March 31, 2009
No Place to Hide
When the Obama administration announced the results of its review of Afghanistan and Pakistan policies on Friday, reporters quizzing the review's authors seemed confused. They wondered whether the recommendations announced by the president amounted to an abandonment or endorsement of the kind of population-centric counter-insurgency strategy employed in Iraq in 2007. Were we embracing a more limited counter-terror mission?
The Next Rick Warren Controversy?
From Dan Gilgoff: The White House has invited recently retired NFL Coach Tony Dungy, whose outspoken Christian faith fueled his 2007 support for a gay marriage ban and has won accolades from evangelical leaders, to join its Advisory Council on Faith-Based and Neighborhood Partnerships, U.S. News has learned.
Ever since Obama canned Rick Wagoner the other day (actually even before), a lot of people have wondered why the administration hasn't been nearly as tough on bank management as it's been on auto industry management. I don't think the situation is quite so neat--the banks have certainly taken a few lumps--but the question is fair enough. It does seem like the administration has less patience for the car-makers.
The Volcano Wars, Ctd.
Last week, I uncovered Bobby Jindal's diabolical plan to bury rival Sarah Palin's presidential aspirations under a deadly layer of volcanic ash. Well, Lisa Murkowski--perhaps hoping that Palin keeps her eye on the White House rather than her own Senate seat--has the Alaska governor's back: "Recently there were some comments made about federal spending for volcano monitoring being wasteful,” Murkowski said during a speech on the Senate floor.
March 30, 2009
From the Jaws of Defeat
<?xml:namespace prefix = o ns = "urn:schemas-microsoft-com:office:office" />Even before the G20 summit begins (with dinner on April Fool’s Day), world leaders have decided not to address most of the major questions of the day: how to adjust monetary policy around the world, how to save Europe from itself (difficult but still doable), and how to break the political and economic power of major banks. And, according to the latest background briefing from the White House, the communiqu?
Stuck Between Stations
WASHINGTON--Just a few weeks ago, the vogue was to declare that "we are all socialists now," and to speak of how capitalist theory and practice were being toppled by an economic catastrophe that proved how profoundly flawed the old system was.There is something to this, especially if what is seen to be falling is not the market system itself but an approach to capitalism that saw government playing an ever smaller role in economic and social life, and finance reigning over production and invention.The bywords now are stimulus (by government), re-regulation of finance (by government), and stron
Adam Posen has an interesting nugget in his Daily Beast piece comparing our financial crisis to the Japanese situation in the 1990s: In essence, the U.S. Treasury’s plan to subsidize private investors’ purchases of the banks’ toxic assets is a too-clever-by-half mechanism to fix the banks while avoiding going to Congress for more upfront on-budget expenditures. One can imagine the discussions at the White House: We have a budget to pass, and cannot give up those goals to give the bankers still more.
Condi Rice spoke to the graduating seniors at Boston College in 2006. One of those seniors was my son. He was not particularly thrilled to have her as his commencement speaker and joined a very dignified protest against her. I disagreed with him. You should be thrilled that such an important and distinguished American is addressing you, I told him. He listened to his conscience, not to me. I had some surprising allies supporting my position during our dinner time discussions.
Obama In The Driver's Seat
President Obama just finished speaking about his plans for the ailing domestic auto industry. And, as reported already, he is offering some pretty tough medicine. Obama's auto task force has determined General Motors can become a viable company. But it will take more radical restructuring, starting with more concessions from creditors, unions, and dealers. GM gets 60 days to make that happen. The transformation in management began over the weekend, with the ousting of GM CEO Rick Wagoner. The verdict on Chrysler is less sanguine: The task force has decided it cannot stand on its own.
Later this year, U.N. delegates will huddle Copenhagen to finalize a new international climate treaty to succeed the Kyoto Protocol. In a conference call with reporters last week, Yvo de Boer, the U.N.'s top climate official, laid out a blueprint of sorts for the ongoing talks. First, developed countries would offer clear targets for greenhouse-gas reductions by 2020. Second, poorer countries, including China and India, would lay out verifiable steps to start curbing their own carbon pollution.