A round-up of Sunday editorials from Alabama’s leading newspapers:
The Anniston Star – H. Brandt Ayers: Anarchy in the U.S. House
During a few days in the quaint, clean eastern provinces of Canada, an orderly campaign for the premiership was going on, which seemed not to make even a ripple to disturb its outward calm.
On returning home, a traveler finds that a cabal of about 40 “anarchists” in the House of Representatives has frozen the mechanics of government like a motor without oil and will not allow it to function unless it gets its own way.
The reference, of course, is to the Tea Party insurgents who forced the shocking resignation of Speaker John Boehner and his successor Kevin McCarthy in quick succession, which raises the question: Is the House governable?
The answer is no, not with the current membership. The insurgents are uncompromising in their passionate vision of limited government, and polls show the rank and file of the Republican Party supports that vision.
So, the House will be rudderless until a speaker is found who is acceptable to the insurgents, whose view of government is so limited that in its extreme form it is anarchy.
There is a certain appeal to simpler times when we seemed to get things done. When I covered Congress in the 1960s, culture-changing acts such as civil rights were passed — and debate was civil.
At one point there was a dialogue between Sen. Paul Douglas of Illinois prowling the Senate floor, a large white-haired bear, and Sen. Sam Ervin, merry and bright as a country squire.
Ervin asked and politely received permission from Douglas to yield, which gave Ervin a chance to tell “my friend, the distinguished senator from Illinois, ‘puts me in mind of a justice of the peace in Bertie County who cautioned attorneys in his court, ‘I’d appreciate it if you’d make no argument in this case. I find that when I hear two sides of an issue, it tends to confuse me.’”
The Birmingham News – That opossum in your yard: They may be ugly but they aren’t dumb
Unlike the cliché, familiarity doesn’t seem to breed contempt. It breeds indifference instead.
Why else would we take so little interest in one of the most fascinating of Alabama’s wildife – the opossum?
That’s opossum with an “o” and that “o” is important. To be technically correct, it’s the Virginia – as in the State – opossum and that “Virginia” is important too.
The Virginia opossum got this common name from its Algonquian Indian name “apasum,” meaning “white beast,” and from the state where it was first given an English name in the early 1600’s by Captain John Smith of the Jamestown Colony and Pocahantas fame.
The “o” is important because when British explorer James Cook, on his first voyage to Australia some 150 years after Captain Smith named them, encountered other cat-sized animals that nurtured their young in a pouch, his ship’s naturalist erroneously assumed they were the same, or at least similar, species and called them opossums too.
It turns out that the Australian marsupials are not closely related to our opossums, so to prevent confusion, scientists now call all Australian species possums – no “o” — to distinguish them from our opossums.
The “Virginia” is important because although we only have one marsupial species in the United States, more than 70 more species occur throughout Central and South America.
The Decatur Daily – Democratic race all but over
Stick a fork in the race to be the Democratic nominee for president. It’s done.
Barring the last-minute entry of Vice President Joe Biden into the field, former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton is poised to cruise to her party’s nomination. After Tuesday’s televised debate, it’s all but a lock.
It’s not that Clinton so outperformed her opponents as to wrap up the nomination on CNN’s debate stage. Clinton had her moments, but she also showed the same weaknesses she usually does during debates, particularly her evasiveness when it comes to answering uncomfortable questions. She is a tough debater who gives as good as she gets, but she’s far from invulnerable.
No, the reason Clinton should have clear sailing to the nomination — all other things being equal — is her rivals all showed they’re not really running for president.
Former Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley, former Rhode Island Sen. Lincoln Chafee and former Virginia Sen. Jim Webb landed a few glancing blows on the frontrunner, but for the most part they held back on really going after Clinton’s record. They have the appearance of candidates jockeying for posts in the Clinton Cabinet.
Clinton’s most tenacious rival, Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders, did draw distinctions between his record and Clinton’s on some issues, including their respective relationships with Wall Street, but his most memorable moment was when he came to Clinton’s defense regarding her private email server.
And Sanders did that after Clinton attempted to gut him on gun control, an issue where Sanders long has differed with the pro-gun control consensus among progressives.
If Sanders really wanted to be president, he wouldn’t have rushed in as a white knight to shield Clinton from the festering email scandal. Sanders, a self-styled “democratic socialist” and political independent who caucuses with Senate Democrats but is not a party member, appears more interested in pulling Clinton to the left than in defeating her.
So far, Sanders has had some success.
Dothan Eagle – Political revenge?
This week, the 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that the Alabama Education Association can’t subpoena the files of GOP politicians to try to prove legislation stopping the AEA from collecting dues by payroll deduction was motivated by political revenge.
The court pointed out that the law had been ruled constitutional, and quashed subpoenas for the records of Gov. Robert Bentley, former Gov. Bob Riley, House Speaker Mike Hubbard and Senate President Pro Tempore Del Marsh.
While the 2010 law does affect thousands of public education workers who belong to the AEA, a nongovernmental education advocacy organization, its passage makes sense. Regardless of the cost, taxpayers shouldn’t bear the economic burden of handling payroll deductions for a private association – particularly one that lobbies the lawmaking body.
A claim of political retribution is a handy device in Montgomery. Many characterize the trial of former Gov. Guy Hunt, removed from office after an ethics conviction, as political retribution. Ditto the prosecution of former Gov. Don Siegelman, who remains incarcerated in a federal prison in Louisiana. And the indictment of sitting House Speaker Hubbard on 23 corruption charges has been characterized the same way by some.
While one would be naïve to believe that everything that happens in Montgomery is squeaky clean and by-the-book while a Harvard Center for Ethics study ranks our state government as the 6th most corrupt in the nation, it’s also difficult to believe that every accusation of wrongdoing or passage of legislation is the result of political revenge.
The Enterprise Ledger – Like him or not, Spurrier among the best ever
For a brief period in the 1990’s, The Sporting News published SEC Weekly. I was a regular contributor for the Arkansas Razorbacks, even if the Danny Ford years were lean… very lean. Their coach today may not be winning much, but lean will never be a word associated with him.
While writing for that publication, I talked with more sports guys around the southeast on a weekly basis than at any other time. That was during the Steve Spurrier-dominating era at Florida where the Gators won five of six SEC titles from 1991-96.
Spurrier was perceived as cocky, and people disliked him for everything from whipping their derrieres on the field to him throwing his visor. Perception is not always accurate.
It was 1996 when Spurrier’s Gators came to Fayetteville. The game was over as soon as the Florida players suited up, but there was Spurrier having his quarterback throw a touchdown pass in the fourth quarter of a 42-7 rout. A student newspaper reporter for Arkansas thought he’d get in the first question in the post-game press conference and proceeded to ask the Head Ball Coach why he was throwing the ball in the fourth quarter.
Spurrier didn’t skip a beat in answering the guy. “I’m sorry, I must have missed the sign driving into the stadium from the airport that said it was illegal to throw the ball in the fourth quarter in the state of Arkansas.”
A veteran writer that had become accustomed to covering losing seasons in the Ozarks, whispered, “Well, Arkansas’ staff thinks it is.”
TimesDaily – BP oil spill five years later
In a bygone era, reporters used the symbol “-30-” on typewritten stories to let editors know that was “the end.”
Well, “-30-” hasn’t been completely applied to the five-year saga of the Deepwater Horizon oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico. Various lawsuits from individuals, businesses and stockholders of BP, which held the lease on the drilling rig that spewed 134 million gallons of gunk into the water after an explosion in April 2010 that killed 11 people, remain in line to be adjudicated.
Call it “-25-” or thereabouts, after this week’s $20 billion final agreement between five Gulf states, including Alabama, and BP to settle all civil claims against the oil company.
It follows a similar, $7.8 billion settlement in 2012 between BP and individuals and businesses damaged by the spill.
The deal was announced in June, and it still must go through a two-month comment period and be signed off on by a judge before it becomes official. BP stresses that it includes money previously spent by the company.
It’s still a major penalty that will, as Attorney General Loretta Lynch said, “inspire BP and its peers to take every measure necessary to ensure that nothing like this can ever happen again.”
BP must pay $5.5 billion in penalties under the Clean Water Act and nearly $5 billion to Alabama, Florida, Louisiana, Mississippi and Texas.
Local governments will get $1 billion to cover economic damage claims and $600 million will go to miscellaneous costs.
The largest chunk — $8.1 billion — will go to alleviate damages to the environment and ecosystems in the Gulf — stabilizing the coastal wetlands and the animal, fish and bird populations impacted by the oil. BP would be legally bound to that goal.
Some conservation groups welcome the move as a positive, healing step.
The Gadsden Times – ‘A Walk Through Time’ was extraordinary experience
Many times in life you are exposed to extraordinary events. Sometimes it is voluntary but most times involuntary.
One of those extraordinary events happened to me Sunday. My wife, Connie, informed me some time back that we were going to a fundraiser for Forrest Cemetery. I wondered how exciting could a fundraiser be for a cemetery?
As the time approached for the Forrest Cemetery event, I began hearing from our friends how wonderful it had become. However, I still was not convinced that a fundraiser for a cemetery could be anything but morbid.
My preconceived notions were 1,000 percent wrong.
The name of this annual event for the city of Gadsden is “A Walk Through Time.” The adjective “extraordinary” does not do it justice.
This year’s event was the seventh in what I hope is a recurring event for years to come. The event founder’s purpose is to preserve the history and dignity of Forrest Cemetery, a very, very, worthy cause. The cemetery is beautiful and the history of the people laid to rest is even more beautiful.
The sponsors for “A Walk Through Time” are too numerous to mention in my short space, but the AWTT volunteers are Alice Batie, Ara Ann Dudley, Donna Kelley, Joanie Leach, Mike and Sara Majors, Rita and Ronnie McClure, Anne Mitchell, Peggy Wetzel, Bill and Sherry Willard.
Our tour of Forrest Cemetery started in the parking lot of old Gadsden High School, a place of many great memories for Connie and me. Connie reminded me the present edifice was a replacement for the GHS we attended, but there still were lots of memories.
The Huntsville Times – To keep Alabama’s pre-K program growing, parents must speak out
How did Orange Beach Elementary School get a First Class Pre-K program?
“It started with one parent who changed the community,” says Christina McInnis, a mother of four from Baldwin County who last year helped lobby state and local officials to bring the program to the island city.
That mother was Jeanna Bulman and she helped lead a team that rallied the support of local officials and businesses to request the funding needed to start the program.
McInnis said it meant going to city council meetings and later polling places and churches asking for parents’ support.
The hard work paid off.
“For many of years to come now, children will have that pre-k program available at that school,” McInnis said.
Alabama is one of four states whose public pre-k program has been recognized by the National Institute for Early Education Research for meeting all 10 of the Institute’s research-based benchmarks for quality.
The long-term financial crisis facing the state of Alabama has not been fixed, and if anyone tells you otherwise, then you are being misled.
In the recent special sessions, the Alabama Legislature did not solve the financial problems facing state government. They simply bought more time to deal with it.
Only band-aid, kick-the-can-down-the-road temporary fixes passed in the recent special session, approaches that bought Alabama state government a few more months to find a real, long-term, permanent solution to our problems. Meanwhile, we are seeing the real impact of our crisis: state parks are being shut down, and driver’s license offices are being closed, while the costs for prisons, Medicaid, transportation and law enforcement – the essential services we need to grow jobs and improve our quality of life — continue to soar.
How bad is the financial crisis we, as state taxpayers, still face? Governor Robert Bentley says the financial hole for the State’s General Fund, which pays for those essential government services stated above, will be more than $500 million when the Alabama Legislature returns to work next year. That’s 500 million more dollars needed for a budget that has already been cut to shreds and can barely make ends meet for our children and our seniors, the most vulnerable in our society.
Meanwhile, millions of Alabama dollars continue to leave our state to play lotteries in Georgia, Tennessee and Florida, money for their schools, their health care and their seniors. Meanwhile, millions of Alabama dollars continue to go to Mississippi casinos, funding their essential state services, not our own. And meanwhile, millions of Alabama dollars continue to play in Alabama Creek Indian casinos, with no tax money going to our state government. Does this make sense to anyone?
This is what kills me. Even this old football coach can see the obvious solution to our money problems that is right before our eyes, a solution that will create jobs, solve our state fiscal problems, and increase tourism. According to a study by Auburn University Montgomery, casino gaming and an Alabama lottery will generate $400 million annually in new state government revenue, create 11,000 new jobs for working families and have an economic impact of $1.2 billion annually for the State of Alabama. That’s $1.2 billion annually. And all that would be decided by a vote of the people, just like any major decision should be made.
Montgomery Advertiser – Port of inclusion will attract more voters in future
Of all the analyses that will emerge during the ongoing presidential campaigns, one that will seldom emerge is that there is a cause and effect relationship between the modern history of America’s two major political parties and the history of race relations in our nation. The anomaly of the 2016 presidential campaigns, that is, the still-surprising showing of the two leading Republican candidates, provides glaring evidence of the parallel.
For more than two centuries, presidents and political parties have embraced positions and made major domestic decisions based primarily on how they would be viewed by voters through the prism of race. The Founding Fathers led the way by counting only “three-fifths” of each black person to determine a state’s congressional representation. In the ensuing years, politicians and political party adherents have boarded the ferry of race, traveling between shores of inclusion and exclusion, and they have disembarked at the port most welcoming of their views about the role, place, status and future of black people in America.
Recently, the grounds for choosing sides have expanded to include women, gays, Muslims, Hispanics and immigrants (those who choose the pier of exclusion erroneously regard the latter two groups as one and the same).
When Abraham Lincoln and his Republican Party came to symbolize racial tolerance, whites — especially Southerners — flocked to the Democratic Party, and for the next 90 years Southern Democrats perpetuated Jim Crow, gleefully crowning themselves kings and queens of exclusion. Democratic President Harry Truman’s desegregation of the Armed Forces caused an emergency sailing, first to an interim port called the Dixiecrat Party.
When it sank, the Dixiecrats swam to the Republican Party, which by the mid-1960s was becoming the port of choice for former segregationists and lingering racists. During the next four decades, the cruises to Republican land were fully booked by Democrats in search of racial supremacy and/or electoral survival.
Opelika-Auburn News –Most important power of press is empowering citizens
If you’re reading this, thank you. The staff of the Opelika-Auburn News works diligently to provide the news, sports, features, photos and advertising you need to be a well-informed citizen, and it’s our pleasure to serve you seven days a week, 365 days a year.
Today wraps up the 75th annual National Newspaper Week, a time to reflect on the impact of journalism on the nation and world as well as the importance of newspapers to communities large and small. The observance is sponsored by Newspaper Association Managers, and has as its theme “Power of the Press.”
According to History.org, “Not until 1690 did the first English-American news sheet debut — Boston’s Publick Occurrences Both Forreign and Domestick, published by Benjamin Harris. The authorities, in ‘high resentment’ that Harris dared to report that English military forces had allied themselves with ‘miserable’ savages, put him out of business four days later.”
Nearly a century later, the founding fathers saw the value in an informed populace. They included freedom of the press in the First Amendment to the Constitution, right up there with freedom of religion, speech, assembly, and to petition the government for redress of grievances.
Since the Constitution was written in 1787, newspapers have chronicled American life during good times and bad, bringing communities the latest on school activities, fall festivals and town hall meetings, as well as the horror of presidential assassinations and world wars.
The Tuscaloosa News –Administration needs to prevent this corruption
The idea of a homecoming queen, that hyper-feminine image of a beaming young lady in a formal gown receiving flowers and a crown at midfield during the halftime of a football game, seems almost anachronistic in this day. It certainly seems too innocuous to be the source of controversy.
Of course, all bets are off for anything where the University of Alabama Greek system decides to use voter manipulation to stake a claim on the homecoming queen election. The Machine has decided that not only will the UA homecoming queen always come from the ranks of its member organizations, but it will be the person of their choosing.
Interestingly enough, sorority members were told to take actions that make a mockery of their principles in order to achieve the Machine’s goal. We thought that fraternity and sorority members were supposed to be loyal to each other and support each other regardless of the circumstances.
Yet members of Alpha Gamma Delta sorority were told through social media to abandon one of their own, Halle Lindsay, and support Phi Mu sorority member Katelyn Katsafanas. The message indicated that there would be negative consequences for those who disobeyed the edict.
As if this didn’t look bad enough, Lindsay is among the ground-breaking black sorority members who entered the Greek system in 2013 under extraordinary circumstances when former president Judy Bonner ordered extended and expanded recruitment. But Lindsay felt like this was more about politics than race.
“The greatest disappointment I feel is seeing my sorority sisters oppressed and unable to individually express themselves because of the politics involved,” Lindsay said.