Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal on Monday morning dismissed the Republican National Committee's efforts to reduce the number of debates in the Republican presidential primary, and to shorten the primary process, calling the RNC's changes "futile." Jindal also made clear he has no plans -- if he runs for the nomination -- to abide by the RNC's attempt to keep candidates from participating in debates that are not sanctioned by the party committee. "I know there is a lot of concern, especially in this town among Republican party leaders," Jindal said. "There's this ideal of theirs, this idealistic belief, that if we could just have fewer debates, if we could have a gentler, kinder nominating process, that would be good for the party and good for the nominee. Well you know what? Democracy is messy."
Kenan Malik, New York Times: Faced with a horror like the slaughter of 148 schoolchildren and school staff members by the Taliban in Pakistan, it is tempting to describe the act as "inhuman" or "medieval." What made the massacre particularly chilling, though, is that it was neither. The killings were all too human and of our time. The Peshawar massacre may have been particularly abhorrent, but the Taliban have attacked at least 1,000 schools over the past five years. They have butchered hundreds through suicide bombings of churches and mosques. And beyond Pakistan lies the brutality of groups like the Islamic State, Boko Haram and the Shabab. What seems to bind these groups together is that they claim to act in the name of Islam. Why, many ask, do so many of today's most vicious conflicts appear to involve Islamists? And why do Islamist groups seem so much more vicious, sadistic, even evil? read more
WASHINGTON -- THE president of the Palestinian Authority, Mahmoud Abbas, insists on using international institutions to pressure Israel, even after he was rebuffed in the United Nations Security Council, where he sought a resolution mandating Israeli withdrawal from the West Bank and East Jerusalem. Mr. Abbas has now announced that he will turn to the International Criminal Court -- a move that will produce Palestinian charges and Israeli countercharges but not alter the reality on the ground.
A European official I met recently expressed sympathy for the Palestinians' pursuit of a Security Council resolution. I responded by saying that if he favors Palestinian statehood, it's time to stop giving the Palestinians a pass. It is time to make it costly for them to focus on symbols rather than substance.
((I))New York Times((/I)): Americans have known about many of these acts for years, but the 524-page executive summary of the Senate Intelligence Committee's report erases any lingering doubt about their depravity and illegality: In addition to new revelations of sadistic tactics like "rectal feeding," scores of detainees were waterboarded, hung by their wrists, confined in coffins, sleep-deprived, threatened with death or brutally beaten. In November 2002, one detainee who was chained to a concrete floor died of "suspected hypothermia." These are, simply, crimes. They are prohibited by federal law, which defines torture as the intentional infliction of "severe physical or mental pain or suffering." They are also banned by the Convention Against Torture, the international treaty that the United States ratified in 1994 and that requires prosecution of any acts of torture. So it is no wonder that today's blinkered apologists are desperate to call these acts anything but torture, which they clearly were. read more
LAS VEGAS -- ON the first day of the fall semester, I left campus from an afternoon of teaching anxious college freshmen and headed to my second job, serving at a chain restaurant off Las Vegas Boulevard. The switch from my professional attire to a white dress shirt, black apron and tie reflected the separation I attempt to maintain between my two jobs. Naturally, sitting at the first table in my section was one of my new students, dining with her parents.
This scene is a cliché of the struggling teacher, and it surfaces repeatedly in pop culture -- think of Walter White in "Breaking Bad," washing the wheels of a student's sports car after a full day teaching high school chemistry. read more