OUR MAN IN CAIRODAVID IGNATIUSWASHINGTON POST
Probably thinking he had America’s backing, Morsi overreached on Nov. 22 by declaring that his presidential decrees were not subject to judicial review. ... The administration’s rejoinder is that this isn’t about America. Egyptians and other Arabs are writing their history now, and they will have to live with the consequences. Moreover, the last thing secular protesters need is an American embrace. That’s surely true, but it’s crazy for Washington to appear to take sides against those who want a liberal, tolerant Egypt and for those who favor sharia. Somehow, that’s where the administration has ended up.
BIN LADEN, TORTURE AND HOLLYWOODFRANK BRUNINEW YORK TIMES
["Zero Dark Thirty" is] about finding a needle in a uniquely messy and menacing haystack. “Enhanced interrogation techniques” like waterboarding are presented as crucial to that search, and it’s hard not to focus on them, because the first extended sequence in the movie shows a detainee being strung up by his wrists, sexually humiliated, deprived of sleep, made to feel as if he’s drowning and shoved into a box smaller than a coffin. ... To some extent “Zero Dark Thirty” will function as a Rorschach test, different viewers seeing in it what they want to see. But the torture sequence immediately follows a bone-chilling, audio-only prologue of the voices of terrified Americans trapped in the towering inferno of the World Trade Center. It’s set up as payback.
PROFITING FROM A CHILD'S ILLITERACYNICHOLAS D. KRISTOFNEW YORK TIMES
This is painful for a liberal to admit, but conservatives have a point when they suggest that America’s safety net can sometimes entangle people in a soul-crushing dependency. Our poverty programs do rescue many people, but other times they backfire. Some young people here don’t join the military (a traditional escape route for poor, rural Americans) because it’s easier to rely on food stamps and disability payments. Most wrenching of all are the parents who think it’s best if a child stays illiterate, because then the family may be able to claim a disability check each month. ...There's no doubt that some families with seriously disabled children receive a lifeline from S.S.I. But the bottom line is that we shouldn’t try to fight poverty with a program that sometimes perpetuates it.
A LOST CIVILIZATIONMAUREEN DOWDNEW YORK TIMES
Instead of smallpox, plagues, drought and Conquistadors, the Republican decline will be traced to a stubborn refusal to adapt to a world where poor people and sick people and black people and brown people and female people and gay people count. ... Outside the Republican walled kingdom of denial and delusion, everyone else could see that the once clever and ruthless party was behaving in an obtuse and outmoded way that spelled doom. The G.O.P. put up a candidate that no one liked or understood and ran a campaign that no one liked or understood — a campaign animated by the idea that indolent, grasping serfs must be kept down, even if it meant creating barriers to letting them vote.
THE YEARS OF SENATOR DEMINTROSS DOUTHATNEW YORK TIMES
DeMint’s zeal gave his party’s leadership headaches, and his support for no-hopers like Christine O’Donnell helped cost Republicans seats they might have won. But his crusade also succeeded in making the Republican Senate caucus much more interesting — thinning the ranks of time-servers, and elevating rising stars like Marco Rubio and idiosyncratic figures like Rand Paul. More important, DeMint — and the larger Tea Party wave he rode — also succeeded in making Republicans more serious about limited government than the party had ever been under Bush. On spending questions small and large, from earmarks to entitlement reform, the party moved sharply rightward between 2008 and 2012, testing DeMint’s theory that a return to first principles would be enough to win back the White House. But as things turned out, the theory failed the test, and now it’s DeMint rather than Obama who will be leaving office in January.