The gap between aspiration and reality could hardly be wider. Today, the United States has less equality of opportunity than almost any other advanced industrial country. Study after study has exposed the myth that America is a land of opportunity. This is especially tragic: While Americans may differ on the desirability of equality of outcomes, there is near-universal consensus that inequality of opportunity is indefensible. The Pew Research Center has found that some 90 percent of Americans believe that the government should do everything it can to ensure equality of opportunity.The New York Times looks at the effects of the sequester. And the cause.
These cuts, which will cost the economy more than one million jobs over the next two years, are the direct result of the Republican demand in 2011 to shrink the government at any cost, under threat of a default on the nation’s debt. Many Republicans say they would still prefer the sequester to replacing half the cuts with tax revenue increases. But the government spending they disdain is not an abstract concept. In a few days, the cuts will begin affecting American life and security in significant ways.Carl Hiassen thinks it's more than water that Rubio desires.
Dear Marco,Leonard Pitts weighs in on the drone controversy. Read this one to warmup for the next installment of Armando's examination of the legal issues around drone strikes.
One simple word sums up your unorthodox rebuttal to the President’s State of the Union Address: Genius.
Pausing in the midst of a speech that nobody would otherwise remember, lunging off-camera for a bottle of water and then slurping it like a demented hummingbird . . .
Time magazine was right. You are the savior of the Republican Party.
Was the whole country laughing at you? Possibly. OK, yeah. ...
In retrospect, it was the best thing that could have happened... Thanks to you, Marco, nobody’s talking about that moldy little speech. They’re talking about you jonesing for that water bottle.
To those acts of violence against clarity, we can add a new one. A Justice Department memo recently obtained by NBC News authorizes drone strikes to kill U.S. citizens who join al-Qaeda, saying this is legal when three conditions are met. The third is that the operation be conducted “consistent with applicable law of war principles.” The second is that capture is infeasible. But it is the first that puts ice down your back. It requires that “an informed, high-level official of the U.S. government has determined that the targeted individual poses an imminent threat of violent attack against the United States.”Follow me inside for more punditry.
If you don’t see why that should shiver your spine, perhaps you use a different dictionary than the government. Merriam-Webster for instance, defines “imminent” as an adjective meaning, “ready to take place; especially: hanging threateningly over one’s head.”
But in its memo, which surfaces as the Senate ponders confirming John Brennan as director of the CIA, the Justice Department says its definition of “imminent threat” doesn’t require “clear evidence that a specific attack on U.S. persons and interests will take place in the immediate future.”
In other words, “imminent” doesn’t mean “imminent.” And if U.S. intelligence — which we all know is infallible, right? — determines you to be a member of al Qaida, that determination, absent any evidence of a planned attack, gives the government the legal pretext to vaporize you. Worse, the government contends this may be done without oversight, judicial or otherwise. The president becomes, quite literally, your judge, jury and executioner.
Thomas Friedman usually gets ignored in this space because, well, he's Thomas Friedman. But this week, he manages something even George Will hasn't — a column too stupid to be ignored.
To be sure, the G.O.P.’s lurch to the far right has been more responsible for this paralysis than the Democrats, but Barack Obama is president. He wants to succeed. The country needs him to succeed. Therefore, he owes it to himself and to the country to make one more good shot at a Grand Bargain on spending, investment and tax reform...And no, I will not pay to replace the iPad you just hurled at the wall.
Ross Douthat talks ex-Benedict for breakfast... and the end of a Catholic era.
The collapse in the church’s reputation has coincided with a substantial loss of Catholic influence in American political debates. Whereas eight years ago, a Catholic view of economics and culture represented a center that both parties hoped to claim, today’s Republicans are more likely to channel Ayn Rand than Thomas Aquinas, and a strident social liberalism holds the whip hand in the Democratic Party.Douthat, of course, is convinced that social conservatism is a winning position. Which fits so well with the last election results.
Frank Bruni profiles the folks to whom Friedman wants to hand the keys.
Ted Cruz, a Republican freshman in the Senate who has been front and center in his party’s effort to squash Chuck Hagel’s nomination as secretary of defense, has a problem. He’s an ornery, swaggering piece of work. Just six weeks since his arrival on Capitol Hill, he’s already known for his naysaying, his nit-picking and his itch to upbraid lawmakers who are vastly senior to him, who have sacrificed more than he has and who deserve a measure of respect, or at least an iota of courtesy. Courtesy isn’t Cruz’s métier. Grandstanding and browbeating are.Actually, I think this is a bit off. It's not Cruz that holds the party back. It's a backwards party that would elect an belligerent asshole like Cruz.
... Cruz, 42, isn’t simply the latest overeager beaver to start gnawing his way through the halls of Congress. He’s a prime illustration of what plagues the Republican Party and holds it back.
Dana Milbank, self-confessed Republican, gives a little profile of yet another GOP all-star
Lindsey Graham is turning himself into the mad dog of Capitol Hill. ...A senator willing to act like a flipping idiot in the hopes of appeasing the crazies, isn't. Acting.
And I guaran-damn-tee you this: Graham’s antics have as much to do with events in Columbia, S.C., as with events in Washington. His sentiments are no doubt genuine, but the ferocity with which he has been attacking the Obama administration — taking a high-profile role on Benghazi, Susan Rice, Hagel and gun control — are helping him to repel a tea party primary challenge at home.
E. J. Dionne has a suggestion for restoring Catholic relevance... but Douthat's not going to like it.
It is time to elect a nun as the next pontiff.Take the count of all the planets around other stars that havr been discovered over the last decade. Now subtract one.
Now, I know this hope of mine is the longest of long shots. I have great faith in the Holy Spirit to move papal conclaves, but I would concede that I may be running ahead of the Spirit on this one. Women, after all, are not yet able to become priests, and it is unlikely that traditionalists in the church will suddenly upend the all-male, celibate priesthood, let alone name a woman as the bishop of Rome.