Image (above): Ahasuerus and Haman at the Feast of Esther, oil painting by Rembrandt van Rijn, 1660. Netanyahu drew on the story of Esther, the Jewish queen of Persia, in his speech to the U.S. Congress. The prime minister of Israel, Benjamin “Bibi” Netanyahu, addressed a joint session of Congress on Tuesday. This time, he […]
ACT for America, an activist group opposing “radical Islam,”1 is pushing a ten-point agenda for the 112th Congress.
Let’s take a look. Continue reading “ACT for America has an agenda for Congress”
I cannot sleep, I cannot eat. I’m scared to walk to the bathroom because I’m afraid they will hunt me down.… I’m not the same. — An American citizen trapped in Kuwait Here is my letter: Sir, please intervene to ensure that Gulet Mohamed, age 19, of Alexandria, Virginia, is returned home from prison in […]
On Monday, the day after passage of the new health reform law, I received a visit from a friend (call him Vic) who’s perpetually broke. He and his wife (Tina) lived with us at one point when their only other alternative was the street. Now they pay $39 a day to stay at a seedy hotel near the Interstate.
They were supposed to have moved on by now, to have a place of their own. Months ago, a man set aside $1,000 for Vic and Tina to pay a deposit and first month’s rent on an apartment or rental. But Vic and Tina haven’t found a place they can afford, at least not one that Tina is willing to move in to. Vic won’t even look in Birmingham, where rents are lower, because they want to be in a good school district. Their 11-year-old daughter lives with Tina’s parents, and they want her back.
It hasn’t occurred to them to get a cheap apartment for the short term in order to save money. Saving is not a realistic prospect to them. In their entire adult life — Vic is 48 — they have only experienced two conditions: not having enough, and having just enough. Continue reading “Health care: Score one against the hyenas”
The Obama administration needs to convey a message that things are under control. So they commemorated the first anniversary of the Recovery Act with this:
It’s a chart showing the number of jobs lost each month from December 2007 to January 2010, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Continue reading “Comparative propaganda”
NASCAR and Congress: I’ve seen yet another approving mention of the idea of dressing politicians in NASCAR-style uniforms bearing the logos of their corporate sponsors. So when is someone going to Photoshop these outfits for us, using data from, say, opensecrets.org? I’d do it myself if I had the time and skills. Health care: Liberals […]
The South Carolina delegation really did its part to bring a dash of nonsense to the president’s speech to Congress about health insurance reform. I’m not just talking about Rep. Joe Wilson’s outburst, which he quickly apologized for. There was also Sen. Lindsey Graham’s moment of letting a little common sense seep around his solid partisan front.
Coverage of tonight’s Obama press conference, as with the health care reform issue in general, has been tediously focused on political tactics and horse trading. Media consumers are being schooled to feel that reform is a prospect to be feared, as it’s bound to be expensive and is likely to make things worse.
They allow that the U.S. health care system is flawed, but the scale and focus of that critique is almost solely on cost — especially costs to businesses — and the consequences for our “competitiveness.” Because this, you see, is how grown-ups talk about public affairs: in terms of profit, loss, growth prospects, and the global marketplace.
Mark Halperin’s post at the Time magazine blog The Page is a study in this kind of trivia and misdirection. It’s a list of “ways that Obama can make news at his Wednesday press conference” — because mature adults should know that the only thing that matters in politics is how an event feeds the news cycle and sets up the next event. Continue reading “That press conference”
Elections in Iran on Friday returned Mahmoud Ahmadinejad to a second term as president. Supporters of challenger Mir-Hossein Mousavi, a conservative reformer, have taken to the streets in protest. Violence has broken out, and people have been shot to death by police. Remarkably, the Islamic republic’s leading cleric, Ali Khamenei, has called for an investigation of the election results. So have other members of the Iranian ruling class.
Regardless of the outcome, the United States needs to stay out of this. Mousavi’s supporters and Iran experts are clear about this. Given the history of U.S. intervention in Iranian affairs since World War II, and the anti-Americanism that was a theme of the 1979 revolution, any effort by our government to promote the opposition is guaranteed to backfire and to help unify and expand Ahmadinejad’s support. This is why Mitt Romney’s remarks this weekend have been self-serving and irresponsible. Obama’s balancing act — expressing doubt about the election’s fairness without taking sides — is the right move for this moment in the chess game. Continue reading “Uprising in Iran”
The “Free Don Siegelman” lobby has been active, but Obama’s Justice Department seems unimpressed. In April the dismissal of the Ted Stevens case raised hopes that Siegelman’s prosecution might also be found improper. And in May, a federal judge in Alabama sent a strongly worded letter to Attorney General Eric Holder on behalf of Siegelman.