Tom Friedman to the rescue. First he compliments Obama for his sanity and calm. Then he writes: “Putin stupidly went into Syria looking for a cheap sugar high to show his people that Russia is still a world power. Well, now he’s up a tree. Obama and John Kerry should just leave him up there for a month — him and Assad, fighting ISIS alone — and watch him become public enemy No. 1 in the Sunni Muslim world. “Yo, Vladimir, how’s that working for you?”
The only way Putin can get down from that tree is with our help in forging a political solution in Syria. And that only happens if the Russians and the Iranians force Assad — after a transition — to step down and leave the country, in return for the opposition agreeing to protect the basic safety and interests of Assad’s Alawite community, and both sides welcoming an international force on the ground to guarantee the deal.”
For the post below by Frank Bruni, I wrote: Frank Bruni writes well, and he makes some good points. I have been thinking and writing about Hillary, such as the following.
I am fed up with news outlets, such as the Newshour on Public Television saying there is no news regarding Hillary Clinton, because news agencies (such as the Newshour) refuse to talk about anything but her email scandal, even though many reasonable analysts have pointed out isn’t really a scandal, but tempest in teapot. Bruni is more dangerous, because he picks something silly, but not the emails again. He still diminishes the great lady.
Now seems like a good time for Hillary Clinton to show some leadership on Syria, by speaking out on her support or non support of President Obama, or just what she thinks the US should do. At least, it would force the wolves? clowns?professionals? we call the press to change the subject away from the silly email mess, and focus on real problems.
Syria is a worthy problem to discuss with Hillary Clinton, the former Secretary of State.
I am thinking like Nicholas Kristof that we should organize NATO to create a no fly zone and safe haven in Syria, to stop the exodus of immigration. Now, because of the delivery of 9 or 10 tanks, NATO will probably have to work with Russia. What is Hillary Clinton thinking about Syria and U.S. foreign pollicy?
David Brooks concludes: Finally, recategorizing a problem doesn’t solve it. In the 1970s, we let a lot of people out of mental institutions. Over the next decades we put a lot of people into prisons. But the share of people kept out of circulation has been strangely continuous. In the real world, crime, lack of education, mental health issues, family breakdown and economic hopelessness are all intertwined.Changing prosecutor behavior might be a start. Lifting the spirits of inmates, as described in the outstanding Atlantic online video “Angola for Life,” can also help. But the fundamental situation won’t be altered without a comprehensive surge, unless we flood the zone with economic, familial, psychological and social repair.’
“WASHINGTON — The embattled president of Planned Parenthood on Tuesday angrily disputed what she called “outrageous accusations” by Republicans that her organization profits from the sale of fetal tissue, telling Congress that the charges are “offensive and categorically untrue.” ”
“Putin is inflexible and not offering much compromise. But neither is Obama, nor is truth all on the side of Obama.
Yes, Assad’s initial repression of opposition created the conditions for an insurgency.
What Obama’s story line leaves out is that the West then took that opportunity. It began to fund, arm, train, organize in camps, and otherwise promote that insurgency.
Obama also leaves out that the armed groups of the insurgency promoted by the West ran out of control and became ISIS and al Nusra/alQaeda.
Obama also leaves out that the very same Western powers which took that opportunity of Assad’s repression to promote this insurgency ALSO themselves engaged in the exact same repression against the exact same democracy movement at the same time, as in Bahrain and the Shiite areas of Saudi Arabia itself.
Obama also leaves out that with those insurgency groups having run out of control, and our new groups having failed completely, Obama now has no alternative to Assad to offer. His best offer today is Assad’s regime without Assad personally. Obama as a head of state himself must know it is the regime that is the issue in running or oppressing a country, not one person. Obama’s idea makes no sense.
As for Putin, his forces have NOT “flooded” into Syria, at least not yet. Nine tanks is not a flood, nor is half a dozen helicopters. Any at all is significant, but Putin has not yet paid the price of sending a flood, and we don’t know he is willing to pay such a high price.”
“Germany’s leading company has toyed with the air people breathe. That’s shocking. In historical context, it’s devastating.The Volkswagen scandal elicits more than dismay. It is one of those moments when the entire culture of a nation — in this case one of scrupulous honesty, acceptance of rules, reliability, environmental sensitivity and atoning dedication to the common good — is called into question.Germany is never quite what it seems. There is a strain between its order and its urges. Formality may mask frenzy. When things go wrong, they tend to go wrong in a big way.”
This is an interesting piece, persuasive and subtle, but the commentators rip it to shreds for unfairness. I have collected the piece at my blog, LindsayOnVietnam.wordpress.com as an example of persuasive journalism, that might be terrible over-reaching. The commentators argue that it is absurd to take one corporate miscreant, and draw conclusions about an entire nation. As an analyst, I sometimes feel like a ping pong ball, going from one strong argument to its critique. Though I was captivated by his critics, I suggest that Roger Cohen is on to something sad and profound, though he didn’t throw out enough caveats. It is hard to discuss complex grey matter in 800 words.
The only exciting thing about the horrible Volkswagon story, is that it makes a gigantic case for strong government regulation and criminal penalties to protect the public from corporate malfeasance. So, one might argue that Roger missed mentioning the hottest part of the story. Cohen might be right however, that there might be something German about the size and scope of this epic-sized fraud. It is hard to believe in a free country, that there would be no whistleblowers over such a huge scam, that hurt the public’s health so seriously.
There were many good comments after this piece, including: John Graubard New York 5 hours ago
“The history of “law enforcement” in Black neighborhoods has gone through several iterations, none of them good.
Up until about 1960 the policy was basically for the police to (a) close their eyes to low-level criminal activity there, (b) act as an enforcement arm for white-controlled organized crime by preventing local competition, and (c) strictly enforce the laws when a Black man committed a crime outside the Ghetto. (For those of us who can remember, it was as if a wall existed on East 96th Street, white to the south, Black to the north.)
Then we had the Rockefeller Drug Laws. The first was for civil commitment, but when that did not work we had the punitive laws that basically put everyone involved away for a long, long time.
Then came the “broken windows policy” and stop-and-frisk, which did get some career criminals off the street, but also fed into the perception, whether or not true, of a New Jim Crow through the unequal enforcement of the laws.
What we need is something simple – fair, reasonable and equal enforcement of the law, along with decriminalization of simple drug possession. Of course, unfortunately, that has never been tried.”
Paul Krugman: “For me, Mr. Boehner’s defining moment remains what he said and did as House minority leader in early 2009, when a newly inaugurated President Obama was trying to cope with the disastrous recession that began under his predecessor.
There was and is a strong consensus among economists that a temporary period of deficit spending can help mitigate an economic slump. In 2008 a stimulus plan passed Congress with bipartisan support, and the case for a further stimulus in 2009 was overwhelming. But with a Democrat in the White House, Mr. Boehner demanded that policy go in the opposite direction, declaring that “American families are tightening their belts. But they don’t see government tightening its belt.” And he called for government to “go on a diet.” ”
“Back in 1970, Los Angeles was known as the smog capital of the world — a notorious example of industrialization largely unfettered by regard for health or the environment. Heavy pollution drove up respiratory and heart problems and shortened lives.But 1970 was also the year the environmental movement held the first Earth Day and when, 45 years ago this month, Congress passed a powerful update of the Clean Air Act. (Soon after, it was signed by President Richard Nixon, and it was followed by the formation of the Environmental Protection Agency and passage of the Clean Water Act, making him one of the most important, though underappreciated, environmentalists in American history.)”