December 10, 2008
Sympathy For The Blago
There was no shortage of shocking material in the criminal complaint the feds filed against Rod Blagojevich yesterday, but the bit of information that seems to have caused the biggest collective headslap was the revelation that the embattled Illinois governor was actively contemplating a White House run. As more than one person joked (props to TalkBacker waynejm for being, so far as I can tell, the first person to come up with it), at least Blago's presidential ambitions made a potential insanity defense more credible.
Thomas Friedman warns that in bailing out Detroit’s automakers, the U.S. government is doing “the equivalent of pouring billions of dollars of taxpayer money into the mail-order catalog business on the eve of the birth of E-bay.” I am not crazy about the analogy (I poured some of my hard-earned money into buying on ebay what turned out to be defective fountain pens.) But Friedman’s point is still well taken.
December 09, 2008
WASHINGTON--In naming retired Gen. Eric K. Shinseki as veterans affairs secretary, President-elect Barack Obama made what may be the most politically and morally significant choice of his transition.Politically, Obama has been moving aggressively to close a wide gap between Democrats and the military--and particularly between the party and the officer corps--that began growing in the Vietnam era.Shinseki's appointment can be seen as one of several steps the incoming president has taken to win respect and trust within the armed forces.
Cooling Down The New Cold War
When it breached <?xml:namespace prefix = st1 />Georgia’s border in August, Russia provided the first significant foreign-policy challenge of Barack Obama’s presidential campaign. Think of that episode as a red-band movie trailer. The former and would-be future superpower plainly aims to occupy a more prominent place among the new president’s many headaches than he’d probably like to give it.
Apparently liberals are angry at Barack Obama. Well, some liberals. And, come to think of it, they may not actually be angry. They're just a little concerned about some of his cabinet appointments. Or, at least, they were merely concerned until former Obama deputy campaign manager Steve Hildebrand decided on Sunday to post an item on the Huffington Post. It was a message to Obama's progressive critics--something I know, with certainty, because the item's headline was "A Message to Obama's Progressive Critics." In the item--or message, if you prefer--Hildebrand told liberals to calm down.
Over at The American Prospect, Dana Goldstein and Ezra Klein have responded to my article about Linda Darling-Hammond, saying that I take a surface-level approach to education policy ideas and the debate between two feuding, progressive camps. Goldstein says Darling-Hammond is well-suited for the job of heading the transition's education policy team: She's a fine person... to do what the transition team leaders are actually doing, which is fact-finding on how each federal agency is currently run, and how it can become more effective under Obama. In fact, that's not Darling-Hammond's job.
What Blago Didn't Get About Obama
Two quick thoughts about the Blagojevich indictment: 1.) What's most remarkable to me--at least once you get beyond the cartoonish brazenness, and, of course, the idea that Blagojevich had presidential aspirations--is how spectacularly Blago misunderstands Obama himself.
Blagojevich Busted (cont'd, Cont'd)
Apologies for the serial posts, but this thing just keeps getting juicier. Here's a portion beginning with an intercepted November 10 conference call Blago held with his advisors to discuss the vacant Senate seat. ROD BLAGOJEVICH said that the consultants (Advisor B and another consultant are believed to be on the call at that time) are telling him that he has to “suck it up” for two years and do nothing and give this “motherfucker [the President-elect] his senator. Fuck him. For nothing?
It's no secret that Barack Obama has promised change in Washington. This week, Michelle Cottle reports on an unusual aspect of this change-to-be: the city's notoriously status-conscious social scene, which has already begun to rearrange itself around the incoming president. (Michael Schaffer notes that even the Obamas' choice of grade school has the capitol's elite atwitter.) But what about the center of the Washington ruling class throughout the Bush years--McLean, Virginia?
December 08, 2008
The University of Nebraska-Lincoln’s Academic Senate is calling for an independent investigation into the UNL administration’s recent decision to disinvite Bill Ayers. In doing so, the senate aims to develop a set of guidelines to determine how and when to cancel speaking invitations in the future. While some may wonder why anyone would still care about the former co-founder of the Weather Underground, this continuing controversy underscores how profoundly confused those within the academy--and those outside of it--are about the concept of academic freedom.