Visual Source: Newseum
It would be hugely costly — for this country’s credibility, for the future of NATO and for the people of Libya — if Congress were to force President Obama to abandon military operations over Libya. However, Mr. Obama cannot evade his responsibility, under the War Powers Act, to seek Congressional approval to continue the operation.
Former president Jimmy Carter:
IN an extraordinary new initiative announced earlier this month, the Global Commission on Drug Policy has made some courageous and profoundly important recommendations in a report on how to bring more effective control over the illicit drug trade. The commission includes the former presidents or prime ministers of five countries, a former secretary general of the United Nations, human rights leaders, and business and government leaders, including Richard Branson, George P. Shultz and Paul A. Volcker.
The report describes the total failure of the present global antidrug effort, and in particular America’s “war on drugs,” which was declared 40 years ago today. It notes that the global consumption of opiates has increased 34.5 percent, cocaine 27 percent and cannabis 8.5 percent from 1998 to 2008. Its primary recommendations are to substitute treatment for imprisonment for people who use drugs but do no harm to others, and to concentrate more coordinated international effort on combating violent criminal organizations rather than nonviolent, low-level offenders.
These recommendations are compatible with United States drug policy from three decades ago. In a message to Congress in 1977, I said the country should decriminalize the possession of less than an ounce of marijuana, with a full program of treatment for addicts. I also cautioned against filling our prisons with young people who were no threat to society, and summarized by saying: “Penalties against possession of a drug should not be more damaging to an individual than the use of the drug itself.”
Like Arizona's SB 1070, Alabama's cruel new law will almost certainly face legal challenges because it encroaches on the federal government's lone authority to regulate immigration. And it will certainly invite scrutiny from the Department of Justice, which last month warned public school districts that it won't tolerate any attempt to get around Plyler vs. Doe, the 1982 Supreme Court decision that made it illegal for states to deny any child a public education regardless of his or her immigration status.
The law seems particularly bizarre because illegal immigrants are estimated to account for just over 2% of the population in Alabama. But that should serve as a warning to Washington that the issue of immigration is now a nationwide concern, no longer limited to the West and Southwest. President Obama and Congress have failed to tackle comprehensive immigration reform, a difficult issue that continues to divide voters. But ignoring it won't make the problem disappear. Instead, it will continue to push more states to pass draconian measures that put children in the crossfire of a political battle. And that is unacceptable.
Reed Hunt and Thomas Mann:
Not surprisingly, neither Congress nor state governments believe they can afford to spend money on infrastructure. The parties are sharply divided on the efficacy of any new public spending, but even Democrats are wary of proposing investments in the face of the nation’s huge deficits and increasing debt. Moreover, since such infrastructure projects typically provide such small returns on capital, they are not suited to most private-sector investors.
Meanwhile, American businesses have more than a trillion dollars sitting in bank accounts in other countries. They do not want to transfer the money back to the United States because the second the cash hits our shores, the Internal Revenue Service will tax the gains — as much as 35 percent of profits.
Just to avoid the IRS, some CEOs are willing to spend their overseas profits on buying overseas companies or making overseas investments at prices that are too high. [...]
But putting these problems together could produce a common solution.
Why doesn’t Congress let firms bring back their overseas profits without taxation — if, and only if, they put the money into an infrastructure bank for a certain period? This bank would then issue low-interest, long-term loans for projects that in flusher times would be funded by municipalities or utilities. [...]
Private-sector infrastructure initiatives across the range of transportation, communication and energy needs (examples include high-speed rail in the Northeast Corridor, energy-sector generation and building efficiency), some operating under public-private partnerships, could be launched expeditiously to generate jobs and investments critical to our economic recovery and long-term growth.
In private, Romney’s aides say he is a very funny guy, who loves to tell jokes. In public, Romney tends to be a very hokey guy, who loves telling jokes. Dana Milbank, the Washington press corps’ resident funny man, recently wrote an entire story about Romney telling jokes in New Hampshire. He called the story, “A day of awkwardness with Mitt Romney.”
Among the zingers:
1. “I saw the young man over there with eggs Benedict, with hollandaise sauce. And I was going to suggest to you that you serve your eggs with hollandaise sauce in hubcaps. Because there’s no plates like chrome for the hollandaise.”
2. “Oh, this is the Hooters equivalent.” (When he noticed no guy waitresses at a diner.)
3. “Okay, so what do you do about mosquito control? . . . This has been a mosquito-infested year with all the moisture. They flew away with my dog.”
He also pretended to have his butt pinched by someone who was taking a picture with him. Then he said, “Oh my goodness gracious!. . . . Ha, ha, ha, ha, ha.”
These sort of jokes are cute, in their way, the sort of earnest, simple, joyful humor that you would expect from Ward Cleaver. But the modern media culture is far more Richard Pryor than Henny Youngman, more Stephen Colbert than Bob Hope. Sometimes the discordance between Romney’s good-natured, earnest delivery and his environment is so striking that one can’t help but cringe.