July 29, 2008
PRAGUE -- A few days before I arrived in Prague, I participated in a Web conference with the Ladies in White, the relatives of Cuba's prisoners of conscience. I am not at liberty to disclose the logistics, but they were represented by the best-known members of the group, including Laura Pollan and Miriam Leyva, and accompanied by former political prisoners such as economist Oscar Espinosa Chepe. They gathered somewhere in Cuba to share their thoughts with three writers -- Mario Vargas Llosa (my father), Carlos Alberto Montaner and myself -- sitting in a room on the other side of the Atlantic.
A "pelosi-reid-obama" Strategy?
Call me crazy, but I don't think this is going to work: Politico reports that Republicans on Capitol Hill are planning to launch a publicity blitz aimed at tying Barack Obama to...Nancy Pelosi and Harry Reid. (And you thought Jeremiah Wright was a toxic association!) One particularly out-of-touch GOP aide boasted, "By November, every American voter will know the name of Charlie Rangel the way they knew Tom DeLay in 2006. Count on it." Now, I'm sure Charlie Rangel is despised among that critical group of swing voters made up of Republican Hill staffers.
Epa To Staff: Shut Your Trap
The EPA has instructed its staff "not to talk with congressional investigators, reporters and even the agency's own inspector general," the Associated Press reported yesterday.
July 28, 2008
I was 25 years old, downtown-bound on the four train, when I recognized a girl further down the subway car. It's hard to say why--it wasn't romantic, and I’m not a big subway talker--but I found myself walking toward her. I had a secret. Although I lived and worked in New York City, this woman--I’ll call her Heather--was one of the few Americans I interacted with during the course of a typical workday. While in law school, I had applied for an internship at the Israeli U.N. Mission. Instead, despite not even being Israeli, I was offered a full-time job as the Mission’s speechwriter.
Is Barack Obama a socialist? Well, let's see. His campaign platform makes no mention of proletarian revolution or nationalization of industry, and he trumpets his belief that "America's free market has been the engine of America's great progress. It's created a prosperity that is the envy of the world." Not quite Leninesque.
Obama Defangs Maureen Dowd?
It would seem to be simple Campaign 101: If you are running for President, do not, under any circumstances, give a long, casual, rambling interview to a reporter you suspect is likely to, in the resulting story, analogize your latest diplomatic meeting to a homoerotic tryst and, like a randy sex therapist, suggest in print that you "must want a cigarette." And yet, Obama did just that, chatting with Maureen Dowd for her column today about his chemistry with Sarkozy and his campaign staff's crush on Carla Bruni. Why? Partly he was just following orders.
I know, I know, you've heard it before--but this might set a new standard for Bush administration bureaucratic misconduct. There's another report (pdf) out today from the Justice Department's Inspector General concluding that the administration illegally screened applicants for career positions (not political appointees) based on partisan and ideological criteria. Monica Goodling, the White House liaison to the Justice Department and hyper-partisan Republican, asked questions such as the following to job applicants (p. 17): -- Tell us about your political philosophy.
July 26, 2008
Bush's Team Of Unrivals
What is the best explanation of the moral, legal, economic, and strategic failures of the Bush Administration? Scott McClennan's What Happened offers a series of illuminating answers. While the book has received a great deal of attention, one of his principal, and most interesting, themes has been barely noticed.As McClennan describes the Bush White House, it is the very opposite of the team of rivals described in Doris Kearns Goodwin's account of Lincoln's executive branch.
July 25, 2008
The Reading List: 'Trading Places'
How Cities Work, by Alex MarshallThe Option of Urbanism, by Christopher Leinberger"The Next Slum" by Christopher Leinberger The Death and Life of Great American Cities, by Jane JacobsThe City, by Joel Kotkin By Alan Ehrenhalt
Obama Preparing To Govern? Good!
Barack Obama is already planning for the presidential transition. Reports the Atlantic's Marc Ambinder: "Barack is well aware of the complexity and the organizational challenge involved in the transition process and he has tasked s small group to begin thinking through the process,” a senior campaign adviser said.