Politics

February 12, 2009

Why Do Congressional Dems Love Obama?
12:00 AM

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.

Coming Soon To A Television Near You..."chinese Cnn"
12:00 AM

One of the major components of Russia's attempt to burnish its reputation in the United States, the subject of my article in the current issue, is Russia Today, an international, English-language news channel modeled on CNN and the BBC. Earnest as the Russian government has been in its endeavor to paint a positive picture of itself overseas, the station is indicative of the broader problems confronting the Russians in their PR strategy; namely, it's hard to advertise yourself as appealing when you do nasty and brutal things both at home and abroad.

If The Naacp Ceased To Exist Tomorrow, Would It Have A Significant Effect On Black America?
12:00 AM

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.

The Reagan-gorbachev-nixon Files
12:00 AM

Vanity Fair has an excellent excerpt of James Mann's new book on Ronald Reagan's relationship with Mikhail Gorbachev. Reagan comes across as generally clueless but essentially right about his Soviet counterpart. Obsessed with lame jokes and stories, the former president is unable to focus on policy; he also "gets" Gorbachev before many of his advisors do. The most humorous example of Reagan's childish nature occurs during a summit in which he has decided to try to convince Gorbachev of the existence of God: As the meeting ended, Reagan became even more direct and personal.

Justice Versus Peace After A Middle East Murder
12:00 AM

The White House just emailed a statement which begins: Saturday marks the fourth anniversary of the assassination of former Lebanese Prime Minister Rafiq Hariri. As we share our grief with the Lebanese people over the loss of Prime Minister Hariri, we also share our conviction that his sacrifice will not be in vain.  The United States fully supports the Special Tribunal for Lebanon, whose work will begin in a few weeks, to bring those responsible for this horrific crime and those that followed to justice. Do we fully support it, though?

February 11, 2009

Charles Darwin, Conservative?
12:00 AM

WASHINGTON--Polls, particularly in the United States, tell us that many conservatives still distrust Charles Darwin's theory of evolution. The bicentennial of his birth should be a fitting occasion for the right to take another look at a man who contributed immensely to some ideas that it holds dear.Darwin was not an atheist but a Victorian believer. He was not a proto-Marxist but a liberal, which in 19th-century Britain meant someone who favored individual liberty over big government. Darwin was an admirer of John Locke and Adam Smith, two of the greatest thinkers of freedom.

So, Who Won?
12:00 AM

Israel’s election yesterday was full of the usual drama, confusion, and politicking. But one thing was missing: clear winners. Right-wing Likud--hoping for a landslide victory--came in second. Centrist Kadima, the party now in power, won the most votes, but will probably remain unlikely to form a governing coalition. Even Yisrael Beiteinu, Avigdor Lieberman’s dark horse ultra-right party, which came in third place, won fewer seats than has been apocalyptically predicted for the past few weeks. The leftist Labor Party ended up as the fourth largest party, with only 13 seats out of 120.

Barack Obama: A Primer For Foreigners
12:00 AM

The major news, of the inauguration and of every day since then, is that Barack Obama is no longer black. Yes, indeed. And so goes the United States. Some people voted for him because he was black and because his election would be the crowning achievement of the long march that began with Martin Luther King Jr.'s "dream" two years after Obama's birth. Some voted against him because he was black and because there remained, despite the unparalleled Cultural Revolution the nation had accomplished in a half-century, reserves of segregationism and racism. The battle has been won.

Grading The Stimulus Compromise
12:00 AM

Okay, I was wrong--I'll be the first to admit it. The conference committee didn't end up moving nearly as far toward the House version of the stimulus bill as I thought it would. The compromise, from what we know of it, looks much more like the substantively inferior Senate version: the cuts to state aid and school construction and COBRA subsidies more or less stand. So does the $70 billion Alternative Minimum Tax relief measure, which may be a perfectly fine idea, but isn't stimulus under any reasonable definition of the term. This is disappointing, to say the least.

Grading The Stimulus Compromise
12:00 AM

Okay, I was wrong--I'll be the first to admit it. The conference committee didn't end up moving nearly as far toward the House version of the stimulus bill as I thought it would. The compromise, from what we know of it, looks much more like the substantively inferior Senate version: the cuts to state aid and school construction and COBRA subsidies more or less stand. So does the $70 billion Alternative Minimum Tax relief measure, which may be a perfectly fine idea, but isn't stimulus under any reasonable definition of the term. This is disappointing, to say the least.

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