September 30, 2008
Perception isn’t everything in markets, but it sure is close. If investors think housing prices will go up, they’ll go in for complex derivatives backed by home mortgages. If they think those mortgages will all fail--even if only a small percentage actually do--they’ll run like hell. The same goes for the bailout. It was never going to solve the crisis, though it would have stanched the bleeding. But passing it was intended as a signal to global investors that Washington was serious about intervening, a bid to boost investor confidence long enough to get credit moving again.
Anti-bailout Liberals, Cont'd
This may digress from The Stump's official mission, yet the Hill really is driving the presidential campaign right now, so here's an email from a reader with direct knowledge of House liberal politics setting me straight and shedding more light: I’d quarrel with your characterization of Lynn Woolsey as “extremely close” to the Speaker. There’s been tension in that relationship for some time, especially since the early 2007 debate over Iraq funding. At the risk of oversimplifying, Lynn and her “bring the troops home now” allies felt that Pelosi sold out.
Talking To The Camera About Taxes
Barack's talking to the camera again! With the markets in crisis, the Obama campaign this morning unveilled a new ad featuring the Illinois Senator addressing voters face-to-face about taxes and the economy. Some thoughts: -Likeability? Yes. If he's staring at us for two long televisual minutes--OK, probably two long streaming-video minutes in most people's cases--we'd better find it pleasant. Obama sounds authoritative and nice and grown-up. Kind of like a CEO in a corporate video. -Connection to Current Crisis? Tenuous.
In the debate, Barack Obama called North Korea's nuclear re-boot a symptom of the country's internal politics. But this nuclear breakdown may have less to do with Pyongyang than it does with internal divisions in Washington, D.C. This summer, Kim delivered on his part of the nuclear bargain: providing an account of his nuclear activities, submitting the North's plutonium program to safeguards, and destroying Yongbyon's cooling tower.
September 29, 2008
Meet Juan Crow
As the presidential campaigns frantically try to register new voters, Republicans have pushed forward a new law in Arizona that requires applicants to document their citizenship. Though the law's supporters say they are trying to prevent voter fraud by illegal immigrants, voting rights advocates are concerned about the thousands of eligible voters that have been disenfranchised by it. As a dozen new states consider similar legislation, TNR TV examines its impact.Renee Feltz and Stokely Baksh are multimedia investigative journalists based in New York City and Washington, DC.
Kim Jong’s Ill
Illness, disappearance, incapacitation, death--the rumor-mill is working overtime for North Korean leader Kim Jong-il these days. Since Kim’s unexplained no-show at a military parade celebrating 60 years of independence this month, the media has taken an intense interest in his whereabouts. But precious little is actually known about how he feels, who would succeed him, or what the deterioration of his health would mean for the Hermit Kingdom. From interviews with experts and rigorous monitoring of the news from Pyongyang, here’s a précis of the situation over there.
It is a politician’s rite of passage--at least if he expects to win Florida. Each summer, the presidential candidates take turns speaking to the Council of Jewish Elders (really just a sufficiently telegenic synagogue, preferably in a swing district like Tampa), competing with each other to see just who can claim to love Israel the mostest. The media covers the events with great ardor, usually suggesting that Jewish voters are the key to the entire state--and perhaps the entire election.
Reversal of Fortune
WASHINGTON -- September began as John McCain's month and ended as Barack Obama's. McCain's high-risk wagers aimed at shaking up the campaign turned into very bad investments. And Friday's debate eliminated McCain's best chance to deliver a knockout blow to an opponent whose most important asset may be his capacity for self-correction. McCain is supposed to own the foreign policy issue--and he should have owned Friday's debate.
To many Democrats, it has long seemed self-evident that Barack Obama, if elected president, should promptly seek enactment of one big bill to achieve universal health insurance coverage and reform the U.S. health care system. Senator Edward Kennedy is currently working with Senate colleagues to draft just such a bill. The appeal of this position is strong. Covering all Americans has been a goal of the Democratic Party for at least seventy years. Fifty million people remain uninsured. The quality of care in the U.S. is spotty, despite costs vastly greater than those of any other nation.
Palin Draws A Blank
Or: The Sound of Silence. Jonathan Martin: Of concern to McCain's campaign, however, is a remaining and still-undisclosed clip from Palin's interview with Couric last week that has the political world buzzing. The Palin aide, after first noting how "infuriating" it was for CBS to purportedly leak word about the gaffe, revealed that it came in response to a question about Supreme Court decisions. After noting Roe vs. Wade, Palin was apparently unable to discuss any major court cases.