- Associated Press - Saturday, November 14, 2015

Excerpts of recent editorials of statewide and national interest from New England newspapers:

Journal-Inquirer (Conn.), Nov. 13, 2015

The student protesters at the University of Missouri whose actions forced the removal of the school’s president, Timothy Wolfe, are not as strong on democracy as they claim to be.

The protesters arranged a boycott by members of the university’s football team to protest racial discrimination and other issues. That forced the resignation not only of Wolfe but of R. Bowen Loftin, chancellor at the Columbia, Missouri, campus.

But when a journalist tried to take pictures of a tent city that some protesters had built on the campus quadrangle, ESPN photographer Tim Tai was refused access to the “city” and warned not to take pictures of the demonstrators.

So much for freedom of the press at the University of Missouri in those protests against the practice of its administration. The students said they have the right to “create a safe place” without journalists and banned them from the area.

Back to the Queen of Hearts in “Alice in Wonderland,” whose response to those opposing her was “off with their heads.” Perhaps some of these students admired her approach.




The Boston Globe (Mass.), Nov. 14, 2015

Paris was still counting its dead Friday night, after terrorists launched a wave of brutal attacks in the French capital. The nature of the targets - the killers struck a soccer game, a concert, and a restaurant - suggested an effort to attack not just French civilians, but French civilization: The terrorists turned their Kalashnikovs on the je ne sais quoi that makes life enjoyable, and that makes Paris Paris.

It’s difficult to imagine the nihilism, and contempt for humanity, that could motivate such cold-blooded rage. Investigations into the crimes are just beginning, but it appears the coordinated attacks were carried out by Islamic extremists. It is the second major attack in France this year, after the killings of journalists at the satirical newspaper Charlie Hebdo.

World leaders said all the right things Friday night, as the death toll ticked higher; more than 100 were killed. “Those who think that they can terrorize the people of France or the values that they stand for are wrong,” said President Obama. “We will do whatever we can to help,” said British Prime Minister David Cameron.

Of course, it should go without saying that the United States will stand with France, and aid in the investigation of the attacks. It should also go without saying that jumping to conclusions would be a mistake. In the fog of war or terrorist attacks, many initial reports turn out to be wrong.

But failing to face up to reality would also be a mistake. The reality is that whatever the particulars may turn out to be in this case, countries across the world face a serious threat from young, radicalized Muslim men. Boston experienced that threat firsthand in the Marathon bombings in 2013, which were orchestrated by a pair of Chechen brothers. Those threats demand a strong law enforcement response, but they also require leaders, religious figures, and society at large to directly confront the twisted ideology that justifies indiscriminate murder for political ends and, in doing so, slights the value of all human life.

Indeed, France is one of the birthplaces of modern notions of human rights. On both sides of the Atlantic, there’s a tendency to express those ideals in vague, lofty terms (liberty, equality, fraternity). But what they boil down to is the right to go out to dinner on a Friday night, to listen to the artists of your choosing, to live one’s life free from force. In Paris Friday night, those rights were violated in gruesome fashion. France, the United States, and the rest of the world, must rise to their defense.




The Republican (Mass.), Nov. 13, 2015

If you are old enough to remember when the Republican Party bragged of having a “big tent,” with room for many people with diverse views, you are getting plenty old indeed.

There used to be several brands of conservatism. There were fiscal conservatives and social conservatives and conservatives who focused primarily on national security. Though there still are, at least nominally, many don’t want it to be so.

Imagine someone who is generally conservative in his views who just happens also to support abortion rights. Could he find a home in today’s Republican Party? Good luck. (A similar argument, of course, could be made about the difficulties in finding a pro-life liberal. We’ll address the state of modern liberalism in this space soon enough.)

At the most-recent Republican presidential debate, Sen. Rand Paul of Kentucky brought matters to a head during a dustup over spending with Sen. Marco Rubio of Florida. Asked Paul: “How is it conservative to add a trillion dollars in military expenditures?”

Rubio’s answer: “We can’t even have an economy if we’re not safe. … I believe the world is a safer - no, no, I don’t believe, know that the world is a safer place when America is the strongest military power in the world.”

Which of these is the real conservative view?

To listen to much that passes for discourse today, one would believe that what it means to be a conservative can be boiled down to a few simple statements: Cut taxes. Shrink the federal government. Oppose Obama and anything he stands for.

Oh, and never, ever deign to work with the opposition party.

Down that road lies a whole lot of nothing.

When Ronald Reagan was president, he beefed up our nation’s military, boosting troops and weapons and programs and research and development. During his two terms, military spending increased by a stunning 43 percent.

Would today’s so-called conservatives brand him a spendthrift liberal?

A thriving political movement needs to stand for something. It needs a broad vision and leaders who are able to articulate a series of goals and how best to attain them. Simply wanting to cut, to reduce, to oppose, to repeal - that isn’t a governing philosophy. It’s a never-ending fit of pique.




The Telegraph (N.H.), Nov. 13, 2015

Some people aren’t happy unless they have something to complain about. Into that category we would place those who have raised a fuss about Starbucks rolling out red cups for the holiday season and declaring that the company is waging a “war on Christmas” because the cups lack any specific visual homage to the Christian holiday.

The issue is a red herring, if you’ll pardon the expression, borne of a holier-than-thou mindset that is the very antithesis of the Christmas spirit.

We’ll give Christmas its due as the pinnacle of the holiday season. It’s a time of year when people are just nicer and more thoughtful of others, especially of those who might not be able to afford a cup of Starbucks coffee and would hardly care what color cup it came in if someone bought them one. Instead, they would be grateful for the hot drink and even more appreciative of the kindness behind it. Putting “Merry Christmas” or a snowflake on the cup wouldn’t make it any more or less welcome.

Starbucks waging a “war on Christmas?” Hardly. The real war is being waged against the Christmas spirit by those who feel the need to gripe because the red-and-green cups aren’t up to their phony standards.

As if the world doesn’t have bigger problems.

Then again, perhaps those complainers have done the world a kindness by forcing people to think twice about what Christmas is really about. If that’s the case, we say, “Thanks, Starbucks.”

We see the legacy of Jesus Christ - whose life and lessons the holiday celebrates - all around us in the Salvation Army bell-ringers, those who contribute to The Telegraph’s Santa Fund and a thousand other acts of charity large and small performed right here in our backyard.

We also see the Christmas spirit carried out year-round. It’s there in the hearts of the volunteers who show up every day to help at the Nashua Soup Kitchen and Shelter. It’s also reflected in the deeds done by the likes of Fidelity Investments, whose employees have contributed mightily over the years to Nashua schools as part of the company’s annual community service day. Most recently, they built an outdoor classroom and greenhouse for Elm Street Middle School in August.

Nobody asks the good people who participate in those causes what religion they happen to subscribe to as a condition for their kindness.

It hardly matters, though we’d be surprised if all faiths weren’t represented.

We’d like to think we live in a world in which those who receive seasonal greetings or gestures could accept such things in the spirit in which they are given, regardless of how it is couched or the religious motivation behind it. We have no beef with “Merry Christmas,” ”Happy Hanukkah” or “Happy Holidays.”

Maybe those who take offense to one greeting or another because they feel the need to apply a bogus religious litmus test need something to complain about.

If that’s the case, they also need all the kindness and good wishes we can send their way, at least as much as the destitute, for they are the poor of soul.

And for those who must take umbrage at Starbucks because their red and green cups aren’t “Christmasy” enough? Well, Dunkin’ Donuts serves coffee, too.




The Providence Journal (R.I.), Nov. 14, 2015

President Obama has embraced a new standard for limiting smog-producing ozone that pleases neither business groups nor environmentalists. The new standard, officially set by the Environmental Protection Agency, limits smog-causing emissions to 70 parts per billion, modestly below the George W. Bush administration’s standard of 75 parts per billion, set in 2008.

Under the Clean Air Act, the EPA is charged with reviewing the standard every five years. In 2011, faced with stout opposition in the run-up to the elections, the Obama administration retreated from its initial effort to severely tighten the standard. Many environmental groups have derided this latest attempt. But it is at least a step forward.

Ground-level ozone forms when a stew of emissions from cars, power plants and other sources cooks in the sun. The resulting smog can aggravate heart and respiratory diseases, including asthma. By 2025, the EPA estimates, the new ozone limits will prevent 230,000 childhood asthma attacks and up to 660 premature deaths. The Northeast is particularly vulnerable, since power plants to the west generate pollutants that contribute to smog. Those emissions tend to drift here.

Curbing ozone levels can require costly measures such as installing expensive scrubbers on factory smokestacks. But the rewards should ultimately include fewer emergency room visits and fewer missed days at work from people sickened by pollution. The White House estimates that the new standard will in effect pay for itself, generating up to $5.9 billion in health benefits by 2025, and offsetting compliance costs estimated at $4.1 billion.

Industry groups had pressed to keep the existing standards in place. The 75 parts-per-billion rule expressly ignored the EPA’s scientific advisory panel, which called for lower levels for the sake of public health. The panel’s most recent recommendations stand at 60 to 70 parts per billion.

Business lobbies predicted factory and plant closings, along with job losses, under tighter standards. But states and counties with the worst problems have been given until 2037 to meet the new standards, which are more lenient than many activists sought.

Decades of experience in this country have shown that environmental regulation and economic growth are not mutually exclusive. Moreover, as pollution-choked China has demonstrated, clean air is no luxury. Studies have shown that heavy smog can harm the developing lung capacity of children, making them more susceptible to respiratory illnesses. The American Lung Association asserts that a standard of 60 parts per billion would prevent thousands of premature deaths each year, along with 2 million asthma attacks. The public-health benefits associated with the administration’s standard, it asserts, are far less.

With neither side happy, the Obama administration may have found the middle ground needed for progress to occur. More legal fights are expected, but at least the prospect of improvement is on the horizon.




The Caledonian Record (Vt.), Nov. 14, 2015

The goals were good - get more Americans access to affordable, quality health insurance and reduce the growth in U.S. health care spending. The outcome… surprise… has not been so good.

President Obama and fellow Democrats rammed through Obamacare with the aforementioned promises. The bill was so cumbersome and confusing the Speaker of the House, Nancy Pelosi, notoriously exclaimed, “We have to pass the bill so you can find out what’s in it.’ Obama uttered lies that would have made Clintons blush- “We’ll lower premiums by up to $2,500 a year for the average family.” Or the classic, “If you like your doctor you can keep your doctor.”

Republican proposals on how to curtail the cost of health care were discarded outright because the Democrats controlled the House, Senate, and the White House. GOP ideas included allowing Americans, especially in small states with aging populations like Vermont and New Hampshire, to purchase policies across state lines from larger, younger states, thus having access to lower premiums. Tort reform, which would get rid of frivolous lawsuits that drive up the cost of health care, was another idea that Obama said he would seriously look at. He didn’t.

Obamacare features Democrat DNA exclusively and the blue party is paying a heavy toll for it. Americans still find Obamacare a bad piece of legislation and have shown their disgust at the polls. Across the country Democrats have been thrown out of office and decimated at the state and federal level. While Obama continues to smile for the cameras and tell anyone who will listen that his signature piece of legislation is a success, it isn’t working and is crumbling under its own weight.

Rich Lowry, from the National Review, writes: “Enrollment is falling short. The Obama administration projects that it will have roughly 10 million people on the state and federal exchanges by the end of next year, a staggering climb-down from prior expectations. The Congressional Budget Office had predicted that there would be roughly 20 million enrollees. If the administration is to be believed, enrollment will only increase about another million next year from its current 9 million and only sign up about a quarter of the eligible uninsured.”

And the cost that Obama had promised would be curtailed? That hasn’t happened either. Lowry explains, “Premiums are rising. Not everywhere, but steeply in some states. Indiana is down 12 percent, but Minnesota is up 50 percent. Health care expert Robert Laszewski points out that it’s the insurers with the highest enrollment and therefore the best information about actual enrollees that have tended to request the biggest increases - a sign that they don’t like what they’re seeing in their data.”

What is most troublesome is those who qualify for heavy subsidies have signed up, but those who do not, including young healthy singles, have decided against enrolling. Without these people Obamacare does not work, plain and simple.

We hope the presidential candidates will discuss in detail how they choose to repair or replace what Vice-President Joe Biden famously uttered at the time of its signing, “a big f(asterisk)(asterisk)(asterisk)ing deal.” We’d refer to it as a big (asterisk)bleeping(asterisk) disaster.




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