April 27, 2008
Everybody knows that poilticians like to fudge budget numbers. Specifcially, they use optimistic projections and intellectual sleight of hands to make their initiatives look better. Whether it's tax cuts or new spending programs, they offer all kinds of benefits and yet, magically, manage not to cost that much money. Still, some politicians are more honest than others. A lot more. To take one easy example, Bill Clinton and his advisers may have over-estimated the savings the administration's ill-fated health care plan might have yielded.
April 25, 2008
Cheer Up, Democrats!
It’s all over but the shouting. Even though the Democratic Convention is still four months away and the presidential election is more than six months off, Barack Obama might as well admit that John McCain will beat him so squarely that he might as well start working on his concession speech. At least that’s what you’d assume if you’ve been reading the latest musings of the Washington commentariat, which have only amplified in the wake of Hillary Clinton’s victory in Pennsylvania.
WASHINGTON--Perhaps it was inevitable: The Democrats' battle for the presidential nomination has now led us into the thicket of race and religion.Hillary Clinton's significant victory over Barack Obama in the Pennsylvania primary was the result of many factors, but most troubling for Obama's camp were exit polls suggesting that an underlying anti-Obama vote was responsible for the size of Clinton's victory.One little-noticed finding was that 6 percent of Clinton's own voters said that they would defect to John McCain in the fall against Clinton herself.
April 24, 2008
The Papal Challenge
WASHINGTON--The most jarring word that Pope Benedict XVI is using during his visit to the United States is "countercultural." The American sense of that term is shaped by the 1960s: free love, drugs, hippies, rock music and rebellion. Needless to say, that's not what Benedict is preaching. That word is the key to understanding how Benedict's message runs crosswise to conventional liberalism and conservatism. Benedict came to the United States as a quiet but forceful critic of "an increasingly secular and materialistic culture," as he put it during Thursday's Mass.
Music To Torture By
Back in 1961, director Billy Wilder had a pretty good laugh at rock's expense. In One, Two, Three, his zingy satire of politics and consumer culture, a Commie sympathizer is tortured into submission by repeated plays of Brian Hyland’s novelty hit "Itsy Bitsy Teeny Weeny Yellow Polka Dot Bikini." At the time, the bit must have provoked plenty of guffaws, especially from rock haters who saw the music as harbinger of societal decline.
North Korea's Syria Gambit
Well, here's the news from Israel and its wonderful neighbors, some of it via Washington.President Bush reassured visiting Palestinian Authorities president Mahmoud Abbas that by the time there's a new tenant in the White House, Israel and the P.A.
Hey, They Look Asian!
As was widely reported this morning, U.S. officials today laid out the intelligence we have about that mysterious Syrian site the Israelis bombed in September. The New York Times story gave me the impression that the evidence was pretty compelling, since the decision to reveal it had apparently sparked heated internal debate between the Cheneyites and moderates within the administration. Upon closer inspection, though--at least from the reports that have come out so far--the evidence looks a little flimsier.
This time it allegedly involves his nemesis Patrick Fitzgerald, the U.S.
Everybody who follows health care policy is talking about an article in the latest edition of The Hill: "Dems Hedge on Health Care." The article, written by Manu Raju, has on-the-record quotes from two Democratic Senators--Max Baucus and Jay Rockefeller--seriously lowering expectations for what Congress might be able to accomplish next year, no matter who is in the White House come January 2009. For the last year, momentum for universal health care has been buildilng.
April 23, 2008
The End of the End of History
I. In the early 1990s, optimism was understandable. The collapse of the communist empire and the apparent embrace of democracy by Russia seemed to augur a new era of global convergence. The great adversaries of the Cold War suddenly shared many common goals, including a desire for economic and political integration. Even after the political crackdown that began in Tiananmen Square in 1989 and the disturbing signs of instability that appeared in Russia after 1993, most Americans and Europeans believed that China and Russia were on a path toward liberalism.