Recent editorials from Georgia newspapers:
Marietta (Ga.) Daily Journal on $100 cap on gifts to lawmakers:
A little better than half of Cobb’s incumbent legislators and those challenging them in this year’s elections are in favor of a $100 cap on gifts to lawmakers from lobbyists. It’s a good start. ...
The pledge is being pushed by the Georgia Conservatives in Action, the Georgia Tea Party Patriots and Common Cause Georgia, a partnership that crosses the gamut, politically speaking. The companion to their pledge is a one-sentence-long bill that would be introduced in the Legislature.
“We’ve got the entire bill listed on the pledge sheet,” said Common Cause director William Perry. “It’s a one-sentence bill. . (It) simply states that lobbyists aren’t allowed to give lawmakers gifts over $100. . (It) is so specific that it’s hard to say, ‘I don’t sign pledges, therefore I won’t.” ...
More than 60 candidates have signed the pledge statewide thus far, according to Perry. ...
The public has long complained that lobbyists have undue influence on the law-making process. And though lobbyists — and the corporations they represent — have the same First Amendment rights as everyone else, and the same right to petition lawmakers, the widespread perception is that lobbyists shower legislators with gifts in order to gain extra access and special consideration. To buy influence, in other words.
There’s no question that lobbyists have a receptive “audience” in many such cases. Steaks and cigars at “expense-account” restaurants; martinis at posh watering holes, luxury-box seats at sporting events, transportation to and from events on corporate jets; the list goes on and on.
It takes a lawmaker with a strict sense of right and wrong to resist such blandishments, and fortunately, many do. But not all. Thus, the need for such a pledge.
Columbus (Ga.) Ledger-Enquirer on other casualties of war:
A soldier in the American Civil War was far more likely to die from diseases like dysentery, malaria or pneumonia than from combat wounds. A century and a half later, there is another wartime danger as grave as combat, and sometimes worse.
A growing number of soldiers are casualties of deep and painful wounds that can be hard or impossible to see until too late. These are the emotional and psychological wounds that are leading a rising number of American troops to take their own lives.
Pentagon statistics show that suicides among active-duty troops are coming at the rate of about one a day: As of June 7, there had been 154 active-duty military suicides in the first 155 days of this calendar year. The trend and the odds say that tragic number has grown in the three days since. ...
A really frightening aspect of this trend, as if it weren’t frightening enough, is that the statistics include only active-duty troops. It doesn’t include vets home from combat in Afghanistan or Iraq, or National Guard and Reserve members not currently mobilized. Those numbers would swell the already tragic toll.
Besides suicide, there are the other familiar results of emotional trauma — substance abuse, domestic and/or sexual violence, divorce.
An Army report in January alluded to “increased stress after a decade of war,” but most of us, and certainly the nation’s military families, don’t need a Pentagon report to tell us that. Two long wars have demanded some extreme sacrifices from the less than one-half of 1 percent of Americans who serve, and from their families.
Some of the problem is rooted in the warrior culture and image — the fear that talking about emotional or psychological problems and asking for help is a sign of weakness that will jeopardize a soldier’s career. ...
There is, sadly, no foolproof way to prevent people from harming themselves. But the whole country, military and civilian, needs to be more alert to danger signs, and to make it clear to soldiers that they are not weak or soft or cowardly for seeking help.
They have, in fact, already proven otherwise by volunteering to serve their country. We need to do a much better job of serving them.