Politics

February 12, 2009

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.

No Direction Home
12:00 AM

As we all conduct the post-mortem on the administration's fumbled bank-rescue rollout, it's important to keep in mind what's so glaringly missing from the plan--or, rather, only given a placeholder: a plank addressing the mortgage crisis that sits at the center of the downturn.

What Liberal Hawks Got Wrong And Right
12:00 AM

Frequent TNR contributor Alan Wolfe has an interesting and worthwhile essay in World Affairs about liberal hawks. Wolfe dissects the way that liberal hawks (I'd put myself in that category) focused too much on the justice of going to war and failed to think carefully enough about occupation: Alas for liberal hawkishness, safeguarding the individual against the evil designs of tyrants all too often comes into conflict with the desire of nations to manage their own future.

February 10, 2009

Going Down
12:00 AM

A stroll through any large shopping mall will reveal that America is undergoing the sale of the century. Luxury men’s stores are offering three-for-one suit sales; airlines are dishing out record-low fares; there was even an auto dealer in Idaho who dreamed up a buy one new truck, get a new car free special.But what might seem like great news for bargain hunters is actually evidence of a worrisome phenomenon--deflation--that threatens to wreck the American economy for years.

Impressed Me Not
12:00 AM

Through most of his inaugural primetime press conference, Barack Obama seemed like he was channeling a particularly loquacious combination of Joe Biden, Bill Clinton, and the ghost of Hubert Humphrey. The president’s response to the first question from the Associated Press about the risks of sounding too apocalyptic about the economy ran (or, to be more accurate, crawled) for nearly 1,200 words--and ended with Obama saying “Okay” with an implicit question mark as if he were requesting permission to keep on talking.

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