Monday, September 30, 2013

Sam Fulwood III: Why economic disadvantage becomes educational disadvantage

  "Why are academically gifted students from poor families less likely to attend top-ranked colleges and universities than equally smart kids from wealthy families?"

Saturday, September 28, 2013

Gary Palmer: AARP’s enviro-agenda assaults Alabama’s economy

  Recently the American Association for Retired People (AARP) sent a petition to the Alabama Public Service Commission (PSC) urging the PSC to reconsider their Report and Order issued regarding the Alabama Power Company rate structure.

  On the surface, the issue of the PSC doing a thorough review of the rates charged to customers by Alabama Power seems reasonable and within the scope and expertise of the PSC. But that is not what this is about. It is about pushing an environmental agenda that kills jobs and increases the cost of electricity for all Alabama Power customers.

Friday, September 27, 2013

Charles C. Haynes: When God-talk by kids is protected speech

  If you ask a class of 5th graders to write about someone they "look up to," don’t be shocked when at least one of them decides to write about God.

  That’s exactly what happened in Millington, Tenn., earlier this month when 10-year-old Erin selected God as her idol because, as she explained, "He is the reason I am on this earth."

  A red flag went up for Erin’s teacher, who told the student she couldn’t pick God and directed her to choose someone else.

Thursday, September 26, 2013

Sally Steenland: There’s more than one way to start a revolution

  At a time when religion is a damaged brand to many people—especially the young—and when it seems synonymous with intolerance and bigotry rather than justice and mercy, the recent words of Pope Francis are occasion for joy. Or as Equally Blessed, a Catholic support group for gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender, or LGBT, people put it, his words are "rain on a parched land."

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Charles C. Haynes: By removing Islam display, Kansas school surrenders to ignorance

  Back to school means back to culture wars for Minneha Core Knowledge Elementary School in Wichita, Kansas.

  On the very first day of school, someone snapped a photo of a bulletin-board display in the hallway featuring the Five Pillars of Islam and then posted it on Facebook.

  "This is a school that banned all forms of Christian prayer," said the caption under the photo. "This can not stand."

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Steve Flowers: Inside the Statehouse: The Republican exodus

  During the summer Alabama had a rash of major political figures step down from office in the middle of their elected terms. The first to go was 1st District Congressman Jo Bonner. Beth Chapman also quit her job as Secretary of State as did State Representative Jay Love of Montgomery, who chaired the powerful House Ways and Means Education Budget Committee. Love’s counterpart, Rep. Jim Barton of Mobile, who chaired the House General Fund Committee, quit his House seat. Elmore County Rep. Barry Mask also resigned. All five left in August for personal financial gain.

Monday, September 23, 2013

Jacob G. Hornberger: Free trade or fair trade?

  Statists on the left side of the political spectrum oftentimes attack "free-trade agreements" like NAFTA by claiming that they aren’t "fair-trade agreements." Free trade is fine, they love to say, but only if it’s fair. When they’re not fair, the "free-trade" agreements inevitably impose onerous conditions on workers, conditions that only government can rectify.

  There are at least three big problems, however, with this statist analysis.

Saturday, September 21, 2013

Michael Josephson: The application of religion to our lives

  Most Americans say they’re religious and their beliefs are important to their lives, yet I’m astonished at how many blatantly ignore the moral expectations intrinsic to their religion.

  Religion isn’t about only worship and ritual; it teaches believers how to live. Thus, the holy books of every major religion are filled with precepts and principles about honesty, justice, fidelity, compassion, and charity that leave no doubt about the role ethics and personal virtue should play in our daily lives at home and at work.

Friday, September 20, 2013

Matthew Duss: Finally, Iran reciprocates

  The most significant part of NBC’s interview with Iranian President Hassan Rouhani this week was not his announcement that Iran would never seek to develop nuclear weapons. Iran’s leaders have repeatedly said so. Much more important was Rouhani’s assurance that his administration had the backing of Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei—the key decision maker in Iran’s political system—to resolve the dispute over Iran’s nuclear program. This signals a shift from Khamenei, who has been one of the biggest skeptics of efforts to repair Iran’s relations with the international community and with the United States in particular.

Thursday, September 19, 2013

Jennifer A. Marshall: Responding to the call of ‘Duck Dynasty’

  "For the life of me, I can’t figure out why people are so attracted to our family," writes Phil Robertson. And that was before "Duck Dynasty," the Robertson family’s reality show, smashed records for a nonfiction cable program when 11.8 million viewers checked out the season premiere in mid-August.

  Phil, as nearly everyone calls him, is the bearded, 67-year-old progenitor of the backwoods Louisiana clan that made it big selling duck calls and found its way into millions of other American homes through the previous three seasons of "Duck Dynasty."

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Sam Fulwood III: How to fix college sports

  Although ESPN sports writer Jason Whitlock is not a personal favorite, there’s something compelling about his look-at-me writing approach to all things in the sports world. In the same way that motorists feel forced to rubberneck at calamity along the highway, Whitlock drives people to notice his antics, which often result in controversy over the point he’s trying to make. But last week, Whitlock’s showboating actually managed to draw attention to important issues: the corporate exploitation of young black men in sports and an ignorance of the historical importance of black athletes.

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Steve Flowers: Inside the Statehouse: The return of Byrne

  Probably the biggest political story of the year is the resignation of 1st District Congressman Jo Bonner. Congressman Bonner left Congress on August 2nd to accept a newly created position as Chancellor of Governmental Affairs and Development at the University of Alabama.

  Bonner did a stellar job of representing his congressional district, which includes Mobile and Baldwin Counties. He represented the first district for a decade. Prior to that he was the administrative assistant to Congressman Sonny Callahan. Callahan represented the district for 20 years. Jack Edwards was Mobile’s congressman for 20 years before that. The legendary Frank Boykin, "everything is made for love," was the district’s congressman for 30 years prior to Edwards. Therefore, only four men have served in the seat since 1935. That, my friends, is 88 years with only four congressmen.

Sunday, September 15, 2013

Robert Wilkerson: Another day of infamy - September 15, 1963

  My eyes puddled with tears and they began to trickle down my face, faster than I could wipe them away. Soon, they became a solid stream that I could not hide from my children, who saw me crying and came to comfort me. They sat on each side of me on the sofa, put their arms around me, and asked, "Why are you crying, daddy? What’s wrong? What’s the matter?"

  I was crying because I was watching the live television coverage of the aftermath of the bombing of the Sixteenth Street Baptist Church. Firefighters and emergency workers were going through the rubble. Then, it was announced that four little girls, about the same age of my own children, had been killed in the blast.

Saturday, September 14, 2013

Eric Alterman: Rupert makes the news—literally

  Rupert Murdoch is one of the most powerful individuals in the world and inarguably the most powerful in global media. So he can’t help but make news. One day, he’s asking $29.7 million for his yacht, and on another, he’s divorcing his third wife, Wendi Deng. On a third day, he’s inspiring the much-admired British playwright Richard Bean, author of "One Man, Two Guvnors," to write a play on the phone-hacking scandal at his News of the World tabloid for the National Theatre in London. And on a fourth day, he’s the subject of the Melbourne Theatre Company’s recently premiered "Rupert," a new "cabaret-style dramatization" of the mogul’s life by Australian playwright David Williamson.

Friday, September 13, 2013

Katherine Green Robertson: Consider the cons of Alabama’s CON

  On September 6, Area Development magazine named Alabama the fourth best state in the nation for doing business. According to the magazine, states were ranked on factors such as: business environment, labor climate, and infrastructure. Governor Bentley and his economic development team should be proud of this recognition as they continue their quest to bring new businesses to Alabama.

  Texas received the honor of first place. Texas Governor Rick Perry (R) has traveled across the nation promoting his state as the land of a "low-tax environment free of overregulation." With one industry in particular, Governor Perry holds a significant advantage: healthcare.

Thursday, September 12, 2013

Our Stand: Standing in the National Guard’s doorway

  From George Corley Wallace standing in a doorway at the University of Alabama to block the entry of black students to Robert Bentley assuming his position in the doorway of the National Guard to prevent same-sex partners from receiving benefits, sadly the attitudes of our state’s leaders haven’t changed much in the past half century.

  Even as our federal government has amended its woefully discriminatory policies that denied benefits to the same-sex partners/spouses of federal workers, Governor Bentley has vowed to do just the opposite, rolling back the clock and insisting that when National Guard personnel are under his control, the state will deny said benefits.

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Sally Steenland: What we’ve learned since 9/11

  When people are forced to choose between protecting their safety and guarding their civil rights, almost everyone picks safety. After all, what good are rights if you’re injured or dead?

  In the days after the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, many policymakers used this forced choice to argue for new surveillance laws such as the Patriot Act. The law gave the government sweeping new powers to spy on Americans by wiretapping, seizing financial records, tracking Internet activity, and more; but these measures, we were told, were a necessary trade-off for security.

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Steve Flowers: Inside the Statehouse: 9/11 and our changing face

  This week marks the 12th anniversary of the terrorist attack on America. Their mission was well planned and executed. The devastation and death surrounding the bombing of New York’s World Trade Center was analogous to the Japanese attack of Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941. The day that will live in infamy, as declared by America’s elected king, Franklin Delano Roosevelt. Most of us were not alive nor do we remember that day. However, most of us vividly remember September 11, 2001.

Monday, September 9, 2013

Paul Schwennesen: Food safety: A market solution

  The FDA is trumpeting, with unseemly giddiness, sweeping implementation of new rules within the now thoroughly moldered food-safety bill, passed two long years ago. Like any dish served past its prime, this one smells a bit off.

  As a producer in the ascendant food renaissance (defined by a sudden respect for all things small and local) I’ve noticed a curious double incongruity: First, the clamoring for “safe,” centrally managed food rules leads unerringly to the sort of consolidated, industrially processed foods many of the clamorers so despise in the first place. Second, enacting more-stringent safety regulations actually reduces the incentive for truly excellent food-safety standards.

Saturday, September 7, 2013

Michael Josephson: You’re only cheating yourself

  It’s in the news all the time – kids are cheating in school in new ways and at unprecedented rates.

  One of the reasons is the way schools and parents deal with or ignore the underlying issues of integrity and character. For instance, a popular thing adults say to discourage kids from cheating is, “You’re only cheating yourself.”

Friday, September 6, 2013

Sally Steenland: 57,000 reasons to restore early learning

  About 57,000 children won’t be going back to preschool this month, thanks to deep cuts to Head Start programs triggered by the sequester. Their teachers and aides will be out of a job. Their parents, most of whom are working, will need to find another place for them to go. And their country—the rest of us—will lose 57,000 future citizens who developed at an early age the necessary skills to compete in the global economy and maintain America’s innovative edge.

Thursday, September 5, 2013

Cameron Smith: Is America in Syria’s trouble?

  President Obama has asked Congress to authorize the use of American military force in Syria against the regime of President Bashar al-Assad. Recent American history in the region demands that the United States exercise tremendous prudence and discretion in how it handles the war in Syria.

  Syria is embroiled in a bitterly violent civil war that has claimed the lives of as many as 110,000 in a country of slightly more than 22 million. The conflict began in the spring of 2011 when revolutions in Tunisia and Egypt successfully challenged their respective nations’ dictatorships. Largely peaceful protests against Assad’s authoritarian rule quickly turned to armed conflict after the regime’s violent response.

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Our Stand: Alabama Legislature should not be used like a temporary, extramarital lover

  It would be easy for any observer to view the antics of the Alabama Legislature and justifiably assume that many of its members think of their role as a joke. And after a total of three resignations during this summer by members of the ruling party, it’s no longer necessary to assume.

  Rep. Barry Mask (R-Wetumpka) announced this week he’s abandoning his obligation to his district and this state with less than a month’s notice and with a year remaining on his term. Jay Love (R-Montgomery) ditched his seat last month. Rep. Jim Barton (R-Mobile) resigned last month as well and did so without giving notice.

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Steve Flowers: Inside the Statehouse: Joe Adams and the Ozark Southern Star

  The advent and proliferation of internet communication has caused newspaper readership to decline over recent years. It has hit close to home with the demise of the urban daily papers in Alabama. The Birmingham News, Huntsville Times and Mobile Press Register are no longer dailies.

  However, our middle-sized and small town papers in Alabama are surviving. This is welcome news to me because my column appears in most of these papers throughout the state.