Political Link List: September 28, 2012

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Today’s links: torture, technowar, and talking points.

New York Times: Election to Decide Future Interrogation Methods in Terrorism Cases (by Charlie Savage)
Key passage: “In one of his first acts, President Obama issued an executive order restricting interrogators to a list of nonabusive tactics approved in the Army Field Manual. Even as he embraced a hawkish approach to other counterterrorism issues — like drone strikes, military commissions, indefinite detention and the Patriot Act — Mr. Obama has stuck to that strict no-torture policy.

By contrast, Mr. Romney’s advisers have privately urged him to “rescind and replace President Obama’s executive order” and permit secret “enhanced interrogation techniques against high-value detainees that are safe, legal and effective in generating intelligence to save American lives,” according to an internal Romney campaign memorandum.”

New York Times: Cyberwarfare Emerges From Shadows for Public Discussion by U.S. Officials (by Scott Shane)
Key passage: “Next month the Pentagon’s research arm will host contractors who want to propose “revolutionary technologies for understanding, planning and managing cyberwarfare.” It is an ambitious program that the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, or Darpa, calls Plan X, and the public description talks about “understanding the cyber battlespace,” quantifying “battle damage” and working in Darpa’s “cyberwar laboratory.””

GQ: They Retort, You Decide! (by Robert Draper)
Key passage: “If you look at history and talk to the experts of the art and science of presidential debates, you find that, during these ninety-minute proto-reality shows, some vital information we can't seem to get anywhere else is exchanged—even if the candidates screw up or if we take the wrong message from their screwups. You'll also find, if you talk to people who have directly advised Obama and Romney, either currently or in the past, that this year's verbal cage fight is anybody's game.”

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Political Link List: September 26, 2012

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From China to Ohio to campaign spending data…

New York Times: Obama’s Journey to Tougher Tack on a Rising China (by Mark Landler)
Key passage: “To some extent, Mr. Obama’s learning curve on China parallels his early outreach to Iran: an initial hope that old adversaries could put aside their differences, followed by a jolting recognition of reality and the ultimate adoption of a realpolitik approach. The difference, officials argue, is that in this case the tougher line has led not to stalemate but to a constructive give-and-take with a country bound to rub up against the United States.”

Washington Post: How the presidential campaigns are spending money, in one chart (by Sean Sullivan)
Click on the link and check out the chart! Here’s a cool fact from the data: “Interestingly, Romney and his allies have dedicated about $29 million more to mail than Obama’s side, dishing out nearly $100 million. Direct mail is a much more targeted medium that leaves room for tailoring messages to specific parts of the electorate.”

Washington Post: Obama showering Ohio with attention and money (by Jerry Markon and Alice Crites)
Key passage: “The president has eaten Cincinnati chili, led the cheers for Ohio State basketball and planted himself in the back yard of a Columbus family to highlight, next to their tomato garden, what his policies did for them. His trips, along with repeated outings by Biden (18 visits) and other Cabinet members, often have come with good news about funding and other government largess.”

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Like Politics? You’ll Like These Books

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Yesterday I shared my first set of political news links. Today, I’m also recommending a few books about politics, legislation, and government. All of these authors have well-established reputations for being astute observers of the political process. If you want to go beyond the short-term focus of the news cycle and look at broader political themes, these look like four of the best recently-released (and in one case, soon-to-be-released) books you can buy.

The Oath: The Obama White House and the Supreme Court (by Jeffrey Toobin)

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The New New Deal: The Hidden Story of Change in the Obama Era (by Michael Grunwald)

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The Price of Politics (by Bob Woodward)

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The Signal and the Noise: Why So Many Predictions Fail – But Some Don't (by Nate Silver)

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Political Link List: September 25, 2012

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I tweet a lot. Like, a lot. And recently, most of my tweets have been about the 2012 presidential election here in the United States. Ever since the Republican primary, I’ve read countless interesting news articles about the election, from the important players to the hot-button issues to the historical trends and political mechanics that affect the campaign.

Starting today, I’m going to be sharing some of my favorite news links on this blog. I’ll try to post a few links every day. I’ll still be tweeting these articles, of course, but now you have another way of getting my political news recommendations. Here we go!

In Arab Spring, Obama Finds a Sharp Test (by Helene Cooper and Robert F. Worth)
Key passage: “In many ways, Mr. Obama’s remarks at the State Department two weeks ago — and the ones he will make before the General Assembly on Tuesday morning, when he addresses the anti-American protests — reflected hard lessons the president had learned over almost two years of political turmoil in the Arab world: bold words and support for democratic aspirations are not enough to engender good will in this region, especially not when hampered by America’s own national security interests.”

Obama’s policy on Iran bears some fruit, but nuclear program still advances (by Joby Warrick)
Key passage: “Although Iran has weathered sanctions in the past, independent analysts say the impact this time has been staggering. Oil exports have plummeted by a third, forcing Iran to shut down oil wells and close petrochemical plants, depriving the country’s economy of billions of dollars each month. Iran’s currency, meanwhile, is in free fall, driving up food prices and jobless rates throughout the country.”

The League of Dangerous Mapmakers (by Robert Draper)
Key passage: “Tanner says that redistricting’s impact has evolved over time, from simply creating safe seats for incumbents to creating rigid conservative and liberal districts, wherein the primary contests are a race to the extremes and the general elections are preordained. “When the [final] election [outcome] is [determined] in the party primary—which now it is, in all but less than 100 of the 435 seats—then a member comes [to Washington] politically crippled,” the retired congressman told me. “Look, everyone knows we have a structural deficit, and the only way out of it is to raise revenues and cut entitlements. No one who’s reasonable thinks otherwise. But what happens? The Democrats look over their left shoulder, and if someone suggests cutting a single clerk out of the Department of Agriculture, they go crazy. Republicans look over their right shoulder, and if someone proposes raising taxes on Donald Trump’s income by $10, they say it’ll be the end of the world. So these poor members come to Washington paralyzed, unable to do what they all know must be done to keep the country from going adrift, for fear that they’ll get primaried.”
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