Guns magnify tragedy
As usual, the details are sad and sickening. Wade Michael Page showed up at a Sikh temple in Oak Creek, Wis., just as volunteers were gathering to cook lentils, yogurt and rice pudding for the faithful. He killed six men and women — ranging in age from 39 to 84 — injured three more, and shot a police officer who tried to aid one of the victims.
Now all we know about Page is his short and nasty biography — discharged from the Army for being drunk on duty and other misconduct; musician in a variety of white power bands — with names such as Definite Hate and End Apathy — and the trail of tears and terror he left behind. And once again, too many of our elected leaders take to the microphones for expressions of grief and compassion, but with too little resolve to confront the ready availability of weapons to the deranged that is the common element in these massacres.
Once again, Americans must ask themselves: Is there something about our culture that is causing the isolation and rage behind these mass killings? We do know this: Guns may not be the source of this sickness, but, once again, they have magnified its lethality.
— San Francisco Chronicle
Anticipated food costs unsettling
The nation is suffering its worst drought in decades.
Only in the 1930s and 1950s has a drought covered more land, a recent federal report noted.
The National Climatic Data Center in Asheville, N.C., said 55 percent of the country was in a moderate to extreme drought by the end of June. And thus far, despite a few showers here and there, things aren’t getting any better.
Topsoil has turned dry while ‘‘crops, pastures and rangeland have deteriorated at a rate rarely seen in the last 18 years,’’ the climate center said.
Cattle growers, with little productive rangeland and less corn for feed, have been selling off herds. In the short run, this might cause a dip in beef prices at the supermarket, but over the long haul, those prices are likely to rise.
In fact, the U.S. Department of Agriculture anticipates that food prices as a whole will rise by 3 percent next year. That’s an unsettling prospect when the economy continues to stagnate.
— The Pueblo (Colo.) Chieftain
Economic policies battleground for election
President Barack Obama’s chief economic adviser, Alan Krueger, said ‘‘today’s unemployment rate provides further evidence that the U.S. economy is continuing to recover from the worst downturn since the Great Depression.’’
He urged the country to stand by the president’s economic agenda and for Congress to pass the remaining parts of Obama’s American Jobs Act.
GOP candidate Mitt Romney called it ‘‘a hammer blow to middle class families.’’ His campaign website makes the extravagant claim that a Romney administration would create 12 million new jobs in four years.
The Associated Press offered only the faint observation that the new jobless numbers were ‘‘a hopeful sign.’’
— hopeful, perhaps, in the sense that they were much better than expected, although still weak, and they could have been worse.
This kind of incremental, ambiguous improvement in the economy looks to be with us through the election campaign and that will be the battleground for the candidates.
Obama’s economic policies are a known quantity.
Romney’s economic platform is a detail-free promise to revive the country through tax and regulatory reform and basically undoing, usually on ‘‘Day One,’’ everything Obama has done since taking office.
A recent Reuters/Ipsos poll showed 36 percent of voters believe Romney has a better plan for the economy versus 31 percent who think Obama’s policies are better.
It all depends on where you sit, and from this vantage point, it looks like about two-thirds of the voters don’t believe either one.
Evansville (Ind.) Courier & Press