Ilya Shlyakhter (notestaff) - letters to editors
Below are the 50 most recent journal entries recorded in the "Ilya Shlyakhter (notestaff) - letters to editors" journal:
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about this journal|
Letters to the editor --
, war on terror
, hidden costs
, los angeles times
, washington post
, wall street journal
, usa today
, chicago tribune
, the economist
, time magazine
, boston globe
, boston phoenix
, philadelphia inquirer
, ABA journal
Some letters have replies
, some have related material
Others' letters I found interesting: here
immigrants and grandparents|Hypocrisy on Immigration
The Trump administration's proposal under which “Americans would lose the right to petition for their parents” to get green cards would mean a generation of American children deprived of grandparents.
Did none of those who support this proposal have an important grandparent growing up? Do they not see the hypocrisy of denying others what was vital to them?
Tags: hypocrisy, immigration, nytimes
refugees and us|Refugees, Out in the Cold
If we turn back refugees, let’s drop all talk of American exceptionalism. We’re just another selfish group of people out only for ourselves and our own; there is nothing exceptional about that.
Tags: hypocrisy, immigration, nytimes
a president's excuses|‘I was told’ is not an excuse for a president to make
When will Donald Trump realize that “I was told” is not an excuse for a president who gets facts wrong? A key part of his job is to evaluate what he is told, sorting fact from fiction before acting on it (“Trump said Obama never called families of fallen troops — then got fact-checked live”
If he starts a war based on an inaccurate television report, will we accept “I was told” as an excuse?
Tags: boston_globe, politics
trump and russia|The Inquiry Into Russian Influence
Just because both the Russians and Donald Trump wanted him to win doesn’t mean they colluded to make it happen. I can’t even imagine how, exactly, such collusion could work. Mr. Trump’s aides telling the Russians what to hack and when to leak it? The Russians were plenty smart to figure that out on their own.
The Democrats are wasting their credibility on Russia conspiracy theories. If the Democrats lose credibility, who will keep Mr. Trump in check?
Tags: nytimes, politics, russia
investigating election meddling|The Inquiry Into the Collusion and Spying Claims
The F.B.I. director, James Comey, who improperly influenced the election, investigates whether the Russians did?
Tags: hypocrisy, nytimes, politics, russia
lessons from japanese internment|Pre-internment
Re “Reliving a dark chapter in history
,” Feb. 21
It is worth remembering that Japanese American internment was preceded by milder measures that paved the way to greater abuses.
Initially, a curfew was imposed on Japanese Americans. A court in Oregon ruled that the curfew did not apply to American citizens. The Times urged an appeal of that ruling to the Supreme Court, which eventually blessed the curfew. The curfew’s approval, in turn, created the legal precedent later used to approve fullscale internment.
This history is instructive today. Mild measures can become a stepping stone to great injustices.
Tags: courts, hidden_costs, latimes, policy, politics, war_on_terror
debating nominees|The Silencing of Elizabeth Warren and Senate Debates
The prohibition against impugning the character of a fellow senator was meant to stop ad hominem attacks on senators’ arguments, not frank discussion of nominees who happen to be senators. Why should such nominees get less scrutiny than others?
Tags: politics, self-censorship, wsj
dictatorship mentality|The Republicans vs. Obamacare
I doubt that companies “were afraid to speak out” merely because “they feared that Mr. Trump would attack them on Twitter.” Unlike Donald Trump, companies don’t have fragile egos that can be damaged by a tweet. They might lose some customers, but probably not a decisive number.
More likely, the companies are afraid that Mr. Trump will mark them for revenge, and use presidential powers to exact it. They may also fear that business partners will shun a company at odds with Mr. Trump.
Such thinking is common in dictatorships. Is that where we’re headed?
Tags: nytimes, politics, self-censorship
donald trump and the nuclear button|That 3 a.m. Call and the Nuclear Trigger
A foreign leader who gets a false report of an American nuclear attack will have minutes to decide: “Could President Trump possibly have done that?” I have repeatedly asked myself the same question, only to conclude, incredulously, that the answer is yes. What foreign leader will bet his or her country’s fate on the answer being no?( original letterCollapse )
Tags: politics, war, wsj
voting and conscience|A Better Way to Vote?
Voters already have “more than two options” when campaigns begin. You can vote for your favored option in the primaries. If by Election Day most voters have spurned your favored option, that does not mean you’re being deprived of a chance to vote your conscience; you already did.
To accept the constraints of the majority’s decision is not to endorse it but merely to uphold majority rule. Upholding the basic tenet of democracy should not strain your conscience.
Tags: nytimes, politics
millenials and voting|Ugh, millenials
Re “Bernie Sanders’ pollster explains how she can gain ground with millennials
,” Opinion, Oct. 9
What bothers me most about millennials is how they wash their hands of the country when it rejects their views. If the country does not embrace their favored candidate, they disclaim all responsibility for its fate.
But your obstinate country is no less yours than your obstinate child. If your son spurned your career advice, would you profess not to care whether he takes up banking or chainsaw juggling?
Tags: latimes, politics
clinton foundation and the state department|A New XYZ Affair Shakedown or Diplomacy?
If a foreign leader ingratiates himself with our president by supporting one of his priorities—say, by taking some Guantánamo prisoners—and is rewarded by face time with the president, is that corruption or normal diplomacy? What changes when the priority is to improve global education, and the ingratiation is through a donation to that cause?
Tags: politics, wsj
trump's cabinet|Donald Trump and ‘the Second Amendment People’
Re “Trump’s Ambiguous Wink Wink
,” by Thomas L. Friedman (column, Aug. 10):
With each new ugly step by Donald Trump, one question looms larger: What decent person would join his administration? He or she would be stained for life.
Therefore, a Trump administration would be staffed by second-rate characters with no reputation to lose. They would have no standing to confront him when he is wrong; those who dared would be quickly fired. To those who say that Mr. Trump’s cabinet would curb his excesses, stop deceiving yourself and others.
Tags: nytimes, politics
principles for supreme court appointments|Improper Precedents
Regarding “Holding Court
,” May, about the refusal to hold hearings on the nomination of Merrick Garland: The premise of Sen. Mitch McConnell’s “principle” is that the nearest election best reflects voters’ voice. The principle would apply in the third year of a president’s term, since at that point the nearest election is the next one.
This would mean that Justices Clarence Thomas and Anthony M. Kennedy were improperly nominated. Thomas’ appointment would seem particularly improper in retrospect, since the president who appointed him was voted out the following year.
McConnell suggests that a president should not make an appointment that “will affect the Supreme Court for probably a quarter of a century” beyond his term. President Ronald Reagan did exactly that with his appointment of Justice Antonin Scalia.
Tags: aba_journal, courts, politics
republicans and trump|Why Republicans Won’t Renounce Trump
To Trump, it's "common sense" that a judge would use his official power to settle a (presumed) personal grievance. Trump would do that himself in a heartbeat. He had all but threatened to get back at the judge, if he's president: "What Judge Curiel is doing is a total disgrace, OK? But we’ll come back in November. Wouldn’t that be wild if I’m president and I come back to do a civil case? Where everybody likes it. OK. This is called life, folks.”
That's what's so scary about giving Trump such powers. And remember how George W. Bush avenged Saddam Hussein's attempt on his father's life, by invading Iraq? Trump is making enemies -- real and perceived -- left and right. If he pursues them all using presidential powers, what will the world look like?
Is this why Republicans won't renounce him -- they fear what he'll do to them if he's elected?
Tags: nytimes, politics
delegitimizing election-year presidents|A ‘Lame Duck’ President
Re “The Crippled Supreme Court
” (editorial, May 17):
More damaging than the hobbling of the Supreme Court is the delegitimizing of presidents in election years. Hearing that the president is a “lame duck” with limited powers, might soldiers defy his orders? A president not trusted with the appointment pen surely isn’t trusted with the nuclear button.
Are treaties we signed in election years null and void, having been sealed without the people’s voice?
The Supreme Court can work without a ninth justice, but the president cannot without a clear mandate. Do we accept a hobbled presidency a quarter of the time?
Tags: courts, hidden_costs, nytimes, politics
people's voice on the supreme court|Supremely just
Re: “Bad faith confirmed
” (editorial, May 11): Bad faith on Merrick Garland was clear from the start, because the Republicans’ claimed principle — “the people should decide” — made no sense. The people did decide, when they elected the President, that he should fill any Supreme Court vacancies that arise; just as they decided, when they elected the vice-president, that he should fill a presidential vacancy, should one arise. Letting the people decide means respecting decisions they made.
Tags: courts, politics
senate's obligations|Is the Senate’s role in appointments a right? A duty? A power?
The Constitution’s framers clearly considered what would happen if one branch of government failed to act. Article I, Section 7 says: “If any Bill shall not be returned by the President within ten Days (Sundays excepted) after it shall have been presented to him, the Same shall be a Law, in like Manner as if he had signed it.” The omission of a similar provision for the Senate’s failure to consider a nomination must have been intentional.
That the Senate’s stance is constitutional, however, does not make it right. Many constitutional powers would wreak havoc if used without limit. For example, the president could pardon all federal prisoners; the pardon power must have been granted on the implied condition that he would not. The Senate’s power to block all nominees must have come with a similar understanding.
Tags: courts, politics, washpost
supreme court nomination process|Vetting Supreme Court nominees -- not the nominator -- is the Senate's job
While the mechanics may be ambiguous — as your Op-Ed states, “Both sides are acting as if advice and consent is a rule, but instead it is a standard” — its purpose is clearly to vet the nominees. (“Is stonewalling legit?
” Opinion, March 30)
Republicans' nominee-blind process instead vets presidents. That vetting, under the Constitution, rests with voters; their choice is not subject to the Senate's “advice and consent.”
The Senate may, through action or inaction, reject a particular nominee. But it may not reject the nominator.
No matter what reason Senate Republicans give — the approaching end of the president's term, the hypocrisy of some Democrats, the court's fragile balance — vetting the nominator is simply not the Senate's job.( original/unedited letterCollapse )
Tags: courts, fairness, latimes, politics
supreme court nominations|Obama, the Senate and the Supreme Court
Had Justice Scalia lived, we’d have a justice reflecting an election outcome from 1984. Why, then, do conservatives object to a justice solely because he would reflect an election outcome from 2012?
Tags: courts, fairness, hypocrisy, politics, wsj
court-ordered iphone hacking|Apple vs. Washington Over Encryption
The Federal Bureau of Investigation is not asking for a way to remotely hack into your phone without your knowledge. The backdoor the agency wants Apple to enable still requires physical possession of the phone, as well as of special hacking equipment and deep expertise. It cannot be used for mass data collection like that of the National Security Agency.
Apple warns of enabling hackers and totalitarian governments. But what hackers have your physical phone? And what dictators are not already able to coerce you or Apple to unlock your phone?
Current law permits cellphone searches. If we don’t like a law, we should repeal it, not make it easier to evade.
Tags: courts, nytimes, privacy, related_material, war_on_terror
non-lethal weapons|Changing America's Gun Culture
Can’t nonlethal weapons thwart a gunman? There are pepper sprays, Tasers and rubber bullets. They can be fired more freely than guns, with little risk to bystanders. They can be carried by more people in a crowd.
If we can’t be less violent, let’s at least be less deadly.
Tags: guns, nytimes
vaccine injuries|Vaccinations in California
Re “California Is Set to Toughen Rules on Vaccinations
” (news article, June 26):
Now that Gov. Jerry Brown has signed the bill
, California should buy vaccine injury insurance for its residents, which would supplement payouts from the National Vaccine Injury Compensation Program. A direct stake in avoiding vaccine injuries would incentivize the state to mandate only essential vaccines and to grant all proper medical exemptions.
It would also make the state a credible messenger of vaccine safety, especially if the insurance premium is low.
Tags: health, nytimes, policy
mandatory sentences|Innocent people can fold under threat of mandatory minimums
Re "Repeal mandatory minimum drug sentences
" (Editorial, June 7): How many innocent people plead guilty to avoid the chance of a long mandatory sentence? No matter how weak the evidence, a small chance of a long unjust sentence can coerce a guilty plea.
All protections of a fair trial are useless if prosecutors can coerce defendants to give them up.
Mandatory sentences greatly undermine confidence in the justice system.
Tags: boston_globe, courts, fairness, hidden_costs, policy
vaccination requirements|Don't dismiss anti-vaxxer concerns
Since herd immunity doesn't require a 100% vaccination rate, a good compromise for California is to let the unvaccinated enroll in schools with greater than a 95% vaccination rate (if enrolling the kid won't push the rate below the threshold). The unvaccinated would have less school choice and may have to move, but they would not be forced into home-schooling. ("Much in common, but worlds apart on the issue of vaccinating children," June 5
Forcing a medical treatment — even a safe one — is a big intrusion. It is justified to save a kid from major risk or to prevent him from endangering others; other than that, give parents their autonomy.
Tags: health, latimes
Jeb Bush and Iraq|Jeb Bush’s ‘decision’ on Iraq
What Jeb Bush would do knowing what we now know tells us nothing about how he would govern. No president has the benefit of hindsight. The core of the job is to make good decisions with imperfect information. If Mr. Bush would do nothing different with the information his brother had, he would lead us down the same errant path.
Tags: bush, iraq, politics, washpost
university divestment campaigns|Divestment Campaigns
Official stances compromise a university’s ability to produce unbiased research. Would you trust a paper on the risks of abortion from a Catholic school? After Stanford’s divestment from coal companies, will its work on climate change be viewed as research or advocacy? If a school divests from Israel, could its faculty conduct unbiased study of the Middle East? If universities become advocacy organizations, they will lose their place as trusted research laboratories.
Tags: nytimes, politics
putinism and islamism|Keep the Pressure on Putin
Mr. Putin’s brand of nationalism has eerie similarities to radical Islamism. He animates followers by promising to reconquer lost lands and restore past glory. He gives them an instant sense of purpose as guardians of their tribe’s power vis-à-vis the West. He makes clear that tribal interests trump international norms. Chillingly but predictably, this leads to a “loose army of avengers
” similar to the self-styled defenders of the Prophet Muhammad. Having suffered firsthand from radical Islamism, Russians should be wary of adopting its playbook.
Tags: dignity, nytimes, religion, russia
second amendment|Lobbying to Save a Bullet
Re “Move to Ban a Bullet Adds to Its Appeal
” (front page, Feb. 27), about opposition to a ban on ammunition commonly used by target shooters and hunters:
If the Second Amendment protects sporting and target shooting, we should rethink its place in the Constitution. What other sport or hobby has constitutional status? And how is the ability to practice a hobby “necessary to the security of a free State”?
Tags: fairness, guns, nytimes, politics
artists and politics|http://www.wsj.com/articles/the-politically-active-are-political-targets-letters-to-the-editor-1424373713
Regarding James Panero’s “The Whiff of a New Blacklist”
(Arts in Review, Feb. 12): Demands on venues to cancel concerts are indeed improper. But informing concert goers about an artist’s bad acts, so they can decide for themselves whether the bad acts merit a boycott, is useful.
There are good reasons for individuals to boycott Russian conductor Valery Gergiev. When he publicly threw his musical prestige behind Vladimir Putin ’s Ukraine policy, he made his music a political tool. A political tool is a fair target of political protests. Mr. Gergiev has actively promoted actions that brought many people grief, and he has expressed no regret. Decent people may reasonably refuse “communion” with him.
Tags: politics, russia, wsj
interpreting the polls|Obama in the Polls
Re “Obama’s Weakness, or Ours?
,” by Nicholas Kristof (column, June 26):
Fair assessment of foreign policy requires knowledge of the politics, history and geography of the relevant foreign lands. Do Americans have that?
In a poll
conducted in March, just 16 percent of Americans correctly located Ukraine on the map. The further their answer was from Ukraine’s true location, the more likely they were to support military intervention.
In a comparison
with the British and the Scandinavians, Americans ranked last in a 2009 survey of familiarity with current world events.
Pollsters should routinely ask respondents about basic facts, in addition to asking about opinions. If the best informed disapprove of the president, he should rethink his policies. If the worst informed do, he should rethink his message.
Tags: nytimes, policy, politics
Putin's rise|Dealing With Russia Under Putin
Re “Confronting Putin’s Russia
,” by Michael A. McFaul (Op-Ed, March 24):
Last century’s conflicts were not all “ideologically rooted”; offenses to dignity played a part. The imposition of humiliating conditions on Germany after World War I led to the rise of a “revisionist autocratic leader” who promised to restore the country’s stature.
Likewise, the humiliations imposed on Russia after the Cold War — the economic shock therapy that impoverished many Russians, the expansion of NATO, the disregard of Russian views on Kosovo and Iraq — led to the rise of Vladimir V. Putin. The problem is not that “we did not fully win the Cold War,” but that we were not gracious victors.
Our moralistic lecturing of Russia on respecting “international laws and norms” that we violate when it suits us has added insult to injury. Declaring that our national interests trump the rules, while Russia’s do not, amounts to a put-down.
Unrestrained flaunting of American power reminds Russians of their Cold War loss and fuels Mr. Putin’s support.
Tags: dignity, hypocrisy, nytimes, russia
forensic lab scandal|Drug lab’s woes call for strict quality control
Re “Pattern of neglect at state drug lab found”
(Metro, March 5): That a sole “bad actor” could corrupt a state drug lab is cause for dismay, not relief. It means that the lab is only as reliable as its worst worker.
Confidence in a lab’s work comes from robust and transparent quality control, not from trust in a perfect workforce. Known drug-free samples should be continually sent to the lab as part of its normal workload; if any are reported as drug-positive, an investigation should ensue. Such measures could have quickly caught Annie Dookhan’s malfeasance, as well as any unintentional sloppiness.
The extra cost of such auditing is easily justified by the immense financial and human cost of forensic errors. Jurors in drug trials should acquit unless the reliability of state lab reports is confirmed by the testimony of independent auditors.
Tags: boston_globe, courts, policy
Zimmerman verdict|Zimmerman verdict, and column, resonate
Re "Heartsick and numb over the Zimmerman verdict,"
Column by Sandy Banks, July 16
When Zimmerman's conduct is viewed as part of this country's pattern of racism, he is "being judged by what others do." The stereotype of Southern racists who always get away is as strong as the one regarding black criminals; the risk of misapplying the stereotype is as great.
Banks does it when she writes, "An unarmed black kid can be killed with impunity if someone thinks he just might possibly — with no evidence — be up to no good." This implies a strong similarity between Martin's death and past racially motivated killings such as that of Emmett Till, while ignoring key differences such as the self-defense claim credited by the jury.
If we "believe in limitless individuality," we must judge Zimmerman without regard to anything that happened in other places at other times.
Tags: fairness, hypocrisy, latimes
turmoil in Egypt|Egypt and the Fate of Democracy
My respectful suggestion to Egyptians: Consider adding a constitutional provision for “recall petitions” that would force early elections if signed by enough voters.
The existence of such a mechanism would delegitimize military interventions while providing a check against truly bad governments. The validity of a signature list can be verified cheaply and reliably by verifying a small random sample.
Tags: nytimes, policy, politics
gun control|Non-lethal weapons and gun control
Non-lethal weapons should be considered as a major alternative to firearms. If non-lethal weapons such as Tasers and pepper sprays were easily obtainable and widely legal, the objective need for guns would be much reduced. Exchange programs should be instituted to let people exchange their guns for non-lethal variants. Major research efforts should be directed toward developing effective and accessible alternatives to lethal firearms.
I understand people’s need for self-defense and their reluctance to rely on police for protection. But if there is some reason that non-lethal weapons cannot meet this need, I have not yet heard it.
Tags: guns, policy, replies, washpost
Russian adoption ban|The Heartbreak in Russia’s Adoption Ban
Re “Putin Signs Bill That Bars U.S. Adoptions, Upending Families”
(front page, Dec. 28):
Many facets of international adoptions are debatable, but one is not. Stopping nearly complete adoptions is cruel. To let human bonds form and then destroy them shows a level of callousness uncommon even for politicians.
When an American adoptive mother sent her child back to Russia with a note saying she was abandoning him, Russians were rightly outraged. Treating children as objects is offensive. Treating them as political pawns is no less so.
Tags: dignity, hypocrisy, nytimes, politics, russia
Obama and gay marriage|Fallout From the Gay-Marriage Decision
Re “Obama Endorses Same-Sex Marriage, Taking Stand on Charged Social Issue”
(front page, May 10):
President Obama is safe from the charge of opportunism. He did not brazenly insist that he supported gay marriage all along.
He stated his position not to a narrow group of extremist primary voters but to the whole country. His “evolution,” while gradual, has been in only one direction; a year ago, his administration stopped defending the Defense of Marriage Act.
No one seriously believes that Mr. Obama’s new position is anything but permanent. In short, the president looked at Mitt Romney and did the opposite.
prosecutorial misconduct|Prosecutors Stand Accused
Re “Justice and Prosecutorial Misconduct”
(editorial, Dec. 29):
It is the height of hypocrisy when prosecutors, who call others to account for breaking rules, break rules themselves — as they may have done when, according to lawyers for Michael Morton, they failed to turn over important evidence on a murder charge for which Mr. Morton served nearly 25 years in Texas before being exonerated.
How could the United States Supreme Court give prosecutors “nearly absolute immunity” from civil suits for on-the-job conduct?
If anything, they should be held to a higher standard. Otherwise, what moral right do they have to demand punishment for wrongdoers?
And if we the people tolerate prosecutorial misconduct in our name, what right will we have to demand punishment in our name?
Tags: courts, fairness, hypocrisy, nytimes, policy
affirmative action|Sunday Dialogue: Diversity on Campus
Re: “College Diversity Nears Its Last Stand”
(Sunday Review, Oct. 16)
Giving lower-income students a boost in college admissions would have great benefits. More people from humble backgrounds would join the political elite and craft policies that help the disadvantaged. Over time, this would reduce the need for affirmative action.
Unlike one’s race, one’s economic background is not immediately apparent. Thus, means-based affirmative action would avoid casting a cloud of suspicion over anyone’s achievements.
The one impediment to means-based affirmative action is cost: Admitting more low-income students would require an increase in financial aid. But it is a price worth paying for a more representative democracy and a more egalitarian society.
Tags: nytimes, policy
culture in the mideast and in the west|In the Mideast, Days of Tumult
Re “Seizing a Moment, Al Jazeera Galvanizes Arab Frustration”
(front page, Jan. 28):
Reading how even “Western-aligned political factions” in the Arab world protest unfavorable television coverage by attacking and burning the channel’s offices and vans, I am reminded that our nonviolent ways of resolving political disagreements are not a given but a great — and fragile — cultural achievement.
I hope those who take pride in our culture remember that before calling for “Second Amendment remedies” and the like.
Tags: nytimes, politics
WikiLeaks release of diplomatic cables|The Diplomatic Cables, Secret No More
Re “A Note to Readers: The Decision to Publish Diplomatic Documents”
You seem to believe that disclosing diplomatic conversations will not have a dangerous chilling effect on the diplomats’ work. But are you willing to have your internal editorial discussions published? To have others decide what will and what won’t compromise your news-gathering methods? Would that not chill your ability to work?
We’ll know the answers when WikiLeaks publishes a trove of secret New York Times documents.( original/unedited letterCollapse )
Tags: hypocrisy, nytimes, self-censorship
islamic community center near ground zero|Muslims and the Apology Question
Re: Message to Muslims: I’m Sorry
(op-ed, Sep 18):
While Nicholas D. Kristof has the best intentions, he inadvertently promotes the very idea of collective guilt that he seeks to oppose.
He himself has nothing to apologize for; he has not written a bigoted word.
Likewise, Muslims unconnected to 9/11 need not and should not act like guilty people by keeping a low profile near ground zero.
Tags: fairness, nytimes, religion, self-censorship, war_on_terror
israel's nuclear deterrent|In the Mideast, Points of Contention
Re “Nudge on Arms Further Divides U.S. and Israel
” (Diplomatic Memo, front page, July 4):
Of all the demands being placed on Israel, the demand to give up its nuclear deterrent is the most unreasonable. Israel has proved itself to be a responsible steward of nuclear arms.
It has held back from using them even when its existence was threatened during the Yom Kippur war in 1973.
Israel is an established democracy, with little possibility of a military coup.
It has never threatened the existence of any other state.
There are only two reasons for asking Israel to disarm: to assuage Arab pride hurt by not having something Israel has, and to rekindle Arabs’ dreams of someday destroying Israel with impunity.
Israel has no moral obligation to cater to either of these goals.
rights of terror suspects|Justice Dept. Lawyers Under Fire
Re ''Are You or Have You Ever Been a Lawyer?''
(editorial, March 8):
It is not enough to convict terror suspects. We must convict them convincingly, leaving no doubt in the eyes of the world as to their guilt. That requires convicting them despite the best possible defense.
Protecting the constitutional rights of terror suspects protects the quality of our victory over terror.
Tags: courts, nytimes, policy, war_on_terror
international conflicts|Assessing Blame for Conflicts in Gaza and Georgia
Re ''War Report Said to Fault Both Russia and Georgia''
(news article, Sept. 29):
Two recent international commission reports on conflicts -- in Georgia and in Gaza -- have blamed both sides irrespective of who fired first. That is a worrisome trend that does not promote stability. Both conflicts involve long-running grievances, yet it is clear who started the latest rounds of violence: the Georgians with their shelling of Tskhinvali, and the Palestinians with their rocketing of Sderot, Israel.
In both cases there are allegations of a disproportionate response. Yet without the initial attack, there would have been no response at all. No one would have died.
If we want hard-won periods of calm to take root, we must unambiguously censure those who break them.
Tags: israel, nytimes, policy
abortion rights|Abortion Rights and the Constitution
Re ''Not All Abortions Are Equal,''
by Ross Douthat (column, New York Times on the Web, June 9):
The reason for a constitutional right to an abortion -- and to free speech and to due process -- is not that ''where there are exceptions, there cannot be a rule.'' It's that the only way to keep the exceptions narrow is to start with a strong right, and let the courts define its boundaries through ''reasonable distinction-making.''
The courts do take note of the popular will when they survey state laws to discern the evolving standards of decency, and over the years they have fashioned ''saner, stricter legal regimes'' for many seemingly clear-cut constitutional rights. They're fully capable of doing the same for abortion.
Tags: abortion, courts, nytimes
iran and israel|An Afghan Tragedy
Regarding Roger Cohen's ''Israel cries wolf''
(Globalist, April 9): To say that Iran's leaders ''kept its country at peace in the 21st century while bloody mayhem engulfed neighbors to east and west and Israel fought two wars'' is disingenuous given Iran's material support of Israel's opponents in both wars. If a terrorist group were to attack the U.S. with Iranian-supplied weapons, would that mean Iran has remained at peace?
Tags: israel, nytimes
proper use of force|In Search of Another Route to Mideast Peace
Re: ''Obama's Long Shot for Peace''
(column, Feb. 1)
By Nicholas D. Kristof's notion of a ''proportional'' response, the United States should have stopped its attack on Japan as soon as 2,400 people were killed ''in retaliation'' for Pearl Harbor, and should have stopped attacking the Taliban as soon as 3,000 people were killed ''in retaliation'' for 9/11.
The problem is, the goal of these responses is not ''retaliation.'' It is the prevention of future attacks. A ''proportional'' response uses enough force to stop future attacks -- no more and no less.
Tags: israel, nytimes, policy
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