Excerpts from recent editorials in the United States and abroad:
The Wall Street Journal on Sen. Joe Manchin rescuing the Democrats:
Joe Manchin’s decision on Sunday to oppose the Build Back Better Act is a service to the country, sparing it from huge tax increases and new entitlements that would fan inflation and erode the incentive for Americans to work. Paradoxically, it is also a blessing for Democrats if they get the message, and it offers President Biden a chance to reboot.
“My Democratic colleagues in Washington are determined to dramatically reshape our society in a way that leaves our country more vulnerable to the threats we face,” the West Virginia Democrat said in a statement after announcing his opposition on Fox News Sunday. “I cannot take that risk with a staggering debt of more than $29 trillion and inflation taxes that are real and harmful to every hard-working American at the gasoline pumps, grocery stores and utility bills with no end in sight.”
He’s right on every point. He also referred to “geopolitical uncertainty,” especially regarding China and Russia, noting that passing the bill would make it harder for the U.S. to respond rapidly to “these pending threats.” This is a wise warning that the U.S. cannot finance both a runaway entitlement state and an adequate national defense in a dangerous world.
All of this brought the predictable consternation from progressives, with a furious Bernie Sanders denouncing Mr. Manchin and promising retribution in West Virginia. It’s a hollow threat. West Virginians opposed the BBB bill by about 3 to 1 in a recent poll.
Mr. Sanders demanded an up-or-down vote on the Senate floor, and Mr. Manchin said he’s fine with that. As we’ve written, bring it on, and make Senate Democrats running for re-election in 2022 vote on it. Don’t be surprised if such a vote never happens.
The same media that cheered Mr. Biden’s entitlement ambitions as the second coming of FDR are now blaming Mr. Manchin for hurting his party. But where were they when we warned that Mr. Biden and Democrats in Congress were offering a radical agenda that far exceeded the mandate of their narrow victories in 2020 and the grasp of a 50-50 Senate? The media’s progressive bias again misled Democrats into thinking they would carry the day.
Chuck Schumer, the Senate Majority Leader, refused to take Mr. Manchin’s red lines seriously when the West Virginian wrote them in the summer. Mr. Schumer kept looking over his shoulder at a potential primary challenge in 2022 from Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez. Now we’ll see if AOC challenges him anyway as he tries to pick up the pieces.
As for the House, Speaker Nancy Pelosi had her Members vote to pass tax increases and $5 trillion in spending that will not become law. She had promised her swing-district Members she wouldn’t do that as she did when they voted for a climate bill that failed in 2010. Then she did it anyway.
Reps. Josh Gothheimer (New Jersey), Henry Cuellar (Texas) and many others will now have to defend a bill that Republicans can accurately say was too radical to pass. This is Mrs. Pelosi’s fault, not that of Mr. Manchin, who was honest about his objections from the start.
We have to admit that Mr. Manchin’s defection also vindicates Republican Leader Mitch McConnell’s strategy to support an infrastructure bill that showed bipartisan Senate deal-making is possible. We don’t apologize for opposing that bill on the merits; it contains hundreds of billions of dollars in wasted spending. But Mr. McConnell calculated that sometimes you have to sacrifice a piece to win the chess match, and the GOP leader read the West Virginian well.
The silver lining for Democrats is that this gives them a chance to face political reality before they leap off a cliff. The Democratic left must now confront the limits of their power. Mr. Sanders and Elizabeth Warren thought they could bully their agenda through a 50-50 Senate, though they had both lost to Mr. Biden in the 2020 primaries. Their failure to narrow their ambitions doomed the bill.
Yet they somehow persuaded Mr. Biden that he had to govern from the left, in what has proven to be a catastrophic misjudgment. Someday we will learn why Mr. Biden made that decision, though perhaps it is as simple as the fact that throughout his career he has followed his party rather than lead it.
White House chief of staff Ron Klain and domestic policy adviser Susan Rice, the lead architects of this misjudgment, should tender their resignations so Mr. Biden can get advisers willing to govern from the middle. He can start by focusing on the main concerns of voters: coping with Covid-19, reducing inflation, and at least trying to do something to restore order at the border.
The response of many readers will be that this is impossible since Mr. Biden is too weak a leader to pull off such a course correction. Perhaps he is. (See the White House’s tone-deaf Sunday response nearby.) But we’re not about to cheer lead three more years of presidential failure. Mr. Manchin offers Democrats a lifeline back from the abyss.
The Portland (Maine) Press Herald on Manchin's action cuts a lifeline for poor kids:
Every member of Congress says he or she supports children. Then this happens.
The expanded child tax credit passed through the American Rescue Plan, one of the only truly consequential pieces of pro-family initiatives in recent memory, is set to run out, with the last of the monthly checks going out in December.
The program would have been extended by the Build Back Better plan, but Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va,, removed his support. The Democrats needed every senator; not one Republican will support the monumental spending on health care, child care, prescription drugs and climate change included in the bill.
There may be a way to salvage some of the best parts of the bill. But Manchin’s comments show that any child tax credit that passes his test would be far less effective than the one put in place six months ago.
As part of the American Rescue Plan, the child tax credit was increased from $2,000 to $3,000 a year and made fully refundable, meaning that even those parents without tax liability would get credit. Twenty-seven million children now receive the full benefit, including half of all rural children, and half of all Black and Latino children.
The refunds were also made monthly, rather than receivable at the end of the year, so parents could more easily use the money to take care of necessities.
Which they did. Research shows that most of the money was spent on food, utilities, rent, clothing, education, transportation, debt or child care – the essentials.
Families with lower incomes live largely in the red, barely keeping in front of their bills. The child tax credit payments gave them a little breathing room.
Manchin, however, reportedly believes the extra money is wasted, spent on drugs and otherwise thrown away by the people who receive it, repeating a pernicious lie – the same one Republicans use to justify cuts in social spending in order to lower taxes on the wealthiest Americans.
Manchin, among others, would like to see a work requirement added to the child tax credit, as a way to “force” parents back to work.
Work requirements, however, add only costs and bureaucracy to a program. If anything, moreover, the child tax credit allows more single parents to work by helping them pay for child care. A work requirement also doesn’t account for the millions of households headed by grandparents or parents with disabilities.
Nevertheless, while corporate profits are at an all-time high, and the richest among us are doing as well as ever, Congress may allow the expanded child tax credit to expire. We can expect millions of American children to go back to living with the hunger, stress and uncertainty of poverty, reducing their chances at a fulfilling and productive life.
Sen. Manchin said recently that he is “fiscally responsible and socially compassionate.” We bet a lot of members of Congress believe themselves to be the same.
However, many of these same members are ready to force children to grow up in poverty. What is compassionate or responsible about that?
The San Antonio Express-News on texts prove Jan. 6 can’t be rewritten:
It’s been nearly a year since a mob, incited by President Donald Trump’s lies of widespread voter fraud, attacked the U.S. Capitol hoping to stop the certification of the Electoral College vote and deny Joe Biden the presidency he legitimately won.
In the months since, apologists for the twice-impeached Trump, led by Fox News, have either minimized the attack or deflected responsibility from him.
But text messages released this week by the House committee investigating the Jan. 6 events show that as the violence unfolded that day, some of the network’s biggest stars were as shaken and frightened as everyone else. The texts were among the 9,000 pages of documents Mark Meadows, former chief of staff for Trump, turned over to the committee. After giving up that treasure trove of information, Meadows stopped cooperating with the committee, moving the House to vote in favor of holding him in contempt of Congress.
In real time, as they texted Meadows, the Trump acolytes at Fox knew who was responsible for the riot and who could possibly end it.
“Can he make a statement? Ask people to leave the Capitol,” Sean Hannity texted.
“Mark, the president needs to tell people in the Capitol to go home,” Laura Ingraham wrote. “This is hurting all of us. He is destroying his legacy.”
An aside, who is “us” exactly? Certainly Ingraham isn’t referring to all Americans and democracy.
“Please, get him on TV,” begged Brian Kilmeade. “Destroying everything you have accomplished.”
Despite what they now say on the air, back on Jan. 6, in private, they knew the president could stop a mob he had incited.
Donald Trump Jr. was also panicking. “He’s got to condemn this s—t Asap,” he texted Meadows. “The Capitol Police tweet is not enough. We need an Oval office address. He has to lead now. It has gone too far and gotten out of hand.”
Another aside, Trump Jr.’s tweets offer unintentional insight into a father-son relationship in which the son had to use a middleman to communicate with his father that he should stop a riot. More importantly, along with the tweets of the Fox News personalities, they echo the hypocrisy of Republican members of Congress who, during the siege of the Capitol were scared for their lives, but afterwards claimed it was no big deal.
These include House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, who made frantic calls to Trump on Jan. 6 for him to intervene, but who is now a shield and shill for the former president. And it includes U.S. Rep. Andrew Clyde, R-Ga., who, weeks after the attacks, compared the rioters to tourists despite photos showing a rattled Clyde helping to barricade House chambers against the “tourists.”
Despite the attempts of Trump supporters at Fox, in Congress and within his family to rewrite the disturbing events of Jan. 6, the record is clear they saw what we all saw that day and were united in fear with the rest of us — or most of us — about the attack on the Capitol.
As it happened, they witnessed a mob, inflamed by the lies from the president, attempt to use violence to overturn an election and the will of the American people. While they quickly pivoted to edit and revise the first draft of their immediate responses, that is a history that can’t be rewritten.
Not when we now have the original documentation of those responses in the form of text messages.
The Houston Chronicle on California governor takes aim at Texas abortion law — by copying it:
Texas state Sen. Bryan Hughes, R-Mineola, may or may not know much about the Lone Star State’s vigilante heritage. Given his East Texas roots, he ought to at least be aware of the sordid history of the Klan and lynch mobs and citizen’s militias, but then we don’t like to discomfort ourselves by thinking about such blotches on the pages of our past (and, goodness, we certainly don’t want our school children learning about them!)
So, given our self-imposed ignorance about such ignominies, Hughes may have missed the connection between dangerous vigilantism and his now-notorious Senate Bill 8, legislation that allows private citizens — aka, bounty hunters — to sue anyone who “aids or abets” an abortion after about six weeks. He may be unaware that it’s dangerous to unleash the bounty hunters, however honorable the motive is perceived to be.
Like most inclined toward vigilantism, Hughes and those who support his tactic for outlawing abortion, are impatient sorts. They may espouse law and order, but for them the wheels of justice either grind too slowly or turn in the wrong direction. SB 8 is designed not only to practically outlaw abortion in Texas but also to circumvent legal challenges by relying on private citizens, rather than government officials, to enforce it.
Leave it to a slick Californian to call Hughes and friends on their blatantly unconstitutional hypocrisy. In response to the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision last week to allow the Texas abortion ban to stay in effect while legal challenges proceed, California Gov. Gavin Newsom announced his intention to push for a new state law modeled after SB 8.
Newsom’s law, however, would allow private citizens to sue anyone who “manufactures, distributes or sells an assault weapon or ghost gun kit or parts” in California. The proposed law would allow bounty hunters to seek damages of at least $10,000 per violation, plus costs and attorney’s fees. Just like in Texas.
If enacted — and in a Democrat-dominated California Legislature, there’s a chance it will be — gun shops would surely be hurting. Just like abortion clinics in Texas.
“I am outraged by yesterday’s U.S. Supreme Court decision allowing Texas’ ban on most abortion services to remain in place,” Newsom said in a statement. “But if states can now shield their laws from review by the federal courts that compare assault weapons to Swiss Army knives, then California will use that authority to protect people’s lives, where Texas used it to put women in harm’s way.”
Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor warned that what’s good for a Texas goose could be equally good for a Golden State gander (though not in those words, exactly).
“By blessing significant portions of the law’s effort to evade review, the Court comes far short of meeting the moment,” Sotomayor wrote. “The Court clears the way for States to reprise and perfect Texas’ scheme in the future to target the exercise of any right recognized by this Court with which they disagree. This is no hypothetical. New permutations of SB 8 are coming.”
Alabama, Arkansas, Florida, Ohio and other states already are planning to copy the Texas law in the event that the U.S. Supreme Court allows it to stand. Notice, however, that Sotomayor alluded to “any right,” which means gun rights, religious rights, any constitutional right a vigilante group might target.
The raging liberal who serves as chief justice also expressed concern. “If the legislatures of the several states may, at will, annul the judgments of the courts of the United States and destroy the rights acquired under those judgments,” Justice John Roberts wrote in a minority opinion, “the constitution itself becomes a solemn mockery.”
Roberts, an appointee of Republican President George W. Bush, isn’t the only conservative to imply that Texas’ evasive legislative mechanism for upending law and order is actually very anti-conservative.
Hughes, the abortion law’s author, claimed in a Texas Tribune story that Newsom’s proposal wouldn’t work because gun rights are “firmly established” in the constitution and abortion rights aren’t.
But that’s not what Texas Solicitor General Judd Stone indicated when Justice Brett Kavanaugh asked him if Texas’ citizen enforcement tool could be used to evade court oversight in targeting Second Amendment rights.
“Say everyone who sells an AR-15 is liable for a million dollars to any citizen. ... Would that kind of law be exempt from pre-enforcement review in federal court?” Kavanaugh asked.
“Yes,” Stone replied.
It’s hard to know how serious Newsom is, even though he announced that he will be working with his staff, the California Legislature and his attorney general to craft private-lawsuit legislation. He sounded serious: “If the most efficient way to keep these devastating weapons off our streets is to add the threat of private lawsuits, we should do just that.”
It’s hard to believe the governor actually believes that a copy-cat SB 8 is “the most efficient way. . . ,” given that earlier he blasted the Texas law as a cynical attempt to undercut federal law. It’s more likely that he has at least a couple of ulterior motives:
One, feeling empowered after handily surviving a recall effort in October, he may be positioning himself for higher office in 2024 or beyond. Newsom has never lacked for ambition, or self-regard.
Two, he’s alarmed, as all Americans ought to be, at the willingness of Republicans in Donald Trump’s thrall to resort to vigilantism, whether it’s storming the Capitol on January 6 (or at least excusing the outrage), intimidating election officials, lionizing a foolish teen-aged vigilante who killed two people in Kenosha, Wis., encouraging anti-maskers and anti-vaxxers to bully pharmacists and physicians, or crafting anti-abortion legislation to thwart legal challenge. Newsom may be trying to wake up his stunned and benumbed fellow Democrats.
Sen. Hughes’ anti-abortion law has been labeled “a stunt.” Unfortunately, it’s a stunt that is working, with the Supreme Court’s tacit blessing. The Golden State governor’s gun proposal is likely a stunt, as well. If it wakes up Americans — Democrats, Republicans, independents and enough Supreme Court justices — to the vigilante danger we face, his ploy will be worth it.
The Minneapolis Star-Tribune on the slight of teachers ‘crawling for cash’:
It’s not unusual for people to do silly things to raise money — either for themselves or for good causes. A longtime game show requires contestants to wear crazy costumes, and sports fans sometimes compete in goofy games as entertainment during halftime. And at schools, educators have had their heads shaved or been slimed for fundraisers.
But a recent all-in-good-fun effort that sent teachers “crawling for cash” at a South Dakota junior hockey league game crossed a line. Though it was supposed to be for laughs, the images of teachers diving for dollars came across as sad and demeaning.
On Dec. 11, a “Dash For Cash” competition was held in Sioux Falls during which 10 local teachers were selected to raise funds for school projects. They were given five minutes to scoop up 5,000 $1 bills that were spread out on carpet in the center of the rink.
The Sioux Falls Stampede and CU Mortgage Direct, which donated the cash, sponsored the competition to help teachers — who volunteered to participate — raise money for schools.
Yet after images of teachers scrambling on their hands and knees to stuff bills into their T-shirts went viral, the understandable pushback was swift and furious. Both locally and nationally, educator groups and others rightly condemned the activity.
Loren Paul, president of the South Dakota Education Association, said that although the cash dash was well-intentioned, it also “underscores the fact that educators don’t have the resources necessary to meet the needs of their students. ... As a state, we shouldn’t be forcing teachers to crawl around on an ice rink to get the money they need to fund their classrooms.”
Fortunately, the sponsors issued an apology this week, according to the Argus Leader newspaper. They said that although the intent was to have a “positive, fun experience,” they now understand “how it appears to be degrading and insulting towards the participating teachers and the teaching profession as a whole.”
The good that came out of this unseemly incident is that the South Dakota sponsors will contribute an additional $15,500 to area teachers for their schools. And stories about the incident prompted more donations — the kind that don’t require degrading stunts.
The Toronto Star on Vatican must return artifacts, records of residential schools:
Sometimes the Vatican can appear so obsessed with papal bulls and encyclicals, and its frequent rounds of damage control, and managing people’s naughty bits, and tabulating the number of angels shaking their booty on the heads of pins, that it forgets the gospel according to Robert Fulghum.
“Don’t take things that aren’t yours.”
“Put things back where you found them.”
As most who have ever cracked the spine on a bestseller know, that was part of Fulghum’s formula for virtuous living as contained in his book All I Really Need to Know I Learned in Kindergarten.
It turns out that popes over the decades – especially the apparently avid artifact collector Pius XI — have amassed hundreds of items from Indigenous peoples in Canada, including an antique seal-skin kayak from the Western Arctic.
When news of this broke, Inuvialuit leaders in the region issued a statement demanding the return of the kayak and all Indigenous artifacts held in the Vatican Museum.
While the Vatican says the kayak was a gift, the statement said “it is not the ‘Pope’s kayak’ and rightfully belongs to the Inuvialuit Settlement Region, where its lessons and significance can benefit Inuvialuit culture and communities.”
The Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops said it would be willing to assist in “mediating that conversation with the Vatican.”
It shouldn’t take much mediating. Or much conversation.
Grace, good manners and basic decency – not to mention the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, which supports the repatriation of such objects — suggest that returning the kayak is the proper thing to do.
And the kayak is hardly the most important thing Pope Francis needs to order returned to this country.
For the better part of a century, the Catholic church, and agents of other faiths, operated residential schools in Canada on behalf of the federal government.
Those schools became a source of trauma to Indigenous peoples and a source of abiding shame for the country.
Even now, unmarked graves of innocents are being found across the country. And just as there is no reconciliation without truth and owning up, there can be no peace for families and communities if they are denied access to material that might explain what happened to their loved ones.
According to findings by University of Ottawa researchers, released in November, some of that material likely lies in the vast archival repositories of the Vatican.
“Those records belong to Canada,” Brenda Macdougall, a research chair in Metis family and community traditions, said at the time.
“They belong to the people first and foremost. . . They have to come back through subpoena or the church. The pope himself can suspend canonical law and return them.”
Not that the Vatican wasn’t familiar with the basic principle contained in Fulghum’s book. After all, it has a book of its own.
In it are the Ten Commandments, one of which is: “Thou shalt not covet thy neighbour’s goods.”
Scholars say there’s nothing inherently wrong with wanting things. Even things belonging to others, provided there is agreement and compensation. That’s how trading began.
What’s bad for the soul is coveting what is not ours, has not been paid for, and belongs to another “or is owed” to him or her.
What is owed is obvious. It’s time to give back the kayak. And turn over the residential school records.