March 01, 2009
The Freeman Blunder
I wrote an op-ed in Saturday's Washington Post making the case against Chas Freeman, who is the new director of the National Intelligence Council. Update: Matthew Yglesias, in a measured response, points out that having an extreme realist in the administration won't be a disaster because Obama listens to lots of dissenting voices. I agree that this is reassuring and likely to mitigate the damage. On the other hand, Freeman is not just one foreign policy advisor -- his position is a bottleneck that filters the intelligence Obama will see.
February 28, 2009
In Defense Of Obamanomics
Christina Romer, the chair of the Council of Economic Advisors, gave a pretty good defense yesterday of the administration’s stimulus plan. Romer, speaking at the University of Chicago, responded to some conservative criticisms of the plan. One of these concerns how to calculate the “multiplier”--the degree to which a dollar in spending or tax increases will lead to more than a dollar in output and effective demand. The administration’s estimate that its plan would create about 3.5 million jobs was based on using a multiplier of 1.6 for spending and 1.0 for tax cuts.
February 27, 2009
Let Us See the Angel Flights
U.S. Marines, not noted for their sentimentality, call the flights that carry their dead comrades home "angel flights." I witnessed my first of these at a remote airfield in Anbar province, Iraq, in 2005. For about an hour, all activity on the tarmac ceased, including my own unloading of a 727 in my job as a commercial shipper. A furious Marine officer ran to confront me and demand that my pilot cut the 727's engines. The pilot protested--his plane was nearly unloaded, and he wanted to fly to a safer airport as soon as possible--but the Marine permitted no debate.
What Realignments Look Like
I don't know about you, but for me these are disorienting times. I had just turned eleven years old when Ronald Reagan first won the presidency. That means that pretty much from the beginning, my political consciousness has been shaped by the Republican critique of liberalism.
Durban Ii Was A Disaster Avoided
The Obama administration sent a delegation to Geneva to see if the United States could participate in any way in Durban II. Well, it wasted some air fare and hotel charges. But it found that there was no way that American could or should join in what was clearly to turn into a hate fest: against western democracies, liberals, Israel, Jews and--surprise--the United States itself. The decision to stay away from the April gathering was made last night and has just begun to filter through Washington. I think the metaphor used to me was that I was being looped in.
When Dogs Bark Softly
The Obama administration skipped over a lot of the details on Thursday when it unveiled its principles for health care reform. But among the few specifics was a call to reduce payments the goverment makes to private insurers who operate as part of the Medicare Advantage program. The rationale for making these payments is that virtually every unbiased authority who has looked at the payments has concluded they are too high--that what the plans offer do not justify the extra money they're getting. As always, one person's waste is another person's profit.
It's Sebelius For Hhs
Administration officials say that President Obama will nominate Kathleen Sebelius to be his Secretary of Health and Human Services. During her years as insurance commissioner and then the governor of Kansas, Sebelius proved herself an effective manager of govenrment agencies, an effective watchdog over the insurance industry, and a reliable defender of safety net programs for the poor. She is popular with liberal health care advocates, who have been touting her candidacy ever since Tom Daschle, Obama's original appointee, withdrew.
Today At Tnr (february 27, 2009)
Mad Men: Rick Santelli and the decline of the angry Republican, by Jonathan Chait Relentless Press-Bashing--From Both The Left And The Right--Just Gives Politicians More Reasons To Ignore The Media, by The Editors A Modest Proposal To Solve The Roland Burris Problem.
February 26, 2009
WASHINGTON--President Obama's message to the nation Tuesday night was plain and unequivocal: The era of bashing government is over. So, too,is the folklore of a marketplace capable of producing abundance withoutregulation, government oversight or public intervention.
The New Reality In Iraq
With President Obama likely to announce a 19-month timeline for the withdrawal of U.S. combat forces from Iraq in the coming days, debate over the form, sequencing, and extent of the withdrawal has gathered momentum. But much of the discussion is being conducted from a Washington-centric perspective that ignores how radically the U.S.-Iraq Status of Forces Agreement (SOFA), signed by President Bush late last year, has altered the landscape for U.S.