US Press: pick of the papers

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

1. Just answer the question (Boston Globe)

Debates don't make or break, says James E. Sununo -- they're not boxing matches. They are just another part of the campaign narrative.

2. The case for a third party candidate (Politico)

It should not be surprising that there is support for an independent option in 2012, writes Douglas E. Schoen.

3. Joe McGinniss: Why I used unnamed sources (USA Today)

Writer behind unauthorized Sarah Palin biography, The Rogue, argues that he utilized a method that is controversial, but defensible and necessary.

4. Is the Tea Party Over? (New York Times)

According to Bill Keller, for the answer, watch Rick Perry.

5. Stop treating medical marijuana patients as criminals (Detroit Free Press)

A new federal order barring users from possessing firearms is illogical and ridiculous, argues this editorial.

6. Youth pushed to the edge (Boston Globe)

The "Occupy Wall Street" movement is a direct strike to the nation's conscience by a population that feels excluded from the American dream, writes James Carroll.

7. Understanding the consequences of changes in the minimum wage (The Oregonian)

It may just be a "lousy" 30 cents to snarky activists, but to business owners could be the difference between 10 people on a shift or nine, and unemployment for the person losing out, says Michael Saltsman.

8. Steve Jobs and the Future of Newspapers (Wall Street Journal) ($)

Apple boss loved the printed product, says L. Gordon Crovitz, but told him: "our lives are not like that anymore."

9. The Party Spirit on Trial (New York Times)

Aaron Aster takes a look at how the coming of the Civil War destroyed the two-party system.

10. A GOP assault on environmental regulations (Los Angeles Times)

Republicans, though correct that environmental regulations cost money, are oblivious to the public health consequences of pollution and the economic costs of inaction, says this LA Times editorial.

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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.