Massive Iceberg Snaps Off Greenland--But What Does It Mean?
August 10, 2010

Yesterday, a massive ice island four times the size of Manhattan snapped off of Greenland's Petermann Glacier. Ominous, no? A disturbing sign of a warming planet? Well… actually, it's hard to say. It's true that, in a broad sense, Greenland has been losing ice faster than it has been accumulating snow in recent years. The thing's clearly melting. But linking this one specific glacier calving to global warming is more difficult, and something many glaciologists are reluctant to do.

Why Elizabeth Warren Will Likely Be Confirmed
July 27, 2010

Last week, Senate Banking Committee Chairman Chris Dodd aroused the ire of progressive activists when he wondered whether Elizabeth Warren, the former Harvard Law professor who is a leading candidate to head the new Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, would be “confirmable.” “There’s a serious question about it,” he said on NPR’s “Diane Rehm Show.” Dodd’s concern is legitimate given that a mere 41 votes can block action in the Senate, and that the GOP has been willing to filibuster even seemingly popular proposals.

Dear Leader
June 03, 2010

Two years ago, the Cato Institute’s Gene Healy wrote an insightful essay in Reason titled, “The Cult of the Presidency.” Healy argued that the office of the president had assumed an almost supernatural place in American life. Not only had presidents assumed powers far beyond those originally intended—though I’d take exception to Healy’s shrunken, nineteenth-century conception of the office’s proper role—but the broader culture had also assigned it powers that go beyond the realm of politics itself.

Social Norm
June 02, 2010

Norm Ornstein on the absurd Sestak "scandal": If what the Obama administration did was impeachable, then Rep. Issa might want to consider retroactive impeachment action against Ronald Reagan, whose White House directly suggested to S.I.

Jeremiah, American-Style
April 30, 2010

Hope in a Scattering Time: A Life of Christopher Lasch By Eric Miller (Eerdmans, 394 pp., $32) In a moving tribute to Christopher Lasch written shortly after his death in 1994, Dale Vree, a Catholic convert and the editor of the New Oxford Review, wrote that “Calvinism was his true theological inspiration.” Lasch was certainly not one of the faithful.

Taking An Incomplete
April 13, 2010

By most accounts, the fourth week of March was a triumph for the Obama administration. After months of wrangling, Congress finally passed health care reform, and the president signed it into law. In the same budget reconciliation bill that sealed the health care deal, Democrats also overcame Republican defenders of corporate welfare and improved the nation's main federal student loan program.

March 17, 2010

Washington—One of the tragedies of the viciously politicized battle over health care reform is the defection of the nation's Roman Catholic bishops from a cause they have championed for decades. Indifferent to political fashions, the bishops were the strongest voices in support of universal health coverage, a position rooted in Catholic social thought that calls for a special solicitude toward the poor. Yet on the make-or-break roll call that will determine the fate of health care reform, bishops are urging that the bill be voted down.

The "Self-Executing Rule" Danger
March 16, 2010

Democrats appear likely, though they haven't fully decided, to pass health care reform via something called a "self-executing rule." Instead of passing the senate health care bill and then passing the changes to it in a separate reconciliation bill, they'd pass a reconciliation bill with a "rule" that deemed the Senate bill to have been passed. So, one vote instead of two. The tactic is called "deem-and-pass." The advantage of this procedure is that Democrats believe it will protect them against unpopular elements of the Senate bill.

Ben Nelson's Bequest
March 15, 2010

The Hill reports on the state of negotiations in the House: Rep. Jason Altmire (D-Pa.), who voted against the House healthcare bill in November, said on "Fox News Sunday" that he has an "open mind" about the final measure. Those kind of public comments invite long discussions with the Speaker, White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel and/or the president. Holding out can lead to benefits. Reps. Dennis Cardoza (D-Calif.) and Jim Costa (D-Calif.), who were undecided days before the Nov.

Health Care Reform As Poker
March 10, 2010

A few years ago, Tom Edsall wrote a great Diarist for TNR arguing, based on his years of playing poker in Washington, that Republicans are better players than Democrats: Republicans are much less risk-averse than Democrats, and taking risks is crucial to poker. Howard Baker noted that Ronald Reagan's 1981 tax cut was a "riverboat gamble." The GOP has consistently demonstrated a willingness to risk high deficits, especially to cut taxes that fall on their biggest donors. The party advocating preemptive war is not likely to be cowed by a big bet.