Ah, the joys of hard-earned summer vacations spent watching 401(k) plans evaporate and wondering if pink slips are looming.
Congress also is taking a break, so richly deserved after accomplishing so much by toiling selflessly over the last several months. Anyway, who needs senators or congressmen with the “supercommittee” about to begin deliberations?
We have every confidence this 12-member panel will be just as productive and embrace the same spirit of compromise that prevented an unprecedented, catastrophic default recently, just in the nick of time.
But seriously, after witnessing the partisan bickering and posturing that led to a last-minute deal before the Aug. 2 deadline, anyone foolish enough to expect reasonable, effective governance from Washington should be cured of any such delusions now that the special committee is taking shape.
Much as we feared, instead of appointing lawmakers willing to cast aside political differences and achieve common goals, legislative leaders have largely stuck to a flawed formula of drawing lines in the sand. It appears the panel will wind up sharply divided and unbending over two fundamental issues: preserving Social Security, Medicaid and Medicare, and raising taxes.
We agree that the nation’s $14 trillion debt is a serious concern. But we continue to believe that a much graver problem is relentlessly high unemployment. By focusing so much time and energy on immediate budget cutting, rather than long-term debt control, leaders are overlooking the desperate need to expand the work force.
The Day, New London, Conn. (Aug. 16)
Turkey’s new role
In the normal course of events, the visit to Jeddah of Turkish President Abdullah Gul recently and his talks with Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Abdullah would raise little attention. Relations between the two countries are excellent and have been for a long time. There is no reason whatsoever to imagine that they will do anything other than continue to grow.
But these are not normal times in the Middle East. No state, apart from the kingdom and most other GCC countries, has been untouched by the Arab Spring. To that small list Turkey must be added because, although a European state, it is by reason of history, culture and location firmly part of the Middle East. Regrettably, ever since the Ataturk revolution, Turkey has stood facing uniquely westward, its back turned on the Middle East. For the past 60 years, moreover, its eyes have been fixed resolutely on a future in Europe and, since 1963, specifically a future in what is now the European Union.
That West-only focus began to dissolve with the election nine years ago of the first AKP government led by President Abdullah Gul then as prime minister and, since 2003, under the premiership of Recep Tayyib Erdogan, the party’s founder. It is not that the AKP has dropped Europe from its sights; far from it. It is that it has widened Turkey’s political vision to reflect its geographical position, its history and culture and its strategic interests.
It is Turkey that is now the other main driving force for peace and stability in Middle East, alongside Saudi Arabia.
Arab News, Riyadh, Saudi Arabia (Aug. 17)
Over a mail barrel
We were visited by an official of the U.S. Postal Service recently and she wasn’t here to ask how her employer could improve its service to us.
Nope, once again the Postal Service was declaring what hoops the newspaper needs to jump through and how to do it so the service will be gracious enough to collect our money to deliver our newspapers when it gets around to it and according to its many rules.
So we shake our heads when we read about how the Postal Service is losing so much business and how it will need to close post offices throughout the nation.
Newspapers have historically been one of the Postal Service’s biggest customers, but newspapers, individually and as an industry, have been unsuccessful for decades in getting the service, which enjoys a huge chunk of revenue from the industry, to deliver our newspapers in a timely manner.
But rather than work to resolve a problem experienced by one of its largest customers, the Postal Service instead constantly lets us know that it, not the customer, calls the shots.
Now we learn that, not only does the Postal Service not deliver our product as quickly as it should, it is going after our advertising insert customers, telling them that they’ll deliver the inserts quicker than in mailed newspapers — the newspapers that are not delivered quicker because they’re mailed by the Postal Service. Talk about a Catch-22.
Camden News, Ark. (Aug. 16)