January 12, 2011
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If Putin is laughing, it’s at the windbags who want Obama to replace serious policy with empty threats.
But while Congress inches forward, probably toward some kind of extension, lives are falling apart. All day, every day, Democrats ought to be making a loud and righteous noise over this disgraceful state of affairs.
If Christie is truly in the mood for soul-searching, asking how his aides could tell him such lies should be secondary. The more urgent question is what Christie might have said or done to make these loyal lieutenants conclude it would be appropriate — and a lot of fun — to torment the people of Fort Lee because of the mayor’s refusal to pledge fealty.
Any existential threat to the Affordable Care Act ended with the popping of champagne corks as the new year arrived. That was when an estimated 6 million uninsured Americans received coverage through expanded Medicaid eligibility or the federal and state health insurance exchanges. Obamacare is now a fait accompli; nobody is going to take this coverage away.
I can’t think of any individual who had more influence in 2013. Edward Snowden is person of the year.
If the Republican Party really intends to get back in the game, voters will be presented with two competing visions of how to move the nation forward — instead of one vision and one cartoon. If the progressive vision is to prevail, it needs to be fresh, vivid and clearly relevant to the moment. Same-old, same-old used to be good enough. It’s not anymore.
In Afghanistan, it is hard to attempt a count because there is an actual war going on, with no agreement on who qualifies as a civilian. The Los Angeles Times wrote recently about a Sept. 7 drone strike in Kunar Province. U.S. officials told the paper that 11 people died, most of them Taliban fighters; grieving local residents, however, insisted that 14 civilians had been killed. When does a village cease being a village and become a “Taliban stronghold”? When we say so, apparently.
This is not to say that the Obama administration hasn’t made mistakes. But by historical standards, the United States is doing well domestically and internationally. And by any objective measure, the trend lines are positive, not negative.
To me, all this is consistent with the NSA’s apparent goal of knowing, basically, everything. The agency collects information as massively and indiscriminately as possible on the theory that if you assemble a database of all the world’s communications, the few you seek — those involving terrorists — will be in there somewhere.
Another target for economic growth is the energy sector. Because of the natural gas boom, the United States may soon be the largest producer of hydrocarbons in the world. Intelligent rulemaking can ensure that as the industry expands, parallel industries dedicated to safety, cleanup and alternative fuels grow with it.
Medicare guaranteed health care for the elderly, Medicaid for the poor. Obamacare begins to fill the remaining gaps. It will get better over time, but already — crashing websites and all — it’s a beautiful thing.
Sea levels will continue to rise because of warming — water expands as it heats — and because of glacial melting. This has implications for coastal populations not just in places such as Calcutta or Dhaka but also in rich and powerful cities such as New York: Witness the massive flooding and storm-surge damage caused by Superstorm Sandy.
I don’t mean to suggest that Obama would hesitate to order an attack on Iran, if all else failed, because preventing the mullahs from obtaining the bomb is one of his “core interests.” But the overwhelming public rejection of military action in Syria has to be seen as an instruction to explore every avenue of negotiation before resorting to force.
Republicans in the House are like a bunch of 3-year-olds playing with matches. Their hapless leaders don’t have the sense to scold them and send them to their rooms — which means President Obama has to be the disciplinarian in this dysfunctional family.
Are we really going to do this? Are we going to wade into a struggle we don’t really want to fight? Are we going to mire ourselves in a senseless, grinding conflict whose possible outcomes range from bad to worse?
Ending the presumption that African-American and Hispanic men are beyond redemption would be a powerful legacy for the first black president and the first black attorney general to leave behind.
U.S. officials can no longer harbor illusions about the nature of the Egyptian coup or the prospects for genuine democracy. President Obama should speak the truth and cut off military aid.
Al-Qaeda turns out to be like a pool of mercury. Hit it with a hammer and you end up with ten little blobs instead of one big one.