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 StarA fine week for the GOP

In the span of two days, Donald Trump has said he would “bomb the (expletive) out of” ISIS if he were president, gave a rambling, nonsensical campaign speech in Iowa and enjoyed a little Friday the 13th fun at the expense of his chief rival, Ben Carson.

It’s Trump, unfiltered and raw as he battles Carson for the top spot among Republican presidential polls.

At some point, the GOP side of the 2016 campaign will surely evolve into a more thoughtful discussion about policy and America’s needs. For now, however, the second level of Republicans in most polls — Ted Cruz, Marco Rubio and Jeb Bush — continues to be overshadowed by Trump’s volume and Carson’s odd statements. If the New York billionaire was trying to recapture Republican headlines this week, he succeeded.

His statement about ISIS was crude, and it made for a good sound bite. It drew a few laughs, like a dirty locker-room joke. Plus, and let’s be frank, saying you’d bomb terrorists into submission is easy on the campaign trail and much harder to do once in the Oval Office.

His 90-minute Iowa speech was less an oration and more of a “sit down at the bar and hear The Donald carry on.” If Trump thought it, he said it, ramifications be damned. He pumped his new book. He touted his resume. He railed against President Obama and Carson, none of which is new ground. No reason to have a script if you’re not going to stay on it, anyway.

The Birmingham News – Paris Attacks: Do the bad guys win in the real world?

It was a long night in Paris, and they’ll have many more. My wife and I stayed up watching the horrible events unfold.

The chaos, confusion and pain were palpable. I imagine this is what it felt like across the Atlantic watching the terrorist attacks of 9/11 unfold in the United States.

I was tired this morning. I’ve also been tired of feeling like we’re permanently trapped between war and peace.

My sons don’t know what happened in France. All they know was that it’s 6 am on a Saturday. Neither the Legos inside nor the piles of leaves outside are going to play with themselves.

As we scrounged for breakfast before setting out this morning, I randomly asked them a question from a heavy heart: “Boys, do the bad guys win in the real world?”

Maybe I hoped for them to give me a “superhero” style answer to lift my spirits or at least demonstrate the childish innocence with regard to the evils we truly face.

“Of course not, dad,” said my eldest. “If you’re angry, you don’t win.”

The Decatur Daily – There’s reason for the early season

Every year it seems as if the Christmas season starts earlier than it did last year, and every year the complaints about the early Christmas season start earlier, too.

Maybe it’s the sight of artificial Christmas trees for sale before we’ve had a chance to carve pumpkins for Halloween, or maybe it’s the Christmas movies that start airing on the Hallmark Channel in September, but it all seems a little too much. At least the companies that used to sell mail-order Christmas music — compilations of Perry Como, Frank Sinatra or Elvis Presley seasonal standards — had an excuse. Those old vinyl albums and cassette tapes took six to eight weeks to deliver, which is so 20th century.

Dothan Eagle – A new generation of appreciation

Each year on Nov. 11, many Americans stop to recognize the efforts of the men and women who have served our country in the military. Some communities have parades, some have events, and some have both, but most have some sort of recognition of the sacrifice our veterans have made in the service of our country.

These moments are usually attended by adults – veterans themselves, family members, and others who have lived through wartime and recognize the depth of gratitude our nation owes its committed veterans.

But on Wednesday in Ozark, the Veterans Day ceremony at Woodlawn Memorial Gardens was remarkable in that there were many young people in attendance, as well as participating in the ceremony in some way. Some are involved with Carroll High School’s JROTC program. Others are involved with Dale County’s Girl Scouts. Some simply attended because they wanted to.

What brought the young people to the ceremony isn’t really important; it’s their interest in marking the contribution of the men and women of service that matters most.

The Enterprise Ledger – Thank goodness for the buckle polishers

On Tuesday, the U.S. Marine Corps celebrated its 240th birthday, and today of course is what we celebrate as Veterans Day, although its origin began as Armistice Day in 1919 when President Woodrow Wilson proclaimed the following : “To us in America, the reflections of Armistice Day will be filled with solemn pride in the heroism of those who died in the country’s service and with gratitude for the victory, both because of the thing from which it has freed us and because of the opportunity it has given America to show her sympathy with peace and justice in the councils of the nations…”

I respect anyone until they give me reason to do otherwise, but someone that has fought for our country so that we can live in the greatest country in the world, well, they get a respect level a notch or two above most.

Quite frankly, I’ve had some unpleasant dealings over the years with members and former members of the military. I’ve had a general at a college and a superintendent many years ago with military backgrounds lie to me as sure as the nose on their face, and a law enforcement officer in another state that was ex-military was about the most hypocritical person I’ve ever seen in uniform. Oh, the stories I could tell.

I recently picked up hundreds of pecans. Guess what? A few of them were bad. It happens.

There are people with bad or misguided intentions in every walk of life, just as sure as there are some good people in Colorado (look real hard, you’ll find a few).

TimesDaily – Our natural resources belong to all of us

Imagine your neighbor continually tossing his garbage into your yard.

You could tell him to stop. If he doesn’t, you could call the police. If your neighbor somehow managed to damage your property, you could take him to court. Protecting private property from unwelcome incursions is easy, and the mechanisms for how to do it have been part of our common law for centuries.

Protecting our rivers, lakes and streams, as well as the air we breathe, however, is more problematic. Air and water are in constant motion. As the Greek philosopher Heraclitus said some 2,500 years ago, you can’t step into the same river twice.

Our air and water are, by their nature, commons. As such, they are subject to what ecologist Garrett Hardin in 1968 called “the tragedy of the commons.” When something is owned by everyone, it is, in practice, owned by no one, and thus no one has much incentive to take care of it.

That is why it falls to government to protect our common resources — air and water. Yet because of budget cuts, the Alabama Department of Environmental Management is perilously close to being unable to do its job of protecting Alabama’s air and waterways.

The Tennessee River is the lifeblood of the Tennessee Valley, a vital artery for transportation, obviously, but also a source of sports and recreation. Unfortunately, many who have fished the river for decades don’t believe it’s safe to eat the fish they catch.

The Alabama Department of Public Health has fish advisories in effect in Limestone, Lawrence and Morgan counties because of high levels of mercury and perfluorooctane sulfonate.

Since 2010, the Legislature has cut ADEM’s General Fund appropriation by 83 percent, according to a memorandum ADEM Director Lance LeFleur sent in September to the Environmental Management Commission.            

The Gadsden Times – Simplifying can be complicated

Simplifying my life has complicated it enormously. Well, sort of — it’s complicated.

Let’s go back a bit. I’ve mentioned several times over the last few months that I’ve been attempting to better organize my life. In fact, it was one of my New Year’s resolutions. Y’all read that right — it’s November, and I’m still working on New Year’s resolutions! It was a resolution for 2015, though, not a previous one. I’m not THAT disorganized.

Back in May, I mentioned Marie Kondo’s book, “The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up,” and its meteoric rise through the bestseller lists. I never thought a book about organization would sell so well, but she obviously has hit a cultural nerve. There also are innumerable websites devoted to “life-hacks” — a new word coinage that defines a simple, if inelegant, method for making life easier — ranging from the simple to the bizarre.

All these organizational schemes are commonsensical. Honestly. The one I’ve tried that worked the best is the “Hipster PDA” put forth on the 43folders.com website by Merlin Mann. PDA abbreviates the phrase “personal digital assistant” and describes those late 1990s-era electronic devices like the Blackberry. The role of those machines in organizing one’s life has largely been taken over by modern smartphones, just like PDAs themselves replaced the ubiquitous Day Runner notebooks of an earlier time. Basically, the Hipster PDA concept is this (as Mann eloquently and hilariously puts it): “1. Get a bunch of 3×5 file cards; 2. Clip them together with a binder clip; 3. There is no Step 3.”

The Huntsville Times – Free college would dilute value of a degree

I was talking with a friend the other day about the first Democratic debate, and after discussing a variety of the issues, he mentioned both Bernie Sanders’ and Hillary Clinton’s college reform plans, saying, “I love their college plans because they would help people our age directly and immediately.”  I agreed that there is something compelling about a candidate whose political proposition directly benefits you and your peers.  “But,” he conceded, “It just won’t work.”  I agreed; it’s just not fiscally feasible.  And despite the money element, it is not a good idea to make higher education exponentially easier to pursue, for it will utterly devalue the college degree.

I agree with that there needs to be college reform, but rather than the costs, it needs to tackle the lowering of standards and other factors relating to the inadequacy of the college degree in providing graduates sufficient opportunity to get good-paying jobs.

The two presidential candidates touted their plans to make public higher education accessible at no cost to students.  If either proposal is put into practice, I have no doubt, more students will enroll and receive degrees and if the goal is to create more college graduates, either proposal will suffice.  But we must ask: is this the kind of college reform we need?  And what is the cost?  I, as a university student, think this is the worst thing that can be done for higher education.  We are already seeing the college degree devalue almost daily, as if it is a piece of stock.  According to the Economic Policy Institute, wages are 2.5 percent lower for university grads than they were in 2000.  Also, the majority of employers require applicants to have minimum of five years of work experience, even for entry-level positions.  A relative of mine graduated with a B.S. in mechanical engineering last spring and can’t get hired because he hasn’t had the desired experience.  He currently lives in Huntsville, which boasts a wealth of potential employers for the engineering field, such as Adtran, Boeing, and PPG, and yet he cannot even get an interview.  The degree is not holding enough weight within itself; it is not giving people an opportunity to place a foot in the door of the workplace.  The economy does not need more college graduates.  It cannot sufficiently employ those it already has.  If universities are overloaded with students, degrees will continue to decline in value.

Press-Register –Will we carve “safe spaces” out of free speech?

Public college campuses strive to have plenty of safe spaces for students. That’s just a fact. If students aren’t safe, schools won’t be successful for very long.

But recent calls for “safe spaces” at colleges and universities seem to be different demands entirely.

So what exactly are students at schools like Claremont McKenna, Missouri, Yale and even the University of Alabama demanding?

Safe zones aren’t, or at least shouldn’t be, about physical safety or preventing illegal conduct. When it comes to issues of breaking and entering or assault as recently alleged by University of Alabama Senior Amanda Bennett, “safe zones” aren’t enough. Those acts are criminal and should be combatted by universities and law enforcement wherever they occur. The laws that protect us aren’t limited to physical violence either. We already have statutes to prevent intimidation and harassment.

So let’s assume we’re not talking about letting criminal conduct go unpunished everywhere outside the requested “safe spaces.” 

Then certainly it must have something to do with the right to gather publicly?

Montgomery Advertiser – U.S. gun culture deadlier than Islamic extremists

On the TV in front of me, along the bottom where news updates scroll by, the number of dead continued to rise in France.

The first reports had it at 18 “feared” dead. Then it was 35. Then 60. By late Friday evening, well, you know.

It was an awful, awful thing to watch unfold. I can only imagine what it must’ve been like to live it.

That, of course, is not enough – to just feel bad and wish the French people a quick recovery. People love to inject a personal belief and a critique into most everything. And so, by late Friday night, the discussions over private gun ownership laws and the culpability of the Islamic faith had begun.

The latter is complicated. The former is a math problem so easy even the anti-Common Core crowd can understand it.

France has serious gun regulations, because French leaders at some point in the past realized that guns can kill people pretty easily. So, the French government decided to take as many reasonable steps as possible to ensure the safety of all citizens on a daily basis by imposing requirements for gun ownership. Those requirements include psychological tests and safety courses.

Opelika-Auburn News –Thank a veteran, today and every day

Flags will be flying proudly today as Americans recite the Pledge of Allegiance, sing the Star-Spangled Banner and participate in recognition services large and small in observance of Veterans Day 2015. It’s a day that has been set aside to honor the sacrifices of American military men and women who have fought to keep America free.

The annual day of recognition has its roots in the end of World War 1. According to the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs website, “World War I – known at the time as ‘The Great War’ – officially ended when the Treaty of Versailles was signed on June 28, 1919, in the Palace of Versailles outside the town of Versailles, France. However, fighting ceased seven months earlier when an armistice, or temporary cessation of hostilities, between the Allied nations and Germany went into effect on the eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month. For that reason, November 11, 1918, is generally regarded as the end of ‘the war to end all wars.’”

Congress made Armistice Day an official holiday in 1938, and it was renamed Veterans Day in 1954 as a day to honor veterans of all wars.

It’s an appropriate day to thank our living veterans as well as a somber day of remembrance of those who have died. It’s encouraging that Veterans Day observances have grown in size and number in recent years. Nowadays, Veterans Day programs are presented by many city governments as well as by schools, organizations, churches and businesses; every veteran should be able to find a recognition service within easy reach.

The number of restaurants offering free meals or discounts to veterans on Veterans Day has also grown. A listing of national chains offering such deals is available at http://themilitarywallet.com/veterans-day-free-meals-and-discounts/.

We should all take the opportunity to thank a veteran this Veterans Day, to remember those who have died, and to resolve to make a habit of showing our appreciation to American veterans at every opportunity that arises.

The Tuscaloosa News –Candidates due fair treatment by media

Republican presidential candidate Ben Carson is complaining about the scrutiny being focused on him. Critics claim he’s a crybaby. Supporters say it’s a media hatchet job. We believe that anybody who runs for president should be prepared for the most intense scrutiny possible. But the standards should be applied uniformly.

And where Carson has a point is that hasn’t always been the case. Take for instance the issue that has arisen over Sen. Marco Rubio’s voting record in the Senate. Granted, the issue was most recently raised by a Republican opponent, but it’s hard to recall the news media devoting similar attention to the issue the last time a freshman senator made a run at the presidency.

How many votes did Barack Obama miss while on the campaign trail in 2008? Nobody talked about it much. In fact, if we recall correctly, Sen. John McCain was criticized for looking panicky when he chose to abandon the campaign trail and return to Washington as the financial crisis worsened in 2008. Meanwhile, Obama drew praise for remaining calm and continuing to campaign through the crisis.

Nor was much scrutiny given to the company Obama kept, namely unsavory characters like Bill Ayers and the Rev. Jeremiah Wright. Meanwhile, the Alaskan woods crawled with reporters as McCain’s running mate, Sarah Palin, was vetted by reporters.

There was nothing wrong with vetting Palin since she would have been a heartbeat away from the Oval Office. But the disparity between the news media’s fascination with her past and its yawning glance at Obama was noticeable.

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