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Rembrandt Harmensz. van Rijn

The False Idol of Unfettered Capitalism

The Ten Commandments were for the ancients, and are for us, the core rules that, when honored, hold us together, and when dishonored lead to alienation, discord and violence. The worship of the free market has turned out to be an idol, and like all idols it has now demanded its human sacrifice.

Posted on Mar 16, 2009 READ MORE



Collage from Flickr / mobilestreetlife

OK—So Where Did the Other Billions Go?

In the face of mounting public outrage, AIG has revealed how it spent $75 billion of taxpayer money, a sum that amounts to less than half of the government’s $170 billion bailout of the firm. AIG says it gave a sizable chunk of the money to banks, including foreign institutions, and spent a pretty penny to cover junk investments.

Posted on Mar 15, 2009 READ MORE


book cover

Tony Platt on Wall Street Terror Attack

Beverly Gage’s new book exhumes a nearly forgotten tale of class warfare—call it 9/16.

Posted on Mar 13, 2009 READ MORE


A Bad Fix Would Be No Fix

Advice to solve the financial crisis before even thinking about health care, energy or education is either misguided or disingenuous. Fortunately, Obama seems to be ignoring all the chatter.

Posted on Mar 12, 2009 READ MORE


The Point of Pointing Fingers

Obama speaks disdainfully of “ideology,” but there comes a time when first principles need to be articulated. Conservatives have entered this fight with guns blazing while progressives have hidden behind a Maginot Line armed only with the word pragmatism.

Posted on Mar 11, 2009 READ MORE


Population Boom in the Freezer

Since the 1980s, more than a half-million children have been created through in vitro fertilization. There are also about a half-million leftover embryos.

Posted on Mar 11, 2009 READ MORE


If Only Obama Were as Radical as They Say

While conservatives cry socialism, the president is trying to steer a moderate course. Moderation, however, may be the wrong recipe. There is something deeply disturbing about the drip, drip, drip of billions into the banking system with no apparent impact.

Posted on Mar 8, 2009 READ MORE


The A Word

Recently, I’ve been groping for the precise word to characterize the zeitgeist of this (unfortunately) historic moment—a word I finally found during a visit last week to central Mexico.

Posted on Mar 5, 2009 READ MORE



Flickr / Smith

GM Is Europe’s Headache, Too

If GM strikes out in Washington, the automaker could take its troubles to Europe, the second continent where it has asked for a bailout. That’s because GM operates plants in six European countries, to the tune of 300,000 jobs. The company is hoping for good news, especially since its auditors announced it may not survive much longer.

Posted on Mar 5, 2009 READ MORE


Jon Stewart Is Mad as Hell

What’s more offensive than CNBC reporter Rick Santelli’s rant against Barack Obama’s supposed intention to throw only a table scrap of bailout money to foreclosed homeowners? His network’s laughable coverage of the biggest economic news story since the Great Depression.

Posted on Mar 5, 2009 READ MORE


Finding Peace in the Culture Wars

If President Obama’s primary task is to restore economic growth, he has also been waging a quiet, long-term campaign to ease the nation’s divisions around religious and moral questions.

Posted on Mar 5, 2009 READ MORE


Bernie Sanders
senate.gov

Bernie Sanders Wants Answers, Writes Legislation to Get Them

Fed chief Ben Bernanke may be able to dole out trillions in the blink of an eye, but on Tuesday he ran headlong into Congress’ only independent democratic socialist. Sen. Bernie Sanders demanded to know where all the Fed’s money was going. Bernanke said “no.” Sanders fired back by introducing a bill that would require such information to be posted to the Fed’s Web site.

Posted on Mar 3, 2009 READ MORE


Medicare (Dis-)Advantage

Obama’s bid to reduce the taxpayer-funded slush fund that flows to the managed-care insurance industry through Medicare is an emphatic, if overdue, effort to turn Washington around.

Posted on Mar 3, 2009 READ MORE



White House / Pete Souza

America’s New Trajectory

Just six weeks into his term, Obama has opened his bid to redraw the boundaries of our politics and expand the realm of the possible.

Posted on Mar 3, 2009 READ MORE



Wikimedia Commons / Marcello Casal Jr / ABr

Islamic Banks Presented as an Economic Model

The United States spent much of the 20th century lecturing the world about how to run an economy. Clearly, we’ve lost some credibility in that area. Indonesian President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono wants Islamic banks, with their abhorrence of interest and gambling, to fill the void.

Posted on Mar 1, 2009 READ MORE


Robin-Hood Republicanism?

Only months after the 2008 primaries, most Americans probably don’t remember Mike Huckabee or Ron Paul. But that doesn’t mean the conservative populism they championed during their campaigns is as fleeting as their dark-horse candidacies.

Posted on Feb 26, 2009 READ MORE



Flickr / Foraggio Fotographic

At Last, Accepting Some Clues From Across the Pond

We suddenly seem willing to consider sensible ideas that were always deemed unthinkable. Soon we may be mature enough to observe how other developed countries address problems that have baffled us for generations.

Posted on Feb 25, 2009 READ MORE


Government’s Long Night May Be Ending

Obama’s message was plain: The era of bashing government is over. So, too, is the folklore of a marketplace capable of producing abundance without regulation, oversight or public intervention.

Posted on Feb 25, 2009 READ MORE



White House

The President’s Address to Congress

In his first speech to a joint session of Congress, President Obama acknowledged the dire state of the economy, but struck a hopeful tone as he expanded on his vision for recovery. Investments in energy, education and health care will be key, he said, as will an expanded bailout of the financial sector. (Summary, video and full text after the jump)

Posted on Feb 24, 2009 READ MORE


Toxins ’R’ Us

The American Chemistry Council assures us that “we make the products that help keep you safe and healthy.” But U.S. consumers are actually exposed to a vast array of harmful chemicals and additives embedded in toys, cosmetics, plastic water bottles and countless other products.

Posted on Feb 24, 2009 READ MORE


Turn a Harsh Light Onto the Banks

It’s reaching the point where desperate measures—brutal honesty and complete transparency—may be the only way to bring the economy out of its kamikaze dive. If so, this won’t be pretty.

Posted on Feb 23, 2009 READ MORE



Flickr / stan

Citigroup Wants a Bigger Bailout

Uncle Sam already gave Citigroup $45 billion and promised to limit the bank’s losses on $300 billion in troubled loans, but executives at the ailing bank are now reportedly asking the federal government to sweeten the deal. One scheme has Washington exchanging preferred stock for common stock.

Posted on Feb 22, 2009 READ MORE


Sarah Palin
Flickr / geerlingguy

Some Governors May Tell Obama to Stuff It

While just about every state in the Union is starving for funds, a small band of Republican governors is debating whether or not to reject the stimulus bill’s cash infusion, citing concerns over future taxes. This California editor says good. Give their stimulus money to my state. It’s broke.

Posted on Feb 22, 2009 READ MORE


book cover

Zachary Karabell on ‘The Case for Big Government’

Jeff Madrick’s new book insists that the anti-government ethos that is a treasured American prejudice is not grounded in the new economic reality. But is he fighting the last war?

Posted on Feb 20, 2009 READ MORE


Past the Point of No Return

It’s fitting that Barack Obama went to Denver to sign the stimulus bill. We’re just now starting to climb the challenging “Rocky Mountains” of this economic odyssey.

Posted on Feb 19, 2009 READ MORE



Flickr / debaird

Congress for Sale

Nearly a quarter of the members of the House of Representatives find themselves embroiled in a lobbying scandal, with Rep. John Murtha at the center. One hundred four representatives earmarked more than $300 million in just one bill, allegedly in exchange for campaign contributions from a lobbying firm founded by a former Murtha protégé.

Posted on Feb 19, 2009 READ MORE


Downward Automobility

It makes sense to prop up ailing carmakers. Allowing GM and Chrysler to go bankrupt could be a triggering event that might make a very bad economy much worse.

Posted on Feb 18, 2009 READ MORE



White House / Paul Morse / Pete Souza

Good Money After Bad

Congressional Republicans, with the exception of that embarrassingly shrunken contingent of three moderates, will rue their legacy of deep indifference at a time of true national emergency, one that makes George W. Bush’s far more costly war on terror now seem an absurdly irrelevant exercise.

Posted on Feb 18, 2009 READ MORE


Burris
senate.gov

Burris Did More for Blagojevich Than He Let On

Surprise! Roland Burris has no credibility. The man who condemned former Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich for allegedly trying to sell Barack Obama’s Senate seat—until he was appointed to it—has revealed that, contrary to what he told the United States Congress in sworn testimony, he tried to raise money, as requested, for the governor-turned-auctioneer.

Posted on Feb 17, 2009 READ MORE


Carmaker, Banker, Broker ...

Obama must deal with a new presidential role that he did not seek but cannot avoid: managing big chunks of the private-sector economy.

Posted on Feb 16, 2009 READ MORE


Blame Your Puny Paycheck

This didn’t start with the mortgage and credit crisis. It all began with the wage crisis.

Posted on Feb 16, 2009 READ MORE



AP photo / Petros Giannakouris

Bad News From America’s Top Spy

It turns out that Wall Street, rather than Islamic jihad, has produced our most dangerous terrorists. Just ask the new director of national intelligence, who warned that the deepening economic crisis could trigger a return to the “violent extremism” of the 1920s and 1930s.

Posted on Feb 16, 2009 READ MORE


A Hand on History

President Obama senses that fate has handed him opportunities few presidents ever get, and that his test will be whether he makes good use of his chance to bend history at one of its “inflection points.”

Posted on Feb 15, 2009 READ MORE


Geithner
AP photo / Gerald Herbert

Mr. Inside

The treasury secretary will get much better at making his case. I’m confident in that prediction because after watching his debut this week, I don’t see how he could get much worse.

Posted on Feb 13, 2009 READ MORE


The High Cost of Centrism

The Obama administration keeps having to learn that bland centrism is not pragmatic, it’s not helpful in resolving a big crisis, and it certainly doesn’t buy you any love.

Posted on Feb 11, 2009 READ MORE


Where’s the Top Gun?

Well, that didn’t work out. In pushing for a new financial industry bailout, Treasury Secretary Geithner came across like a banker trying to do a politician’s job. Obama owes us some hands-on involvement.

Posted on Feb 11, 2009 READ MORE


Barack Obama
White House / Pete Souza

Slam the Door on Compromise

Bipartisanship is a cute idea, but with 600,000 Americans losing their jobs in one month, there simply isn’t time to be nice.

Posted on Feb 9, 2009 READ MORE


A Team of Zombies

Only weeks ago, the political world was buzzing about a “team of rivals,” but instead President Obama has populated his administration with Bush yes-men and Wall Street kleptocrats whose discredited theologies cannot be killed.

Posted on Feb 6, 2009 READ MORE


In Washington, Public Policy and Private Wealth Are Hopelessly Tangled

Barack Obama in Washington reminds one of Diogenes in Athens, with his lantern in search of an honest man.

Posted on Feb 5, 2009 READ MORE



USAF / Tech. Sgt. Charlein Sheets

Pentagon Propaganda Is Booming

The military’s spin budget—covering recruitment, advertising and public relations—has jumped 63 percent over the last five years, to $4.7 billion, according to a yearlong investigation by the Associated Press. The Pentagon pays nearly as many people to influence public opinion as the State Department has in its entire work force.

Posted on Feb 5, 2009 READ MORE


Barack Obama and Howard Dean
AP photo / Alex Brandon

Howard Dean Should Have Been Obama’s Pick All Along

Now that Tom Daschle has withdrawn his name from the running to be health and human services secretary, President Obama should revisit the idea of nominating former Democratic National Chairman Howard Dean for the position, an idea he abandoned last November for all the wrong reasons.

Posted on Feb 5, 2009 READ MORE


GOP Revs Up the Spin on Stimulus

Republicans have been winning the media wars over Obama’s central initiative. They have done so largely by defining the proposal by its least significant parts.

Posted on Feb 5, 2009 READ MORE


Stimulus Skeptics Wrong (Again)

Mythology is overshadowing history in the debate over Obama’s plan to stimulate the depressed economy. Excessive airtime is devoted to the prejudices of cable hosts and radio personalities who regurgitate ideas they barely understand.

Posted on Feb 5, 2009 READ MORE


Eight Is (More Than) Enough

It turns out that the woman who recently gave birth to eight babies already had six in vitro kids at home, no spouse, no job and a pending bankruptcy. There’s a word for this achievement of medicine’s reproductive business: nuts.

Posted on Feb 5, 2009 READ MORE


Dear Wall Street

The reason you are such a big story is that you’ve stolen our money. Or at least that’s how most of the country sees it. You think those auto executives looked bad when they flew into Washington on their private jets? Just you wait.

Posted on Feb 4, 2009 READ MORE


Marie Antoinette
Lie Louis Périn-Salbreux

Who Knew Bankers Were This Stupid?

Earth to Wall Street: It’s over, people. You had a terrific run, better than you deserved, but now you’d be wise to pay attention to those citizens outside, the ones with the pitchforks and the torches.

Posted on Feb 2, 2009 READ MORE



AP photo / Nikolas Giakoumidis

It’s Not Going to Be OK

The daily bleeding of thousands of jobs will soon turn our economic crisis into a political crisis. Our empire is dying. How will we cope with our decline? Will we cling to the absurd dreams of a superpower and a glorious tomorrow or will we responsibly face our stark new limitations?

Posted on Feb 2, 2009 READ MORE


Never Let a Crisis Go to Waste

President Obama’s outreach to Republicans is popular, but the coming week will test his resolve. Eventually, he’ll have to say “no” to the GOP, or lose what he’s fighting for.

Posted on Feb 2, 2009 READ MORE



Mark Fischer on Copyright in the Digital Age

A new book by Lawrence Lessig asks what constitutes copyright infringement in the era of “sampling” and point-and-click downloading.

Posted on Jan 30, 2009 READ MORE


Making Him Do It

Intragovernmental squabbling probably makes the conflict-averse Obama uncomfortable. But the “make him do it” dynamic could finally bring the center of Washington’s political debate closer to the progressive center of American public opinion.

Posted on Jan 29, 2009 READ MORE


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