February 19, 2009

Earth To Eric Holder
12:00 AM

I like Eric Holder. And, no, despite what Peter Wehner wrote in today's Contentions, Holder is not responsible for the pardon given Marc Rich in the late dusk of the Clinton administration. This was Bill Clinton's smarmy move, and his alone.But I, too, am mystified by Holder's remarks, reported by the Associated Press and CNN today, basically denying the progress that Americans have made in their relentless and ongoing march to racial equality.

Jack Valenti, Lbj, And Hoover's Fbi
12:00 AM

In a front page story that has not gotten enough coverage today, The Washington Post reports that FBI officials were intent on determining whether Jack Valenti, aide to President Johnson (and future MPAA head), was gay.  Previously confidential FBI files show that Hoover's deputies set out to determine whether Valenti, who had married two years earlier, maintained a relationship with a male commercial photographer. Republican Party operatives reportedly were pursuing a parallel investigation with the help of a retired FBI agent, bureau files show. No proof was ever found, but the files, obta

Holbrooke: Af-pak Delegations To Dc
12:00 AM

Fresh back from the region, Richard Holbrooke said on PBS last night that the foreign ministers of Afghanistan and Pakistan are headed to Washington next week to meet with Hillary Clinton and interagency policy review officials, presumably including Bruce Riedel. He said an Indian delegation would be coming a couple of weeks later. Interestingly, Holbrooke strongly pushed back at the notion that Hamid Karzai is on the outs with the new administration. --Michael Crowley

I Hate Universal Health Care. Except That I Don't.
12:00 AM

Today's Atlanta Journal-Constitution carries an op-ed on health care that is positively infuriating--but also, in one sense, encouraging. First, the infuriating part.

Regulating Carbon Dioxide
12:00 AM

Big news yesterday. The EPA is expected to follow the Supreme Court's landmark ruling in 2007 and begin regulating carbon-dioxide emissions in the coming months: The environmental agency is under order from the Supreme Court to make a determination whether carbon dioxide is a pollutant that endangers public health and welfare, an order that the Bush administration essentially ignored despite near-unanimous belief among agency experts that research points inexorably to such a finding. Lisa P. Jackson, the new E.P.A.

An Idea That Will Work
12:00 AM

The GOP's insistence that its policy platform is perfectly appealing to young people and minorities, and all it has is a "messaging" problem, gets more entertaining by the week: Newly elected Republican National Committee Chairman Michael S.

Shaun Donovan--rising Star
12:00 AM

I have to say I found HUD Secretary Shaun Donovan very impressive during the background briefing he and Tim Geithner and FDIC Chairman Sheila Bair gave reporters yesterday. I didn't see it live, but reading over the transcript, it seemed like Donovan had pretty much every detail at his finger tips and was able to relate them with real fluency. (In fairness, Geithner and Bair both more than held their own, but I'd seen them in action before.) For what it's worth, this jibes with what I've heard from multiple White House sources.

This Is How You Define Fiscal Responsibility
12:00 AM

Word that the Obama administration was planning a summit next week on entitlements and fiscal responsibility sent shudders through the progressive community. Didn't we just get rid of the guy who wanted to gut Social Security? But Obama has said consistently that the federal government doesn't have an entitlements problem. It has a health care problem. The cost of medical care is skyrocketing. This is turning Medicare and Medicaid into massive drains on the federal treasury. To bring those costs under control, the government needs to change the way we deliver and pay for medical care.

Sizing Up The Housing Plan
12:00 AM

There are two key proposals at the center of Obama's housing plan: one for people still making payments; one for people who've stopped making payments or are about to. Obama would help the first group refinance at a lower interest rate. For the second group, he'd give lenders incentives to accept less money each month than they're currently owed. I can think of two plausible objections--one macro, the other micro. But there are reasonable responses to both.

February 18, 2009

The N-Word
12:00 AM

In the brief weeks that Barack Obama has been president, the n-word has been heard with startling frequency in Washington. We're talking about “nationalization,” of course. The plight of the country's banks has become so severe that the GOP’s incessant cries of “socialism” during last year's campaign, so ridiculous then, suddenly seem too mild a description for the prospect we face.