Blog No 69. Surprise: Republicans May Know How to Govern After All

It is still early days, but there are some encouraging signs that Republican leaders in the Senate and House have found the ability to get things done—actually legislate—despite Democratic opposition and the Oozlums of the right gnawing at their ankles.

The first major milestone came two months ago when Republicans abandoned the quixotic attempt to block the President’s executive actions with respect to immigration. While we had disapproved of those actions, the response of holding up funding for Homeland Security seemed to us to make as much sense as treating a toothache by hitting yourself on the head with a hammer. […]

Blog No. 5 Whither the War on Terror? Part III: Disclosures of NSA Surveillance—The Elephant in the Room

edward-snowden-is-both-a-patriot-and-a-traitorOn June 5, a British newspaper, The Guardian, reported the existence of a  National Security Agency program active in collecting data on telephone calls made within the United States. The report was based on documents and information provided by one Edward Snowden who also furnished information and documents for a story in The Washington Post the following day on a second NSA program, PRISM, that intercepts communications of overseas internet users. The stories created sufficient uproar that on June 7, that President Obama felt obliged to address the matter while attending a healthcare conference in California. […]

Blog No. 5 Whither the War on Terror? Part II. Of Drones and Guantanamo

Drone Strikes. President Obama’s May 23 speech announced new criteria for drone strikes. Although the previous criteria had not been disclosed, he made it clear that the new criteria were significantly narrower. According to the President, a targeted terrorist must now pose “a continuing and imminent threat to the American people,” and “before any strike is taken, there must be near-certainty that no civilians will be killed or injured.” Taken literally and applied conscientiously, those are narrow criteria indeed. But as The New York Times reported, “Even as [Obama] set new standards, a debate broke out about what they actually meant and what would actually change.” […]

Blog No. 5 Whither the War on Terror? Part I: The President’s Vision

On May 23, President Obama gave a major speech on what has commonly been referred to as the War on Terror. The New York Times hailed it as “the most important statement on counterterrorism policy since the 2001 attacks, a momentous turning point in post-9/11 America.”  The Wall Street Journal took a symmetrically negative view, but described it as “one of the more memorable speeches of [the Obama] Presidency… or for that matter any recent President.”  Yet only a few weeks later, the speech has been swept from not only the front pages, but the editorial and op-ed pages and, no doubt, from most of the public consciousness. […]