June 01, 2009

Identity Catastrophe
12:00 AM

Click here for Margo Howard's coverage of the first two days of Week Two. Click here for the last two days of Week Two. Click here for her coverage of Week Three. And click here for her concluding coverage. Last July one of The Boston Globe guys who’s a pal called to ask if I knew any Rockefellers. I said yes. He said, “Can you find out if anyone in the family who would be in his 40s is named ‘Clark’?” I asked why. He said someone who identified himself as a Rockefeller just kidnapped his seven-year-old daughter and left town with her.

Is China Taking Tim Geithner To The Cleaners?
12:00 AM

On his China visit, Secretary Geithner is immediately on the defensive. The language he is using on the Chinese policy of exchange rate undervaluation-through-intervention is the mildest available. And the commitment he is making, in terms of bringing down the U.S. deficit--which we all favor--is an extraordinary thing to put numbers on in a foreign capital. Such commitments are of course unenforceable, but still the wording indicates--and is understood by China--great U.S. weakness. Not surprisingly, China seems likely to push for more. Their main idea is that some part of their U.S.

Who Is Brian Deese?
12:00 AM

If you don't know the answer to that question, don't worry. Just go read David Sanger's nice profile of him in today's Times. (Hint: He's the top White House aide overseeing the restructuring of GM and Chrysler--and the administration aide arguably most responsible for helping Chrylser avoid liquidation.) Update: It's probably worth quoting Sanger's summary of the Deese memo that kept Chrylser from being liquidated. It's a pretty important insight when you weigh the administration's approach to the auto industry generally: "Mr.

Even The New York Times...
12:00 AM

Even the New York Times, for which Mahmoud Abbas has been a virtual hero in recent years, seems to have run out of patience with him.  It was apropos his Washington Post interview with Jackson Diehl about which I posted a spine on Friday: "In the West Bank We Have a Good Reality...We Are Having a Good Life."  If that is so, one is tempted to ask: about what are they belly-aching so much?  But, of course, life in the West Bank is not exactly easy.

The End Of Gm As We Know It
12:00 AM

It's been clear for a while now that General Motors, like Chrysler before it, was headed for bankruptcy. But it's still a huge development. And, at least from the perspective of history, it's still a little stunning. GM was the symbol of American industrial might and, for three-quarters of a century, the world's largest carmaker. Now, in order to qualify or government financial assistance, GM is eliminating half of its brands, shedding dealers by the thousands, and laying off a third of its already diminished hourly workforce.

May 29, 2009

Over a Barrel
12:00 AM

As the Obama administration prepares to engage Iran diplomatically, sentiment in Congress is rising in support of applying greater pressure on Tehran. The current centerpiece of this strategy is legislation recently introduced by a bipartisan set of congressional leaders to sanction companies that sell gasoline to Iran or help upgrade Iran’s gasoline refining capacity. Despite the appeal of leveraging Iran’s apparent dependence on imports of refined petroleum, the legislation is unlikely to have much impact.

Gm Trumps Sotomayor
12:00 AM

I'm at the White House listening in on Robert Gibbs' daily press briefing (which just ended). It's not crazy, but a little surprising to me, that there have probably been 2-3 times as many questions about the looming GM bankruptcy as there have been about Sotomayor. It's both a sign that economic concerns still loom very large, and that the White House has been incredibly deft at rolling out its Supreme Court nominee.

Is The New York Times Printing Gossip?
12:00 AM

Somewhat belatedly, I've noticed that numerous commentators have decided to label Jeffrey Rosen's online article about Sonia Sotomayor from a few weeks ago as "gossip." The description has been employed by left-wing or liberalcommentators like Glenn Greenwald of Salon, Adam Serwer of the American Prospect, and Matthew Yglesias of the Center for American Progress Action Fund. Today it's repeated by right-wing columnist Charles Krauthammer. "Gossip" is an effective label for those who wish to denigrate Rosen's reporting or the reputation of TNR, but it's an inaccurate one.

How The Health Care System Is Like The Subprime Mess
12:00 AM

Last night I finally had a chance to read Atul Gawande's terrific New Yorker piece about health care costs, which everyone is recommending. I'll leave most of the analysis to the healthcare wonks (though I don't want to sell it short--it's an engagingly written piece that any civilian will enjoy). But, from where I sit, Gawande's most interesting idea is an analogy he offers up: About fifteen years ago, it seems, something began to change in McAllen. A few leaders of local institutions took profit growth to be a legitimate ethic in the practice of medicine. Not all the doctors accepted this.

Cyber-security: I'm With Richard Clarke
12:00 AM

I'm glad that, amid so many more imminent distractions, the Obama team is taking cyber-security seriously. For most Americans this may feel like an abstract and non-frightening threat. But so did Osama bin Laden before 9/11. And the same man who gave us urgent early warnings about al Qaeda--that would be former White House counterterror chief Richard Clarke--has been saying for years that we're at risk of a cyber Pearl Harbor. Good to see important people listening this time. --Michael Crowley