Archive: Issue Updates

Debate Immigration With Fareed Zakaria

Fareed Zakaria's Daily Show appearance the other night made me want to write a post about some of his contentions, presumably sparking a lively and interesting debate. But I wasn't sure how well doing an entire post on a Daily Show interview would go over, so I chickened out. Conveniently, Zakaria also wrote a column for this very paper raising some of those same points. In general, Zakaria bases his arguments on the premise that, Mexico aside, America has quite successful immigration policies already. I've outlined two of his ideas here, but read the piece for the detailed analysis. 1. Immigrant communities in the United States do not tend toward radicalism. On this of all issues, why would we move toward the French model -- deportations, penalties and guest worker programs -- when the recent riots prove it to be a deeply flawed system? 2. The United States and Mexico...

By Emily Messner | April 4, 2006; 07:09 PM ET | Comments (144)

Not-So-Free Speech in Europe

For the last couple of months, European newspapers have been taking heat for publishing cartoons of Islam's Prophet Mohammed. The newspaper editors say it was making a statement against self censorship and in defense of freedom of speech. The rebellion against self-censorship is understandable. But free speech was never in question -- there was no danger that the newspapers would be sanctioned by their home governments for choosing to print the cartoons. Yet not all speech is equally free in Europe, and the conviction in Austria of British historian David Irving delivered a jarring reminder of that fact. The Austrian court sentenced Irving yesterday to three years in prison for making statements denying the reality of the Holocaust....

By Emily Messner | February 21, 2006; 10:43 AM ET | Comments (130)

Revisiting Hurricane Katrina

"A Failure of Initiative," the House report on Hurricane Katrina, is now available for public viewing -- all 379 pages of it, plus 141 pages of appendices. It's dense reading to say the least. For a summary of the findings, see page 16 of the PDF file. The report's conclusions start on page 359 of the PDF, and include this telling passage: We are left scratching our heads at the range of inefficiency and ineffectivness that characterized government behavior right before and after this storm. But passivity did the most damage. The failure of initiative cost lives, prolonged suffering, and left all Americans justifiably concerned our government is no better prepared to protect its people than it was before 9/11, even if we are. There's no question that there were massive failures at all levels of government in the handling of Katrina, but the report saves some of its harshest...

By Emily Messner | February 16, 2006; 12:38 PM ET | Comments (206)

Update: The Torture Debate

The news that the new version of the Army Field Manual will include a secret 10-page list of interrogation methods (including examples of what methods are acceptable under what circumstances) isn't going over well among supporters of the McCain Amendment. Some are understandably concerned that this is an attempt to undermine the amendment, which would require interrogations of prisoners held abroad to be subject to the same rules as interrogations conducted on U.S. soil. Opponents argue that McCain himself undermines the amendment by his acknowledgment that there are circumstances in which using prohibited techniques on prisoners might be necessary. (More on that below.) What's really at issue here is definitions. Clarity is severely lacking in rules on interrogation. In an online discussion today, former JAG Victor Hansen wrote, "I think there is a dangerous perception problem if more than one set of rules are even in existence. In spite of...

By Emily Messner | December 15, 2005; 02:33 PM ET | Comments (22)

Will Bush's Base Stand By Their Man?

"No conservative should be in a celebratory mood now that Harriet Miers has withdrawn her nomination," editorializes the National Review Online. The editorial goes on: "Still, today is the best day Republicans have had in some time." Fred Barnes of The Weekly Standard suggests that this is the "first step on the road to political recovery for President Bush" in his piece titled, "Rebuilding." The American Prospect's TAPPED blog, on the other hand, is astonished that the right can forgive and forget so easily. And over at Instapundit, Glenn Reynolds remains to be convinced. He writes that the Miers nomination was "a discredit to the White House, which nominated her. Now it's a do-over, and they'd be well-advised not to blow it." Miers was an attempt -- albeit a clumsy one -- to give the Senate a (roughly) consensus nominee, another John Roberts. No one knows at this point whether...

By Emily Messner | October 28, 2005; 12:03 AM ET | Comments (19)

Right and Left Weigh in On Miers Withdrawal

Here's the letter Miers wrote to the president. It is, indeed, reliant on the executive privilege argument. Libertarian Debater Julian Sanchez writes in Reason magazine's Hit and Run blog that the exit strategy of executive privilege combined with the "(frankly rather serious)" recusal question has been advocated by conservative bloggers. (Perhaps I should amend my last post to say, "Krauthammer and likeminded bloggers win!") On the right, Blogs for Bush offers a rundown of blogger reactions to the announcement of Miers's withdrawal and the GOPbloggers give a miniature eulogy of the Miers nomination. On the left, Armando at Daily Kos looks back on what various media reports/commentators said a Miers withdrawal would mean for the president. The consensus, Armando says, was that it would indicate weakness. TalkLeft applauds Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid's reaction to the withdrawal -- "The radical right wing of the Republican Party killed the Harriet Miers...

By Emily Messner | October 27, 2005; 12:54 PM ET | Comments (12)

A Pundit Scoreboard on the Miers Withdrawal

Charles Krauthammer wins! The Bush administration appears to have chosen the Krauthammer Exit Strategy as the preferred method for extraction from the Harriet Miers nomination quicksand into which they found themselves sinking. Krauthammer's suggestion: Claim "irreconcilable differences over documents." For a nominee who, unlike John Roberts, has practically no record on constitutional issues, such documentation is essential for the Senate to judge her thinking and legal acumen. But there is no way that any president would release this kind of information -- "policy documents" and "legal analysis" -- from such a close confidante. It would forever undermine the ability of any president to get unguarded advice.That creates a classic conflict, not of personality, not of competence, not of ideology, but of simple constitutional prerogatives: The Senate cannot confirm her unless it has this information. And the White House cannot allow release of this information lest it jeopardize executive privilege. Hence...

By Emily Messner | October 27, 2005; 10:43 AM ET | Comments (27)

The Good Kind of Flip Flop: Davis Bacon Returns

Davis Bacon is back. Huzzah! (Refresher: This is the act that promised a prevailing wage to construction workers on federal projects -- which would be much of the rebuilding -- but was suspended by Bush almost immediately after he recognized the extent of the hurricane's damage.) Guest blogger Joshua Micah Marshall can point you in the direction of more on that....

By Emily Messner | October 26, 2005; 10:03 PM ET | Comments (6)

The Hurricane Name Game: What Lucky Language Is Up Next?

Has anyone noticed that an unusually large proportion of top news stories lately have been about the weather? All the hurricanes, massive flooding in Europe over the summer, and now Italy gets 100-and-some-odd centimeters of rain dumped in a couple hours on a town that usually gets that much rain in a year. It used to be that if the weather made the headlines, that meant it was a really slow news day. Now, it means the weather event is so huge it has trumped all the other huge news -- the leaking of a CIA operative's identity by top White House officials, the Supreme Court nomination, the war .... I know, all the evidence suggests that while global warming might be causing an increase in the intensity of hurricanes, it is not increasing their frequency. I know, we're in a "period of increased activity" in the Atlantic.* But Tropical...

By Emily Messner | October 24, 2005; 12:36 PM ET | Comments (14)

Roberts Confirmation Update: Democrats and Robes

On a vote of 78-22, John G. Roberts has been confirmed as the new Chief Justice of the Supreme Court. The big thing we'd all been wondering when we debated this subject two weeks ago was how would the Democrats vote? We saw five Dems on Judiciary vote against the nominee in committee, while the Post commended the other three (Leahy, Feingold and Kohl) who saw fit to support sending Roberts's nomination to the full Senate. In that Senate vote, all 55 Republicans, the one independent and 22 of the Democrats voted for Roberts's confirmation. The other half of the Democratic caucus voted against. (Historical note: Rehnquist received 26 no votes when he was up for a spot as an associate justice on the Supreme Court, and 33 no votes when he was up for elevation to the chief's seat. So Roberts, apparently, was less upsetting to the Dems than...

By Emily Messner | September 30, 2005; 05:00 AM ET | Comments (1)

Katrina Update: "Mercenaries" in Louisiana?

Democracy Now! correspondent Jeremy Scahill and Daniela Crespo report the presence of armed patrols from Blackwater in Louisiana. (Some call Blackwater a private security firm; others use the term "mercenaries." You decide.) The name Blackwater might ring a bell thanks to its operations in Iraq. A Blackwater press release outlines the firm's contributions to the relief effort. Scahill writes of conversations with Blackwater personnel and others in New Orleans that confirm that the company is involved in law enforcement activities. The Blackwater release emphasizes the help it is providing in the areas of communications and insurance assessments. The issue has been discussed over at Daily Kos. I'm still trying to figure the whole thing out. Anyone have additional information? Thoughts?...

By Emily Messner | September 15, 2005; 11:27 AM ET | Comments (10)

 

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