Month: December 2014

A conservative’s wish list for 2015: opinion

The past year has been great for the conservative movement and the Republican Party. We made tremendous gains even though we still have an ideological liberal in the White House and timid Congressional leaders who are afraid to seriously challenge his executive overreach. Nationally, the Republican Party was victorious in a historic wave election. We not only won back the Senate, we increased our seats in the House, won complete control of the Deep South and delivered a national rebuke of the Democrat Party's policies on healthcare, immigration and the economy. If our party's leaders will respond to the mandate, we should see movement on several stalled conservative priorities. On the state level here in Alabama, things went even better. We not only kept control of the Statehouse, the Governor's Mansion and the courts, we implemented a landmark scholarship program for kids in failing schools and beat back a multi-million dollar counterattack by the Alabama Education Association. If you would've thought such a thing was possible a few years ago, the folks in Montgomery would have laughed at you. AL.com Opinion About the writer J. Pepper Bryars grew up in Mobile and is now a writer living in Huntsville. Contact him at jpepperbryars@gmail.com and jpepperbryars.com. Read more See more by J. Pepper Bryars More opinion on AL.com We can't rest on past accomplishments, of course. Conservatives in Alabama must remain committed to the movement's high goals, unfazed by how difficult it is to implement our philosophy, how fiercely we're opposed,…

Alabamian’s struggle to survive echoes throughout “Unbroken” film: opinion

In the span of about three generations, Japan has gone from our hated adversary to our trusted ally. To many Americans, the Japanese Zeros are as much an irrelevant part of ancient history as the Japanese Samurai. We're friends, not enemies, and our nations share a commitment to democracy and human rights. War, however, brings out the best and the worst in people, and when audiences watch the new World War II film "Unbroken," they'll see both traits on striking display. The film, directed by Angelina Jolie and based off Laura Hillenbrand's bestselling novel, tells the story of Louis Zamperini, a juvenile delinquent turned Olympian who joined the U.S. Army Air Forces in 1941. He survived a crash landing in the Pacific Ocean in 1943 and weeks spent adrift only to be captured by the Japanese. He spent the rest of the war suffering in a brutal prisoner of war camp. AL.com Opinion J. Pepper Bryars grew up in Mobile and is now a writer living in Huntsville. Contact him at jpepperbryars@gmail.com and jpepperbryars.com.). Read more See more by J. Pepper Bryars More opinion on AL.com Many will be shocked by the level of cruelty depicted in the film. What happened in those camps doesn't resemble modern Japan in any way. Even the Japanese actor who played the sadistic camp guard who beat Zamperini told reporters he often vomited and cried after shooting his scenes. Seeing history through our modern lens, however, some may wonder if it really happened that…

Demise of Southern Democrats is more about 1969 than 1964: guest opinion

AL.com Opinion About the writer J. Pepper Bryars grew up in Mobile and is now a writer living in Huntsville. Contact him at jpepperbryars@gmail.com and jpepperbryars.com. More opinion on AL.com Democrats across the nation greeted the news of Louisiana Senator Mary Landrieu's landslide defeat earlier this month with a mix of apathy, disillusionment and frustration. A few blamed the issues. Some blamed the candidate. Many more blamed the voters, and some of their more quarrelsome writers hurled essays of pure bitterness across the Mason-Dixon Line, cursing the region's voters for their party's defeat. "It's lost. It's gone," columnist Michael Tomasky wrote of the Deep South in the Daily Beast, adding that his party should break ties with the whole "prejudice-infested place." After Landrieu's defeat to a Republican, there isn't a single Democrat Senator left from Texas to North Carolina, and many, if not all, of the state legislatures and statewide offices are now held by Republicans. "Practically the whole region has rejected nearly everything that's good about this country and has become just one big nuclear waste site of choleric, and extremely racialized, resentment," Tomasky wrote. Republicans in Alabama are well-acquainted with this line of attack. It doesn't matter that some of the best-known racist politicians from George Wallace to Bull Conner were Democrats; today's Republicans are still cruelly accused of being Klansmen in "neckties and starched shirts." It also doesn't seem to matter that the same "prejudice-infested" state that fired Landrieu has twice elected its current governor, who is…