February 15, 2008
Promises vs. Solutions
The following is a response to this article by Laura Tyson. Laura Tyson accuses us of flagrantly misrepresenting Senator Hillary Clinton’s positions on mortgages in two ways. First, she dismisses our claim that Senator Clinton often discusses her policy without any mention of the fact that it applies to only to subprime mortgages. Second, Tyson faults us for not mentioning the fact that Senator Clinton's plan is “voluntary.” Tyson provides a host of press releases in which she says these points are made clear.
I am grateful to Niall Ferguson, whose insightful writings I admire, for bothering to respond to my essay. It is a pity that his response seems to be generated more by irritation than by reading or reflection. Ferguson says: "It is a complete misrepresentation to imply, as he [Sen] does, that I have argued anywhere that 'Americans [should] be inspired by ... early British rule in India.' " But where did I "imply" that Ferguson said anything like this about early British empire (to be distinguished from later days)?
Since 2006, Democratic party activists and liberal groups such as MoveOn.org and the Blue America PAC have been trying to send a message to Democrats who, while holding seats in safe Democratic states or districts, have been voting with Republicans on key issues, particularly the Iraq War. The Connecticut primary battle royale between Joseph Lieberman and Ned Lamont sucked up most of the media oxygen that year. (Lamont ended up winning the Democratic primary, but Lieberman, running as an Independent, beat him in the general election).
A Taxing Argument
Richard Thaler and Susan Woodward’s article on Senator Hillary Clinton’s proposals to address the foreclosure crisis flagrantly misrepresents her policies. It is necessary to set the record straight. In a speech on December 5, 2007, Senator Clinton called on the mortgage industry and the investment community to agree voluntarily to a 90-day moratorium on foreclosures on owner-occupied properties with subprime mortgages, and a five-year freeze in interest rates on owner-occupied homes with subprime adjustable rate mortgages.
The Man Who Would Be King
In April 2005, when President Bush decided to transfer Zalmay Khalilzad from Afghanistan to Iraq, Afghan President Hamid Karzai complained. The Afghan-born Khalilzad had been serving as U.S. ambassador to his native country, and his relationship with Karzai--which dated back to the late 1990s, when both men advised the U.S. oil company Unocal on the construction of a Turkmenistan-Afghanistan-Pakistan pipeline--was strong.
Immunity: Not About Telecoms
Kevin Drum has a great post up explaining why he sympathizes a bit with the telecom companies who facilitated the Bush administration's warrantless wiretapping program: Who's being asked to take the fall? The president? The Department of Justice? Congress? Of course not. It's the telecom companies who are being sued. ... [I]t doesn't seem right that the least culpable party is the one getting taken to court, while the most culpable parties--the president, the DOJ, and both Democrats and Republicans in Congress--get off scot free. This makes a lot of sense. I sympathize with the telecoms too.
The Strong Arm Of Jesse Junior
Here's an interesting AP report that adds to my story on Obama and the Jesse Jacksons and Noam's piece on black pols who endorsed Clinton and today's NYT article on John Lewis announcing his intention to cast his superdelegate vote for Obama: Jesse Jackson Junior is playing a major behind-the-scenes role in bringing black pols who've endorsed Hillary over to Obama. And he's doing it by playing hardball: One black supporter of Clinton, Rep. Emanuel Cleaver of Missouri, said he remains committed to her.
February 14, 2008
In These 'Times'
What is The New York Times’ problem with abortion? The editorial page consistently supports sex education, birth control, and the right to legally end unwanted pregnancy. The rest of the Times, however, often seems uncomfortable with concrete applications of these principles. Not a season goes by that a news item or magazine feature doesn’t imply that women who get abortions are acting with egotism, unhealthiness, and cruelty. The most recent instance of this is Annie Murphy Paul’s “The First Ache,” in last Sunday’s Magazine. “When does the experience of pain begin?” the subtitle asks.
George Milhous Bush
Last week the Bush administration reached its Nixonian climax, as CIA director Michael Hayden confirmed that the government had nearly drowned some people on purpose using techniques that American military men have long known as torture. Attorney General Michael Mukasey said the Department of Justice could not investigate these alleged crimes. White House spokesman Tony Fratto explained why the President may authorize them again. Vice President Dick Cheney declared them a good thing.
Trial by Fire
At long last, one way or another we’re about to learn a great deal about military commissions. The charges prosecutors filed Monday against Khalid Sheikh Mohammed and five other alleged September 11 conspirators cannot proceed credibly to trial in anything less than a viable court system. The evidentiary questions they pose are too tricky, the charges are too severe, the interrogation tactics are too ugly, and with 3,000 people dead and the government seeking death, the stakes are too high.