Politics

February 20, 2009

The Politics of Pig
12:00 AM

Swine was a recurring image in the recent U.S. presidential election, ranging from diatribes against pork-barreling to the oft-repeated lipstick-on-a-pig metaphor. In Israel, however, actual pig meat may have cost Benjamin Netanyahu a chance to return to power.Just a week before the Israeli election, polls predicted a comfortable victory for Netanyahu and his secular rightist party, Likud.

Obama Introduces Win-win-win Budgeting
12:00 AM

The Times reports today that Obama and budget director Peter Orszag are experimenting with something fairly new in preparing their budget: honesty. For his first annual budget next week, President Obama has banned four accounting gimmicks that President George W. Bush used to make deficit projections look smaller.

Obama Introduces Win-win-win Budgeting
12:00 AM

The Times reports today that Obama and budget director Peter Orszag are experimenting with something fairly new in preparing their budget: honesty. For his first annual budget next week, President Obama has banned four accounting gimmicks that President George W. Bush used to make deficit projections look smaller.

Dennis Ross, Finally?
12:00 AM

A person who obsessively tracks Iran policy tells me that Dennis Ross's State Department appointment may finally be announced next week. A second well-connected source says he's heard the same talk but cautions that the Ross rumor mill is often wrong. Both say his portfolio is expected to cover more than just Iran, probably to include the Gulf region as a whole (creating the possibility of overlap with, among others, special Middle East envoy George Mitchell). Whether the administration has yet figured out exactly how it wants Ross to proceed towards Iran is a very different question.

Krugman And The Limits Of Government
12:00 AM

Look, I'm as liberal as the next guy, on this blog at least, but today's Paul Krugman column reminded me of the follies in relying on government activism to bail us out of every downturn. Krugman runs through a greatest-hits list of past economic calamities, noting that in most cases, recoveries occured despite government action, not because of it (the early '80s being an exception).

Photo Of The Day
12:00 AM

US President Barack Obama reads a piece of paper in the Oval Office after arriving on Marine One on the South Lawn of the White House in Washington, DC, February 19, 2009. Obama traveled to Ottawa, Canada, his first foreign trip as president. (SAUL LOEB/AFP/Getty Images) --Michael Crowley

Are All Bankers Idiots?
12:00 AM

The banks are in a freefall. Congress and the White House are eyeballing their actions. Merrill Lynch is such a disaster that the government had to arrange its purchase by Bank of America. Merrill knows it's about to post huge quarterly losses. So what does it do? Doles out literally billions in bonuses to the fattest of the company's fat cats, with the result being that B of A's CEO must now endure the bad PR of being hauled in on a subpoena by NY AG Cuomo.

February 19, 2009

Defining 'Nation of Cowards' Down
12:00 AM

So what does our new Attorney General Eric Holder mean when he says that we are "a nation of cowards" for avoiding "frank conversations" about race?   The meanings we intend often correspond only fitfully to dictionary definitions. If someone asks “Do you have the time?” technically it would be answering the question to just say “Yes” and walk on.

Good Shots
12:00 AM

Last Thursday, three special masters in a federal “vaccine court”  bluntly ruled that vaccines do not cause autism. Thousands of families with autistic children are thus not entitled to compensation from the National Vaccine Injury Compensation Program. Drawing on 5,000 pages of transcripts studded with academic footnotes and expert reports, these special masters made the right call.

Insufficient Boldness
12:00 AM

In the fall of 2007, the Bush Administration had a chance to stop the housing crisis before it would’ve reached the point of being called a crisis. The writing was already on the wall of every foreclosed property, and outside experts articulated workable versions of exactly the kind of scheme announced today by the Obama administration. But with its strong ideological preference for “market”-based solutions and its reluctance to ruffle financial sector feathers, the Paulson team preferred a voluntary loan modification program that proved almost completely ineffectual.

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