April 24, 2009

How Do Our Allies Deal With Torture?

Several recent op-eds advocate aligning U.S. interrogation policy with those of Israel and the United Kingdom. Both countries have unequivocally outlawed the torture of detainees, despite their long experience combating terrorism. Exactly how does each country deal with the issue?   Israel has not had an easy time of it. Following two public scandals that raised questions about the accountability of Shin Bet, Israel's internal security service, the Israeli government established an independent commission to set clear guidelines about coercive interrogation.

Obama: Armenian "slaughter," Not "genocide"
12:00 AM

Ben Smith has the White House's Armenian Remembrance Day statement, in which Obama breaks--or, to be charitable, defers--a very explicit campaign promise to officially brand what happened to more than one million Armenians after World War I as "genocide." I see that the statement, which focuses on recent advances in Turkish-Armenian relations, somewhat defensively notes that I have consistently stated my own view of what occurred in 1915, and my view of that history has not changed. Fine.

Reconciliation Now Has A Date: October 15
12:00 AM

It's been in the works for a while and now, according to senior Captiol Hill staffers, it's a done deal: The final budget resolution will include a "reconciliation instruction" for health care. That means the Democrats can pass health care reform with just fifty votes, instead of the sixty it takes to break a filibuster. The deal was hatched late afternoon and last night, in a five-hour negotiating session at the office of Senate Majoriy Leader Harry Reid. A trio of White House officials were there: Rahm Emanuel, Peter Orszag, and Phil Schiliro.

Time To Call It Pakaf?
12:00 AM

WaPo: Holbrooke and Jacob J.

Torture Memos And The Iraq Syndrome
12:00 AM

I think President Obama did the right thing in releasing the torture memos and also in rejecting the call for further investigations and for prosecutions. It's not a question of whether I think John Yoo and Jay Bybee and the CIA officials who even exceeded the bounds of these memos deserve some kind of punishment.  They do, but not at the hands of the federal government. And not now.

April 23, 2009

Disputations: Big Bad Berlusconi?
12:00 AM

I love The New Republic, even when I disagree with its gifted writers. This is not the case of Alexander Stille's "The Prime Minister of WTF" about Silvio Berlusconi's performance at the last G20 meeting in Europe. I loved the funny TNR headline, but the article is ridiculous, something good for The National Enquirer, not for a serious publication.

Normal Is As Normal Does
12:00 AM

WASHINGTON--Over time, certain ideas become irresistible. They start out as problematic. Later, no one can remember why.     Consider Tuesday's bipartisan ceremony in which President Obama signed the Edward M. Kennedy Serve America Act. Thirteen years ago, Republicans in Congress tried to kill Bill Clinton's AmeriCorps program. This year, Republicans and Democrats joined together to pass the largest expansion of service opportunities in decades.

Disputations: Beating Down Berlusconi
12:00 AM

It is certainly instructive to receive lessons in journalism and intellectual honesty from Christian Rocca. Rocca makes much of his supposed impartiality in matters regarding Berlusconi, but fails to disclose that he writes for the newspaper Il Foglio, a paper owned by Veronica Lario, otherwise known as the wife of Silvio Berlusconi.

Fundamentally Different
12:00 AM

My colleagues Frank Foer and Noam Scheiber have written a compelling account of the Obama administration’s approach to economic policy. And although I don’t pretend to know the president’s mind, I might agree with their summary statement that “Obama has no intention of changing the nature of capitalism.” Still, I want to make what may seem to be a paradoxical argument: that regardless of the president’s intentions, he will change American capitalism in fundamental ways--in particular, he will alter the relationship between the government and the economy.

The First 100 Days
12:00 AM

The audacity continues: THE WHITE HOUSEOffice of the Press Secretary__________________________________________________________________________________________________________________FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASEApril 23, 2009 STATEMENT BY THE PRESS SECRETARY On Thursday, April 23, 2009, the President signed into law: S. 520, which designates the United States Courthouse located in Rockford, Illinois, as the “Stanley J. Roszkowski United States Courthouse”. ##  --Michael Crowley