James Fallows

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-- Damon Linker wonders about Christopher Hitchens and the veracity of deathbed confessions. -- CBPP's Chuck Marr flags an "ominous warning" on the Bush tax cuts from the Senate last week. -- James Fallows, John Sides, Andrew Gelman, and Matt Yglesias discuss term limits for the Supreme Court. -- Ezra Klein finds a $500 million coin.

New York Times political analyst Matt Bai has a story today about right-wingers who favor repealing the 17th Amendment, which requires the direct election of Senators.

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Steve Clemons, with whom I worked at the New America Foundation in 1999, has some advice for President Obama: Set up a Team B with diverse political and national security observers like Tom Daschle, John Podesta, Brent Scowcroft, Arianna Huffington, Fareed Zakaria, Katrina vanden Heuvel, John Harris, James Fallows, Chuck Hagel, Strobe Talbott, James Baker, Zbigniew Brzezinski, and others to give you a no-nonsense picture of what is going on. That seems, ah, problematic. The only two people who could actually be useful here, Daschle and Podesta, already sit in the outer-advice circle.

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Dear Jons

At the Atlantic, James Fallows is remembering the passage of a similarly audacious health care program, Medicare, during the 1960s: At the time I didn't register the significance of Medicare's passage--something now so engrained as part of the American Way that today's Republicans have positioned themselves as its protectors (against the alleged ravages of the Obama plan). I think that these two quick-reaction TNR articles--by Jonathan Chait, here, and Jonathan Cohn, here--do a wonderful job of registering the significance of the Senate's 60-39 vote today in favor of the bill.

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Last week I criticized the White House for backing down when the Chinese insisted on limiting coverage of Obama's townhall meeting in Shanghai. I still think the Chinese were bluffing, and that their bluff could have been called without any fallout. But James Fallows actually raised the issue in a conversation with a government official who helped organize the trip, and the official's explanation is worth reading: "We negotiated endlessly against a very difficult Chinese government on the issue. Their intransigence tells me several things.

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James Fallows writes: One consequence of having been alive through a lot of modern American history is remembering a lot of mass shootings. I was working at a high school summer job when news came over the radio that Charles Whitman had gunned down more than 40 people, killing 14, from the main tower at the University of Texas at Austin. I was editing a news magazine during the schoolyard killings in Paducah, Kentucky in 1997 and sent reporters to try to figure out what it all meant.

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Who's The Old Guy Here?

In his big debate preview, James Fallows predicted that McCain would "look and sound old and weak next to Obama." But I'm not sure that contrast -- one of the main ones that was supposed to favor Obama -- is really panning out. He looks pretty perky, and whoever did his makeup deserves an Oscar. When McCain grins, he almost looks like the little kid to Obama's stern daddy. --Eve Fairbanks

The Fifth Columnist

This fall, New York Times publisher Arthur Sulzberger Jr. launched a search for a new conservative columnist. It had been nearly three years since William Safire had retired from his weekly column in 2005, and Sulzberger’s initial replacement, libertarian John Tierney, lasted just 20 months before abandoning his column.

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Peter Beinart asks why Iran can't be deterred.

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On February 27, 2001, George W. Bush addressed a joint session of Congress. When the president had last ventured to the Capitol for his inauguration 37 days earlier, he had delivered a homily urging the nation to move past the sting of the Florida recount.

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