Excerpts from recent editorials in newspapers in the United States:
Miami, Dec. 23, Miami Herald on balancing security and privacy:
A tough and thorough report by an independent panel of experts last week should be all the justification that President Obama needs to make critical changes in the National Security Agency’s spy programs to protect Americans’ privacy without undermining national security.
Until now, President Obama has tried to deflect criticism of the NSA secret surveillance projects that a federal judge last week labeled “nearly Orwellian.” The president has offered soothing assurances that he understands why the public is worried, but he has never committed to undertake the changes necessary to ensure a minimum level of privacy. It’s time to stop talking and start acting.
The report by a five-member panel of intelligence and legal experts appointed by the president himself stopped short of recommending the dismantling of NSA programs designed to prevent acts of terrorism. Nor should they have. The threat of terrorism on American soil remains very real.
But does that mean that the public has to surrender a reasonable expectation of privacy in communications, either by phone or in cyberspace? The NSA’s excesses, responding to orders from two administrations and from Congress, went far beyond what is necessary to maintain a proper balance between security and the right to be free of a smothering level of surveillance. ...
The president is expected to announce next month what he intends do about the secrecy programs. He should embrace those changes that provide greater accountability and enhance the civil liberties of Americans. If there are recommendations he cannot accept, he must make a persuasive case to the public as to why.
Boston, Dec. 24, Boston Herald on “Haters” want Congress to work:
Journalist Michael Kinsley once defined a political gaffe as when someone “accidentally reveals something truthful about what is going on in his or her head.” In other words, a gaffe is when a political player accidentally tells the truth. This appears to be what happened in a recent Washington Post story.
Tens of millions of Americans disapprove of the way both Republicans and Democrats in Congress are doing their jobs. According to the hometown paper for America’s political class, this makes them “Haters.”
You read that right.
According to the Post’s view of the world, there are now three teams in American politics: those who approve of Democrats, those who approve of Republicans and the Haters. This is how the paper officially labeled people like me, even as it notes that we’re a “significant and growing share of the electorate.”
This wasn’t just a casual reference by a lazy journalist. Not only did the paper of the political elite produce tables and graphics with the “Haters” label; they wrote an entire article about how “Haters Gonna Hate.”
It’s hard to find anybody who would disagree with the group’s perspective of Congress. We’re talking about a Congress that can’t produce a budget, but did produce an unworkable health care law. Both Republicans and Democrats in Congress think it’s OK for the National Security Agency to read our emails and listen to our phone calls. Both parties are comfortable with crony capitalism and happy to steer sweetheart deals to their friends and allies.
Even worse, election practices that protect incumbents mean that 90 percent of us have absolutely no say who “represents” us in Congress. We are simply assigned to a congressman or woman who cares little about what we think.
Given those realities, people who disapprove of both parties in Congress might best be described as realistic or pragmatic.
Those of us who disapprove of both parties in Congress are simply waiting for Congress to do something worthy of our approval.
Kansas City, Dec. 23, Kansas City Star on the economic wheel spins as textile jobs return to U.S.:
In his pre-vacation press conference, President Barack Obama put out the notion that 2014 could be a breakthrough year. Outgoing Federal Reserve Chairman Benjamin Bernanke last week announced the central bank’s optimism. And daily headlines report encouraging developments with increasing frequency.
One of the more telling indicators of economic recovery in recent days appeared in the Wall Street Journal, which reported on a hopeful trend: Chinese and other Asian textile manufacturers were relocating operations to the American South.
At least four plants in Georgia, North Carolina and South Carolina have opened or are in the works, because of a curious shift in economic details. It’s now cheaper to produce the yarn in the United States — largely because of lower energy costs — and ship it to Latin American fabricators, who, thanks to the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), return finished goods to the states duty free.
We’re a long way from a convincing reversal of fortune. As of November, the Journal reported, the Bureau of Labor Statistics counted 114,900 textile jobs in the U.S., compared with 477,300 about 20 years ago.
Still, it seems to be a viable trend. And, perhaps it’s just one of those inevitable points in the cycle of industrial evolution and disruption. ...
And perhaps you’ve also noticed the recent heart-tugging TV ads from Kia Motors, which tout the Korean company’s vehicles now made in a plant in Georgia.
Much has been made in the political arena in recent years about offshoring of American jobs. These developments might be indicating that economic recovery and thus better times for American workers are gaining traction.