Online Opinion Outpost: July 21

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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.

Planned Parenthood

Timothy Stanley, CNN

Now, we may argue that sometimes abortion is necessary or a matter of privacy between a woman and her doctor. But that shouldn’t stop us from being honest about it. On the contrary, what’s troubling about modern society is its habit of dressing up difficult things in comforting language — discouraging people from dwelling too hard on the realities of what they are doing. We’ve been too casual for too long about some of the terrible problems that lie around us — be they abortions or the poverty and desperation that can drive women to seek one.

Michael Gerson, Washington Post

Human beings have a biological instinct and a moral imperative to care for their young. And in this calling, birth is an arbitrary dividing line. Most people think of a zygote as something different from a child. But particularly as technology has allowed us to peer into the womb, human instincts for protection have engaged earlier than nine months. And those who have entirely lost that instinct — including, apparently, the Planned Parenthood doctor — seem disconnected from the values of a compassionate society. In this case, revulsion is not mere sentimentality. It is the sign, and requirement, of our humanity.

Iran

Eugene Robinson, Washington Post

If Congress overrides Obama and squelches the deal, the sanctions regime that brought Iran to the table will quickly crumble. Economic pressure from the United States alone, it seems obvious, is not enough to compel Iran to give up more than it surrendered in Vienna. On the contrary: Hard-liners in Tehran, who argued all along against negotiating with the United States, would have their hand greatly strengthened.

Montel Williams, Fox News

Preventing a nuclear-armed Iran is essential, and I applaud the president’s efforts to pursue that goal diplomatically rather than militarily. He’s right that it’s naive to think Iran was poised to capitulate completely, and he’s right that solving every issue in one agreement is not feasible. And while the president even resorted to posing questions to himself that he thought reporters should have, he wasn’t likely to address Amir Hekmati or the other three Americans held hostage or missing in Iran.

Prison Reform

USA Today

It’s just as tough to argue that there is not a huge social cost to this imprisonment binge and the way it has fallen disproportionately on young black men. According to The New York Times, almost one in 12 black men ages 25 to 54 are imprisoned, compared with one in 60 non-black men, decimating neighborhoods and leaving children to grow up without fathers and in poverty.

Something has to give.  Members of Congress, in both chambers and both parties, have joined to sponsor measures that would give judges more discretion in sentencing, particularly for low-level, non-violent offenders.  A polarized Congress has killed many important ideas like this one.  If the president and the ideologically diverse supporters of sentencing overhaul can stick together, they can move to a smarter way to keep the country safe.

The New York Times

It’s time that Congress fixed the federal system. After failed efforts at reform, an ambitious new bill called the SAFE Justice Act is winning supporters, including, on Thursday, the House speaker, John Boehner, and may have enough bipartisan support to pass. It would, among several other helpful provisions, eliminate mandatory minimums for many low-level drug crimes and create educational and other programs in prison that have been shown to reduce recidivism.

Dallas News

It takes almost no effort to come out as tough on crime. The words roll off a Republican’s tongue as smoothly as lock ’em up and throw away the key. What does take courage, and a serving of forward thinking, is for a GOP presidential candidate to put rational, reasonable and, dare we say it, sane criminal justice reform on the table with the primaries dead ahead. We are pleasantly surprised that several candidates are willing to question the wisdom of how we arrest, convict and incarcerate.

Chris Christie, a former federal prosecutor, says it’s high time to fix our “broken criminal justice system.” Rand Paul points to bills he has introduced in the Senate, including one that would restore voting rights to nonviolent felons.

Donald Trump

Christopher Neiweem, CNN

Trump charges that McCain has let veterans down and has not provided us the support we need. The reality is that McCain has long supported veterans’ benefits in Congress. And I can personally say from working with him and his staff in Washington in my role with the Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America — he cares deeply about our veterans and has the accomplishments to back it up. Trump should fund some research on the senator’s record so he can learn a few of those accomplishments.

USA Today

During an appearance with nine other candidates at the Family Leadership Summit in Ames, Iowa, Trump proclaimed that McCain, the GOP’s 2008 presidential nominee,  is “not a war hero,” adding derisively, “He’s a war hero because he was captured. I like people that weren’t captured.”

Not to put a fine point on it, but McCain, a Navy fighter pilot who withstood torture andmore than two years years in solitary confinement as a POW, did a few things in Vietnam before being captured. He flew low-altitude bombing runs. On his 23rd mission in 1967, he was shot down and suffered a broken leg and two broken arms when he ejected, injuries that still trouble him today. While a prisoner, he famously declined an early release because it would have put him ahead of POWs who were captured earlier.

Chattanooga

Juliette Kayyem, CNN

The military has always struck a balance, based on the fact we have civilian control over our forces and between force and integrating the military into our civic institutions. The military is part of our community and to treat them as armed combatants at all times is a fundamental shift in the military’s efforts to integrate and work with communities.

The reality is that our soldiers, like law enforcement, will always be targets. And, even if we were to fortify recruitment centers, creative killers will always find other soft targets. It is the nature of our society. The military is so appealing to terrorists because it represents a U.S. institution of both force and peace. But the solution isn’t as simple as deciding that we must arm our soldiers at all times even when they are in the U.S.

Bob Owens, L.A. Times

 The Department of Defense could, with relative ease, enact a policy that states that the ranking commissioned officers and ranking noncommissioned officers must carry issued handguns while on duty at all department facilities employing uniformed personnel, from the largest base to the smallest recruiting facility.

Such a policy would ensure that there would be an armed deterrent to acts of terrorism on military targets, even at those facilities too small to warrant dedicated military or civilian security personnel.

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