Law

Before Sunrise
November 12, 2009

When President Obama arrives in Tokyo on Friday, he will confront a country that seeks to be an ally of the United States. For Japan has never been an American ally. It was first a rival, then an enemy, and finally, after it lost the war it foolishly started with the U.S., it became a protectorate, not an ally.   The distinction matters. An alliance is an institution negotiated between two sovereign governments in which each agrees to a series of reciprocal obligations that have the force of law.

Worth Reading
November 11, 2009

Is monetary policy still too tight? NYT looks at Bernanke's battles with legislators. Were oil prices a bigger part of the recession than given credit for? $4.2 trillion in maturing debt could prolong the credit crunch. How statistical time machines can compare SCOTUS justices across decades.

Board to Death
November 10, 2009

To the frustration of many a cabinet secretary, the Obama administration is a little behind on its appointments. At this point—with only five weeks to go before the Senate breaks for recess—a little over half of the 514 positions that need filling have been filled. Some jobs are really important: The nominee for the Office of Legal Counsel has been held up for months. Obama’s choice for a USAID director came down just today. U.S. attorney nominations have slowed to a crawl. Other jobs?

Ok, Nidal Malik Hasan Is Not A Terrorist. He's A Banana ... Or A Monkey Wrench. So What!
November 10, 2009

By the way, I don't think I've written that Nidal Malik Hasan is a terrorist. But, believe me, it's not because I pondered the aptness of the word. It's enough for me that, having killed 13 people (and wounded 28 others) because of his religious beliefs--yes, his religious beliefs--and surely also his deranged mind, he is a mass murderer. And, please, none of this crap about "innocent until proven guilty." On the other hand, John Judis is very perturbed about the terrorist nomenclature. Jason Zengerle is less perturbed, and may even be ready to concede the point.

Abortion, Catholics, and the Health Care Bill
November 10, 2009

Alan Wolfe is a TNR contributing editor and director of the Boisi Center for Religion and American Public Life at Boston College. Just before the House of Representatives voted on the Stupak Amendment, designed to stop any public funding of insurance plans that cover abortion, the U. S. Conference on Catholic Bishops (USCCB) weighed in with its endorsement.

Should Obama Boost Jobs More Directly?
November 09, 2009

Via Matt Yglesias, I see that Alec MacGillis had an interesting piece on this question in yesterday's Washington Post. There are a variety of ways the administration could target employment directly, of course, from a WPA-style federal jobs program to tax credits that subsidize hiring. Zubin and Kevin Drum have pointed out some problems with proposals near the WPA end of the spectrum. A more feasible approach might be a policy the Germans put in place, which apparently happens on a smaller scale in a few U.S.

What To Do About Juvenile Sentencing
November 09, 2009

In August, I wrote about efforts to reform California's sentencing laws, which allow courts to condemn minors to life without parole. According to the Fair Sentencing For Youth Project, the United States has 2,503 juveniles--in California and a handful of other states--serving life sentences without the chance for rehabilitation, while the rest of the world has none. Today, the Supreme Court is hearing arguments in two juvenile sentencing cases out of Florida, both involving mentally impaired minors who were convicted of non-homicidal crimes and still given life without parole.

The House Bill Is "Worse Than Nothing"? Really?
November 09, 2009

Marcia Angell, M.D., is one of the nation's most well-respected experts on health care issues. And with good reason. A board-certified pathologist who also trained in internal medicine, she's a former editor of the New England Journal of Medicine and senior lecturer at Harvard Medical School. Her writing credits include The Truth About Drug Companies and an award-winning article at TNR on the same subject.

It's the Building, Not the Blueprint, That Matters
November 08, 2009

One of the most revealing moments in Saturday's debate over health care reform was when Rep. Anthony Weiner of New York took the floor. Weiner is a rising star in the Democratic Party, having quickly established himself as an unusually engaging speaker. But, in this case, it was Weiner's effective use of a prop that stood apart. The prop was the handbook for the Federal Employees Health Benefits Plan, or FEHBP--which is, very roughly speaking, a model for how a reformed health care system might work.

EXCLUSIVE: The Insurers' Latest Scare Campaign
November 06, 2009

A little less than a month ago, the Blue Cross Blue Shield Association--the trade group representing state-based Blue Cross and Blue Shield plans--released a misleading study suggesting that health care reform would mean higher premiums for small businesses and individuals buying coverage on their own. The basis for the findings were calculations by the consulting firm, Oliver Wyman.

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