1. “A pundit’s rosy view of the Pax Americana
That so many Americans continue to take their prognostications seriously is more baffling, and also more troubling. After all, these people have performed abysmally. Time and again—from the collapse of the Soviet Union to the events of 9/11 to the onset of the Arab Spring—events have caught the experts, whether in government or on the outside, completely by surprise. Business owners with comparable performance records go bust. Brokers lose their clients. Physicians get sued for malpractice. Yet think-tankers and policy wonks continue to opine, never pausing to reflect on—or apologize for—their spotty records.
What Kagan and others like him offer is not enlightenment but consolation. Trafficking in knowingness, as opposed to actual knowledge, they sustain the Hollywood fiction that if those who have their hands on the levers of power just do what needs to be done, things will come out all right. Books such as The World America Made fulfill our longing to believe that history does have purpose and direction, that the ongoing chronicle of collective human endeavor is not devoid of meaning. This is an illusion, of course—one to which we desperately cling, and which people like Robert Kagan exploit to the fullest. In the real world, unlike in Bedford Falls, wishful thinking won’t prevent the building and loan from collapsing. Either the books balance or they don’t. As for living happily ever after—well, that’s why we have movies.”
2. “Federal court enjoins NDAA
An Obama-appointed judge rules its indefinite detention provisions likely violate the 1st and 5th Amendments
I’ve been very hard on the federal judiciary in the past year due to its shameful, craven deference in the post-9/11 world to executive power and, especially, attempts to prosecute Muslims on Terrorism charges. But this is definitely an exception to that trend. This is an extraordinary and encouraging decision. All the usual caveats apply: this is only a preliminary injunction (though the court made it clear that she believes plaintiffs will ultimately prevail). It will certainly be appealed and can be reversed. There are still other authorities (including the AUMF) which the DOJ can use to assert the power of indefinite detention. Nonetheless, this is a rare and significant limit placed on the U.S. Government’s ability to seize ever-greater powers of detention-without-charges, and it is grounded in exactly the right constitutional principles: ones that federal courts and the Executive Branch have been willfully ignoring for the past decade.”