- Associated Press - Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Recent editorials from Mississippi newspapers:

June 20

Greenwood (Mississippi) Commonwealth on Cheney criticizing President Obama:

Former Vice President Dick Cheney isn’t the best person to criticize President Obama’s foreign policy, or the lack thereof.

After all, it was Cheney who helped get us into the war in Iraq under the false pretense that Saddam Hussein had weapons of mass destruction during the George W. Bush administration.

That said, Cheney, who recently wrote an op-ed piece with his daughter Liz for the Wall Street Journal, is correct in his criticism of Obama. “Rarely has a U.S. president been so wrong about so much at the expense of so many,” they wrote.

“Iraq is at risk of falling to a radical Islamic terror group and Mr. Obama is talking climate change. Terrorists take control of more territory and resources than ever before in history, and he goes golfing,” said another paragraph in the article.

It’s apparent that Obama’s foreign policy is indecisive and ineffective. It is driven too much by opinion polls that can change within days.

Iraq is a mess and a danger. Oil supplies can be disrupted, and it can become a breeding ground for international terrorists unless some order is restored there.

The Obama administration was wrong to completely pull out U.S. forces after the long, expensive struggle to secure the country.

But the Bush administration - in which Cheney had far more influence than the current vice president - was wrong to start that war in the first place.

Cheney, who also served in the first President Bush’s administration, had a clearer vision of Iraq in 1994 than he did a decade later. “Once you got to Iraq and took it over, and took down Saddam Hussein’s government, then what are you going to put in its place? That’s a very volatile part of the world, and if you take down the central government of Iraq, you can easily end up seeing pieces of Iraq fly off,” he said back then.

Looks like that may happen, and it’s scary.




June 21

Sun Herald, Biloxi, Mississippi, on drilling:

A Hinds County chancery judge has ruled officials with the Mississippi Development Authority were less than candid with Coast residents and businesses about the effects of offshore drilling.

Chancery Judge William H. Singletary has tossed out MDA’s proposed regulations for offshore drilling in state waters, finding the MDA failed to complete any meaningful study of the economic impact oil exploration and extraction would have on South Mississippi’s ecology and economy.

Singletary’s ruling should put any drilling in state waters on hold until the MDA resolves the concerns the chancellor outlined. Singletary issued the ruling in a 2012 lawsuit the Sierra Club and Gulf Restoration Network filed against the MDA.

Singletary said the state’s offshore drilling regulations are “arbitrary and capricious and are not supported by substantial evidence.”

The MDA, he said, wrongly concluded the state’s role in leasing oil and natural gas rights is “purely administrative.” Instead, he said, the state’s leasing process is directly linked to drilling and the agency cannot ignore or evade the consequences of drilling. The chancellor also took issue with the MDA’s attempt to postpone any meaningful examination of the costs of offshore drilling.

For its part, the MDA sent out an email saying: “We are aware of the court’s ruling, and we are working with our attorneys to determine our next steps.”

Robert Wiygul of Ocean Springs, attorney for the environmental groups, told the Sun Herald’s Anita Lee he believes it will be “extraordinarily difficult” for the MDA to show offshore drilling benefits Coast residents and businesses.

The state proposes drilling near barrier islands in the protected Gulf Islands National Seashore. The islands draw tourists and residents for fishing and recreation.

“When you balance those resources against what you get from drilling out there, I think it’s very unlikely drilling wins out,” Wiygul said. “There are certain places where you don’t need drilling and around our barrier islands is one of them.”

We agree.




June 24

Northeast Mississippi Journal, Tupelo, Mississippi, on Common Core:

Mississippi’s two key K-12 education leaders, Board of Education Chairman Wayne Gann and State Superintendent Carey Wright, rejected quickly and firmly on Friday Gov. Phil Bryant’s claims that the Common Core school standards is a “failed program” run by the federal government to the harm of local schools and the state.

Bryant’s criticism came Thursday during a white-hot Republican U.S. senatorial primary campaign laced with invective about Common Core, days after Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal issued an executive order purportedly stopping it in his state, and only months before Bryant is widely expected to run for a second term in Mississippi.

Gann and Wright called it what it is: Political maneuvering for 2015 mixed with inaccuracies about Common Core.

Common Core was developed by the National Governors Association in collaboration with the states’ educational leadership for a set of academic standards designed to require deeper understanding of subject matter, including the ability to apply principles learned. This emphasis on critical-thinking skills is an effort to make the U.S. more competitive with the higher-achieving students of some other nations. It is not a curriculum; that is left to state and local education leaders.

The Common Core, far from being a “failed program” has not been fully implemented in Mississippi. The first testing based on the Common Core goals is scheduled for 2015. Educators have been working literally for years to prepare themselves and students to transition from the system used now to the more demanding measurements Common Core will bring.

The Board of Education, which includes business leaders and professionals as well as educators, and Wright, believe Common Core holds exceptional promise for Mississippi, a chronic educational under-achiever. The Mississippi Economic Council, which seeks jobs and prosperity statewide and has been a strong education advocate for decades, has endorsed Common Core.

Wright and Gann pointed out that Common Core was developed by the nation’s governors and education leaders, not by the federal government. The Legislature’s Performance Evaluation and Expenditure Committee reached that same conclusion. Opposition only materialized when the Obama administration embraced the standards and offered incentives for its adoption, hardly the same thing as a federal “takeover” of education.

Thousands of teachers statewide have invested untold hours in good faith in learning how to use and apply Common Core. Don’t pull the floor from underneath them as they approach the starting line for the race for which they’ve trained so long.



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