The Associated Press
Excerpts from recent editorials in newspapers in the United States and abroad:
The Washington Post on the president's Organizing for Action:
Blithely ignoring his own past warnings, President Barack Obama is wading ever deeper into a campaign and politics quagmire filled with potential hazard for his second term. He ought to come to his senses. If he doesn't, it won't be easy to clean this muck off his shoes later on.
The president's team has formed Organizing for Action, a group intended to advance his priorities using the potent grass-roots technology and troops from his winning re-election campaign. According to a summary prepared for donors and reported by The Post's Tom Hamburger, this includes 2.2 million volunteers, 33 million Facebook friends, 22 million Twitter followers and 17?million email subscribers. We see nothing wrong with that.
But how the Obama people are going about it stinks. They have registered the group as a 501(c)4 organization, under a section of the Internal Revenue Code that provides tax-exempt status for "social welfare" organizations, a broad category that was originally envisioned for civic leagues and the like but which has become a favored dark alley for political operators. Such groups are not required to publicly disclose donors or amounts of contributions, as they would be if they operated under the rules of the Federal Elections Commission. As "social welfare" groups, they must pledge that their work is not "primarily" electoral politics, but that has been left ill-defined by tax authorities. Some electoral and political activity is allowed. ...
Judging by recent reports, Organizing for Action should be renamed Paying for Access. The Obama team has been talking about raising half the group's money through $500,000 donations from the president's top supporters. ...
Moreover, Obama's team says that donations will not be listed precisely; rather, they will be listed "in ranges." This affords the donors a useful veil.
The president ... was the one who a few years ago warned us of "a new stampede of special-interest money in our politics." Now Obama seems to be leading the stampede.
The Augusta (Ga.) Chronicle on the pope as a world leader:
The pope is much more than the head of the Catholic church.
He is the head of a city-state called Vatican City that actually issues passports and has a population count (about 800). That makes him a world leader. And even though he heads the smallest city-state on the planet, no world leader's reach comes close to the pope's. This is a position for which national boundaries mean little. His jurisdiction and followers are scattered all about the countries of the world.
A papal visit can be a life-changing, even world-changing event.
Moreover, ours is a world starving for moral leadership, regardless of religion or denomination. What other leaders in peace, love and morality come quickly to mind?
Indeed, many believe that John Paul II was one of the great world leaders of the 20th century. The Poland native's gentle staff stood up to Eastern Bloc communism and fractured it in much the same way Moses' own freed the Israelites.
John Paul II was a decidedly difficult act to follow -- and Pope Benedict XVI also was cast into the fire of a blazing pedophilia scandal. Benedict's fatigue and his frustrations -- even about a lack of privacy -- were evident in his last public addresses before becoming the first pope in six centuries to walk away from the job.
The leader of 1 billion Catholics, and the voice of conscience for many others, a pope carries the world on his shoulders. What a burden it must be for even the holiest among us. And that weight is usually added at an advanced age...
The process to choose Benedict's successor is shrouded in smoke -- literally. But here's hoping the next pope can be a shepherd of peace not only for his own flock but for a world awash in conflict, confusion and chaos.
Catholics and non-Catholics alike could sure use a John Paul the third.
The Miami Herald on U.S. non-lethal aid to Syrian rebels:
The Obama administration's emerging support for rebels in Syria is a welcome move, although it comes too late to help the estimated 70,000 people who have died over two years as President Bashar Assad wages a desperate fight to maintain his dictatorial grip on the country.
The administration's hesitant approach to the Syrian conflict has been based in large part on fear of the unknown. Unlike in Libya, officials knew little about the insurgents fighting Assad. They feared that arms sent to the rebels would wind up in the hands of anti-American Islamist terrorists.