Editorial Roundup: Excerpts from recent editorials

Excerpts from recent editorials in the United States and abroad:


March 1

The Dallas Morning News on President Trump's address to Congress:

President Donald Trump's speech to Congress Tuesday was one of his better moments since his election. It marked a welcome change of tone since his inauguration just weeks ago, when he painted such a dark, insular picture of America and its role in the world.

There was much to like in the speech " who would argue with his vision for a safe, prosperous and free America? " but it also left a nagging concern that it was just one more campaign speech, full of promises and empty of specifics.

He called for a sharp increase in spending on the military and on our veterans, even as he ended with a fulsome declaration that America seeks peace with all, including, under the right conditions, our enemies. He called for replacing Obamacare with a plan that would give people cheaper insurance, better coverage, more choices, and a continued guarantee that pre-existing conditions will not deny anyone coverage.

He urged Congress to support paid family leave, a step that House Speaker Paul Ryan and many Republicans have refused in the past. He called education the "civil rights issue of our time" " a point many far more liberal voices have made, too. He wants every parent to be able to send their child to any public, private, religious, charter or home school they choose.

These goals are ambitious and on the whole laudatory. But on these issues and a host of others, the president skipped over any sense of how to accomplish what he is calling for. Boosting spending on the military and on veterans and on border security will cost tens of billions of dollars. Where will the money come from?

If it is taken from existing programs across the U.S. government, how will he then also keep his promises to cut taxes for the middle class, help the poor with insurance premiums, help students with tuition, and to keep our air and water clean?

Just eight years ago his predecessor pushed through a huge stimulus plan aimed at putting Americans back to work, and he did so over the objection of every Republican in the House and all but two in the Senate. Now the new Republican president has promised to present legislation that will spearhead $1 trillion in investments in highways, bridges and other infrastructure.

Despite the lack of specifics, Trump did hit some high points. A highlight of the evening was the president's introduction of the Carryn Owens, the widow of the Navy SEAL who was killed during a raid in Yemen in January. His warm embrace of Owens' sacrifice drew sustained applause from across the gallery and tears to many eyes.

Trump ended his remarks by calling on Democrats to join with Republicans to address the nation's ills, urging them to work together even on broad immigration reform. We applaud bipartisanship, but for him to be credible he must find a way to reconcile the rhetoric that has so often alienated critics with his sweeping aspirations.




Mar. 1

The Los Angeles Times on President Donald Trump's proposed database of crimes by the undocumented:

President Trump declared Tuesday night that "we must support the victims of crime," which sounds like a sensible and humane notion. But Trump didn't have all crime victims in mind, just a certain type.

As he explained in his address to Congress, he wants to form a new agency within the Department of Homeland Security called VOICE, for Victims of Immigration Crime Engagement, to provide "a voice to those who have been ignored by our media, and silenced by special interests." That follows his recent directive that Homeland Security collect and publish weekly data detailing crimes committed by undocumented immigrants.

That isn't data collection, that's propaganda, and a shameless effort to stoke fear and suspicion of our immigrant neighbors and co-workers.

Study after study has found that immigrants, with or without legal status, commit crimes at lower rates than native-born Americans. But Trump and his handlers have drawn an alternative conclusion, and now they want to shamelessly gin up the evidence. A silver lining: They're likely to fail. Immigration status isn't usually gathered at the time of arrest, and researchers say they already have an inordinate amount of trouble getting even basic arrest data in real time. If the administration somehow surmounted the technical challenges, it then would have to grapple with questions of principle. Would it post information based on an arrest, which is merely an accusation, or wait for a conviction? How big a bureaucracy would these small-government politicians create to achieve this?

As part of the effort, Trump wants Homeland Security to identify local law-enforcement agencies that refuse to gather such data " the "sanctuary city" bogeyman " for a separate list of the ostracized, which is further evidence that this is a political ploy rather than a sincere step toward a safer America.

If Trump were really interested in protecting Americans from violence, he would work with Congress to target the more immediate threat to our public safety: guns, which are used in about 70% of the nation's 15,000 annual homicides. Yet congressionally imposed limits keep the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention from studying the public health issues surrounding gun violence. Some private and state programs pick up a bit of the slack " for example, California recently established a $5-million research center at UC Davis " but the lack of robust data collection and analysis at the federal level make it harder to fully grasp what drives the problem and what steps might be taken to solve it.

Instead, we get a federal data-collection program that not only is empirically suspect, but designed to scapegoat the vulnerable by throwing the weight of the government behind an untruth. That is a crime worth railing against.




March 1

China Daily on the relationship between China and the U.S.:

Given prevailing concerns about potential uncertainties following Donald Trump's precedent-breaking remarks on sensitive topics, State Councilor Yang Jiechi's visit to Washington D.C. was not about breaking new ground, but about preserving and sustaining the precious turnaround enabled by the recent phone conversation between the US president and Chinese President Xi Jinping.

No doubt opportunities lie ahead if China and the United States choose to get along and cooperate. But the priority now is to end any delusion that a transfer in global leadership is underway, and the Thucydides trap is inescapable. Which makes it especially important for both parties to give and receive the assurance that neither finds a conflict between them desirable.

Thankfully, despite the seemingly rocky start to the Trump-era China-US relationship, the diplomatic dust finally seems to be settling after the leaders of the two countries set a positive tone for ties with their phone conversation. And Yang's talks with Trump and his administration officials are a credible sign of shared interest in cementing the current fine momentum.

From the Chinese perspective, Yang's trip carries additional significance for it coincided with the 45th anniversary of the Shanghai Communiqu.

Issued on Feb 28, 1972, the last day of US president Richard Nixon's historic visit to China, the document established time-honored guiding principles for China-US relations, such as one China, mutual respect, equality and mutual benefit, peaceful coexistence and mutual noninterference in internal affairs. Like the Jan 1, 1979, joint communiqu on establishing diplomatic relations and the Aug 17, 1982, joint communiqu on relations with Taiwan, it is an essential component of the political foundation of China-US relations.

Its high-profile commemoration in China conveys a sincere hope to put the all-important relationship back on an even keel. "The Shanghai Communiqu created a new model for countries of different ideologies, cultural traditions and at different development stages to handle relations. It was a pioneering initiative in international relations that remains of important reference value for international relations till this very day," wrote Yang in an article in People's Daily.

It is a pity the date and the matter of such far-reaching significance passed nearly unnoticed on the other side of the Pacific.

If Beijing and Washington could seek common ground and shelve their differences 45 years ago in the chill of the Cold War, they are in far better positions today to formulate a relationship featuring "no conflict, no confrontation, mutual respect, win-win cooperation".



Feb. 28

The Wall Street Journal on the 1996 Congressional Review Act:

Nancy Pelosi says Republicans have accomplished nothing in 2017, and no doubt she wishes that were true. But the House has already voted to repeal 13 Obama-era regulations, and President Trump signed his third on Tuesday. Now the GOP should accelerate by fully utilizing the 1996 Congressional Review Act.

Republicans chose the damaging 13 rules based on a conventional reading of the CRA, which allows Congress to override regulations published within 60 legislative days, with simple (50-vote) majorities in both chambers. Yet the more scholars examine the law, which had only been used successfully once before this year, the clearer it is that the CRA gives Congress far more regulatory oversight than previously supposed.

Spearheading this review is the Pacific Legal Foundation's Todd Gaziano_who helped write the 1996 act_and the Heritage Foundation's Paul Larkin. Their legal findings, and a growing list of rules that might be subject to CRA, are on www.redtaperollback.com.

The pair argue, first, that the CRA defines "rule" broadly. The law relies on the definition in the Administrative Procedure Act, which includes any "agency statement" that is "designed to implement, interpret, or prescribe law or policy." This includes major and minor rules as well as "guidance"_letters that spell out an agency's interpretation of a law.

This matters because President Obama's regulators often ducked the notice and comment of formal rule-making by issuing "guidance" to act as de facto regulation. Examples include the guidance requiring transgender bathrooms in public schools, which the Trump Administration recently withdrew, or the 2011 guidance dictating how universities must handle sexual assault. The latter is ripe for CRA repeal.

The second discovery is the law's definition of when the clock starts on Congress's time to review rules. The CRA's opening lines require any agency promulgating a rule to present a "report" containing the rule's text and definition. The CRA explains that Congress's review period begins either on the date the rule is published in the Federal Register, or the date Congress receives the report_whichever comes later.

Thus any rule for which any Administration (going back to 1996) failed to submit a report is fair game for CRA review and repeal. The Trump Administration can begin the clock merely by submitting a report to Congress.

Our own search suggests past Administrations were fairly diligent about presenting reports for major rules. But a 2014 study by the Administrative Conference of the United States found at least 43 "major" or "significant" rules that had never been reported to Congress.

The study estimated a further 1,000 smaller rules a year that agencies had failed to report. The study focused only on formal rules_not "guidance" that also requires a report to Congress under the CRA. Redtaperollback.com is offering tools so citizens can examine whether past rules have reports.

A third discovery could be the most important. The opening words of the CRA read: "Before a rule can take effect" the federal agency in question must submit a Congressional report. No one has tested the legal limits of this provision, but a fair reading suggests the Trump Administration could declare any rule for which a report has not been submitted to be null and void.

The White House would be wise to start by simply directing federal agencies to catalog which rules have reports_and then devise a strategy with Congress. Some rules might deserve to stay on the books. Some bad rules might get reported to Congress for repeal under the CRA. Others could be declared null and void_which saves the trouble of formally reversing them. This last approach might appeal to Congressional Republicans who are fretting that a CRA crush is diverting them from health-care and tax reform.

Democrats will howl in response to an aggressive use of the CRA, but the law was designed to impose penalties on agencies that failed to keep Congress informed. As Mr. Gaziano says, "the entire point of the CRA was to restore some minimal level of constitutional accountability over agencies that take a broadly worded statute as license to run wild."

The CRA is the most immediate tool Republicans have to reimpose democratic accountability on a lawless bureaucracy, and they should use it to the fullest.




Feb. 28

The Washington Post on investigating Russian ties to the Trump administration:

As long as questions have swirled about the Russian plot to influence last year's presidential election, it has been fair to wonder whether a partisan Congress could be trusted to conduct thorough and evenhanded investigations into this nationally important but politically sensitive matter. Now, there are tangible warning signs that the integrity of the Senate and House inquiries is at risk.

First, The Post reported Friday that Richard Burr (R-N.C.), the chairman of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, which is running the Senate's investigation, had spoken to journalists as part of a White House effort to rebut a New York Times article reporting communications between members of President Trump's circle and Russian officials. Among other things, this suggested there were discussions with the White House on matters Mr. Burr should be investigating independently.

Then Devin Nunes (R-Calif.), Mr. Burr's counterpart in the House, went further, making a series of strong statements that suggested his mind is already made up. "We still have not seen any evidence that anyone from the Trump campaign, or any other campaign for that matter, has communicated with the Russian government," he said Monday. "There is no evidence that I've been presented of regular contact with anybody within the Trump campaign."

Adam Schiff (Calif.), the ranking House Intelligence Committee Democrat, pointed out that Mr. Nunes said this even though the committee had not received any documents or conducted any witness interviews. Mr. Nunes also played down questions about Michael Flynn, suggesting the ousted national security adviser had really done the nation "a big favor" by staying in contact with the Russians. Mr. Nunes seems more interested in pursuing government leaks " "major crimes," he termed them " which are, at best, a distraction from the issue of a hostile government's attempt to compromise the U.S. political system.

For the moment, the Senate investigation still appears to have enough credibility to be useful. Democrats on the Senate intelligence panel have vowed to condemn the inquiry if it becomes a whitewash. So has Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.). Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine) released an encouraging statement on Sunday. For his part, Mr. Burr should refuse to discuss any substantive matter relating to the investigation with the White House, except in the context of formal interviews the panel conducts. He should certainly not agree to serve as a public relations flack for the president on issues relating to the inquiry. Before this episode, Mr. Burr had, behind the scenes and publicly, prepared the committee to conduct a real investigation. He should stick with that more constructive behavior.

Meanwhile, the House Intelligence Committee agreed Monday night to investigate both high-level leaks and any ties between Mr. Trump's circle and Russia. But, given Mr. Nunes's comments, along with the already strong disagreements apparent between him and Mr. Schiff, it seems unlikely the House investigation will serve to clarify matters. It would be better to shut down the House inquiry than to pollute the record with a slanted report from a halfhearted investigation, if that is to be the result.




Feb. 28

The Chicago Tribune on addressing Chicago's violent crime:

President Donald Trump's memorable threat to "send in the Feds!" if Chicago can't get a grip on gun violence isn't aging well. A month after expressing frustration in a tweet with the city's plague of shootings and killings, Trump and his Justice Department appear inclined to do the opposite: stay out of the city, rather than get more involved here.

Chicago doesn't need the U.S. cavalry. But it does need Washington's political and legal muscle.

The city has been waiting for signs of what the Trump administration is willing to do beyond call out Chicago for its bloodshed. The attention from the White House, we have noted, is welcome. The more the president talks, the greater the pressure on Illinois and Chicago politicians, which increases the chances that they respond.

Trump on Tuesday, addressing Congress, again cited the scourge of crime here: "In Chicago, more than 4,000 people were shot last year alone " and the murder rate so far this year has been even higher. This is not acceptable in our society. Every American child should be able to grow up in a safe community, to attend a great school, and to have access to a high-paying job. But to create this future, we must work with, not against " not against " the men and women of law enforcement. ... And we must support the victims of crime."

Is there a promise of support in that pledge? On Tuesday, Attorney General Jeff Sessions appeared to take a step away from pursuing active engagement with the Chicago Police Department over its dysfunctional culture. Speaking in Washington, Sessions indicated the Trump administration is not inclined to pursue a Justice Department consent decree that would bind Chicago to its commitment to reform the Police Department.

Sessions didn't name-check a Chicago consent decree, but he lamented how respect for police has been undermined. He echoed previous criticism of civil rights investigations of policing, federal scrutiny that he thinks makes cops' job harder. "We need to help police departments get better, not diminish their effectiveness, and I'm afraid we've done some of that," he said, alluding to Justice probes. "So we're going to try to pull back on this. I don't think it's wrong or mean or insensitive to civil rights or human rights. I think it's out of a concern to make the lives of people, particularly in poor communities, minority communities, live a safer, happier life."

This isn't surprising, but it is disappointing. The Police Department is not responsible for this bloodshed, of course. But in impoverished neighborhoods at the epicenter of the violence, relations with the police are fraught. There have been far too many instances of police using excess force and not being held accountable.

The case of Laquan McDonald symbolized the dysfunction, throwing the CPD into crisis and driving Mayor Rahm Emanuel to replace its superintendent and overhaul accountability. The Justice Department under President Barack Obama came down hard on the city after an investigation that laid bare the details of Chicago's cavalier approach to oversight. Then the Obama administration came to an end.

The next beat after the report was supposed to be negotiation of a court-approved settlement with the feds that would hold the city to its promises of reform. After decades of police abuses followed by cleanup efforts followed by more abuses, we don't see any other way for CPD and City Hall to change. Chicagoans need to trust police officers in order to support them in their work, and for the police to be effective, they need to function professionally. In other words, the city's reforms, backed by the consent decree, would help make CPD better " and Chicago safer.

Sessions and Trump seem to believe in the opposite approach: The way to fight crime is to unleash cops, not hold them to high standards of accountability. Sessions looks at rising crime statistics, sees a decline in arrest activity and presumes the police are leaning back for fear of being caught on video; therefore the glare of federal oversight must be too bright.

He's setting up a false choice. The police can do more than one thing at a time: They can arrest wrong-doers, work in a positive partnership with members of the community and be held accountable. Chicago's many good cops prove the point.

Sessions, rightly, is worried about gun violence and vows a crackdown. Trump is shocked by what he's seen happen in Chicago, as are all Chicagoans. But their thinking is off base. There is a lot of hard work to be done to make the city safer " starting with a consent decree to assure that this generation of police reforms sticks. The feds should help make that happen.




Feb. 28

The Orange County Register on President Trump's choice of Lt. Gen. H.R. McMaster as national security adviser:

In Gen. H.R. McMaster, a brilliant veteran of the Iraq War, president Trump has an able and qualified new national security adviser.

Independent-minded but no rogue, his selection should bring to an end the cycle of bureaucratic backstabbing and palace intrigue that has hamstrung the White House " a problem not just for Trump supporters, but for all Americans.

Regardless of the outcome of various Beltway probes and behind-the-scenes power struggles, the United States must plan and execute its basic foreign policy duties. At a time this turbulent, creative thinking and swift action are a must. This month's unprecedented internal resistance to administration staffing needs to wrap up as McMaster takes on his pivotal role.

McMaster is uniquely positioned to bring the restive bureaucrats to heel without breeding a dangerous degree of resentment. He has the support not only of mainstream conservative Republicans and the New York Times editorial board, but the backing of Trump's own secretary of Defense, James Mattis. McMaster also has a better reputation than other "warrior-philosopher" notables like David Petraeus, who was seen by critics as too much of an egghead and still too tainted by past indiscretions to take on the NSA role.

Perhaps most importantly, McMaster has the disposition and bandwidth to deal firmly and fairly with Washington's restive spies and scheming staffers alike.

Although his short-lived predecessor, Mike Flynn, was a very ineffective choice, the administration's supporters have been justified in feeling unduly undermined and unfairly maligned by the ranks of the nation's intelligence community. But the obstruction has been a more complicated affair than many Americans understand. Rather than heroes or villains in a political morality play, most career civil service officers have kept their eye on doing " and keeping " their jobs.

The Trump team's irritation with leaks and withheld intelligence applies to a relatively small number of higher-ranking officials. As a result, although charges of a wholesale "deep state" rebellion against a duly elected president are mistaken, the appearance of undemocratic obstruction by anonymous, unelected figures has spent down much of the political capital the intelligence community has been able to use since the Inauguration.

But that is only part of the story. Looking beyond the spy agencies, at the Department of State, for instance, political resistance to the administration's ability to staff itself has come not only from Obama-era staffers but Clinton-era ones, brought on in preparation for an Election Day victory that never came. Adding to the complexity, Republican neoconservatives have also had ideological reason to blunt a changing of the guard.

A certain amount of jockeying for power is to be expected every time an administration turns over " especially when the incoming team marks as great a departure from the status quo as Trump's. But with McMaster widely praised as much more than a merely credible and responsible figure, the writing ought to be on the wall for the machinations of establishment factions. Holdovers put in place to carry out the agenda of Trump's defeated election opponent should not be given a pass on bending the foreign affairs bureaucracy to their will.

In a free country, there's always time and room for above-board political battles among elected officials. Today's unstable world demands a foreign policy free from debilitating divisions.



This story has been automatically published from the Associated Press wire which uses US spellings

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