April 10, 2009

The TNR Q&A: Kal Penn
12:00 AM

Actor Kal Penn--of Harold & Kumar stoner-fame and the hit TV show "House"--is taking a desk job at the White House? We talk office politics, hoops, and making his parents proud.TNR: You're going to be the associate director of the White House Office of Public Liaison. That's quite a career change.Penn: I guess it might seem weird to people who don't know my interests. My two passions from the time I was in high school were film, obviously, and then public service. I remember when I applied to college I had academic ADD and I applied to, like, fifteen schools.

Sweet Beats? Bring 'em On!
12:00 AM

Sweet Jesus, what's up with the finger-pointing, hand-wringing, and navel-gazing over beat-sweeteners?   It has been years since I had an official beat, but even the Hillaryland pieces I wrote last year would not have happened if I hadn't gotten to know a few Hillarylanders through an earlier profile of Patti Solis Doyle that--while neither assigned nor approached as a beat-sweetener--wound up being softer than either I or my long-suffering editors would have liked. Getting to know people before you come charging in poking around on a story likely to piss them off has undeniable up sides.

The Tnr Q&a: Kal Penn
12:00 AM

Actor Kal Penn--of Harold & Kumar stoner-fame and the hit TV show "House"--is taking a desk job at the White House as an associate director of the Office of Public Liaison. In an exclusive TNR interview, Penn and GQ writer Hilary Elkins talk office politics, hoops, and making his parents proud. Click here to read today's TNR Q&A with Kal Penn. Photo courtesy of Alligator.org

April 09, 2009

House Rules
12:00 AM

WASHINGTON--"I give Republicans credit for this: They vote the way they believe. ... I think that they vote with more integrity than they get credit for."     That review of Republican motivations and commitments comes not courtesy of a partisan blog but from Nancy Pelosi, the Democratic speaker of the House. During an interview at the Capitol shortly after Congress broke for its recess, Pelosi spoke a simple truth too often ignored in the tiresome laments about the loss of bipartisanship in Washington. "If you can't findcommon ground, that doesn't mean you're partisan," she said.

Moral-Hazard Relativism
12:00 AM

When Congress was constructing its economic stimulus bill in February, Democrats attempted to insert a provision that would have extended unemployment benefits by 13 weeks. Republicans would have none of it: Doing so would create an "incentive for people who could otherwise be employed not to be employed," sniffed South Dakota Senator John Thune.

The Prime Minister Of WTF
12:00 AM

Americans who watched the bizarre clip from last week’s G-20 Summit of Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi shouting, “Meester Obamaa, Meester Obamaa!” to the evident irritation of the British Queen--and who were shocked at his infamous joke about Obama’s being “tall, handsome, and suntanned”--might be wondering: What’s up with this guy? Does he have an Obama problem? Just to put everyone’s mind at rest, the quick answer is: No, he does this to everyone! Or something equally bizarre.

Swing Senators Still Optimistic About Cap-and-trade
12:00 AM

Darren Samuelsohn of ClimateWire has a very helpful piece re-assessing the prospects for cap-and-trade legislation in the Senate. A carbon cap can't go into the budget reconciliation bill this year, which means Republicans can filibuster, which means it'll need 60 votes to pass. But climate legislation isn't doomed yet. A bevy of swing Democrats, from Mary Landrieu to Carl Levin, still sound sanguine, as they watch the debate over the House energy and climate bill slowly unfurl.

White House Eases Up On Carbon Auctions
12:00 AM

Yesterday, White House science adviser John Holdren told The Washington Post that the Obama administration might soften its stance that 100 percent of the carbon  permits under a cap-and-trade system need to be auctioned off. That's not overly shocking. Ed Markey and Henry Waxman in the House have hinted at a similar compromise. Environmentalists don't like it, but any climate bill capable of snagging 60 votes in the Senate will have to make some concessions to industry lobbyists.

Arne Duncan And A New Pornographer
12:00 AM

Spotted: Secretary of Education Arne Duncan introducing flame-haired indie goddess Neko Case at the 9:30 Club last night. But ... why? Is the Cabinet member a devoted Neko fan, or is she a big supporter of education reform? (A friend who was at the concert said she put in a good word for Obama's education plans.) As it turns out, the backstory proves, yet again, just how tied the administration is to the Chicago scene. Last week, the Department of Education hired Tim Tuten, co-owner of The Hideout, a hip Chicago club, as assistant secretary for communications and outreach.

April 08, 2009

World Without End, Amen
12:00 AM

For a while there, it was looking like we were going to spend the next four years arguing whether Barack Obama’s foreign policy was actually different than George W. Bush’s. As I noted the other day, Robert Kagan, the neoconservative foreign policy adviser to the McCain campaign, has been arguing that “the pretense of radical change has required some sleight of hand.” A few former Bush officials have made similar points.