October 30, 2008
LOS ANGELES--The interior of the “Yes on 8” bus looks disappointingly similar to that of a Greyhound bus, apart from some perfunctory “Yes on 8” banners affixed to every other window. But the exterior, a celebration of heterosexual marriage, is more distinctive. Occupying the most prominent spot on the side of the bus is a larger-than-life white couple, a bride and groom, enjoying a wedding kiss. Next to them is a pair of greatly magnified golden rings. Farther down the flank of the bus is a happy black family.
October 29, 2008
WASHINGTON--I recently suggested that the U.S. government's bailout of the financial system, which includes the de facto nationalization of several banks, would arouse populists around the world and give them the perfect alibi to confiscate private property. President Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner of Argentina has been the first to confirm my prediction.Terrified that she would not be able to pay off about $10 billion of public debt fast approaching maturity, Fernandez de Kirchner nationalized her country's private pension funds.
On The Trail And Off Their Rockers
CNN political correspondent Candy Crowley has taken to running through a checklist before bed. Every night she travels with the Obama campaign, she orders a wake-up call, sets one regular alarm and one back-up on her cell phone, which she places strategically out of slapping distance across the room. Then she writes down her vitals: What city is she in? What time zone? What time does she have to be out of the hotel room the next morning? What day is it? With that, she can drift off before the next day’s campaign coverage.
Time was, a major upward swing in the market followed by a half-point cut by the Fed would send American investors on a buying spree. But that time has probably passed. Today Ben Bernanke and Co. are expected to make another interest-rate cut, but market futures were trending down nonetheless. Is that because they don’t expect it to do much? Because they’re withdrawing from yesterday’s frenzy? Or are they reacting to the renewed drop in home prices and abysmal consumer confidence?
October 28, 2008
On Sunday, U.S. helicopters accompanied by a special forces team struck in Sukkariyeh, Syria, just over the border from Iraq. It was a raid with enormous implications for the war in Iraq and the broader war on terror. The target of the raid was a man named Badran Turki Hishan al-Mazidih, better known in his circles as Abu Ghadiya. Since 2004, intelligence officials have been targeting Abu Ghadiya for his pernicious role in Iraq: helping fuel the Sunni insurgency by transporting foreign fighters, money, and weapons. Never before had Americans struck within Syria with such visible fingerprints.
Eli Lake has the scoop on last Sunday's attack in Syria. According to his reporting, the administration has escalated the war on terror in its closing days. Money quote: We have entered a new phase in the war on terror. In July, according to three administration sources, the Bush administration formally gave the military new power to strike terrorist safe havens outside of Iraq and Afghanistan. Before then, a military strike in a country like Syria or Pakistan would have required President Bush's personal approval.
Happy Thought For The Day
Here's a White House memo with a headline and opening guaranteed to make your heart beat a little faster: Ensuring A Smooth And Effective Presidential Transition The Administration's Preparations for the Transition are Unprecedented in Scope and Depth Today, the Transition Coordinating Council (TCC) will meet for the second time, continuing the Administration's comprehensive transition efforts. ... Obviously, I would have preferred that John McCain not make the race to succeed George W.
Rumors that Tom Vilsack might be Obama's Secretary of Agriculture give me just the news peg I've been waiting for to get some mileage out of this Vilsack-ag anecdote (that my editors inexplicably didn't see fit to include in my David Axelrod profile). There was one major bone of contention between candidate Vilsack and consultant Axelrod during Vilsack's 1998 Iowa gubernatorial campaign. As Vilsack explained it to me: I was absolutely in love with my idea that Iowa was going to become a "food capital," by which I meant we'd do more with crops--producing fuels and paper and things like that.
October 27, 2008
WASHINGTON--It has become commonplace in American politics: Certain Roman Catholic bishops declare that the faithful should cast their ballots on the basis of a limited number of "nonnegotiable issues," notably opposition to abortion. Conservative Catholics cheer, more liberal Catholics howl. And that is usually the end of the story.Not this year. Catholics, who are quintessential swing voters and gave narrow but crucial support to President Bush in 2004, are drifting toward Barack Obama.
A Suspended Apocalypse
We are living in an extraordinary time. The world has been badly shaken. In the space of a few days a system that we thought was as secure and assured as the air we breathe lost all its landmarks, its clarity, and was seemingly swallowed up by a black hole. Money--essential to the spirit of peace--congealed, like blood in veins. Credit--this fine word is also expressive of people's faith in others--like a machine that jammed, and then stopped. Confidence--the famous "confidence" that is also integral to the pact among citizens and the reasons it must be perpetuated--like a spell that is evapor