June 03, 2009
Showdown in Caracas
CARACAS, Venezuela--A group of foreign writers, academics and politicians was invited here to celebrate the 25th anniversary of Cedice, a Venezuelan think tank that promotes liberal democracy and the market economy, both of which President Hugo Chavez wants to destroy. The government's thuggish reaction turned the visit into a public showdown that helped expose what Venezuelans are going through these days.Although there were visitors from three continents, the authorities took aim particularly at those from Latin America.
The father, the son, and a Connecticut dynasty in peril.
Earlier this spring, Nawaz Sharif threatened to topple Pakistani President Asif Ali Zardari's government. Since taking power in September, Zardari had been promising to reinstate Iftikhar Chaudhry, the chief justice of the supreme court, whom Pervez Musharraf had sacked on March 9, 2007. But Zardari, who feared that Chaudhry would try to either curb executive power or dredge up corruption cases, balked repeatedly. This annoyed Sharif--and many of his fellow countrymen--to no end.
Daily Affirmations 6/3
1. Ezra Klein breaks some news on, and explains, part of a possible administration plan to hold down health care costs. You should real read both of these two posts. An excerpt of the first: There are, I'm told, two policies under consideration. The first is a version of Senator Jay Rockefeller's MedPAC Reform Act. This legislation would move MedPAC into the executive branch. The commissioners would be approved by Congress and appointed for six-year terms.
How Obama Can Save Darfur--in Egypt
Barack Obama's trip to the Middle East is one from which few concrete results are expected. If news reports are to be believed, his speech in Cairo will largely be symbolic. In practical terms, Obama is unlikely to make much progress on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, Iran's nuclear program, or even human rights in Egypt. Yet there is one major issue on which Obama could make serious, substantive strides if he devotes attention to it while he is in Cairo: Darfur.
It's long been remarked that Craigslist is to newspapers what Wal-Mart has been to America's local businesses: a ruthlessly efficient leviathan that robs older businesses of their capacity to generate revenue. But Mark Gimein has a piece in The Big Money that illuminates a key difference. While Wal-Mart is bent on maximizing returns for its shareholders--an appropriate goal, for a corporation--Craigslist is not.
CAIRO-- "I have traces of torture everywhere on my body," says Ayman Nour. Late on a smoldering hot afternoon, Nour is sitting in his well-cooled living room on the top floor of a Zamalek apartment building, surrounded by a display of fine antique furniture and elegant classical art. An oversized painting on one wall features a gaggle of Egyptian politicians, including Nour, outside the national parliament, where Nour served until his arrest and imprisonment by Hosni Mubarak in 2005.
Breaking: Obama Doubles Down
The White House just released a letter from President Obama to Senators Max Baucus and Ted Kennedy. The letter is a follow-up to Tuesday's meeting at the White House and covers a lot of the same ground that Obama's prepared remarks did. But it also has a few new, and important wrinkles. The most important, I think, is some new money on the table. In his budget, Obama set aside a little over $600 billion in a health care reserve fund, in order to finance expanded insurance coverage over the next ten years.
June 02, 2009
The Matter With Kansas
No one who has written about Kansas politics can be unfamiliar with Dr. George Tiller, who was assassinated Sunday as he was entering the Reformation Lutheran Church in Wichita. Tiller has been the target of the state’s right-wing Republicans for two decades. He was also the focus of the fanatical anti-abortion group, Operation Rescue, founded by Randall Terry, which is now headquartered in Wichita.
A Time To Kill
George Tiller was one of the most infamous physicians in the pro-life world. The Kansas abortion provider regularly aborted fetuses, both disabled and healthy, in their final trimester, which few others are willing to do. He further stoked religious ire by retaining a chaplain who offered cremated ashes to parents and baptized aborted remains. But his practices do not fully explain his murder at Wichita’s Reformation Lutheran Church on Sunday.Violence in the pro-life movement has emerged relatively late in the abortion conflict, only recently claiming the lives of abortion providers.