US Press: pick of the papers

The ten must-read opinion pieces from today's US papers.

1. Confronting the Malefactors (New York Times)

Paul Krugman thinks that Occupy Wall Street is starting to look like an important event that might even eventually be seen as a turning point.

2. What debit card fee critics miss on capitalism (USA Today)

According to this editorial, the uproar is as misguided as Bank of America's action was predictable.

3. Like a complete unknown? (Boston Globe)

The choice of another obscure writer for this year's Nobel Prize in Literature highlights the gap between the literary establishment and the people who actually consume literature, writes this editorial.

4. Obama's secret death panel (Washington Times)

This editorial asks: Can the National Security Council assassinate Americans?

5. Crackdown needed on pulpit politics (Star Tribune)

The IRS needs to enforce the law on tax-exempt status for churches, argues this editorial.

6. Against Nostalgia (New York Times)

Today there is no tech company that looks more like the Big Brother from Apple's iconic 1984 commercial than Apple itself, writes Mike Daisey.

7. Lessons of the Irish Comeback (Wall Street Journal) ($)

Investors would be shortsighted to overlook the country's progress, writes Michael Hasenstab; other indebted governments would have to be blind.

8. Cash taints judicial races (Philadelphia Inquirer)

Candidates are forced to raise funds from the very lawyers and special interests likely to bring cases before them on the bench, warns this editorial of the Common Pleas and Municipal Courts elections.

9. Message from on high (Washington Post)

Sarah Palin will sit out 2012. Television producers will be disappointed, says Kathleen Parker, but she proves (finally) that there is a God.

10. Michigan universities should offer in-state tuition rates for immigrants (Detroit Free Press)

Many of the college-age children of illegal immigrants have lived here most of their lives, attended Michigan public schools, and their parents have paid Michigan taxes, this editorial points out.

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Donald Trump's inauguration signals the start of a new and more unstable era

A century in which the world's hegemonic power was a rational actor is about to give way to a more terrifying reality. 

For close to a century, the United States of America has been the world’s paramount superpower, one motivated by, for good and for bad, a rational and predictable series of motivations around its interests and a commitment to a rules-based global order, albeit one caveated by an awareness of the limits of enforcing that against other world powers.

We are now entering a period in which the world’s paramount superpower is neither led by a rational or predictable actor, has no commitment to a rules-based order, and to an extent it has any guiding principle, they are those set forward in Donald Trump’s inaugural: “we will follow two simple rules: hire American and buy American”, “from this day forth, it’s going to be America first, only America first”.

That means that the jousting between Trump and China will only intensify now that he is in office.  The possibility not only of a trade war, but of a hot war, between the two should not be ruled out.

We also have another signal – if it were needed – that he intends to turn a blind eye to the actions of autocrats around the world.

What does that mean for Brexit? It confirms that those who greeted the news that an US-UK trade deal is a “priority” for the incoming administration, including Theresa May, who described Britain as “front of the queue” for a deal with Trump’s America, should prepare themselves for disappointment.

For Europe in general, it confirms what should already been apparent: the nations of Europe are going to have be much, much more self-reliant in terms of their own security. That increases Britain’s leverage as far as the Brexit talks are concerned, in that Britain’s outsized defence spending will allow it acquire goodwill and trade favours in exchange for its role protecting the European Union’s Eastern border.

That might allow May a better deal out of Brexit than she might have got under Hillary Clinton. But there’s a reason why Trump has increased Britain’s heft as far as security and defence are concerned: it’s because his presidency ushers in an era in which we are all much, much less secure. 

Stephen Bush is special correspondent at the New Statesman. His daily briefing, Morning Call, provides a quick and essential guide to British politics.