Editorial Roundup: Excerpts from recent editorials

Excerpts from recent editorials in the United States and abroad:


July 27

The Philadelphia Inquirer on the Democratic National Convention:

Paul Simon's "Bridge Over Troubled Water" was an obvious choice for a convention striving to be one - and much more apropos than his "America," the adopted theme of the Bernie Sanders insurgency. Fans couldn't help but notice, however, that Simon had chosen a number that was sung by his estranged former partner Art Garfunkel, of whom he recently told NPR, "Quite honestly, we don't get along." Simon's rendition was in that way analogous to the Democratic National Convention: a paean to building a bridge sung over the unmistakable crackle of a burning one.

Much depends on the Democrats' ability to cobble together this particular piece of infrastructure. The enterprise hasn't been helped along, though, by the not entirely shocking (and possibly Russian-engineered) revelation that Democratic officials connived against the candidate who was not a Democrat for most of his career.

Many Sanders supporters are new to politics, and it shows in their frequently heard promises to vote for a minor-party candidate or sit the election out rather than choose between Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump. Sixteen years ago, a similar impulse for perceived purity led many liberals to reject another centrist Democrat, Al Gore, in favor of activist Ralph Nader, which may have helped give George W. Bush his hanging-chad-thin victory. The once-popular notion that there was no substantial difference between Bush and Gore looked especially absurd in the wake of the Iraq invasion.

There is no need to wait for such a monumental event to reveal as preposterous the current claims that the choice between Clinton and Trump doesn't matter.

To begin with, Clinton would be one of the more politically seasoned presidents upon her inauguration, while Trump would be the least. Moreover, in his convention speech Monday, Sanders himself reminded the faithful of the stark differences of tone and ideology between Clinton and Trump on immigration, the environment, health care, and more, concluding, "The choice is not even close." Sanders went further on Tuesday by cautioning his supporters against voting for Green Party candidate Jill Stein.

The Democratic Party has fired its chairwoman, changed its platform, and made other concessions to Sanders' improbably successful but ultimately losing campaign. And after a long and sometimes bitter rivalry, Sanders, in contrast with Trump rival Ted Cruz, offered a remarkably full-throated endorsement of Clinton. So did Michelle Obama despite her husband's hard-fought contest with Clinton eight years ago. The first lady reminded the convention of the power of breaking historic barriers by noting that she, a descendant of slaves, now lives in a White House built by them - and that Clinton's election would be another such milestone.

Amid enduring dissent, some of the convention's most successful moments so far have appealed to unity among people - including the kinds of people, like undocumented immigrants and the disabled, who have been targeted by Trump's divisive rhetoric. But the greatest test of the party's tolerance is taking place within.




July 26

The Khaleej Times on Turkey's political climate:

Turkey's political crisis could lead to chaos as reports of a putsch against coup plotters continue to pour in. President Recep Tayyip Erdogan's alleged crackdown against opponents does not bode well for its secular democracy. Reports say tens of thousands have been rounded up, and these include members of the judiciary, police, media and the military. The Presidential Guard has been disbanded fearing infiltration of pro-coup members. Even teachers and civil servants are being screened. This so-called cleansing operation is having a negative impact on civil society. The middle class provided the bulwark of support for the AK Party, but they too are not being spared. No section and class is beyond suspicion. Exiled cleric Fetullah Gulen has been blamed by the government. Though Ankara hasn't officially asked Washington to extradite Gulen, his case is being used more for domestic consumption to sideline opponents. What will Erdogan do next is anyone's guess.

It is feared that Turkey could slide into anarchy as a state of emergency is in force and fundamental rights have been put on the backburner. Erdogan's desire to re-legislate capital punishment will hurt its chances of European Union membership. On Monday, 42 journalists were detained, and efforts have been renewed to muzzle the Press. London-based Amnesty International has said that there are "credible evidences" of detainees being subjected to beatings and torture, including rape. This is serious allegation, and Turkish authorities should come clean on it. Statesmanship is needed in this hour of crisis. Those involved in the coup should be tried by courts of law. Human rights should be upheld. Meanwhile, Erdogan should focus on reconciliation, reach out to the masses, while restoring investor and global confidence in the country.




July 26

The Washington Post on Russian athletes and the 2016 Summer Olympics:

According to a recently released report from the World Anti-Doping Agency, Russia's government ran a "systematic scheme" to infuse the Russian team with performance-enhancing drugs and to cover up that cheating, before, during and after the 2014 Winter Olympics, which Russia hosted. This follows a previous report by the same agency documenting rampant doping among Russia's track and field athletes.

And now, with less than two weeks to go before the 2016 Summer Olympics get underway in Rio de Janeiro, the International Olympic Committee has announced Russia's punishment: an ever-so-gentle slap on the wrist.

Instead of an outright ban on Russian participation, as the World Anti-Doping Agency had urged, the IOC will impose a convoluted case-by-case review of Russian athletes, carried out by the 28 international federations that govern each Olympic sport. Athletes will have to overcome a presumption of guilt, but given the limited time left before the Games, and the influence Moscow can bring to bear, overtly and otherwise, on the various federations, this is a dragnet through which many Russians will slip. Here's all you need to know about what a cop-out the IOC has committed: Moscow's minister of sport reacted positively to the ruling, proclaiming that most Russian athletes will indeed qualify to participate — and march into Rio under the Russian flag.

To be sure, officials have barred the vast majority of applicants from Russia's tainted track and field team. Yet the banned athletes include Yulia Stepanova, who blew the whistle on her country's cheating. Ms. Stepanova had asked to compete not on Russia's behalf, but as a neutral, stateless athlete; officials said no because she had a past drug violation. No matter that this resulted from a system that put pressure on her to dope, and that she had the courage to speak out against it later, at tremendous risk to her career — and, in Vladimir Putin's police state, her life.

This ethically warped performance by the panjandrums of the international Olympic "movement" casts a dark shadow indeed over the Rio proceedings. We say that not so much out of concern for the results of the Games themselves, which are bound to provide the usual portion of thrills, chills — and accusations of various transgressions by participants and officials. Rather, Moscow's evasion of meaningful accountability makes a mockery of the high ideals for which the Olympics purportedly stand and can only reinforce the sense of impunity with which the Putin regime approaches international norms in areas far more consequential than sports.




July 26

The Boston Herald on U.S. Sen. Tim Kaine:

Last night's full-throated roar from the left — U.S. Sen. Elizabeth Warren and Bernie Sanders all on the same evening, really? — should have convinced any doubters in the Democratic Party that boring is just the ticket (or at least the bottom half of the ticket).

So Hillary Clinton's choice of U.S. Sen. Tim Kaine of Virginia as her running mate is one of those that won't make anybody unhappy. Really now, who hates vanilla ice cream? And the guy is thoroughly likable.

A devout Catholic, he joined an African-American Church in Richmond, did missionary work in Honduras where he learned to speak Spanish fluently, oh and he topped all that off with a Harvard Law School degree.

And with all that on his resume he still runs no risk of overshadowing the presidential candidate herself. Imagine just for one crazy moment a Clinton-Warren ticket. And then take that one step beyond and imagine Warren walking into the Oval Office on a regular basis to take the president's pulse.

We surely have our differences with the former secretary, but frankly we wouldn't wish that on anyone.

So yes, Tim Kaine — former mayor, governor, now a senator with some foreign policy creds by virtue of his committee assignments — is a solid choice who even wins some kind words from fellow Republicans like U.S. Rep. Tom Davis of Virginia, who called him?a "thoroughly honest and decent man."

In a wild and woolly election season, honest, decent and even boring could work. And maybe Kaine was right when he said in a recent "Meet the Press" appearance, "I am boring. Boring is the fastest-growing demographic in this country."

One thing is certain, that Kaine-Mike Pence vice presidential debate will be a good night to catch something on Netflix.




July 25

The New York Times on France's state of emergency extension:

Shortly after Mohamed Lahouaiej Bouhlel killed 84 people by driving a truck through the crowd gathered on Nice's seafront, France's president, François Hollande, announced he would ask Parliament to extend for another three months the state of emergency declared immediately after the Paris terrorist attacks last November.

This was an abrupt reversal for Mr. Hollande, who had planned to lift the current state of emergency this week. But with presidential elections in France less than a year away, politicians on the right leapt to accuse Mr. Hollande's Socialist government of failing to do enough to protect French citizens. They insisted on more.

On Thursday, Parliament, in addition to extending the state of emergency for six months, added measures to expand already broad police powers of search and detention, like increasing pretrial detention periods for children; allowing searches without the approval of a judge; and authorizing the police to seize data from computers and mobile phones, and to search luggage and vehicles without judicial approval. These changes will do nothing to help France fight terrorism — it already has sweeping counterterrorism laws — and may do permanent damage to the very things the Islamic State wishes to destroy: France's democratic freedoms and its social cohesion.

In May, a French parliamentary report admitted that the state of emergency, perhaps useful at first, had grown less effective. In fact, some 3,600 warrantless searches and 400 house arrests have resulted in a mere six terrorism-related criminal investigations. Yet the state of emergency has been abusively used to put environmental and labor-law activists under house arrest.

It also risks further alienating French Muslims, who have been the subject of most of the raids. Many report being treated in a manner that "made them feel stigmatized and eroded their trust in the French authorities," according to Human Rights Watch. This can only serve the purpose of the Islamic State.

France should, of course, take action to protect its citizens. The intelligence apparatus needs a thorough overhaul, as a parliamentary committee urged earlier this month. And there are still questions about how Mr. Lahouaiej Bouhlel was able to gain access to the promenade in Nice, which was supposedly protected by both national and local police officers.

In February, President Hollande promised that the state of emergency would not be permanent, saying, "If we were to fight terrorism by weakening our principles, it would be the first defeat followed by others." The pre-election blindness to this truth is putting France's civil liberties and long-term security in grave danger.




July 27

Orange County Register on California's ranking as least business-friendly state in country:

Earlier this year, California ranked dead last in Chief Executive magazine's "Best and Worst States for Business" survey for the 12th year in a row, and was one of just three states (along with Connecticut and Illinois) to receive an "F'' in Thumbtack.com's "2016 Small Business Friendliness Survey." A new CNBC study adds still more evidence, as if any was needed, of California's anti-business attitude and policies.

In CNBC's 10th annual "America's Top States for Business" study, California ranked dead last among the states in the Business Friendliness category, and 49th in Cost of Doing Business. It also ranked near the bottom (47th) in the Cost of Living category.

The news was not all bad, however. The Golden State was redeemed by high marks in the Technology and Innovation (2nd), Access to Capital (tied for 2nd) and Economy (8th) categories. This performance was enough to lift the state's overall score, albeit to a still-disappointing 32nd, five places lower than last year's analysis.

CNBC also evaluated states' cumulative scores over the past decade. California placed 36th in this analysis, although it did grab the top overall spot for both Technology and Innovation and Access to Capital.

CNBC's "Top of the Tops" honors for the 10-year period went to Texas, which also topped the Chief Executive and Thumbtack business climate surveys. During this time, it placed first in the Economy and Infrastructure groups, "winning both of those categories handily," and also notched top-10 rankings in Technology and Innovation, Business Friendliness and Access to Capital.

Unfortunately, California's recent economic growth has largely been concentrated in the technology sector, particularly in the Silicon Valley/Bay Area. And while some have tried to knock Texas' economic growth by claiming that it is based on menial, low-wage jobs, unlike the supposedly higher-wage jobs created in California, the truth is mostly the complete opposite. Like much of the state, here in Orange County, "We are increasing low-value-added, low-paying jobs in a county with housing costs that are unaffordable to most people," Chapman University president and economist James Doti told the Register after the release of the school's most recent economic forecast late last month. Meanwhile, California is bleeding skilled, higher-wage jobs, such as those in manufacturing and business services, to Texas and other states with more favorable business climates.

The secret to Texas' success, as Gov. Rick Perry explained to CNBC in 2008, one of the years in which his state topped the list, is: "We've got low taxes, we've got a balanced regulatory climate, we've got a fair legal system and we continue to fund an accountable school system so that we have a good, skilled workforce."

California could learn something from Texas, if only our policymakers could restrain themselves from intervening in our business and personal affairs. Or we could just continue to watch many of our most productive entrepreneurs and workers leave for better opportunities in Texas and other states while California brings up the rear in more business climate surveys.




July 25

The SunSentinel of Fort Lauderdale, Florida on the resignation of Democratic National Committee Chairwoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz:

Debbie Wasserman Schultz had no choice but to resign as head of the Democratic National Committee on Sunday, given the distraction she'd become over leaked emails showing the DNC's animus toward the unending campaign of Bernie Sanders and the chairwoman's sense of entitlement.

Still, the release of these emails by the whistleblowing website WikiLeaks is disturbing, and not simply because someone hacked the private accounts of a major American political party in a high-tech version of the Watergate break-in. It's also disturbing because the website plans to dribble out the emails over time, keeping them in the news, stirring things up, demonstrating a "dirty tricks" political agenda.

If WikiLeaks truly believed in telling people what it knows, when it knows it, it would have released the emails all at once. Instead, the first release is called "Part One of our new Hillary Leaks series." Previously, WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange has promised to publish enough evidence to put Hillary Clinton in prison.

The Democrats claim Russian hackers are behind the email breach, presumably because President Vladimir Putin prefers Republican nominee Donald Trump over Clinton. Even absent the suggestion that Russia is meddling in our presidential election, it is appropriate that the FBI investigate, as it said Monday that it would.

But for now, there is the truth revealed in the 19,000 emails released late Friday, which led our hometown congresswoman to resign as DNC chairwoman on the eve of the Democratic National Convention, which she helped put together.

The emails reveal that Wasserman Schultz, who lives in Weston, had a contemptuous attitude toward Sanders' campaign manager, Jeff Weaver. When Weaver said Sanders should continue his campaign to the convention, she wrote: "He is an ASS." In another, she calls him a "damn liar" for how he characterized the protests and threats of violence around Nevada's primary.

The emails also show Wasserman Schultz's frustration with not getting enough on-air time on MSNBC. And she wanted something done about Mika Brzezinski, a co-host of "Morning Joe," who suggested the chairwoman should resign for having taken sides during the primary. Among other things, Wasserman Schultz emailed NBC personality Chuck Todd, saying in the subject line, "Chuck, this must stop."

The emails also show a sense of entitlement, as when she sought a donor's help securing seven tickets to the Broadway blockbuster, Hamilton. "Let me know if there is anyone I need to speak with directly," she wrote.

That said, from what has been revealed so far, there's no evidence Wasserman Schultz personally sought to undermine Sanders' candidacy, though her team appeared to show favoritism.

One staffer suggested, for example, the party should "get someone to ask'" Sanders about his faith because it could be used against him. "I think I read he is an atheist. This could make several points difference with my peeps. My Southern Baptist peeps would draw a big difference between a Jew and an atheist," wrote Brad Marshall, the DNC's chief financial officer.

Party leaders have no business picking favorites in primaries. Rather, they should trust party voters to pick the candidates they believe will best represent them at the local, state and national levels.

To his credit, Sanders has taken the high road since the disclosures. While noting that the emails confirm what he's said all along — that the DNC wanted Clinton atop the ticket — he has kept his focus on defeating Trump in November.

The same cannot be said of his approach to Wasserman Schultz, whom he's criticized for scheduling primary debates on Saturday nights and temporarily cutting his access to a DNC voter database. On Sunday, Sanders again called for her resignation as the party's chairwoman. He also has endorsed her re-election opponent, Tim Canova, a law professor at Nova Southeastern who's raised more than $2 million in a credible campaign.

A larger lesson for us all is to be careful about what you say in emails. Don't put anything in writing that you wouldn't want printed in the newspaper. Better yet, use the phone or get up and talk to that person who may be sitting only 10 feet away.

Given all the work Wasserman Schultz put into planning this week's convention, it's understandable, if unfortunate, that she initially refused to walk away from her ceremonial duties of opening and closing the convention. But after being booed by protesters at a Monday breakfast, she rightly relinquished the gavel, to keep from being a distraction.

No matter your opinion of our congresswoman, there is no disputing that she's been a smart, aggressive and tireless face of the party. Most Americans wouldn't recognize Reince Priebus, the chair of the Republican National Committee, but they know the name of Debbie Wasserman Schultz.

Still, we'd prefer that elected officials not serve as national party leaders. Such roles are polarizing, because the person is always having to rip the other party. They're also a distraction, because the chairman is expected to travel the country, raising money.

We felt the same way in 2007 when former Florida Sen. Mel Martinez served as chairman of the RNC. In that case, Martinez stepped down after just 10 months. Not long later, he announced he was leaving the Senate.

In announcing her DNC resignation, Wasserman Schultz said she looks forward to serving in Congress "for years to come." Moments later, Clinton announced that her "longtime friend" would serve as honorary chairwoman on her national campaign trail.

Wassermann Schultz is not without her flaws. None of us are. But she is a fearless, tireless fighter who will continue to do well, no matter where the trail leads.




July 21

The Sun News of Myrtle Beach, South Carolina on the Republican Party platform:

When Mitt Romney ran for the Republican presidential nomination four years ago, he carried a three-legged stool to signify the unity of the three traditional elements of the party: "economic conservatives, social conservatives and defense conservatives." The GOP, he argued, must rest on a balance of these three, which made for a more or less comfortable peace behind his candidacy.

Four years later, a disunified party has tossed away the stool. After a brief moment of near-chaos stoked by the squelching of an anti-Trump minority on the Republican National Convention floor Monday, the party formally adopted a platform that reflects the party's accelerating ideological confusion - and its lurching away from the center of American politics.

The party embraced a startlingly backwardlooking social agenda, much of it a reaction to the Obergefell v. Hodges Supreme Court ruling that legalized same-sex marriage. The party favors a constitutional amendment that would overturn the ruling, enabling states to ban same-sex unions once again. It proclaims that children should be raised by "a mother and father," expressing disapproval of gays and lesbians as parents. It signals approval for the discredited practice of gay conversion therapy. It calls for the Bible to be taught in public schools. It supports allowing churches to organize politically while keeping their tax-exempt status.

The party's allegiance to tax cutting and deregulation remains. Among other things, the GOP would curtail a variety of environmental protections and prevent a variety of species from being listed as endangered. It would abolish the Internal Revenue Service, a particularly silly bumper-sticker proposal.

But Donald Trump's takeover has moved the GOP toward isolationism, anti-trade populism and a concomitant ambivalence on essential economic freedoms. The platform says "we need better negotiated trade agreements that put America first" - which implies criticism of past trade deals that Republicans have traditionally defended and projects opposition to future trade pacts. The platform takes no firm stand on the North American Free Trade Agreement or the Trans-Pacific Partnership. This is a shocking turn for a party whose leadership prioritized fast-tracking the TPP after its 2014 midterm election victory.

Filling out the picture, the platform adopts Trump's call to build a wall on the U.S.-Mexico border, which would be an expensive (if ineffective) symbol of America shutting out the outside world. Where Republicans just four years ago proclaimed that they "will lift the torch of freedom and democracy to inspire all those who would be free," Trump forces nixed a line from this year's platform that called for arming Ukraine against Russian aggression.

The net result is a platform that is more reactionary than visionary, with an emphasis on social matters that is out of step with American public opinion and an isolationist turn that reeks of counterproductive nativism. Party platforms, it is often said, are irrelevant. In this case, the nation can only hope so.