March 16, 2009
The ongoing outbreak of salmonella in peanut products that officially began in early January has now killed at least nine people, put roughly 150 in the hospital, and sickened hundreds more. The FDA's list of recalled products has grown past 3,000--with dozens of new ones still being added, many of them with innocuous names like Zen Party Mix or Naughty but Nice Granola Bites. Asked for an estimate of how many packages and jars of potentially tainted products were distributed, an FDA spokesman tells me, "That information is not currently available.
Obama To Aig: Nuh-uh
The Times has his comments here, though it notes that: White House officials said that the administration is not looking to take A.I.G. to court to stop the company from paying out the bonuses. But they said the Treasury Department would be trying to figure out what they can do to block A.I.G. from making the payments within the legal confines of A.I.G.’s contractual obligations to the executives. Question: If we (i.e., the government) did take AIG to court, is there a way we could get out of paying their legal fees?
That's one of the questions I grapple with a bit in my profile of Larry Summers this week. In addition to some ongoing developments that make you wonder, there's evidence from the recent past that our political system isn't ideally suited to dealing with financial and economic crises. The example I cite in the piece is the successuful U.S.
Today At Tnr (march 16, 2009)
Free Larry Summers: Why The White House Needs To Unleash Him, by Noam Scheiber Killer Peanuts! Toxic Melons! Deadly Tomatoes! Why Obama And Congress Are Not Doing Enough To Keep Our Food Safe, by Steve Nash This Weekend's Big Economic Summit: More Whistling Past The Graveyard, by Simon Johnson How Obama's Ethics Obsession Undercuts His Call To Service, by the Editors TNRtv: Eve Fairbanks's Farewell To TNR And Musical Tribute To The Dysfunctional Glory Of The GOP Where Idealism Should Meet Realism On Capitol Hill, by E.J. Dionne, Jr. Hey!
Obama Vs. The Pitchforks
The NYT's Nagourney writes today about the Obama team's nervousness about a rising populist tide: The Obama administration is increasingly concerned about a populist backlash against banks and Wall Street, worried that anger at financial institutions could also end up being directed at Congress and the White House and could complicate President Obama’s agenda. Walter Shapiro is a step ahead of this story in TNR's new issue with a deeper look at populism in American politics and the peril it poses to Obama. --Michael Crowley
March 15, 2009
In her last TNRtv spot before heading off to Africa for two years, TNR associate editor Eve Fairbanks gives a musical farewell to TNR and tribute to the dysfunctional glory of the GOP.
David Broder has become a pinata of sorts for the blogosphere--a symbol, to many of my peers, of everything that is wrong with Beltway journalism. But I've always been inclined to cut him more slack, mostly out of respect for his work ethic. Say what you will about the man, but there he is, every campaign season, taking the time to interview actual voters and report back on what they feel. That's a rare thing among political columnists. I also respect Broder for his book on the 1993-94 fight over the Clinton heatlh care plan: The System, which he co-wrote with Haynes Johnson.
As some of you may recall, the Boston Globe is not my favorite newspaper. But my broad brush is unfair to some of their terrific reporters.Two of the best are Bryan Bender and Farah Stockman. I learned an enormous amount more about President Obama's Iraq pullout plan from a dispatch Bender helped report than from the articles in other dailies. And Stockman's article about the administration's intentions to approach Iran's supreme leader Ali Khamenei made them seem almost plausible.
Sunday Brunch With Aig
Another weekend, another round of AIG revelations--this time news that AIG is about to pay out $165 million in bonuses to employees in its Financial Products division, the same geniuses who made the bets now roiling the financial markets. Apparently the $165 million is part of a pool of more than $400 million in bonus money AIG agreed to before the government started propping it up last year. The upshot is that there isn't a legal way to block it.
March 13, 2009
Support For Christopher Hill
I guess I'm now an expert on foreign and security appointments of the Obama administration. Apparently, Charles Freeman thinks that I'm one of the people who got him scratched as the administration's chairman of the National Intelligence Council. (I was upbraided for my action by a stiff lady at a Cambridge cocktail party on Thursday: "There have to be some people in Washington who don't take Israel's side." Is she blind? Why does she think Dennis Blair wanted Freeman in the post?