Recent editorials from Alabama newspapers:
The Anniston Star on Obama still struggling to bridge divide between his political opponents
In his new book "The Center Holds: Obama and His Enemies," journalist Jonathan Alter quotes a generous contributor to the president's campaigns as saying Barack Obama has "been humbled by the opposition's intransigence." The supporter, according to Alter's telling, added that Obama "had never failed to bring anyone around before, and it changed him."
This episode comes from an early review of Alter's book, which hits stores today. The book sets out to explain how Obama went from a 2010 midterm whipping at the hands of Republicans to a successful 2012 re-election bid. ...
From the start, Obama could not break through the wall of inaction. Was he incapable of granting the Republicans a brand of Washington duality — allowing them to (a.) talk tough and (b.) quietly negotiate at the same time?
Washington observers have cited any number of former chief executives — Bill Clinton, Ronald Reagan, Lyndon Johnson — as positive examples of how a president can cajole, bargain, harass or charm the loyal opposition to the bargaining table. Invite them to the White House, the pundits advise, wine 'em, dine 'em, make 'em feel special. No matter what, don't take all the rhetoric personal.
Whether Obama has thick skin or thin skin or whether he lacks the warm personality to persuade the opposition to drop its guard, it's obvious he hasn't been able to bridge the divide.
Some observers note that Republican opposition may be doing more than merely playing to the cameras. ...
The silver lining in this cloud, if there is one, is that the nation is no less challenged than it was when Obama became the 44th U.S. president. Republicans and Democrats don't lack for incentives to work together to tackle employment, the economy, the future of energy production or climate change, to cite a few examples. They do lack grassroots pressure to get them moving.
The Daily Home, Talladega, Alabama, on a drug task force scoring a victory against meth
While there's no end in sight in the war on drug abuse, we were pleased to see a report from the Alabama Drug Abuse Task Force showing some progress is being made in the fight against methamphetamine in our state.
We're especially proud to note that two members of the Task Force are from our area.
Louis Zook, law enforcement coordinator for the State Attorney General's office, is the former chief of the Sylacauga Police Department. Barry Matson, deputy director of prosecution services, previously worked as assistant district attorney in Talladega.
Their report cited a 63 percent decrease in the number of meth lab cases in the state.
In the report, the Task Force highlights the use of the real-time NPLEx tracking system and restrictions on the sale of non-prescription cold and allergy medications containing PSE/ephedrine. The ingredient is an effective component in those medications, and can also be used in producing methamphetamine in small labs.
Medications containing PSE/ephedrine are now kept behind the counters in pharmacies in Alabama and the 19 other states participating in the NPLEx system. ...
The manufacturing and abuse of the drug has had a dangerous and expensive impact on the state. Innocent people have been hurt, families have been devastated, and it has cost the state millions in prevention efforts, enforcement, and the clean-up of contaminated properties.
The manufacturing process itself can be deadly and can leave behind long-lasting harmful residues in homes, hotel rooms and other property.
Its use can lead to malnutrition, skin disorders, ulcers, lung and heart disease and other cardiovascular diseases. Frequent use can result in mental illness, suicide and violent death. Effects can include agitation and paranoid states that make users potentially dangerous to themselves and others.
The state law and the NPLEx system won't stop meth use or production by themselves. Authorities acknowledge that most of what's sold on the street is manufactured in other countries and smuggled in. But the numbers cited in the report indicate progress has been made, and we're proud to see two of our own involved in the fight.
The Task Force has much work left to do, not only against meth, but also against the use of other harmful drugs. Jefferson County lost 57 lives to heroin overdoses last year. The abuse of prescription drugs continues, new synthetic drugs are appearing, and cocaine and marijuana are ever present.
We commend the task force members on their work, and wish them well in their efforts to cut the supply and curb the demand. The goal is a safer, healthier and more prosperous society, and that's well worth the fight.
The Tuscaloosa (Ala.) News on how communication is key to county, city plans:
When the U.S. Senate and House of Representatives pass legislation that attempts to accomplish the same goal through different means, reconciliation is left up to a conference committee. While no formal process exists to resolve differences in collaborative efforts between the Tuscaloosa City Council and the Tuscaloosa County Commission, which appears to be exactly what is needed.
For the past eight or nine months, the city and county have been tossing out different versions of the same thing, a Tuscaloosa County Park and Recreation Authority parks improvement plan. It started out with a $12.1-million proposal by PARA Director Gary Minor and, at times, seemed to have sprouted a $20-million price tag.
Part of that has to do with city and county officials adding various projects catering to their constituencies to plans that were larger in scope. That's part of the political process. Give a little here, take a little there to secure someone's vote.
The city and the county have dealt with the improvements they view as their exclusive responsibilities.
Both sides seem to have bargained indirectly by passing varying versions of the same plan. The last leaves a broad gap between the final price tags and what each side sees as its fair share.
Rather than continue this process, it would seem beneficial for the City Council and the County Commission to sit down face-to-face and publicly discuss where they are and are not willing to bend. Both sides need to hear the other side's reasons for the projects they want to fund and what percentage they will pay.
They should be able to leave the room with a decision both can live with, one that serves the people of Tuscaloosa County.