Online Opinion Outpost: Jan. 6, 2014


The Online Opinion Outpost features opinions and commentary on the latest hot topics from national news sources. As much as you love hearing from The Universe, we thought you might like to hear from journalists around the nation.

Remembering Stuart Scott
LZ Granderson, CNN

If you find that proclamation a bit hyperbolic, it’s only because you either didn’t know or have forgotten how sports anchoring sounded before Scott’s arrival at ESPN in 1993.

It was Scott who looked at the profession and doused it with hot sauce.

The creative insight wrapped around one of his popular catchphrases, “as cool as the other side of the pillow,” showed he was a talent who didn’t sacrifice journalistic integrity just to bring barbershop talk to television.

His humorous flashes of black Americana didn’t appeal to everyone and his critics were not shy about sending him letters to let him know. But for those of us who longed for a soundtrack to accompany the soul of the new generation of black athletes who were redefining how big-time sports were played, Scott was a welcomed and masterful composer.

“When you die, it does not mean that you lose to cancer,” he said at the ESPY’s last July. “You beat cancer by how you live, why you live, and in the manner in which you live.”


Ferguson voting rights and race
The New York Times

Ferguson’s population is two-thirds African-American, and yet its mayor, city manager and five of its six City Council members are white. So are its police chief and all but three officers on its 53-member police force.

The school board for the Ferguson-Florissant School District is much the same: More than three-quarters of the district’s 12,000 students are black, but the seven-member board includes only one African-American.

Last month the American Civil Liberties Union sued the school board under the Voting Rights Act, arguing that the way its members are elected blocks minority voters from fully participating in the political process.

The method is known as “at large” voting, and lets voters cast ballots for all candidates in the district, regardless of where the voters live. Since the district’s voting-age population is 50 percent white and 47 percent black, and since both groups there tend to vote along strict racial lines, the white voters’ candidates almost always win.

The lawsuit contends that the white board members have not been attentive enough to the needs of black students, and in 2013 the board dismissed the district’s first black superintendent without explanation.

The suit calls for at-large voting to be replaced with another system, like one that allows residents to vote for a candidate who lives in their part of the district, which would make it possible for majority-black neighborhoods to elect board members of their choice.


Cuba normalization
Charles Krauthammer, The Washington Post

There’s an old Cold War joke — pre-pantyhose — that to defeat communism we should empty our B-52 bombers of nuclear weapons and instead drop nylons over the Soviet Union. Flood the Russians with the soft consumer culture of capitalism, seduce them with Western contact and commerce, love-bomb them into freedom.

The logic behind President Obama’s Cuba normalization, assuming there is one, is the nylon strategy. We tried 50 years of containment and that didn’t bring democracy. So let’s try inundating them with American goods, visitors, culture, contact, commerce.

Normalization has not advanced democracy in China or Vietnam. Indeed, it hasn’t done so in Cuba. Except for the United States, Cuba has had normal relations with the rest of the world for decades. Tourists, trade, investment from Canada, France, Britain, Spain, everywhere. An avalanche of nylons — and not an inch of movement in Cuba toward freedom.

With the U.S. embargo already in place and the Castros hungry to have it lifted, why give them trade, investment, hard currency, prestige and worldwide legitimacy — for nothing in return?

Obama brought back nothing on democratization. No free speech. No free assembly. No independent political parties. No hint of free elections.

From Cuba, Obama didn’t even get a token gesture.


Warren’s veto
The Wall Street Journal

You can forgive Antonio Weiss for wondering where he went wrong as a good Democrat. He supports higher taxes—more than $1 trillion in new revenue over 10 years for starters. He favors higher tax rates on capital gains and dividends, and he thinks personal tax rates on the wealthy can rise substantially with little damage to the economy.

Despite adhering to such liberal Democratic orthodoxy, Mr. Weiss now finds himself the target of a campaign by Senator Elizabeth Warren to block his nomination to become President Obama ’s Under Secretary of the Treasury for Domestic Finance.

The Massachusetts progressive has framed her war on Mr. Weiss as resistance to Wall Street influence in Democratic policy making.

We don’t agree with Mr. Weiss’s views on taxes or much else, and after the pummeling he’s taking from liberals he might be so shell-shocked he’d turn on Wall Street at Treasury. Republicans have no obligation to confirm him now that they control the Senate.

But if Republicans do believe that a President should usually get the appointees he wants, they might want to ask for something in return for confirming Mr. Weiss—say, a conservative judicial nominee, or a point more off the corporate tax rate as part of reform. This may be the only way Mr. Obama’s man can survive the new liberal ban on public service for anyone who has worked on Wall Street.

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