April 20, 2009

Kiss Kiss Bang Bang
12:00 AM

WASHINGTON--Try to imagine that hundreds or thousands of guns including assault weapons were pouring across the Mexican border into Arizona, New Mexico and Southern California, arming criminal gangs who were killing American law enforcement officials and other U.S.

Truth and Reconciliation

'Reconciliation" means "restoration of harmony." But as a term of art in budgeting, it has become an act of war. President Obama and most Democrats in Congress hope to include health and education reform in reconciliation instructions as part of the budget process. No mystery why. The sixty vote hurdle in the Senate of the filibuster could scotch these central components of their agenda via united Republican opposition. Bills considered under reconciliation cannot be filibustered and can therefore pass the Senate by majority vote.

An Alibi For Liberal Realism
12:00 AM

Responding to this morning's eloquent New York Times op-ed on human rights in Afghanistan, Michelle Goldberg of the Prospect writes: So far, the administration's realism has overshadowed its idealism, especially in Afghanistan, where the United States is reaching out to "moderate" elements of the Taliban. Lots of observers seem relieved by this scaling back of American ambitions. By cynically cloaking its own aggression in the language of human rights, the Bush team did much to discredit the latter. But ... there are real moral costs to realist compromises.

Tnr Slideshow: Human Resources
12:00 AM

Today's New York Times profile of Mike Kelleher, the director of the White House Office of Correspondence (or the guy who selects 10 letters for Obama to read every day), got us wondering--what other White House jobs don't we know much about? In today's TNR slideshow, we feature the government officials--from pilots and planners to cooks and clerks--who keep the Executive Branch running smoothly. -- Elizabeth Sher Photo courtesy of Getty Images

Daily Affirmations
12:00 AM

Sometimes I feel my commentary tends to run toward the negative. (No, really!) So I'm going to try to make an effort to occassionally recognize when somebody writes something I think makes sense. Let's give it a shot: 1. Tom Brokaw has an op-ed today arguing that small towns have an antiquated, duplicative system of governance: It’s estimated that New York State has about 10,500 local government entities, from townships to counties to special districts.

Or Are Bemidjians Extra Devious?
12:00 AM

Yes, it's true that, as Jason noted, the consistently pro-Norm-Coleman Bemidji Pioneer has run an editorial urging him to end his appeals. But reading between the lines, I wonder whether there might be a double game afoot here. First, the paper twists the knife in Coleman's side by suggesting he "won" in November, and that Franken perhaps should have conceded then: [Coleman] barely won the November election, a scant 215 votes out of 2.9 million ballots. Because of the slim margin, a recount was automatic, even though Sen.

Who Lost Bemidji?!
12:00 AM

That's the cry that must be ringing out across Norm Coleman's house today. The Bemidji Pioneer, which has endorsed Coleman for every statewide office he's ever run for going back to 1998, editorializes: It’s time to come home, Norm. Of course, the guy who's really hoping Norm throws in the towel is Tim Pawlenty, who'll be on the hook to certify Franken's election after the Supreme Court turns down Coleman's appeal. As the current issue's editorial points out, Pawlenty could use his signing of Franken's certificate  as a sign that the GOP is going to be something more than an irrelevance.

Thinking About Torture
12:00 AM

I've pondered for years what to say about the Bush administration's use of torture in the years after 9/11. So far I've remained quiet about the issue because I'm so uneasy about it -- not just about what the United States has done, but also about the reactions of nearly everyone who has commented on it. On one side, the right mocks those concerned with our actions in that insufferably smug, proudly parochial tone that has marked nearly all conservative commentary about foreign affairs for the past seven years.

Game On: Senate Committees To Mark Up In June
12:00 AM

Senators Max Baucus and Ted Kennedy just sent the White House a letter, affirming their commitment to marking up health care legislation in June. It's not news per se. Staff and outside experts have been talking about such a timeline for a while. But this makes it public and official in a way it wasn't before.

Dear Mr. President
12:00 AM

You are very wise to have kept the U.S. delegation to the Durban II "human rights" conference in Geneva at home. Indeed, your statement about wishing that yourself and the country could "be involved in a useful conference that addressed the continuing issue of racism and discrimination around the globe" speaks for almost all Americans. Alas, the first hours of the five day conference proved the sagacity of your skepticism.