February 13, 2009
Postcards from the Edge
Adham Jamal, head of the local branch of the fundamentalist Islamic Movement, and Ze’ev Noiman, head of the local branch of the far-right Yisrael Beiteinu (“Israel is Our Home”) party, call themselves friends. Both men are deputy mayors of this mixed Arab-Jewish city near Haifa, and their offices are on the same floor of the municipality. “Adham is a great guy,” says Noiman, a retired career army officer. “He’s condemned terrorism.
The White House keeps boasting about the 3.5 million jobs its stimulus bill will create. But that's an outdated number based on its original plan. The new number, thanks largely to the oh-so-helpful intervention of Senators Nelson, Collins, Snowe and Specter, is probably under 2.5 million. The Washington Post has a good story today: congressional negotiators have since trimmed billions of dollars from the package to satisfy Senate Republicans, diminishing its potential for job creation along with its overall cost.
Dept Of Overstatement
From today's NYT article on Gregg's withdrawal: The departure of Mr. Gregg is the latest setback to a White House that has struggled to fill several top positions and to fulfill Mr. Obama’s pledge of building a bipartisan administration. [snip] But the political fallout is left to the White House, which now has a string of appointees who have stepped aside over vetting problems, unpaid taxes or philosophical differences with Mr. Obama. Since the president took office last month, not a week has passed without the White House responding to a personnel crisis.
February 12, 2009
Many years ago, I attended a meeting of a local NAACP branch. It had long been adrift. Its president and general secretary wanted to turn the organization from formulaic protests to issues that actually mattered to the local black community, such as schools and health care. The rank and file committee members, however, were on a different page, more interested in making embittered speeches. The meeting was supposed to last from nine to five, but there was a small street protest in the city starting at one.
WASHINGTON--The Obama administration keeps having to learn that bland centrism is not pragmatic, it's not helpful in resolving a big crisis, and it certainly doesn't buy you any love.Oddly, this week's good news for the president--in Wednesday's agreement on a stimulus package--and the bad news teach the same lesson.The bad news came in the almost uniformly negative early reviews of Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner's bank rescue plan. It didn't constitute change we can believe in. It was change nobody could understand.
As you know very well, I don't hold out much hope for the Middle East peace process. At the State Department and almost all the ostensibly important--but truly irrelevant--European foreign ministries however, officials are insisting that peace between the Israelis and the Palestinians is at the top of their agenda. Sanctimonious, yes; realistic, no. Why? One reason is that there are more important hot spots in the world, more important especially for the United States. But not only.
Harold Pollack is a public health policy researcher at the University of Chicago's School of Social Service Administration, where he is faculty chair of the Center for Health Administration Studies. He is a regular contributor to The Treatment. For years, I have electronically subscribed to the Wall Street Journal. A simple accompanying pleasure is that I never click the “opinion” tab. The wicked and simple inner child of an otherwise great paper therefore never enters my world. Today, unfortunately, our paper man accidentally dropped off the Journal in place of the Times.
The Loyal Opposition
On Fox tonight Sean Hannity called the Obama team's plan to have the Census director report directly to them "the biggest White House power grab ever." His guest, some guy named Karl Rove, told Hannity he just might be right. Words fail. Update: Appearing on Sean's panel a couple segments later is... 1980s Saturday Night Live star Joe Piscopo. Seriously! Sample Piscopo quote: "You know who you gotta read is Camille Paglia." --Michael Crowley
The New Hampshire GOP Senator discovers that he has substantive disagreements with Obama after all: I want to thank the President for nominating me to serve in his Cabinet as Secretary of Commerce. This was a great honor, and I had felt that I could bring some views and ideas that would assist him in governing during this difficult time.
Ron Brownstein makes the smart point that Congressional Democrats have been much more willing to fall in line behind Obama and his legislative priorities this year than they were willing to support Bill Clinton's in 1993.