New Year's Day

Green Energy

Is the Green Movement finished? That is what the Iranian government wants the world to believe. And it has recently been trumpeting a few pieces of evidence to make its case. First came a statement by Mir Hossein Mousavi on New Year’s Eve, which offered five conditions for ending the current impasse.

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President Obama’s speeches have always been notable for both their exquisite prose and their unusually high intellectual level. Tonight’s speech, while probably as effective as such speeches can be, was neither. The dropoff between rhetoric penned by Obama and that by his staff, always noticeable, was especially so tonight.

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Fiscal Disciple

Just before the new year, The Washington Post published the first piece to come out of its partnership with the “new independent digital news publication” The Fiscal Times (TFT). By 7 a.m. that morning, Dean Baker, the co-director of the Center for Economic and Policy Research, argued that in publishing the piece The Washington Post had ceased to exist as “a serious newspaper,” and subsequently over a dozen wonks and academics called for the Post to end its partnership with the “propaganda arm for ideologues.”  Why all the hubbub?

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Yes, I suppose we are in no position to abandon Yemen, although, frankly, I hardly knew we were really there. Well, we are, as I pointed out in my Abdulmutallab posting on New Year's Day. But imagine how Senators Levin and Leahy would have reacted if poor George Bush had stumbled into the sands of "the empty quarter" without so much as advice, let alone consent. Maybe they were informed. But who knows whether, like the memory of Madame Speaker, theirs are also a bit confused. (By the way, among the first to describe one of the world's largest sand deserts was H. St.

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The provost of University College, London, where Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab studied for three years, said that he was "completely shocked" by the news of what the Christmas terrorist had tried to do.

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Obama’s Most Underrated Move of the Year by Noam Scheiber Will Health Reform Open the Flood Gates for Fraud? by Suzy Khimm From the Earning Potential of Prostitutes to Advancements in Monetary Policy: The Year’s Biggest Ideas in Economics by Zubin Jelveh TNR’s Best of 2009: The Reinvention of Robert Gates by Michael Crowley Our Last Ten Miserable, Miserable Years by E.J.

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Bunker Mentality

It’s been a tough first year for President Obama, as critics throughout the body politic bemoan that Mr. Change-We-Can-Believe-In is looking more and more like Mr. Politics-As-Usual. With the coming new year, however, POTUS has a prime opportunity to regroup, reload, and revamp his image. He could start by ditching golf. Seriously. Its venerable White House history notwithstanding, golf is a dubious pastime for any decent, sane person, much less for this particular president.

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The Kristol Ball

If you're logging in for the first time in a few days and catching up on health care reform, you've probably read a few articles about how the issue will play in the 2010 midterm elections, assuming Congress passes a bill sometime early in the new year. Some people think the issue will help the Democrats, because it's a huge, historic accomplishment that will (eventually) address economic insecurity. Others think it will hurt the Democrats, since it's a big government program and won't do anything to boost jobs in the next few months.

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Church and State

WASHINGTON--It is 2009's quiet story--quiet because it's about what didn't happen, which can be as important as what did. In this highly partisan year, we did not see a sharpening of the battles over religion and culture. Yes, we continued to fight over gay marriage, and arguments about abortion were a feature of the health care debate. But what's more striking is that other issues--notably economics and the role of government--trumped culture and religion in the public square.

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I'm just back from Washington, where I spoke with a wide variety of people--inside and outside of the government--about the state of the health care reform debate. Among the many questions I asked was "when," as in "when will a bill land on the president's desk?" (That's assuming Congress passes one; I would never take that for granted.) It's a question lots of people have been asking for the spring. And the answer has kept changing. First it was early September, then October, then Thanksgiving, Christmas, New Year's, and--finally--the State of the Union.

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