The News Courier in Athens, Alabama

October 18, 2013

EDITORIALS: Political failure all around; Modern image of bullies


CNHI News Service

Shutdown failure won't soon be forgotten

(The Tribune-Democrat, Johnstown, Pa.)

Those we pay to represent us have done it so poorly that simply expecting them to keep the government functioning – not functioning well, just functioning – seems too much to ask.

What was accomplished by a 16-day, partial government shutdown, which Standard & Poor’s estimated took $24 billion from our economy? Nothing.

The budget battle, waged over the key issues of the Affordable Care Act and raising the debt ceiling, wasn't won or lost, merely delayed. A deal struck late Wednesday solves neither.

Our congressional “leaders” managed to approve government funding only through Jan. 15. So, get ready for a holiday season full of bickering, posturing and threats of another shutdown. Maybe the Christmas spirit will spur a compromise, but it's doubtful.

These are serious issues, to be sure. The implementation of President Obama’s health care plan remains contentious. The national debt has tremendous effects on our country, its economy and financial systems all over the world.

We understand why those on each side of the political aisle were fighting. But we all have deadlines, and we expect politicians to stick to hard-and-fast dates when it's time to get a deal done. Compromise is never easy, but it’s why we elect them to their lofty posts. It’s why they make more money than most of us ever will.

The beauty of our government is that while the elected have temporary power, the people have lasting power. Election time is when we all should remember how veterans were turned away from open-air monuments; government employees were furloughed; and politicians decided after 16 days they could wait a few more months for a solution.

The shutdown wasn’t a failure by Republicans or Democrats, the tea party or the president. It was a failure by all of them.

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Today's bullies don't just haunt the playground

(The Register-Herald, Beckley, W.Va.)

Two Florida girls, ages 14 and 12, were arrested Tuesday and charged with third-degree felony aggravated stalking after a 12-year-old schoolmate, Rebecca Sedwick, hurled herself to her death from a tower. Rebecca was repeatedly bullied at school and online. Police say the girls - and perhaps a dozen others - were responsible for that bullying, The Associated Press reports.

Polk County Sheriff Grady Judd said he moved to charge the girls now - more than a month after Rebecca’s death - because of a Facebook post by the older girl that admits to bullying Rebecca and says she didn’t care that the girl killed herself.

“We decided that we can’t leave her out there. Who else is she going to torment, who else is she going to harass?” Judd told AP.

People used to think bullying was just part of growing up. Today bullying and cyber-bullying are more commonly acknowledged for what they really are — physical violence and mental torture.

It's a mystery why adults who surround these bullies don’t work harder to stop them. In this case, the older girl’s father has said he is “100 percent” sure that what the police say about his daughter is untrue. Such attitudes — even when faced with proof of a child’s actions — helps keeps the bullying cycle alive.

Children often say hurtful, hateful things one minute, then innocently take them back the next. What's concerning are parents  who don't instruct their children on the differences between innocent reactions and a bully's willful mental or physical torture.

Parents should pay closer attention to what their children text, tweet, post on Facebook and otherwise digitally say. Parents also should sit down with their children to have a serious conversation about bullying and its consequences, whether their children know someone being bullied, if their children are being bullied — or if their children is the ones bullying someone else.

The website www.stopbullying.gov holds a wealth of information about what bullying and cyberbullying are, who's at risk, prevention and how to get help. Parents and children should check it out.

Don’t think the old stereotype of a mean kid on the playground is  what bullying is all about. It isn't. Take action and help stop the bullies.