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 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.
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 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.
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.
- 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 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.
- 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 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.
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 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.
* 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:
-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.
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 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. ...