Online Opinion Outpost: Jan. 20, 2015

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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.

Obama’s absence
Charles Krauthammer, The Washington Post

On Sunday, at the great Paris rally, the whole world was Charlie.
As for President Obama, he never was Charlie. From the day of the massacre, he has been practically invisible. At the interstices of various political rallies, he issued bits of muted, mealy-mouthed boilerplate. Followed by the now-famous absence of any high-ranking U.S. official at the Paris rally, an abdication of moral and political leadership for which the White House has already admitted error.
But this was no mere error of judgment or optics or, most absurdly, of communications in which we are supposed to believe that the president was not informed by staff about the magnitude, both actual and symbolic, of the demonstration he ignored. (He needed to be told?)
On the contrary, the no-show, following the near silence, precisely reflected the president’s profound ambivalence about the very idea of the war on terror.

Free community college
The Los Angeles Times

If the U.S. government had unlimited funds, it could provide free tuition for community college and no one would complain. For that matter, the nation could put all interested and qualified students through four years of college and beyond. But right here, right now, there are limits to the good the U.S. can accomplish with available public dollars — and that means careful, difficult choices have to be made.
President Obama thinks the nation’s next step should be to underwrite up to three years of free community college for everyone who attends half or full time, progressing toward a vocational certificate or transfer to a four-year school.
Under Obama’s ambitious proposal, the federal government would pick up 75 percent of the cost, paying up to about $2,500 a year per student, with states paying the rest. The president estimates that the program would cost $60 billion over 10 years, although with close to 9 million students expected to be eligible, it’s unclear how the cost could be kept that low.
It’s a nice idea in theory. But at a time of limited resources, Obama is proposing to underwrite the community college educations not just of low-income students but also of those who can easily afford the tuition. Is that necessary or wise?
It makes little sense to subsidize students who don’t need the money while low-income students, even with basic tuition costs covered, still face tremendous barriers to attending community college.

 

‘Selma’ snubbed
LZ Granderson, CNN

On what would have been the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr.’s 86th birthday, the Academy Awards decided to snub a beautiful film made about a seminal moment in his life.
“Selma” did pick up two nominations, including one for best picture. But when the Hollywood gods consider a film to be truly great, its actors and/or actresses, screenplay and particularly its director are also recognized. “Selma” is a good film that told a great story, at least according to Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences voters. Those voters are 93 percent white, 76 percent male and the average age is 63, according to a 2012 analysis by the Los Angeles Times.
But did those demographics play a role in how “Selma” was received? True, the historical drama has been besieged by criticism over accuracy, particularly its portrayal of President Lyndon Johnson. In the film, King and Johnson are depicted as a lot more adversarial than the actual tapes of their conversation suggests.
But it’s hard to see that being the reason for its snub: “Gravity” was nominated for 10 Oscars, won seven, and yet you won’t find an astronaut who would describe the film as accurate.

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