Does Obama Have This Right? – The New York Times

Initially, I thought Obama made the right call on Syria. But today the millions of refugees driven out of Syria — plus the economic migrants now flooding out of Africa through Libya after the utterly botched Obama-NATO operation there — is destabilizing the European Union.

Thomas Friedman, Does Obama Have This Right? – The New York Times

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How Bigelow Brought Back Bush | The American Conservative

The sad truth is that Zero Dark Thirty could not have been produced in its present form if any of the officials who created and implemented U.S. torture policy had been held accountable for what happened, or any genuine sunshine had been thrown upon it. With scant public debate and no public record of accountability, Bigelow feels free to leave out even a scintilla of criticism of that torture program. Her film is thus one more example of the fact that without accountability, the pernicious narrative continues, possibly gaining traction as it does.

via How Bigelow Brought Back Bush | The American Conservative.

The Paradox That Prevents Courts From Enforcing the Constitution – Conor Friedersdorf – The Atlantic

The New York Times argued that the Obama Administration should be forced to release the legal justification it relies on when it engages in secret, extrajudicial killings. To be clear, the legal fight isn’t about whether Obama can kill American citizens in secret without presenting any charges or evidence of guilt or conducting a trial. At issue is whether Americans are entitled to know what he regards as the legal justification for that power.

So far, President Obama has refused to release that legal reasoning, as prepared by the Office of Legal Counsel. He is effectively denying us the ability to know what laws we live under, and stifling an informed debate about whether the powers he is exercising are in fact proper.

via The Paradox That Prevents Courts From Enforcing the Constitution – Conor Friedersdorf – The Atlantic.

If we wouldn’t be willing to expose our troops to those risks, then maybe the mission isn’t so compelling that it justifies exposing civilians to them either. That’s the conclusion that Kurt Volker, the head of the McCain Institute for International Leadership and a former ambassador, has reached. He writes that “a good rule of thumb might be that we should authorize drone strikes only if we would be willing to send in a pilot or soldier to do the job if a drone were not available.

Why Drones Stayed Out of Sight in the 2012 Campaign – Bloomberg

If we wouldn’t be willing to expose our troops to those risks, then maybe the mission isn’t so compelling that it justifies exposing civilians to them either. That’s the conclusion that Kurt Volker, the head of the McCain Institute for International Leadership and a former ambassador, has reached. He writes that “a good rule of thumb might be that we should authorize drone strikes only if we would be willing to send in a pilot or soldier to do the job if a drone were not available.

Why Drones Stayed Out of Sight in the 2012 Campaign – Bloomberg

Economically speaking, both major-party candidates are prisoners of outmoded ideologies. Obama, a Keynesian without gusto, has been remarkably short on proposals for reviving the economy: he offers just more of the same. Romney pins his hopes to “growth” stimulated by low taxes and lower interest rates, a recipe that notably failed to cook up a solution to the impending crisis during the Bush years. Where the economy is concerned, Obama has had basically nothing to say, and nothing Romney says can be trusted.

Daniel McCarthy, How Does a Traditionalist Vote? | The American Conservative

Economically speaking, both major-party candidates are prisoners of outmoded ideologies. Obama, a Keynesian without gusto, has been remarkably short on proposals for reviving the economy: he offers just more of the same. Romney pins his hopes to “growth” stimulated by low taxes and lower interest rates, a recipe that notably failed to cook up a solution to the impending crisis during the Bush years. Where the economy is concerned, Obama has had basically nothing to say, and nothing Romney says can be trusted.

Daniel McCarthy, How Does a Traditionalist Vote? | The American Conservative

The most important thing I learned from Kesler’s book is just how large a stake conservatives have in convincing themselves and voters that Reagan failed. Think about it: if they conceded ideological victory they would have to confront the more prosaic reasons that entitlements, deficits and regulations continue to grow in Republican and Democratic administrations alike. They would be forced to devise a new, forward-looking agenda to benefit even their own constituencies, like ensuring that American business can draw on an educated, healthy work force; can rely on modern public infrastructure; and can count on stable, transparent financial markets. And they would have to articulate a conservative vision for those welfare state programs that are likely to remain with us, like disability insurance, food stamps and Head Start.

Mark Lilla, The Great Disconnect – NYTimes.com

The most important thing I learned from Kesler’s book is just how large a stake conservatives have in convincing themselves and voters that Reagan failed. Think about it: if they conceded ideological victory they would have to confront the more prosaic reasons that entitlements, deficits and regulations continue to grow in Republican and Democratic administrations alike. They would be forced to devise a new, forward-looking agenda to benefit even their own constituencies, like ensuring that American business can draw on an educated, healthy work force; can rely on modern public infrastructure; and can count on stable, transparent financial markets. And they would have to articulate a conservative vision for those welfare state programs that are likely to remain with us, like disability insurance, food stamps and Head Start.

Mark Lilla, The Great Disconnect – NYTimes.com

Indeed, Obama has shrewdly—some might say cynically—positioned himself to the right on foreign policy, thereby insulating himself from the “weak on defense” canard that has plagued his party going back to the days of George McGovern. He doubled down on Afghanistan, at the expense of more than a thousand dead American soldiers and marines, at a point when it was obvious the war was unwinnable on the timetable he set. He ignored the hectoring over damaged relations with Pakistan that would result from the bin Laden raid, betting that success would ensure his re-election. And his use of drone strikes makes George W. Bush look like a cautious man.

America’s Scandalous Drone War Goes Unmentioned In The Campaign – The New Republic