Congress has been formally debating health care reform for almost nine months. And the country, as a whole, has been debating it for years. But now that the last congressional committee with jurisdiction has approved legislation, lawmakers are confronting the essential conundrum that's bedeviled this issue all along: Their desire to expand health insurance coverage exceeds their willingness to pay for it. As deliberations move to the House and Senate floors, then on to conference-committee negotiations, something has to give.
Via Tyler Cowen, a new economic study, inspired by new Nobel-winner Elinor Ostrom, shows that local ownership of tropical forests is the best way to preserve them: In the first study of its kind, Chhatre and Arun Agrawal of the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor compared forest ownership with data on carbon sequestration, which is estimated from the size and number of trees in a forest. Hectare-for-hectare, they found that tropical forest under local management stored more carbon than government-owned forests.
NYT: Afghan and American officials said the earliest that a runoff vote could be held was late this month or early next month, with results expected about two weeks later. Some Afghans said, however, that the vote might have to be delayed because of bad winter weather until the spring, a nightmare situation for a White House that does not want to remain in limbo. For context, here's Stanley McChrystal quoted by Dexter Filkins in Sunday's NYT magazine: When the briefing was finished, McChrystal looked around the room.
No, not Dwight Eisenhower (and his secretary of state, John Foster Dulles), who thought of his Arabs as the Egyptians. Frankly, in 1956, nobody thought of Palestinians, including especially the Palestinians. And, no, not even Jimmy Carter, who, while now especially entranced with the Palestinians, including Hamas, was beginning his macabre infatuation with Hafez Assad. Then there was George Herbert Walker Bush and his sidekick James Baker, who didn't much like the Jews but wanted especially to please the Saudis. The U.S.
As we now know, the Obama White House is re-examining some first-principle questions about the war in Afghanistan. How connected are al Qaeda and the Taliban? What would be the effect of ceding territory to the Taliban? How effective are drone strikes without a major troop presence to support them. The answers to the questions remain unclear. But beyond the substantive mystery, there's also a process mystery. How did the administration and the military brass come away from their first review with such different interpretations of what had been decided?
An interesting article from the NYT's Adam Nossiter on how, with Obama now in the White House, the Guinean junta is wary of getting on the wrong side of the U.S.: When William Fitzgerald, deputy assistant secretary of state, delivered an unusual personal dressing-down to the junta leader, Capt. Moussa Dadis Camara, the reaction was not sputtering rage, as it had been after tough words from the French foreign minister, Bernard Kouchner. Instead, the volatile officer listened with apparent calm.
When the world last left Wesley Clark in early 2004, he was a streaking meteor of a presidential candidate. Still fresh from leading NATO in the Kosovo war, he arrived as a savior for the left, who saw a bulletproof patriot that the rest of America could believe in; hero of the netroots, beloved by Michael Moore and Madonna; hope of the Clintonites, delighted by such a clean ideological slate. Alas, after five blazing months, Clark for President flamed out. There are the conventional explanations: He got in too late. He didn't play in Iowa.
In ClimateWire today, Darren Samuelsohn has a valuable profile of Lindsey Graham, who's emerged as the highest-profile swing vote on climate change, especially after his Times op-ed with John Kerry over the weekend urging the Senate to pass legislation. It seems Graham's been particularly impressed by the national-security arguments in favor of curbing America's carbon dependency: Sen. Lindsey Graham spent his summer testing out lines on global warming.
Editors's Note: Timothy Jost is a professor at Washington and Lee University School of Law. He posts regularly on the Politico health reform arena and on Georgetown University’s Legal Issues in Health Reform blog. I agree with most of Jonathan Cohn’s concerns about the Finance Committee bill and would add to his list a couple of concerns of my own. First, the amended Finance Committee Chairman’s mark includes a “failsafe” mechanism that requires the director of OMB to certify annually that the provisions of the law will not increase the deficit in the following year. If the OMB deter