A round-up of Sunday editorials from Alabama’s leading newspapers:
The Anniston Star – Ben Carson’s December swoon
You remember Ben Carson, don’t you?
He’s the retired neurosurgeon who inched his way this fall near the top of Republican presidential polls, a non-politician in the biggest political race on the planet. Not so long ago, Carson was neck-and-neck with New York billionaire and reality TV star Donald Trump, another non-politician, or so he says. Carson was on every cable-news station, in every newspaper, discussed on every political blog, a hot player in a crowded political race.
Today, Carson’s campaign has blown a tire.
He’s no longer near the top of most GOP polls. Trump, full of hubris and bluster and ego, is solidly in the lead — for now, at least. CNN polling shows Carson 8 points lower this weekend than he was not that long ago.
Friday morning, meanwhile, The New York Times detailed two other problems in the Carson camp: the departure of two key staff members and, oddly, criticism of the doctor’s pronunciation of Hamas, the Palestinian militant group. Did he say “Hamas” or “hummus,” a food dip made from mashed-up chickpeas, during a speech in Washington? Only Carson really knows. As for the departure of an adviser and top fundraiser, Carson told The Times, “People come and go, particularly when they feel that things are not being run the way they want them to be run.”
The Birmingham News – Gun violence, control and the Left’s true intentions
For America’s political Left, the problem in San Bernardino wasn’t terrorism. It wasn’t pure evil perpetrated by extremists. Many liberals see the fundamental cause of the murders in San Bernardino as gun ownership itself.
California’s strict gun controls aren’t enough to satisfy them; the truth is that nothing short of state confiscation of firearms ever will be.
In the Golden State, an individual can’t sell a gun to another private citizen without a “private party transfer” through a licensed gun dealer. The process includes a background check and a 10-day waiting period. Gun laws are so restrictive that even firearm transfers between adult siblings in the same family aren’t exempt.
Buying a handgun is another ordeal entirely. A Californian must prove residency, obtain a handgun safety certificate, demonstrate safe handling, purchase a firearm safety device, select a state-approved handgun, pass a background check, and wait for 10 days before they can purchase.
To be clear, that’s just the tip of the iceberg in a state that’s known for its hostile policies towards gun ownership.
But take a look at the Left’s responses to the recent senseless shootings in San Bernardino. President Obama called for “common-sense gun safety laws” and “stronger background checks.” In separate remarks, Hillary Clinton noted, “Something needs to be done to prevent gun violence” before yet again calling for “common-sense” gun reforms. One liberal politico or pundit after another will chime in with a refrain long on “do something” and short on specifics.
The Decatur Daily – It’s time for reasonable gun control
It’s unseemly to discuss gun control in the immediate aftermath of a tragedy, so we won’t talk about the 14 dead and 21 injured in Wednesday’s horrifying attack on a social services center in San Bernardino, California.
There are, sadly, plenty of other shootings to discuss. Indeed, if a mass shooting is defined as one with at least four victims including the shooter, there had been 354 in the United States in the 336 days of 2015 before the one in San Bernardino.
Every mass shooting leads people to different conclusions on gun control. Advocates of reasonable gun control point out that it works. Other developed nations have more stringent controls on gun ownership, and they have dramatically fewer mass shootings.
Others conclude we need more guns, not fewer. We need, as the slogan goes, more good guys with guns.
It’s a theory that works in the movies, where the armed protagonist invariably saves the day.
In real life, however, it rarely goes according to script. Mass shootings end when law enforcement responds, when the shooter ends his own life or when the shooter leaves. It’s almost unheard of for an armed civilian to foil a mass shooter’s plans.
It’s not because of a shortage of gun owners. America has 112 guns for every 100 residents — the highest per capita rate in the world, and almost double that of second-place Serbia. America has plenty of “good guys with guns,” but that does not solve the problem. Despite having the highest rate of legal gun ownership, America has more mass shootings than any developed nation in the world. The U.S. represents less than 5 percent of the global population but accounts for 31 percent of global mass shooters.
More than 60 percent of the world’s school and workplace shootings from 1966 through 2012 were committed in America. We produced five times the number of mass shooters in the past half-century as the second-highest country on the list, the Philippines.
Dothan Eagle – Midland City officials show poor form
There’s an old saying about the process of governing that applies to every legislative body from the U.S. Congress to your local town council: It’s like making sausage, and it isn’t pretty.
That was apparent this week during a meeting at town hall in Midland City. District 3 council member George Williams was questioning Mayor Virgil Skipper about who could use town facilities, and grew frustrated because he wasn’t getting the response he hoped for.
It didn’t take long for tempers to flare and voices to rise, and when Williams stormed out of the meeting, Skipper directed a police officer present to bar Williams from the building if he returned.
That’s a regrettable way to handle the public’s business. Other council members sat silently, looking down at the table uncomfortably while waiting for the storm to pass. Media personnel were present, including a Dothan Eagle reporter who recorded video of the exchange.
Both men embarrassed themselves, and owe an apology to the people they serve. While disagreement is inevitable – even necessary – for good government, raised voices and acrimonious exchanges are counterproductive.
We urge all local government representatives to take a lesson from Midland City’s regrettable episode, and proceed in handling the people’s business with tact and class.
The Enterprise Ledger – Officiating requires as thick skin as politics
Being hard of hearing, and the ability to count, help when it comes to officiating. It probably wouldn’t hurt if an official chose not to read some columns, too. Just please learn to count.
I have some great friends in the business of officiating. I have as much sympathy for their chosen moonlighting efforts as anyone, particularly after the time I was asked to stand in as a high school softball umpire at a small school in the Ozarks. I thought that if I ever managed to escape the ballpark without the pitcher’s father and first cousins twice-removed catching me with their branding irons I would never EVER be put in such a position again.
The invent of instant replay has changed the game at the professional and college level so much, and I certainly never want to see it in the high school games. NFL and NCAA football often seem to have botched calls even after having multiple angles to review, and trying to figure out what you can and what you cannot review is sometimes as baffling as the official calling a pass interference penalty when the defender was simply running alongside the receiver.
In the past, we didn’t have replay after replay that showed a terrible call had been made, so a couple of snaps later we just moved on. Think about how instant replay would have changed the outcome of so many games. I can think of numerous college games, and the St. Louis Cardinals would have finished off Kansas City in Game 6 of the 1985 World Series rather than losing in seven games. Also, Detroit’s Armando Galarraga would have enjoyed a perfect game in 2010 had a blown call at first base been corrected.
The creation of the Mane Capital Fund is an important landmark for the Shoals.
A community that prides itself on creativity, our best and brightest have through the years had to look outside our region for funding when trying to scale up their entrepreneurial startups.
Aside from those with biotech aims, that might no longer be the case.
The Mane Capital Fund is a micro-venture fund established here by the Angel Capital Group, a collection of angels — wealthy investors who provide capital for new businesses in exchange for convertible debt or ownership equity — who established partnerships in nine states.
One Shoals entrepreneur who has been making news in 2015 is Robbie Hillis, who created a water-saving device that has drawn interest from investors on multiple continents. His Ark Labs is a tech-connected water monitoring device that, among other things, can detect leaks or running taps, and alert a home or business owner via computer or cellphone. The owner can then turn off the water, using his tech device, until the problem can be investigated.
It’s a creation that strikes a chord in water-starved nations and the U.S. West Coast, especially, but can be of service to any homeowner and, perhaps more significantly, to big businesses, universities, government agencies, etc.
So the potential for such a device is huge, as recognized by judges in pitch contests and investor groups that have rewarded Hillis and his partners with cash flow, training, ultra-high-speed Internet capabilities and other assets.
Though Ark Labs has access to the Shoals Entrepreneurial Center’s resources, those resources have paled in comparison to some provided by Chattanooga, which recruited Ark Labs with its city-wide gigabyte-per-second Internet access and other entrepreneurial infrastructure.
The Gadsden Times – Start preparing for South 11th Street bridge closure
Mark Dec. 21 on your calendars. There will be a major change to the traffic flow in the city of Gadsden that day, which also will impact suburban residents. Call it B-Day if you will — Bridge Day.
After five years of conversation, planning, delays and rights-of-way acquisition, the bridge over Black Creek on South 11th Street will be shut down, and its replacement will commence.
As we’ve said in previous commentary on the project, it’s about time.
The bridge was built in 1940 — Franklin D. Roosevelt was in his second term as president, the U.S. still was officially neutral in World War II and Paul Bryant was an assistant football coach at Vanderbilt — and has long outlived its usefulness and safety.
It’s rated for 5 tons, meaning the only vehicles that should be crossing it are cars and small trucks, but everyone knows larger vehicles regularly use that route.
The last barrier to its replacement was crossed a year ago, with the completion of a repair project on the bridge on Hickory and Randall streets that required its closure for 13 months. That will be the main detour route for passenger cars when the South 11th Street bridge shuts down, and the two bridges simply couldn’t be simultaneously closed.
It will take at least a year, according to city officials, to replace the South 11th Street bridge. The project — the Gadsden-Etowah Metropolitan Planning Organization is footing most of the bill; the city is pitching in matching funds — also will include some adjustments to the curve heading from South Gadsden toward downtown.
We hope the time frame is accurate. People should be prepared for it to take longer — and we emphasize that word, “prepared.”
The Huntsville Times – Stay away from our guns, John Archibald
I am a “bubba” born and raised in Birmingham, college educated, and a small business owner. I have grown up hunting and fishing the great outdoors on lands all across this country as well as my family’s land that has been passed down generations. I am a responsible gun owner and an avid supporter of the NRA. I own guns for sporting purposes and self-protection and I’m a conceal/carry permit holder. To put it simply, I support the right to bear arms to protect me, my family and those not able to protect themselves from evil doers, madmen and a tyrannical government.
I’m only 50 years old but I’m shocked and saddened to see how far this country has digressed in the last 8-10 years. I could spend all day discussing failed policies from both political parties that have brought us down this path but the largest failure by far and away is the erosion of individual freedoms. It is tearing this country apart!
Simply put, governmental regulations imposed upon the free citizens of this country have crippled our identity. The list is much too long for a re-tort to John Archibald’s anti NRA column on AL.com concerning gun control. Believe me, policies brought forth to further regulate guns and the individual’s right to protect themselves will bring this “bubba” out of his office chair and into the streets like never before.
I’m afraid! Afraid of a government that is paving a path to eliminate individual freedoms in order to support its liberal agenda. Tell me please, where will we be in 100 years if the current path continues? I imagine it would be hard to differentiate our country from any other in the world if current policies continue. Please read that last sentence again. Enough said.
Unfortunately, mass killings will continue without guns. Those hell bent on harming the public will employ other methods. Have you considered pipes bombs, barrel bombs (fertilizer/TNT), vest bombs, chemical warfare, knives and swords? To prevent mass killings would require an armed “policeman” at every door of every building in this country. To build a mass killing device requires a trip through the internet and your local hardware store. Mass killings are done by mentally ill people or individuals/groups driven by an ideology opposing values defined by this country’s founders. Work on reforming mental health policies, work on reforming the visa requirements for entering this country, and work on monitoring those groups that seek to destroy us at home and abroad.
Leave the guns alone. They are only one tool among many.
Press-Register –How the NRA helps arm criminals – Part 2
The United States is awash in blood. No part of the world is immune to violence, but among developed nations, only in the USA is mass murder an almost daily event.
After each incident we hunt for the cause. Could it be an act of terrorism? If so, what type: homegrown anti-government, homegrown racist, radical Islamic?
Perhaps the murderer has a mental illness that led to the violence. Maybe the cause was a workplace or school grudge? Or perhaps the perpetrator was just evil. While sick justifications in the mind of the murderer may vary, almost all have one thing in common, the use of guns.
In mid-November I wrote an opinion piece in AL.com titled “How the NRA helps arm criminals”. The ideas were for all gun sales to be subject to a required background check, for the FBI to be able to hold on to background check records longer (perhaps up to 30 days) to be able to identify straw sellers of guns, for the government to be able to enforce stricter record keeping rules on gun dealers to make it easier to identify corrupt dealers who knowingly sell guns to felons, and for the government to be able to study the causes of gun violence with an eye on developing proposals to cut down on the carnage.
These modest proposals would not eliminate all mass killings, but they would be a start at making it harder for the bad guys to obtain guns without violating anyone’s Second Amendment rights. Everyday violence and mass murders are both an attack on civilization. We have to start somewhere to address a real sickness in our society.
Montgomery Advertiser – Welcome to America
The Left is in love with multiculturalism to the point that they want to impose it on America, even as the effects of this failed practice are proving so destructive in Europe. It was difficult for me to get my head around the Left’s irrational love affair with all things that are not American until I reminded myself exactly what type of people make up the ubiquitous “Left”: burnouts from the sixties, anarchists, malcontents, poorly educated and yet deeply indoctrinated youth that cannot think for themselves, celebrities and Hollywood elites who are so self-absorbed that they believe we actually care what they have to say, and finally, power-hungry politicians who will do and say anything to remain in office. Sadly, this last category is not exclusive to the Left; there are plenty of politicians on the Right who have sold their souls for another term in office.
Sorry, back to multiculturalism. America grew strong because we were a melting pot of people and traditions. We are absolutely a country of immigrants, but historically and traditionally, immigrants wanted to become Americans. They adopted our values and our customs. Not so under the Left’s brand of multiculturalism that holds the “European Model” up as the way of the future.
The Left finds it useful to divide people into factions and sects: have and have nots, the one percent and the ninety-nine, white and black. … They thrive in chaos and by turning people and groups against each other. Even more insidious is the Left’s attempt to change (fundamentally change) the voting demographics of the United States via immigration policy and practice: bring in refugees and illegals, discourage assimilation, and then paint them as victims of the very society that generously allows them to enter and receive assistance. Their plan is criminally brilliant, but very destructive.
The Left, led by President Obama, demonizes any and all who resist their remaking of America. The strawman arguments put forward are powerful: “How can you breakup families, we do not have religious tests for immigration,” and “how can you refuse people a better life?” Although emotionally strong, their logic, as always, is weak. Immigration policies of a country should be determined by the needs of that country, not by the ideology of miscreants. Labor skills, educational potential and likelihood of assimilation into the larger society should be part of any immigration formula. Of course the Left finds any criteria hateful because it interferes with their plans for our country.
Opelika-Auburn News –Salvation Army’s Red Kettle drive helps community
Undaunted by the cool breeze Thursday, a lone Salvation Army volunteer rang a bell alongside a red Salvation Army kettle outside the Walmart in Opelika. She explained she moved here from Illinois, so the cool weather didn’t bother her one bit. She knew she wouldn’t likely see a $500,000 check placed into the kettle like the one anonymously donated last Saturday in Rosemont, Minn., but that’s fine, she said: “Every little bit helps.”
Volunteers started ringing the kettles last Friday at 10 spots in Lee County, seeking donations to support the Salvation Army’s community-oriented service work. They’ll ring their bells through Christmas Eve, joining thousands of volunteers across the nation and around the world participating in a Christmas tradition that dates to 1891.
In a kickoff breakfast for this year’s campaign, Annabelle Tsui, director of the Salvation Army of Lee County Service Center in Auburn, said the Red Kettle Campaign is the organization’s only fundraiser each year. “It helps us raise the needed funds to continue the next year’s social service work,” she explained.
The campaign started 120 years ago as an initiative by Salvation Army Capt. Joseph McFee to feed Christmas dinner to 1,000 homeless and destitute people in San Francisco. Six years later, the initiative had spread along the West Coast and to Boston, and 150,000 people were fed. Today, the Salvation Army assists more than 4.5 million people in the United States during the Thanksgiving and Christmas holidays, according to its website.
“The magic of the red kettle is, it has the power to empower people to give regardless of age or economic status,” Tsui said. “How many times we’ve seen children pass the kettle and say, ‘Mom, we got to drop some coins in!’”
The Tuscaloosa News –Stillman made right decision to drop football
We are disappointed that Stillman College has opted to drop its football program. Certainly, this is news that hit Thursday like a body blow to the players and coaches who had just completed the season. After a 49-year hiatus, Stillman revived its program in 1999, only to kill it again Thursday.
The players at the historically black college compete at the NCAA Division II level. They didn’t get the same glory showered upon their counterparts just down the road at Bryant-Denny Stadium. But they worked just as hard and in many instances sacrificed even more for the love of the game and the opportunity to play it while earning an education.
The coaches at Stillman don’t get paid as much as their counterparts at larger institutions. But their pride in their work, desire to help boys grow into productive young men and the hours they work are often on scale with big time football.
The students and alumni will no longer have the opportunity to show school pride on fall Saturdays. The cheers, music and camaraderie that go along with being in the stands will be stilled and silenced.
It is sad. Unfortunately, it is also necessary.
Dr. Peter Millet took office as president of Stillman in July 2014. We doubt he had any idea when he walked into his office on that first day what he was getting himself into. Millet inherited a hot mess and a daunting debt load. The previous administration had not only caused a rift between the school and parts of the community, it had spent what little money was available unwisely.