Today, Egyptians are voting in an historic presidential election. It’s the first competitive presidential vote in the country’s history, and election monitors from organizations like the Carter Center are there to ensure the integrity of the process. There’s obviously some risk involved—the monitors may, in fact, find evidence of vote-tampering.
Eisenhower in War and Peace By Jean Edward Smith (Random House, 950 pp., $40) The histories we write say as much about our own times as about those we study. The current polarization in Washington has prompted a nostalgia for parties that were less ideologically uniform and more prone to compromise. Fashionable “pragmatism” has similarly infected thinking about foreign policy, as the fallout from the Iraq war lingers in the air a decade on.
Visit msnbc.com for breaking news, world news, and news about the economy [with contributions from Matthew O'Brien and Darius Tahir] In late 2009, the parliament in Uganda began formally debating a law that would have sentenced gays and lesbians to life in prison – or, in some cases, to death. Homosexuality was already illegal in Uganda, but the lawmakers hoped the new law could improve enforcement. And very few people outside of the human rights advocacy community noticed. But Rachel Maddow did.
One pseudo-fact from last night that's worth pointing out, as it's sure to recur many times, is Michelle Bachmann's claim that the Congressional Budget Office estimated that the Affordable Care Act would destroy 800,000 jobs. I wrote about this in February. The short answer is that CBO found nothing of the sort. CBO estimated that 800,000 people would leave the workforce because they no longer would need to work in order to get health insurance. Under the status quo, it's very hard for people who aren't elderly or poor enough to qualify for Medicaid to obtain health insurance.
Maggie Haberman and Ben Smith have a nice piece on the Donald Trump pseudo-candidacy. Long story short, his campaign is not a joke in the sense of Trump being in on it, but it is a joke in the sense that his entire career is a joke: The widespread assumption that Trump’s flirtation with the presidency is a publicity stunt is no doubt at least partly true. But that’s merely the point of departure for a man for whom almost every public move over the past 30 years has been a publicity stunt.
Earlier this month, a new conservative economic think tank called e21 sent a letter to Federal Reserve chairman Ben Bernanke. The missive bore a heavy gloss of intellectualism. Its topic was the Fed’s “large-scale asset purchase plan (so-called ‘quantitative easing’),” and it carried the signatures of numerous academics and professional economists, all of whom listed their various books (The Ascent of Money), past governmental jobs (Chairman, President’s Council of Economic Advisors; Director, Congressional Budget Office), and current institutional affiliations (Harvard, Stanford, Columbia).
The Republican Party's most successful political move over the last year and a half has been to convince old people that health care reform has come at their expense. The party's gains since 2006 have overwhelmingly come amongst the oldest voters. Meanwhile, every age group approves of the Affordable Care Act except the already-enrolled-in-single-payer elderly, who hate it. They have imposed the traditional conservative paradigm -- Democrats taking hard-earned tax dollars away from the deserving middle class and giving it to the lazy poor -- onto health care.
One of the very few impressive things about conservatives over the last few years is that their opposition to President Obama, though frequently unhinged, misinformed, hypocritical, or outright dishonest, has generally lacked much in the way of racial animus. Obviously you can find some exceptions -- Rush Limbaugh is a notable one, casting health care as "reparations" and trying to make his listeners fear that "in Obama's America," black kids can beat up white kids with impunity.
Marc Ambinder says the news media should be ashamed for chasing the Sestak pseudo-scandal: I will grant that the statutes themselves can be interpreted in such a way as to prohibit virtually all political activity by anyone remotely connected with the executive branch. But practice -- and not simply underhanded practice, but open, above-board practice, since the time those laws were written suggests that the law's authors intended them as a bulwark against official corruption, not against the mixing of politics and policy.