‘It didn’t mean a goddamn thing’: Afghanistan and the failure of U.S. foreign policy

REUTERS The Good War. Remember this howler? Democrats who’d voted for the Iraq War pivoted to turning the invasion of Afghanistan a couple years earlier into the benevolent gesture, the necessity. I opposed the Iraq War with every breath of my lungs; about Afghanistan I was ambivalent, swayed by the moral finery draped over theContinue reading “‘It didn’t mean a goddamn thing’: Afghanistan and the failure of U.S. foreign policy”

Reading Barack Obama

Writers overestimate the erudition of politicos. Alfred Kazin, watching with amazement at the number of poets and novelists cozying up to John F. Kennedy, suggested a sentimentality at work whereby writers, shunned by mass culture, suddenly find validation when a president has memorized one of their book titles.

Ranking reeking presidents

The latest presidential rankings suggest #metoo and a reckoning with the men’s prejudices affected several reputations, notably Andrew Jackson (out of the top ten and tumbling, thank the lord or Jon Meacham) and Woodrow Wilson’s (same). The late Poppy Bush, stretching his legs and aglow with the knowledge that obituary writers praised him as theContinue reading “Ranking reeking presidents”

Obamacare in danger again

Last night’s gleeful ruling from Judge Reed O’Connor of the Federal District Court in Fort Worth, according to Ezra Klein, presents Democrats with, to use that most baleful of modern jargon, an opportunity. “But with Obamacare under constant threat, Republicans have refocused Democrats on building what they failed to build in 2010: a universal healthContinue reading “Obamacare in danger again”

Joe Biden as nominee: a terrible f—— deal

“Morning” Joe and partner “Mika” Brzezinski is have evolved since the days when their MSNBC morning show turned into a Donald J. Trump telecenter in 2015-2016. They acknowledge the impacts of gerrymandering and James Comey’s FBI announcement on the 2016 election; they accept that the new Democratic coalition comprises women and people of color; they payContinue reading “Joe Biden as nominee: a terrible f—— deal”

‘Insurers are figuring out how to make money’

Green shoots spotted in the once fallow Obamacare field: There are promising signs across the country that Obamacare rate hikes for the 2019 enrollment season won’t approach the eye-popping increases of the past two years, though rates won’t be finalized until the fall. Enrollment reopens Nov. 1, days before the midterm elections. For example, oneContinue reading “‘Insurers are figuring out how to make money’”

The effect of repealing the individual mandate

A year ago I said to my friend Mari, “We’re in for it now” enough times that she wanted to kick my teeth in. It’s December 2017, and we’re in it: tax bill signed, GOP congressmen calling for investigations into Robert Mueller’s own investigation and Uranium One, GOP and Donald Trump sewn together so tightlyContinue reading “The effect of repealing the individual mandate”

The Obama presidency’s ‘profound psychological wound’ on white Americans

For the first time in my life, my family and I are leaving town for Thanksgiving (details of which will follow). Because it’s a smaller group, I predict no arguments about kneeling football players, Harvey Weinstein, Hillary Clinton and uranium, or Roy Moore. Alas, I can’t say the same for the rest of you. OneContinue reading “The Obama presidency’s ‘profound psychological wound’ on white Americans”

Responses to violence

Julia Azari reviews the history of presidential responses to acts of violence on black citizens: In 1906, for example, a group of African-American soldiers in Brownsville, Texas, was accused of shooting multiple people. They were acquitted by a court and there was no real evidence of their guilt — but President Theodore Roosevelt issued aContinue reading “Responses to violence”

On circular firing squads

While House and Senate Republicans voted on a millionaires tax cut called health care reform, many noticed that not a single Democrat in Nancy Pelosi and Chuck Schumer’s respective caucuses broke rank — not Heidi Heitkamp, not Joe Manchin. With the Trump White House set to encourage coal mining on lands owned by the federalContinue reading “On circular firing squads”

Barack Obama’s legacy, Part #32

Because Hillary Clinton would have nominated these federal judges had she won the election: He has already received attention for calling Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy a “judicial prostitute”; said he “strongly disagree[s]” with the Supreme Court’s decision in Lawrence v. Texas, which struck down statutes criminalizing sodomy; and criticized a school district for teachingContinue reading “Barack Obama’s legacy, Part #32”

Deferring to ‘our self-evident wonderfulness’

Damon Linker rebukes the pundits who equate American leadership with bombing sovereign countries: But let’s start with absolute basics: Launching even one missile at another country is not, as we euphemistically like to presume, a “military action,” a “military operation,” or even a “humanitarian intervention.” It is an act of war. Full stop. That manyContinue reading “Deferring to ‘our self-evident wonderfulness’”