October 09, 2007
Nir Rosen On Iraq
Nir Rosen has an informative and depressing piece in the new Boston Review about Iraqi refugees and sectarian violence. It's worth reading in full, but this bit near the end caught my eye: It has become popular with former supporters of the war to blame the Iraqis for the Americans' failure. The Iraqis did not choose democracy or the Iraqis did not choose freedom, Americans like to say, or the Iraqis have to decide to stop killing each other or Iraqis have to "step up." But such complaints misplace the blame.
Scotus On State Secrets
The Supreme Court today declined to hear the case of Khaled el-Masri, a German car salesman who was detained--and, he claims, tortured--by the CIA in an unfortunate case of mistaken identity (it took the CIA five months to realize that he was not, in fact, the terrorist Khalid al-Masri). The basic facts of the case don't seem to be in dispute, but the Bush administration successfully argued under the so-called state secrets doctrine that classified information would be revealed to the public had the case been allowed to proceed.
Ezra Klein Is Making Sense
He offers the best and most succinct take I've seen on just how brilliantly Hillary has played Obama: The most remarkable political triumph of this campaign was the Clinton campaign effectively defining Barack Obama's "new politics" as "not attacking Hillary Clinton by name." Obama, of course, could have defined the new politics however he wanted, from a focus on transformative policy to a willingness to call out the DC establishment. Instead, he let the Clinton camp define his message in a way advantageous to them.
Some reactions: Fred Thompson looked distracted, especially when answering questions about the economy. It was as if he were thinking of something else (his next movie or what he was going to order for dinner that night) and had to focus instead on some boring political question about social security or the disparity between the Dow and people's perception of the economy. Is he just rusty, or does he not really want to do this? Of the frontrunners, Romney had the clearest and most forthright answers. If you listen closely, you hear a moderate Republican beneath the rhetoric.
October 08, 2007
Your Daily Dose Of Health Policy
Now that Hillary Clinton has followed John Edwards in endorsing an "individual mandate" model for universal health care, lots of people are asking questions about the model -- some good, some not so good. In Business Week, columnist Glen Whitman raises several objections. It's difficult to enforce a mandate that everybody buy insurance, he says; just look at how many people don't carry car insurance, which states supposedly require of all drivers.
October 06, 2007
Everyone Is Talking About Thomas
What to think of Clarence Thomas' memoirs? In The Washington Post, Jabari Asim offers up a mixed review, and notes that Thomas' famous comment about his Court hearings--"a high-tech lynching for uppity blacks who in any way deign to think for themselves"--was inspired by To Kill A Mockingbird.
Scars Of The Cold War
The Cold War was won, symbolically and literally, in two countries...or rather four. East Germany was a satrap of the Soviets in the territory that was the Russian occupied zone of the defeated Reich. It was falsely called the German Democratic Republic.
October 05, 2007
Obama's New Ad
His latest Iowa spot focuses on--surprise!--Iraq, and stars Retired Air Force General Merrill McPeak. The general praises Obama for "showing insight and courage others did not" in opposing the war, and declares that "the old Washington hands have let us down.
Armenian Genocide Update
With the Armenian genocide resolution nearing a vote in the House, Turkish Prime Minister Erdogan spoke with President Bush today.
It's eleven-thirty on a Thursday morning in the Senate Hart building, and the House-Senate Joint Economic Committee is doing something fairly unprecedented: It's talking about prison reform. Not prison reform in the sense of why-we-need-to-build-more, but why-we-need-to-build-fewer. Curious as to how this came about--as a rule, Congress only gets "tough" on crime, never "soft"--I had asked a staffer, who explained that Chuck Schumer, the committee chair, was letting each member hold his or her own hearing on whatever topic they so desired.