January 14, 2009

Orszag On Priorities: Health Care First?
12:00 AM

Hillary Clinton and Timothy Geithner were the Obama appointees grabbing all of the public attention on Tuesday. But Peter Orszag, Obama’s choice for the post of budget director, may have made the most intriguing statement. It came while Orszag was responding to a question by Senator Ben Cardin, the Democrat from Maryland. Cardin asked Orszag about the new administration’s agenda--in particular, where Obama would focus his energies after dealing with the economic stimulus package.

January 13, 2009

Eternal Damnation of the Spotless Mind

I write this in remembrance of the renowned Turkish-Armenian journalist Hrant Dink, murdered two years ago, on Jan. 19, 2007, for his comments on the slaughter of up to 1.5 million Armenians by Ottoman forces during WWI ... in horror that the police officers guarding the 17-year-old murder suspect, Ogun Samast, saw fit to take a video in which he proudly held the Turkish flag as they recorded their brief association with him for posterity ...

Worse Than Hoover
12:00 AM

We are less than two weeks away from the end of the Bush era, but it is not too early to assess how this important presidency went so disastrously wrong. There are already shelves full of books criticizing Bush and his administration, and there will undoubtedly be more as records become available to reveal what will almost certainly be a generation’s worth of damage that we have not yet even recognized. But the whole of Bush’s failure is not simply the sum of his administration’s parts. The key to his behavior is less ideology than a critical aspect of his character.

Obama And Kristol, Together At Last!
12:00 AM

According to the latest pool report, and confirmed here, Barack Obama dined in Chevy Chase, MD, tonight at the home of columnist George Will. Also in attendance: David Brooks, Charles Krauthammer, and Bill Kristol himself.  I imagine this will generate some outrage from the left--potentially at the idea that Obama is already falling into the Beltway cocktail-circuit trap, or perhaps out of mere loathing for the crew in question (although the four fall into different categories, and Will and Brooks in particular have written some pretty nice things about Obama).

The End Of Israeli Democracy?
12:00 AM

More than a few bloggers have jumped on the news that the Israeli Knesset's Central Elections Committee voted overwhelmingly to ban Arab parties from running in the upcoming parliamentary elections, with some of these bloggers using the vote to question Israel's status as a democracy. Allegations of racism surrounding the vote demonstrate a lack of knowledge about Israeli history and society. This is not the first time that Israel has banned an extremist political party. In 1988, the Central Election Commission banned Rabbi Meir Kahane's Kach party for its racist and undemocratic platform.

Backseat Driving Obama's Legislative Strategy
12:00 AM

Brendan Nyhan has some worthy thoughts on the legislative strategy behind Obama's stimulus plan: As I have repeatedly pointed out, the economy and other political fundamentals drive presidential elections. If the US gets caught in a Japan-style deflationary trap, it is extremely difficult to imagine Obama being re-elected. No amount of post-inauguration bipartisan goodwill will change that fact ... This worldview is consistent with the approach to the economy taken by Bill Clinton, who passed a deficit reduction plan on a difficult party-line vote during his first year in office.

Transition News 1/13
12:00 AM

David Sanger offers questions for Hillary Clinton's confirmation hearing.  Closing Guantanamo could take a year.  WaPo says Obama, Clinton, and Kerry form a new foreign policy trio.  Julius Genachowski, another Harvard Law alum, will head the FCC. Questions with David Plouffe: What will be be doing in the new administration?  Christopher Hitches says, Don't Confirm Hillary.

January 12, 2009

Legend of The Fall
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Last month, far from his old D.C. stomping grounds, a very old W. Mark Felt, Sr., died quietly in Santa Rosa, California. The press, who had known him as the dashing, silver-haired spook dubbed Deep Throat, portrayed this as a major event, the passing of one of the late 20th century’s most influential figures. The New York Times remembered him as the man who “helped bring down President Richard M. Nixon by resisting the Watergate cover-up and becoming Deep Throat, the most famous anonymous source in American history.” Across the Pond, the Guardian’s obituary only heightened the legend.

12:00 AM

WASHINGTON -- When Bill Clinton's health care proposal was foundering in the summer of 1994, a group of senators suggested that the administration put off trying to get universal coverage and insist instead on insuring all children. The idea was to make, at least, a down payment on reform. The White House said no and pressed on with its doomed effort to get a bigger bill. The Republicans won control of Congress in the fall. It wasn't until 1997, thanks to the unlikely duo of Sens.

Why Michelle Obama’s Pink Slip Is Worrisome
12:00 AM

To better cover the debate over health care policy, we've asked Harold Pollack to contribute items occasionally. Pollack is a public health policy researcher at the University of Chicago's School of Social Service Administration, where he is faculty chair of the Center for Health Administration Studies. The University of Chicago Medical Center on Friday announced up to $100 million in budget cuts, from an annual budget of roughly $1.5 billion. These will be implemented by the start of fiscal year 2010.