Recent editorials from Alabama newspapers:
The Dothan Eagle on Mardi Gras and the coronavirus pandemic:
Mardi Gras at home
Last year at this time, Mardi Gras celebrations proceeded as planned in New Orleans, and within a few weeks, the city’s mayor came under fire for the decision after cases of coronavirus infection in the city skyrocketed.
It was early in the pandemic in America, and showed us all the correlation between large gatherings and transmission of the virus. It was, perhaps, our nation’s first super-spreader event.
A year later, we’re still grappling with the virus that has sickened almost 28 million Americans and killed 485,000 and counting. In New Orleans, Mardi Gras celebrations this year are off the table; city officials ordered bars to close Friday and remain shuttered until after Fat Tuesday. There will be no parades or balls.
Mobile, which claims to have originated Mardi Gras, has no mechanism to order bars to close. In an effort to deter celebrants from gathering in crowds indoors, the city has opted to close streets downtown to allow revelers to gather outdoors.
For more than a year, Americans have watched the coronavirus pandemic spread across the globe. Every American has been exposed to the information about transmission and prevention, and the best practices to avoid becoming ill with COVID-19 or transmitting the virus to others.
We now have two vaccines being deployed and several others awaiting approval, and more and more Americans are receiving vaccines every day. However, the greatest tool we possess in the struggle to overcome this pandemic is common sense.
Laissez les bons temps rouler in the comfort of your own home. Forego the gatherings. Wear a mask. Maintain social distance. Wash your hands. Isolate if you become ill or know you have been exposes.
Next Fat Tuesday, you’ll be glad you did.
The Cullman Times on North Georgia’s 14th district Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene:
“Alice laughed. ‘There’s no use trying,’ she said. ‘One can’t believe impossible things.’
‘I daresay you haven’t had much practice,’ said the Queen. ’When I was your age, I always did it for half-an-hour a day. Why, sometimes I’ve believed as many as six impossible things before breakfast.” - Lewis Carroll, “Alice Through the Looking Glass”
The Queen of Hearts has nothing on Marjorie Taylor Greene when it comes to believing impossible things. The freshman representative of North Georgia’s 14th district has believed a whole slew of crazy theories, including that Jewish space lasers started the California Camp Fire.
Greene has been delusional in her denials, espousing that a plane never crashed into the Pentagon on 9-11 and that mass school shootings were nothing more than staged events. Violence, per se, apparently doesn’t offend her, though, as she has liked comments on her Facebook page when they advocated violence against Democrats, including the shooting of Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi.
Her extreme views and apparent support of violence led the House to take action. In a speech shortly before Democrats and 11 Republican voted to rescind her committee assignments earlier this month, Greene admitted that, like Alice, she followed QAnon down a rabbit hole where she “was allowed to believe things that weren’t true.”
It was too little, too late.
It’s important to note that Greene talked about these conspiracy theories and shared her anti-Semitic and anti-Muslim viewpoints long before she was elected.
Her thoughts were not hidden; she posted them on the internet. She was considered a “fringe” candidate by some, up against a solid conservative, neurosurgeon Dr. John Cowan in the Aug. 11 runoff election in the Republican Primary.
But then-President Trump called her a “rising star.” That’s all the evidence voters in her Georgia district needed that she was the right candidate for them.
This underscores a point worth repeating. It is extremely important that voters do what they can to become informed about candidates before casting their votes. Had more voters in Georgia’s 14th congressional district done so, they likely would have seen her videos and blog posts and seen her often- wacky beliefs.
After the vote to strip her of her committee assignments, Greene called those who had voted to oust her “morons” and complained that now her constituents in her North Georgia district were without a voice.
On that point, Greene is right. Though she can and likely will continue to say whatever comes to her mind, no matter how ludicrous, all she can offer her constituents in the House now is a vote from the floor as a member of the minority party. Because of her controversial assertions before and after the election, she’s not someone with whom most other legislators - even some in her own party - will want to work with.
It turns out a vote for Greene was a wasted vote. It didn’t have to be that way. Cowan holds the same beliefs on abortion, the Second Amendment, and smaller government that Greene does. He would have won the general election as easily as Greene did - the district is strongly Republican - and could have been a voice of influence in a Congress where political parties are going to have to work together to get anything done.
Instead, voters have discovered they elected to Congress a woman who would have been welcome at the Mad Hatter’s tea party. This was no “bait and switch.” As impossible as it is to believe, they got exactly what they voted for - a fringe candidate always on the verge of unraveling.
The Decatur Daily on the Tennessee Valley Authority developing a system of electric vehicle charging stations:
The transition to a greener economy, less reliant on fossil fuels, will not come easily. It’s not as simple as passing some huge “Green New Deal.” It will come in fits and starts, because it is mostly about making the small things people do every day less destructive to the environment.
Along those lines, the Tennessee Valley Authority is taking a step in the right direction.
TVA announced last week that it is developing a system of electric vehicle charging stations across Tennessee. The public utility hopes this statewide network is just the start of rolling out similar charging stations across the rest of its service region, including north Alabama.
“The charging network is expected to include about 50 stations, primarily along interstates and U.S. and state highways. The idea is to have chargers available at least every 50 miles,” The Associated Press reported. “It is expected to cost about $20 million and should be built out over the next three to five years.”
Having charging stations every 50 miles is important, according to TVA President and CEO Jeff Lyash, because studies have shown one of the main things discouraging consumers from purchasing electric vehicles is the worry of running out of charge in the middle of nowhere and being stranded.
This is a real issue in rural states where drivers rack up a lot of miles going to work or even going shopping, to say nothing of the occasional weekend road trip.
TVA’s hope is that the charging stations will encourage more drivers to go electric, which will help speed up the cycle of replacing current gasoline and diesel autos. The more charging stations, the more people willing to buy electric vehicles; the more electric vehicles, the more private companies will be willing to invest in even more charging stations; and so on.
All this is meant to goose demand for electric vehicles while allowing market forces to take it from there, helping create the infrastructure needed to make electric vehicles viable for people who expect to put a lot of miles on them.
But electric cars alone won’t make the air cleaner or fight global warming. Everything depends on how the electricity going into those vehicles is generated.
As of 2019, according to the utility, “TVA’s generation portfolio is 39% nuclear, 19% coal, 26% natural gas, 11% hydro, 3% wind and solar, and 1% energy efficiency programs with a total capacity of 33,727 megawatts.”
TVA has been moving away from fossil fuels, especially coal, and is investing more resources into wind and solar, but with half of its power generation coming from nuclear and hydroelectric, TVA already offers a cleaner alternative to gas-powered vehicles.
This is the way of the future, and TVA is setting an example for how utilizing public and private cooperation and leaving the rest to market forces can combat climate change from the bottom up as well as the top down.