Visual source: Newseum
Paul Krugman keeps proclaiming a view that, if perhaps he repeats it 1000 more times, will eventually sink in:
[T]hings didn’t have to be this bad. Greece would have been in deep trouble no matter what policy decisions were taken, and the same is true, to a lesser extent, of other nations around Europe’s periphery. But matters were made far worse than necessary by the way Europe’s leaders, and more broadly its policy elite, substituted moralizing for analysis, fantasies for the lessons of history.
Specifically, in early 2010 austerity economics — the insistence that governments should slash spending even in the face of high unemployment — became all the rage in European capitals.
Debra J. Saunders argues that city hall is helpless in the face of the activists of Occupy Oakland. That, she intimates, could lead anti-Occupy citizens to take matters into their own hands.
Ronald E. Neumann, U.S. ambassador to Afghanistan 2005-2007, says there is a big misunderstanding about what the American military role in Afghanistan will be after 2014:
The White House has not decided on troop numbers after 2012, but the strategy Panetta discussed will need to keep up the force numbers well beyond mid-2013 or else risk failure. [...]
We need to define our intentions and commitments after 2014 because transition has to be toward a defined goal, not a cliff over which we tumble. Concluding the current negotiations for a strategic partnership may clarify our purpose — if the current stalemate does not lead to their breakdown.
Ron Radosh says MCNBC should never have hired Pat Buchanan in the first place but having done so in full knowledge of who he is politically had no excuse for firing him and will now likely go after Joe Scarborough and replace him with Christopher Hayes, making it an “all far-Left network — being far less in the mainstream than Fox News is on the other side of the spectrum.”
Andrew J. Bacevich describes “Round 3 of the War on Terror”:
With former Secretary of Defense Robert M. Gates gone, [Michael] Vickers is the senior remaining holdover from George W. Bush’s Pentagon. His background is nothing if not eclectic. He previously served in the Army Special Forces and as a CIA operative. In the 1980s he played a leading role in supporting the Afghan mujahedin in their war against Soviet occupiers. Subsequently, he worked in a Washington think tank and earned a doctorate in strategic studies at Johns Hopkins University.
Even during the Bush era, Vickers never subscribed to expectations that the United States could liberate or pacify the Islamic world. His preferred approach to combating terrorism is simplicity itself. “I just want to kill those guys,” he likes to say, “those guys” referring to members of Al Qaeda. Kill the people who want to kill Americans and don’t stop until they are all dead: This defines the Vickers strategy, which has now become U.S. strategy.
Ed Quillen has figured out why we have a generic Presidents Day on which only government offices, schools and the banks are closed but everything else is open.
William Bennett Turner views the Stolen Valor Act in the same light as does the Ninth Circuit of Appeals. The law, which prohibits falsely claiming to have been awarded a military medal, violates the First Amendment:
Those who lie about being awarded medals could easily be exposed if the government maintained an online database of medal awardees; the government could even shame known liars by publicizing their names.
The public humiliation that follows such exposure is punishment enough. The recognized constitutional remedy for false speech, as Justice Louis D. Brandeis famously said, is not suppression but “more speech.” The court should reject Congress’s attempt to police what we are allowed to say about ourselves. [...]
[N]ow that super PAC super spending seems legally and politically here to stay, both parties can be principled in supporting legislation designed to more easily reveal who’s behind the big bucks.
One such bill is the Disclose 2012 Act. It would require super PACs, unions, corporations or other groups to report contributions of $ 10,000 or more within 24 hours, so that voters can know in real time who is bankrolling campaigns. Leaders of these groups would have to say they “approve this message,” just like candidates in campaign commercials. And the top five financial contributors would have to be listed.
Groups would have to disclose their election expenditures to their members or shareholders in annual financial reports and post their political spending online. And paid lobbyists would need to disclose their political expenditures.
The Nation‘s editors warn against arming the Syrian rebels.