The trials facing the President and the Vice-President, who are separated by nineteen years and a canyon in style, have brought them closer than many expected—not least of all themselves. John Marttila, one of Biden’s political advisers, told me, “Joe and Barack were having lunch, and Obama said to Biden, ‘You and I are becoming good friends! I find that very surprising.’ And Joe says,‘You’re fucking surprised!’ ” ...EvanOsnos,NewYorker
The Gaza Health Ministry said on Tuesday that an Israeli shell hit the third floor of a hospital in the center of the Gaza Strip, killing five people and badly damaging an intensive-care unit. According to some reports, ambulances called in to pick up the wounded and take them to another hospital were fired on by Israeli Defense Forces units. These incidents came after Doctors Without Borders, which has medical teams on the ground, issued a statement saying that “the majority of the dead and wounded in Gaza are civilians and medical workers are also coming under fire.” ...JohnCassidy,NewYorker
As of this morning, the death toll on the Palestinian side is over 550 civilians. Israel? 25 military and 2 civilians.
The kinship between the US and Israel is unceasingly troubling. It could once be seen as the alliance of two democratic nations, two developed... two "civilized" nations with political power, respect, and a common cause against senseless brutality. The kinship is now becoming something quite different. The US and Israel are no longer able to see themselves as somehow much better morally than, say, brutal killers in Rwanda or senseless victimization, in the name of Islam, in Iran or Afghanistan.
Obama dodges a balanced assessment and sends Kerry in to create magic. Lotsa luck there, John. At least we no longer have the moral high ground to lose.
Yesterday we featured the John Napier Tye's "whistle blow" in the Washington Post. Today Conor Friedsdorf points to the importance of what Tye has done -- not a vast and useful data-drop as Snowden's was, but a careful analysis of the misuse of a president's executive privilege in Executive Order 12333, a 4th Amendment nullification from Ronald Reagan.
Tye points out that those who believe Snowden should have filed complaints rather than go public are naive. Complaints are ignored; whistleblowers are sent to the broom closet.
Executive Order 12333 is old news to national security insiders and the journalists who cover them, but is largely unknown to the American public, in part because national security officials have a perverse institutional incentive to obscure its role. But some insiders are troubled by such affronts to representative democracy. A tiny subset screw up the courage to inform their fellow citizens.
The former State Department employee, Tye, is but the latest surveillance whistleblower, though he took pains in his Washington Post op-ed, where he leveled his accusations, to distinguish himself from Snowden and his approach to dissent. "Before I left the State Department, I filed a complaint with the department’s inspector general, arguing that the current system of collection and storage of communications by U.S. persons under Executive Order 12333 violates the Fourth Amendment, which prohibits unreasonable searches and seizures," Tye explained. "I have also brought my complaint to the House and Senate intelligence committees and to the inspector general of the NSA." These steps–which many say Snowden should've taken–produced no changes to the objectionable NSA spying and wouldn't be garnering attention at all but for Snowden's leaks. It is nevertheless telling that another civil servant with deep establishment loyalties and every incentive to keep quite felt compelled to speak out in dissent. ...Friedsdorf,TheAtlantic
Democracy itself is at the center of the target right there in our nation's capitol.
House Republicans who profess an allegiance to local democracy outdid themselves in the hypocrisy department last week as they trampled on the District’s right to home rule. Not content with measures that restrict the District from using its locally raised tax dollars for abortions for low-income women, the Republican-controlled House also voted to roll back the city’s decriminalization of marijuana and gut city gun laws. It is now up to the Senate and President Obama to get rid of these perfidious measures; let’s hope Democrats have the spine to stand up for the District. ...
... A federal court has upheld the restrictions on assault weapons and registration requirements enacted by the District after its handgun ban was overturned by the Supreme Court, but that was of no consequence to Rep. Thomas Massie (R-Ky.), who sponsored the measure. Far more important was the opportunity to grandstand for folks back home. ...Editorial,WaPo
If Kentucky doesn't like it, does that make it untenable for the rest of America? Can't Kentucky honor its local laws without demanding that everyone else make the same choices?
We don’t have a debt crisis, and never did. Why did everyone important seem to think otherwise? ...PaulKrugman,NYT
On the contrary, Krugman goes on to say, we're in good fiscal shape thanks to healthcare.
...It’s hard to escape the sense that debt panic was promoted because it served a political purpose — that many people were pushing the notion of a debt crisis as a way to attack Social Security and Medicare. And they did immense damage along the way, diverting the nation’s attention from its real problems — crippling unemployment, deteriorating infrastructure and more — for years on end. ...Krugman,NYT
The Gaza-based interior ministry advises its supporters in a YouTube video that whenever talking about the dead, “always add ‘an innocent citizen.’ ” In Israel, the message is quite different: Those same victims are described as “human shields” sacrificed by the “heartless” Hamas “terrorists” that rule Gaza. ...NYT
The New York Times headline neatly describes the concern politicians have for language and image (as distinct from people and the atrocities of war):