The New York Times Editorial Board calls for more action to Close Guantánamo Prison:
Thanks to outrageous limits Congress placed on the transfer of Guantánamo prisoners beginning in 2010, the prisoners are still being held, with no end to their incarceration in sight. In September, a member of this stranded group, a Yemeni citizen named Adnan Farhan Abdul Latif, killed himself after a federal judge’s ruling ordering his release was unfairly overturned by an appellate court. It was the kind of price a nation pays when it creates prisons like Guantánamo, beyond the reach of law and decency, a tragic reminder of the stain on American justice. [...]Paul Krugman at The New York Times is so good at needling, as he proves once again in Fighting Fiscal Phantoms:
If Mr. Obama is serious about fulfilling his pledge — and we trust he is — he needs to become more engaged this time around and be willing to spend political capital.
These are difficult times for the deficit scolds who have dominated policy discussion for almost three years. One could almost feel sorry for them, if it weren’t for their role in diverting attention from the ongoing problem of inadequate recovery, and thereby helping to perpetuate catastrophically high unemployment.Robert Kuttner at the Huffington Post writes The Fiscal Myth:
What has changed? For one thing, the crisis they predicted keeps not happening.
Neither party wants significant budget cuts in the next year or two, when the recovery is too fragile to stand even a smaller fiscal contraction. So the Republicans, Obama and the Democratic budget hawks like Erskine Bowles and retiring Budget Committee chairman Senator Kent Conrad all want to "back-load" the spending cuts—have them bite late in this decade.Marc Thiessen at the Washington Post suggests that Democrats face a lot of problems if all the tax cuts expire in Let’s go over the fiscal cliff:
It just happens that Social Security and Medicare cuts fill that bill perfectly. Cut social insurance several years from now, and you delay the political outcry until Obama has left office. You also delay the fiscal impact, and you leave room for a bit of other government spending.
But cutting Social Security and Medicare for the sake of an arbitrary and needless budgetary reduction of $4 trillion and as a "solution" to an entirely contrived fiscal crisis is bad policy. It is bad economic policy and worse social policy
Today, the only ones in Washington who advocate fiscal cliff-diving are liberal Democrats. It’s time for conservatives to join them. Letting the Bush tax cuts expire will strengthen the GOP’s hand in tax negotiations next year, and it may be the only way Republicans can force President Obama and Senate Democrats to agree to fundamental tax reform.John Vidal at The Guardian writes in Time is running out: the Doha climate talks must put an end to excuses:
So what is the point of the massive UN climate talks which start on today in Doha, one of the most energy-profligate cities on Earth? Negotiators from 194 countries are meeting in an atmosphere of mutual mistrust. They are divided and frustrated, and know their political masters mostly seek only painfully slow progress. We already know rich countries will refuse to commit to any further cuts in emissions or to provide more money, just as we know the poor will try to cling to the few global climate agreements reached between nations years ago. There will be fights, tantrums, and righteous anger from the non-government observers and world media.Bill Fletcher, Jr. at In These Times writes in Jobs, Justice and the Planet:
In 2008, liberals, progressives and many leftists made a strategic mistake. With the election of Barack Obama, we assumed that we could passively await change. We should have known better, given the experience of eight years of the Clinton administration. Rather than moving quickly to push the new Obama administration in a progressive direction, by the spring of 2009, the Left had ceded initiative on both domestic and foreign policy to the Right. With the 2012 election behind us, progressive forces should act quickly so as not to repeat our costly mistake of the first term.Jackson Diehl at the Washington Post on the Lessons from Gaza:
As a simple, pragmatic matter, “smashing” or “uprooting” Hamas is no longer an option. Not only does Hamas have the support of the region’s richest and most powerful governments, but it is preferable to the most obvious Gazan alternative, which is jihadist movements even more closely tied to Iran.Chemi Shalev at Haaretz writes in Gaza requiem: Six remarks on image, perceptions, and four dead Palestinian children:
Israel was not alone, the world was not against us, the media was far from hostile, President Obama was a friend indeed and if anyone had a right to feel isolated, misunderstood and much-maligned in recent days, rightly or wrongly, it was the Palestinians, not us. In the entire US Congress, among 100 senators and 435 representatives, the harshest “anti-Israel” statement, if it can be described as such, was put out by the Muslim congressman from Minnesota Keith Ellison, who bravely called on both sides to “show restraint”.Robert L. Ehrlich Jr. at The Baltimore Sun writes in How Republicans win in 2016 that the GOP must contend with leftist journalists who engage in a double standard when they go after a Richard Mourdock or a Todd Akin but don't attack something a Van Jones or a Debbie Wasserman Schultz. Even with that obstacle, he says:
[W]e should not attempt to emulate liberal Democrats on their core issues. A "Democrat-lite" approach is simply a nonstarter, despite the apparent dawning of a new progressive era in the U.S. Believe me, this too shall pass. Accordingly, any recipe for wholesale redrawing of the party platform should be resisted. In the immortal words of Malcolm X, "A man who stands for nothing will fall for anything."Republicans quoting Malcolm X approvingly. Will wonders never cease?
Andrew Bacevich at the New York Daily News says the Broadwell affair is not the real failure in Where Petraeus let us down. The general, he writes, redefined victory so that it doesn't require winning, and for this he's gets accolades:
The problem isn’t the troops themselves—they’ve demonstrated remarkable resilience and staying power. The problem lies with leadership. Petraeus may well be the finest general of his generation. But, alas, that’s just not saying much.The Los Angeles Times Editorial Board joins the growing chorus saying Senate filibuster in need of reform:
Worse, the cult of generalship spawned by the myth of Petraeus-as-Patton-reborn promoted notions that when it comes to war, civilians should butt out and leave things to the pros. Elected and appointed officials, think-tank analysts and opinion makers used this as an excuse to stop thinking critically about war and simply repeat conventional wisdom.
One response would be to eliminate the filibuster altogether. As a Senate rule, it can be changed by the majority party, and Democrats could eliminate it (though, of course, Republicans would almost certainly filibuster such a move). That, however, would also do away with the filibuster's legitimate and historic place. Rather than eliminating the rule, the better approach would be to amend it in such a way as to preserve the ability for minorities to fight against one-party steamrolling while scaling back the filibuster's capacity for obstructing everything.