president

Before Sunrise

When President Obama arrives in Tokyo on Friday, he will confront a country that seeks to be an ally of the United States. For Japan has never been an American ally. It was first a rival, then an enemy, and finally, after it lost the war it foolishly started with the U.S., it became a protectorate, not an ally.   The distinction matters. An alliance is an institution negotiated between two sovereign governments in which each agrees to a series of reciprocal obligations that have the force of law.

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So again, yesterday, in an otherwise poignant and truthful memorial talk at Fort Hood, the president assured us that religion does not kill. It killed in ancient Judaism: remember Amalek. It killed through virtually the entire history of Christianity. Hindu fanatics kill in India. Alas, Muslim faith kills every day in half the globe. It kills in zeroes, many zeroes. Look at your daily newspaper. Read your habitual web-site. Watch blood-thirsty Muslim television from centers of the faith. There are grave splits in Islam, and no one knows which of the many sides will come out on top.

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The NYT reports that Hillary Clinton, Robert Gates, and Mike Mullen are supporting a big troop increase for Afghanistan. This actually isn't terribly newsy: We've had a pretty good idea while that those three have been leaning towards a McChrystal-ian position. The Times describes Obama as undecided. But the tenor of recent leaks on this subject clearly suggests that the president himself is closing in on this position.

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There seems to be an undercurrent of surprise that Howard Wolfson is now advising Ned Lamont in his Connecticut gubernatorial campaign, but it's worth remembering that this isn't the first time these two have teamed up. Come back with me to the crazy days of August 2006, when establishment Democrats, having tried (and failed) to defeat Lamont in his race against Joe Lieberman in the Democratic primary, were now rushing to Lamont's side--especially those Dems who were about to run for president.

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Board to Death

To the frustration of many a cabinet secretary, the Obama administration is a little behind on its appointments. At this point—with only five weeks to go before the Senate breaks for recess—a little over half of the 514 positions that need filling have been filled. Some jobs are really important: The nominee for the Office of Legal Counsel has been held up for months. Obama’s choice for a USAID director came down just today. U.S. attorney nominations have slowed to a crawl. Other jobs?

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On the heels of President Obama's speech last week touting the need for radical improvements in U.S. schools, the Center for American Progress (CAP) released "Leaders and Laggards," a state-by-state report on education innovation. CAP assesses states and the District of Columbia in seven key areas, including school management, teacher hiring and evaluation practices, the ability to fire ineffective teachers, and access to technology.

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Alan Wolfe is a TNR contributing editor and director of the Boisi Center for Religion and American Public Life at Boston College. Just before the House of Representatives voted on the Stupak Amendment, designed to stop any public funding of insurance plans that cover abortion, the U. S. Conference on Catholic Bishops (USCCB) weighed in with its endorsement.

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I had a friend visiting me this weekend who had fervently backed Barack Obama for President (against the “devil-woman” Hillary), but who now thinks Obama has betrayed his followers – most recently by agreeing to disastrous compromises in the health insurance bill.

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I don't wish to join Isaac in piling on Matthew Continetti's love letter to Sarah Palin in the Weekly Standard. Wait. Let me re-phrase that. I do wish to join Isaac in piling on Matthew Continetti's love letter to Sarah Palin in the Weekly Standard. I know I shouldn't but I can't resist. Here's a passage that gives you an inkling of the method Continetti used to compile his argument: Whenever the arbiters of educated opinion witness the emergence of a populist leader, they spew insults.

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... or not. In the Ben Smith piece Mike cited earlier, Huckabee has some choice words for Pat Toomey: Huckabee met in the spring with Pat Toomey, then the president of the Wall Street-backed Club for Growth, which had attacked him during the 2008 campaign for raising taxes in Arkansas. “It wasn’t very productive,” he said of the meeting. “I realized then that these guys are just what I thought they were — they’re pay for play, and they do it anonymously on behalf of people who don’t want to be known as the funders of these hit operations.

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