May 05, 2011
In October 2008, a month after the collapse of Lehman Brothers—with the United States’s financial system seemingly about to buckle and Washington in desperate need of cash to prevent a total economic collapse—a State Department official contacted his Chinese counterpart about China buying U.S. securities. To his surprise, the Chinese, who had previously displayed an insatiable appetite for U.S. Treasury bills, suddenly balked at lending a hand. The reason, the Chinese official said, was the recent announcement of an impending sale of U.S.
To Be Sure…
May 03, 2011
Always listen for the “to be sure” line, the caveat that reveals we may be getting things backward, or at least getting ahead of the curve. In announcing the death of Osama bin Laden, President Obama wisely put the to-be-sure front and center: “The death of bin Laden marks the most significant achievement to date in our nation’s effort to defeat Al Qaeda. But his death does not mark the end of our effort.” Good. “We must and we will remain vigilant at home and abroad.” Also good. But the point, so obvious as to be redundant the first time around, needs to be made to Americans in particular.
Obama Hates the Rich
April 28, 2011
One of the most amusing cultural habits of American conservatives has been the erection of a kind of social taboo around the rich. Conservatives are not supposed to mention the rich -- indeed, if a conservative must make reference to them, they are usually called "the so-called rich," or set off in scare quotes -- so as not to feed the perception that class differences exist in the United States today.
All The President's Hor D'Oeurves
April 27, 2011
A huge, huge announcement, per Mike Allen's Playbook, about Politico's plans to participate in, cover, and generally win the White House Correspondents Association annual bacchanalia: POLITICO UNVEILS WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENTS’ DINNER GUEST LIST, EVENT DETAILS AND COVERAGE PLANS -- Some guest highlights: Musician John Legend; Texas Gov. Rick Perry; designer Tory Burch; Rep. Anthony Weiner and Huma Abedin, top aide to Secretary of State Clinton; comedian Joan Rivers; financier T.
Keynesianism Does Not Mean Profligacy
April 27, 2011
Henry Farrell and John Quiggan make a pretty fundamental point about Keynesian economics -- it's not a mandate for larger government or larger deficits in general: Contrary to the beliefs of nearly all anti-Keynesians—and, regrettably, some Keynesians, too—Keynesianism demands more, not less, fiscal rectitude in normal times than does the orthodox theory of balanced budgets that underpins the EU. John Maynard Keynes argued that surpluses should be accumulated during good years so that they could be spent to stimulate demand during bad ones.
Five Quick Thoughts on Obama's Speech
April 13, 2011
1. That was a clear, unambiguous, morally grounded defense of the welfare state--as strong and stirring as I've seen from this president. 2. Obama made the case for more revenue, which is the biggest political challenge Democrats face when they talk about deficit reduction. And he sounded more determined than before to block extension of Bush tax cuts for the wealthy. That's promising. 3. My two biggest misgivings are on policy: Obama called for more taxes on the wealthy, not the middle class, and wants an unbalanced approach that favors spending reductions over revenue increases.
The Almost-Inevitable Shutdown
March 29, 2011
A study by political scientist Chris Parker, per the Monkey Cage, identifies a powerful and virtually defining trait of the Tea Party: its adherents believe that President Obama is not just a liberal in the tradition of Clinton, Gore, Kennedy, etc., but a unique threat to the country: To capture the difference between the two camps, we asked whether or not people thought the following proposition true: "Barack Obama is destroying the country." If Tea Party conservatives were as extreme as some suggest, we thought asking a question of this type, i.e., fairly extreme, would tease out differences
Sphinx, Lies, and Audiotape
March 26, 2011
Cairo, Egypt -- On a hot July evening this past summer, toward the end of our interview, Aref Desouki, vice-chair of a faction of the liberal Ghad Party, suddenly got defensive. After dodging questions about Egyptian State Security’s infiltration of his party, the bespectacled, cane-carrying mathematics professor wanted to emphasize that political conspiracies aren’t unique to Egypt. “You are controlled in the U.S. by an underground government,” he said, completely seriously. “A secret government that is related to the Zionists and the Jewish-Christian Zionists.
Answers About Libya
March 24, 2011
Editor's Note: On Wednesday, I raised several questions about our intervention in Libya. Not long afterwards, Heather Hurlburt e-mailed with some answers. Readers may recognize Heather from her past contributions to this blog. A former speechwriter and foreign policy adviser in the Clinton Administration, she has also worked for the International Crisis Group, the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, and the Congressional Helsinki Commission.
Obama's Female Hawks
March 20, 2011
I found it interesting that the strongest voices for intervention in Libya are all female: The change became possible, though, only after Mrs. Clinton joined Samantha Power, a senior aide at the National Security Council, and Susan Rice, Mr. Obama’s ambassador to the United Nations, who had been pressing the case for military action, according to senior administration officials speaking only on condition of anonymity. Ms. Power is a former journalist and human rights advocate; Ms.