Archives



North Korea and the U.S. Priorities

April 15, 2013

If someone could get jumping-bean secretary of state Kerry off of his jet long enough to preside over a review of U.S.

How Conservatives Still Run America, Despite Losing Elections

April 05, 2013

There is more than may appear in President Obama’s plan to cut the social safety net in his new budget proposal. The offer, on the face of it, reflects a significant violation of a major liberal creed, discarding the strongest liberal political card and Obama’s peculiar negotiation style of making major concessions at the opening of a give-and-take session. But it also reflects the sad but true fact that the dynamics of American politics cannot be understood in terms of Democrats vs. Republicans. Party labels aside, the nation is still being ruled by what I call a majority “conservative party.”

Individualism vs. Social Science

April 05, 2013

NPR’s social science maven reported that President Obama may have undermined the success of gun control legislation when he stated that “We don’t live in isolation, we live in a society. A government of, and for, and by the people. We are responsible for each other.” Americans, Shankar Vendantam stated, care about individual rights and liberty, not the common good. As evidence he cited a research paper by MarYam Hamedani and her associates called, “In the Land of the Free, Interdependent Action Undermines Motivation,” showing that when researchers evoke concepts of the common good — the subjects did less well on various tasks than when no such concepts were evoked.

Drones: Say it with figures

April 01, 2013

WASHINGTON, April 30 (UPI) – Attacking drones, the most effective counter-terrorism tool the United States has found thus far, is a new cause celebre among progressive public intellectuals and majo

My Jihad: Just a Spiritual Journey?

March 28, 2013

The ads that recently appeared to the sides of buses in several American major cities declare: “#MyJihad is to march on despite losing my son,” “#MyJihad: Modesty is not a weakness,” “#MyJihad is to build bridges through friendship,” and “#MyJihad is to not take the simple things in life for granted.” The ads are part of a public education campaign sponsored by the Chicago Council of American-Islamic Relations. They remind me of a noble moment during President George W. Bush’s presidency when, on Sept 17, 2001, while the ruins of the Twin Towers were still billowing smoke and many of the bodies had not yet been pulled out, he stated that, “The face of terror is not the true faith of Islam. That’s not what Islam is all about. Islam is peace.” It was a magnanimous and even courageous statement to make — although not a particularly accurate one.

Obama: Flailing

March 20, 2013

If you understand where President Obama is headed in his second term, pray send me an email. I like him, wish him Godspeed, and might well support where he is going — if I could just figure out where that is.

Japan, The Poisoned Chalice

March 19, 2013

Making Japan a centerpiece of the U.S. drive to contain China is a seductive idea—but one to which Washington should not succumb. Containment may or may not be the right policy for dealing with China, but even hawks should realize that pushing the most emotive buttons of a potential adversary amounts to cutting off one’s nose to spite one’s face.

China Might Negotiate Cybersecurity

March 14, 2013

Instead of responding to its offer to limit cyberattacks, the Obama Administration has chosen to berate China.

We Need A Coffee Party

March 11, 2013

We need a Coffee Party to wake up the American people, and there are fewer better wake up calls than Steven Brill’s outstanding recent Time cover story, “Bitter Pill.” Indeed, if you have time to read only one essay this month, make it this one. It not only reveals how we can protect Medicare from the right-wing assaults (and a president who seems all too anxious to cut a deal) — but also what ails America’s health care system, indeed the whole political system, and what must be done to fix it.

Cyberwar and the Private Sector

March 05, 2013

During a recent off-the-record meeting, a senior government official warned that cyber attacks on United States in 2013 will be worse than they were in 2012, a year during which they reached a peak. (Participants were free to use what they were told, but not to disclose the names or venue).

Making an Enemy?

March 01, 2013

As the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan wind down, the quest for a new enemy is underway. The armed services who are fighting over shares of the threatened defense budget (the Air Force and Navy pitted against the Army), select corporations (in particular those that manufacture big weapon systems), and politicians who wrap themselves in the flag — are all zeroing in on China.

Is Gridlock a Conservative Victory?

February 22, 2013

If you believe that the consensus of the pundits can be wrong, please read on. Washington is not so much gridlocked as it is subject to a string of conservative victories in foreign policy, homeland protection, economic policy and the courts, as well as changes to the rules of the game (except in cultural matters, such as gay marriage and family law).

Gun Control? We Need Domestic Disarmament

February 19, 2013 3:19 a.m.

Nowhere is the defeatist liberal approach to American politics more evident than in the post-Newtown campaign for gun control. Liberals are rushing to repeat, like a devout incantation, hand on one's heart, that "we believe in the Second Amendment" -- in an "individual's right to own a gun." Half of the legal and moral battle is lost right there and then. Instead, liberals should emphasize that throughout the total American legal history until 2008, the Supreme Court -- which at times has been very conservative -- has always held that the right to own guns belongs not to the individual but, as the Second Amendment states, to a "well regulated militia." (For details on the cases involved, go here). That the right to own guns is a communitarian right, not an individualized one.

Climate Change? Don’t Hold Your Breath

February 5, 2013 11:10 a.m.

When I served in the White House, I convinced a speech writer to insert a paragraph in favor of a policy I championed into President Carter’s forthcoming speech. I was going (as many had before me) to use this paragraph to urge the relevant agencies to proceed, on the ground that, “the president stated… ” I was stopped by a new staff director who, during the fourth year of the Carter administration, introduced a “revolutionary” idea: that speeches should be checked against policy. That is, that no major themes were to be run up the flag pole unless there was some policy in the offings to follow such unfurling.

The Big Eye Is Not in the Sky

January 23, 2013

New York City is installing a system that will track people 24/7, using thousands of closed-circuit televisions (CCTVs), radiation and license plate readers, and other technologies. If it works as promised, Microsoft — which is developing the software — stands by to sell it to your city. The invasion of privacy is much greater than anything we have seen so far. You can see this by comparing what any one CCTV or a license reader tracks, to the new Domain Awareness System (the name of the new system just installed in New York City) does.