- Associated Press - Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Recent editorials from Georgia newspapers:

Sept. 8

Albany (Georgia) Herald on ISIL:

It seems our Washington leadership has found something it can agree on - national defense.

Since the 9/11 attacks that we observed the 13th anniversary of Thursday, the threats to America have been transformed for the large part. Rather than facing off against nations, our biggest threats are coming from faceless, borderless pockets of evil that are out to force the rest of the world to believe as they do. Rather than allegiance to nation, these militants are bound by ideology of hate and their twisted interpretation of religion.

On Wednesday night, President Obama told the nation that America would protect itself, but it also would require that those who want to ally with us to take lead roles in quashing threats that are further destabilizing the Middle East, a region that is barely stable on its best day to start with.

For the most part, we think the president did a good job of stating his case, though there was a contradiction of sorts when he said that America would do what it had to in order to protect itself, but then stated there would be no U.S. troops’ “boots on the ground” in the battles in Iraq and Syria, where the Islamic State of Iraq and Levant has taken terrorism to a new level. As commander in chief, Obama has the right to determine whether to send troops into a battle zone, but making it clear that doing everything doesn’t include “everything” America can do may have sent a mixed signal. Some cards are best kept close to your vest.

Still, it appears the Obama administration has done a good job of lining up allies. Reports Thursday noted that Secretary of State John Kerry had support from 10 Arab nations for a “coordinated military campaign” against ISIL.

Georgia’s two U.S. senators have voiced their support.

U.S. Sen. Johnny Isakson, R-Marietta, said Thursday, “The president has finally realized the gravity of the situation and I was proud to see him take a firm stand last night.”

A year ago, this would have been a tougher sell to the American public, which is weary of war after more than a decade in Iraq and Afghanistan. But after seeing an ISIL murderer - speaking with a British accent - decapitate two U.S. citizens, there were some realizations. First, these people are murderers, pure and simple. Second, they may already walk among us.

It’s clear that these rattlesnakes will strike and will be patient in waiting for the chance. We must deal with them decisively now, or we will be dealing with them on our homefront later.




Sept. 16

The Augusta (Georgia) Chronicle on keeping our U.S. Constitution:

Today, 227 years after its ratification, the Constitution is nothing more than a curiosity to some, and not even that to many Americans.

It’s old. It’s archaic. It gets in the way of getting things done. It needs to be a “living document” - in other words, we need to be able to interpret it the way we’d like.

In short, its words need to be meaningless so we can make things up as we go along.

Of course, making things up on the fly is a recipe for tyranny - just the sort of arbitrariness our forefathers escaped by coming here and throwing off the king’s yoke. If the Constitution isn’t followed, then we lose the rule of law to the rule of man.

Truth be told, for such an old document, there is precious little in the Constitution and its amendments that truly is out of date. Of the 10 amendments that make up the Bill of Rights, only the Third Amendment - which prescribes how soldiers are to be quartered in private homes - is hopelessly out of date. Most of the rest are spot-on, even today.

If we pay attention, that is.

If we don’t follow the Constitution, which sets out how the government is to run and how it can’t be allowed to run our lives, then we truly are making it up as we go along. Like a beach house that is being constructed partly in the sand, and not on a solid foundation, such a structure cannot stand the test of time.

On this day in 1787, our Founding Fathers affixed a Constitution that is still the envy of the world, and may always be.

If it fails us, it will only be because we failed it.




Sept. 14

The Times, Gainesville, Georgia, on watching state’s wayward watchdogs:

It is both telling and troubling that the state agency assigned to police ethical behavior in government hasn’t been able to mind its own store.

And that needs to change.

The ethics commission, formerly known as the Georgia Government Transparency and Campaign Finance Commission, remains embroiled in legal disputes, faulty leadership and ineffectiveness.

Last week, it fired director Holly LaBerge after she was cited for failing to provide evidence in a whistleblower lawsuit brought against the state by her predecessor. Fulton County Superior Judge Ural Glanville fined her and the attorney general’s office $10,000 each for failing to disclose memos detailing conversations between her and aides for Gov. Nathan Deal.

In his ruling, Glanville called LaBerge “dishonest and non-transparent,” not qualities the state needs in someone charged with investigating ethical behavior among public servants.

The earlier case by former director Stacey Kalberman and two other staff members led to damages totaling $1.8 million over the ethics probe they claim Deal’s staff tried to thwart. LaBerge later filed her own whistleblower suit claiming the same type of interference.

Meanwhile, the commission remains stuck in limbo and cases have been backing up.

This is hardly what Georgians expect from a commission created to make sure public officials follow the rules of ethical behavior and serve the state legally and honorably.



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