April 22, 2008
The Two Obamas
DOWNINGTOWN, Pa.--The result of the 2008 election may come down to how voters decide to define Barack Obama. Is he Adlai Stevenson or John F. Kennedy? Is he a detached former law review editor or a passionate agent of change? Is he an upscale reformer focused on process or a populist who will turn Washington and the country around? One of the central lessons of the Pennsylvania primary campaign is that Obama's personality is now far more important than either Hillary Clinton's or John McCain's.
The TNR Q&A: Philippe Sands
British writer and international lawyer Philippe Sands is the author of The Torture Team , in stores May 5, which chronicles the role lawyers played in the introduction of the Bush administration’s program of coercive interrogation techniques. Here, Scott Horton talks to Sands about his findings. TNR: In The Torture Team, you focus on a single document, Donald Rumsfeld’s December 2, 2002 approval of extraordinarily aggressive interrogation techniques. You give us the document’s genesis, and the revolt within the Pentagon that led to its being formally withdrawn.
The Court heard oral argument today in Davis v. FEC, the case that asks whether the so-called Millionaires' Amendment of the McCain–Feingold law unconstitutionally burdens the free-speech rights of self-financing candidates for office.
The Old Ball And Chain
We've known for some time that military recruiters tend to prey upon communities of color, which have overperformed as a proportion of war dead since the Iraq offensive began. The "poverty draft" is likewise well underway. Now we're hearing that convicted felons are slowly but steadily swelling the ranks of our armed forces. I mean, we do lock up pretty much anyone in sight in the US, but this is still bad news: The bulk of the crimes involved were burglaries, other thefts, and drug offenses, but nine involved sex crimes and six involved manslaughter or vehicular homicide convictions.
April 21, 2008
The New Class
Amidst all the statistics clamoring for attention during the last six weeks of 24/7 Pennsylvania primary coverage, there's one key number that hasn't gotten the attention it deserves: 306,918. That's the number of new Democrats added to the voter rolls in Pennsylvania between January 1 and the voter registration deadline on March 24. 146,166 first-time voters joined the party and 160,752 switched their registration from Republican or Independent to Democrat.
The Faraway Massacre
Friends of Tibet and the Tibetan cause, I would like to remind you that China's totalitarian power also bears responsibility for another crushing disaster: Darfur. Of course I am not saying that the Chinese government and its army are directly involved. Nor that--as in Tibet--they are entirely responsible for a crisis that has only lasted so long because of the more or less tacit consent of other countries. For example, the United States talks a great deal but does little; France, before its presidential elections, promised more and delivered even less.
Richard Posner (of course) has the answer--they're a way for airlines to ration plane travel without raising prices: Persistent delay is usually the result of a failure to use price to equate demand and supply. When demand increases in advance of an increase in supply, failure to raise price results in buyers' incurring cost in the form of delay rather than in the form of a higher price... So why are airline prices so low? The answer may lie in the lumpiness of airline service. ...
Just to follow up on the point about public transportation in the previous post, it's no secret that Congress has always spent far more to promote driving than it's spent on public transit—note that the White House requested $40 billion for the federal highway budget in 2008, versus $1.08 billion for railroad funding. But that's only the beginning.
1968 was a terrible year for America. Martin Luther King, Jr. was assassinated and the civil rights movement broke into what were virtually separate warring camps, demontsrating how one person sometimes unifies people who are basically at odds. Robert F.
April 19, 2008
Clintons V. Kerry
Tomorrow's Times has an interesting story about Clinton loyalists (of varying degrees) who've defected to Obama--and the hard feelings this has inspired in Hillaryland. My favorite story is the always-fascinating subplot between the Clintons and John Kerry: This tension was neatly distilled in a heated conversation in January between a prominent Clinton supporter and Cameron Kerry, the younger brother of Senator John Kerry, who had just endorsed Mr.