In Afghanistan, it is hard to attempt a count because there is an actual war going on, with no agreement on who qualifies as a civilian. The Los Angeles Times wrote recently about a Sept. 7 drone strike in Kunar Province. U.S. officials told the paper that 11 people died, most of them Taliban fighters; grieving local residents, however, insisted that 14 civilians had been killed. When does a village cease being a village and become a “Taliban stronghold”? When we say so, apparently.
It may be that Iran is incapable of becoming a responsible actor on the world stage as long as it is led by the mullahs. But there was a time when it was hard to imagine China being anything but a pariah as long as it was led by the Maoists — yet now, Beijing is the capital of one of the world’s economic superpowers, with Mao’s picture still watching over Tiananmen Square.
This is not to say that the Obama administration hasn’t made mistakes. But by historical standards, the United States is doing well domestically and internationally. And by any objective measure, the trend lines are positive, not negative.
To me, all this is consistent with the NSA’s apparent goal of knowing, basically, everything. The agency collects information as massively and indiscriminately as possible on the theory that if you assemble a database of all the world’s communications, the few you seek — those involving terrorists — will be in there somewhere.
Another target for economic growth is the energy sector. Because of the natural gas boom, the United States may soon be the largest producer of hydrocarbons in the world. Intelligent rulemaking can ensure that as the industry expands, parallel industries dedicated to safety, cleanup and alternative fuels grow with it.
Medicare guaranteed health care for the elderly, Medicaid for the poor. Obamacare begins to fill the remaining gaps. It will get better over time, but already — crashing websites and all — it’s a beautiful thing.
Sea levels will continue to rise because of warming — water expands as it heats — and because of glacial melting. This has implications for coastal populations not just in places such as Calcutta or Dhaka but also in rich and powerful cities such as New York: Witness the massive flooding and storm-surge damage caused by Superstorm Sandy.
I don’t mean to suggest that Obama would hesitate to order an attack on Iran, if all else failed, because preventing the mullahs from obtaining the bomb is one of his “core interests.” But the overwhelming public rejection of military action in Syria has to be seen as an instruction to explore every avenue of negotiation before resorting to force.
Republicans in the House are like a bunch of 3-year-olds playing with matches. Their hapless leaders don’t have the sense to scold them and send them to their rooms — which means President Obama has to be the disciplinarian in this dysfunctional family.
Are we really going to do this? Are we going to wade into a struggle we don’t really want to fight? Are we going to mire ourselves in a senseless, grinding conflict whose possible outcomes range from bad to worse?
It will be difficult to design a missile strike that hurts Assad without drawing the United States into the war. But that is the thin line Obama must now walk.
Ending the presumption that African-American and Hispanic men are beyond redemption would be a powerful legacy for the first black president and the first black attorney general to leave behind.
U.S. officials can no longer harbor illusions about the nature of the Egyptian coup or the prospects for genuine democracy. President Obama should speak the truth and cut off military aid.
Al-Qaeda turns out to be like a pool of mercury. Hit it with a hammer and you end up with ten little blobs instead of one big one.
The order that Snowden leaked — compelling a Verizon unit to cough up data on the phone calls it handled — was one of only a few to come to light in the court’s three decades of existence. Now there are voices calling for all the court’s rulings to be released. We’re talking about these issues. You can wish Edward Snowden well or wish him a lifetime in prison. Either way, you should thank him.
The bad news is that approval ratings for both the president and Congress are sinking, with voters increasingly frustrated at the bitter, partisan impasse in Washington. The worse news is that in terms of admiration for our national leaders, these may come to be seen as the good old days.
Obama’s remarks last Friday — a surprise to reporters expecting the usual daily press briefing — were brief and informal. But they amounted to the most important speech about race our first African-American president has delivered in office.
We should talk honestly about unresolved racial issues, such as those exposed by the Trayvon Martin case, but President Obama is not the best person to lead the discussion. Through no fault of his own, he might be the worst.
Justice failed Trayvon Martin the night he was killed. We should be appalled and outraged, but perhaps not surprised, that it failed him again Saturday night with a verdict setting his killer free.
The party of no on immigration. Self-delusion is a sad spectacle. Watching Republicans convince themselves that killing immigration reform actually helps the GOP is excruciating, and I wish somebody would make it stop.. House Speaker John Boehner's unruly caucus has been busy convincing itself not to accept or even
WASHINGTON -- I don't believe government officials when they say the National Security Agency's surveillance programs do not invade our privacy. The record suggests that you shouldn't believe them, either.
WASHINGTON -- Paula Deen needs to give the self-pity a rest. The damage to her carefully built image is self-inflicted -- nobody threw a rock -- and her desperate search for approval and vindication is just making things worse.
WASHINGTON -- From the evidence so far, there's no good reason to let the National Security Agency continue its massively intrusive practice of logging our private phone calls. Congress should pull the plug.. I'm not ignoring all the officials, including President Obama, who swear that the NSA's electronic snooping has
WASHINGTON -- The Supreme Court's ruling last week allowing police to compel DNA samples from persons arrested for serious offenses will solve cold cases around the country, putting dangerous criminals behind bars. But the court's 5-4 ruling was wrong -- and may be more far-reaching than we can now imagine.
Someday, a young girl will look up into her father's eyes and ask, "Daddy, what was privacy?". The father probably won't recall. I fear we've already forgotten that there was a time when a U.S. citizen's telephone calls were nobody else's business
WASHINGTON -- With budgetary tantrums in the Senate and investigative play-acting in the House, the Republican Party is proving once again that it simply cannot be taken seriously. This is a shame.
WASHINGTON -- Those who are trying to make the Benghazi tragedy into a scandal for the Obama administration really ought to decide what story line they want to sell.
WASHINGTON -- President Obama had the opportunity this week to make an irresponsible Congress face the consequences of its own dumb actions. For reasons I cannot fathom, he took a pass.
In retrospect, George W. Bush's legacy doesn't look as bad as it did when he left office. It looks worse.. I join the nation in congratulating Bush on the opening of his presidential library in Dallas. Like many people, I find it much easier to honor, respect and even like
WASHINGTON -- I think I've figured it out. Republicans must be staging some kind of fiendishly clever plot to lure Democrats into a false sense of security. That's the only possible explanation for some of the weirdness we're seeing and hearing from the GOP.
WASHINGTON -- The gunman in the Newtown massacre fired 154 bullets from his Bushmaster military-style rifle in less than five minutes, killing 20 first-graders and six adults. He brought with him 10 large-capacity magazines, each holding up to 30 rounds, which
WASHINGTON -- Shame on Harry Reid for killing any prospect of an assault weapons ban. I understand why he did it, but that doesn't make it right.
WASHINGTON -- They are impolite questions, but they must be asked: What did Jorge Mario Bergoglio know, and when did he know it, about Argentina's brutal "Dirty War" against suspected leftists in which thousands were tortured and killed? More important, what did the newly chosen Pope Francis do?
WASHINGTON -- Rand Paul was right. There, I said it. The Republican senator from Kentucky, whom I've ridiculed as an archconservative kook -- because that's basically what he is -- was right to call attention to the growing use of drone aircraft.
WASHINGTON -- The test of President Obama's seriousness about addressing climate change is not his pending decision on the much-debated Keystone XL pipeline. It's whether he effectively consigns coal-fired power plants -- one of the biggest sources of carbon emissions -- to the ashcan of history.
WASHINGTON -- The standoff over the package of budget cuts known as "the sequester" is the dumbest, most self-defeating fight between President Barack Obama and Republicans in Congress since ... let's see, since the last dumb, self-defeating fight less than two months
WASHINGTON -- In his bid to be remembered as a transformational leader, President Barack Obama is following the playbook of an ideological opposite, Margaret Thatcher. First you win the argument, she used to say, then you win the vote.. Obama is gradually winning the argument about what government can and
WASHINGTON -- If George W. Bush had told us that the "war on terror" gave him the right to execute an American citizen overseas with a missile fired from a drone aircraft, without due process or judicial review, I'd have gone ballistic. It makes no difference that it's Barack Obama doing it.
WASHINGTON -- It was always clear that the 11 million people in this country without papers were not going to be rounded up and deported.
WASHINGTON -- Republicans wanted nothing more than to summon Secretary of State Hillary Clinton to Capitol Hill and grill her about the tragic fiasco in Benghazi. Sadly for them, they got their wish.
WASHINGTON -- Don't listen to those who say President Barack Obama's bold plan to reduce gun violence -- including an assault weapons ban -- has no chance in Congress. I seem to recall that health care reform was deemed impossible, too. Until it happened.. I also recall that the health
WASHINGTON -- All right, nowcan we talk about climate change? After a year when the lower 48 states suffered the warmest temperatures, and the second-craziest weather, since record-keeping began?. Apparently not. The climate change denialists -- especially those who manipulate the data in transparently bogus ways to claim
Congress makes a fool of itself on cliff deal. To say that Congress looked like a clown show this week is an insult to self-respecting clowns.. Painful though it may be, let's review what just happened. Our august legislators -- aided and abetted by President Obama -- manufactured a
WASHINGTON -- Are you as sick of the "fiscal cliff" as I am? Actually, that's a trick question. You couldn't possibly be.. Having to read and hear all the constant blather about this self-inflicted "crisis" is an onerous burden, I'll admit. But just imagine having to produce that blather
WASHINGTON -- Just this once, I wish I could write with pictures instead of words. That would make it easier to explain why the Brazilian architect Oscar Niemeyer, who died Wednesday at 104, was one of my heroes.. Not for his politics, of course -- he was, to the end
WASHINGTON -- You might not have noticed that another round of U.N. climate talks is under way, this time in Doha, Qatar. You also might not have noticed that we're barreling toward a "world ... of unprecedented heat waves, severe drought, and major floods in many regions." Here in Washington
WASHINGTON -- So much for voter suppression. So much for the enthusiasm gap. So much for the idea that smug, self-appointed arbiters of what is genuinely "American" were going to "take back" the country, as if it had somehow been stolen. On Tuesday, millions of voters sent a resounding message to the take-it-back crowd: You won't. You can't. It's our country, too.
WASHINGTON -- This election is only tangentially a fight over policy. It is also a fight about meaning and identity -- and that's one reason why voters are so polarized. It's about who we are and who we aspire to be.
WASHINGTON -- Not a word has been said in the presidential debates about what may be the most urgent and consequential issue in the world: climate change.
DANVILLE, Ky. -- If the question is who did more to help his ticket, Joe Biden won the vice presidential debate by a mile.. Republican Paul Ryan performed pretty well. He made no major mistakes, and a CNN instant poll of viewers actually had him winning narrowly, 48 percent to