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Editorial Roundup

Editorial roundup: Collected thoughts from around the nation

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Democrats have recently lost electoral ground with Hispanic voters for a variety of reasons. Chief among them is the belief that voters with dozens of distinct ethnic and cultural backgrounds are a monolith that will pull the lever for their party with little effort and no specifically tailored messaging.

When Democrats do develop particular platforms, the least they could do is not shoot themselves further in the foot by using language that is ineffective at best or downright damaging at worst. The biggest culprit here is the most straightforward: the term “Latinx.”

Language obviously changes over time, and there’s nothing wrong with having a public conversation about the right term to use for a growing segment of the U.S. population. Still, that conversation isn’t over, and despite what some academic circles and political staffers might think, it certainly hasn’t landed on “Latinx” as a consensus term among this population.

A nationwide poll of Hispanic voters by respected firm Bendixen & Amandi International recently found that a whopping 40% of them had some discomfort with the word, with a full 19% of registered Democrats saying the term “Latinx” bothered or offended them “a lot.” More actionably, pluralities of both Democrats and Republicans said they would be less likely to support a politician or political organization that used the term when discussing them.

It is a valid point that the standard terms “Latino” and “Latina” are gendered, but there are other options than one that is hard to pronounce in both English and Spanish and has seen no widespread adoption despite having circulated for about 20 years. The same poll found that 68% of voters preferred the term “Hispanic,” including majorities of both the U.S.-born and the foreign-born.

It may not be a perfect descriptor — it arguably leaves out Brazilians and includes people from Spain — but it’s what most of the community identifies with now. That may change, but it hasn’t yet.

— New York Daily News

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In the post-Watergate era, Congress shored up the integrity and transparency of the executive branch by creating inspector general offices and charging them to ferret out misconduct and abuse and report it to the public.

The Justice Department was arguably the agency most in need of independent scrutiny, but it took 10 years before the law was updated to include it. Even then, the new inspector general’s purview did not extend to key agencies under the department’s umbrella, such as the Drug Enforcement Administration or the FBI.

The Aldrich Ames spy scandal of the 1990s eventually motivated Congress to include the DEA and the FBI. But still, to this day, Inspector General Michael E. Horowitz lacks jurisdiction over Justice Department lawyers, which includes the 93 U.S. attorneys in the states and territories, the more than 300 lawyers who work under them and all the other lawyers who work directly under the attorney general or the various other offices of his department.

That’s a huge loophole. It unwisely allows the attorney general to shield his legal staff — and himself — from independent investigations into their suspected misconduct. The result is a Justice Department, ostensibly independent, that is too subject to the political machinations of either the attorney general or the president who appoints him.

The Inspector General Access Act has bipartisan support, and it has passed in the House and could clear the Senate — if only Attorney General Merrick Garland lifts his ill-considered objections. Two companion pieces of legislation are likewise worthy. All three bills deserve approval.

— Los Angeles Times

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A few years ago, it would have drawn jokes and scorn. But given the continuing mystery over what, exactly, U.S. military pilots are seeing in the skies, a congressional proposal to create an Anomaly Surveillance and Resolution Office — an office to investigate what used to be called UFOs — makes sense.

This is no laughing matter. In 2017, The New York Times reported that the U.S. military was gathering data from pilots who had reported unexplained encounters during their flights. Recently released video of some of those encounters defies conventional explanation — objects moving at speeds and in ways that don’t conform with current aviation technological capabilities. And unlike most of the wack-a-doodle stuff from UFO culture, the Pentagon confirms those videos are real.

The acronym UFO — unidentified flying object — was a military creation from the 1950s but has since then been so thoroughly commandeered by pop culture that the military has ditched it and now uses a new acronym: UAP, for unidentified aerial phenomena.

The Pentagon this summer issued a report on UAP sightings that raised more questions than it answered. It found no solid evidence that the still-unexplained sightings were from global adversaries or ... something else ... but it encouraged political leaders to begin taking the issue more seriously than before.

The idea has wide bipartisan support — a rarity these days, and an indication of how seriously this once-snicker-inducing topic is now being taken.

— St. Louis Post-Dispatch

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