Online Opinion Outpost: April 21, 2015

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The 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.

Clinton’s surreal tour
Charles Krauthammer, The Washington Post

There’s something surreal about Hillary Clinton’s Marie Antoinette tour, sampling cake and commoners. But what else can she do? After Barack Obama, she’s the best-known political figure in America. She has papal name recognition. Like Napoleon and Cher, she’s universally known by her first name. As former queen consort, senator and secretary of state, she has spent a quarter-century in the national spotlight — more than any modern candidate.
Hillary is a stationary target. You know what you’re getting. She has her weaknesses: She’s not a great campaigner, she has that unshakable inauthenticity problem and, regarding the quality most important to getting elected, she is barely, in the merciless phrase of candidate Obama in 2008, “likable enough.”
But she has her strengths: discipline, determination, high intelligence, great energy. With an immense organization deploying an obscene amount of money. And behind that, a Democratic Party united if not overly enthusiastic.
That’s why 2016 is already shaping up as the most unusual open-seat presidential race in our time: one candidate fixed and foregone, the other yet to emerge from a wild race of a near-dozen contenders with none exceeding 20 percent.

 

Travel selfies
Maria Lombard, CNN

Instead of living in the moment and observing, appreciating and gaining cultural insight while visiting new places, travelers are often more focused on taking the perfect selfie to share on Instagram, Facebook or Twitter and counting the number of likes and shares.
We could blame social media for encouraging this, or blame the selfie stick, which is perhaps the most ubiquitous of all travel gear these days and is now being banned in museums throughout America and abroad because of its intrusiveness.
I don’t blame tourists for wanting to make a connection with the places they visit and share it in a tangible way. Connection and understanding are, after all, among the reasons to travel, write and take selfies. But tourists need to learn to do it with conservation and cultural sensitivities in mind, something tourist sites can assist with by providing them with a harmless way to engage with history and share those memorable experiences.

 

Transparency plea
Mike Quigley, USA Today

The American public is best served when all three branches of government are transparent and accessible, but one branch remains shrouded in secrecy: the U.S. Supreme Court.
The Supreme Court still prohibits live television or audio broadcast of its hearings, even though three-quarters of Americans support cameras in the courtroom, according to a Coalition for Court Transparency poll.
Increasing transparency and accountability in government is not only the key to improving public trust, it’s the key to improving the way government functions. It’s time we allow video and live-audio of our nation’s highest court, improving transparency and justice for all.

 

Retiring Father Serra statue
The Los Angeles Times

Deciding which historical figures to honor is a complicated business. The U.S. Capitol is full of statues of slaveholders and Confederate leaders and killers of Indians, yet we don’t automatically remove them because, well, our history is our history, even when it’s embarrassing. And just because someone was a product of his (or, less likely, her) time and did things that are unimaginable today doesn’t necessarily mean that he or she was entirely without merit or deserves to be wiped out of the historical record like a purged Soviet commissar.
Which brings us to Father Junipero Serra, the Franciscan priest who founded nine missions from San Diego to San Francisco during the 18th century. Should Father Serra still be one of the two people chosen by the state to represent California in National Statuary Hall of the U.S. Capitol? Serra’s statue has been there since 1931, but there’s a move afoot to topple him. In fact, a bill has passed the state Senate that would replace him with astronaut Sally Ride.

 

Crooked schools
The New York Times

State attorneys general have long served on the front lines of the struggle to control and discipline predatory for-profit colleges that saddle students with crippling debt while granting them useless degrees, or no degrees at all. On April 9, nine of them who know firsthand how people can be deceived and bled dry sent a letter to the Department of Education, asking it to provide restitution — and help fix the problem — by forgiving the federal student loans of people harmed by crooked schools. The letter makes a strong case for prompt action.

 

A nuclear work in progress
James A. Baker III, The Wall Street Journal

Within days of the April 2 announcement of the tentative agreement to curb Iran’s nuclear-weapons program, it was apparent that there are substantial misunderstandings about a deal the administration has hailed as “an historic understanding.” Clearly, much work must be done if there is to be a final agreement by the June 30 deadline.
Iranian leaders quickly disputed key points about the White House’s description of the terms of the agreement. Among them was Iran’s demand that all sanctions be removed once a final deal is signed. That is a far cry from the U.S. understanding that sanctions will only be removed over time, as Iran meets its obligations. This different Iranian position may have been aimed at Iran’s domestic audience. But if Iran holds to it, there should be no final agreement.

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