- Associated Press - Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Recent editorials from Georgia newspapers:

Feb. 20

Savannah (Ga.) Morning News on needing to re-do tags:

It’s healthy for Georgians to know their history. This includes Southern history. It’s part of the glue that helps bind this region of the country, along with the people who call it home.

For that reason, it’s disheartening to see the controversy that has erupted over a specialty license plate that the Georgia Department of Revenue recently approved for Peach State motorists.

It was completely avoidable.

Unfortunately, revenue department officials who were asleep at the switch recently gave their blessing to a new tag that shows a large Confederate battle flag in the background, covering the entire plate.

The Sons of Confederate Veterans, a heritage group, sought the change. The new tag replaces an older specialty tag that includes the group’s official emblem, which incorporates a smaller version of the battle flag.

It’s unclear why the Sons sought the gaudier tag. The old one was tasteful and respectful. It allowed members of the organization to show their pride in their heritage, while not offending those who are understandably offended by what the battle flag has sometimes symbolized - hate and division.

That’s critical. Back in the 1950s and 1960s, racist groups like the Ku Klux Klan hijacked the battle flag. It became part of their brand. So while some Georgians look at this flag and see honor and self-sacrifice, others see pure malevolence. Both observations are correct.

More puzzling is why Revenue Commissioner Douglas J. MacGinnitie, a seemingly intelligent bureaucrat, would approve a more strident, in-your-face version of the state tag. A state tag isn’t a bumper sticker. It’s an official statement of state government.

The commissioner must not remember the painful - but necessary - effort a dozen years ago to remove the battle flag from Georgia’s state flag. It helped cost a sitting governor, Roy Barnes, a second term in 2002. This change righted a wrong that occurred in 1956, when lawmakers added the battle flag at a time when many white Southerners felt threatened by the growing civil rights movement.

No one in their right minds wants to revisit that era, stir up dormant passions or needlessly divide Georgians - especially Gov. Nathan Deal, who’s running for re-election this year.

Deal said he wasn’t aware that MacGinnitie, one of his appointees, approved a flashier tag that has angered groups like the Southern Christian Leadership Conference.

“I’ll have to talk to them about it,” Deal said. We hope he does.

We also hope he orders a re-do.

If anything, the newer tag design is redundant. It duplicates an image that’s already on the tag.

But if MacGinnitie wants to ramp things up for the Sons, then he should endorse the official Confederate flag for the tag’s background. This flag, known as the Stars and Bars, was incorporated into Georgia’s state flag in 2003.

It offends no one.

More importantly, it shows the proper respect for history.




Feb. 19

The Telegraph, Macon, Ga., on airport security not a Second Amendment debate:

There are lawmakers in Atlanta who will stoop to any lengths to kowtow to the gun-toting public, particularly its leadership. However, even the gun-toting public understands when something is going a little too far.

There have been attempts in Georgia to allow students with gun carry permits to brandish their weapons on college campuses over the objections of college presidents. A few sessions ago, there was a push to allow employees to bring weapons on their jobs against the will of their employers. And there was another push to allow guns in airports. Fortunately, those attempts failed.

Now there is a proposal to allow weapons in churches and bars - something even the gun-toting public sees as problematic - yet it passed the House on Tuesday. And there are lawmakers who want to give those caught in the screening process with a weapon at airports a pass.

This effort, unlike the others, is not a legitimate Second Amendment debate. As the old saw states: “Ignorance of the law is no excuse.” Sure, there are some people who simply forget they are packing a firearm, just as there are those who forget the speed limit is 55 mph. Those offenders are handed a ticket and pay fines.

We won’t talk about irresponsible behavior as state Sen. Nan Orrock, D-Atlanta, did when asked about the proposal to let those who “innocently” forget they have a weapon to go free. “If we have people who are so indifferent and careless with their weapon that they can stand up with a straight face and say, ‘Oh I forgot I had a weapon on me,’ that’s not the sort of person who should be carrying a weapon,” Orrock said.

Counsel representing airport screeners also think the proposal is a dangerous idea, and they have good reason to be worried. One of their own was cut down at Los Angeles International Airport last November. Passengers flying into and out of Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport should be particularly concerned. More weapons were confiscated in Atlanta during screenings than at New York’s Kennedy, Chicago’s O’Hare, Miami International’s and Los Angeles’ airports combined.

Lawmakers may get the thumbs up in certain quarters for their efforts to liberalize penalties in this respect, and it may help prove their firearm bona fides, but it does nothing to improve their standing in the eyes of those who cherish the Second Amendment.




Feb. 23

The Augusta (Ga.) Chronicle on global warming skeptics:

Skeptical of climate change and global warming theories?

Oh, maybe you believe the Earth is flat, too.

That’s what Secretary of State John Kerry apparently thinks of you. He amped up the Obama Administration’s ongoing campaign to ridicule climate change skeptics during a recent speech in Indonesia, in which he likened global warming doubters to so-called “flat-earthers.”

“The science is unequivocal, and those who refuse to believe it are simply burying their heads in the sand,” Kerry said. “We don’t have time for a meeting anywhere of the Flat Earth Society.”

Kerry’s speech, in which he called climate change skeptics “a tiny minority of shoddy scientists” and “extreme ideologues,” reminds us of comments made last year by Sen. Brian Schatz, D-Hawaii, who summed up the administration’s mockery strategy more succinctly.

“These people have to be ridiculed,” Schatz said. “They have to be run out of town rhetorically.”

The Democratic message is clear: Disagreeing with climate change legislation is the same as disagreeing with science, which means you are a knuckle-dragging troglodyte, your opinion doesn’t count and you should just shut up and step aside before you embarrass yourself any further.

Well, excuse us, but there is plenty of scientific evidence to the contrary, and shouldn’t that research receive some credence instead of summary dismissal as the work of “shoddy scientists”? How scientific is that?

Shouldn’t there be more discussion before enacting economy-strangling measures such as cap-and-trade schemes and carbon taxes? Or before pouring more money into windmills and solar arrays that look impressive but produce little energy?

Kerry says climate change science is “unequivocal.” You would be hard-pressed to find a scientist who would use that word, especially when we’ve been told climate change is responsible for everything from drought and wildfires to rising sea levels and melting ice caps to animal extinctions.

The laws of gravity are unequivocal. Global warming is not.

Political commentator George Will summed up Kerry’s rant best: “When a politician on a subject implicating science, hard science, economic science, social science says ‘the debate is over,’ you may be sure of two things. The debate is raging and he’s losing it.”



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