What they're saying…

Friday, November 26, 2004

Excerpts from recent editorials in newspapers in the United States:

Nov. 15

Dayton (Ohio) Daily News, on the 2008 election:

OK, the time is long past due for a discussion of the presidential election of 2008.

Wouldn't it be something -- interesting, fun, cool, something -- if, next time around, the Republicans put up a candidate who favors abortion rights and the Democrats put somebody who opposes them?

The government spends trillions of dollars and presides over a country of extraordinary complexity and diversity. And yet one social issue is at the center in determining peoples' politics.

Candidates fit molds, slide along grooves.

More focus is put on such simple, divisive issues as abortion, religion and gay marriage, as opposed to policy decisions that will have more impact on the well being of the country and world. Somehow the American body politic has to dig itself out of those grooves. Perhaps the beginning is for thoughtful citizens to decide that abortion is not the be-all-and-end-all issue.

Nov. 9

Rocky Mountain News, Denver, on the alleged rise in theocracy in America:

Any hope that this year's brutal political rhetoric would diminish after Nov. 2 has been utterly dashed. If anything, the reaction to George W. Bush's re-election in some cases has been even more hysterical than warnings incubated in the heat of the campaign. Supposedly serious people have actually begun to worry -- or at least to say they worry -- about the rise of theocracy in America.

Yes, that is the incendiary word anguished commentators have used -- "theocracy" -- in publications as mainstream as USA Today and The Miami Herald, not to mention more partisan enclaves such as The Village Voice and Salon.com. Writing in The New York Times, Gary Hart joined the hysterical herd, warning of "the disturbing tendency to insert theocratic principles into the vision of America's role in the world." Pundits elsewhere lamented the endorsement of "an extremist Christian regime" or predicted the descent into "another dark age."

Finally, those worried about theocracy should keep in mind that the actual percentage of voters who identified moral values as their top concern was roughly one-fifth. Most voted for Bush, but so did most voters who favor tax relief and who see the war in Iraq as critical for U.S. security. It is nonsense to claim that a horde of religious zealots put Bush over the top.

Nov. 16

The Joplin Globe on the cost of the Olympics:

Just how valuable are the Olympics to host cities and countries? Most people might say that you can't put a price tag on the value of the international good will generated by young athletes from around the world meeting and competing, on the tourism exposure and on the revenues from the teams and spectators.

But the staggering bill received for the Athens Olympics, more than $11.5 billion and climbing, suggests that eventually someone may have to say "whoa" to runaway costs. Consider that the Sydney Games in 2000 were put on for a mere $1.5 billion and the Atlanta Olympics in 1996 cost $1.72 billion. Billionaires George Soros or Bill Gates could have paid for either or both of them out of a petty cash drawer.

The announced expense for the Athens spectacular doesn't include the venues for the various sports, a tram or a suburban rail network. Those numbers will be added in later. Of course, all of this can be explained away by outrageous cost overruns and world-class security against terrorism. Greek taxpayers will be paying the bills for the next several years.

Somewhere, someone in the hierarchy of the International Olympic Committee has to be wondering just how high the price of the games can go. That $11.5-plus billion simply is unreasonable. Some potential Olympic sites may rethink the dollar value they place on international good will, tourism and media exposure, especially in comparison with the burden on taxpayers.