New York Times:
On Thursday, Mr. Obama plans to issue his promised review of the war. It must provide clarity about the way forward in both Afghanistan and Pakistan.
The president is expected to argue that, with about 140,000 American and NATO troops now on the ground, there has been progress in Afghanistan, most notably pushing back Taliban forces from around Kandahar, the Taliban’s spiritual base and the country’s second-largest city.
But the list of things still going wrong is depressingly long, starting with the incompetence and corruption of the government of President Hamid Karzai. And as The Times reported on Wednesday, two new classified intelligence reports are particularly downbeat about the ease with which Pakistani-based militants cross into Afghanistan, as well as Pakistan’s refusal to shut down the sanctuaries used by the militants for rest and resupply.
While some American military commanders disputed the reports’ overall pessimism, there have been disturbing signs on our visit this week that the Pentagon is increasingly resigned to Pakistan’s inaction.
If we keep taxes low on America's high earners, the terrorists win.
The "No Labels" group that held its inaugural meeting this week in the name of the political center fills me with passionate ambivalence. My attitude is moderately supportive and moderately critical - accented by a moderate touch of cynicism.
The few Republicans present were admirable people driven from their party by the right wing. Reps. Mike Castle of Delaware and Bob Inglis of South Carolina lost primaries this year, and Gov. Charlie Crist of Florida ran for the Senate as an independent. They were joined by New York Mayor Mike Bloomberg, the ex-semi-Republican, Calif. Lt. Gov. Abel Maldonado and former representative Tom Davis of Virginia, who declined to run for the Senate in 2008 when the GOP chose to pick its candidate through a convention destined to be dominated by ultra-conservatives.
Moderation, very much alive on the center-left and among Democrats, is so dead in the Republican Party and on the right that even a staunch conservative such as David Frum, a former George W. Bush speechwriter and No Labels co-founder, is an apostate. He was too quick to raise questions about Sarah Palin's qualifications and dares to think that Republicans need to get serious about problems such as health care.
We’ve had to adjust to so many strange developments lately. I’m sure we’ll get used to having a speaker of the House who weeps a lot.
That would be John Boehner, the new guy.
“He is known to cry,” the outgoing speaker, Nancy Pelosi, told Deborah Solomon in The Times Magazine. “He cries sometimes when we’re having a debate on bills.”
Pelosi, of course, does not cry in public. We will stop here briefly to contemplate what would happen if she, or any female lawmaker, broke into loud, nose-running sobs while discussing Iraq troop funding or giving a TV interview.
O.K., moving forward.
Timothy Egan also has a take on the next Weeper of the House:
“Making sure these kids have a shot at the American Dream like I did is very important,” he said, choking up, when asked on “60 Minutes” about his crying.
But a look at Boehner’s record during his two decades in Congress shows a man who has voted against nearly every boost for the working stiff. There’s no empathy for those with the longest shots at the American Dream in his voting pattern. Instead, we see a politician who is hard-hearted in his legislative treatment of the people now coping with the kind of economic conditions in which the Boehner family grew up.
For whatever reason, Boehner’s life story never gave him a broader governing vision for the folks he knew in his hometown of Reading, Ohio. When he turns on the waterworks while talking about them, it raises two questions:
Is Boehner crying because he escaped that fate? Or because of the person he has become — a politician whose votes show he couldn’t care less for the people he left behind?
The Los Angeles Times smacks down the myth that pot use is on the rise because some states have legalized medical marijuana:
An April report, issued to advise Congress on whether to loosen federal restrictions on medical marijuana, examined studies comparing teen pot smoking in states with and without medical marijuana laws and found no connection between such laws and drug use. "Concerns that medical cannabis laws send the wrong message to vulnerable groups such as adolescents seem to be unfounded," it stated.
Even as teen marijuana use is rising, tobacco and alcohol use is falling, according to the report, which found that 21.4% of high school seniors had smoked pot in the previous month and 19.2% had smoked tobacco — the first time since 1981 that marijuana was more popular than cigarettes. This may indicate that public health campaigns aimed at discouraging alcohol and tobacco use are working, and that similar campaigns aimed specifically at marijuana might be equally effective. There's little evidence that continued criminalization has discouraged teen drug use, but better education might.
So education may be more effective than prohibition? Who knew? But let's not let facts get in the way of the War on Drugs. After all, it's been such a success.
Dana Milbank can't decide what to think of the president's meeting on Wednesday with the "titans of American industry."
On the one hand:
It was a chance for Obama to show, in contrast to the perception that many voters had last month, that he is a big fan of the free market and private industry. And it was a chance to have a mostly friendly crowd of CEOs (there wasn't an oil man or a health-insurance boss among them) validate Obama's pro-business bona fides.
But on the other hand:
Go team! If he keeps it up, this socialist president will earn himself a tickertape parade on Wall Street.
In the Washington Post, the Governator praises a school reform program that -- shocker! -- he fought for and signed into law.
Karl Rove confuses Obama with Dubya. No, really, he does:
In his first two White House years, Mr. Obama has seemed incapable of constructing a positive narrative. Instead, he has appeared hard-wired to justify his policy choices by blaming savage evildoers for monstrous wrongs.
It's funny, 'cause that sounds an awful lot like the Bush years, when the
evildoers Axis of Evil was the reason for everything from a war in Iraq to tax cuts for the rich to privatizing Social Security. But you know the rule: IOKIYAR.