Shock and Awe versus Aw Shucks: Taking Out the Bad Guys

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John Peeler: Obama has set a major contrast in style and strategy with George W. Bush: he does not grandstand, he does not order massive military interventions. He doesn’t question Bush’s commitments, but he set up the rules of engagement and the negotiating positions to allow him to dial them back.

Obama Betrays the EPA

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John Peeler: In what has become a pattern for Obama, he backed down, adopted the essentials of the Republican argument, and left his own EPA Director swinging in the wind.

Arab Spring: The Kings and the Presidents

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John Peeler: Just as with the fall of the Soviet Bloc in Eastern Europe, success in Tunisia encouraged protesters elsewhere; success in the most important Arab state, Egypt, meant that success was conceivable anywhere.

Obama vs. Boehner: Point Guard and Linebacker

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John Peeler: Obama dribbles across mid-court, fakes left, moves right, deftly avoids Boehner’s attempted steal, and goes in for a lay-up. Boehner cuts him off at the knees, grabs the loose ball and runs it back for a touchdown.

Americans Elect?

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John Peeler: Disillusioned liberals ought to know that if this effort takes off, it is very likely to siphon votes away from Obama and facilitate a complete Republican takeover of the federal government.

Lost Decade?

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John Peeler: One of the most striking features of our current global economic morass is that many Third World economies are weathering the crisis rather well, while the supposed leaders of the world economy (the United States, the European Union, the Japanese) are in deep trouble that looks to get deeper.

Facing Pakistan After Bin Laden

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John Peeler: We cannot say that Pakistan is two-faced: that would imply a degree of unity that does not square with what we know about that country. Pakistan has many faces because no one is fully in control.

Obama Takes Out Osama

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John Peeler: Obama may not much like war, but he has shown that if he believes he must wage it, he intends to win it. Liberals who were hostile to the Iraq war, skeptical of the Afghanistan war, and dubious about the Libyan intervention will find little comfort here.

What’s Obama’s Game in Libya?

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John Peeler: It’s just possible that things are going pretty much as the administration intends. That is, Qaddafi’s position is deteriorating, he will ultimately fall, and Obama’s fingerprints will not be on the deed.

Obama and War

obama libya speech

John Peeler: Obama has done, in the Libyan case, just what he said he would: with UN Security Council and Arab League authorization, he has put together a coalition to take limited military measures to prevent a humanitarian catastrophe.

Deficit Commission: Keynesian by Default

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John Peeler: The fact is, neither liberals nor conservatives, neither Republicans nor Democrats, have the stomach for the major sacrifices that Simpson and Bowles are calling for, and it’s not at all clear that the public in general is ready either.

Still the Age of Reagan: Long Waves in American Politics

John Peeler: I suggest that as bad as things are, economically, politically, socially, they are not bad enough to permanently shift the way we think, to force changes in what we consider to be common sense. Such a fundamental reshaping of the political landscape has occurred only a few times in our history.

On the Art of Exit: Iraq and Afghanistan

John Peeler: Obama appears determined that the wars not overwhelm his domestic agenda, even as, pragmatically, he cannot walk away from either without exposing himself to withering political attacks. If Bush saw himself as a war president, Obama wants to be a reformer with two wars to manage.

Destroying America to Save It: Reflections on a Mosque

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John Peeler: There is a more fundamental issue: if we allow our response to be governed by intolerance, we deal a hard blow to the version of America that embodies freedom of religion for all. Will we then turn in upon ourselves, resentful and repressive towards the Other, and terrified to live by our own truth?

The Use and Abuse of the Fourteenth Amendment

John Peeler: Many conservatives are now pushing to amend the Constitution to change the provision of the Fourteenth Amendment that allocates citizenship to all persons born or naturalized in the United States. Unlike many examples of creative interpretation, this proposal would formally amend the amendment. Liberals learned in the 1970s, with the proposed Equal Rights Amendment, how hard it is to amend the Constitution; here is our chance to teach the same lesson to conservatives.

Obama’s Summer of Discontent

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John Peeler: Overall, Obama has been successful as the leader of Washington. Where he is failing is as the leader of the country. That’s a surprise, given his short political career, and his very impressive rhetorical skills.

Flash!! Two Conservatives Think Rationally

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John Peeler: It is always a bit of a shock when a well-know conservative says something sensible, so imagine how stunned I was in this past week when TWO (count ‘em!) prominent rightist talking heads talked sense.

Why Can’t the Left Pull a Tea Party?

John Peeler: The Democratic Party just is not a mirror image of the Republicans. It’s true that partisans have become steadily more polarized in the last generation: the Republican Party really is a conservative party today, in a way that it wasn’t even in the days of Richard Nixon. The Democrats are distinctly more liberal, but they are not a liberal party in the same sense as the GOP is conservative.

Imagine

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John Peeler: But suppose there were no violence by the activists, just a refusal to comply with what they held to be an illegal seizure of their ships in support of an illegal blockade and an illegal occupation. The Israeli government and military are manifestly completely unprepared for that. They know only how to respond to Palestinian violence with disproportionate force.

Pennsylvania’s Primary: Good News, Bad News for Progressives

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John Peeler: The 2010 Pennsylvania Primary had a lot of good news for progressive Democrats. The 18 May balloting saw Representative Joe Sestak take out five-term Senator Arlen Specter, just a year after the latter switched to the Democratic Party in the face of an assured loss in the Republican primary. And, the Democrats held the seat long occupied by the late Jack Murtha. On the other hand, the most progressive candidate in the gubernatorial primary, Joe Hoeffel, finished a poor fourth, and the winner, Dan Onorato, is not only less progressive, but starts well down in the polls against the Republican nominee, state Attorney General Tom Corbett.

The Confederacy and Slavery: Reflections on a Segregated Education in Savannnah

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John Peeler: Many white Southerners even today think they can somehow celebrate the glories of the Confederacy while ignoring the oppressive, inhumane institution at its roots. I certainly thought so back then. It was a glorious lost cause; implicitly, the country would have been better off had the Confederate rebellion prevailed.

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