Saturday, January 31, 2009

Obama's First Homeland Security Challenge

I was reading Homeland Security Today (I know, they have a magazine for EVERYTHING), and there was a really lengthy article on the drug war going on in Mexico. Apparently, some of the violence is already spilling over into our border towns (assassinations, kidnappings, etc) and there have been intercepted communications from Cartel leaders telling their U.S. cells to meet to any police measures with full tactical responses.

Also, according to interviews with Border Patrol Agents, the 700 mile wall that has been spread along different parts of the border has made a huge difference in keeping illegal immigrants and smugglers out. The wall has allowed the Border Patrol to funnel all traffic through various choke points created by difficult geography and a massive concentration of agents and technology. As such, the likelihood of catching illegal migrants and smugglers has gone up significantly.

Yet, many smugglers and migrants are still getting through, and some of them pose a direct threat to our society. What is Obama going to do about this? His appointment of Janet Napolitano to Director of Homeland Security is a good start. As former Governor of Arizona, Napolitano has experience dealing with the border. Other than that, we have little idea what Obama tends to do with the border and drug war that threatens to spill over it. Little was said about this issue during the campaign, but most experts agree it is the most pressing homeland security issue facing the United State today.

I know the issue of securing the border is a contentious one. Republicans argue for more fencing, agents, etc while Democrats argue for sweeping legislation that makes it easier for migrants to come to the US legally. What do you all think should be done?

Reinvention or recovery

Flamingos in Winter

It was remarkable to see so many Flamingos at the zoo today, especially in this cold. Even with heated water and a high temperature of 35 degrees, there were a ton of these birds, standing mostly on 1 leg. They were very pink....

Dispute about Nixon tapes

Museum Hopping in Washington, D.C.

Another NYT's Travel Section feature.

Can Barack Obama Really Transform the U.S. Economy?

Is Rahm Emanuel to Barack Obama what Dick Cheney was to George W. Bush?

It will be interesting to see whether top members of Obama's White House Staff will have more influence than the cabinet. With Emanuel's ties to Congress, will Obama lean on him to generate support for future legislation?

Inauguration Hat May Be Kept In Museum

I thought this was an interesting tidbit about the Inauguration considering that Aretha came to our school last year.

Tax issues shadow Obama health nominee Daschle

Here we go again. I don't know if President Obama knew about the tax problems with Daschle or Geithner, but I would expect him to conduct thorough background searches on his potential cabinet members. It is totally unacceptable for our top governmental employees not to pay their taxes, especially given the current economic crisis.

Iran Says Diplomacy is Sign of Weakness

Its statements like these that make me want to drop a guided munitions bomb right on the Iranian Presidential Palace. Yet, in reality, this statement is probably just more election pandering. It will take a couple more months to see if diplomacy can work or not.

Moving forward

Who's Going to Win the Superbowl?

Can Super Summers save the economy?

Steep Slide in Economy as Unsold Goods Pile Up

With huge decline in the country's GDP this last economic quarter, it is becoming more questionable as to whether or not the current stimulus package will help boost the economy soon enough. Is the cost of the plan going to produce results in the short term that will outweigh our growing national debt?

The GOP Should Go Upscale

This article presents an interesting take on what Republicans can do in the next election to improve their standing in the political arena. Considering that President Obama won over more voters with high incomes of $200,000+, the Republican base has been missing a key demographic that would seem to have some support for their financial ideology.

The Confidence Game

Like we talked about in the debate on Thursday, even with high hopes for President Obama, it does not appear that people feel confident in the recovery of the economy. With this lack of faith, I do not see how the current stimulus proposal will do much to boost the economy or consumer spending.


Stimulus as Obama's Iraq?

From Gitmo to Yemen to who knows where

Smoot Hawley provision in stimulus?

More tax trouble

The end of the exclusionary rule?

Anti-Union Group Tries to Glom On To Obama's Popularity

(warning--blatantly biased political advertising in the link)

What I found very interesting about this anti-Employee Free Choice Act ad (from the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, no less...), which was all over the Washington Times website today, was the way it tries to build on the good will towards Obama's popularity. Ironic, given that Obama supports the EFCA... and implies that conservative groups see little benefit in confronting a popular president directly.

Shame, Shame, Shame

Obama is capitalizing on the public mood by raking CEOs over the coals for massive pay bonuses last year. My favorite related quote, from the ever-eloquent Joe Biden: "I'd like to throw these guys in the brig."

An interesting point, though, in the Washington Post article linked above--while Obama has chewed out corporate executives over compensation bonuses and the purchase of a private jet, he missed the chance to do so when he met with several execs publicly last week. Harder to play a tough stance when you're trying to work with the offending party...

Tracking the Votes of Senate Republicans

Incidentally, Judd Gregg has been one of the Republicans most in favor of Obama's proposals--small wonder his name is floated as a Secretary of Commerce pick. Nate Silver opines that this is actually in Gregg's favor, as prospects for Republicans in electoral politics are slim at present...

Obama's Team Launches "Economic Recovery House Meetings"

The purpose? To make sure people know "why it's so important" to pass the economic stimulus.
Seems like an early example of Obama using his organizational muscle to try to reach around political barriers.
Enlightened effort to engage the grassroots? Or a "Brave New World" propaganda crusade? Feel free to debate in the comments.

Friday, January 30, 2009

Money but no vision?

Steele Elected RNC Chair

If Obama Includes this Provision I am going to Explode*

*this is not a threat

The real purpose of stimulus bill

J.Crew wins with Obama connection

Talk about a way to stimulate the economy.....

Yes we can: Schools, streets renamed for Barack Obama

President Obama seems to have already made an impact without much time in office. I am quite curious as to whether or not a failure from the president to get things done will cause these towns to reverse course and take his name off their infrastructure.

Security Around Obama Alarms Some VIP Donors

I found it fascinating that after all of the security measures taken to ensure that the Inauguration was supposed to be safe, that something such as this could occur. I do not understand how security would be so lax at such a crucial moment. If these lapses continue to occur, it will not be long before some major damage is done.

Senate Dem Nelson skeptical about stimulus bill

A Weekend in Washington D.C.

NYT's Travel Section feature.

Flare up at Davos threatens Turkish-Israeli Relations

Israel counts Turkey as its closest ally in the Muslim world, which is why this recent spat at the Davos Economic Forum is so important. It appears the fallout from Israel's invasion of Gaza has been larger than expected. I'm not sure Israel can recover from the public relations nightmare they just unleashed.

Energy and Commerce Committee Announces Hearing on Salmonella Outbreak

Time to put middle class front and center

Why Vice President Biden thinks Obama's Middle Class Task Force is necessary. I think that the formation of this task force is a step in the right direction for Obama's administration and towards fulfilling the promises that he made on the campaign trail.

Guantanamo Judge Denies Obama's Request for Delay

It is interesting that the Pohl is the only judge that denied Obama's request. The judge who is overseeing the case invovling five Sept. 11 defendants made no such objections.

Public opinion on closing Gitmo

Republicans oppose Obama/Stimulus in a search for relevancy

Who said this wasn't politically motivated?

Steep Slide in Economy but Not as Dire as Forecast

Good summary of what is happening right now. In the article, the NYT quotes Hamilton's own Professor Ann Owen.

As Iceland goes.........

Free Blago

More on stimulus

More criticism of stimulus

Gore hails Obama's climate goals despite crisis

I was not not surprised to see Al Gore's happiness with President Obama over his desire to make energy a priority. After listening to Gore speak on campus two years ago, he definitely has contributed to the increased desire to talk about and try and fix some of the wastefulness and destruction that we are causing with our consumption of energy.

Obama mulling Republican Gregg for commerce

In what may be more of political move to create a filibuster proof majority in the Senate, President Obama is considering a key Republican Senator from New Hampshire. I am not too sure that Senator Gregg would accept such a position in the Obama cabinet because there is no way that Republicans want to give Democrats even more of a leg up in the legislative process.

Obama's Reagan Moment Is Now

An interesting point is made in this article about the amount of money that the President is being allowed for public investments. I had not thought about it from this angle, but comparitively it seems as though the past few presidents have not had the same opportunity to try and fix problems with the same amount of fanfare as Obama. Considering that this is only his first year, we may see him trounce the $1 trillion mark for a public investment budget, which is pretty remarkable.

Stimulus bill moves to Senate, where GOP wants compromise

Monument to Bush shoe-throwing shines at Iraqi orphanage

Turkish PM cheered after Davos walkout

Noonan on stimulus as lost opportunity

Blagojevich's name, image removed from state Capitol

Return of Gang of 14

Thursday, January 29, 2009

Obama sets cool, casual tone for new White House

Governing style can definitely make an impact on how you are perceived. As seen in many SNL skits, it appears as though President Obama will try to be cool and casual in an attempt to make everyone feel comfortable with him and his ideas.

Obama Calls Wall Street Bonuses ‘Shameful’

How can we continue to reward companies that fail to generate growth? Wall street executive pay should be based on results. With the new stimulus plan, the website better become the necessary check on government spending. I do not want to continue witnessing waste of government money.

Palin to Come to Washington in Hopes of Talk With Obama

With his recent public attempts to appear bipartisan, I am interested to see if President Obama will continue after the recent rejection of Republicans in the stimulus plan. Palin is definitely trying to position herself as a leader of the Republican Party, but this should scare Republicans because I do not believe she is the answer to their problems.

Explaining stimulus vote

Stimulus vote

Katie Couric makes a comeback

After being maligned for nearly two years over low ratings, Katie Couric is making a slight comeback (ratings up 5% from last year). The article from WashPo presents many reasons for this uptick (Palin interview, Obama "change message" has spilled over into traditional world of news, etc) and I can't help but wonder if this represents a new chapter in network news programs. Charlie Gibson (chair of ABC's evening news program) is 65 and probably won't be around for much longer. Will ABC follow CBS and choose a woman to replace him?

A Slap in the Face

The President has made it his personal business to deliver on one of his prime mandates--bipartisanship. He spent his time actually on Capitol Hill courting Republican support for the stimulus package as well as other issues. The package won success in a 244-to-188 without a single Republican vote. ( A SINGLE ONE) At least 11 democrats were courageous enough to go against their own party--erroneous as it might prove to be. They did have the guts to vote their beliefs or as they are supposed to, as their constituency urged them to vote. The President is taking this blow gracefully and with sincere hope for more bipartisan support in the Senate. However, let's not mistake this for one second. This is a clear indication that the President's honeymoon with the nation, its leaders and even the press is starting to take a turn. Party lines are thicker than they were during the election. It makes you wonder about what is really going on.
The Republicans are suddenly singing the same song and I, for one, am suspicious. After all, the bill was going to pass without Republic support and everyone knew this. It is pretty clear that it is not perfect and no relief effort will be perfect. However, this is an opportunity for those Republican's vying for re-election to say what they did and "did not" vote for in 2009. Why vote yes if you don't have to? The answer is because it the vote can prove controversial and useful a couple of years down the line. If this is the case, they had better placed their bets wisely. If this goes down in history, as it will, as the great initiative that saved millions of lives if not revived the economy, they will be left out of the picture.
One more thought, I myself, am still not settled on the stimulus package but the alternatives are no better. If there is one thing I understand is that the President needs to act, and act now. Real people are loosing real jobs. Prudence should have been exercised when we decided to start a war we can't afford to finish.

Obama's First Call as Pres. Went to Abbas

In a highly symbolic gesture, President Obama made his first official foreign call to Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, stressing that the Israel-Palestine peace process was a top concern of his that would receive immediate attention. This action, coupled with the appointment of Senator George Mitchell as Special Envoy to the Middle East, has renewed hope in the Arab world for a genuine engagement by the United States on behalf of peace.

Obama 2.0

Obama Super Bowl Pick

I think it is quite ridiculous that betting has gotten to this level. I was watching the White House news conference today at work and I thought the media bringing up this question was something that should not have been addressed. Regardless of who he favors, there are real issues the country is facing and that should be given more preference by the media.

Leaders Say Obama Has Tapped Pastor for Outreach Office

Is this one of Obama's efforts to reach out to the right? Another show of bipartisanship?

Do we really want more of this?

Obama Signs Equal Pay Act

Looks great on paper but it won't work in reality.

Girls: Next time you are about to be fired, quit, or retire from your job, just sue the company. You're sure to get a big out of court settlement.

I have a scheme!

Blago's last stand

Obama Signs Equal-Pay Bill

Obama's 1st bill signed into law!

Harvard Econ Professor on Stimulus Bill

No License for Blackwater: End of Operations in Iraq?

Iraq just refused to grant North Carolina-based security contractor Blackwater a license to operate in Iraq. This is significant because Blackwater provides security for State Department officials in Iraq (including the Ambassador) and visiting Congressmen. If Blackwater is no longer able to operate in Iraq, the USG will have to find a new method for protecting its diplomats. It is estimated that Blackwater could be out by summer.

More Stimulus Analysis

More NYTs analysis on the House-approved stimulus bill. As with all bills, the design is recieving mixed reviews. Stay tuned for Senate's version. Give it a read for tonight's class!

How to make the most of an internship

The Tips That Will Enable Complete Dominance in the Workplace, Our Collective Wisdom

- Volunteer to do things

- Think of your current internships skills transferability for future jobs

- Making personal connections as best/often as you can

- Lunch strategy-- get anyone you can to go out to lunch, try to get the upper level employee’s to go out and often they will extend a hand

- Take advantage of the specialized insider knowledge that staffers may be able to offer

- Get people to talk about themselves, that will give you insight into how things actually happen rather than how they may appear

- Making connections with the important people that you come to meet and keep in mind your first impressions

- Network within the company if desired to see about future employment

- See how much sway being an intern can have in the company, and its hiring practices

- Get in peoples face and let them know you want to help, often this is the most effective way to allow work to come your way

- Network with other interns; get to know what and whom they may know. They may be able to connect you to people outside your current office.

- Get to work on time, if not early. The late bird doesn’t even get a chance to see the worm (come on, it’s funny)

- Shadow someone for a day and see what the texture of their day is like, rather than being stuck in your day and only guessing

- Be careful about who and what you are talking about, when you are least expecting it someone is most likely watching and you can’t take back those things you said about an employee’s dandruff

- Look for the potential to take a trip to “independent study land” if possible while at your internship, as you are at your job look for potential things that you may write about and think of questions you can ask to further your topic

- Watch out for Nasty’s. An employee can normally burn your bridge, be careful to know that you cannot in turn burn theirs. Apparently they have a fire department and all we have is a bucket with a hole.

- Keep in mind that most organizations are not democracies; there is often a hierarchy. You have to be sensitive to the hierarchical nature. Pretend your in communist Russia and your not exactly important.

- Finally: If “The Office” applies to your intern life, question your intern life.

Scandal management 101

The Geithner Exception

Even with one of the highest number of rejection votes during his confirmation hearing, Tim Geithner will serve in the Obama cabinet. This article points out why he should not have been confirmed under the normal political justice code and I am unsure why he was not held to the same standards. It is going to be very interesting to see if he is able to correct his early mistakes involving the bailout package and his tax problems.

What are the Opposition's Duties

I think this article does a good job of tying in what the Republican Party's duties will be in overlooking the new stimulus plan. Although they will not hold the power to make much change, they still have a responsibility to bring out opposing viewpoints and provide a check on the Democrats.

An $800 Billion Mistake

As Martin Feldstein points out, the current stimulus package does have some flaws. I am in agreement with him over the tax cut structuring and the lack of available funds for projects within the next few years. Will the Senate be able to enact changes to prevent such bad policy?

Some ideas for President Obama's call to sacrifice

Hamilton's own, Professor Cannavo, wrote this piece about the President's ability to inspire America. I am in agreement that we need to ensure that Americans understand the consequences for their actions and that we need to be more careful to consider such when making important decisions especially involving the new stimulus proposal and energy policies being promoted by the President.

Less mail for everyone?

National mail delivery could be limited to 5 days per week to battle deficit.

Obama's West Wing

'Buy American' Rider Sparks Trade Debate

John Yoo on closing Gitmo

Wednesday, January 28, 2009


Dress Codes and Such....

Newest obsession in Obama's cult of personality

More so than any other politician in recent memory, Barack Obama has a cult of personality. The newest part: his "Chicago toughness."

Obama plans letter to Iran

Newest update in U.S.-Iranian relations is Team Obama's plan to send a letter directly to Ayatollah Ali Khamenei in an effort to eventually reach face-to-face talks. There is talk of the letter being released publicly to the Iranian people as well, so keep an eye out for that on the web in the next couple of weeks. Should be interesting to see where this new emphasis on diplomacy takes us with Iran.

Most recent estimates on Iranian nuclear capability is that they are capable of producing weapons-grade uranium, but it will take them until mid-2010 to produce enough for a bomb. Lets assume Iran is planning to build nuclear weapons. Anyone want to take bets on whether Obama can get them to stop before its too late?

The Fed: Life after zero

Chicago White Sox invite President Barack Obama to throw out first pitch on Opening Day

Bucking the presidential trend, President Obama will not be throwing out the first pitch in D.C. or Baltimore, but for his hometown Chicago White Sox. I sure would like to fill in his shoes for this occasion.

Stimulus passed in House

National Gallery of Art, and other places to visit

Colleen and I visited the Art and Space Museum (Smithsonian Institution) and the National Gallery of Art today evening. We then headed to Union Station for some great grub(we definitely recommend checking it out, there are several places you can try).

The highlight of the day for me was definitely the National Gallery of Art. The venue itself was breathtaking, constructed in the early 1900s on an impressive scale. If you appreciate culture and art, you should go!

Washingtonians need to suck it up...

Long Decline in Union Memberships Reverses

House Passes $819 Billion Economic Stimulus

beware of the peanuts...

Obama is going to fail

Six Economists Weigh in on Stimulus Plan

Want some expert opinion on the stimulus to show off at tomorrow's debate? Well, here it is. Enjoy.

Postmaster Proposes a Cutback in Mail Delivery

With the Recession, Even Relationships are Down

It is officially a buyers market for homes, cars, equity, and now 20-something girls on wall street.
...I should have done Hamilton's NYC program...

Congress clears wage bill for first Obama signature

President Obama has the first chance to make an impact on the country with his signature on this piece of legislation. The bill itself to reduce gender pay discrimination is definitely a worthwhile cause and it will be interesting to see what else Congress and the President can achieve throughout their tenure together.

Obama: Better Than Either George W. Bush or George H.W. Bush?

As we discussed in class today, President Obama has remarkably high approval ratings so far. I believe that he is using his political power correctly by meeting with Republicans and trying to hear their opinions and it appears that most of the public agrees.

In first week, Obama takes initial steps on ambitious agenda

Holder Approved by Judiciary Cmte.

Panorama Photograph of Obama Inauguration

The level of detail is really amazing--you can zoom in all the way to see Obama speaking, Bush sitting behind him, and individual faces. If you were sitting in the seats or around the reflecting pool, I'm sure you can find yourself in the photo (sadly, I was too far back to do the same).

Drum Major in Hot Water After Obama Nod

The news that matters...

On Arab TV Network, Obama Urges Dialogue

This interview with Al-Arabiya by President Obama highlights the new direction of American foreign policy. After eight years of hostile engagement with countries in the Middle East, it is refreshing to see a President who is willing to improve our relations though other means.

Iran wants an apology

Question: is this a serious demand or just pandering to anti-American sentiment within Iran?

Russia Blinks?

Your move Obama...

Stimulus Plan Would Provide Flood of Aid to Education

The economic stimulus plan Congress has scheduled for a vote on Wednesday would shower the nation’s school districts, child care centers and university campuses with $150 billion in new federal spending, a vast two-year investment that would more than double the Department of Education’s current budget.

The Case for Doing Nothing

Geography Is Dividing Democrats Over Energy

President Obama has entrusted his new energy policy into the hands of many East Coast states and California. However, he is leaving out the Midwestern states that rely upon manufacturing and coal as a means of providing electricity. If the new policies being put out do not take this into account, it will leave many families in trouble heading into the more environmentally friendly future America.

Tough questions for Panetta

When Leon Panetta begins his confirmation hearing next week, it will be interesting to see how he responds to questions about the new direction of the CIA. With many of the counterterrorism policies of the Bush administration no longer in effect, how will the Obama camp choose to protect the nation from terrorist threats?

The Stimulus Fight You Should Be Watching

Democrats are posing quite a challenge to President Obama's stimulus package. Finally, he has taken some intiative to curb pork-barrel spending by eliminating the funding being directed towards contraceptives and distributing that money to more worthwhile causes such as Medicaid and health care reform. Republicans have a chance to demonstrate that big-spending Democrats are not always wise with their spending habits.

Blago's revenge

Dem concerns about stimulus

Stimulus wish list

Snow in D.C.

Some snow on Tuesday--enough to close schools in D.C. At my job, there were quite a few late arrivals. The sidewalks got fairly slippery, although I noticed the city had salted them pretty heavily by the afternoon.

Anyone have snow stories to share?

65% of House Stimulus Plan will be Spent by 2010, CBO Says

Treasury Weighs Hard Choices To Save Banks

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Chuck Todd on 'How Barack Obama Won'

Why Gates is Key to Obama's Success

Obama Dolls: Exploitation or Role Models?

Barack Obama's initial approval rating is highest since JFK

President Obama faces one of the worst political climates in our nation's history, yet he is looked upon as the ultimate savior. Will he be able to maintain these high marks? It will be interesting to see once the proposed stimulus package has been enacted if government spending deters citizens away from the government and Obama.

Economic Cures Are Like Booze for an Alcoholic

"These are short-sighted, short-term solutions being orchestrated at the expense of the economy’s long-term health"

Congress Considers 206 Amendments to Stimulus Package

Republicans Try, Mostly in Vain, to Make a Mark on Stimulus

Obama as a celebrity

Lots of articles have come out about people vaguely connected to Obama - for example, a main AOL news article the other day was about Obama's suit maker going out of business. This article brings up other groups who are being boosted through their Obama connection. It's interesting to think about - how will his borderline-celebrity status carry over and/or affect his presidency?

In defense of Blago

Round and Round We Go?

In the introduction to Katherine Graham's Washington, the late publisher of The Washington Post wrote about her belief in the cyclical nature of events in Washington D.C. (& history).

We live in an America distinct from the America when FDR battled what has come to be known as the Great Depression, yet the situation seems familiar. Back then, it was America's entry into WWII that saved the country from its failing economy. Yes, FDR's call for Federal programs helped stimulate the economy and create jobs, but governmental efforts only marginally alleviated the dire situation.

The problem is that the economy is an unwieldy beast that is difficult to tame, which explains why the lassos cast by the Federal Reserve and Congress over its thick throat snap and lie useless. If history is truly cyclical as Graham says it is, will we be able to climb out of the dark abyss of our sinking economy without the helping hand of another war? Can Obama learn from and go even further than FDR did to save us from slipping?

Melding Obama’s Web to a YouTube Presidency

President Obama is using his technologically-saavy staff to his advantage. Bypassing the media to get to the public is often something most Presidents fail to accomplish in an effective manner. With youtube, President Obama is redirecting his efforts towards getting across his message to America without influence from the media.

Obama added to Super Bowl pre-game show

With many Americans tuned in for the big game this Sunday, President Obama is taking advantage and will give his first on-tv interview since being elected. I am guessing that he will try to talk a lot about the upcoming stimulus plan and how he plans to ensure that it will work, but it will interesting to see if he plugs in his other priorities of energy and health care into his time on the biggest tv stage of the year.

Hillary Leads -- and Follows -- As She Takes Over at State

By professing her support for President Obama, Hillary is acting very diplomatically in her first few days. How long this will last is something that I am interested in seeing because at some point I expect Hillary to go on her path.

UPDATE 3-Citigroup scraps purchase of $50 mlllion corporate jet

It is nice to see that there is finally some thought being put into the purchases that these companies from the bailout are making. Considering that the company has cut thousands of workers in recent months, they should be more resourceful in their spending habits.

This president is presidential, not your average guy

A Win for Free Speech Online

Rove Ordered to Testify To Congress on Firings

Senate Passes Bill to Delay Transition to Digital Television

Fannie Mae To Seek Funds From Treasury

"Mortgage Firms' Requests For Aid Near $65 Billion"

Holy Cow: Top Dems Are Serious About Investigating Bush's Criminal Acts

"As President Barack Obama reverses some of ex-President George W. Bush's most controversial "war on terror" policies, a consensus seems to be building among Democratic congressional leaders that further investigations are needed into Bush's use of torture and other potential crimes."

F.D.R’s Example Offers Obama Cautionary Lessons

Obama to woo Republicans on stimulus plan

"US President Barack Obama Tuesday will hold talks with congressional Republicans who complain his 825-billion-dollar stimulus plan is too expensive, unworkable and larded with unneeded spending."

Obama Tells Arab World U.S. Will ‘Start by Listening’

It is very interesting that President Obama chose to send his first message during the time he is sending former Senator Mitchell out for a mission the Middle East. By coming out with the position that the U.S. will begin listening he is trying to ensure that Mitchell will be somewhat successful during his 8 day trip.

New Hope for Lifting Women in Science

Obama Sends Special Envoy to the Middle East

Obama Signals New Tone

How desperately people wanted to watch inauguration...

Afghan Prison Poses Problem in Overhaul of Detainee Policy

While Obama has established a position on Guantanamo, makeshift prison on the American air base at Bagram in Afghanistan remains another question. Should Bagram also be closed, or at least put on hold temporarily? Will the Obama administration follow Bush's lead and draw a distinction between Bagram and Guantanamo?


President Obama has demonstrated his desire to promote bipartisan politics with the recent stimulus plan, but will he start to put his foot down and get things done his way?

With Friends Like These....

President Obama is going to have to deal with problems and concerns from both parties if he wants to get his agenda put through.

Obama's Showdown Over Nukes

With President Obama against the production of creating new nuclear weapons, he is going against his own cabinet member's advice for the first time.

'Americans are not your enemy,' Obama tells Muslims

Bank bailout could cost $4 trillion

Stimulus Bill Sends Thrill Through Region

F.D.R’s Example Offers Obama Cautionary Lessons

How Obama should deal, or not deal with the economy.

Geography divides Dems on energy

Monday, January 26, 2009

Good Thai Restaurant Near DuPont Circle

I ate here today with a Hamilton alumnus, Young Han '07--the meal was very good and cheap (under ten dollars for dinner!).

Technology Plays a Major Role in Stimulus Package

A very neat area for U.S. growth... as experts in the article point out, technologies like electronic medical records are hard to outsource, and new workers can be trained up pretty quickly.

smells like pork...

When Did Barack Obama Officially Become Eligible to Act as President?

Hackers Lurking in Obama's Web Site

President Obama has to be concerned with this because one of his stated goals is to get all medical files put into an online database to reduce costs. Privacy of these records will be at risk to hackers similiar to his personal website has been and this could present a major problem with the proposed modernization of the healthcare system.

Obama Directs the Future of the Automobile

President Obama is allowing states to set their own emission standards for their cars. It is becoming obvious that he is going to become very proactive in ensuring that America becomes more resourceful and environmentally friendly. This new energy policy will enable America to become less dependent on other countries and provide automakers with what it will take to get their cars sold to Americans.

One-Third of Americans Support Afghan Surge

It appears Obama has a big PR project ahead of him if he wants to send an additional 30,000 troops to Afghanistan.

Obama announces direct diplomacy initiative towards Iran

Blagojevich Calls Illinois State Senate Impeachment Trial a 'Kangaroo Court'

Obama directs EPA to review California Rule

The Intersection of Science & Politics, a Question...

I was doubly surprised and pleased with Obama's head nod towards science in his inaugural address. In recent history, science & technology and politics have intersected increasingly, and his definite attention towards this trend was welcome.

Policy has come to both regulate science & technology and be influenced by it. Laws regulate and define appropriate uses of technology, especially important after the advent of the internet. New developments in science (eg. stem cell research) bring to the table novel problems and therefore legislation.

But policy has also become increasingly dependent on science. For example, in the landmark opinion of Roe v. Wade, Justice Blackmun offered (well, an admittedly arbitrary) evaluation of the situation viewed under the lens of science. Though faulty, the fact that science and technology had been used in such a significant decision may be prophetic of what will influence future legislation and decisions.

As a proponent of research and development in sciences and technologies, I appreciated Obama's pledge.

Do you think that a turn towards science and technology in policy making will bode well for us, or do you think that we should stick to precedents, even in changing times?

Obama’s Partisan, Profane Confidant Reins It In

Rahm Emanuel, President Obama's chief of staff, has a freshly vibrant personality in a business that relies heavily on images. Some say that Emanuel is "an ironic choice for a president...who has promised to change Washington, [and] make politics more civil," but civility in politics and a jaunty nature are hardly mutually exclusive.

Where Will Detainees From Guantánamo Go?

Cartoonists draw blank on Obama

Bush's legal foes now Obama's legal team

How pro-life proceeds in Obama era

The End of Culture Wars?

The Republicans' Best Weapon

President Obama's bipartisanship efforts so far are working to the Republicans advantage. Will he put his foot down and start dictating the way things are going to go or will he continue to try and appease both parties?

There’s More To Fear Than Fear

Interesting Article on DC

No we can't

Another Bank of the United States?

Bad Faith Economics

Closing Guantanamo doesn't go far enough

Obama Moves to Let States Set Own Rules on Emissions

WSJ on stimulus

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Selection of Photos on Bush's Presidency

Three photo-journalists were asked to present the photos they thought best summed up their view of George W. Bush as president. Take a look and read a little of the back-and-forth between the journalists. Quite interesting.


I came to DC expecting to be a part of the crowd for every single inaugural festivity I could get to. However, I also wasn’t expecting it to be as cold as it was, and stupidly left my warm hat and gloves back at home, where I guarantee you they’re not being used because according to my parents it was 77 degrees on inauguration day. I resolved to go out to the Mall on Tuesday anyway – after all, it was history in the making.

7:30 a.m. Sanjana knocks on my door and tells me unticketed areas are filling up already and we have to go NOW. Let me think about it… no. I hadn’t even been able to make it through two hours at the inaugural concert on Sunday before I couldn’t feel my toes, and standing in the cold for five hours to not be able to see or hear anything properly didn’t seem worth it.

Instead, I went to Open City, just down the street from our apartments, with my roommate Colleen. I’d been there a couple of times already the previous weekend and noticed they had a big TV and didn’t seem to mind if people came and hung around for hours. It obviously wasn’t the same as going down to the Mall and watching with millions of people, but alternatively I had a great view, could hear properly, and I could even feel my toes!

Watching the crowds of people the CNN commentators kept showing reminded me of one of my favorite things about this election. Early on in the election, even before the debates, people were getting informed and involved in choosing the country’s next leader. Whether or not they, or you, support Obama, his candidacy got a lot of people more involved than they ever had been before, and that’s something I was thrilled to see.

As Obama walked onstage, I was struck by how unlike his usual self he looked. I’d seen him on TV numerous times, and I had tried to catch a glimpse of him at the inaugural concert, and all of those times he had been exactly as people had described him: comfortable with crowds, energetic, and excited for the future. This time, he shook people’s hands walking on stage without seeming to realize what he was doing. He wasn’t talking; he wasn’t connecting with the crowd. Someone later that day made a comment about how he looked like he’d been given Valium before going onstage, and I thought that sounded about right. It seemed to me that it was finally hitting him that he was actually officially the person who had to pull us out of several incredibly complicated situations. Obviously I’m sure he realized this to some degree before, but he seemed completely different this time.

When noon rolled around and Obama had yet to be sworn in, I got a little bit worried and confused. I recalled our last class where Professor Paris had made a comment about what happens if a president wasn’t sworn in by noon. I must have misremembered, because I recalled him saying he didn’t know what would happen because it was written into the constitution that the president must be sworn in by noon on January 20th. Luckily for me, CNN cleared up my confusion at 12:02 by announcing that regardless of the administration of the oath, Barack Obama became president at noon. This was doubly reassuring after the stumble while administering the oath and all the hype afterwards about whether or not that had any effect on Obama’s presidency. I later read that Bill Clinton was also sworn in after noon on his inauguration, so I’m glad there’s already precedent for this.

And of course, everyone in Open City went crazy once he was sworn in.

One last thing that was on my mind throughout the inaugural festivities: I was struck by the amount of religious language. Some of it I was expecting during the inauguration itself, but a five minute prayer before the inaugural concert? I was very uncomfortable with that, and it seemed unnecessary to me.

Operating From a Deficit

The inaugural address, at best, is the president’s opportunity to inform the public of his intentions as the new leader of the United States. However, it also serves as a quasi- state of the union address, as it is very common to find statements about the nature of the union. Looking at the state of the union through the eyes of Baracks inaugural address it is clear to see that he is working from a deficit. More specifically, there is drastic difference in the way he details the nature of society from the way Clinton did so in his 1997 speech.
Clinton states : “America stands alone as the world's indispensable nation. Once again, our economy is the strongest on Earth. Once again, we are building stronger families, thriving communities, better educational opportunities, a cleaner environment. Problems that once seemed destined to deepen now bend to our efforts: our streets are safer and record numbers of our fellow citizens have moved from welfare to work.”

On the contrary, Barack mentions that “That we are in the midst of crisis is now well understood. Our nation is at war against a far-reaching network of violence and hatred. Our economy is badly weakened, a consequence of greed and irresponsibility on the part of some but also our collective failure to make hard choices and prepare the nation for a new age. Homes have been lost, jobs shed, businesses shuttered. Our health care is too costly, our schools fail too many, and each day brings further evidence that the ways we use energy strengthen our adversaries and threaten our planet.”

These excerpts from two very great speeches are vastly different and speaks volumes for the Bush’s tenure and Barack’s promise. The interpretation is yours to make but I think one thing is very clear—Barack is operating at a deficit. In 1997 Clinton stood to lead a country at a time of prosperity. People were going to work, getting better education, and feeling safe. Barack is standing to lead a country that is insecure, where people are leaving work for unemployment and one step shy of welfare, and a place where healthcare is an issue for more than the aging population.

...Just because it's amazing.


Oliphant has several cartoons at the Corcoran Museum.

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Inaugural Reflctions

For all the evocation of "hope" and "change" at Obama's inauguration, Philip Hamburger's essay in Katharine Graham's Washington indicated that such sentiments are not unique, observing the following about the start of the Clinton presidency:
 "Thousands of black faces, yellow faces, white faces. No pushing, no shoving. Cynics don't buy this, but there are times when hope is palpable (801)."
From Pete Seeger singing "This Land is Your Land" at the inaugural concert, to the soaring strains of John Williams's "Air and Simple Gifts," to the breathless and generally courteous spectators (with the exception of numerous boos for the outgoing Bush), to the reassurance of President Obama that Americans could "pick ourselves up, dust ourselves off and begin again the work of remaking America," this atmosphere of promise was just as prevalent in the Obama inauguration as the Clinton one. But that indicates little about the future; we know the Clinton presidency was later mired in disorganization, electoral defeat, and scandal.

On the other hand, Franklin Delano Roosevelt moved from a stirring inauguration to a renowned presidency. Obama recalled much of Roosevelt's somber reflection in his remarks, probably seeking to emulate FDR's success against adversity. There is no easy way to predict how the Obama administration will perform--whether he will triumph in the vein of FDR or flounder in the vein of Clinton. But I see strong possibility for hope in the event's size, a unique aspect of the Obama inauguration.

More people attended Obama's inauguration than any in history, and the opprotunity for all to witness the event through the expansion of technology--JumboTron televisions, constant blogging, Twittering, and network coverage--allowed more people than ever to feel connected to the inaugural events. The inauguration was also a persistent subject of conversation in the media and among my peers; while I remember little of the time when President Bush was inaugurated eight years ago, I do not recall the event being such a household topic.

There is tremendous potential in this mass appeal of Obama's celebrity to inspire a new interest in politics. When millions of people descend on the National Mall just to watch a (frankly) fairly rote political event, it gives me great hope that those same millions will be inspired to later contact their representatives and get involved in their own communities.

In many ways, I believe this trend of reaching out to individuals and capturing mass support will represent Obama's greatest impact on American politics. He excelled in the most expensive presidential race in history mostly through small online donations, and he implemented steps in the transition to hear citizen comments (unlike any prior president). This is a potent tonic for the Bush years, when our commander-in-chief frequently dismissed public opinion; if Obama sets a new precedent of engaging Americans, he will have done much more for the country than simply navigating an economic crisis.

(I have also posted some more personal observations on the Inauguration at the Hamilton news site).

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Obama Takes His Seat at the Throne

The inauguration began for me at around 8, I overslept and then scrambled to wake up a fellow roommate who I will call "Nehs" (in order to conceal true identity of those who may or may not be involved with the rest of this story). After convincing him that it was not 5 AM (the agreed upon wake up time)rather it was 8 am and we needed to go, we skipped to the metro station in an effort to witness the same thing everyone else was seeking HISTORY. Well we then rode the metro a bit, waded through the throngs of people all completely lost in downtown Washington and finally made it to Washington Monument.
I did not know this at the time but Washington monument is nowhere near the capitol building; Nehs may have used different words but there was no way that this was close. In an effort to get closer we talked to just about every type of law enforcement that exists short of the SWAT team; whom I am sure was wading in the bushes waiting for some unruly Palin supporter to pounce on. What we gathered from the multiple people that protect our nation was that nobody had a clue what was happening, but what they were able to tell us was that we would not be getting any closer to President Obama than the road that sits 300 yards in front of Washington Monument. This was an unexpected twist of fate that would lead to your two main characters choosing different paths to watch Obama's ascension.
My compadre Nehs decided that he did not need to witness this event in person and told me that he would be leaving, granted the word choice may have been different but the end result was the same. This left me to battle the vicious cold with the hundreds of thousands that surrounded me; and so after a quick scan of the place I decided I would sleep at the foot of our nations phallic monument. I awoke at around 11:30 checked my now almost dead cellphone and decided that the two hour nap would have to be stopped as Obama-time was thirty minutes away.
I waited and eventually watched the speech itself, envying the warmth that that the Nehs was undoubtedly enjoying. Obamas speech would prove to be anything but celebratory as he let the nation know that together we would be weathering a storm; yet as I looked around the crowd stood silent(maybe too silent?). With that I realized Obama was telling the people the reality of the situation, there was not much sugarcoating of what he would like done and more of what he is planning to do. The only hope I have is that he will do as he said and help to put America back on track. After the speech I hustled to the exit and ended up getting pushed against a fence as people scrambled out of a 50 yard exit that was supposed to allow the entire crowd a clear exit. Unfortunately that was not the case and I would remain against a fence for the next hour and a half. All I can say is that I hope the Inauguration speaks more to the poor organization that took place during the Bush Administration(when it was planned), and not the Obama administration.
In closing I was walking by the White house today; a man and a woman were walking together and the woman turned and said "The White house sure does look pretty regardless of who does live there". The man then turned and said, "Yea, but it does look a little bit prettier now."

Inauguration 09

For me the 2009 inauguration was spent in the infamous "purple section" - or rather just outside of it. Arriving early in the morning to go wait in line with my friend Maggie, I was surrounded by what Graham described as "thousands of black faces, yellow faces, white faces. No pushing, no shoving". Well ok, there was a lot of pushing and shoving actually but everyone seemed excited to be a part of this historic moment.
About 4 hours later though, several thousand people in the tunnel realized that the line was not moving and that they would spend the inauguration underground. Not good. It turns out that the purple section had been shut down earlier due to a security breach.
However, I managed to escape the tunnel with Maggie in tow and we ended up right behind the gates looking onto the capitol building listening to Obama's speech.
I really enjoyed his speech and while it had a somber tone to it, it also was hopeful. I believe that his speech was a good indicator of the mindset that he is entering into the presidential office with and hopefully it will help him lead our country in a better direction.

Republicans are Resistant to Obama's Stimulus Plan

The Significance of the Obama Inauguration

On inauguration day I opted to forgo the massive crowds, freezing weather, and 7 am wake up in order to watch the inauguration at a reasonably crowed comfortably warm open city, which also served me lunch.
The inauguration of Barack Obama may not have changed the world or helped cure the many issues plaguing our country at the moment. However it is still incredibly significant. One would think the customers at open city would not Obama’s most intense supporters, since they were in DC and opted to watch on TV. However this theory was immediately disproved when I saw and heard these people stand and cheer nearly every time a shot of Obama appeared on the TV in front of them, which was approximately every five seconds. This scene, along with the shots of people lining time square to see the new president take his oath, and the million standing in the wintery DC conditions for hours, many in tears, to witness the occasion first hand made me contemplate the fact that Obama only received 53% of the popular vote.
Later when I was back at Calvert-Woodley I came across a site with pictures of inauguration viewings not only across the country but also across the world. Many of these photos were of foreigners embracing and Americans crying. These pictures really cemented the idea that not only is our country ready and excited for change, but we are ready for unity. Going from the second inauguration of George Bush, which was the least watched in history, to the Inauguration of Obama, demonstrates that the country is ready to lessen the divide internally and return to diplomacy externally. The viewing and attendance numbers of the inauguration shows many of those who chose not to vote for Barack Obama are still hopeful of the change he speaks of bringing.

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Another Cold January Inauguration

I, like millions of other Americans, trekked through the crowds early Tuesday morning to see Obama’s “historical” inauguration. I found a spot next to the JumboTron a few hundred feet ahead of the Washington Monument and began waiting for Obama’s arrival. After what seemed like an eternity (and without my hat, which I believe was my downfall), the wintery conditions convinced me that I may not make it to 11:30 am. But with one look behind me, I knew I was going to. I had no choice – my exit strategy was completely blocked with people as far as my eyes could see.

When Obama finally delivered his inaugural speech, his words didn’t disappoint the crowd and resonated with me. I could see why so many people had come – he had the ability to take a crowd who had vigorously “booed” President Bush only moments before and transform them into a unified body ready for change. While I’m not convinced that President Obama’s economic stimulus plan will fulfill all of its goals, I do believe that he brings a new sense of hope and conviction.

Reading Philip Hamburger’s description of Clinton’s first inauguration reminded me to put this inauguration in perspective. At that time, DC also experienced the largest swell of inauguration visitors the city had ever seen. The citizens who stood on the mall were also filled with a sense of hope, of new beginnings. I agree with Charlie that the inauguration is just a beginning. Actions while in office define a president’s legacy, not necessarily their speeches on the election trail or the color of their skin. After Obama’s first executive orders, I can say that I was happy to have braced the cold to see him get sworn in as the 44th U.S. President. I look forward to how he will continue to lead our nation.