A round-up of Sunday editorials from Alabama’s leading newspapers:
The Anniston Star – Small steps in Anniston
Three recent victories in Anniston’s bid to reduce its collection of empty storefronts:
— The Marvin’s building materials building on McClellan Boulevard.
— The Food World building on South Quintard Avenue.
— The Kmart building on McClellan Boulevard.
If you’ve driven north of downtown recently, you’ve seen the progress on the future home of Anniston Fire Station No. 3 at the old Marvin’s site, which had been vacant since 2011. For 15 years, the building that housed Anniston’s Food World just north of Oxford sat vacant in what remains one of the city’s most attractive unused locations. Earlier this year, Tuscaloosa-based Pate Holdings finally removed the eyesore, which improves the city’s ability to market a piece of prime real estate. And the former Kmart building, empty since 2013, is scheduled to be sold to Mississippi-based developer Second Street Plaza, which plans to repurpose the property.
The Birmingham News – Don’t blame Trump and Hillary for family spats; Blame the tree octopus
You can blame Uncle Charlie’s religion or his medication when he swears, over Thanksgiving turkey, that the world is 6,000 years old and dinosaur bones are God’s clever design to test our faith.
Or you can nod knowingly, and blame the Pacific Northwest Tree Octopus.
You can blame Alabama Public Service Commission President Twinkle Cavanaugh when your father-in-law argues that climate change is a left-wing fantasy, that God’s greatest gift to humanity is warm, comfortable, clean-burning coal.
Some might quote NASA, which says “Humans have burned enough fossil fuels to drive atmospheric CO2 to levels that world hasn’t seen in at least 400,000 years. That’s driven up temperatures, melted ice and caused oceans to acidify.”
But he’ll dismiss that like a California fairy tale.
So nod and smile. And think of the Pacific Northwest Tree Octopus.
The Decatur Daily – City and schools can be proud of football success
When the high school football season began in late August, teams at Austin High and Decatur Heritage Christian Academy had no reason to expect they’d still be playing after Thanksgiving.
Austin hasn’t had a tradition of success in the football postseason. Even though the school had a number of winning regular seasons in recent years, the football team hadn’t won a playoff game during the lifetime of any current players.
Decatur Heritage also had a modest outlook. This was only its sixth season to field a team and fourth season to be eligible for the state playoffs. The program is so young, it doesn’t have its own stadium.
But three months later, Austin and Decatur Heritage have three playoff wins each and spots in tonight’s state semifinals. Austin has a 10-3 overall record, and Decatur Heritage is 12-1. Congratulations to coaches, players and fans at both schools for the remarkable and memorable seasons.
The community should savor the accomplishments, recognize the teams are special and take advantage of the rare opportunity to watch a local school play a state semifinal game. This is the first time since 1983 that a city team has made the state semifinals in football and the first time since the playoffs began in 1966 that two teams from Decatur have advanced this far in the same year.
Austin will be the home team tonight at Ogle Stadium and faces a tremendous challenge. The Black Bears’ opponent is undefeated Clay-Chalkville (13-0), which is ranked No. 1 in Class 6A in the state and has won 28 consecutive games.
Dothan Eagle – Happy Thanksgiving
A skit on the long-running Saturday Night Live last week struck a chord with many viewers as the Thanksgiving holiday approached. An extended family had settled in for the holiday meal, and as everyone reached for their utensils, the knives came out. Stereotypical, pointed remarks on political and social issues rubbed folks the wrong way, and a child restored order by pressing play on a tape deck and filling the room with the pleasing sounds of Adele (the program’s musical guest).
Comedy works because it pokes fun at our foibles, and many groups of families and friends will tread lightly as they gather for a Thanksgiving meal today. It’s a wise move. Many people will travel long miles for the opportunity to spend time with loved ones. On the menu will be turkey, dressing and vegetables, fellowship, camaraderie and memory making.
It may take a bit of effort to ensure those memories are warm and fuzzy, particularly in the midst of a contentious presidential campaign season that grows more divisive by the day.
Robert Louis Stevenson once quipped that politics “is perhaps the only profession for which no preparation is thought necessary.” He might well have meant “for which no preparation of thought is necessary,” as politicians and their supporters, critics and apologists all too often speak without thinking.
And while Pericles may well have been right in 430 B.C. when he pointed out that “just because you do not take an interest in politics doesn’t mean politics won’t take an interest in you,” it won’t kill anyone to give it a rest for one day.
We suggest calling a moratorium on political banter during the holiday festivities, adhering to the adage that politics and religion have no place in polite table talk. Not so much religion; after all, we live in the buckle of the Bible Belt. We cannot imagine a Thanksgiving meal without blessing the food, and in these parts, religion is more comfort than controversy.
The Enterprise Ledger – Thanks to Mama for having me in this country
I often ride the current administration of President Obama and his cast of misfits – oops, I did it again, didn’t I? But, as I said on the day he was elected, I hope he will become the greatest president ever.
Needless to say, my hopes have been somewhat dashed, sooner rather than later I might add.
That said, I still hope he can finish his next 13-14 months in office on a strong note. He is our president, so to not pull for him, well, that would just be, as my father would say, “Cutting off your nose to spite your face.”
Despite everything, we are still the USA and as long as there is a red, white and blue flag to defend, there is no place better – or safer – to be on earth. We can bicker all we like, which, as it has been said many times over, is something you can’t do in many countries. Disagree with the leadership in some countries, or even kneel and pray to your God, and you could be one of those having your beheading recorded for the internet.
That’s reason enough for us to give thanks this week.
But, here are a few others:
If ever there was a time for thanks in my family, it is that we get to spend some more time with our mother. The lady who has no faults that I can tell gave us quite a scare a few months back. Now, she’s home and giving everyone from her children to grandchildren the greatest thanksgiving ever, even if from afar.
TimesDaily – Blessings are brighter against dark background
Any decent oddsmaker would tell you it was bound to happen eventually: a Thanksgiving devoid of blessings for which we should be thankful.
Look around you and it is clear history finally caught up with the Grinch’s evaluation. Religious lunatics shoot and bomb the innocent in Paris, in Syria, in Lebanon and Africa, and threaten to do the same in the United States. Homegrown lunatics kill our neighbors.
Just out of one recession, experts warn another could be on the horizon. Homelessness is rampant, and most of us are one paycheck away from disaster. Politics and fear divide us.
So bleak is this year that it recalls other forlorn moments in our nation’s history. In 1621, for example, settlers in Plymouth Plantation questioned their wisdom in making the journey to the New World. They were cold and hungry. They died of sickness and malnutrition, and were in constant fear of Native Americans.
Or there was 1863, when Civil War tore our nation apart and left soldiers dead and their loved ones hungry.
Or there was 1935, when the gnarled hand of the Great Depression had a death grip on the national economy.
The deprivation of the pilgrims in 1621, oddly enough, was the background of America’s first Thanksgiving.
And the bloody strife of 1863 was the context in which President Abraham Lincoln proclaimed a national Thanksgiving Day, to be celebrated on the final Thursday of November. Mr. Lincoln marveled that no foreign nation had attacked during our Civil War and that peace prevailed outside the horrors of the battlefield.
In 1935, President Franklin Delano Roosevelt not only proclaimed Thanksgiving despite widespread hardship, but gave thanks that, because of the hardship, “more and more of our people understand and seek the greater good of the greater number.”
The paradox of Thanksgiving is that we can better identify the brightness of our blessings against a dark background.
Times are bleak. We need expend much less effort than our forefathers in 1621, 1863 and 1935, however, to identify our blessings.
The Gadsden Times – Tough decision for Gadsden State
The 2016 women’s softball season at Gadsden State Community will be bittersweet — because it will be the last one.
School President Martha Lavender announced last week that the program, which dates back to the 1980s (and over the years made the transition from slow pitch to fast pitch), is being eliminated following next year’s spring season.
Lavender said the decision to drop softball was made “after careful consideration of all options.”
We don’t doubt that, given the leadership Lavender has shown — and we have praised — since she became president.
She said the college’s current financial situation had to be considered, and responsible budgetary decisions made, to allow it to fulfill its primary mission — providing academic education, workforce development and adult education opportunities to its students.
We’re on the same page there. Extracurricular activities like athletics absolutely are a vital part of the postsecondary education experience, but they are just sauce on the steak (to use a food metaphor).
We know those words won’t be a balm to the team’s 18 players who are losing their team and, in some cases, their ticket to an education. (Scholarships will be honored through the 2015-2016 academic year, and school officials say they will help players look for opportunities with other schools or with financial aid and academic scholarship options.)
Neither will it comfort folks who remember the glory days of Gadsden State athletics, when bleachers and grandstands were filled with fans for the biggest games, defying the line that commuter schools couldn’t inspire spirit or loyalty.
The Huntsville Times – How the University of Alabama produced two top Clinton staffers
Reports of the death of the Alabama Democrat have been greatly exaggerated.
To be clear, the Alabama Democratic Party is in disarray and the party’s bench is as shallow as it has ever been. The state won’t be voting for a Democratic president in 2016… or even 2020. However, there are more Democrats in Alabama than conventional wisdom would suggest. In 2012, nearly 800,000 residents voted for Barack Obama. That’s more Democratic voters in the Heart of Dixie than live in Delaware, Hawaii, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Mexico, Rhode Island, and Vermont, all states that went blue.
And the University of Alabama continues to serve as a proving ground for political tacticians from both sides of the aisle. On a rainy Saturday in Tuscaloosa – just hours before the Tide’s season altering beat down of LSU – two Hillary Clinton campaign staffers with UA ties sat down to discuss the fate of the Southern Democrat, the appeal of the Clinton campaign, the importance of the Avery Johnson hire and how cutthroat Alabama SGA campaigns churn out politicians.
Matt Dover graduated from the University of Alabama in 2007, earned his Master of Public Policy degree at Harvard in 2011, served as President Obama’s Deputy Battleground States Analytics Director during the 2012 campaign. He currently serves as a member of Hillary Clinton’s Analytics team but is, perhaps, better known in these parts for his former stint as an Alabama basketball analyst for Roll Bama Roll.
Ian Sams is a member of Clinton’s Rapid Response team, following two years as a regional press secretary for the Democratic National Committee. He graduated from the University of Alabama in 2011 – and, full disclosure, was a classmate and friend of mine.
Press-Register –Are sites like FanDuel based on luck or skill?
As a sports media scholar who has conducted research on fantasy sports play, I find myself fielding quite a few questions from a variety of constituencies relating to the rapid explosion of daily, weekly and season-long fantasy games. Usually, it’s the core question: “Do you think this stuff is gambling?” My response is usually some variation of: how much time do you have?
One thing is clear: fantasy sports are now mainstream. Just because Alabama doesn’t have a professional team doesn’t make it immune; 56.8 million North Americans now play fantasy sports in some form—and that covers every state including, most certainly, Alabama. Want an extra reason to root for Julio Jones? Fantasy football could be for you.
For the uninitiated, fantasy sports involve selecting players from various teams within a league, drafting them as your own, and competing against others to become your own General Manager. Traditional fantasy sports play consists of typically 10-12 people in a league, most of whom are friends or family, building teams and attempting to claim league domination. Money is involved, but it’s negligible; 90% of traditional players spend less than $50 per season—half play for free.
Daily and weekly fantasy sports use many of the same mechanisms, but allow one to draft a new team for each game. They also are much more fee-driven. FanDuel and DraftKings have quickly emerged as billion-dollar companies. In this model, players are assigned values, daily fantasy participants select athletes while under a salary cap and–much like traditional fantasy play—winners are determined via on-field performance.
The Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act of 2006 created an exception, a carve-out, for traditional fantasy participation, arguing that these games inordinately focus on skill rather than luck. The crux of the arguments today pertains to whether daily and weekly fantasy leagues should be part of this exception as well.
Montgomery Advertiser – ‘What’s really missing?’
That question has become prevalent in current discussions of the non-traditional candidates for the Republican nomination for president. It is usually followed by another question: “What is so appealing about two people who have never held public office and never campaigned for one?” From an analytical standpoint, the focus of those questions may be misplaced. Indeed, the poll numbers – which seem to indicate that the two leading candidates command more than 50 percent of Republican support – probably define the respondents to the poll more than the subjects of the poll. After all, we are defined by our taste in cars, hobbies, clothing, food and movies. Why not leaders?
We can draw scant conclusions about the proclivities of the thousands who “cheered” Fidel Castro, “adored” Saddam Hussein or “revered” Idi Amin. They were coerced to do so on pain of deprivation of pursuit of happiness, liberty and life – in that order. But here in the United States, we are blessedly free to support leaders based on our independent, personal choices. Of all the benchmarks that influence our preference for workers at any level, including candidates for public office, qualification is the chief index of fitness. We are consistently trained at home and in kindergarten, Little League, Girl Scouts and the military that America is a meritocracy – where you get ahead based on solid preparation and hard work, where God grants grace, but man rewards effort.
The popularity of two untrained, inexperienced and, in some instances, contextually ignorant, people for the most important and powerful job in the world indicates that a substantial portion of the American public has abandoned its presumed allegiance to merit and has willingly accepted the risk to national security that such ignorance clearly portends. There are at least three reasons why this patently un-American mindset has surfaced. Perhaps no one of them fully contaminates evaluation of prospective leaders, but in combination, they constitute a toxin that jeopardizes our constitutional democracy.
Our nation, its institutions and its people have been dumbed down. Facilitated by a decline in the efficacy of public education, the rejection of intellect, the political correctness of rewarding mediocrity and the estrangement from intellectual analysis fueled by the Internet, we have become an aggregation far more interested in outcome than in process. As long as a leader promises a desired outcome, millions of voters could care less about his or her plan for achieving it. Because they have not bothered to become intelligent about process, they do not – or cannot – even discern intellectual shortcomings. In turn, since they do not know if asserted propositions are factual, they don’t care.
Opelika-Auburn News –Iron Bowl offers chance for good-hearted rivalry
With the leftover turkey and sweet potatoes stored away in the refrigerator and the mad dash of early Black Friday shopping marked off the list, it’s time to turn attention to what’s certainly the biggest spectacle in the state each year: the Iron Bowl.
The Auburn Tigers will take on the Alabama Crimson Tide tomorrow at 2:30 p.m. at Jordan-Hare Stadium, and as is the case every year, the anticipation grows as fans on each side of the heated rivalry claim supremacy for their side in the days and hours leading up to kickoff.
RVs were parked at area campgrounds this week in time for football-themed family Thanksgiving celebrations, and the population of Lee County will continue to swell today and tomorrow in advance of the biggest football game in the state.
We extend a warm welcome to fans of Auburn and Alabama alike, and hope all will enjoy their visit to the Loveliest Village on the Plains. We hope all will party responsibly and keep the rivalry good-hearted. Remember, no matter how many generations of your family have rooted for your favorite team or how hard a rival is pushing you to get a response, at the center of it all is a bunch of college kids playing a game. Both schools are in the same state, and the students, alumni and fans of both institutions have way more in common than the Orange-and-Blue or Crimson-and-White that divide them.
Fans should mirror the sportsmanship and class shown by the athletes and coaches on the field, play by the rules and enjoy the revelry of the rivalry.
The Tuscaloosa News –Giving back makes a better community
We are thankful for local businesses, especially those that work hard not only to make a dollar but to make Tuscaloosa a better place to call home. We have a lot of those types of businesses here. But today, one stands out.
Chuck’s Fish, downtown at 508 Greensboro Ave., will open from 11 a.m.-4 p.m. to provide a free Thanksgiving meal to anyone who wants one. Unfortunately, many among us do not have the means to purchase a decent holiday meal. Still others are away from family and would enjoy not having to spend the day alone.
The meal is free, but those who go can leave a donation. In turn, Chuck’s will send all donations to Project Blessings, a local non-profit that helps low-income homeowners in
Tuscaloosa County make repairs to their homes.
We’re thankful that dozens of non-profit organizations in our community work to make life a little better for everyone in our area. We know those organizations, some large and some small, rely in large part on the generosity of the local business community.
During the holiday season, that generosity is on glorious display down by the Black Warrior River. The annual Tinsel Trail is a parade of more than 100 Christmas trees paid for and decorated by local businesses. The trees are a treat for residents strolling along the Riverwalk, but it is more than just a show. It is the biggest fundraiser of the year for Tuscaloosa’s One Place, which provides a wide range of services to those in need in our community.