US Press: pick of the papers

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

1. Wall Street protesters need to be focused, practical (Chicago Sun Times)

Of course Occupy Wall Street makes sense, says this editorial. As do Occupy Chicago, Occupy Atlanta and all the other offshoots of this national grassroots protest movement against the lopsided power of corporate and Wall Street interests in American political and economic life.

2. Don't make it hard to vote (Philadelphia Inquirer)

In 14 states controlled by Republican legislators, voters face new restrictions that "could make it significantly harder ... to cast ballots in 2010," reports this editorial.

3. How to Fix California's Democracy Crisis (New York Times)

Direct democracy in California was meant to bring the people into the governance process, but voters have become consumers of television sound-bite campaigns, writes James S. Fishkin.

4. Who signed Anwar al-Awlaki's death warrant? (Washington Post)

Richard Cohen does not share Ron Paul's indignation, but does share his dismay: A U.S. citizen was killed on a functionary's say-so.

5. NASA needs clear mission (Omaha World Herald)

There is no way to know what advances might come from new NASA research, concedes this editorial. What is certain, though, is that without a farsighted commitment by NASA, those advances will not be made in America.

6. How the Campaign Season Got So Long (Wall Street Journal)

Thank Jimmy Carter for the seemingly interminable presidential horse race, says Larry J. Sabato -- and the state of Florida, too.

7. You Have to Gamble on Your Health (New York Times)

H. Gilbert Welch asks: Is screening for prostate cancer and breast cancer worth it? No matter what the task force recommends, there is no easy answer.

8. Morality, not theology (Los Angeles Times)

With his swipe at Mitt Romney's Mormonism at the Value Voters Summit, Robert Jeffress played into the worst stereotypes about the GOP as a bigoted and theocratic party for evangelical Christians alone, writes Jonah Goldberg.

9. Districts should be based on common interests (Boston Globe)

The districts should be as compact as possible, respect municipal boundaries as much as possible, and split up natural constituencies as little as possible, says this editorial.

10. This Is Not Your Father's Democratic Party (Roll Call)

For anyone old enough to remember Bucky Dent's memorable home run in the 1978 Yankees-Red Sox playoff, the current makeup and political strategy of the Democratic Party has to seem very odd, and while that was an asset in 2006 and 2008, it very definitely looks like a problem in 2012, writes Stuart Rothenberg.

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Emmanuel Macron's "moralisation of politics" comes at a heavy price for his allies

"Fake" jobs in French politics, season 3 episode 1.

Something is rotten in the state of France. No political party – at least none that existed before 2016 – seems immune to the spread of investigations into “fake” or shady parliamentary jobs. The accusations sank centre-right candidate François Fillon’s presidential campaign, and led to Marine Le Pen losing her parliamentary immunity in the European parliament (and proxy wars within her party, the National Front). Both deny the allegations. Now the investigations have made their way to the French government, led by Edouard Philippe, Emmanuel Macron’s Prime Minister.

On Wednesday morning, justice minister François Bayrou and secretary of state for European affairs Marielle de Sarnez announced their resignation from Philippe’s cabinet. They followed defence minister Sylvie Goulard’s resignation the previous day. The three politicians belonged not to Macron's party, En Marche!, but the centrist MoDem party. Bayrou, the leader, had thrown his weight behind Macron after dropping his own presidential bid in April.

The disappearance of three ministers leaves Emmanuel Macron’s cross-party government, which includes politicians from centre left and centre right parties, without a centrist helm. (Bayrou, who has run several times for the French presidency and lost, is the original “neither left nor right” politician – just with a less disruptive attitude, and a lot less luck). “I have decided not to be part of the next government,” he told the AFP.

Rumours had been spreading for weeks. Bayrou, who was last part of a French government as education minister from 1993 to 1997, had been under pressure since 9 June, when he was included in a preliminary investigation into “embezzlement”. The case revolves around whether the parliamentary assistants of MoDem's MEPs, paid for by the European Parliament, were actually working full or part-time for the party. The other two MoDem ministers who resigned, along with Bayrou, also have assistants under investigation.

Bayrou has denied the allegations. He has declared that there “never was” any case of “fake” jobs within his party and that it would be “easy to prove”. All the same, by the time he resigned, his position as justice minister has become untenable, not least because he was tasked by Macron with developing key legislation on the “moralisation of politics”, one of the new President’s campaign pledges. On 1 June, Bayrou unveiled the new law, which plans a 10-year ban from public life for any politician convicted of a crime or offence regarding honesty and transparency in their work.

Bayrou described his decision to resign as a sacrifice. “My name was never pronounced, but I was the target to hit to attack the government’s credibility,” he said, declaring he would rather “protect this law” by stepping down. The other two ministers also refuted the allegations, and gave similar reasons for resigning. 

Macron’s movement-turned-unstoppable-machine, En Marche!, remains untainted from accusations of the sort. Their 350 new MPs are younger, more diverse than is usual in France – but they are newcomers in politics. Which is exactly why Macron had sought an alliance with experienced Bayrou in the first place.

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