A round-up of Sunday editorials from Alabama’s leading newspapers

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A round-up of Sunday editorials from Alabama’s leading newspapers:

The Anniston StarThey’re having fun in Iowa

Alabama could roll out its agricultural finest, display its best culinary takes on pork-chop-on-a-stick and fried peanut butter, and still presidential candidates would consider our state a far-flung American outpost.

Alabama isn’t Iowa, in other words.

The Iowa State Fair is full swing this weekend in Des Moines, where 18 White House aspirants are congregating, entourages and TV cameras in tow. Republican front-runner Donald Trump is planning to arrive Saturday via helicopter, a very Trump-like tactic. Hillary Clinton, the Democrats’ thus-far top candidate, is Iowa-bound. Jeb Bush and a host of others are already there and making sure “they sample the Iowa delicacies, which are often packed with cholesterol,” The New York Times reported Friday.

Alabama and Iowa share similarities, but the differences are just as stark, particularly when it comes to national politics. So long a one-party state — once the home of Democrats, now the virtual domain of Republicans — Alabama is seen by candidates as a waste of time. It’s either in the bag or a no-chance state, so no reason wasting valuable campaign money on it.

Iowa’s Midwestern tastes and its popular state fair offer an alternate story, and has for decades. It’s an American political tradition — pols getting face time with ordinary Joes — that dates back to the nation’s earliest years. In fact, President Lincoln told the Wisconsin State Agricultural Society in 1859 that, “Agricultural Fairs are becoming an institution of the country; they are useful in more ways than one; they bring us together, and thereby make us better acquainted, and better friends than we otherwise would be,” according to The Atlantic magazine.

The oddities of America’s presidential election process turns states like Iowa into must-go places and condemns others, such as Alabama, into political wastelands. This isn’t an advocacy of sweeping alterations to U.S. presidential elections, but it is a lament that Alabama isn’t more of a player in this country’s biggest election. This weekend, Iowans are having all the fun.

The Birmingham News – Are Alabama’s leaders missing the point of the Gospel? Week in review

Alabama consistently ranks among the “most religious states” in the country, but what does that really mean for our culture? Should religion guide Alabama’s values and laws and, if so, whose religion? There’s a wide gap in social values, even within the church, in Alabama and the process of legislating based on what particular viewpoint is unwieldy. This week we heard from three ministers about how Alabama’s leaders have deviated from the Gospel, despite publicly professing the importance of their faith.

Dexter Strong, a minister from Huntsville, writes that a culture truly rooted in the Gospel would stand against misogyny, racism and exclusion based on sexual orientation. The piece is strikingly self-aware as Strong professes that “as a Gospel preacher, I’m forced to take stands against every form of cultural and institutional oppression, no matter who it implicates, even if that person is me.”

Should religion also influence the way that we fund government programs? Rev. Rob Couch and Rev. Brian Miller, two senior pastors of United Methodist Churches in Alabama, appeal to our legislature to reject gambling as a mechanism for generating state revenue. They note that “gambling has the power to decimate families and communities and tends to have a disproportionate negative impact on the poor.” Instead, they argue, Alabamians must be willing to fund their government “the right way.”

One wrong way to fund state government is apparently through an online fundraising campaign. In a widely publicized effort, Sen. Paul Sanford set up a GoFundMe campaign as an effort to pay off Alabama’s deficit (to date, the campaign has raised $1,315 of its $300 million goal). The campaign is “despicable” argues frequent contributor Clete Wetli, “because it trivializes an issue that he and other lawmakers have known about for years and, yet, they have steadfastly refused to take any action to remedy the problem.”

The Decatur Daily – Partisan politics not working

The dance has begun, and if the stakes weren’t so high, it would be amusing.

The dance steps are most obvious in the Republican Party, which has a larger field of candidates and already has had a debate.

To have a chance at becoming their party’s nominee, each candidate must attract the support of a very conservative base.

This has bizarre results when it comes to the stance they must take on specific issues. Most polls indicate a majority of Americans favor increased gun control, lean toward deferring to women on abortion issues, favor diplomacy with Iran, and support marriage rights for gays.

A Republican candidate who espouses the majority view on these issues, however, has little or no chance of surviving the primaries.

The extent to which this forces the candidates to play to extreme views is evident in their treatment of the proposed deal with Iran. Maybe it’s a bad deal or maybe not, but the issue is too complex to expect every single GOP candidate to have the same opinion of it.

To begin with, the entire goal of the agreement is to keep Iran from developing a nuclear weapon. Absent military action — an option most Americans strongly oppose — the U.S. has minimal leverage without the cooperation of Iran’s major trading partners. So while GOP candidates uniformly gripe we did not negotiate the best deal with Iran, our most complex negotiations were with nations — including Russia and China — whose participation was necessary if Iran was to come to the negotiating table.

Iran is suffering from multi-national sanctions; U.S. sanctions alone provide inadequate leverage to compel Iran to make concessions. And however problematic the proposed agreement is, it provides for monitoring of the Iran nuclear program. Without the agreement, there is no monitoring.

The issue is complex, and involves negotiations to which the GOP candidates were not privy. The idea that every candidate would have the exact same view of the agreement defies logic. Rather, they are pandering to a base that is invested in the idea that anything President Barack Obama touches must be bad.

There are plenty of smart folks vying for the Republican nomination, and it’s a fair bet most recognize the Iran deal is not susceptible to simplistic evaluation. They probably also recognize the complexities of abortion, gay marriage and other hot-button issues that are contentious precisely because rational people can come to different conclusions on them.

But intelligent, nuanced views are toxic to candidates of either party. Jeb Bush and Hillary Clinton know they need moderate views to win the general election, but they also know those same views will prevent them from surviving the primaries.

Dothan Eagle – A full review of Planned Parenthood is in order

Planned Parenthood has long been a lightning rod for controversy, drawing opposition from pro-life proponents because the organization provides access to abortions for its clients.

Planned Parenthood has long been a lightning rod for controversy, drawing opposition from pro-life proponents because the organization provides access to abortions for its clients.

The recent release of videos by anti-abortion Center for Medical Progress purportedly show a Planned Parenthood representative and a couple discussing the acquisition of fetal tissue added a new measure of volatility, as the organization was accused of “selling tissue from aborted babies.”

That’s a serious indictment that deserves full investigation. Planned Parenthood’s response is that it provides tissue with the consent of the mother, and the recipient pays for the cost of the procedure to procure the tissue. Some would argue that’s semantics. Either way, it has led to the withdrawal of Medicaid funds by Alabama and Louisiana.

That puts our state and Louisiana at odds with the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, which contends that states are prohibited from restricting providers available to Medicaid recipients. Planned Parenthood provides birth control, screenings for cancer and sexually transmitted diseases, and other forms of preventive care. These services are funded by Medicaid disbursements, Planned Parenthood says; abortion services are privately funded.

With the presidential race underway, the Planned Parenthood debacle has become a political football, and those with the most to lose are clients seeking services from Planned Parenthood that have nothing to do with the contentious abortion procedure.

The best approach would be an investigation into the veracity of the information presented in the activist-produced videotape followed by an official review of Planned Parenthood’s services and what public funds are used to support.

Drastic reaction should be based on thorough review rather than third-party anecdotal evidence. That process would serve the best interest of everyone involved.

ve and a couple discussing the acquisition of fetal tissue added a new measure of volatility, as the organization was accused of “selling tissue from aborted babies.”

The Enterprise Ledger – Let’s just keep calm and enjoy the safe flight

I remember flying to and from Seattle once for the 1995 Final Four when I took four fellow sportswriters to cover every aspect from Oklahoma State’s aging Eddie Sutton, Arkansas’ volatile Nolan Richardson (fresh off the previous season’s NCAA title), North Carolina’s legendary Dean Smith, and a UCLA staff that included head coach Jim Harrick and assistants Mark Gottfried, Steve Lavin and Lorenzo Romar.

The publisher of my newspaper decided he wanted to go about three days before we were to depart and asked me to leave behind one of the writers. The ticket, you understand, was not in his name, but it didn’t matter to the airline, which gladly allowed him to go as a guy half his age. My publisher was somewhat thin, had black hair and stood about 6-foot-2. The writer whose name he used the ticket for was about 5-foot-9 with curly red hair and was at least 100 pounds heavier.

While the airlines didn’t mind, they did go to the trouble of copying my publisher’s driver’s license. It could have been Charles Manson for all they knew, but the ticket was paid for and a seat was waiting for him.

Try that today and not only will the new guy not be allowed to fly, he’ll probably find himself being detained and questioned for hours.

I like to say I’ve never been behind bars, but I have been to the airport equivalent of jail. My crime? Not having cash or credit to pay a parking fee as I tried to exit the Oklahoma City airport in the late 1980’s. I had a check, which they later accepted, but not before making me feel like a lowly criminal – my excuse was I didn’t know better. After behind held for about three hours as the staff lollygagged around to see if my check for about $20 would indeed clear, I was sent on my merry way.

TimesDaily – Partisan politics ‘enfeeble public administration’

The dance has begun, and if the stakes weren’t so high, it would be amusing.

The dance steps are most obvious in the Republican Party, which has a larger field of candidates and already has had a debate.

To have a chance at becoming their party’s nominee, each candidate must attract the support of a very conservative base.

This has bizarre results when it comes to the stance they must take on specific issues. Most polls indicate a majority of Americans favor increased gun control, lean toward deferring to women on abortion issues, favor diplomacy with Iran, and support marriage rights for gays.

A Republican candidate who espouses the majority view on these issues, however, has little or no chance of surviving the primaries.

The extent to which this forces the candidates to play to extreme views is evident in their treatment of the proposed deal with Iran. Maybe it’s a bad deal or maybe not, but the issue is too complex to expect every single GOP candidate to have the same opinion of it.

There are plenty of smart folks vying for the Republican nomination, and it’s a fair bet most recognize the Iran deal is not susceptible to simplistic evaluation. They probably also recognize the complexities of abortion and other hot-button issues that are contentious.

But intelligent, nuanced views are toxic to candidates of either party. Jeb Bush and Hillary Clinton know they need moderate views to win the general election, but they also know those same views will prevent them from surviving the primaries.

In his farewell address, President George Washington famously warned of the “continual mischiefs of the spirit of party,” making it the “interest and duty of a wise people to discourage and restrain it.” Party politics, he said, would “enfeeble public administration.”

The Gadsden Times – Ultimatum on jail contract

It sometimes takes the pressure and threat of a deadline to get things accomplished. We wouldn’t be surprised if Gov. Robert Bentley, to compel legislators to act with urgency, waited until painfully close to Oct. 1, the start of the fiscal year when Alabama’s General Budget problems will hit Defcon 1, before calling them back to Montgomery for another special session.

A jail contract between Etowah County and the city of Gadsden over housing city inmates doesn’t rival that situation’s significance, but is a pretty big deal locally with close to a million dollars involved.

The last contract expired roughly two years ago, but the county has continued to house inmates at its detention center while negotiations have gone on, so far unsuccessfully.

That will stop at midnight Sept. 30, according to Sheriff Todd Entrekin, if no contract is in place.

At that point, Entrekin said, the county will stop accepting city misdemeanor inmates — the only ones covered under the agreement; cells will remain available for those charged with felonies or arrested on felony warrants. No city inmates already in jail will be turned out onto the streets, either, but given the short nature of their misdemeanor sentences, it shouldn’t take long to clear them all out.

County Commissioner Joey Statum called it a “line in the sand.” That analogy is a little stout, but this is a situation that needs to be resolved.

The city closed its own jail in 1994 after the detention center was built, and has had an arrangement with the county to house inmates ever since. It will pay $857,000 this year for a contractually guaranteed 40 beds, an increase of $17,000 from 2014.

The Huntsville Times – Straight Outta Compton’s power is in its protest songs. It’s time America listened: opinion

Early on in “Straight Outta Compton,” the long-awaited biopic of trailblazing rap group NWA, the group members are accosted by police outside of a recording studio.

The young men – guilty of nothing more than conversing on a corner – are forced to lie with their faces pressed to the asphalt while law enforcement towers over them. One of the officers, an African-American, then tells the group’s white manager Jerry Heller (portrayed by Paul Giamatti) that he’s wasting his time associating himself with “gang-bangers” and that their music could never be considered art.

In the film, that incident is the spark that ignited “F tha Police,” the defiant anti-authority song that became an inferno of controversy, making NWA the most infamous group in America.

Now, was that incident REALLY the catalyst for the most explosive songs in hip-hop history or just Hollywood-branded artistic licensing? Who knows. Besides, it’s irrelevant; the real lesson is the song itself – a track that seared the eyelids off mainstream America, awakening them to the realities of the inner-city life.

Nearly 20 years later, the same defiance that fueled those brazen lyrics still ring true today.

Press-Register – Is this the ‘smoking gun’ that brings Hillary down?

Hillary Clinton. Love her or hate her, she’s resilient. Persistent. And patient.

It’s her time. Right? She weathered her husband’s storm of peace, prosperity and a stained blue dress. And she did her time as Secretary of State in the Chosen One’s administration that brought America back from the brink of the Dubya Disaster.

While The Donald sucks the air out of the GOP circus tent and continues to soak up ALL the media attention, Hillary should be cruising to her party’s nomination. Right? Not so fast, yeller dog donkeys.

It seems Hillary’s Teflon pantsuit is wearing thin. She’s feeling the Bern in New Hampshire. And now the FBI is sifting through her personal/national security emails. 

Is Hillary going down because of something on a thumb drive?

Her husband was nearly impeached because of something that happened with a cigar. Is Hillary going down because of something on a thumb drive? 

Montgomery Advertiser – 1,500+ honor slain seminarian Jonathan Daniels

 A record crowd honored a group of civil rights martyrs Saturday with emphasis on an Episcopal seminary student slain in Hayneville

50 years ago.

More than 1,500 celebrants filled downtown Hayneville where they marched, sang freedom songs and listened to remarks from the future leader of the Episcopal Church in America.

Fifteen martyred civil rights activists and the four girls killed in the bombing of the 16th Street Baptist Church in Birmingham in 1963 were listed in a program distributed to the large turnout, but Jonathan Daniels’ name was the focus of the event.

The 26-year-old New Hampshire native was fatally shot by a shotgun wielding man inside a small convenience store on Aug. 20, 1965, when he attempted to buy a soft drink at a store where he was refused service.

Opelika-Auburn News – Making Auburn better

On May 5, 1998, the Auburn City Council adopted a long-range plan for the city called Auburn 2020.

“Seven committees consisting of approximately 200 citizen volunteers, elected officials, and city staff spent much time and effort toward creating comprehensive reports that address the areas of education, growth and development, intergovernmental relations, transportation, utilities and technology, family and community, and public safety,” a city resolution signed by then-Mayor Jan Dempsey said. “These seven reports outline detailed strategies and goals to guide the decisions of the City Council aimed at making Auburn a better community through citizen involvement.”

Auburn has accomplished many of the “22 Goals for 2020,” which are listed on the city’s website along with the plan. Some of the goals include:

> Continue strong community financial support of the Auburn City Schools with the goal of retaining the reputation as one of the outstanding public school systems in the Southeast.

> Establish a community network of sidewalks and bicycle trails that will allow all citizens to use alternative modes of transportation.

> Construct a senior citizens center to house expanded programs for Auburn’s seniors and a teen center for afternoon and evening recreation for Auburn teenagers.

Auburn 2020 has served the city well, and CompPlan 2030, adopted by the City Council in October 2011, provides goals, objectives and policies on areas such as future land use, natural systems, transportation, parks and recreation, public safety and historic preservation, through 2030.

That plan is designed to be evaluated and updated every five years.

It may be time for Auburn leaders to update both plans to help address the city’s remarkable growth.

Auburn is one of the most desirable cities in which to live in Alabama, as evidenced by population, commercial and industrial gains. Thousands of residents enjoy “The Loveliest Village” because it is not a big city, yet enjoys many amenities that larger cities do not have.

The Tuscaloosa News – Iran deal gives U.S. a stronger leverage

Critics of the Iran nuclear deal claim John Kerry and company improperly downplayed the military option. Had Iran truly believed we would vaporize its nascent nukes — the argument goes — we could have cut a better deal. For this crowd, President Barack Obama’s refrain that our choice is his deal or war is greeted with disdain — or worse. Michael Mandelbaum, in the American Spectator, writes that the deal was negotiated from “a position of self-imposed weakness;” John Bolton claims “no one took Mr. Obama’s threat of military force seriously — a credibility gap that Israel still fears and Iran still exploits.”

But those who think the negotiations and the deal have undermined our position by negating a military option have things backward. This agreement doesn’t just preserve our ability to halt Iran’s “breakout” capacity with a bunker buster bomb; it strengthens our case for action if Tehran sneaks and cheats. This deal doesn’t assume that we live in the best of all possible worlds. Instead, it keeps one eye fixed on the doomsday scenario. And in that case, effective diplomacy will have laid the groundwork for effective use of force.

Tehran has two very good reasons to find our military threat credible, and even more credible today than it was before we struck a deal. For starters, our actions in the neighborhood are becoming increasingly muscular in deterring Iranian aggression. In Yemen we contribute arms, fuel and intelligence to the air campaign against Iran’s destabilizing proxies. This administration has given tens of billions in high-tech weapons to Saudi Arabia, Qatar and the United Arab Emirates, security commitments we’ve redoubled since the deal (the Persian Gulf states, by the way, have endorsed the agreement). I hope we’ll also reach consensus soon on new military assistance for Israel, which more than any other American ally deserves our strong backing.

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