December 17, 2008

How To Explain A Fixed Election
12:00 AM

Today's front page New York Times story on Russian voting monitors sent to Belarus to rubber-stamp the recent parliamentary "election" in that country is predictably depressing. The president of Belarus, Aleksandr G. Lukashenko, is a Putin ally; Lukashenko's supporters managed to win every seat in the 110-member Parliament. The piece follows one of the Russian monitors, Kholnazar Makhmadaliyev, as he travels around Belarus. There is nothing too surprising about the story, although this Twilight Zone-ish, hilariously paradoxical dismissal of fraud claims was amusing: Mr.

December 16, 2008

State of Disgrace
12:00 AM

Even in the era of Jack Abramoff and Ted Stevens, Illinois governor Rod Blagojevich’s alleged crimes--selling the president-elect’s Senate seat, trying to force the firing of Chicago Tribune staff--seemed over the top. Yet, as we’ve been reminded over the last week, Blagojevich is hardly an outlier in Illinois politics.

Back So Soon?
12:00 AM

For anybody familiar with Eliot Spitzer’s writings and speeches, the ex-governor’s 1,100-word debut of his new Slate column on December 3 was pure Spitzerese: dry, dense, logical, pedagogic.

12:00 AM

Did you know Chris Matthews was from Philadelphia? I’ll bet you did. Even those who can’t quite place the MSNBC star’s accent would have a hard time remaining ignorant of his roots in the Keystone State. For years, Matthews’ books and columns and endless gusts of airtime have featured his reminiscences of growing up in the City of Brotherly Love--a sepia-toned place of ruler-wielding Catholic-school nuns, hard-working blue-collar dads, and burly, unglamorous pols like the former mayor and current governor, Edward G.

Heaven Sent
12:00 AM

WASHINGTON--Normally, we might be talking about President-elect Barack Obama's Monday news conference on energy and the environment. But, no. Thanks to the Democratic governor with a wire-brush mop of hair, a crude mouth and what's alleged to be an inclination to put his state government up for sale, the political world's interest has drifted elsewhere. Rod Blagojevich has been a godsend for Republicans who have been looking on helplessly as Obama's approval ratings climb into the stratosphere.

Le Grand Old Party?
12:00 AM

As the Republican Party in America frantically tries to regroup after its losses in November, it may want to avoid the mistakes of another party that finds itself in a similar predicament: the French Socialists.

Jarrett's #2
12:00 AM

Ambinder's post on Jarrett also drew my attention to the appointment of Michael Strautmanis as her deputy. I'll try to post more on the notoriously charming Strautmanis later, but at first glance this seems like a natural partnership. Jarrett and Strautmanis (who became fast friends during Obama's Senate race) worked together on outreach quite a bit during this campaign--including on Team Obama's efforts to win over members of the traditional black leadership, back in the day when much of that leadership was still in the Clinton camp.

Beware Valerie Jarrett
12:00 AM

Look out, Washington, it appears that Valerie Jarrett will be heading the newly combined offices of Intergovernmental Affairs and Public Liaison. In light of the influence Jarrett’s office will have over the spending priorities of the Obama White House, Marc Ambinder is predicting Jarrett will, after Rahm Emanuel, wind up being the second most important person in this administration. This seems like a safe bet. For years now, neither Obama has made much of a move without Jarrett’s input.

December 15, 2008

The Great Postage Stamp Conflict Of Interest
12:00 AM

An amusing tidbit from today's Times story on Obama appointees whose spouses have potential conflicts of interest:  Several other spouses of people tapped for top Obama administration jobs have careers connected to government. Susan E. Rice, the United Nations ambassador pick, is married to a producer of the ABC program “This Week With George Stephanopoulos.” Gregory B. Craig, the White House counsel designate, is married to a graphic designer who has worked on Postal Service stamps. And the wife of Timothy F. Geithner, who is Mr.

Photo Of The Day
12:00 AM

What the--? Did someone throw another shoe?? (Getty: US President George W. Bush gestures during a meeting with Afghan President Hamid Karzai at the Presidential Palace in Kabul on December 15, 2008. US President George W. Bush arrived in Afghanistan on December 15, after a making a farewell visit to Iraq, according to the White House. MUSADEQ SADEQ/AFP/Getty Images) --Michael Crowley