November 14, 2008
A Major, Major Setback For Coal
Wow, stunning news yesterday: The EPA's appeals board sided (pdf) with the Sierra Club and blocked the EPA from issuing a permit for a new coal-fired power plant in Utah. Kate Sheppard has a round-up, but it's hard to overstate the impact of this story. Basically, the board ruled that the EPA's regional office in Denver needed to reconsider its decision not to require any controls on carbon-dioxide emissions. Environmentalists are, not surprisingly, hailing the decision as a huge step toward limiting greenhouse gases from coal plants. So what, exactly, does the ruling mean?
How Edwards Can Really Rehab Himself
The Charlotte Observer's Jim Morrill's reports on John Edwards's first, tentative steps toward political rehabilitation: a debate in San Francisco with Karl Rove and a speech at Indiana University ("about politics and poverty . . . for which he was paid $35,000"). Here's the thing: other than serving one term in the Senate (much of which was spent running for the White House) and two unsuccessful presidential campaigns, what has Edwards really done to warrant a national platform?
Friday's Transition News
Hillary Clinton is being considered for secretary of state--and even met with Obama Thursday. Obama will YouTube his radio addresses from the White House. Sorry, there won't be inauguration tickets on eBay--and a million people might be at the event. WaPo wonders about ideological divides among Obama's economic advisers. CBS asks, could the new Cabinet be an insult to women? All hail the tech czar, whomever it may be. LA Times considers whether Obama should share his activist network with the DNC. Is Obama a comedy spoiler? Eugene Robinson thinks so.
November 13, 2008
Indefinite Detention Center
The Associated Press reported Monday that advisors to President-Elect Barack Obama “are quietly crafting a proposal to ship dozens, if not hundreds, of imprisoned terrorism suspects to the United States to face criminal trials.” This likely signals a major policy shift in the detention and trial of “enemy combatants” at Guantanamo Bay. But the AP’s conclusion that the proposal “would make good on [Obama’s] promise to close the Guantanamo Bay prison” is premature.
More Smart Lieberman Talk
This time from Marc Ambinder, who makes a key point: It's true that he'll have subpoena power over the new administration, but the idea that he'll be a serious political player in the coming term is frankly laughable. If Joe Lieberman wants to wage a one-man crusade against President Obama, he can certainly do so, but it's hard to imagine him winning such a fight, or even making himself look good by losing.
Today's NYT has a thorough story about Michelle Rhee and her efforts to reform D.C.'s supremely screwed up public school system--efforts that, since they involve abolishing tenure, are being fought tooth and nail by the teacher's union. Basically, Rhee is the best thing to happen to the public school system in the District since, well, maybe ever. And if she pulls it off, D.C.'s public school system might actually serve as a model for other public school systems across the country--which, if you know much about D.C.
Thursday's Transition News
Application interrogation? NYT details the new administration's uber-detailed job form. It's out! Get your Plum Book of vacated federal positions today. Obama could cut the White House political affairs office, Politico reports. Techies love the new Washington--and might migrate east. India wonders why, oh why Obama hasn't called. John Bolton says Obama has already blundered on missile defense. The top ten ways Obama can use Web video in the White House. Slate debates the merits of a super transparent administration. And for fun.... Obama the Opera! --Seyward Darby
November 12, 2008
Si Se Puede?
WASHINGTON -- Because of the debate over immigration reform, the word "Hispanic" became a stigma in the eyes of many Americans over the last two years. How ironic then that 10 million Hispanic voters played such a crucial role in last week's presidential election. They voted for Barack Obama by a 2-1 margin, giving him a decisive push in four states--Florida, Colorado, Nevada and New Mexico--that he wrested back from the GOP. Hispanics have tended to side with the Democrats, but never by this large of a margin.
A Better Way To Bail Out Detroit?
I'm still skeptical about this push by both Barack Obama and Congress to fork over billions of dollars to ailing carmakers in Detroit (though, to be sure, James Surowiecki makes a compelling argument that letting GM go bankrupt right now could deal a devastating blow to consumer confidence and, with it, the broader economy). But Tom Evslin outlines an alternative bailout idea for the auto industry that might be worth considering: The US government should order a complete replacement for its vehicle fleet to be delivered over the next four years.
I'm sifting through the impeccably organized 55-chapter "Change for America" volume released today by the Center for American Progress. A call for swift and sound environmental action, from infrastructure development to the creation of a White House level "National Energy Council" wafts through several of the sections on general domestic, economic and national security policy. CAP also includes microtargeted chapters on the Departments of Transportation, Energy, Environmental Protection, Agriculture and the Interior (yes, that one).