March 11, 2009

When Libertarians Cry

Getting fired is never easy, but the brush-off that bloggers at the Pajamas Media Ad Network received this January was particularly callous. "I just received a Dear John form letter," says Jeff Goldstein, a libertarian and mixed martial artist who writes on the blog Protein Wisdom. The notice began as a promotion for Pajamas Media's new TV channel, but buried halfway through was news that Goldstein's contract--and those of his fellow bloggers on the PJM Ad Network--would be terminated. When I spoke to Pajamas Media CEO Roger Simon five days later, he was unsympathetic.

Obama's Earmark Bind
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First Read had some smart thoughts on the subject today: *** Becoming John McCain: When it comes to the topic du jour -- legislative earmarks -- it’s fascinating how the political world turned President Obama into … John McCain. That’s right, for those of us who followed the two-year-long presidential campaign, it was McCain who crusaded against earmarks, not Obama (who instead said he would work to reform the process and make it more transparent). In fact, had earmarks been the public’s top concern in November, the Arizona senator probably would have won the election.

Chas Freeman's Psychic Defenders
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Newsweek has an important story today providing new details on why the Tiananmen Square Massacre enthusiast Chas Freeman was dropped as Chairman of the National Intelligence Council. The reason seems to be not, ultimately, his views on Israel, but his even more controversial statements on China. Michael Isikoff and Mark Hosenball report that: Chas Freeman, the Obama administration's choice to serve in a key U.S.

Tnr Slideshow: Our Favorite Feuds
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Why worry about unemployment, the healthcare crisis, or the broken financial system when you can take down an ailing Supreme Court Justice, a Republican Barbie, or the ever-mockable Michael Steele? Sometimes it helps to let off a little steam--especially in Washington. Just in time for Thursday night's face-off between Jim Cramer and Jon Stewart on The Daily Show, we bring you a lineup of our favorite feuds from the past few weeks in today's TNR slideshow. --Katie Koch

Nobody Home At Tarp
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The Government Accountability Office has a new report out on the Troubled Asset Relief Program. Fans of the GAO--come on, you're out there--will remember the bodice-ripper "Troubled Asset Relief Program: Additional Actions Needed to Better Ensure Integrity, Accountability, and Transparency," released in December.

Amity Shlaes Sees Very Few Movies
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From Shlaes's Bloomberg column: Every administration has its movie. George W. Bush seemed too often on the wrong side of guerrilla warfare in “The Battle of Algiers.” Bill Clinton mixed business and pleasure with the predictably messy results of “The Apartment.” Now Barack Obama has dropped us all into “The Matrix.” In the Obama Era, it seems, we all pick our way through anxious lives that have something to do with software. Like Keanu Reeves’s Neo, we realize hour-to-hour that we are being manipulated by a system that has its own larger plan.

Barack's Too-long Wish List
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A surprised Rudolph Penner, assistant director of President Ford's OMB and later a CBO director, offered a blunt assessment of the new president: "[He] has proposed a huge restructuring of government, and people are actually taking him seriously. The man ...

March 10, 2009

The TNR Roundtable Part 8: What Should Obama Do About Darfur?
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Click here to read Part 7: Diplomacy, Not Regime Change.Click here for links to each part of the conversation. From: Eric Reeves To: Alex de Waal, Richard Just, Andrew Natsios, Elizabeth Rubin, Alan WolfeIn response to Alan Wolfe’s query about whether I’m happy with the ICC’s decision to issue a warrant for crimes against humanity but not genocide, I think it’s important to recall just how serious the designation “crimes against humanity” is in international law.

The TNR Roundtable Part 9: What Should Obama Do About Darfur?
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Click here to read Part 8: The ICC's Botched Decision--And Why Obama Should Support It.Click here for links to each part of the conversation. From: Alan Wolfe To: Alex de Waal, Richard Just, Andrew Natsios, Eric Reeves, Elizabeth RubinAlex de Waal would like this discussion to get back to the concrete, specifically to the question of what the Obama administration ought to do about Darfur. But to answer that question, we first have to know what we are dealing with, since any effective policy depends upon a correct definition of the situation. What then are we dealing with? A civil war?

Is Nationalization Even Legal?
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Via Andrew, I see Time's razor sharp economics columnist, Justin Fox, has some questions about whether the government could seize a bank like Citi even if it wanted to: FDIC chairman Sheila Bair doesn't think a full government takeover of Citigroup and other multinational financial institutions is practical or even possible. Here are her reasons, as summarized by Pete Davis: 1. The legal authority to take over large banks does not currently extend to multinational financial conglomerates;2. The FDIC lacks the funding to conduct such a massive bailout;3.