Politics

April 17, 2009

The Profile In Cowardice Award . . .
12:00 AM

. . . goes to the "former top official in the administration of President George W. Bush" who's anonymously quoted by Mike Allen blasting Obama for releasing the torture memos. At least have the guts to put your name behind that kind of criticism--which is what Michael Hayden and Michael Mukasey do in this WSJ op-ed making many of the same points. I think those points are very, very debatable--and can be debated by people far more able than I--but there's one argument Hayden and Mukasey make that I really wish could just be retired forever.

April 16, 2009

A New Fight
12:00 AM

WASHINGTON--Let's face it: If the rescue of Capt. Richard Phillips had failed, the foes of President Obama's foreign policy were ready to throw the Book of Handy Jimmy Carter Epithets at him.     Obama would have been called every name in that book: "feckless," "weak," "naive," "powerless," "irresolute," "supine" and "spineless." We know this because all those words had already been hurled at the president even before the Somali pirates grabbed Phillips. Two days before the rescue, John Bolton, President Bush's former U.N.

Turd Blossom In The Mirror
12:00 AM

The depiction of Barack Obama that has emerged from some quarters of the American right is that of a Bush-like figure. He is irresponsibly running up deficits and covering them up with budgetary gimmickry. Under the guise of healing rhetoric, he ruthlessly pressures fellow partisans in Congress to toe the line. He is “filling White House ranks with former lobbyists,” and his administration is devolving into general incompetence. And he has given unprecedented, Rove-like power to his political Svengali, David Axelrod.

Freedom Agenda, Take Two
12:00 AM

st1\:*{behavior:url(#ieooui) } After a century of democracy promotion, from Woodrow Wilson to George W. Bush, many Americans today no longer believe democracy is a realizable global ambition. Whether in Iraq, Afghanistan, or the Gaza Strip, the Bush administration’s single-minded drive to install democratic institutions hasn’t worked as planned, and Americans are frustrated and fatigued by the ensuing chaos.

Torture By Insect
12:00 AM

Waterboarding must be far more physically grueling, but somehow the creeping-bug scenario sketched out in the newly-released Bush White House torture memos feels closer to the pinnacle of pure horror. [Image via Mark Leon Goldberg] --Michael Crowley

Is There A Flaw In Obama's High-speed Rail Plan?
12:00 AM

Earlier today, Barack Obama laid out his blueprint for spending $8 billion in stimulus money on high-speed passenger rail, flagging ten intercity corridors that could receive funds for new lines. The well-trafficked Northeast corridor is also eligible for upgrades, though, as Matt Yglesias's correspondent points out, most of the low-hanging fruit there has been plucked already, and it may be more effective to improve service elsewhere.

Deparle: Two Options For Public Plan
12:00 AM

The Obama administration sent a very clear signal about its feelings on a public insurance option yesterday. It came from Nancy DeParle, who is director of the White House Office of Health Reform, during a briefing sponsored by the Kaiser Family Foundation. Via the Wall Street Journal's "Health Blog," here is what she said: A public plan is something that’s sponsored by the government, and therefore has very low or almost nonexistent administrative costs, compared to others.

Bring In The Antitrust Division (on Banking)
12:00 AM

In early February I suggested there was a showdown underway between the US Treasury and the country's largest banks.  Treasury (with the Fed and other regulators) is responsible for the safety and soundness of the financial system, the banks are mostly looking out for their own executives, and the tension between these goals is - by now - quite evident. As we've been arguing since the beginning of the year, saving the banking system - at reasonable cost to the taxpayer - implies standing up to the bankers.  You can do this in various ways, through recapitalization if you are willing to commit 

Do We Really Want The Results Of Those Stress Tests?
12:00 AM

The Journal says there's still a lot of uncertainty about whether and how much of the stress-test data to release: It isn't clear precisely what information the government might disclose. It remains possible the data won't be specific to individual banks. But some within the administration believe a certain amount of information needs to be released in order to provide assurance about the validity and rigor of the assessments.

April 15, 2009

Why the Democrats Can't Govern
12:00 AM

The last Democrat who held the White House, Bill Clinton, saw the core of his domestic agenda come to ruin, his political support collapse, and his failure spawn a massive Republican resurgence that made progressive reform impossible for a decade to come. The Democrat who last held the White House before that, Jimmy Carter, saw the exact same thing happen to him. At this early date, nobody can know whether or not Barack Obama will escape this fate. But the contours of failure are now clearly visible.

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