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Fizzy history moves a nation

We’ve all heard the phrase, “Necessity is the mother of invention.” While the precise origin of this aphorism is lost to time, this weekend we note an important milestone in technological innovation: the 80th anniversary of the first canned beer.

The Five Year Election Sale

It’s often amazing how one U.S. Supreme Court can change the whole course of American social and political life. There are cases in pursuit of social fairness, the most famous of which is the 1954 decision in Brown v. the Board of Education. Then there are cases of fair process, like Miranda v. Arizona. Then there are cases that serve to protect our right of free speech. It’s difficult to single out a single case as the exemplar of protecting speech, but we know one where oligarchical designs masquerading as a speech interests has been allowed to poison American politics: Citizens United v. the Federal Election Commission.

Verdict uncertain motives unclear

Sixty-five years ago today, disgraced State Department official, Alger Hiss, was convicted of perjury, in what has become one of the most hotly debated cases of the 20th century. Hiss had been the subject of aggressive investigation by the House Un-American Activities Committee, led by an ambitious California representative, Richard Nixon.

Enough humility to be courageous

All we can say is ‘Wow!’ When is the last time you heard an elected official come right out, admit a mistake and then apologize for it? And to boot, this one wasn’t one of those I-got-caught-and-now-I-better-appear-contrite apologies; this was a straight up, acknowledgement of fault and mea culpa.

MLK a clarion for service

As the nation honors the legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. we should pause to reflect on his ideals and vision for America. We all know King’s work in the cause of civil rights, but his call for committed public service should also be remembered.

Better on the road to great

In their quest to promote the safe keeping and humane treatment of animals, many advocates employ an elegant trope often attributed to Mahatma Gandhi, “The greatness of a nation and its moral progress can be judged by the way that its animals are treated.”

Tables turned but message unclear

This week marks the 30th anniversary of a shooting on the New York City subway that created a media frenzy and ignited a vociferous debate on matters of race, crime and gun control. At the center of this furor was Bernhard Goetz, a lean 24-year-old with a troubled home life.

Christmas a time of opportunity

This is the time of year when so many of us worry about the “perfect” gift, the “perfect” meal and the “perfect” outfit. Often subconsciously we hold ourselves to an unobtainable Norman Rockwell standard of holiday pageant. In so doing, we create needless stress and imperil an otherwise joyous season.

Facilitating dollar sign diplomacy

President Barack Obama recently moved to normalize diplomatic relations with Cuba. With a great predictability, several members of Congress have decried the action as pandering to Communism. Fortunately, a few cooler heads have also weighed in to the debate.

Let the music play

In a recent report, the White Hall School District’s School Board President Raymond Jones laid out a bold plan for much-needed improvements to the high school. The board voted Tuesday to proceed with the second phase of this plan.

Barriers tested and broken

It sounds like the setup for a redneck cautionary tale: Take a very aerodynamic car chassis with “Budweiser” painted in great big letters down the side, drop in a 48,000 horsepower rocket engine and, just for good measure, strap on a 12,000 horsepower sidewinder missile. What could possibly go wrong?

Distinguishing want from need

A little more than a month ago, the U.S. Supreme Court denied an appeal by a man on Alabama’s death row for the 1989 pipe bomb death of Federal Appeals Court Judge Robert S. Vance. Without comment, the Supreme Court denied the request of Walter Leroy Moody to review his petition.

Truth or grave consequences

With new revelations on the Central Intelligence Agency’s use of torture in the so-called “war on terror,” it becomes painfully, shamefully clear that bad things have been done in our name. It has always been so. It will likely always be so. If we are not a better nation than depicted in the recent Senate Intelligence Committee report, we need to become one.

Degenerate Art then and now

Almost every day appears to give us a new decadence against which to rail. Some mover within popular culture produces a new spectacle and the critics recoil. It’s probably been this way since the dawn of humankind. It’s certainly not a phenomenon exclusive to the United States.