Blocking immigration reform because of a provision to let gay Americans sponsor their partners’ green cards is not only wrong, it’s just plain stupid, writes Jonathan Rauch.
According to The New York Times, key Senate Republicans threaten to sink the entire immigration reform initiative if it includes a provision allowing gay American citizens to bring their life partners into the country. “It’s a deal-breaker for most Republicans,” Sen. Jeff Flake (R-AZ) told the Times. In a radio interview (quoted by the Times), Sen. Marco Rubio of Florida, who is considered reform’s indispensable Republican, was blunt: “If that issue is injected into this bill, this bill will fail. It will not have the support. It will not have my support.”
Demonstrators holding flags chant in front of the Supreme Court in Washington on March 27. (Jose Luis Magana/AP)
Really? Republicans will deep-six the entire effort and demolish themselves with Latino voters, business interests, and young people to prevent gay people from having someone to take care of them?
Even to write those words is to wonder whether they can possibly be true. Surely Republicans know that, according to many polls, support for same-sex marriage has tipped above the majority level and is rising. Perhaps some also know that, according to a recent Huffington Post poll, partner immigration enjoys solid 7-percentage-point support. They certainly know that, from a political point of view, the perception among younger voters that a pro-Republican vote is an anti-gay vote is toxic to the GOP brand.
War isn’t what it used to be. Today’s covert warriors face a new set of threats. Here, a guide to gauging the risks and payoffs of kill-or-capture operations. By Henry A. Crumpton.
While our nation closes the chapters on larger wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, our intel-warriors remain engaged there and in other hostile areas throughout the world. U.S. Special Operations Forces are deployed in more than 75 countries. Intelligence officers are posted worldwide. Many of our leaders and pundits complain about the weariness and wariness of war, but the nature of conflict has changed. We face persistent, resilient, diffused, networked nonstate enemies with growing asymmetric power who operate across the globe and challenge our security—and our reference points for combat.
Some leaders wonder if we are at war beyond the battlefields of Afghanistan and Iraq. We are, but in a different way. Our conflicts are similar to managing deadly outbreaks of disease, with clear, conclusive victories seldom known or celebrated. They are also marked by repeated, specific, micro-interventions. Such missions are characterized by small, speedy, stealthy, and specialized operations that require extraordinary judgment and include decisions about lethal force.
A critical aspect of this new way of war is the U.S. government’s policy of capturing or killing our nation’s nonstate enemies, particularly al Qaeda and affiliated groups. In a debate generating a sharp divergence of views, complicated by Westphalian nation-state paradigms of power and Cold War bureaucratic structures, our leaders struggle to chart a path that our intel-warriors and all our citizens can understand and follow.
As the public turns on Republican senators who opposed the legislation, supporters aim to line up a second shot for it, and a new result. Eleanor Clift reports.
A hunter and lifetime member of the National Rifle Association, Democrat Joe Manchin won his Senate seat after airing an ad that showed him firing a rifle and shooting a hole in the cap-and-trade bill backed by President Obama. Now the West Virginia senator is the point man on Capitol Hill for reviving legislation on background checks for gun buyers that lawmakers killed just three weeks ago. With polls showing the public turning on some Republican senators who voted against the popular bill, Manchin’s crusade for a second wave of gun legislation could succeed.
Sen. Joe Manchin is followed by reporters as he walks from Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid’s office in early April after a meeting on gun control. (Manuel Balce Ceneta/AP)
“This isn’t gun control, this is gun sense,” Manchin said Saturday at a forum in Washington, where he shared the stage with liberal MSNBC host Rachel Maddow. “I’m a gun owner, I come from a gun culture. If I couldn’t bring some credibility to that issue, why am I here?” His goal, he said, is to have another vote in the Senate before the August recess. “We’re going to pass this thing,” he said. “Don’t give up.”
It’s highly unusual after a crushing defeat to ask for a redo and expect that the outcome will be any different in three or four months, but there is reason to take Manchin seriously. Polls taken before the Senate vote showed that more than 90 percent of voters support background checks to keep guns out of the hands of criminals and the mentally ill, and some of those voters have evidently soured on the senators who helped bring the bill down. Conversely, vulnerable Democrats in red states who voted for the bill, like Mary Landrieu in Louisiana and Kay Hagan in North Carolina, are experiencing no ill effects.
The president says he’s still not sure who used chemical weapons in the Syrian war. Howard Kurtz reports.
President Obama said Tuesday there is evidence that chemical weapons have been used in Syria but that the U.S. doesn’t know “how they were used, when they were used, who used them”—and that he would not be “rushing to judgment” without more facts.
President Barack Obama arrives for a news conference in the Brady Press Briefing Room of the White House in Washington, on April 30, 2013. (Charles Dharapak/AP)
In a hastily called news conference, Obama stopped short of promising further action, even after having said that the Assad government would be crossing a red line by employing such weapons. All he would say is that if chemical warfare was confirmed, he “would have to rethink the range of options that are available to us.” Obama insisted that Americans are not simply “bystanders” in the war and repeated his call for Bashir al-Assad, who has “killed his own people,” to step down.
In responding to a leadoff question from Ed Henry of Fox News about whether certain people are not cooperating with investigations of the fatal attack on the embassy in Benghazi, Obama said he did not know “that anybody’s been blocked from testifying.”
What about those Argentinean trips, Mr. Sanford? Colbert Busch went right for the jugular in South Carolina. So who won? John Avlon, who hosted the debate, reports from Charleston.
There was rolling thunder and rain outside the Citadel on Monday night, but the lightning was inside the packed auditorium where Mark Sanford and Elizabeth Colbert Busch clashed in the one debate of the one congressional race in the country right now.
Republican candidate for the open congressional seat of South Carolina, former South Carolina governor Mark Sanford greets Democratic candidate Elizabeth Colbert Busch before their debate at the Citadel on April 29, 2013, in Charleston. (Richard Ellis/Getty)
Sanford returned fire with repeated references to Nancy Pelosi and the labor union donations that have flowed into Colbert Busch’s campaign coffers. The practiced groans of the Colbert Busch staffers and supporters showed that this line of attack is at least as effective as it is hackneyed.
Budget cuts were back in the headlines until Congress caved on airport furloughs after outrage over flight delays. Now the media has lost interest again—likely for good, says Howard Kurtz.
The sequester story has now been grounded, perhaps indefinitely.
Lucia, Donovan and Manuel Sian of Silver Spring watch planes takes off at Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport in Washington, DC on April 22, 2013. While the sequester has led to delays in some regions of the country, flights are still running on time in DC. (Bonnie Jo Mount/The Washington Post,via Getty)
You remember the sequester, that ticking time bomb that was set to explode as part of the dreaded fiscal cliff. It was a classic Washington drama—relentlessly hyped, obviously artificial—and both parties were determined to avoid a plunge into the abyss.
But after that New Year’s Day compromise that involved a hike for the richest taxpayers, the sequester—$85 billion in automatic budget cuts that were once deemed so drastic as to be unthinkable—went into effect on March 1. And promptly vanished from the media radar.
They were among the senators who voted down gun-control legislation—and now their poll numbers are suffering. From Lisa Murkowski to Rob Portman, see who’s bearing the brunt.
Some politicians are feeling the effects of their “no” vote on background checks earlier this month. New poll data from Public Policy Polling in three states highlights who is seeing the worst of it. Senior Alaska Sen. Lisa Murkowski’s overall approval fell 9 points, while junior Sen. Mark Begich lost 17 approval points among Democrats. Ohio Sen. Rob Portman has suffered a 9-point drop since October, and Nevada Sen. Dean Heller saw only a 3-point drop in his overall approval but lost an important 10 points among his key support of independent voters. While some aren’t up for reelection anytime soon, the new polls show how big an issue gun control has become.
For quick comparison, we’ve also charted in pink each state’s overall public support for background checks.
For the first time, black turnout exceeded white turnout in 2012. Meanwhile, Republicans continue to alienate black voters. Michael Tomasky on the GOP’s self-destructive behavior.
Did black turnout exceed white turnout for the first time in history, as the Associated Press reported over the weekend, simply because a black guy was on the ballot? Look, there’s no denying Barack Obama’s presence at the top of the ticket made a substantial difference. But Obama wasn’t the only factor driving this, and I invite conservatives to deceive themselves into thinking that this is the case. Because for all this talk about a “new” GOP out to steal minorities’ hearts, the (usually white) people doing the talking seem to forget that today’s Republican Party is doing more to stop black people from voting than George Wallace ever did.
A voter marks her ballot at the Bowen Center in Pontiac, Michigan, August 7, 2012. (Carlos Osorio/AP)
First, let’s look over the AP findings. It’s pretty amusing, really, because this is one of those cases where the interpretation and implied lesson depends wholly on who’s writing it up. At HuffPo, the headline read “Black Voter Turnout Rate Passes Whites in 2012 Election,” which is pretty neutral and straightforward, but if anything I suppose is designed to make your average HuffPo reader think: good.
Whereas at The Daily Caller, the head was “Report: 2004 turnout numbers would have elected Romney,” which of course was designed (whether intentionally or not) to make your average Caller reader resent the march of time and its ineluctable effects on the body politic. There is also the implication in Caller-style packaging that Republicans don’t need the brown people. Just nominate someone who can crank up the “white community,” and problems solved. We’ll be hearing more, I suspect, from that faction as the months and years propel us toward 2016.
We’re giving the Boston bombers the notoriety they crave.
Two boys from a troubled region come to America. They are welcomed into the freest, most prosperous, most tolerant country on Earth. They are given welfare, a good education. They repay this nation’s kindness by becoming anti-American terrorists, killing Lu Lingzi, a Chinese grad student; Krystle Campbell, a manager at Jimmy’s Steer House in Arlington, Massachusetts; and little Martin Richard, an 8-year-old from Boston’s Dorchester neighborhood. They also maim scores of people, including Martin’s sister. Then they murder, gangland-style, Patrol Officer Sean Collier of the MIT Police Department, shooting him several times before he can even get out of his car.
Why not deny these alleged murderers and all other mass killers the notoriety they seem to crave. (Photo illustration: Newsweek & The Daily Beast; Photo: Bob Leonard/AP)
The search for a motive or explanation is absolutely understandable and, up to a point, necessary. But whatever we discover is never going to truly satisfy us. It is impossible to find a rational explanation for irrational violence. Early reports suggest the elder brother fell under the spell of radical, extremist Islam—a bastardization of a great religion. But we can’t blame Islam itself any more than we can blame Christianity for Eric Rudolph’s terrorism at the 1996 Summer Olympics in Atlanta. Rudolph was part of the Christian Identity movement, but he was no Christian. Nor can the Boston terrorists properly call themselves Muslims.
Urban nostalgists say Americans ought to want to live in dense downtowns—and simply ignore overwhelming evidence to the contrary, writes Joel Kotkin.
The “silver lining” in our five-years-and-running Great Recession, we’re told, is that Americans have finally taken heed of their betters and are finally rejecting the empty allure of suburban space and returning to the urban core.
A neighborhood of tract houses is viewed near Charles M. Schultz Airport on June 16, 2012, in Santa Rosa, California. (George Rose/Getty)
“We’ve reached the limits of suburban development,” HUD Secretary Shaun Donovan declared in 2010. “People are beginning to vote with their feet and come back to the central cities.” Ed Glaeser’s Triumph of the City and Alan Ehrenhalt’s The Great Inversion—widely praised and accepted by the highest echelons of academia, press, business, and government—have advanced much the same claim, and just last week a report on jobs during the downturn garnered headlines like “City Centers in U.S. Gain Share of Jobs as Suburbs Lose.”
There’s just one problem with this narrative: none of it is true. A funny thing happened on the way to the long-trumpeted triumph of the city: the suburbs not only survived but have begun to regain their allure as Americans have continued aspiring to single-family homes.
Who’s to blame for Gitmo? Republicans, Democrats, and most of all the American people—who refuse to get outraged over this national disgrace. By Michael Tomasky.
I remember how deeply the 1981 hunger strike by Bobby Sands and the other Irish prisoners in Long Kesh shocked my conscience. Maybe it was because it was the first time I’d ever heard of a hunger strike, but I was riveted. I remember that it was big news, too. Huge. Even though it was against another government.
People dress in orange jumpsuits and black hoods as activists demand the closing of the U.S. military's detention facility in Guantánamo during a protest, part of the Nationwide for Guantánamo Day of Action, on April 11 in New York's Times Square. (Stan Honda/AFP/Getty)
The current hunger strike at Guantánamo, against our own government, is generating some coverage, to be sure; but if I walked down the main street of Youngstown, Ohio, or Flagstaff, Arizona, and asked 40 people, I wonder whether even 10 would know about it. And then I wonder how many of those 10 would give a crap. The Gitmo situation is Obama’s fault, and Congress’s, and the national security establishment’s. But it’s ours, too. On these matters, we Americans have become a pretty lousy people.
I don’t care what your political views are—I say there is no way on earth that you could read the recent Times op-ed by Samir Naji al Hasan Moqbel and not feel abject shame. He has been detained for 11 years, three months. In that time, he’s never had a trial. He was never even charged with a crime. If you are an American citizen and that doesn’t scandalize you, horrify you, then you are not really an American in any important meaning of the term.
With his campaign in turmoil, the former governor might be itching to hit the Appalachian Trail again. Jack Bass on his formidable congressional opponent: Stephen Colbert's sister.
On Monday night Republican nominee and former Gov. Mark Sanford no longer will have to debate with a cardboard cutout of Nancy Pelosi.
With the election to fill South Carolina’s First Congressional District barely a week away, he and Democratic challenger Elizabeth Colbert Busch will meet Monday night in a 400-seat conference center at the Citadel in their only campaign debate. It won’t be televised, but will be streamed live by several outlets. The next night they will appear jointly—but will not debate—at an NAACP-organized venue.
Elizabeth Colbert Busch answers questions in Charleston, South Carolina, on February 11; former South Carolina governor Mark Sanford during a campaign event on April 24 in Charleston. (Bruce Smith/AP; Richard Ellis/Getty )
The question in Charleston these days is a simple one. In the first two weeks of April it was, can Stephen Colbert’s sister defeat Jenny Sanford’s former husband in a May 7 special election for South Carolina’s First Congressional District? It quickly changed to, how badly will former two-term governor Mark Sanford lose? The campaign exploded in mid-April in a series of events that sent “Sanford reeling,” as a front-page banner headline blared in the Charleston Post and Courier, the district’s dominant newspaper.
If Aurora and Newtown justified tougher federal gun laws, writes Lloyd Green, then Obama needs to spell out the changes we need after Boston.
The Boston Marathon bombing, and the terror plots reported after the manhunt for the Tsarnaev brothers, make it imperative that any attempt at immigration reform be coupled with stringent scrutiny of the visa and entry process. It is now evident that the bureaucratic shuffle failed, with catastrophic consequences: a city under siege, three people dead, and scores injured.
Tamerlan Tsarnaev, 26 (left) and Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, 19. (The Lowell Sun & Robin Young/AP)
The link between terror and immigration cannot be wished away by the proponents of immigration reform, much as many of them—and particularly its Democratic backers—might like to. Indeed, Sen. Marco Rubio, a prime mover in the immigration debate, acknowledged that immigration and terror cannot be delinked. As the Senate Judiciary Committee kicked off hearings on the immigration bill, Rubio made clear that he disagreed “with those who say that the terrorist attack in Boston has no bearing on the immigration debate.” Florida’s junior senator understates, considerably and understandably.
Sadly, the facts—not unimagined fears—bear out those who view immigration reform as needing to move a step behind combating terror. Just hours after Tamarlen Tsarnaev’s predawn demise, an American-born 18-year-old from Aurora, Illinois, was arrested at Chicago’s O’Hare Airport while boarding a flight to Istanbul en route to Syria to join al Qaeda. On Monday the Canadian Police arrested a Tunisian and a Jordanian, both of whom were living in Canada, in connection with a purported plot to blow up a rail link to New York. Allegedly, the pair had received “direction and guidance” from “al Qaeda elements” located in Iran.
A godless city? Please. President Obama’s former religious adviser on the surprising number of believers in D.C.’s corridors of power.
In 1993, Pat Robertson, the Christian broadcaster and stalwart of the religious right, sat down with legendary columnist Molly Ivins and gave a doozy of an interview. “It is the Democratic Congress, the liberal-biased media, and the homosexuals who want to destroy all Christians,” Robertson declared. He also said that Washington was inflicting on Christians “wholesale abuse and discrimination and the worst bigotry directed toward any group in America today. More terrible than anything suffered by any minority in history.”
Now, Pat Robertson is not necessarily known for his rhetorical moderation. This is, after all, the guy who blamed the Haitian earthquake on voodoo, said the “feminist agenda” encourages women to practice witchcraft, and claimed that Episcopalians, Methodists, and Presbyterians have the “spirit of the anti-Christ.” Even most conservative evangelicals cringe whenever he speaks.
But in that interview, Robertson gave voice to a perception that’s still widely shared across the country: most of America thinks Washington is a pretty godless place.
From ribbing CNN for its recent batch of mistakes to his rap riffs, the president got the best lines—as usual—at the White House Correspondents’ Association Dinner. Lloyd Grove on Washington’s biggest night of the year.
Tom Brokaw is probably right that the annual White House Correspondents Association Dinner, now in its 99th year, has evolved into “just a group of narcissists who are mostly interested in elevating our own profiles,” as the former NBC News anchor complained recently.
Barack Obama listens during the White House Correspondents' Association Dinner on April 27, 2013, in Washington, D.C. (Brendan Smialowski/AFP/Getty)
But, hey, if you’re a profile-elevating narcissist—and, with the exception of no-show Brokaw, who wasn’t one last night at the Washington Hilton?—it’s among the most gratifying evenings to be had in the nation’s capital. That said, a dinnertime screening of a satirical video that featured House of Cards star Kevin Spacey and a bunch of media types and politicians—including John McCain, Mike Bloomberg, Charlie Rose, and White House Correspondents’ Association President Ed Henry of Fox News, supposedly cutting deals over seating arrangements—probably made Brokaw’s point.
As in previous years, 2013’s official rite of spring for Washington featured celebrities, politicians, and media types basking in one another’s reflected power and glory—Barbra Streisand, Nicole Kidman, and Gerard Butler mingling with the likes of Eric Cantor, Ray LaHood, and Chuck Todd—and confirming everyone’s importance, charm, and beauty.
Eric Nordstrom, who worked at the Benghazi consulate on the day it was attacked, choked up during Wednesday's hearings. 'It matters,' he said, that the committee investigate what happened before, during, and after the siege.
Corry Booker’s the hero mayor of Newark, and, yes, he’s running for Senate. By Lloyd Grove
The president’s push for $9 an hour has the GOP on the defensive. Eleanor Clift on the strategy behind the move. But this push could take the politics out of the perennial argument.
Meet the new Treasury secretary, same as the old Treasury secretary. Lloyd Green on nominee Jack Lew.
For John Kael Weston and other men on the frontlines of Iraq and Afghanistan drone strikes raise many uncomfortable questions. He writes on why we need clearer policy and guidelines for these silent killers.