June 14, 2009
Editor's Note: Jacob S. Hacker is co-director of the Center for Health, Economic, and Family Security at U.C. Berkeley; a fellow at the New America Foundation; and the editor of Health at Risk: America's Ailing Health System--and How to Heal It. He's also a regular guest contributor to The Treatment. In the fast-moving debate over health care, no idea invites more admiration or ire than the “public health insurance option”--or what I’ve been trying to get people to describe as “public plan choice”.
I'll have more to say about the administration's lackluster response (if one can even call it that) to the ongoing events in Iran, but this sentence from today's New York Times story about Vice President Biden's announcement that the White House will "engage" Iran regardless of how many pro-democracy protestors it kills or ballots it stuffs stuck out at me: That cautious reaction reflected the combustible scene in Tehran, where riot police officers were cracking down on angry opposition supporters, and the likelihood that the administration would be forced to pursue its diplomatic initiative
June 13, 2009
The Verdict Is In
Click here for Margo Howard's Week One coverage of the Clark Rockefeller case. Click here for her coverage of the first two days of Week Two. Click here for the last two days of Week Two. And click here for coverage of Week Three. Coming into today, the defense had high hopes for victory. In addition to the jury’s taking its sweet time with the verdict, during day three of deliberations, it also sent up a question for clarification. The jury asked for the exact definition of criminal responsibility.
The Drama In Iran
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
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
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.
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.
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
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.
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.