A Better, Not Bigger, Military Budget – The New York Times

“Given recent history, the next president can expect to face an even more unpredictable world than the one President Obama is dealing with. Russia, China, Syria, Iran, North Korea, the Islamic State — the list of security challenges is daunting. It will require smart policy choices backed by a powerful military to protect American interests.So far, the candidates have not sufficiently explained their approaches to military spending which, at $580 billion for 2016, is half of the federal discretionary budget. The toughest talk comes from the Republicans who lean dangerously toward a one-dimensional view of American strength that is over-reliant on an all-powerful military.“I will make our military so big, powerful and strong that no one will mess with us,” Donald Trump says. But what does that mean? This is the guy who extolled the power of nuclear deterrence in a recent debate, but didn’t know it relies on three types of forces — missiles, planes and submarines.”

Source: A Better, Not Bigger, Military Budget – The New York Times

Planet on the Ballot. It appears that the goal of drastically reducing emissions is within reach, but the wrong leader could still get in the way of saving the planet. nytimes.com|By Paul Krugman

Paul Krugman: “We now have a pretty good idea who will be on the ballot in November: Hillary Clinton, almost surely (after the South Carolina blowout, prediction markets give her a 96 percent probability of securing her party’s nomination), and Donald Trump, with high likelihood (currently 80 percent probability on the markets). But even if there’s a stunning upset in what’s left of the primaries, we already know very well what will be at stake — namely, the fate of the planet.”

It appears that the goal of drastically reducing emissions is within reach, but the wrong leader could still get in the way of saving the planet.
nytimes.com|By Paul Krugman

A New Libya, With ‘Very Little Time Left’ – The Libya Gamble – Part Two, The New York Times

“It was a grisly start to the new era for Libya, broadcast around the world. The dictator was dragged from the sewer pipe where he was hiding, tossed around by frenzied rebel soldiers, beaten bloody and sodomized with a bayonet. A shaky cellphone video showed the pocked face of Col. Muammar el-Qaddafi, “the Leader” who had terrified Libyans for four decades, looking frightened and bewildered. He would soon be dead.The first news reports of Colonel Qaddafi’s capture and killing in October 2011 reached the secretary of state in Kabul, Afghanistan, where she had just sat down for a televised interview. “Wow!” she said, looking at an aide’s BlackBerry before cautiously noting that the report had not yet been confirmed. But Hillary Clinton seemed impatient for a conclusion to the multinational military intervention she had done so much to organize, and in a rare unguarded moment, she dropped her reserve.“We came, we saw, he died!” she exclaimed.Two days before, Mrs. Clinton had taken a triumphal tour of the Libyan capital, Tripoli, and for weeks top aides had been circulating a “ticktock” that described her starring role in the events that had led to this moment. The timeline, her top policy aide, Jake Sullivan, wrote, demonstrated Mrs. Clinton’s “leadership/ownership/stewardship of this country’s Libya policy from start to finish.” The memo’s language put her at the center of everything: “HRC announces … HRC directs … HRC travels … HRC engages,” it read.”

Source: A New Libya, With ‘Very Little Time Left’ – The New York Times

The Libya Gamble-Part One, Hillary Clinton, ‘Smart Power’ and a Dictator’s Fall – The New York Times

The Libya Gamble, Part One and Part Two, takes several hours to read. Magnificent reporting by SCOTT SHANE and JO BECKER. By the end of Part Two, you have learned that the Lead from Behind strategy in Libya was championed by Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. Then the Europeans and the dispersed Libyan leadership failed to deliver, while our own ally Qatar armed and financed pro ISIS factions in that hotbed of militias. With friends like that, who needs enemies. Obama says that not picking up the slack in Libya, which was advocated by Clinton, was one of his great foreign policy mistakes. I wonder if military intervention at this late date could reset the failed state? A successful intervention would cripple the Republicans in the upcoming presidential election, by removing one of their only valid criticisms of President Obama and his foreign policy team.


“By the time Mahmoud Jibril cleared customs at Le Bourget airport and sped into Paris, the American secretary of state had been waiting for hours. But this was not a meeting Hillary Clinton could cancel. Their encounter could decide whether America was again going to war.In the throes of the Arab Spring, Col. Muammar el-Qaddafi was facing a furious revolt by Libyans determined to end his quixotic 42-year rule. The dictator’s forces were approaching Benghazi, the crucible of the rebellion, and threatening a blood bath. France and Britain were urging the United States to join them in a military campaign to halt Colonel Qaddafi’s troops, and now the Arab League, too, was calling for action.President Obama was deeply wary of another military venture in a Muslim country. Most of his senior advisers were telling him to stay out. Still, he dispatched Mrs. Clinton to sound out Mr. Jibril, a leader of the Libyan opposition. Their late-night meeting on March 14, 2011, would be the first chance for a top American official to get a sense of whom, exactly, the United States was being asked to support.In her suite at the Westin, she and Mr. Jibril, a political scientist with a doctorate from the University of Pittsburgh, spoke at length about the fast-moving military situation in Libya. But Mrs. Clinton was clearly also thinking about Iraq, and its hard lessons for American intervention.”

Source: Hillary Clinton, ‘Smart Power’ and a Dictator’s Fall – The New York Times


If Donald Trump Changed Genders, by Frank Bruni – The New York Times

“IMAGINE, for a moment, the presidential candidacy of a rich, brash real estate magnate and reality TV star named Donna Trump.Quizzically coifed and stubbornly sun-kissed, she’s on her third marriage. There’s clear evidence that infidelity factored into the demise of the first, and among her children is one conceived when The Donna wasn’t married to the other parent.Her sexual appetites have been prodigious, at least according to her frequent claims and vulgar cant. And she has a tendency — disturbing on its own, even more so in someone who aspires to civic leadership — to talk about men as sirloins and rump roasts of disparate succulence. She denigrates those who displease her on cosmetic grounds:”

Source: If Donald Trump Changed Genders – The New York Times

From Comments: gemli is a trusted commenter Boston 1 day ago

“Trump’s offense isn’t entirely sexual. It’s vulgar, which is a bit different, and broader. It represents not only crudeness toward women, but a general lack of decorum, sensitivity and intelligence that doesn’t befit a presidential contender. Can you imagine president Obama saying such things? Can you imagine the stumbling speech, the thoughtless insults and the adolescent smirks coming from the Oval Office?

The role of president is to represent the aspirations of the American people, young and old, men and women, liberal and conservative. I can’t imagine what electing a president Trump would say about us, or what message it would send to other countries. Sheer embarrassment should make any voter think twice about pulling that lever.

Bill Clinton may have behaved badly, but I’ve always felt that while he embarrassed himself and humiliated his family, he didn’t embarrass the country. His personal flaws were distinct from his intelligence and his political sensibilities.

While Bill Clinton was eloquent, Trump is incoherent. He’s also spiteful, insulting and small-minded. He’d be out of his depth in a wading pool, much less the ocean of responsibility that comes with the office.

But is seems that we can’t avoid him, and he isn’t going away any time soon. However there is one way that you can see the end of Trump. Just remove the T.”

506 Recommended

Showdown on Abortion at the Supreme Court – The New York Times

“The decades-long crusade to end legal abortion in America after Roe v. Wade has again reached the Supreme Court.On Wednesday, the eight justices will hear a case challenging a 2013 Texas law that has already shut down more than half of the state’s 41 health clinics that perform abortions.Since Roe was decided in 1973, there have been countless efforts by anti-abortion activists to enact state laws that restrict abortion rights, often in the guise of protecting women’s health. But few laws have gone as far as the Texas statute, which places so heavy a burden on hundreds of thousands of women across the state — particularly those in poorer rural areas — that it has effectively destroyed their constitutional right to an abortion.”

Source: Showdown on Abortion at the Supreme Court – The New York Times

From the comments at the NYT.com: Christine McMorrow is a trusted commenter Waltham, MA 20 hours ago

“The attempt to roll back Roe vs Wade is nothing less than a fight to give religion a role in shaping secular law. You hate abortions? Fine most of us do, so go ahead, don’t have one.

But don’t let your religious views spill over into secular law that protects a woman’s right to choose–any woman, of any political or religious persuasion, even those who have no political or religious affiliation at all.

Your religion doesn’t get to dictate how I, or any woman, gets to live. My religion can tell me what is or is not a sin if i choose to practice my faith, but I don’t have that right to impose it on others.”
421 Recommended

How the Story of Hillary Clinton’s Emails Has Changed – The New York Times

“March 10, 2015“When I got to work as secretary of state, I opted for convenience to use my personal email account, which was allowed by the State Department, because I thought it would be easier to carry just one device for my work and for my personal emails instead of two,” Mrs. Clinton said in March. “Looking back, it would’ve been better if I’d simply used a second email account and carried a second phone.” Mrs. Clinton said that since a vast majority of her work emails went to government employees at their government addresses, they would be archived by the government.”

Source: How the Story of Hillary Clinton’s Emails Has Changed – The New York Times

Decline of Species That Pollinate Poses a Threat to Global Food Supply, Report Warns Many pollinator species are facing extinction, including some 16 percent of vertebrates like birds and bats. nytimes.com|By John Schwartz

“The birds and the bees need help. Also, the butterflies, moths, wasps, beetles and bats. Without an international effort, a new report warns, increasing numbers of species that promote the growth of hundreds of billions of dollars’ worth of food each year face extinction.

The first global assessment of the threats to creatures that pollinate the world’s plants was released by a group affiliated with the United Nations on Friday in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. The summary will be posted online Monday.

Pollinators, including some 20,000 species of wild bees, contribute to the growth of fruit, vegetables and many nuts, as well as flowering plants. Plants that depend on pollination make up 35 percent of global crop production volume with a value of as much as $577 billion a year. The agricultural system, for which pollinators play a key role, creates millions of jobs worldwide.”

Many pollinator species are facing extinction, including some 16 percent of vertebrates like birds and bats, according to the document.
nytimes.com|By John Schwartz

To Fight Critics, Donald Trump Aims to Instill Fear in 140-Character Doses – The New York Times

“Cheri Jacobus, a Republican political strategist, did not think she had done anything out of the ordinary: On a cable television show, she criticized Donald J. Trump for skipping a debate in Iowa in late January and described him as a “bad debater.”But then Mr. Trump took to Twitter, repeatedly branding Ms. Jacobus as a disappointed job seeker who had begged to work for his campaign and had been rejected. “We said no and she went hostile,” he wrote. “A real dummy!” Mr. Trump’s campaign manager told the same story on MSNBC’s “Morning Joe.”Mr. Trump’s Twitter followers, who number about six million, piled on. For days, they replied to his posts with demeaning, often sexually charged insults aimed at Ms. Jacobus, including several with altered, vulgar photographs of her face.”

This is an ugly story of a real bully. The twittersphere lit up with ugly attacks on the woman, twitter bullying. In fact, the article reports that the attack by Trump was a complete lie.

Source: To Fight Critics, Donald Trump Aims to Instill Fear in 140-Character Doses – The New York Times

Obama’s Implicit Foreign Policy – by Roger Cohen, The New York Times

“WASHINGTON — This is the speech President Obama did not make on his foreign policy (with thanks to Stephen Heintz, a shrewd observer of America’s role in the world):My fellow Americans:I have based my foreign policy on some tough realities that are hard to talk about because no American likes to hear about the limits of our power. But those limits have grown. American power in the 21st century cannot be what it was in 1945 — or even in 1990.To say this is to be accused of defeatism, of managing American decline and of giving up on American exceptionalism. That is why I have pursued an implicit foreign policy rather than an explicit one. That is why I waited so long to give this speech on my doctrine of restraint. No president wants to make a speech called “The Consequences of the End of the American Century.” It’s political suicide.”

Source: Obama’s Implicit Foreign Policy – The New York Times

Excellent comments follow this excellent piece.