Paul Krugman at The New York Times says Japan's new approach for emerging from stagnant growth may provide an example for the United States in Japan Steps Out:
And there’s another lesson in Japan’s experience: While getting out of a prolonged slump turns out to be very difficult, that’s mainly because it’s hard getting policy makers to accept the need for bold action. That is, the problem is mainly political and intellectual, rather than strictly economic. For the risks of action are much smaller than the Very Serious People want you to believe.E. J. Dionne Jr. writes at the Washington Post that America is not in decline or retreat:
Consider, in particular, the alleged dangers of debt and deficits. Here in America, we are constantly warned that we must slash spending now now now or we’ll turn into Greece, Greece I tell you. But Greece, a country without a currency, doesn’t look much like the United States; surely Japan offers a more relevant model. And while doomsayers keep predicting a fiscal crisis in Japan, hyping each uptick in interest rates as a sign of the imminent apocalypse, it keeps not happening: Japan’s government can still borrow long term at a rate of less than 1 percent.
Like many Democrats, he saw the war in Afghanistan as justified by the events of Sept. 11, 2001, in a way Iraq was not. But time and conditions on the ground have convinced him that there are limits to what the United States can accomplish there. He’s trying to extract our troops in a careful but expeditious way. He has been reluctant to commit to large-scale public action in Syria on the grounds of prudence: The calculus of costs and benefits is not at all clear to him or to his advisers.John McWhorter at the New York Daily News says we should Call it gun murder, not ‘gun violence’ :
In the meantime, he is reorienting our foreign policy toward a surging Asia and concentrating on rebuilding the American economy. (We also should be paying more attention to Latin America, but that’s another story.) The appointments of Hagel and of John Kerry as secretary of state could have the additional benefit of strengthening our ties to Europe. The personal histories of both, as Financial Times columnist Philip Stevens observed last week, show they have “Atlanticism in their blood.”
None of this is about retreat, decline or isolationism. It’s an approach rooted in realism about the true sources of American power and the urgency of getting our domestic and economic act together.
“Gun violence,” the current term of art, sounds euphemistic and even bureaucratic, like one more thing sitting in the in-box as always. Those are hardly the associations we need when addressing in a real way, at last, the epidemic of senseless mass murders in this nation.Harry J Enten, who blogs about political and electoral statistics at Margin of Error, writes at the Guardian in How far can President Obama go with an executive order on gun control?
The common view is that any legislation that is at all controversial would have a difficult time getting passed by the Republican-controlled House of Representatives. Now, Biden has raised the possibility of getting gun control measures by executive order.Carl Hiassen at the Miami Herald laments in :
My advice for the president as someone who reads polls: go for it, if it's what you want to do. There is much discussion that acting by executive order would be seen as a "totalitarian" action and provoke a backlash. Nonsense, so long as the order is supporting a measure the public favors.
It’s only fitting that the NRA’s biggest tool in Florida is a funeral director.Frank J. Fleming at The Patriot Post writes Pretend Gun Control:
He is Rep. Dennis Baxley, an Ocala Republican who does whatever the gun lobby wants.
Three days after the slaughter of first-graders in Newtown, Conn., Baxley made national headlines by suggesting that weapons should be carried by employees at public schools.
The main fallacy of gun control theory is in not realizing that criminals, by definition, don't follow laws -- they're wily that way. Yet most gun control laws are aimed at this mythical criminal who thinks nothing of murdering people but would never dream of jaywalking. Still, people insist that we have to do something about criminals' easy access to guns, but in a country where we have over 300 million civilian-owned firearms, that's a bit like saying the American settlers shouldn't have taken this land from the Indians -- you might have a point, but that ship sailed long ago.The Editorial Board of The Independent states in The unaffordable cost of climate change delay:
If there were any remaining doubts as to the need for concerted and swift action, however, the latest draft US National Climate Assessment, published on Friday, puts paid to them. The Washington-commissioned analysis makes clear that America is already feeling the impact of global warm- ing; infrastructure, water supplies, crops and coastal geographies are being noticeably affected, it says, while heatwaves, downpours, floods and droughts are all both more common and more extreme. The 240-strong panel of experts also explicitly state, contrary to Republican lore, that rising temperatures are "due primarily to human activities." [...]Tom Engelhardt at the Los Angeles Times opines in The CIA's greatest hits that there are movies galore to be made from the agency's decades of tortures and coups.
As economic malaise leaves the case for environmental policies harder to make, and international efforts lose their gloss, climate change is slipping off the agenda. We cannot afford for it to do so. As the US report says: "Climate change, once considered an issue for a distant future, has moved firmly into the present." There is, then, no more time to waste.
Doyle McManus at the Los Angeles Times writes in The White House may use Chuck Hagel's confirmation hearing to emphasize a tougher stance toward Tehran:
In a 2008 book, Hagel suggested that the United States might be able to live with a nuclear-armed Iran, just as it learned to live with a nuclear-armed Soviet Union. [...]Rick Perlstein at The Nation writes Remembering Aaron Swartz:
But that was the old Hagel, before he was nominated for secretary of Defense. Last week, as he prepared for his confirmation hearings, Hagel took pains to reassure senators that he is falling fully in line with Obama's tougher position on Iran.
"He strongly supports the president's position on Iran," one official told me after speaking with Hagel at the Pentagon. "He agrees that military action should be on the table."
In a conversation with Dennis Ross, Obama's former advisor on Iran, Hagel went a step further into the hawkish camp.
"He was very clear that he believes we can't live with an Iran that has nuclear-weapons capability," Ross told me.
I had other plans for how to spend my Saturday. I had other plans for my next blog post here at The Nation. Then I learned my friend Aaron Swartz had committed suicide, facing a baseless, bullying federal indictment that might have sent him to jail for decades, and fate demanded this be a day to remember. [...]David Sirota writes at In These Times in Four in five Americans believe in global warming–but nearly half of local weather reporters don’t:
I remember always thinking that he always seemed too sensitive for this world we happen to live in, and I remember him working so mightily, so heroically, to try to bend the world into a place more hospitable to people like him, which also means hospitable to people like us. I like what the blogger Lambert Strether wrote on my Facebook page (in Aaron’s memory, friend me!): “Our society should be selecting for the Aaron Swartz’s of this world. Instead, generous and ethical behavior, especially when combined with technical brilliance, turns out to be maladaptive, indeed lethal. If Swartz had been Wall Street’s youngest investment banker, he would be alive today.”
[A] recent Rolling Stone magazine assessment of the local news scene found that “there's a shockingly high chance that your friendly TV weatherman is a full-blown climate denier.” The report cited a 2010 survey finding that in the vast wasteland of Ron Burgundys, only half of all local weather forecasters believe climate change is even happening, and fewer than a third acknowledge the scientific evidence proving that it is “caused mostly by human activities.” Not surprisingly, their forecasts often omit any discussion of climate change's effect on the weather systems, thus forfeiting a chance to properly contextualize severe weather events.