Daniel Byman is opposed to drawing public lines of any color.

Last week, the American intelligence community assessed “with varying degrees of confidence” that the Syrians had used the chemical agent sarin in their attacks on the opposition.

The administration’s ultimatum now seems like cheap talk, and it illustrates the risks of carelessly drawing red lines and issuing highly public threats that won’t be enforced.

So far, at least, the Obama administration has put off both consequences and accountability and simply pushed for further investigation. Meanwhile, Mr. Assad has not blinked, and the president’s political opponents, like Representative Mike Rogers, Republican of Michigan, argue that Iran and North Korea will draw the wrong lessons if the president lets Mr. Assad call his bluff.

Of course, the president's political opponents would be claiming Obama was sending weak signals even if he was in Syria, personally whacking Assad with Teddy Roosevelt's big stick.

Come on, lets see what the rest of them have to say.

David Leonhardt looks at the idle (not by choice) young.

For all of Europe’s troubles — a left-right combination of sclerotic labor markets and austerity — the United States has quietly surpassed much of Europe in the percentage of young adults without jobs. It’s not just Europe, either. Over the last 12 years, the United States has gone from having the highest share of employed 25- to 34-year-olds among large, wealthy economies to having among the lowest.

The grim shift — “a historic turnaround,” says Robert A. Moffitt, a Johns Hopkins University economist — stems from two underappreciated aspects of our long economic slump. First, it has exacted the harshest toll on the young — even harsher than on people in their 50s and 60s, who have also suffered. And while the American economy has come back more robustly than some of its global rivals in terms of overall production, the recovery has been strangely light on new jobs, even after Friday’s better-than-expected unemployment report. American companies are doing more with less.

The New York Times editorial board reminds us again that austerity doesn't work.
Economic conditions in Europe, especially in troubled nations like Spain, Portugal and Italy, have deteriorated sharply in recent months. Worse, new data released last week provides no hope for a recovery soon. The unemployment rate in the 17 countries that use the euro hit a record of 12.1 percent in March, up from 11 percent a year earlier. In Spain and Greece, more than half of the labor force under 25 is looking for work.

The good news, if it can be called that, is that a barrage of negative economic data appears to have stirred European leaders and senior officials at the International Monetary Fund into finally acknowledging that the Continent’s austerity policies are imposing unnecessary pain and suffering on average Europeans while doing little to lower debts and deficits.

Of course, that argument wouldn't work in the US, where the GOP looks on causing misery as a goal.

Dana Milbank accuses the president of hiding behind sports metaphors.  Which seems like something you complain about when you really have nothing to complain about.

Karen J. Greenberg looks at Guantanamo mythology.

Guantanamo Bay is in limbo. It’s neither closed nor fully open. The prison hasn’t accepted any new detainees since authorities brought Muhammad Rahim al Afghani there in March 2008 — several months after President George W. Bush announced his desire to close the camp. No one has been added since Obama took office. Instead, in recent months, non-U.S. citizens accused of international terrorism and apprehended abroad have been brought into federal custody; 12 are held in Manhattan and Brooklyn, awaiting trial or recently convicted.
The Miami Herald on the kind of state-level GOP Medicaid policy that is screwing citizens in way too many states with righter-than-thou politics.
Surely the people of Florida had a right to expect that during the 60 days of the annual legislative session lawmakers would find a way to accept the federal government’s offer of $51 billion over the next decade to expand Medicaid.

And yet House Republicans, led by Speaker Will Weatherford, R-Wesley Chapel, failed to reach a workable compromise with their counterparts in the Republican-led Senate, effectively killing any deal for now and leaving Florida’s uninsured in jeopardy.

Carl Hiaasen looks at the obsession over terrorist classification.
Authorities say that the two brothers who allegedly bombed the Boston Marathon were probably “self-radicalized.”

The media has embraced this catchy term, partly because of the assurance it seems to offer: Don’t worry, folks — Tamarlan and Dzhokhar Tsarnaev weren’t recruited and deployed by al Qaeda or any other terrorist group; they hatched their own plot with no tactical help from abroad.

That might well be true, but little comfort can be taken from it.

Some of the most notorious acts of political violence in our history were carried out by pissed-off loners or impromptu zealots who belonged to no organized cabal.

Doyle McManus is also casting his gaze south to Guantanamo.

President Obama sounded genuinely outraged last week when he talked about the Kafkaesque situation at the Guantanamo prison camp, where the United States has been holding 166 men without trial for terms that are, at this point, officially endless.

"It's not sustainable," the president thundered. "I mean, the notion that we're going to continue to keep over 100 individuals in a no man's land in perpetuity?"

But at least some of Obama's anger should be directed at himself, because his own silence and passivity on Guantanamo are part of the problem.

Psychological Science looks at the relationship between extreme positions and ignorance.
People often hold extreme political attitudes about complex policies. We hypothesized that people typically know less about such policies than they think they do (the illusion of explanatory depth) and that polarized attitudes are enabled by simplistic causal models.
What did it take to get them to moderate? Ask them to explain the policy they don't really understand.

Originally posted to Devil's Tower on Sun May 05, 2013 at 04:41 AM PDT.

Also republished by Daily Kos.

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