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Editorial commenatary from across Tennessee

Editorial commenatary from across Tennessee

Posted: Wednesday, November 28, 2012 7:00 pm

Recent editorials from Tennessee newspapers:
Nov. 26
The Paris Post-Intelligencer on waning congressional moderates:
Just about everybody can find something to gripe about in the election returns.
It’s hard to find any group that came out a clear-cut winner. But that’s the way it is with most elections.
One disconcerting thing about this election is the apparent increase in the political polarity in Congress.
As our leaders talk about the desperate need for cooperation across party lines in order to tackle our most vexing problems, we have elected fewer moderates to Congress. The middle is shrinking.
An example is the Blue Dog Democrats, the centrist House coalition that once had as a principal spokesman our congressman, John Tanner of Union City. In his day, the group had more than 50 members. With the new election, it numbers only 14.
There are other demographic changes. Both houses of Congress have a record number of women. For the first time, more than half of House Democrats will not be white males.
Democrats gained seats in both houses, but not enough for a significant shift in the power balance. The new House will have a 234-201 Republican majority, compared to 242-193 today. In the Senate, the Democratic majority will be 55-45, compared to 53-47 today.
The election outcome suggests that we will continue to see a number of party-line votes. That’s not the best way to run a country, but the voters have only themselves to blame.
Nov. 20
The Tennessean, Nash-ville, on Rep. Scott Des-Jarlais:
During every election season, voters are subjected to candidates from both major parties making assertions about the issues or about their own accomplishments that do not withstand a fact check.
But there are lies, and there are lies. U.S. Rep. Scott DesJarlais deliberately deceived the voters of the 4th Congressional District in the closing weeks of his successful re-election campaign. And because of that, he should resign immediately.
With campaign deception of the usual sort, there is some degree of “plausible deniability,” such as a candidate leaving a loophole in his or her position about taxes, hoping for a change in public opinion. Dr. DesJarlais, however, deceived voters about his sexual relationship with a patient, and he deceived voters when he strongly advocated restricting abortion rights despite having backed two abortions for his ex-wife.
Since all of this has been confirmed by newly-released transcripts of his divorce proceedings, it’s clear that DesJarlais was only interested in protecting his re-election chances. This is the opposite of concern for his constituents. For him to take the oath of office in January would be a fraud.
The Republican from Jasper still has his defenders. They speak of the numerous elected officials before him, from President Bill Clinton to Eliot Spitzer to Mark Foley, who acted inappropriately for prurient reasons, and say that his offenses pale by comparison. To those supporters, we ask these questions: Would the American Medical Association agree with you? And just how far are you willing to lower your standards in order to keep this man in Congress?
If DesJarlais will deny his own admissions from a court proceeding and expect you to believe him, what will he expect you to blindly accept about his dealings as a member of Congress? If he will violate the ethics of his medical profession, what is next?
Finally, do you really want a member of Congress who has demonstrated a clear lack of respect for women and who only pretends to value marriage and family?
Regardless of whether DesJarlais was truly trying to compel his patient to have an abortion, he slept with a patient. Not only should he resign from office, he should surrender his medical license. …
Nov. 23
The Commercial Appeal, Memphis, on restoring lands along the river:
An important reclamation effort is taking place in various forms along the Mississippi River from Minnesota to Louisiana.
The main thrust of the initiative is the restoration of forested wetlands on acreage outside the levees along the river.
The implications may be missed by most urban dwellers along the river, but environmentalists and conservationists say the long-term impact affects everyone, regardless of whether they use the river and its ecosystem for recreation or the transportation of vital commodities. …
The cleared acreage, along with rain and erosion, contributed to the dumping of tons of sediment and pesticides into the river. That has resulted in poor water quality, which affects wildlife, increases the need for expensive dredging and helps to create “dead zones” in the Gulf near the mouth of the Mississippi.
The good news is that those who farm land on the river side of the levees are beginning to realize the value of restoring the acreage to its original state.
They are taking advantage of initiatives such as the Wetlands Reserve Program to place marginal and low-lying land under conservation easements so it can be restored.
The Mississippi Basin Initiative pays farmers up to $3,500 an acre to put land in conservation easements to be replanted in native trees.
And the Environmental Defense Fund is working closely with lower Mississippi River Delta farmers and industries to protect the delicate marsh channels near the mouth of the river.
Keeping the river and its surrounding ecosystems healthy will pay tremendous economic development, recreation and conservation dividends that will benefit rural and urban residents, alike.

Published in The Messenger 11.28.12

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