April 02, 2008
Madame Chancellor, Mr. President, Nearly 20 years ago, we enthusiastically witnessed the most extraordinary event of the end of the 20th century: the fall of the Berlin Wall. A reunified Germany opened the way to the resurrection of the European continent. Then a wave of "velvet revolutions" brought down the communist dictatorships, one by one. We who have been unrelenting opponents of these iniquitous regimes since the long-ago days of the "New Philosophy," were thrilled by this magnificent celebration of freedom.
WASHINGTON--The Cuban government has finally blocked access to a Web log written by Yoani Sanchez, a young woman who has caused a sensation on the communist-ruled island with her daily postings about life in Havana. But she says she has found a way to outsmart her censors. In the spirit of Soviet-era samizdats and Czechoslovakia's Charter 77, her blog, www.desdecuba.com/generaciony, lives on. Sanchez is a linguistics graduate in her early 30s, with a husband more than two decades her senior and a 12-year old son.
On the one hand, it's not so surprising that Lee Hamilton would endorse Barack Obama. Obama's foreign policy team consists of several former Hamilton staffers, and Obama himself seems to embody Hamilton's foreign policy sensibility. (See this recent piece for more on that.) On the other hand, the Hamilton endorsement is actually pretty telling. While working on the piece I just linked to--this would have been in late February--I asked one of Obama's foreign policy advisers why, if the two men were on such similar wavelengths, Hamilton hadn't already endorsed Obama.
You may have been wondering: Just how shoddy did John Yoo's legal advice to the Bush administration have to be for even a conservative lawyer like Jack Goldsmith to be taken aback by it? Answer: very. Full text of Yoo's newly declassified Justice Department memos on detainee treatment here (part one) and here (part two). Emily Bazelon: What takes my breath away about the Yoo memos, now that we can finally read them, is their air of utter certainty. One after another, complex questions of constitutional law are dispatched as if there's no cause for any debate.
April 01, 2008
Onward, Clintonian Soldiers
WASHINGTON--Chill out. More specifically: "We're going to win this election if we just chill out and let everybody have their say." Thus, Bill Clinton's advice to Democrats who are gnashing their collective teeth over whether the extended struggle between Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama will cause their party to lose an election it once seemed certain to win. One person who took Clinton's advice was Obama, who went out of his way last weekend to defend his opponent's right to stay in the contest.
No one has ever accused the Bush Administration of being a slave to the headlines. But on Monday, Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson apparently felt the need to underline its brand of reality-free policymaking one more time. The nation is in recession territory, investment banks are on the verge of collapse, the mortgage crisis is spreading.
God Hates Bill Richardson
What if Bill Richardson gave a speech, but instead of coming out in his own voice, it was channeled through the voice of a robot imitating Bela Lugosi? That's pretty much what happened this afternoon at the Organization of American States, where Richardson continued his heated campaign for the vice presidency by addressing the body on what he would do to deepen U.S.-Latin American ties. The text of his speech didn't live up to the clownish image I've had of Richardson since reading Ryan Lizza's sendup -- it was rather conventional, straightforward and charmless.
The Hillary-bosnia Mystery, Cont'd
Hitch does us a service by bringing the slapstick of Hillary's arrival in Tuzla back to something more important, which is the role she played in shaping her husband's Bosnia policy in the first place: In the event, President Bill Clinton had not found it convenient to keep this promise.
The New York Times is reporting that Robert Mugabe, the Zimbabwean tyrant, may resign at the result of his clear loss in the presidential election over the weekend. Usually, dictators don't hold elections that they can't win, but apparently even this basic element of authoritarian governance was beyond Mugabe's grasp. Needless to say, this is hardly the outcome anyone expected. After all, Mugabe is not one to put up with opposition. While the world hailed him as a liberation hero in the 1970's, he was making clear promises to rule Zimbabwe as a one-party state.
March 31, 2008
Josh Patashnik's recent article, "Reform School" (March 26), is disappointingly inaccurate. He misquotes my interview in the Concord Monitor, in which I distinguished Obama's innovative teacher compensation proposal from the kind of old-style merit-pay plans that have failed in the past. Also, Patashnik worries that Obama is insufficiently bold on education reform without, apparently, having read Obama's education plan.