Fright Night, DC Style
October 23, 2009

With just over a week until trick or treat, NY mag's "Vulture" has posted its very helpful list of 7 Halloween Costumes to Avoid (paired with savvier alternatives.) I'm in complete agreement with all, especially the ban on dead celebs (despite my fondness for Farrah hair) and on Sarah Palin (unless you can get a hold of that va-va-voom jogging suit she's sporting on the cover of her new book). I'm also enchanted by the vision of scores of "Levi Johnston's" trooping around New York wearing only body stockings and strategically placed copies of Playgirl.

What to Think of Net Neutrality
October 23, 2009

Yesterday the Federal Communications Commission voted unanimously to begin writing “net neutrality” rules to prevent Internet providers from determining which content or services reaches their customers. Several weeks ago, Jeff Rosen wrote a magazine piece on network neutrality in which he argued that a lack of it can amount to discrimination, as well as restriction of free speech: The Comcast case is a model for the free-speech battles of the future, where Internet and wireless providers may want to favor certain content providers over others in order to maximize profits at the expense of con

The Art of the Impossible: Building Megaprojects
October 23, 2009

"Jane Jacobs not Marc Jacobs" reads a postcard making the rounds in New York City’s Greenwich Village, a plaint against the increasing "mall-ification" of that venerable neighborhood. But beyond her old stomping ground--where she famously stopped highway builder Robert Moses from building an expressway through Washington Square Park--Jane Jacobs’ ideas continue to resonate in the messy debates over how we move people and goods around our regional economies. Lately, that currency has been given a boost by Anthony Flint’s recent book, Wrestling with Moses, about the battles Jacobs fought with

Can Limits on Executive Pay Solve the Too Big To Fail Problem?
October 23, 2009

On Wednesday, Dan Tarullo, a governor of the Federal Reserve and distinguished law school professor, dismissed breaking up big banks as “more a provocative idea than a proposal” and instead put almost all his eggs in the “creation by Congress of a special resolution procedure for systemically important financial firms.” He stressed: “We are hopeful that Congress will, in its legislative response to the crisis, include a resolution mechanism and an extension of regulation to all systemically important financial institutions” (full speech). This put him strikingly at odds with Mervyn King, gove

The Movie Review: 'The Damned United'
October 23, 2009

Brian Clough is a legend among English soccer managers. He was the youngest coach in the league when, at 30, he took over Hartlepools United in 1965. In the early 1970s, he lifted a mediocre Derby County team from the Second Division to champion of the First, playing in a European Cup semifinal along the way. And in the late 1970s, he took an obscure Nottingham Forest squad all the way to back-to-back European Cup trophies, a feat considered one of the greatest in the history of the sport.

Kerry in Kabul
October 22, 2009

I do not think that many of us know a lot about Afghanistan. And what most of us know is from one book. It is by a young British officer-scholastic, Rory Stewart, who seized people's attention with what some might call a travelogue. If The Places in Between is a travelogue, so is Democracy in America. Still, if Rory is of a type, he compares with Wilfred Thesiger, three generations earlier, also a Brit with aristocratic bearing and blood and the luck to be there in command when a significant military event was about to happen. Both had pens, very sharp pens.

Trigger Unhappy
October 22, 2009

Jacob S. Hacker is the Stanley B. Resor Professor of Political Science at Yale University. An expert on the politics of U.S. health and social policy, he is author, coauthor, or editor of numerous books and articles, both scholarly and popular, including The Great Risk Shift: The New Economic Insecurity and the Decline of the American Dream (2006; paperback, January 2008) and Health At Risk: America’s Ailing Health System and How to Heal It (2008). As closed-door discussions continue in the Senate, the idea of triggering the public health insurance option is once again on the table.

What Did Bush Bequeath Obama in Afghanistan?
October 22, 2009

Dick Cheney says the Bush administration left the Obama administration with a plan (and a good one) for Afghanistan: The President’s chief of staff claimed that the Bush Administration hadn’t asked any tough questions about Afghanistan, and he complained that the Obama Administration had to start from scratch to put together a strategy.

The Hard Sell
October 22, 2009

President Obama faces an enormous political challenge in figuring out how to respond to General Stanley McChrystal's request for more soldiers in Afghanistan. One the one hand, resisting troop requests from the military during a time of war is difficult for any chief executive--particularly for Democratic presidents.

The Consensus on Big Banks is Beginning to Crack
October 21, 2009

Just when our biggest banks thought they were out of the woods and into the money, the official consensus in their favor begins to crack. The Obama administration’s publicly stated view--from the highest level in the White House--remains that the banks cannot or should not be broken up. Their argument is that the big banks can be regulated into permanently low risk behavior. In contrast, in an interview reported in the NYT this morning, Paul Volcker argues that attempts to regulate these banks will fail: “The only viable solution, in the Volcker view, is to break up the giants.