How To Fight The Tax Cut Wars
July 26, 2010

The next big fight in Congress revolves around extending the Bush tax cuts. Unlike issues like climate change or stimulus, where the public does not accept the Democrats' basic analysis of the problem, on the tax cuts the Democrats hold the whip hand. The question is whether they emerge with a political win, a public policy win, or both. Let's review a few basic facts about the Bush tax cuts. When Republicans took control of government in 2001, their top priority was reducing tax rates on high income earners.

It Is A Show Of Strength To Which The Democratic People’s Republic Of Korea Has Threatened To Respond With ‘Sacred War’
July 25, 2010

 What's this stuff about sacred war coming from a Godless communist  country? OK, revolutionary governments usually exaggerate, Pyongyang  is no exception. In fact, it is a prime instance of such behavior. It cannot feed its own people, and its democratic enemy/neighbor to  the south has been doing just that for them. This does not pacify Kim  Jong Il, the Stalinist leader, nor apparently will it pacify the sick  old man's designated successor, Kim Jong-un, his son, age not quite  known. Do you notice how ‘progressive’ tyrannies have royalist  habits?

Rest Assured, Ladies. Protecting Rights in Afghanistan, Mrs. Clinton Assures, "Is A Personal Commitment of Mine."
July 22, 2010

The Kabul conference has come and gone, a half day fest which put the finishing touches on the plans for Afghani security and how it can be helped by fully 70 governments, all in attendance, and, of course, with the United Nations represented by its secretary general Ban Ki-Moon. On Monday, Mrs. Clinton was in Pakistan; on Tuesday, Kabul; on Wednesday, South Korea, right onto the edge of its demilitarized zone with North Korea. Today, she is in Hanoi and, of course, she has reproached the government of Vietnam for its well-documented contempt for human rights. So we know she travels well.

Notes on the "Average Voter"
July 19, 2010

[Guest post by Isaac Chotiner] Paul Krugman's excellent column today makes a point that readers of this blog will be familiar with: The economy is mostly to blame for Obama's mediocre approval ratings. Therefore the punditry's excessive focus on things like whether the president is "too remote" or " too disengaged" is silly. However, Krugman is much too forgiving of average voters: Unfortunately, however, the evidence suggests that issues don’t matter either, in part because voters are often deeply ill informed.

International Conference in Kabul: Very Important, Ban Ki-Moon and Hillary Clinton Will Be in Attendance.
July 18, 2010

In the British weekend papers which I am reading because I find myself in Spain--the Costa Brava is still a summer outpost of the U.K.--the top story is still Lord Mandelson's tell-most-all book The Third Man, a haunting film title from another war in another time.

Post-Gender Justice
July 12, 2010

The past few months have seen plenty of commentary about Elena Kagan’s status as one of only a few women ever nominated to the Supreme Court. But much of this commentary has rung hollow, consisting of platitudes about how she is a “trailblazer.” Practically no one has focused on what is perhaps a far more important aspect of her gender: Elena Kagan might very well be the first female nominee to the Supreme Court who does not define her gender as salient to her public life. Kagan has been deemed a female pioneer: the first woman to lead Harvard Law School and to serve as solicitor general.

“… Syria Elicits Groans In Washington”
July 03, 2010

So says a headline in Wednesday’s New York Times. And the article by Mark Landler elaborates the cosmic kvetch brought on by the Obama administration’s courting of Damascus. I’ve written about this a few times myself. The courting of the Assad dictatorship was supposed to lure Syria away from its entanglement with the Ahmadinejad regime in Tehran. But the Senate Foreign Relations Committee refused to consider the confirmation of the president’s nominee, Robert S. Ford, as emissary to the Syrians. My friend, John Kerry, loyally subbed for the putative ambassador.

Responsibility, Without the "R"
June 30, 2010

Ezra Klein reads the Congressional Budget Office long-term fiscal outlook and draws from it an important lesson about who's been fiscally responsible--and who hasn't. The major domestic initiatives of the Bush years -- the tax cuts and the Medicare Prescription Drug Benefit -- made the budget picture much, much worse. The Obama administration's health-care reform proposal has, by contrast, made the budget picture much better. (You could say that the stimulus wasn't paid for, but that was sort of the point of the thing.

Why Brandeis Matters
June 29, 2010

Louis D. Brandeis: A Life By Melvin I. Urofsky (Pantheon, 955 pp., $40) I. In 1916, Herbert Croly, the founder and editor of The New Republic, wrote to Willard Straight, the owner of the magazine, about the Supreme Court nomination of Louis Brandeis. Croly enclosed a draft editorial called “The Motive of Class Consciousness,” and also a chart prepared by a lawyer in Brandeis’s office showing the overlapping financial interests, social and business connections, and directorships of fifty-two prominent Bostonians who had signed a petition opposing Brandeis’s nomination.

Who’s Going to Replace Orszag?
June 25, 2010

The first-day stories on Peter Orszag’s looming departure from OMB highlighted a number of possible successors.