Talking to myself about foreign policy, US politics, technology, &c.

Archive for the ‘Obama Administration’ Category

Ending Cruel and Unusual Punishment in US Prisons

Tuesday, May 4th, 2010

One of the most nightmarish things that happen in the US is prison rape. Think about it: people who are are reliant on the government for their protection are routinely raped – in one prison in Texas, 1 in 6 every year.

That should not happen in the most backward of third world countries (excuse me, LDCs.) It is appalling that it happens all the time in the US.

These criminals were sentenced to time in prison, not to be raped. Pretty clearly a violation of the Bill of Rights.

We are coming up on the deadline for implementing changes under the 2003 Prison Rape Elimination Act. AG Holder’s obviously got a lot on his plate right now, but this is a real chance to end a fundamental injustice.

Hat tip: Cliff Schecter

Ross Douthat: Not That Dumb

Saturday, December 26th, 2009

The NYT’s conservative columnist continues to impress me with being, well, sane. I know the bar is a bit low, but hey, you work with what you’ve got.

Today’s piece talks about Obama as “an ideologue and a pragmatist.”  This is, I think, exactly right. Obama ran on an inspirational platform of change – but if you examined it closely (and, as a guy working for Hillary at the time, I certainly did) the actual policies were very sensible and moderate ones.

One quibble: Douthat says that the President has “governed as a conventional liberal who believes in the existing system, knows how to work it and accepts the limitations it imposes on him.” I’m certain that Obama does not “believe in” the routinization of the supermajority requirements in the Senate. Imagine a world in which Obama was negotiating a compromise between Ben Nelson and Bernie Sanders, rather than Ben Nelson and, um, Ben Nelson.

U.S. AID Chief Chosen

Tuesday, November 10th, 2009

From the department of it’s-about-freakin’-time: U.S. AID Chief Chosen

The 36-year old *cough* nominee from the  Agriculture *cough* department will be tasked with heading up what is supposed to be a co-equal tentacle of the US foreign policy establishment.

My friends inside AID have had a tough time; it’s hard to have the crew doing their job when your ship doesn’t have a captain.

This speaks partly to the incredible difficulties with the vetting process; ridiculously talented people are not taking jobs with the Administration – not because the pay is low or the work hard, but because the vetting process is too damn hard.

Of course, the vetting process has gotten so onerous because there is so much political theater to be made out of the high-wire act of Senate advice-and-consent positions. Given the depressing and destructive obstructionism of Republicans, Obama has to be careful – but it is another example of how the machinery of American government is being forced to a halt.

Freelancing Foreign Policy

Sunday, October 4th, 2009

There’s only one branch of the US government that is responsible for foreign policy. Fuzzy as the constitution can be on some things, this one is pretty cut and dried.

Now, Republicans, the Party of Patriotism ™ might be expected to follow the maxim of partisanship ending at the waters’ edge.

You would regrettably be wrong.

Senator DeMint went traipsing off to Honduras today to be a cheerleader the leaders of the coup who overthrew President Zelaya. His moves are in direct opposition to US policy which has staunchly

Indeed, those who would call the military’s violent ouster of a democratically elected leader a ‘coup’ are, according to DeMint, “ill informed.”

Good to know.

I had some sympathy for the revolutionaries; the former president was publicly mulling constitutional changes to pave the way for another term for himself. Hitler’s rise to power provides the ultimate example of the argument for stopping a leader undermining a democratic system while staying mainly within the constitutional lines; you can make a case for saving a democracy by overriding it in such cases.

With junta leaders attempting to squash free speech rights, though, that seems to make such a premise a bit doubtful.

Worse, in my mind, was Mike Huckabee’s grandstanding in Israel. In an attempt to bolster his standing with evengelicals he goes over to Jerusalem and makes provocative statements opposing a two-state solution, undermining what has been official US policy for ages, and undercutting Obama as he is working to bring peace to that troubled land.

HRC is a Tough Lady.

Thursday, July 16th, 2009

On top of the punishing work schedule, Hillary is apparently in constant pain from her shattered elbow. Joints are NOT good things to break. For a 61 year old this has gotta be rough.

The Times had a nice piece on Secretary Clinton’s role in the Obama Administration, and her relatively low profile. I love the fact that Henry Kissinger is a) still alive, and b) remains the éminence grise of the foreign policy world.

While the Obama team seems to be working well together, the only thing that smacks a bit of a snub to HRC from my perspective is the fact that there was a major presidential health care press conference that drowned out the coverage of Hillary’s simultaneous major policy address to the Council on Foreign Relations.

(hat tip: Madame Secretary)

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