EagleTribune.com, North Andover, MA

January 21, 2014

Editorial: A look at what others are saying

The Eagle-Tribune

---- — The following are excerpts from editorials in other newspapers across New England:

When he started out running for president of the United States, Jimmy Carter would stop people on the streets of New Hampshire and introduce himself to total strangers.

Rare indeed was the person who had even heard his name, much less knew that the former nuclear engineer had once been the governor of Georgia.

Carter’s longshot bid was a classic “grassroots” effort -- an attempt to get a little something to take root on a surface where nothing was growing before. In today’s political world they call it gaining “traction.”

When Carter, a Democrat, knocked on doors in New Hampshire in the early going -- long before his campaign had anything in the way of traction -- people were a little suspicious when they saw him standing there. He had no staff and no surrogates to send in his stead. It was just he and the missus. That’s as grassroots as it gets.

Fast forward to the present day, when many Democrats are pinning their hopes on another candidate some would like people to perceive as a “grassroots” candidate. They would like Hillary Clinton -- a former first lady and Secretary of State -- to ride out of the fog of history and succeed Barack Obama as president of the United States.

“We were set up to build a grassroots movement across the country to a urge her to seek the presidency in 2016 and demonstrate to her if she decides to do this there is a groundswell of national support for her,” said former Clinton family associate Craig Smith during a visit to The Granite State.

Hillary Clinton may yet become our nation’s first woman president, but the suggestion that Smith’s group, “Ready for Hillary,” represents some kind of “grassroots” movement to bring her into the presidential race is absurd.

The days when anyone connected to the Clintons could assume the guise of “grassroots” are long gone. Hillary is a bona fide political brand and, if she’s “grassroots,” Monsanto and Archer Daniels Midland are family farmers.

Point being, there’s nobody who doesn’t know who she is. That alone should disqualify anyone from using the term “grassroots” to describe anything even remotely connected to any Hillary campaign that might be brewing.

-- The Nashua (N.H.) Telegraph

NSA snooping

It’s surprising that a member of Congress had not thought to ask until now. But Sen. Bernard Sanders, independent from Vermont, has dared to ask the question: “Has the NSA spied, or is the NSA currently spying, on members of Congress or other American elected officials?” Members were probably afraid of the answer.

This question was contained in a letter Sanders sent to Gen. Keith Alexander, director of the National Security Agency. Sanders has not received an answer, but he expects one is forthcoming.

The NSA has produced some weasel words that are a clue about what that answer will be. “Members of Congress have the same privacy protections as all U.S. persons,” it said in a release. In other words, virtually none. And that suggests the NSA will be forced to acknowledge that members of Congress, like most Americans, have been caught up in the NSA’s telecommunications dragnet.

Angela Merkel, chancellor of Germany, didn’t like it when she learned the NSA had zeroed in on her cellphone. Neither did the president of Brazil. There’s no reason to believe members of Congress will be pleased to learn that the NSA has been gathering information about whom they have been talking with on the telephone.

Apologists for the NSA say if you have been doing nothing wrong, then you have nothing to fear if the NSA has been tracking your phone calls. Now, members of Congress who have been making that argument will have to apply it to themselves. They must ask themselves if the meaning of privacy is really that the government can snoop around in your private business and you’re not supposed to mind.

-- The Rutland (Vt.) Herald