June 13, 2009

The Drama In Iran
12:00 AM

  Who knows where this is leading. But how ironic it would be if an attempted demonstration of phantom support for Ahmadinejad wound up severely undermining the country's clerical regime. The White House's initial response, meanwhile, is notably cautious: Like the rest of the world, we were impressed by the vigorous debate and enthusiasm that this election generated, particularly among young Iranians.  We continue to monitor the entire situation closely, including reports of irregularities. It'll be interesting to see what tone Obama takes tomorrow.

Ahmadinejad: 1; Obama: 0
12:00 AM

All of us were so eager for Mahmoud Ahmadinejad to lose that we got caught up in the popular enthusiasm, especially among Iran's younger voters, for Mir Hossein Mousavi. Of course, we knew very little about the president's opponent in the beginning. But by election eve Mousavi's political profile looked very much like that of his incumbent rival. Except that he seemed a bit less nutsy. As for what Mousavi thought about nukes, no one could be found to say that he was much different than Dr.

June 12, 2009

Buyer Beware
12:00 AM

One of the more promising signs for health care reform over the past two years has been the apparent support of the business community. Corporate executives and trade groups have repeatedly spoken out about the problems of our health care system. Even more remarkably, they have joined coalitions pledged to finding comprehensive solutions--the sorts of plans that would bring affordable insurance to all Americans while easing the financial burden many companies now face.

Mission Improbable
12:00 AM

As if being the prime minister of Zimbabwe--a nation wracked by economic devastation, starvation, and political oppression for the past decade--was not a difficult enough job, Morgan Tsvangirai must also share power with President Robert Mugabe. Tsvangirai, who has led the opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) since its inception in 1999, became prime minister in a power-sharing accord brokered with Mugabe in early February, almost a year after he and the MDC defeated Mugabe and his ZANU-PF in an election fraught with irregularities.

Daddy Dearest
12:00 AM

For years, a prime method for decoding the impenetrable North Korean regime has been the Dear Leader’s sushi chef, a defector named Kenji Fujimoto. When I met him in Tokyo several years ago, he looked as if he had just stepped off a construction site. His body was squat, his face rough. From his vantage in the kitchen, Fujimoto had been an astute observer of Kim Jong Il’s court—and the struggle within that court to win favor. Years ago, Fujimoto began noticing the growing prominence of Kim Jong Il’s youngest son, Kim Jong Un. He had grown close to his father; a special bond had formed.

Once in a Blue Moon
12:00 AM

This past Wednesday, following the Holocaust Museum shooting, Fox News anchor Shepard Smith expressed anxiety about the spread of Internet conspiracy theories surrounding Barack Obama's birthplace, to which alleged shooter James von Brunn subscribed. "They're on websites, feeding each other the same bunch of hate that's not based in fact, and it's ginning itself up," he observed.

Summers To Chrysler Bondholders: Quit Yer Bellyachin'
12:00 AM

This, from Larry Summers' CFR talk today, sounds about right to me: Mr Summers defended the administration’s handling of the Chrysler bankruptcy – in which union creditors received better terms than debtholders who had more senior claims, alarming many investors who see the order of creditor seniority as a crucial underpinning of finance. He said it was “standard practice” for providers of capital to bankrupt companies to favour some creditors whose goodwill was important to future business success.

My Continued Defense Of David Letterman
12:00 AM

Victor Davis Hanson has responded to the post I wrote yesterday defending David Letterman from his (and Sarah Palin's) attacks: The girl at the game with Governor Palin was not 18-year-old Bristol, but 14-year-old Willow. So logically we are to assume that when Letterman refers to Palin and her daughter at a recent baseball game, he means the actual governor and the actual daughter who actually attended it.  The intent of Letterman's tripartite sexual reference was to suggest that the Palins were synonymous with female promiscuity. (cf.

Of Co-operatives And Co-operating
12:00 AM

On Thursday Senator Kent Conrad, who is both chairman of the Budget Committee and a member of Finance, unveiled a new proposal designed to forge a compromise on the public plan issue: The idea would be to set up non-profit, co-operative insurers--or maybe one non-profit, co-operative insurer for the whole country--that would compete with the rest of the insurance industry. Ezra Klein interviewed Conrad about this yesterday and it is, I think, the best source for understanding what Conrad has in mind. Does his idea seem intriguing and worth trying? Yup. Does it substitute for a public plan?

June 11, 2009

Who's Right? What's Left?
12:00 AM

This week's shooting at the Holocaust Museum has sparked some discussion about whether it's accurate to describe the raving anti-Semite who opened fire at the museum (James Von Brunn) as a "right-wing extremist." That discussion has now taken an odd turn by the news that Von Brunn may have also targeted the offices of The Weekly Standard, a magazine associated with the neoconservative movement. How could Von Brunn be a right-winger, extreme or otherwise, when the Weekly Standard is a magazine of the right?