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.

Obama's Sinister Offensive
October 21, 2009

Last August, when the White House urged the public to share examples of hysterical health care rumors so the administration could help correct them before they spread too widely, Fox News pundit Charles Krauthammer compared it to "Chicago thug politics," Big Brother, and Hugo Chavez. This time around, he again sees the dark hand of Chicago politics: It is one thing for the government, the administration, to attack opponents, institutions, media.

Breakfast and Health Reform--What Could Be More Fun?
October 21, 2009

It's too early to guarantee that health care reform passes. It's not too early to think about what should happen next. What will it take to make the final reform plan work--to make sure that it really provides affordable coverage while realigining the health care system to produce higher quality, less costly care? And what can be done now, as the debate moves onto the House and Senate floors, in order to make success more likely?

Last Standish
October 21, 2009

Standish, Michigan It's two p.m. on a workday, and the casino parking lot is completely full. Hundreds of people have come for the $20 gambling coupons offered to those willing to donate blood. Turnout for the drive was "above and beyond" expectations, says Frank Cloutier, a spokesman for the Saginaw Chippewa Indians, who run the 800-slot complex. The nurses are already turning people away two hours before closing, and they will soon run out of blood bags. "We get free money!" one woman tells me, clutching her coupon as her friends nod in agreement.

October 20, 2009

If readers of The New Republic’s website will let their eyes stroll down the right side of the page, they’ll discover a blog called “The Avenue.” It’s not the sexiest title, and it’s not about the latest White House rumors, but it’s one of the best running commentaries on how the federal government, and state and local governments are trying, or failing, to rebuild the economy.  I’d point to a comment by Mark Muro and Sarah Rahman on the occasion of the Nobel Prize for Physics about how the corporate labs where breakthrough research was nurtured have largely been shut down. And how the Obama a

Uncertainty, Climate Models, And Geoengineering
October 20, 2009

The uproar over Superfreakonomics has led to a lot of smart posts being written on the pitfalls associated with "geoengineering" as a response to global warming. Now, as I've mentioned before, "geoengineering" is often used as a catch-all term for a wide variety of schemes to artificially reduce the temperature of the earth, but Nate Silver homes in on the two most audacious ideas out there: -- Finding some mechanism to shoot sulfur into the atmosphere -- this is the approach that Levitt and Dubner concentrate on in SuperFreakonomics.

Will November 7 > August 20?
October 20, 2009

From the conclusion of the Guardian's extremely thorough anatomy of what went wrong with the August 20 election in Afghanistan: [A] run-off is likely to suffer from many of the same problems as the first vote. It's worth reading the whole Guardian piece to get a sense of just how botched that first vote. really was. And you have to hope the run-off will at least be a little bitter: now that the international community seems more resolved to fight election fraud, maybe Karzai will be less committed to engaging in it. But resolve can only do so much.

Daily Treatment, Full of Irony and Contradiction
October 19, 2009

The Congressional Budget Office tells us what legislation will cost, but can't always answer that question accurately. Lori Montgomery explains. Some legislators representing rural states are very keen to keep down the cost of health care reform, except when it means paying their home-state hospitals less. Eric Pianin and Mary Agnes Carey have the story. Matthew Holt: AHIP needs a public option. Jordan Rau: AHIP needs truth serum. Olympia Snowe tells Ezra Klein she still hopes to strengthen the bill she supported in the Senate Finance Committee.

BREAKING: Obama's Darfur Policy Supports the ICC, Elevates Counter-Terrorism
October 19, 2009

A few things stand out upon a first reading of Obama's official Sudan policy announcement, TNR's copy of which is pasted below. One is the stark language it uses regarding President Omar Al Bashir's indictment by the International Criminal Court (ICC) for war crimes and crimes against humanity.

The Obama Administration Finally Has an Official Darfur Policy. But Where’s Obama?
October 18, 2009

For months, the White House has been saying that President Obama would personally roll out the results of his administration's long-delayed Sudan Policy Review, which will officially set the direction of U.S. policy for Darfur and South Sudan, a region that will soon decide whether to become an independent country. (Update: Click here to read the text of the actual policy and my analysis.) Now, the review is finally here. It will be announced by Hillary Clinton, UN Ambassador Susan Rice, and the U.S. envoy to Sudan, General Scott Gration.