saddled with a lengthy and detailed voting record on numerous controversial issues.  However, with Bentley’s breaking of the ice, you may see a reversal of this trend.

Monday, May 27, 2013

Michael Josephson: Memorial Day, a day of remembrance

  It’s not just an excuse for a three-day weekend or a day for barbeque and beer.

  Memorial Day is a time for Americans to connect with our national history and core values by honoring those who gave their lives fighting for this country.

  It’s said that this special day to salute fallen Americans was born during the Civil War in Mississippi when a group of grieving mothers and wives who were placing flowers on graves in a Confederate cemetery noticed a neglected graveyard for Union soldiers.

Saturday, May 25, 2013

Gary Palmer: Cap-and-trade by other means

  The Alabama Public Service Commission recently held a public hearing concerning Alabama Power Company rates. But the hearing was really about an effort initiated by environmental groups determined to impose cap-and-trade type regulations on Alabama Power.

  For the first time in my memory, the PSC was brought into a debate that is really outside their scope of responsibilities. Other than setting rates, they have no regulatory authority.

Friday, May 24, 2013

Joseph O. Patton: No merit badge for bigotry

  I could spin all sorts of cheerleader-esque rhetoric in response to yesterday’s monumental decision by the Boy Scouts of America. After months of controversy, infighting and ample wallowing in prejudiced mud, the organization opted to lift its ban on “openly gay” Scouts. One side calls the decision a victory for equal rights and the other is upset that they can no longer practice unapologetic discrimination.

  But what struck me with the most force in this squabble has been the incessant referencing of “morality.” Countless individuals waving the banner for bigotry have taken to social media and shouting at their friends to exclaim that they cannot support lifting the ban because it’s at odds with their “morality.” Many are even threatening to sever ties with the organization and snatch their boys out of its ranks. Good riddance?

Thursday, May 23, 2013

Eric Alterman: Remembering the ‘Feminine Mystique’

  The Center for American Progress is hosting a forum today to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the publication of Betty Friedan’s The Feminine Mystique. The forum participants include CAP President Neera Tanden, current New York Times pundit Gail Collins, former New York Times pundit Anna Quindlen, and CAP Senior Fellow Judith Warner. As the event description notes, when The Feminine Mystique was originally published in 1963, “[m]arried women in some states couldn’t sit on juries, get a job without their husband’s permission, or keep control of their property and earnings.”

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Steve Flowers: Inside the Statehouse: Behind the House curtain

  With the third regular legislative session of the quadrennium in the books, let us look at the makeup of the new super Republican majority.

  As we have often said, this legislative body may not be deliberative but they are very conservative. These folks are not Republicans in name only.  They are real Republicans.

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Joseph O. Patton: Governor Bentley: Fence jockey

Knoxville, Tenn. – October 18, 1986

  It was my first foray into the frenzy of college football. Neyland Stadium is fairly overwhelming, especially for a child. Wrapped up in the excitement of the game day atmosphere only SEC rivalry games can provide, I was nonetheless stuck between a crimson rock and a big orange hard place. Third Saturday of October - if you don’t know what it really means, you clearly ain’t from around here.

Monday, May 20, 2013

Charles C. Haynes: Graduation prayer, fighting over a lost cause

  School officials in Lake City, Arkansas have come up with a novel solution to the fight over prayer at graduation:

  No prayer, no graduation.

  On May 6, the school board voted to cancel sixth-grade graduation at Lake City’s two elementary schools. The action came soon after the district received a complaint letter from the Freedom From Religion Foundation (FFRF) objecting to prayers at previous graduations.

Sunday, May 19, 2013

Cameron Smith: For Obama the buck stops "There, there"

  When the Great and Powerful Wizard of Oz is confronted for breaking his promises and found to be a mere mortal, he utters one of the most memorable lines in cinema history: "Pay no attention to that man behind the curtain!"

  With the numerous "scandals" facing the Obama administration, Americans have little doubt that we, like Dorothy and Toto, are certainly no longer in Kansas. The State Department's response to the Benghazi attacks, the IRS's targeting of conservative groups, and the Department of Justice spying on Associated Press reporters have piled up at the front door of the White House.

Friday, May 17, 2013

Ilya Shambat: The Constitutional Pharisees

There have been many Republican and Libertarian politicians claiming that the Democrats have been violating American Constitution. Because so many people are saying this, this claim must be answered.

  As any student of Christianity knows, far more important than obeying the letter of the Bible is obeying its spirit. The people who obeyed the letter and not the spirit were known as Pharisees. These people followed the Biblical law, but they did it for wrong reasons. They did it for social climbing and holier-than-thou one-upmanship and not for the love of God.

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

The Real scandal in Libya: A security vacuum and new terrorist threats

  President Barack Obama’s political opponents are trying once again to manufacture a scandal out of the tragic deaths of four American government personnel at a U.S. facility in Benghazi, Libya, last September. Among those killed was the U.S. ambassador to Libya, Christopher Stevens. The current political and media feeding frenzy surrounding the Benghazi attacks is no more than a parsing of interagency debates on post-attack talking points, and it is based on what former Secretary of Defense Robert Gates called “cartoonish” views of U.S. military capabilities.

Edwin J. Feulner: The Recurring debt-limit drama

  Get ready for a little deja vu from Washington. The federal government is about to hit the debt ceiling, now set at a whopping $16.8 trillion. Yes, again. It’s like the Bill Murray movie “Groundhog Day” — only this time, unfortunately, no one is laughing.

  Time and again, Congress bumps up against the debt ceiling amid talk of finally getting spending under control. Time and again, they raise the ceiling, but only after a sufficient dose of political theater. How’s this for a punch line: The gross debt breaks down to more than $140,000 per American household. Still not laughing?

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Steve Flowers: Inside the Statehouse: Behind the Senate curtain

  We are at the end of the third regular legislative session of this quadrennium. They are closing in on the culmination of their four-year terms.

  This is the first Republican majority legislature in modern Alabama history. The Republicans not only have a majority, they sport a super majority. That means that the remaining Democratic minority is incapable of stopping or even slowing down any GOP initiatives or budgets in either the House or Senate. Republicans own a commanding 66 to 39 advantage in the House. They have an even more lordly control of the House of Lords. They have an omnipotent 24 to 11 ownership of the Senate.

Monday, May 13, 2013

Michael Josephson: A Call for more civility

  When George Washington was 16, he discovered a booklet of 110 maxims describing how a well-mannered person should behave. He was so convinced that these maxims would help him become a better person that he set out to incorporate them into his daily living. Among Washington’s many virtues, his commitment to civility marked him as a gentleman and helped him become a universally respected and enormously effective leader.

Sunday, May 12, 2013

Are you connected?

  Fresh photos from today's Harriott II cruise on our Facebook page! Don't forget to 'like' us: We like to get our tweet on, too:  Happy Mother's Day!

Saturday, May 11, 2013

9 Reasons why progress on stronger gun laws is within reach

  In the weeks that followed the tragic shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut, this past December, advocates for stronger gun laws focused their efforts on a proposal to require background checks for most gun sales between unlicensed buyers and sellers to prevent criminals and other dangerous people from easily buying guns with no questions asked. Three weeks ago, however, the Senate came six votes short of the 60 votes required to advance this legislation, known as the Manchin-Toomey amendment, that would have expanded gun background checks to all gun shows, online purchases, and advertised sales.

Friday, May 10, 2013

Gene Policinski: Watergate Era: ‘A’ peak in journalism

  Forty years ago this week, The Washington Post – and its self-described “young and hard-digging reporters, Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein” – took home a Pulitzer Prize for public service for coverage of the Watergate scandal.

  Other winners in journalism that year included the Chicago Tribune, The New York Times and Knight Newspapers, and entries from several local newspapers  –all part of what we today would call “mainstream media.”

Thursday, May 9, 2013

Steven Horwitz: The Problem with political heroes and villains

  It’s sometimes hard to tell the coverage of politics from the coverage of sports. People seem to root for political parties as though they were sports teams, cheering Team Red or Team Blue on to victory with the same passion they bring to the Super Bowl. Individual team members are followed with the same intensity as are star players in basketball or football.

  Similarly, the guys on your team are always the heroes, and the guys on the other team are the villains. Political discourse in America today is filled with this sort of rhetoric, with one group saying the other group is a bunch of racist troglodytes who hate poor people, and the other group saying the first group is a bunch of crypto-Communists out to destroy America. Both sides yell and scream about how bad the people on the other team are, and there is little serious talk about the real issues facing Americans today.

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Sam Fulwood III: When the facts no longer matter, democracy is at stake

  In what might be called something of a policy-political family squabble, the Heritage Foundation crossed signals with fellow conservatives by releasing Monday a controversial, cost-benefit study related to comprehensive immigration reform. I wish this was a joking matter, but it’s a gravely serious concern.

  The newsy tidbit in the conservative think tank’s document isn’t the erroneous attempt to attach a $6.3 trillion price tag to legislation under consideration to allow a path to citizenship for some 11 million undocumented immigrants. Numerous reviewers, including an excellent takedown by The Washington Post’s editorial board, attacked that miscalculation and set the record straight.

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Steve Flowers: Inside the Statehouse: Is the Democratic Party dead in Alabama?

  On the night of the November 2010 elections I was in my regular post as the political analyst for the Montgomery CBS affiliate WAKA Channel 8. Around midnight as it became evident that the Democratic ticket had been annihilated my cohort, longtime anchor Glenn Halbrooks, looked over at me pensively and asked, “What do you think the Democratic Party does now?”  I candidly responded, “They can turn out the lights and leave the keys on the mantle. The Democratic Party is dead in Alabama.” My off the cuff response was not intended to be flippant or humorous but I had just witnessed the devastating denunciation of the Democratic Party in the Heart of Dixie.

Saturday, May 4, 2013

Charles C. Haynes: When students protest abortion, can schools draw the line?

  Students with deep religious convictions are fast turning public schools into the newest battleground over abortion – much to the dismay of beleaguered school officials.

  The most recent controversy involves Annie Zinos, a sixth grade student in Minnesota, who was prohibited by her school from sharing pro-life literature with her classmates. Last week, Annie and her family filed suit against school officials for violating her First Amendment rights.

Friday, May 3, 2013

Sally Steenland: The Ever-evolving institution of marriage

  The connection between marriage equality and cell phones is not immediately apparent, but Justice Samuel Alito made the link during a Supreme Court argument on California’s Proposition 8 in March.

  As Justice Alito said to Solicitor General of the United States Donald Verrilli:

       Traditional marriage has been around for thousands of years. Same-sex marriage is very new. There isn’t a lot of data about its effect. And it may turn out to be a good thing; it may turn out not to be a good thing, as the supporters of Proposition 8 apparently believe. But you want us to step in and render a decision based on an assessment of the effects of this institution which is newer than cell phones or the Internet?

Thursday, May 2, 2013

Ken Paulson: Ten Commandments controversy revisited

  It’s been almost 10 years since the Rutherford County, Tennessee, lost a very expensive lawsuit over the posting of the Ten Commandments in the county courthouse.

  The American Civil Liberties Union sued the commission, contending that the posting was an unconstitutional promotion of religion. U.S. Judge Robert Echols agreed and ordered the Ten Commandments removed in 2004.  It will “stay down,” County Mayor Ernest Burgess said at the time, calling it “the end of the story.”

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

Sam Fulwood III: Jason Collins’s anticlimactic announcement

  In a widely discussed article posted Monday on the Sports Illustrated website and published in the May 6 edition of the magazine, professional athlete Jason Collins declared, “I’m a 34-year-old NBA center. I’m black. And I’m gay.”

  We interrupt this column for other breaking-news developments: The world did not come to an end yesterday, and the sun rose in the east and set in the west. Also, we’re reliably informed by our sources at the Federal Aviation Administration that all airliners departing from U.S. airports landed safely at their destinations. And, closer to home, Fido bit a mailman on Main Street. Back to you, Sam, for more details on the not-so-shocking story about the gay basketball player.