January 16, 2009

The Things They Carried

I’m not supposed to be here. This vast training base near the Gaza border where thousands of reservists are preparing for battle is off-limits to the press. Still, everyone in Israel knows someone, and my travelling companion knows a senior army commander who’s willing to break the rules. “Just say you’re my friends,” says the commander, who picks us up in his car near the gate. The commander, whom I’ll call Shmulik, is eager to slip us in. He wants us to meet his men, to tell the world the truth about Israel’s soldiers. Tomorrow morning, he says, they’re crossing into Gaza.

Card Check Compromise
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Barack Obama told the Washington Post yesterday he might compromise on the Employee Free Choice Act because "there may be other ways to achieve the same goal without angering businesses.

Stories From Inauguration History
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From the awkward to the fatal to the drunk, here are some choice moments from inauguration history: John Adams snubbed successor Thomas Jefferson by making a point of not attending Jefferson's 1801 inauguration.

Obama's Going To Need A New Press Dodge
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Jack Shafer, while predicting the inevitable souring of Obama's relationship with the press, makes a good point: One of Obama's most effective press dodges has been to say that there can be only "one president at a time," which he did twice in one press conference a few days after his November victory—first in discussing the economy and later when asked about Iran. On Dec. 1, he used the phrase again when asked about the Mumbai butchery.

Reform: "as Soon As Possible"
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As I mentioned earlier, Peter Orszag’s confirmation testimony--though barely noticed in the media--was full of hints about the policy directions the Obama administration will take. One particularly important clue came during an exchange with Sheldon Whitehouse, the first-term Democratic senator from Rhode Island. When Whitehouse got his turn to question Orszag, whom Obama has tapped to head the Office of Management and Budget, Whitehouse suggested the country faces an opportunity. The U.S.

January 15, 2009

Mysterious Intellect
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WASHINGTON -- For the past two years, Barack Obama has made it hard for anyone to pin him down philosophically. So when he raises his hand on Tuesday, exactly what -- beyond the efforts of an eager, data-driven problem-solver -- can the American people expect? Obama has spent his adult life tilting left while courting conservatives.

The Exit Speech: Bush Let Himself Down As Prez
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I felt very sorry for him at the end [of the speech]. He reminded me of the Japanese admiral whose carrier sank at Midway in the movie I Bombed Pearl Harbor. He's just standing at the helm, stony-faced, while the water rises over his nose. So says a close conservative friend, somebody who's always been a lover and defender of George W. Bush in sickness and in health. I felt the same way, except maybe for the "feeling sorry" part. It's not that Bush looked physically uncomfortable: that shadow of a smirk, so cringe-worthy at tragic moments, is his permanent expression.

Cheney, Dick
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Classsic exchange here from Cheney's self-serving exit interview with PBS's Jim Lehrer. MR. LEHRER: So it doesn't trouble you at all to be leaving office next week with the overwhelming disapproval of the majority of the people, as measured by the polls? It doesn't bother you, personally? VICE PRES. CHENEY: I don't buy that. No, first of all - I don't buy that.

Transition News 1/15
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It seems Obama will have four years with a Democratic Congress. What will that mean?  Republican leaders defend Geithner.  Military planners start scheming for a quicker Iraq withdrawal.  Politico explains why Geithner's tax mistake is a common one.  What Biden will do, without the overblown power Cheney had.  Many of D.C.'s homeless to be taken to shelters for the inauguration.  A Q&A with Carol Browner, the new energy czarina.  How "medical diplomacy" could affect Obama's presidency.  Just how tight is security in DC for the inauguration?

January 14, 2009

Welcome to Washington
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WASHINGTON--The capital of the United States is flooded with visitors for the presidential inauguration. Mention of this city sometimes evokes the wildest prejudices (including the ridiculous notion that America's Founding Fathers were cannibals, courtesy of the "Masters of Horror" TV series!). So, what is life really like here?Before I came to live in Washington, I was convinced that since more than one in four residents work for the government, the District of Columbia was a socialist republic.