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Brooding over the blockade

   The lead editorial in today's Buffalo News Opinion section:

- Israel’s blockade - Buffalo News Editorial
   Now that the dust has settled on the May 31 deadly boarding of the Turkish ship Mavi Marmara, it’s possible to analyze what happened — and why Turkey encouraged the ship, crew and passengers to Mavimarmari breach the long-standing Israeli blockade of Hamas-controlled Gaza. ...
  Clearly, Israel needs to review its actions and reassess its policies ...
  
President Obama ought to face reality about what is possible in this arena, and where America’s best interests lie. The United States needs Israel as a democratic force in the Middle East, and must also concern itself with what action Israel might take if isolated, friendless and left without choice. Israelis know that Arab nations can lose a dozen wars and survive, but Israel cannot survive the loss of one.

   Related:
- Losing in the court of global opinion - Trudy Rubin/Philadelphia Inquirer/Buffalo News
   What do you do when an ally keeps digging itself into a hole — and is pulling you in with it?
- Why Israel is isolated - Peter Beinart/The Daily Beast
   As an Obama official once told me about the Netanyahu team, with amazement, “these guys are actually waiting for President Palin.”
- Joining the jackals - Elliott Abrams/The Weekly Standard
   Whether Israel is slammed depends on whether the United States is willing to take a stand. On the Gaza flotilla, the Obama administration waffled and straddled.
- Israel and Turkey: It's Complicated - Christopher Hitchens/Slate
    I hope that by now the state of Israel regrets its past collaboration with some of the worst elements in modern Turkey. ... If this era of unseemly collaboration is over, then so much the better. Even so, there's something slightly hypocritical about the way in which Israeli crowds have suddenly discovered the human rights record and the regional imperial ambitions of their former ally.
- Propaganda war latest: Tehran 3 Israel 0 - Amir Taheri /The Times of London
   Instead of Israel being the almost invincible enemy that crushed the Arabs in the Yom Kippur War and the Six Day War, it is now portrayed as a waning power, a small and vulnerable enclave that, having lost the support of its powerful protector, the United States, is facing the might of a resurgent Muslim world under Tehran’s leadership.
- Smarter Israel - Andrew Sullivan/The Atlantic
   Now this is a better idea: a rival flotilla from Israel to Turkey to bring humanitarian relief to the Kurds, a people deprived of a homeland just as the Palestinians are. See what a little imagination can do in the war of ideas? A lot better than shooting nineteen-year-olds in the head at point blank range.

   What they are all fighting about:

-- George Pyle/The Buffalo News

... easy on the gas.

- Use caution on gas drilling - Buffalo News Editorial
   The New York Legislature needs to hurry up and pass a law that would tell natural gas drillers to slow Adamtimebomb down.
   Two versions of one very simple bill — one before the
Assembly and another introduced in the Senate —would impose a moratorium on the issuance of any state permits for a certain kind of gas-drilling technique with the suitably frightening moniker “hydro-fracking.”
  
It may not be as scary as it sounds. Or it may be worse. That’s why the Legislature would be wise to tell the state’s Department of Environmental Conservation to put a hold on any permits for such an operation until 120 days after the federal Environmental Protection Agency has finished its report on the subject. ...
   For those who are tempted to leave the matter to the experts who drill for gas, or to the government agencies that oversee them, we have two letters for you.
   BP.
   Related:
- Gas spews from N.W. Pa. well rupture - Philadelphia Inquirer 
- Fracking Timeout - Syracuse Post-Standard Editorial
- Gas panel - Batavia Daily News Editorial
   The Marcellus Shale Committee has some hard -- and crucial -- work ahead of it. The safety of Wyoming County's water is at stake. 
- The calamity cycle - Robert J. Samuelson/Washington Post/Buffalo News
   But the stark contrast between the disaster’s magnitude and the previous safety record points to another perverse possibility: The success of deepwater drilling led to failure. It sowed overconfidence. Continuing achievements obscured the dangers.
- Obama talks tough on spill; keisters in peril - Tom Raum/AP/Buffalo News
   President Barack Obama says his talks with Gulf fishermen and oil spill experts are not an academic exercise. They're "so I know whose ass to kick."
- Why BP CEO Tony Hayward hasn't been fired yet - Daniel Gross/Slate
- Can BP Ever Get It Right? - New York Times Editorial
- Shocking images of the spill - The Daily Beast
- Gulf Coast needs less talking and more doing from BP - New Orleans Times-Picayune Editorial

   Remember this?

-- George Pyle/The Buffalo News

Race to the top ...

   Expressions of editorial edification from today's Buffalo News:

- A gain on charter schools - Buffalo News Editorial
   It only took one round of completely messing things up for New York to get its act together and put the state in the running for millions of dollars in federal aid. Not bad for a state that routinely shoots itself in Charterschool the foot.
   Lawmakers agreed recently to more than double the number of charter schools in the state as a way to qualify for up to $700 million in the Obama administration's Race to the Top program. Together with a previous agreement on evaluating teacher performance, the state has put itself in a strong position to win funding in the second round of grants, especially important now that federal stimulus aid for schools seems unlikely.

   Else-Web:

- Schools keep their eyes on prize - Green Bay [Wis.] Press-Gazette Editorial
   Regardless of what happens in round two, the improvements around Race to the Top will serve state and local students well. They will benefit from more effective data used to track progress, as well as better teachers and an enhanced focus on narrowing the achievement gap.
- State takes better aim at federal education funds - Poughkeepsie Journal Editorial
- Educators face new accountability - Hudson Valley Journal News Editorial
- A race to the top or a slow slog to the middle? - Sioux City [Iowa] Journal Editorial
- School reform law is only a first step - The New Haven [Conn.] Register Editorial

-- George Pyle/The Buffalo News

Reading [into] the Constitution

500px-Scene_at_the_Signing_of_the_Constitution_of_the_United_States
  

Another editorial from today's Buffalo News Opinion section:

- Limiting juvenile punishment - Buffalo News Editorial
   It is hard to imagine that the founders of America thought so little of us, the posterity to which they dedicated the Constitution, that they didn’t believe that our knowledge would grow, our understandings would change and our sensibilities would evolve.
   That is why a recent Supreme Court ruling — holding that life-without-parole sentences for people who were children when they committed their crimes violates the Constitution’s ban on “cruel and unusual punishment” — honors the founders even as it befits our supposedly ever-more-enlightened modern day. ...
   The founders were wise and just, and some deference is called for.
   The founders also wore short silk pants, long fake hair, wouldn’t let their wives vote, bought and sold human beings like animals and thought tobacco was good for you.
   They would probably be happy to know that we have moved forward in many areas. In fact, they would probably be aghast, and very disappointed, if we had not.

   Related:
- Justice Souter’s Class - Linda Greenhouse/The New York Times
   Justice Souter said he well understood, and indeed had shared, that “longing for a world without ambiguity, and for the stability of something unchanging in human institutions.” But he said he had come to accept and even embrace the “indeterminate world” in which a judge’s duty was to respect the words of the Constitution’s framers “by facing facts, and by seeking to understand their meaning for the living.”
- Two wrong ways of reading the Constitution - Steve Chapman/Chicago Tribune
   In the confirmation hearings for Elena Kagan, Americans will hear a debate over how to interpret the Constitution. On one hand are conservatives who preach strict adherence to the framers' intent. On the other are liberals who see a flexible entity that must adapt to a changing world.
   But you don't have to wait to assess the competing theories. Rarely have they been more starkly opposed than in the U.S. Supreme Court
verdict that life without parole may not be imposed on juveniles who have not killed. And rarely has each side done a better job of exposing its own flaws.
- A New Standard of Decency - New York Times Editorial
   The majority’s opinion was particularly heartening for its forthright acknowledgment that there are other sources of judicial inspiration beyond the country’s founders. The low number of juvenile criminals sentenced to life without parole for noncapital crimes demonstrates that states, judges, prosecutors and juries have reached a de facto national consensus against the practice, the opinion said.
- Young criminals, appropriate punishment - Philadelphia Inquirer Editorial
   Prison doors should bang shut on juvenile killers - and stay shut for a good long time. But society shouldn't throw away the key.
- Decency prevails - Salt Lake Tribune Editorial
   We prefer the logic and decency of Justice John Paul Stevens' majority concurrence: "Society changes. Knowledge accumulates. We learn, sometimes from our mistakes. Punishments that did not seem cruel and unusual at one time, may, in the light of reason and experience, be found cruel and unusual at a later time."
- Supreme Court’s decision is a victory for civilized norms - Globe and Mail [Toronto] Editorial
   The United States Supreme Court continues to chip away at the grotesque rules of punishment that still mark U.S. justice in the 21st century.

-- George Pyle/The Buffalo News

They're off!

- Elections shaping up - Buffalo News Editorial
   The matchup for November's gubernatorial race isn't quite settled yet, with Republican Party-designee Rick Lazio [right] facing a primary against Buffalo developer Carl Paladino, but the likelihood is that Lazio, a Lazio former New York congressman with far more statewide recognition, will square off eventually against Attorney General Andrew M. Cuomo.
   New Yorkers have to hope for a serious campaign, focused on the policy issues, but Cuomo begins the race with a commanding lead in
the polls. That kind of advantage frequently tempts an opponent to focus more on personal issues. By driving up the opponent's "negatives," the weaker candidate can become relatively stronger.
   As anyone alive in New York knows, there are plenty of issues to frame this campaign for governor. Among them:
...
   With the state facing a $12 billion deficit, New York hasn't been in such dire condition in decades. Let's have a campaign that addresses that fact and that gives voters real hope for change.

- Notes from a great convention - Bob McCarthy/The Buffalo News
   This must have been what it was like in the old days of national political conventions — back room haggling, chants and shouts across the aisle, and nobody even daring to predict the outcome.
- Two major party candidates must persuade voters - Rochester Democrat & Chronicle Editorial
   New Yorkers want to see and hear something substantively different. Like? Cuomo should refuse to take campaign donations and endorsements from powerful special interests such as the teachers and public workers unions.
   As for Lazio, it's unlikely he'll try stunts such as invading Cuomo's personal space as he did during a debate with
[Hillary] Clinton. [see below] He'll need to be powerfully persuasive in posing Albany cures.
- Cuomo: An insider reborn - Fred Lebrun/Albany Times Union
   It's amusing to note that New Yorkers are ready again, and so quickly, to anoint another messiah, with the memory of the disappointing Eliot Spitzer debacle still fresh. But, yes we are, to a point.

   About that personal space:

-- George Pyle/The Buffalo News

State of confusion

   Opinions on the state our state is in:

- Struggling for solvency - Buffalo News Editorial
   Gov. David A. Paterson [right] understandably is fed up with those forces that have refused to do anything about solving the state's serious budget crisis. He has shown leadership in attempting to reduce Gov06-10 the deficit, but always has been thwarted by the Legislature. And when he asked state unions for givebacks, quite common now in both the private and public sectors, they thumbed their noses at him.
   So now, when he could just sit out the remaining part of his term, he has decided again to act. Before he leaves office, he will set up
layoffs in the state's work force.
   It's an extraordinary step, and a drastic and painful action brought about by drastic and painful circumstances. But just as in the private sector, employee costs are a major part of the budget problem -- about 20 percent of state spending -- and must be addressed. ...
   This year's crop of candidates for governor and Legislature should say, specifically, what they would do to balance the state budget. They should outline what they would expect of
public employees and local governments, schools and universities, taxpayers and those in need of services, without smoke, mirrors, debt and budget trickery.
   The voters -- and those among them who work for the rest of us -- need to know.

- Paterson plays budget chicken - Fredric Dicker/The New York Post
   Never before in the sorry 2½-decades-old history of late budgets has a New York governor made a move like Paterson's. He is basically daring the Legislature to shut down the whole state -- by rejecting the budget extender -- or accept mandatory spending cuts.
- Dave dares 'em - New York Daily News Editorial
   Who'd a thunk that David Paterson might be the governor who found the way to cut New York's out-of-control, Constitution-defying, money-grows-on-trees Legislature down to size.
-
We can't spend our way out of hole - Glens Falls Post Star Editorial
   California ignored the warning signs and look at where they are now. Do we really want to be turning criminals loose, pillaging our public higher education system and shutting down essential government services? Go back to our free-spending ways, and that's exactly where we're headed.
- Pols turn on labor unions - Politico
   They're the whipping boys for a new generation of governors who, thanks to a tanking economy and an assist from editorial boards, feel freer than ever to make political targets out of what was once a protected liberal class of teachers, cops, and other public servants.

-- George Pyle/The Buffalo News

Jim Cameron to the rescue?

   The lead eddie in today's Buffalo News Opinion section:

- Get to the bottom - Buffalo News Editorial
   If any laws were broken in the human-caused disaster now swamping the Gulf of Mexico, then something is wrong with the humans who caused it. If such a thing can happen without breaking any laws, then something is wrong with the law.
   The explosion on the Deepwater Horizon drilling platform — which killed 11 workers — is called an Weresunk accident. And that is true, in the sense that nobody associated with well owner BP, rig operator Transocean or drilling contractor Halliburton could possibly have wanted it to happen.
   But it certainly should not have required the perfect clarity of hindsight to have known all along that the standards of care and level of oversight involved in the drilling of this well were far short of what should have been expected. ...
   The well is so deep, in an environment that few engineers have any knowledge of, that some have suggested the job ought to be turned over to James Cameron,* the filmmaker responsible for “Titanic” and “Avatar.” Cameron was also the creator of a lesser-known but more relevant adventure flick called “The Abyss,” in which the heroes who work on underwater drilling rigs prevail only with the intervention of a race of deep-water beings who, so far, have not presented their credentials to the Coast Guard.

   Related:
- Prosecuting Crimes Against the Earth - David M. Uhlmann/The New York Times
   No one thinks BP, Transocean or Halliburton intended to spill oil into the gulf. But given good evidence, the government could argue that the companies cut corners or deviated so much from standard industry practice that they knew a blowout could happen.
- How To Punish BP - Daniel Gross/Slate
   Your most creative, incisive and sadistic ideas for how to make the company suffer.  
- Will the oil spill force us to face facts about oil, energy policy? - Star-Ledger Editorial
   If this doesn’t shake us out of our addiction to oil, perhaps nothing will until the final drop is sucked out of the earth and burned.
- Oil rig cops are asleep at switch - Sacramento Bee Editorial
   Unfortunately, this sea change hasn't yet extended to the U.S. Department of Interior and its Minerals Management Service. As Shashank Bengali of McClatchy's Washington Bureau reported Thursday, the MMS this week was prepared to let oil firms go ahead with 31 deep-water drilling plans for the Gulf of Mexico, nearly half of which the agency had approved since the April 20 explosion of BP's Deepwater Horizon oil rig.
-
Louisiana deserves answers, Mr. President - New Orleans Times-Picayune Editorial
   Your visit is appreciated, Mr. President. But visiting Louisiana is not the same as listening to us and answering our questions.
- Why is Tony Hayward still on the job? - Eugene Robinson/The Washington Post
   How is it possible that BP chief executive Tony Hayward hasn't been fired? At this point, how can anyone believe a word the man says? If he told me my mother loves me, I'd want a second source. 

* OK. The original print version of this said the director's name was David Cameron. [That's somebody else.]
   I fixed it, not just because that makes it accurate, but also because I get to use the witty headline and then explain it with this:

-- George Pyle/The Buffalo News

Military matters: Taking off. Taking it easy.

   A military theme to today's Buffalo News Opinion section:

- Air base looking up - Buffalo News Editorial
   Saving the Niagara Falls Air Reserve Station from the budgetary chopping block wasn’t going to do much good — for the local economy or for the national security — if it was just left sitting there. ...Airbase
   ... the 107th Air National Guard Wing has given up its old mission, that of flying tanker planes, and joined with the 914th Air Reserve Wing in its mission of operating a fleet of C-130 cargo aircraft.
   Last week, the House of Representatives approved a Defense Authorization Bill that includes $9.5 million to further all that efficient cooperation with the design and planning of a joint operations center for the two units. That, together with the Armed Forces Reserve Center nearing completion and plans for a new firing range and dining hall, show a welcome resolve to make the most of the facility.
   Rep. Louise M. Slaughter, the Fairport Democrat whose district includes the air base, has used her clout as chair of the House Rules Committee, first to keep the base open and since to make it worth saving.

- Let military craft this change - Buffalo News Editorial
   Congress can no more order the Pentagon to fully accomplish the seamless integration of gay and lesbian Americans into the nation’s armed services by a date certain than it can command it to capture Osama bin Laden by Christmas.
   But it can make it clear what the nation’s objectives are, and make it clear that no foot-dragging will be tolerated.
   Congress, the Defense Department and the White House are now engaged in a multi-directional tug-of-war, not over the strategy of repealing the Clinton-era “don’t ask, don’t tell” ban on openly gay people serving in the U.S. military but over the tactics to be used to get there. Which is the way it should be.

   For some reason, this seems appropriate:

  

-- George Pyle/The Buffalo News

Making New York competitive

   Two programs that are supposed to help attract and/or preserve businesses in New York are about to expire. They aren't all that popular as they are. But something needs to be done. Some consideration from The Buffalo News Opinion section:

- Make state competitive - Buffalo News Editorial
   New York's Empire Zone economic development plan will expire next month, and for all of the criticism it has received — much of it justified — the fact is that without an incentive program, this state cannot EmpireZoneLogo compete for the jobs it needs to stem the exodus of jobs and people as well as support its insatiable appetite for tax dollars.
   That's true for two reasons. One is that other states offer incentives to keep and attract businesses. All other things being equal, any company is bound to be attracted to a state that significantly lowers its cost of doing business.
   The second thing is that all other things are decidedly unequal. Taxes are higher in New York. Insurance costs more in New York. Electricity costs more in New York. Labor costs more in New York. Regulations are more impenetrable in New York. The state starts at a disadvantage in keeping and attracting business, so it must play catch-up twice: first to even the field and again to compete with the incentives offered by states that are already more business friendly.
   As Albany starts looking for a new model — Gov. David A. Paterson's proposed Excelsior Jobs Program is a dead duck — it needs to keep some goals prominently in mind, all of them flowing from Reasons 1 and 2 above. ...
   Attorney General Andrew M. Cuomo, who has just announced his campaign for governor, released his own proposal recently, and it does a number of things right, but it also lacks some important components. In particular, it needs an investment tax credit, which the expiring Empire Zone plan featured.

- Power for Jobs plan improves - Buffalo News Editorial
   Lawmakers in Albany appear to be coalescing around a bill that would renew and reform the state Power for Jobs program while ensuring that upstate’s legitimate interests are protected. It is a significant improvement from the previous effort. ...

   Or, maybe, we'll just never go to work:

-- George Pyle/The Buffalo News

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