- Associated Press - Wednesday, March 20, 2019

Recent editorials from Mississippi newspapers:

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March 19

The Commercial Dispatch of Columbus criticizes a gubernatorial candidate for declining a debate invitation:

“Two out of three ain’t bad” may be pretty good song lyrics, but it’s an awful way to kick off the 2019 gubernatorial campaign.

On April 2, Mississippi State’s College Republicans and its Department of Political Science, will host a debate among the three candidates for Governor - retired Mississippi Supreme Court Justice Bill Waller, Jr., state Rep. Robert Foster and Lt. Gov. Tate Reeves.

Waller and Foster quickly accepted the invitation, but Reeves declined. A Reeves’ spokesman said the scheduling of the debate while the Mississippi Legislature was still in session made it impossible for Reeves to attend the event. The legislative session is scheduled to end on April 7.

Reeves’ devotion to his work as leader of the Mississippi Senate might be admirable were it not for the fact that legislators have been insisting for more than a week their intention to end the session by March 24.

The Capitol Building will be dark long before the April 2 debate.

So let’s call this what it is: A strategy move by the perceived GOP front-runner.

We find that unacceptable.

During any campaign, candidates will make strategic decisions designed to benefit their campaign. We understand that.

But we believe a sharp distinction should be drawn when it comes to debates.

Any candidate for public service should instantly recognize that participating in debates is a public service, too, providing voters an opportunity to hear all candidates respond to debate questions and exchange ideas with their opponents.

It is important for voters to be informed, and debates are a valuable tool for voters as they measure the candidates against one another.

Unfortunately, debate-dodging appears to have become standard practice for GOP front-runners. In last year’s U.S. Senate race, incumbent Republican Roger Wicker repeatedly refused to debate his Democratic challenger, David Baria.

In the other Senate race, incumbent Republican Cindy Hyde-Smith steadfastly declined to debate Democrat Mike Espy and fellow Republican Chris McDaniel leading up to the general election, but did agree to one debate Espy before the runoff.

Instead, Wicker, Smith and - apparently Reeves - preferred campaign events where they could make their cases before friendly audiences and avoid any substantive give-and-take about their positions.

That may be good for raising money and rallying their bases, but it does nothing to help voters draw real distinctions between the candidates.

Refusing these invitations is a disservice to voters.

It’s a terrible way to kick off the campaign to decide our next governor.

In this case, two out of three IS bad.

Online: http://www.cdispatch.com/

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March 13

The Neshoba Democrat compares a new smoking ban to fascism:

Don’t ever smoke. We are not proponents of smoking, but in many ways, smoking is healthier than fascism.

Government will nose its way into every crevice of our lives. That is why we have a strong U.S. Constitution, but the left is chipping away.

The government does not know best, yet the Philadelphia mayor and some aldermen think they do, given a controversial smoking ban they slipped by on a 2-2 vote last week.

“People don’t understand the dangers of it (smoking) or maybe they disregard the dangers of it, but it’s all deadly to the human body,” Mayor James A. Young told WTOK.

What’s next on the city’s list of bans, fried chicken, liquor and oversized soft drinks?

The mayor went on to say, “Then we look at things we have to change and if we can change something, we can control this.”

Can control what?

If the mayor is interested in controlling anything, it ought to be the out-of-control crime in Philadelphia. He oversees a police department beset with manpower woes in a city where people are getting shot and dying - and yet he wants to get on the TV and talk about smoking?

We can argue abortion kills as well, but where are the mayor and his Democrat colleagues on that issue?

Fascism is defined as radical authoritarian, dictatorial power, forcible suppression of opposition and strong regimentation of society and of the economy.

Leave business decisions to business owners and their patrons. Win the day with public opinion and the free market, not government intervention.

Six years ago the Philadelphia Mayor and Board of Aldermen rejected an ordinance that would have banned smoking.

These smoking ban ordinances flow from the Mississippi Tobacco-Free Coalition, which claims to be a grassroots organization but is funded mostly by state government and the tobacco settlement.

These social justice green warriors have gone around the state at our expense pressuring boards into doing the politically correct thing and ban smoking.

Individual liberty allows Americans to do dumb things like smoke. Second-hand smoke is a bad thing. Don’t go where there is second-hand smoke.

Philadelphia’s only downtown bar doesn’t allow smoking inside. Under the mayor’s plan, smokers who huddle outside on the sidewalk would have to go stand in the middle of Beacon Street to be in compliance. That is absurd.

This do-gooder campaign should be directed at business owners. Get them to voluntarily ban smoking like the bar downtown already does inside.

There is no need for government to force establishments to ban smoking. Next, they’ll be rummaging through our kitchen cabinets at home.

A laissez-faire policy that permits private business owners to tailor their own smoking policies according to the demands of their patrons is best.

The free market can provide an optimal number of non-smoking choices and put the smoke-filled joints out of business.

Online: http://neshobademocrat.com/

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March 16

The Greenwood Commonwealth condemns a squabble between Gov. Phil Bryant and U.S. Rep. Bennie Thompson over the credit for the Medgar Evers monument designation:

Dating back to at least the 1860s, there have been several variations for the maxim about getting things done and not worrying about receiving credit for them.

Former President Ronald Reagan liked the concept so much that he kept on his desk in the Oval Office a small plaque with these words: “There is no limit to what a man can do or where he can go if he does not mind who gets the credit.”

A couple of Mississippi politicians - Gov. Phil Bryant and U.S. Rep. Bennie Thompson - could use replicas of that plaque.

The two got into a distracting tiff this past week over who deserved credit for the bill, signed into law by President Donald Trump, that designated the Jackson home of civil rights martyr Medgar Evers as a national monument.

Bryant sent out a tweet praising the Republican president and Mississippi’s two Republican senators, Roger Wicker and Cindy Hyde-Smith.

That didn’t sit right with Thompson, the state’s lone Democrat and lone African-American in Congress, who responded in a tweet that he had worked on the national monument designation for 16 years.

Then Bryant, instead of doing the gracious thing and acknowledging Thompson’s role in the designation and apologizing for overlooking him, made matters worse with a defensive, over-the-top response to the congressman’s irritation. “His anger and hatred are the very characteristics that separated our people in the civil rights era,” Bryant said of Thompson in a TV interview.

Cool off, gentlemen, or you are both going to blow what should be an opportunity for further racial reconciliation.

The focus of the moment should not be on who was responsible for the monument designation, but rather on why Evers’ home deserves memorializing in the first place.

Medgar Evers was a brave soul who knew that opposing racial segregation in Mississippi during the 1960s was a dangerous thing to do. He paid for his courage with his life when he was assassinated in the driveway of his home, with his wife and young children not far away.

Evers’ martyrdom was among those tragic but pivotal events of the civil rights movement that helped pave the way for other men and women of color, including Thompson, to break free of the second-class status that Mississippi had imposed on its black citizens. His assassination also spurred a greater awareness among whites of the indefensibility of segregation and the violence it engendered among those who defended it most fiercely.

It would be an insult to Evers’ memory to let the historic designation of his home produce more division rather than greater harmony.

Online: http://www.gwcommonwealth.com/

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