Politics

January 06, 2009

Please Update Your Obamaland Map
12:00 AM

 I see from today's WaPo that Susan Sher, the vice president for legal and governmental affairs at the University of Chicago Medical Center, has been tapped as "associate counsel to the president, a position in which she will provide legal advice to first lady Michelle Obama."  For those keeping track of the unofficial networks forming in the new administration, note that Sher also happens to be one of the closest--if not the closest--gal pal of Obama wise woman Valerie Jarrett.

January 05, 2009

The New New Deal Goes Global
12:00 AM

Comparisons between President-elect Barack Obama and President Franklin D. Roosevelt abound. Time put Obama on its cover wielding Roosevelt's trademark hat, pince-nez, and cigarette holder. "A lot of people around Barack are reading books about FDR's first hundred days," said one Obama adviser. Most of the attention has focused on Roosevelt's domestic policy, and the possibility of a New New Deal. But Roosevelt's foreign policy--and his focus on global architecture--offers equally important lessons for Obama.

How to End the Gaza War
12:00 AM

The only real way to end the Gaza War is not an unpoliced cease-fire. Or a cease-fire policed by Egypt and other Arab countries as proposed by Martin Indyk, who clings to his old ideas as a little girl clings to her favorite doll. Or a version of the United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon, which has been interim and useless for more than three decades.

Getting To Know Elena Kagan
12:00 AM

NAME: Elena Kagan AGE: 48 NEW APPOINTMENT: Solicitor General OTHER TOP POSITIONS: Dean of Harvard Law School (2003-present); Associate Counsel to President Clinton (1995-96); Deputy Assistant to the President for Domestic Policy and Deputy Director of the Domestic Policy Council (1997-99) KNOWN FOR: Hiring prestigious, and sometimes controversial, faculty at Harvard, many of whom she lured from other top schools. She oversaw a $476-million capital fundraising campaign.

Oddest Film-related Story Of The (new) Year
12:00 AM

Robert Pritikin, the multimillionaire composer of the "Rice-a-Roni, the San Francisco treat" jingle (doesn't that take me back) is considering a lawsuit against Tom Cruise for featuring the likeness of a famous globe that Hitler used to plan U-boat attacks in his movie Valkyrie. Pritikin bought the original globe in 2007 and had its likeness copyrighted "to keep it from being used in propaganda by sick neo-Nazi groups," in the words of the New York Post.

Obama's Harvard Law Mafia
12:00 AM

The family grows with two new transition announcements: David Ogden, Deputy Attorney General Ogden is currently a partner at Wilmer Cutler Pickering Hale and Dorr and serves as the Department of Justice Agency Review lead for the Obama-Biden Transition Project.  Ogden was nominated by President Clinton to serve as Assistant Attorney General, Civil Division from in 1999 and served in this capacity until 2001. He was awarded the Edmund J. Randolph Award for Outstanding Service in 2001.

Annals Of The Bush Legacy
12:00 AM

If you don't live around D.C. and haven't been following the completely bizarre Maryland police surveillance saga, the Post put out an amazing story this weekend revealing the breadth of the state police's inappropriate efforts to spy on advocacy groups. There are just so many weird details: Intelligence officers created a voluminous file on Norfolk-based People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, calling the group a "security threat" because of concerns that members would disrupt the circus. ...

January 04, 2009

Getting Over the Lebanon Syndrome
12:00 AM

Tel Aviv, Israel With mixed feelings and fingers crossed, Israelis watched their sons and daughters enter the Gaza Strip for a ground operation Saturday evening. For many of them, it was personal--Israel is a small country, a tight-knit society, and almost everyone knows someone now in the line of fire. But for almost all of them, it was also a moment of shared national sobriety and seriousness. “We must win this” was the common phrase one could hear from people on the street, from mothers to wounded soldiers on the radio, from the occasional military commander.

Back to the Front
12:00 AM

Dawn, the morning after Israel's ground incursion into Gaza. Last night, I received an emergency IDF call-up order--via SMS. Israel, 2009. Gone are the days when such commands were hand-delivered or broadcast in code over the radio. Gone are the prearranged assembly points in town where members of various units would meet and file into specially-mobilized buses. Today we travel to our bases individually, often by cab.

The End Of All-you-can-drive Insurance
12:00 AM

Suppose that, instead of paying for gas each time they filled up, drivers paid a fixed sum every six months to cover their fuel costs. This sum would vary based on the driver's age, type of vehicle, and location, but wouldn't change with the number of miles driven. It sounds absurd, of course, but it's exactly what happens in the auto-insurance market.

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