November 14, 2008
The list of infrastructure crises over the last three years reads like an almost biblical catalog of calamity: The I-35W bridge falling into the Mississippi River during rush-hour traffic in Minneapolis; a steam pipe explosion in mid-town Manhattan; and, of course, the drowning of New Orleans. These disasters have inspired a national what I call "infrastructure epiphany" about the need to reinvest. The economic stimulus package being cobbled together on Capitol Hill, which includes a whopping $19 billion for highways and transit, provides the perfect opportunity to do so.
Panic in Detroit
General Motors has come to Washington, begging for a $25 billion bailout to keep it and its ailing Detroit counterparts going next year. But nobody seems too thrilled about the prospect. Liberals dwell on the companies’ gas-guzzling sport-utility vehicles. Conservatives obsess over all the well-paid union members with gold-plated benefits. And people of all ideological backgrounds remember how they used to buy domestic cars, years ago, but stopped because the cars were so damn lousy.
What Does Obama Do With His Machine?
Tom Hamburger and Peter Wallsten have a terrific piece in today's L.A. Times mulling over what becomes of Obama's hugely powerful grassroots infrastructure once he's sworn in. Apparently there's some debate in Obamaland: Traditionally, the new president would blend his campaign operation with his party's national committee.
A Major, Major Setback For Coal
Wow, stunning news yesterday: The EPA's appeals board sided (pdf) with the Sierra Club and blocked the EPA from issuing a permit for a new coal-fired power plant in Utah. Kate Sheppard has a round-up, but it's hard to overstate the impact of this story. Basically, the board ruled that the EPA's regional office in Denver needed to reconsider its decision not to require any controls on carbon-dioxide emissions. Environmentalists are, not surprisingly, hailing the decision as a huge step toward limiting greenhouse gases from coal plants. So what, exactly, does the ruling mean?
How Edwards Can Really Rehab Himself
The Charlotte Observer's Jim Morrill's reports on John Edwards's first, tentative steps toward political rehabilitation: a debate in San Francisco with Karl Rove and a speech at Indiana University ("about politics and poverty . . . for which he was paid $35,000"). Here's the thing: other than serving one term in the Senate (much of which was spent running for the White House) and two unsuccessful presidential campaigns, what has Edwards really done to warrant a national platform?
Friday's Transition News
Hillary Clinton is being considered for secretary of state--and even met with Obama Thursday. Obama will YouTube his radio addresses from the White House. Sorry, there won't be inauguration tickets on eBay--and a million people might be at the event. WaPo wonders about ideological divides among Obama's economic advisers. CBS asks, could the new Cabinet be an insult to women? All hail the tech czar, whomever it may be. LA Times considers whether Obama should share his activist network with the DNC. Is Obama a comedy spoiler? Eugene Robinson thinks so.
November 13, 2008
Indefinite Detention Center
The Associated Press reported Monday that advisors to President-Elect Barack Obama “are quietly crafting a proposal to ship dozens, if not hundreds, of imprisoned terrorism suspects to the United States to face criminal trials.” This likely signals a major policy shift in the detention and trial of “enemy combatants” at Guantanamo Bay. But the AP’s conclusion that the proposal “would make good on [Obama’s] promise to close the Guantanamo Bay prison” is premature.
More Smart Lieberman Talk
This time from Marc Ambinder, who makes a key point: It's true that he'll have subpoena power over the new administration, but the idea that he'll be a serious political player in the coming term is frankly laughable. If Joe Lieberman wants to wage a one-man crusade against President Obama, he can certainly do so, but it's hard to imagine him winning such a fight, or even making himself look good by losing.
Today's NYT has a thorough story about Michelle Rhee and her efforts to reform D.C.'s supremely screwed up public school system--efforts that, since they involve abolishing tenure, are being fought tooth and nail by the teacher's union. Basically, Rhee is the best thing to happen to the public school system in the District since, well, maybe ever. And if she pulls it off, D.C.'s public school system might actually serve as a model for other public school systems across the country--which, if you know much about D.C.
Thursday's Transition News
Application interrogation? NYT details the new administration's uber-detailed job form. It's out! Get your Plum Book of vacated federal positions today. Obama could cut the White House political affairs office, Politico reports. Techies love the new Washington--and might migrate east. India wonders why, oh why Obama hasn't called. John Bolton says Obama has already blundered on missile defense. The top ten ways Obama can use Web video in the White House. Slate debates the merits of a super transparent administration. And for fun.... Obama the Opera! --Seyward Darby