Politics

January 09, 2009

The Case for Panetta
12:00 AM

The fight over the appointment of Leon Panetta as CIA director died down as fast as it flared up. The question now is whether Panetta, never having worked in intelligence, will figure out how espionage works fast enough to save the CIA--and keep the president out of trouble.The CIA certainly needs saving. Many believe 9/11 could have been prevented if the CIA had notified the FBI in enough time when two hijackers moved to San Diego in early 2000. In a Parthian shot, the Bush administration is blaming the CIA’s bad intelligence for leading us into war in Iraq.

Not Doing Enough
12:00 AM

Why I worry that Obama doesn’t realize just how bad things are.

Just Win, Baby
12:00 AM

WASHINGTON -- It has been so long since Congress needed to pass a huge and urgent package of spending increases and tax cuts that few people understand how the politics of such a thing might work.For at least two decades, Washington has focused (if sometimes only rhetorically) on the politics of deficit reduction. Nobody has a playbook for consciously and intentionally embarking on large-scale deficit spending.

Daschle--not Backing Off Health Care Strategy
12:00 AM

TalkingPointsMemo is reporting that Tom Daschle yesterday holstered one of the Democrats' most potent political weapons, the Senate's budget reconciliation process, in the fight to pass health care reform. If true, it would be a major shift. The rules of reconciliation forbid filibusters, making it possible to pass legislation with just fifty votes. Democratic reform propopents, including not just Daschle but also Senate Finance Chairman Max Baucus, have for some time said they'd use reconciliation, if necessary, to enact health care reform.

Are Moderates Really Pragmatists?
12:00 AM

Matt Yglesias takes aim at the notion that centrism and pragmatism are one and the same: In the United States, slavish adherence to “moderate” positions is often construed as exhibited “pragmatism” that’s in distinction to the more “ideological” views of people with less centrist views. In fact, moderation can reflect ideology ever bit as much as extremism can. This is certainly right, up to a point.

The End Of An Error

Ok, maybe this makes up for Rick Warren. A couple of months ago, Obama seemed to be walking back from his promise to undo the destructive “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy on gays in the military. But today, in a video posted on the change.gov website (a site, full disclosure, designed by my husband, who works for the Obama transition), Robert Gibbs sounded pretty unambiguous. The five-minute segment featured Gibbs answering questions that had been posted on the site and voted up by users.

Daschle: Not Backing Off Health Care Strategy
12:00 AM

TalkingPointsMemo is reporting that Tom Daschle yesterday holstered one of the Democrats' most potent political weapons, the Senate's budget reconciliation process, in the fight to pass health care reform. If true, it would be a major shift. The rules of reconciliation forbid filibusters, making it possible to pass legislation with just fifty votes. Democratic reform propopents, including not just Daschle but also Senate Finance Chairman Max Baucus, have for some time said they'd use reconciliation, if necessary, to enact health care reform.

Is Obama Fabricating Bad Economic News?
12:00 AM

 Yesterday, Barack Obama gave a speech about the grim state of the economy. News reports reacted with astonishing skepticism. Here's the Washington Post: In his first major speech since Election Day, Obama participated in an early version of a presidential ritual: preparing the country for an eventual economic recovery by painting an especially grim picture of the nation's fiscal standing at the start. And here's The Hill: Barack Obama won the White House on a message of hope, but when it comes to dealing with the first test of his presidency, he has mixed in a little fear. ...

Oh, Oh Sheila ...
12:00 AM

I'm a little tardy in acknowledging this, but only hours after my article calling on Obama to bring Sheila Bair into the White House fold, he did, not only asking her to stick around at the FDIC but telling CNBC, "The FDIC and Sheila Bair have had the sense of urgency about the problem [regarding foreclosures] that I want to see.'' Obviously, the transition folks got wind of the piece's imminent publication and acted accordingly. Obviously.

January 08, 2009

On Proportionality
12:00 AM

Let’s talk about proportionality--or, more important, about its negative form. “Disproportionate” is the favorite critical term in current discussions of the morality of war. But most of the people who use it don’t know what it means in international law or in just war theory. Curiously, they don’t realize that it has been used far more often to justify than to criticize what we might think of as excessive violence. It is a dangerous idea.Proportionality doesn’t mean “tit for tat,” as in the family feud. The Hatfields kill three McCoys, so the McCoys must kill three Hatfields.

Pages