Politics

February 24, 2009

What Do The Propeller Heads Drive?
12:00 AM

The Detroit News has a delicious little piece about the kinds of cars Obama's auto-industry task force members drive. First, the overall numbers: Among the eight members named Friday to the Presidential Task Force on the Auto Industry and the 10 senior policy aides who will assist them in their work, two own American models. Add the Treasury Department's special adviser to the task force and the total jumps to three.

What Do The Propeller Heads Drive?
12:00 AM

The Detroit News has a delicious little piece about the kinds of cars Obama's auto-industry task force members drive. First, the overall numbers: Among the eight members named Friday to the Presidential Task Force on the Auto Industry and the 10 senior policy aides who will assist them in their work, two own American models. Add the Treasury Department's special adviser to the task force and the total jumps to three.

Mission Accomplished At White House Fiscal Summit?
12:00 AM

In addition to starting a conversation about our long-term finances, the President probably had two goals for yesterday's fiscal summit: 1.) Preempt a domestic political revolt by voters and pundits who worry he's bankrupting the country. 2.) Convince creditors that we plan to bring our budget into balance (eventually) even though we're spending a lot right now, so they don't lose confidence in the U.S. government and dump long-term Treasury bonds. It's obviously too early to say if Obama accomplished either goal. But the early signs aren't bad.

The Mandate Debate, Revisited.
12:00 AM

"It will cover everybody. And I don't see how you cover everybody without an individual mandate." That's a senior administration official talking about Obama's vision for health care reform, as quoted by Ezra Klein over at his blog. And it's an important statement to get into print.

The Media Blows It
12:00 AM

Two distinct conversations on race have dominated this February, the first black history month with a black American president. One consisted of a steady stream of outrage over publication of a cartoon in the New York Post depicting a chimpanzee being shot to death. The other concerned a blunt and, some say, accusatory speech by Attorney General Eric Holder, in which he calls America "a nation of cowards" when it comes to race. Both instances have been almost laughably mistreated by the press. The Post controversy quickly morphed into a maudlin shouting match.

Are Carbon Taxes Really Simpler?
12:00 AM

It's hard to find anyone who really adores the idea of using a cap-and-trade system to curb our carbon-dioxide emissions. I mean, just look at all it entails: First, the government has to set an economy-wide limit for emissions. Then it has to distribute permits—either by auctioning them off to the highest bidder or doling them out according to some complex formula ripe for exploitation by lobbyists. Then the permits get traded on a secondary market. Volatile prices, derivatives, permit banking... the whole thing gets sloppy in short order.

White House Fiscal Summit--mission Accomplished?
12:00 AM

In addition to starting a conversation about our long-term finances, the President probably had two goals for yesterday's fiscal summit: 1.) Preempt a domestic political revolt by voters and pundits who worry he's bankrupting the country. 2.) Convince creditors that we plan to bring our budget into balance (eventually) even though we're spending a lot right now, so they don't lose confidence in the U.S. government and dump long-term Treasury bonds. It's obviously too early to say if Obama accomplished either goal. But the early signs aren't bad.

Still More Moyers
12:00 AM

For those following Bill Moyers's role in gay-hunting at the Johnson White House (see Jack Shafer's articles at Slate, and Clay Risen's response on The Plank), check out Andrew Ferguson's blistering critique of Moyers that TNR published in 1991: Not long before the election, Jenkins was arrested in a bathroom stall at the YMCA on a charge of "disorderly conduct." Johnson, convinced that Jenkins was somehow set up by Goldwater's campaign operatives, ordered Movers to gather information on the sexual histories of Goldwater's staff.

More On Moyers
12:00 AM

It's been fun, though not in a funny ha-ha way, to watch Jack Shafer unpack the story of gay-hunting in the Johnson White House over at Slate, and in particular the role that Bill Moyers may have played in directing it. The heart of the story is the 1964 arrest of White House aide Walter Jenkins for having oral sex in a downtown D.C. YMCA. This was a big story at the time--much bigger than, say, Larry Craig today.

February 23, 2009

A Correction, and a Correction of a Correction
12:00 AM

Something I wrote in this magazine last week has shattered Andrew Sullivan’s calm. This was the disturbing passage: “… Ronald Reagan, when he proclaimed categorically, without exception or complication, that ‘government is not the solution to the problem, government is the problem,’ was a fool.” The quotation comes from Reagan’s first inaugural address in 1981. Sullivan is right to point out that Reagan’s full sentence begins with a clause that seems to denote an exception and a complication.

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