The New Yorker's Jeff Toobin offers a good response to my open question about how we should be handling Najibullah Zazi, an accused al Qaeda terrorist who may be in league with men still on the loose: Time to break the waterboard out of storage? I think not—and not just because it’s illegal. The U.S. Attorney’s office in Brooklyn which is bringing the case (and where I was a prosecutor in the early nineties) filed a brief where it outlined the reasons why Zazi should be detained rather than released on bail.
With a little over six months until the 2010 Census, outreach has already begun to ensure as complete a count as possible. A lot’s at stake. Every ten years, the Census Bureau has the daunting task of counting everyone--no matter their legal status--living in the United States and its territories, as mandated by the Constitution.
Of all the exhibits at the Congressional Black Caucus’s annual conference, which started Wednesday and will run into the weekend, the one I least expected was tucked in the back corner, behind rows of booths hawking Coca Cola and wood carvings, silk suits and ornate hats, and a cornucopia of Obama kitsch. The booth promoted the Federal Reserve. When I first saw it, I thought it might be a part of Ben Bernanke’s recent charm offensive, an effort to demystify the central bank and ease fears about its reach into the financial markets over the past year.
The headlines of the last few months make it clear that there are going to be no free passes for America when it comes to getting its troops out of Iraq. The recent bombing of a Shiite mosque in Baghdad, like the internal warfare in Sunni-dominated Anbar Provice, shows how many Iraqi security problems persist. But as President Obama continues the withdrawal of American troops from Iraq, he should do more than pay attention to conditions on the ground.
Of the more than 500 amendments offered to Senator Max Baucus's "chairman's mark," one of the most important is surely Senator Ron Wyden's proposal to allow everyone access to the plans offered in health insurance exchanges. Under his plan, employers offering group health coverage would have two options. They could choose to offer their workers two or more plans, at least one of which would have premiums no higher than those of the most affordable high-quality plans in their area.
For any who were not adequately shaken by David Grann's masterful article "Trial by Fire," about a man put to death by the state of Texas for a crime he almost certainly did not commit, Ta-Nehisi Coates points to a Salon article by Alan Berlow that simply beggars belief: If anyone had any doubt that the Texas justice system operates in a parallel universe, look no further than the latest decision by the state's highest court in the case of death-row inmate Charles Dean Hood.
The congressman is nearly in tears--his face crumpled and voice cracking. This was hardly the response that I anticipated when I asked freshman Democrat Alan Grayson a banal question about adjusting to life in his new job. "Personally, it's extremely difficult for me to be away from my family," he started. That's when he started to swell. As he came unglued, I cast a nervous glance at his aide. The least she could do was hustle him from this awkwardness.
Yesterday I wrote about the Republican strategy of unabated opposition to health care reform. Thinking about it some more, I really wonder if the Republican party is making a long-term policy blunder here. The proposal unveiled by Max Baucus is actually a fairly conservative thing. As I noted, it reduces the budget deficit by a not-insignificant sum, has no public plan, and contains some extremely stingy benefits.
Michael A. Livermore is the executive director of the Institute for Policy Integrity at New York University School of Law. He is the author, along with Richard L. Revesz, of Retaking Rationality: How Cost-Benefit Analysis Can Better Protect the Environment and Our Health. The Washington Post ran an interesting editorial yesterday on regulating carbon—interesting, but ultimately wrong. The Post is correct that putting a price on carbon is the surest way to reduce greenhouse-gas emissions, and that it would be preferable for Congress to do this through legislation.
A lot of people care about what happens to our health care system. But not a lot of people understand what’s actually being proposed--or even have time to figure it out. And even those who do follow the debate closely may not always know what’s important, what isn’t, and so on. (Even I get confused sometimes.) Part of the problem is that judging reform actually requires asking several different questions. There’s the economic security issue: Will it expand insurance coverage substantially--and make sure the insurance people have is good insurance?