- The Washington Times - Saturday, January 10, 2009

The following are excerpts from editorials that ran in other newspapers:

The News-Press, Fort Myers, Fla., on politics and corruption: Democratic Gov. Bill Richardson of New Mexico, who … withdrew from consideration for U.S. commerce secretary, is just the latest, sad example of a public official being investigated or sanctioned for questionable behavior.

Nationally, Democratic Gov. Rod Blagojevich of Illinois could face an impeachment vote next week for allegedly trying to sell Barack Obama’s Senate seat. …

The accused will have their day in court and are innocent until proven guilty. Nonetheless, the charges against them and other recently tainted public officials are disappointing, breaching the trust of all constituents, supporters and non-supporters.

These types of lapses certainly aren’t new, seemingly going hand-in-hand with positions of power and authority. …

On the bright side, however, the dire economic conditions have greatly reduced the public’s tolerance of corruption, which might force some improvement in our officials’ ethics. …

That’s why the public must demand stringent rules on the relationship between elected officials, state employees and those doing business with the state. …

Bad behavior happens. But there’s no excuse for failing to enact measures that guard against it and provide harsh punishments when necessary.

On the Net:


The Star-Ledger, Newark, N.J., on the disadvantages of ethanol: Imagine a plant that can be easily grown on farms all over America. Imagine it can be turned into a fuel through a simple process. Imagine we burn that fuel in our cars to reduce our dependence on foreign oil.

That sounds wonderful. But that plant is not corn. That process is not simple. And that fuel is not ethanol.

It was a nice image while it lasted, however. Americans loved the idea of a clean, green fuel that could take the place of petroleum.

But the vision was flawed from the start – which was way back in the Carter administration. The Iranian hostage crisis prompted Jimmy Carter to look for a homegrown alternative to Mideast oil. Cornell University scientist David Pimental began studying the concept. He added up the energy used in manufacturing ethanol and compared it to the amount of energy the fuel produces. There was a net loss, he decided. But the farm lobby succeeded in winning tax breaks and subsidies for the fuel.

“We’re actually importing more oil to produce ethanol,” is Pimental’s assessment. “It’s not making us oil-independent, and it’s costing us a lot of money.” …

As president, Barack Obama should stand up to the special interests in Congress. If these guys want pork, let them feed that corn to their pigs.

Then the new president can focus on finding real solutions to our energy problems.

On the Net:


The Denver Post, on the need for agriculture secretary nominee Tom Vilsack to address America’s problems of obesity and hunger: Obesity and hunger are two sides of the very serious public health problem of malnutrition.

It’s no coincidence that some of the heaviest people typically have the worst diets – sugary soda for breakfast, fast food and convenience store cuisine. That’s why we were glad to hear agriculture secretary nominee Tom Vilsack talk about putting “nutrition at the center of all food assistance programs administered by the department.”

Some might argue that if people want to eat poorly, that’s their right. But the country doesn’t have to subsidize such self-destructive behavior and, in fact, has an obligation to encourage otherwise. …

One of the ways child nutrition can be addressed is through school breakfast and lunch programs, which provide 40 million meals each day. …

This is a prime time for Vilsack and others to create stronger links between good nutrition and food assistance. It’s particularly relevant as the country’s worsening economic problems are driving more people to seek food stamps and other assistance. …

On the Net:


The Post and Courier, Charleston, S.C., on American freedoms: … As our legislators contemplate policies to address the big challenges facing the nation and await guidance from the president-elect, it is worth remembering the words of FDR (former President Franklin Delano Roosevelt).

… Like President-elect Obama, President Roosevelt invoked an American tradition of change. “Since the beginning of our American history,” he said, “we have been engaged in change – in a perpetual peaceful revolution – a revolution which goes on steadily, quietly adjusting itself to changing conditions – without the concentration camp or the quick-lime in the ditch. The world order we seek is the cooperation of free countries, working together in a friendly civilized society.”

This new order, the president said, would be “founded on four essential human freedoms.” He cited freedom of speech and expression, freedom to worship, freedom from want, and freedom from fear. …

When the new Congress and the new president survey the world, they cannot help but notice that in most of the world’s trouble-spots, and even in some of the world’s most stable countries, the four freedoms are under daily attack.

That will pose many difficult choices for our next president, as it has for his predecessors. But on our firm adherence to these fundamentals there can be no retreat.

On the Net:


The News-Enterprise, Elizabethtown, Ky., on accessing nursing home inspection reports: A new rule limiting public access to nursing home inspection reports is a prime example of bureaucracy run amok.

Because administrators say requests for information have become too burdensome, the Department of Health and Human Services now says you can’t have copies of inspection reports that might explain how your loved one came to have a broken bone. Or bruises. Or that could help you prove a negligence, malpractice or criminal case in court.

The requests “divert employees from their federal survey, certification and enforcement responsibilities,” said Michael Leavitt, HHS secretary. …

Under the rule change, state employees who inspect nursing homes for the federal government are reclassified as federal employees who aren’t allowed to provide “privileged” information or documents to the public without approval from the head of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services. There are approximately 16,000 nursing homes in the United States, most with dozens of patients. And one person, who presumably stays busy running Medicare and Medicaid Services, has the authority to release information? …

We rely on the government to provide services we cannot provide for ourselves, and policing an industry that has had more than its share of shady operators is one of those jobs. But HHS seems to have the idea that the inspections themselves are the end result, and that the public is willing to trust it to do the right thing by our loved ones. …

On the Net:


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