Excerpts from recent editorials in newspapers in the United States and abroad:
San Antonio, Feb. 18, Express News on Boehner and legislation:
Raising the nation’s debt ceiling should be routine. This allows the federal government to pay its bills — obligations substantially imposed by Congress.
But this has become not so routine. Last week, the House majority’s leadership needed the House minority to muster enough votes to accomplish even this boilerplate legislation. And on Wednesday, Republican leaders, because of recalcitrance in the GOP rank and file, had to provide the votes to allow a floor vote on the legislation, which then passed 55-43.
That so much effort was required to accomplish what should be so routine says much about the dysfunctional state of Congress these days. But in this drama, some sanity emerged. Our hope is that it lasts.
House Speaker John Boehner prevented another useless display of brinkmanship by outwardly defying his own caucus, which secretly wanted to avoid another crisis but didn’t want to take the heat for raising the debt ceiling.
And the same dynamic existed in the Senate, where Texas’ own John Cornyn joined Minority Leader Mitch McConnell to get past the 60 votes to clear a procedural hurdle to get the bill to the floor.
Then there’s Texas’ other senator, Ted Cruz. He forced the need to get those 60 votes. Yes, the junior senator yearned for yet another showdown after helping engineer the last shutdown in October. The country was not amused.
In the House, only 28 Republicans voted for the measure, joining 221 Democrats. Conservative groups are now calling for the speaker’s ouster.
And both McConnell and Cornyn had to know they were helping primary election foes. Cornyn’s challengers have laughably been trying to paint one of the most conservative senators in the country as a liberal.
The GOP caucuses likely won’t admit it, but Boehner, McConnell and Cornyn all took one for their team. And helped the nation.
Sydney, Feb. 19, The Australian on grim reality of North Korea:
Former High Court judge Michael Kirby’s account of the “unspeakable atrocities” being committed in the North Korean gulags deserves better than the contemptuous response it has received from China, the one country with the leverage to compel the lunatic regime in Pyongyang to behave differently. The U.N. Commission of Inquiry headed by Mr. Kirby spent a year taking evidence from 80 victims and witnesses. The catalogue of murder, torture, rape, abduction, enslavement and starvation it has produced should, as it says, provide “a shock to the conscience of humanity”.
As the report concludes, the depredations committed by the Kim dynasty have “no parallel in the contemporary world”. The depravity is reminiscent of some of the evil perpetrated by Nazi Germany and Pol Pot’s Cambodia. The accounts tell of children forced to watch the execution of their parents, starved humans being fed to dogs, the “disappearance” of entire families, inmates in camps being disposed of in pots and starvation being used as a tool of subjugation.
Such diligently researched exposition, however, is not enough to persuade Beijing to start behaving like a responsible global citizen and show concern for people in a country over which it wields overbearing influence. Kirby has recommended the U.N. refer the Pyongyang regime to the International Criminal Court in The Hague. But Beijing has made it plain it would use its U.N. Security Council veto to prevent such action, falsely maintaining the report contains “unreasonable criticism” of Pyongyang.
The UN panel’s account is the most comprehensive indictment yet of horrors that have been taking place for decades. China’s new leadership cannot escape responsibility for what is still occurring in its neighbor.