May 12, 2009
The Coleman-steele Nexus
Will Norm Coleman concede if and when the Minnesota Supreme Court rules that Al Franken is the rightful winner of the 2008 Senate election? Not according to RNC chair Michael Steele: No, hell no. Whatever the outcome, it's going to get bumped to the next level. This does not end until there's a final ruling that speaks to whether or not those votes that have not been counted should be counted. And Norm Coleman will not, will not jump out of this race before that.
Survivor: Gop Edition
Dick Cheney's Sunday morning bitch slap of Colin Powell clinched it: The GOP is fast degenerating into a trashy, smack-talking, back-stabbing reality spectacle ala "Real Housewives." So I'm thinking it's time to hammer out some details and make a pitch to the networks. Luckily, one of my colleagues is hitched to someone who runs her own development company. So we've got a leg up! But finding a winning formula can be tricky. Off the top of my head, I see a couple of obvious ways to go: 1.
Harold Pollack is a public health policy researcher at the University of Chicago's School of Social Service Administration, where he is faculty chair of the Center for Health Administration Studies. He is a regular contributor to The Treatment. Over at HuffPo, reporter Ryan Grim reveals that the Obama administration is holding off on its pledge to revoke the ban on federal funding for needle exchange. As Grim reports in this fine little story: … Obama's budget includes language that bans spending federal money on needle-exchange programs.
The Senate Finance Committee is staging a hearing about the issue many observers, myself included, believe is the single biggest challenge in health care reform: Paying to expand coverage over the next few years, before efficiency improvements and other cost-cutting measures start to yield real savings. The purpose of this hearing is not to hash out a final deal.
Not A Road Map But A Calendar
The White House puts out a schedule for Obama's coming talks with various Middle East leaders: Prime Minister Netanyahu of Israel will visit on May 18, President Mubarak of Egypt will visit on May 26, and President Abbas of the Palestinian Authority will visit on May 28. It seems noteworthy that Mubarak is included in that grouping, especially in light of Obama's decision to make his big speech to the Arab world next month in Cairo. The White House, it seems, is eager to once again make Egypt a key player in its Middle East strategy.
Democracy In Pakistan, Cont'd
Why did the Obama team take so much care to drop the word "democracy" during last week's AfPak meetings? Here's your answer: As the Pakistani military pressed its campaign to root out Taliban militants from three districts northwest of the capital, a recent poll showed that an overwhelming majority of Pakistanis did not consider terrorism to be the most important issue facing the country, but instead ranked the economy at the top.
Today At Tnr (may 12, 2009)
Does Petraeus Have The Answer? The Surge Saved Iraq From The Abyss, But In Our Multi-Front War, Failure Is Still An Option, by Dexter Filkins How Obama Could Avoid A Congressional Battle Over ‘Don't Ask, Don't Tell,' by Nathaniel Frank One Of The Worst Scams In Washington Will Be Coming To An End--If Obama Stands Firm, by Barron YoungSmith TNRtv: What Should The Next Stimulus Package Look Like? by Simon Johnson Samuel Beckett Didn't Hate Literature--He Loved It To Death, by John Banville What Would The Middle East Look Like If Iran Gets The Bomb? A Lebanese Preview.
May 11, 2009
When 50 is Too Old
It is now widely understood that presidents must value youth in their Supreme Court nominees. The reason lies in the combination of two factors: life tenure and the party system. Because justices serve for life, presidents can increase their influence on the law by choosing young nominees. Given two-party competition, this incentive can provoke an unhealthy game of how-low-can-you-go: If one party nominates young justices, the other party risks ceding long-term control of the judiciary if it does not choose justices who are at least as young.
Interesting moment the other night at the White House Correspondents' Association Dinner when Barack Obama teased Republican National Party Chairman Michael Steele for his famous inclination towards slightly studious mouthings of hip hop slang. "Michael Steele is in the house. Or as he would say, "in the heezy ... " ...
Too Important To Compromise
One of President Obama's major priorities is making college more affordable, and he now has an historic chance to do that by reforming the way the federal government delivers student loans. Under the current student-loan program, the government essentially bribes banks to lend to students by offering them generous subsidies and promising to take on 97 percent of the risk. As Jon Chait and Kim Clark have written, the program is purely a sop to banking interests--absorbing money that could be used to increase the number and size of Pell Grants.