A round-up of Sunday editorials from Alabama’s leading newspapers:
The Anniston Star – The GOP’s Trump problem
In 2011, the question of Barack Obama’s birthplace so confounded Donald Trump that he claimed he sent a team of investigators to Hawaii in hopes of settling this question to the satisfaction of the celebrity CEO and the rest of America’s dead-enders unable to come to grips with the legitimacy of the 44th U.S. president.
So, what’s the toll of Trump’s foolish conspiracy-mongering, as well his other intemperate remarks of late? Well, at Thursday night’s Fox News Republican debate featuring the top 10 presidential candidates, Trump was front and center, the leader in the GOP polls.
It’s too soon to tell just how long he will stay atop those polls. The analysis from the punditocracy following Thursday’s debate was all over the place.
What’s certain is that the Republican Party has a problem on its hands. On the debate stage stood several governors and legislators who can point to a track record of Republican-style governance, the sort of politicians whose campaigns could put Democrat Hillary Clinton to the test. Trump is a sideshow that’s messing up a more controlled rollout of a Jeb Bush, John Kasich, Marco Rubio or Scott Walker run in the 2016 general election.
In a twist, however, Republicans must shoulder most of the blame for Trump’s success.
Following Obama’s election in 2008, Republicans had options. They could have chosen to adjust their message, focusing on protecting families from an out-of-control economic system that indulged Wall Street’s excesses that created a mortgage crisis. They could have worked with Obama on health-care reform, even legitimately claiming the Affordable Care Act as something Republicans developed and first implemented in Massachusetts. They could have found compromise on immigration reform, taking a divisive issue off the table.
The Birmingham News – Are you ready to dump Trump?
Donald Trump may be many things but he’s certainly not boring.
Just days after a heated debate in which the business mogul turned GOP presidential frontrunner shared a series of heated exchanges with moderators, Trump was booted from Saturday’s conservative RedState Gathering.
The organization said Trump was not welcome at the gathering after his comments that Fox moderator Megyn Kelly “had “blood coming out of her eyes, blood coming out of her wherever.” Trump maintains that Kelly had targeted him with a series of hard-hitting questions during Thursday night’s debate.
Rupert Murdoch, executive chairman of Fox News Channel’s parent company, 21st Century Fox, has come to Kelly and the other moderator’s defenses.
Trump’s GOP rivals – all of whom are lagging behind him in most polls by wide margins – have also been quick to criticize.
We want to know what you think. Are you ready to dump Trump?
Two things to keep in mind:
In AL.com’s unscientific quick poll, 35 percent of those responding said Trump won Thursday’s debate. He was followed by Dr. Ben Carson at 17 percent. Carly Fiorina ran away with the poll of the winners of the pre-debate gathering, receiving 72 percent of the vote as compared to Rick Perry’s 10 percent and Bobby Jindal’s 7 percent.
In a separate AL.com poll, 78 percent said they thought Kelly unfairly targeted Trump.
The Decatur Daily – Lawmakers still failing to address budget crisis
Gov. Robert Bentley called the Legislature into a July 13 special session on the budget. It was earlier than lawmakers expected, and for good reason. Bentley had just watched the elected representatives of the state fritter away an entire regular session with no progress — none — on the budgetary crisis that will slam the state Oct. 1.
And while he has been part of the problem in the past, Bentley also must have recognized the Legislature has known the crisis was coming for years. And done nothing about it.
He knew lawmakers needed plenty of time to hammer out legislation that would eliminate a shortfall in the General Fund of at least $200 million, but in reality closer to $500 million.
Rather than acknowledging the urgency of the situation, lawmakers responded to the earlier-than-expected special session with indignation.
“I’m just flabbergasted. I just can’t believe it,” said House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Steve Clouse, R-Ozark.
Senate President Pro Tem Del Marsh said lawmakers were angered by a special session that interfered with their schedules and vacation plans.
So legislators shot Bentley down. They convened the special session July 13, as they were legally required to do, but immediately adjourned until Monday. To keep the move from looking as petty as it was, they gave assurances to their constituents the delay was not about vacations, but about maximizing the chance for a consensus.
Dothan Eagle – A right to vote, but a lack of will
This week marked a watershed for the American political scene. With President Barack Obama locked out of the race by the two-term limit, the Oval Office is up for grabs, and candidates are coming out of the woodwork.
On Thursday night, an eagerly anticipated televised debate featured 10 of 18 Republican candidates seeking the party’s nomination in the 2016 presidential election. Five Democrats are seeking the nation’s highest office – six, if Vice President Joe Biden decides to run. And that’s not counting the slew of significantly underfunded major party candidates, third-party candidates, write-ins and other hopefuls.
With the campaign season in full swing, one would think the presidential race is the biggest thing going.
They’d be wrong. Perhaps it should be, but it’s not. While there are Americans watching the process with rapt attention, much of America is consumed by other things. A flag from a war that ended 150 years ago. Sexual preference and human rights. A lion killed by a game-hunting dentist.
Thursday marked the 50 anniversary of the signing of the Voting Rights Act, which guaranteed the right to vote for African-American citizens long blocked from the ballot box by unconstitutional poll taxes and other insurmountable requirements.
The social fights that led to that hard-won measure, like similar efforts that won voting rights for women in 1920, should resonate today. However, voter turnout remains low while a majority of voters simply don’t participate.
The political process is messy and, for most Americans, much too frustrating to follow. However, the process is ours, and the responsibility of selecting our elected officials rests on the shoulders of us all.
When we turn our backs on the electoral process, we get the sort of government our apathy deserves.
The Enterprise Ledger – Who made the decision to begin school this early?
I know the number of mandatory days has increased since I was a greasy-haired, skin-and-bones, collar-chewing elementary kid, but starting school on Aug. 6? When I overheard this earlier this week, I began to correct the lady, thinking there was just no way. So, I politely asked the lady off to the side and she confirmed her earlier statement. It was re-affirmed by another at my table.
Aug. 6? As in the 6th of the month that comes after July?
I mean, Nick Saban hasn’t announced who his starting quarterback will be and we’re expecting kids to memorize chapters in text books? Georgia hasn’t even disappointed its fan base, yet, and Jimbo Fisher hasn’t had to deal with players’ off-the-field issues. Well, OK, the last one is not true, but you get the point.
The 93 GOP candidates – I’m kidding, there are only 86 – won’t even hold their first debate until later in the evening on Aug. 6, and the chosen one (as Donald Trump will refer to himself if he wins the vote) to battle the secretive Hillary Clinton or even the “handsy”Joe Biden will not be announced until the GOP Convention in July 2016.
Heck, Marty McFly and his DeLorean do not return from Back to the Future until Oct. 21 of this year. By that time we’ll know if Jeremy Johnson is the greatest thing since sliced bread, because, you know, making sandwiches was darn near impossible before someone decided to cut up a loaf and slap on whatever. That brings me to another question: Who decided to slice tomatoes, or ham, or jalapenos? After all, without those items sliced, sliced bread or not there would have been some extremely lumpy sandwiches.
Even most beach rentals are still at prime summer prices on Aug. 6.
Unless you have a school-age child, you might not have noticed the school year has begun.
But this affects you, because chances are you will be driving through a school zone, in traffic with those taking their kids to school, teens driving themselves and their friends to school, and school buses that, as they warn on their rear panels, make frequent stops.
This means a heightened sense of awareness while traveling our city streets and county roads is an obligation for all of us, and here are the statistics that explain why:
The American Academy of Pediatrics said 815 students die and 152,250 are injured annually during regular travel between school and home — not including activity trips and other school-related travel.
Though school buses offer the safest means of travel, about 5,000 children are injured each year in school bus-related accidents — mostly when kids are entering or exiting the bus, because other drivers have a blind spot of about 10 feet around the bus.
Half of all school-age pedestrians killed in bus-related crashes are between 5 and 7 years old.
Students are 50 times more likely to arrive alive when traveling by bus. Of the annual student fatalities while traveling to and from school, 58 percent involve a student driver, 23 percent an adult driver, and 1 percent were riding a school bus.
The National Safety Council reports more children are hit by cars near schools than in any other location. This might seem obvious, but it’s not obvious enough or it wouldn’t happen.
So what is the solution? The NSC has suggestions that work:
The Gadsden Times – Courthouse security the price that must be paid for safety
Ensuring safety comes at a price. In the case of the Etowah County Courthouse, there’s a monetary cost to pay deputies and a figurative one in terms of convenience for customers.
Sheriff Todd Entrekin has begun looking for certified law enforcement officers to staff the courthouse on part-time status. Keeping them as part-timers will reduce an initial estimated cost from $262,000 to between $90,000 and $100,000 — still not a trivial amount, but certainly a more manageable number.
Also manageable, if not particularly pleasant, will be customer complaints about not having free access to the courthouse. To protect the employees and the people who visit the courthouse to conduct business in one form or another, it’s necessary to restrict how they enter the courthouse. With its seven unsecured entrances, someone with malice on his or her mind can find a way into the building. If we’re truly worried about people’s safety in this time of seemingly widespread attacks on public and private facilities, then seven entrances are six too many.
The Huntsville Times – Do state budget proposals put Alabamians’ health at risk? Week in review
Earlier this week, Gov. Bentley announced efforts to cut state funding to Planned Parenthood — the state does not directly fund the organization but, instead, they get money through Medicare payments that do not include abortion services. Margaret Elizabeth Self contends that denying Medicare reimbursements is “illegal” and would deny women access to “checkups, cancer screenings, STD screenings, expert contraceptive services, and pre- and post-natal care.”
Bentley’s at least a little better than the rest of his party – which is considering deep cuts to Medicaid across the state. Lawrence Medical Center CEO, Kyle Buchanan, argues that cutting funding to Medicaid will weaken hospitals in the communities that need them the most.
As if that weren’t enough, the legislature is also considering raiding the Education Trust Fund. That would be a “short-sighted decision,” says Elizabeth Dotts Fleming, executive director of The Schools Foundation in Madison County. Taking money away from education will hurt graduation rates in schools throughout the state, Fleming argues.
Is the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau “run amok?” That’s the case made by Andrew F. Quinlan, co-founder and president of the Center for Freedom and Prosperity.
Paul Hard, a Montgomery-area resident and the plaintiff in a Southern Poverty Law Center marriage equality lawsuit, authored a heartbreaking guest column about the struggle to get his marriage recognize – something that finally happened four years after his spouse passed away in a car crash.
Bob Nicholson, Huntsville CPA and an elder in the Presbyterian Church USA, argues that the church and probate judges need to rethink their approach to gay marriage – “Show gay couples the grace you have been shown.”
Press-Register –Four years after losing spouse, Alabama recognizes my marriage
By Paul Hard, a Montgomery-area resident and the plaintiff in a Southern Poverty Law Center marriage equality lawsuit
It took four long years, but my marriage to my late husband has finally been recognized by the state of Alabama.
It has been a difficult and uncertain path in a state that doggedly refused to recognize same-sex marriage at every turn.
Fortunately, last month a federal judge ruled that under Alabama law I am a “surviving spouse.” It meant that I’m entitled to a share of the funds from a settlement agreement in a wrongful death lawsuit filed on behalf of my late husband, David Fancher.
But this is not about money.
It’s about affording people the equality and dignity they deserve. It’s about recognizing that LGBT people are not second-class citizens. Without marriage equality in all 50 states, I wouldn’t have been recognized as David’s widower. In fact, if Alabama had its way, it would have erased the life I had built with David.
This is not hyperbole. It’s what the state attempted to do when my husband died four years ago in a car crash.
Montgomery Advertiser – Political selfishness is the real problem
There seems to be some misunderstanding over what it is, particularly within the Republican Party and among conservatives.
That was evident in Thursday night’s Republican primary debate when frontrunner and human message board troll Donald Trump explained away calling women “fat” and “disgusting” and “pigs” by saying he doesn’t “have time to be politically correct.”
That explanation, which is so dumb a middle schooler wouldn’t use it, drew thunderous applause from the GOP crowd in Cleveland.
Of course it did. Because today’s GOP seems to be under the impression that any negative reaction to whatever dumb, insensitive or offensive thing they say about another individual or an entire group of people is unnecessary political correctness.
It is not.
That is the natural human reaction to you being an ignorant jackass.
Political correctness is using terminology that softens a description so as not to offend a particular group of often-degraded people. Like calling the “poor” the “money challenged.”
Yes, such descriptions have been taken to laughable extremes, but in a country where a frontrunner for president in one of the two major political parties routinely calls those who disagree with him “stupid” and “clown” and “idiot,” maybe going overboard on compassion isn’t such a huge problem.
What is a much bigger problem in American politics is Political Selfishness.
Opelika-Auburn News – Auburn should follow Opelika’s lead
“The Deserted Village” the poem by Oliver Goldsmith starts out with the first line and I quote “Sweet Auburn! loveliest village of the plain,” and continues on. I was raised and educated in Auburn the first 22 years of my life. I have a long and vested interest in Auburn. My family came to Auburn in 1879 and have been there ever since, 136 continuous years.
The problem facing the core of the village with the proposed project is cause for concern to me and many others. Many reasonable and sensible reasons for not doing this project have been presented. I support the cause for aborting this project.
I was living in Opelika when the first two historic districts were established here, the Northside District and the Downtown District. I live in the Northside District. Our Opelika Historic Preservation Commission (OHPC) has done commendable work in all districts by maintaining the importance, character and significance of Opelika’s history.
Auburn needs an established Downtown District. It would protect the core and could be bounded by Magnolia, Gay Street, Tichenor and College Street. If this were to happen then the Auburn Historic Preservation Commission (AHPC) would take the established written guidelines into consideration to approve or disapprove a Certificate of Approval for any outside changes or construction. The rules may have changed over the years, but all properties in a historic district are in and none can opt out except church property exempt by Federal Law.
I highly recommend reading the book “Lost Auburn.” A Downtown Historic District involving the AHPC on any projects in the district would be an aid to the planning department, the mayor, city council and citizens of Auburn. Many of us do not live in Auburn now but our spirits still do. War Eagle.
Maj. George B. Wingard, USAF, Ret.
The Tuscaloosa News –Honor given to Harrisons well-deserved
Thanks to the University of Alabama, we’ve gotten pretty good around these parts at celebrating champions.
But for many who like to bask in the glow of a Crimson Tide championship, it is easy to forget that the higher purpose of competitive athletics is to help the young men and women who wear crimson and white learn valuable lessons that will help them achieve, not just in sports but in life. Among those lessons is the importance of setting the right example when the eyes of many are upon you — and when they aren’t.
The Nick’s Kids Foundation Luncheon provided a welcome reminder of that Wednesday in The Zone at Bryant-Denny Stadium.
UA coach Nick Saban has said numerous times that the annual luncheon is his favorite day of the year, even trumping national championship celebrations. Saban might be known for his strictly businesslike and steely demeanor, but there is obvious commitment — and compassion — behind that comment. While the many fans who pack the stadium on fall Saturdays certainly love him for the victories he produces on the field, it is that commitment that endears him and wife Terry to the greater Tuscaloosa community. In the nine years the Sabans have been at Alabama, they have given through Nick’s Kids nearly $5 million to charitable efforts across the state. That’s putting your money where your mouth is.