Saturday, October 30, 2010

Utopia, With Tears - A review of Fruitlands, by Richard Francis

Utopia, With Tears. By ALEXANDRA MULLEN
No meat, no wool, no coffee or candles to read by, but plenty of high aspirations—and trouble.A review of Fruitlands, by Richard Francis (Yale University Press, 321 pages, $30)

WSJ, Friday, October 29, 2010

In 1843, in the quiet middle of Massachusetts, a group of high-minded people set out to create a new Eden they called Fruitlands. The embryonic community miscarried, lasting only seven months, from June to January. Fruitlands now has a new chronicler in Richard Francis, a historian of 19th-century America. "This is the story," he writes, "of one of history's most unsuccessful utopias ever—but also one of the most dramatic and significant." As we learn in his thorough and occasionally hilarious account, the claim is about half right.

The utopian community of Fruitlands had two progenitors: the American idealist Bronson Alcott and the English socialist Charles Lane. Alcott was a farm boy from Connecticut who had turned from the plough to philosophy. According to Ralph Waldo Emerson, his friend, Alcott could not chat about anything "less than A New Solar System & the prospective Education in the nebulae." Airy as his thoughts were, Alcott could be a mesmerizing speaker. Indeed, his words partly inspired an experimental community in England, where he met Lane.

Lane has often been considered the junior partner in the Fruitlands story, merely the guy who put up the money (for roughly 100 acres, only 11 of which were arable). But Mr. Francis fleshes him out, showing him to be a tidier and more bitter thinker than Alcott, with a practical streak that could be overrun by his hopes for humanity.

As Mr. Francis notes, Alcott and Lane shared a "tendency to take moderation to excess," pushing their first principles as far as they could go. One such principle was that you should do no harm to living things, including plants. As Mr. Francis explains: "If you cut a cabbage or lift a potato you kill the plant itself, just as you kill an animal in order to eat its meat. But pluck an apple, and you leave the tree intact and healthy."

The Fruitlands community never numbered more than 14 souls, five of them children. The members included a nudist, a former inmate of an insane asylum, and a man who had once gotten into a knife fight to defend his right to wear a beard. Then there was the fellow who thought swearing elevated the spirit. He would greet the Alcott girls: "Good morning, damn you." Lane thought the members should be celibate; Alcott's wife, Abigail, the mother of his four daughters and the sole permanent woman resident, was a living reproach to this view.

All of Fruitlands members, however, agreed to certain restrictions: No meat or fish; in fact nothing that came from animals, so no eggs and no milk. No leather or wool, and no whale oil for lamps or candles made from tallow (rendered animal fat). No stimulants such as coffee or tea, and no alcohol. Because the Fruitlanders were Abolitionists, cane sugar and cotton were forbidden (slave labor produced both). The members of the community wore linen clothes and canvas shoes. The library was stocked with a thousand books, but no one could read them after dark.

And how did the whole experiment go? Well, most of the men at Fruitlands had little farming experience. Alcott, who did, impressed Lane with his ability to plow a straight furrow; but Alcott was always a better talker than worker. The community rejected animal labor—and even manure, a serious disadvantage if you want to produce enough food to be self-sufficient. The farming side of Fruitlands was a dud.

But the experiment was indeed, as Mr. Francis claims, "dramatic." The drama came from a common revolutionary trajectory in which "a group of idealists ends by trying to destroy each other." "Of spiritual ties she knows nothing," Lane wrote of Abigail. "All Mr. Lane's efforts have been to disunite us," she confided to a friend, referring to her relations with Bronson. Even the usually serene Bronson agonized: "Can a man act continually for the universal end," he asked Lane, "while he cohabits with a wife?" By Christmas, which he spent in Boston, Bronson seemed on the verge of dissolving his family. In the new year he returned to Fruitlands, but he had a breakdown. This was no way to run a utopia, and the experiment ended.

Was Fruitlands "significant"? In Mr. Francis's reading, the community "intuited the interconnectedness of all living things." That intuition, he believes, underlies our notions of the evils of pollution and the imminence of environmental catastrophe, as well as our concerns about industrialized farming. The Fruitlanders' understanding of the world, he argues, helped create a parallel universe—an alternative to scientific empiricism—that is still humming along in the current day.

Perhaps so. Certainly many New Age and holistic notions, in their fuzzy and well-meaning romanticism, share a common ancestor with the Fruitlands outlook. But the result is not always benign. It was the Fruitlanders' belief, for instance, that "all disease originates in the soul." One descendant of this idea is the current loathsome view that cancer is caused by bad thoughts.

Though obviously sympathetic to the Fruitlands experiment, Mr. Francis gives us enough facts to let us draw our own conclusions. He records Bronson and Abigail's acts of charity, already familiar to us from their daughter Louisa's novel "Little Women" (1868). But he also retells less admiring stories, of their petty vindictiveness and casual callousness. Along the way he adumbrates the ways in which idealism can slide into megalomania.

Mr. Francis reports a conversation that Alcott once had with Henry James Sr., the father of the novelist Henry and the philosopher William. Alcott let it drop that he, like Jesus and Pythagoras before him, had never sinned. James asked whether Alcott had ever said, "I am the Resurrection and the Life." "Yes, often," Alcott replied. Unfortunately, Mr. Francis fails to record James's rejoinder: "And has anyone ever believed you?"

Ms. Mullen writes for the Barnes & Noble Review.

Press Briefing

Oct 30, 2010

A Closer Look into the Commit to Vote Challenge

Is China’s Wen Backing Away from Reform?

State Sec Clinton pressed Asian leaders to resolve maritime disputes through international legal channels, repeating a position that has raised China's ire recently

Questioning the Yuan’s Rise to Global Status

Stand Up

Kal Penn wants you to vote

GM's Wagoner Gets His Due - The much-maligned former CEO fixed GM's dysfunctional welfare state. Maybe he can fix ours.

The President in Maryland: "We Have to Do More to Accelerate This Recovery"

West Wing Week: "The Mysterious Case of Mysterious Case 55"

Dissecting French Schizophrenia - The lost children of Bastiat have traded a monarchy for a union-made straitjacket

Video: Open for Questions: Pete Souza

Bubba and Charlie - The pair are made for one another

Video: President Obama's Statement on Security Alert

John Legend: “I’m committed to vote this year—are you?”

The New Abnormal - The Keynesian determinism of slow growth and high unemployment

You Did It: 7 Million Voters in Less Than Seven Days

Michigan Turns to the GOP for Jobs - During previous recessions, voters went for Democratic candidates. Not this year.

Your Call Tonight Can Make the Difference

ObamaCare and Voters - Clinton and Obama told Democrats it would be popular. Whoops.

Video: The National: Raise Your Vote

Democratic Rep. Brian Baird says that job creation should have been priority 'number one, two and three'

Update: U.S. Response to Pakistan's Flood Disaster

GE Gets Over 2.3 Federal Energy Grants…Every Month!

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Press Briefing

Oct 29, 2010

Saturday in DC: Phonebank to Restore Sanity

A religious perspective on Halloween - The holiday is a rare opportunity in the religious calendar to reflect on death

On Human Rights, Send in the Experts

Sandra Day O'Connor v. the People - The former Supreme Court justice wants trial lawyers to pick state judges

Solar Panels on the White House and in the Desert, 36 Billion Gallons of Biofuels, and Cleaner Trucks

How To Cut Federal Spending

Video: First Question with Robert Gibbs - October 28, 2010

Prop 23 and the Green Jobs Myth - Californians could protect a million or so jobs by overturning the state's self-imposed carbon dioxide limits

Highlights from President Obama’s Daily Show Appearance

Rendell's Frack Attack - Pennsylvania's gas boom and its discontents

Secretary Clinton and Norwegian Foreign Minister Store Publish Joint Op-Ed on Women as Peacemakers

And the FAIR Tax Trap - Democrats turn a conservative fad against GOP candidates

2010 Summit of the Global Banking Alliance for Women

The Tax Me More State - Two initiatives that would further punish California

Why Business Should Fear the Tea Party - CEOs who complain about uncertainties caused by President Obama's policies aren't going to be happy about a new crop of congressman seeking to abolish the Fed

Recognising the risk-mitigating impact of insurance in operational risk modelling

Democrats Outpacing Republicans in Early Voting

A Little Lady Predicts a Big Win - The Republican tide may even reach the Jersey Shore

Calling the voters who’ll make a difference this year is big—or as a certain vice president might say, a BFD

Conservatives: The Obama War On Science

President Obama on the Daily Show with Jon Stewart

How Long Before We See Tea Partiers Start Showing Up in Uniform, 1930s Style?

Press Briefing

Oct 28, 2010

Video: ‘Backstage with Barack’

How Obama Will Address Outsourcing in India

An Event to End Violence Against Women

The Rage Against Citizens United - Why Barack Obama gave the Supreme Court a public tongue-lashing

President Obama in Nevada: “Let’s go forward”

Time for Bailout Transparency - Big banks don't want you to know which of them went to the Fed for emergency help

Your Questions on Climate Change and Foster Youth

Gold vs. the Fed: The Record Is Clear - There were no world-wide financial crises of major magnitude during the Bretton Woods era from 1947 to 1971

Real Update on Real Property

Christie Gets Off the Train - The New Jersey Governor cancels a bloated railroad project

United States -Japan 2010 Joint Projects in APEC

Midterms are tough for presidents, but party leaders aren't usually in trouble

Counterterrorism: Preventing Terrorism: Strategies and Policies To Prevent and Combat Transnational Threats

Political Conservation Returns

What You Missed: Tuesday Talk with David Axelrod

David Plouffe: You are changing the dynamic of this election

12 Year-Old Kayla: 'What we're doing now affects the next generation'

A Referendum on the Redeemer - Barack Obama put the Democrats in the position of forever redeeming a fallen nation rather than leading a great one

Making a Habit of Subverting the Will of Voters - New York will finally get the chance to vote on term limits

Libertarians: The 111th Congress fits a familiar Democratic pattern

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Press Briefing

Oct 27, 2010

Sec Clinton's Remarks at Millennium Challenge Corporation Signing Ceremony for the Jordanian Compact

Private Social Security Accounts: Still a Good Idea - A couple who worked from 1965 to 2009 would have beat the government payout by 75%

The Global Immigrant Experience, by Under Secretary for Democracy and Global Affairs

7 in 7 Day One: 1,329,196

Dishonest Prosecutorial Services - Democrats try to revive a vague antibusiness bludgeon

Small Business and the Economy

Where the New Jobs Are - In Texas, not California

367 Calls in One Night

Boxer's Friends at Cisco - Outsourcing and political double standards

President Obama in Rhode Island: "When You Vote Against Small Business Tax Relief..."

On the NERC report - The EPA wants to take away 7% of U.S. power generation

White House - Closing the IT Gap: An Update

House Afire - The elusive search for villains in the foreclosure crisis

U.S.-Colombia Action Plan on Racial and Ethnic Equality

Karzai and the Scent of U.S. Irresolution. By Fouad Ajami
Our longest war is now being waged with doubt and hesitation, and our ally on the scene has gone rogue, taking the coin of our enemies and scoffing at our purposes
WSJ, Oct 27, 2010

'They do give us bags of money—yes, yes, it is done, we are grateful to the Iranians for this." This is the East, and baksheesh is the way of the world, Hamid Karzai brazenly let it be known this week. The big aid that maintains his regime, and keeps his country together, comes from the democracies. It is much cheaper for the Iranians. They are of the neighborhood, they know the ways of the bazaar.

The remarkable thing about Mr. Karzai has been his perverse honesty. This is not a Third World client who has given us sweet talk about democracy coming to the Hindu Kush. He has been brazen to the point of vulgarity. We are there, but on his and his family's terms. Bags of cash, the reports tell us, are hauled out of Kabul to Dubai; there are eight flights a day. We distrust the man. He reciprocates that distrust, and then some. Our deliberations leak, we threaten and bully him, only to give in to him. And this only increases his lack of regard for American tutelage. We are now there to cut a deal—the terms of our own departure from Afghanistan.

The idealism has drained out of this project. Say what you will about the Iraq war—and there was disappointment and heartbreak aplenty—there always ran through that war the promise of a decent outcome: deliverance for the Kurds, an Iraqi democratic example in the heart of a despotic Arab world, the promise of a decent Shiite alternative in the holy city of Najaf that would compete with the influence of Qom. No such nobility, no such illusions now attend our war in Afghanistan. By latest cruel count, more than 1,300 American service members have fallen in Afghanistan. For these sacrifices, Mr. Karzai shows little, if any, regard.

In his latest outburst, Mr. Karzai said the private security companies that guard the embassies and the development and aid organizations are killer squads, on a par with the Taliban. "The money dealing with the private security companies starts in the hallways of the U.S. government. Then they send the money for killing here," Mr Karzai said. It is fully understood that Mr. Karzai and his clan want the business of the contractors for themselves.

[Photo: Afghan President Hamid Karzai (left) and Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad]

The brutal facts about Afghanistan are these: It is a broken country, a land of banditry, of a war of all against all, and of the need to get what can be gotten from the strangers. There is no love for the infidels who have come into the land, and no patience for their sermons.

In its wanderings through the Third World, from Korea and Vietnam to Iran and Egypt, it was America's fate to ride with all sorts of clients. We betrayed some of them, and they betrayed us in return. They passed off their phobias and privileges as lofty causes worthy of our blood and treasure. They snookered us at times, but there was always the pretense of a common purpose. The thing about Mr. Karzai is his sharp break with this history. It is the ways of the Afghan mountaineers that he wishes to teach us.

When they came to power, the Obama people insisted they would teach Mr. Karzai new rules. There was a new man at the helm in Washington, and there would be no favored treatment, no intimacy with the new steward of American power. Governance would have to improve, and skeptical policy makers would now hold him accountable (Vice President Joe Biden, Special Representative Richard Holbrooke, et al.). Mr. Karzai took their measure, and everywhere around him there were signs of American retreat, such as the spectacle of the Pax Americana eager to reach a grand bargain with the Iranian theocrats.

Mr. Karzai didn't need to be a grand strategist. He had, as is necessary in his world of treachery and betrayal, his ear to the ground, his scent for the irresolution of the Obama administration. He saw the scorn of Iran's cruel leaders for America's diplomatic approaches. He could see Iranian power extend all the way to the Mediterranean, right up to Israel's borders with Lebanon and to Gaza. The Iranians were next door and the Americans were giving away their fatigue. Why not accept the entreaties from Tehran?

A year ago, the U.S. ambassador to Kabul, Karl Eikenberry, laid out the truth about Mr. Karzai and his regime in a secret cable that of course made its way into the public domain. "President Karzai is not an adequate strategic partner," Mr. Eikenberry wrote. The Karzai regime could not bear the weight of a counterinsurgency doctrine that would win the loyalty of the populace. There were monumental problems of governance but "Karzai continues to shun responsibility for any sovereign burden, whether defense, governance, or development. He and much of his circle do not want the U.S. to leave and are only too happy to see us invest further. They assume we covet their territory for a never-ending war on terror and for military bases to use against surrounding powers." In Mr. Eikenberry's cable, Mr. Karzai is a man beyond redemption, who was unlikely to "change fundamentally this late in his life and in our relationship."

In one of his great tales of the imperial age, "Lord Jim," Joseph Conrad depicts the encounter between a criminal and a noble figure. "Gentleman" Brown and a band of robbers had come into Tuan Jim's domain—a small world, Patusan, where Jim's writ ran and the natives honored and deferred to him. Everything was on the side of Jim—possession, security, power. But Brown senses the hidden irresoluteness of Jim, a man who had come to this remote, small world in the Pacific in search of redemption. We are equal, says Brown: "What do you know more of me than I know of you? What did you ask for when you came here?" Jim pays with his life. He had let the ruffian set the terms of the encounter.

A big American project, our longest war, is now waged with doubt and hesitation, and our ally on the scene has gone rogue, taking the coin of our enemies and scoffing at our purposes. Unlike the Third World clients of old, this one does not even bother to pay us the tribute of double-speak and hypocrisy. He is a different kind of client, but then, too, our authority today is but a shadow of what it once was.

Mr. Ajami is a professor at The Johns Hopkins University School of Advanced International Studies and a senior fellow at Stanford University's Hoover Institution.

International Health Issues: Advancing the Status of Women Around the World

Undergoverned space in the sub-Sahel area

Sec Clinton's Remarks at the 10th Anniversary of UN Security Council Resolution 1325 on Women, Peace and Security

Solar Energy is California’s New Gold Rush

Celebrating Science and Engineering on the National Mall

Conservatives: Returning the People’s House to the People

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Press Briefing

Oct 26, 2010

Wall Street Reform: "One of the most important victories we achieved"

Former George W. Bush adviser Mark McKinnon on union funding for political campaigns

DOT, EPA Propose Nation's First-Ever Emissions, Fuel-Efficiency Standards

Eliminating Lifetime Limits Helps Paul Focus on Care

The Pakistan Paradox - Unless we're prepared to deal with it as an enemy, we must make do with it as a friend

Organizing for America's Director Mitch Stewart: "The calls I'm getting, from all over the country"

Mandelson: Prosperity Is More Than Just Money - Democracy, freedom, and entrepreneurial opportunity are at least as important

Michelle Obama: "Don't wait—vote early"

A $1.50 Lens-Free Microscope - The device could diagnose disease in the developing world and enable rapid drug screening

The Free Checking Restoration Act - Middle-class consumers are paying the price for the Dodd-Frank financial reform. The next Congress can undo the damage.

Soros: Why I Support Legal Marijuana - We should invest in effective education rather than ineffective arrest

Nancy Pelosi Who? - Democrats deny being Democrats

Committed to Vote in South Carolina

Geithner's Global Central Planning - The Chinese government's accumulation of U.S. debt represents a tragic investment decision, not a currency-manipulation effort

Remarks to Participants in the Edward R Murrow Program for Journalists

Big Insurance, Big Medicine - ObamaCare is already driving a wave of health-care consolidation—and higher costs
WSJ, Oct 26, 2010

ObamaCare's once and future harms have been well chronicled, but the major effects so far are less obvious and arguably more important: A wave of consolidation is washing over the health markets, and the result is going to be higher costs.

The turn toward consolidation among insurance companies is not new, and neither is it among doctors, hospitals and other providers. Yet the health bill has accelerated these trends, as all sides race to anticipate and manage political risk and regulatory uncertainty. This dynamic is leading to much larger hospital systems and physician groups, and fewer insurers dominated by a handful of national conglomerates. ObamaCare was sold using the language of choice and competition, but it is actually reducing both.

The first surge will come among the 1,200 insurers doing business in the U.S., given that a major goal of ObamaCare is to convert these companies into de facto public utilities. Those regulations are now being written—and once they're up and running some medium-sized carriers will collapse under the new mandates and higher overhead. State insurance commissioners warned the Administration this month that "improper or overly strident application . . . could threaten the solvency of insurers or significantly reduce competition in some insurance markets." They also implied that bankruptcies are likely.

With these headwinds, investors and Wall Street analysts are now predicting a lost decade for health insurance stocks. But it may be more accurate to say that there will be a lot of losers and some very big winners. Mergers and acquisitions will increase dramatically once companies get a better look at the regulation and figure out the valuation of M&A targets. Larger carriers will swallow smaller ones quietly before they fail.

Both publicly traded and nonprofit insurers have been heading in this direction for years, as in any industry where there are returns to scale. Size is also important in a low-margin business in which capital is costly and political clout vital. But scale is far more central now, because ObamaCare standardizes benefits. Once insurers lose the freedom to design their own products, they'll essentially be selling commodities, and survival will depend on enrollment volume and market share.

The same thing will happen to stand-alone and community hospitals—always a precarious business. Nearly a third of U.S. hospitals are currently operating in the red and will get steamrolled by ObamaCare, and many of them will be annexed by national chains and larger local systems.

This trend got a preview two weeks ago when Mercy Health Partners announced that it was seeking buyers for three Catholic hospitals in northeast Pennsylvania. CEO Kevin Cook told local media that ObamaCare was "absolutely" a factor in the decision to sell, only to backtrack once his comments were used in campaign ads against House Democrats Paul Kanjorski and Chris Carney, who voted for the bill.

Though it received little attention over a year of debate, ObamaCare actively promotes provider consolidation. Writing this summer in the Annals of Internal Medicine, Nancy-Ann DeParle and other White House health advisers argued that "The economic forces put in motion by the Act are likely to lead to vertical organization of providers and accelerate physician employment by hospitals and aggregation into larger physician groups."

Ask and ye shall receive. Across the country, providers are building giant hospital systems and much tighter doctor alliances like multispecialty groups to get out ahead of a concept known as "accountable care organizations," or ACOs. To modernize the delivery of medical services, ACOs would encourage doctors to work in teams to use resources more efficiently, streamline treatment and improve quality. The model is the Mayo Clinic and other large integrated systems.

At the moment ACOs are only a gleam in some bureaucrat's eye, and no one has a clue how they'll operate in practice until the government releases a working regulatory definition next year. Yet the percussive effects are already being felt across medicine.

Hospitals are now on a buying spree of private physician practices in the rush to build something that will qualify as an ACO. Some 65% of doctors who changed jobs in 2009 moved into a hospital-owned practice, while 49% of doctors out of residency were hired by hospitals, according to the Medical Group Management Association. In its 2010 census, the American College of Cardiology reports that nearly 40% of private cardiology groups are currently integrating with hospitals or merging with other practices.

Doctors are selling because complying with the ever-growing list of mandates has become more cumbersome; and while staff physicians on salary do gain predictability, they also lose the autonomy of independent practice. The other problem is price controls in Medicare, which are about 20% below private payments for doctors and 30% lower for hospitals. Hospitals are also scooping up practices to lock in referral sources and make up for ObamaCare's Medicare cuts. As it is, two-thirds of hospitals lose money today on Medicare inpatient services, according to Medicare.

ACOs are also driving consolidation among hospitals. Anecdotally, Marquette General Hospital and Bell Hospital formed a strategic ACO partnership in July that will dominate Michigan's upper peninsula. In Omaha, Methodist Health System and the Nebraska Medical Center recently followed suit. Similar alliances are underway in Detroit, Baltimore, Chicago, greater Boston, Roanoke and southwest Virginia—even Youngstown, Ohio.

The accountable care movement could do some good if it spreads best practices. But no one should entertain the illusion that it will reduce costs perforce and "bend the curve." In fact, the most concrete effect of this wave of consolidation may be to increase private health spending significantly.

Unlike Medicare and Medicaid, private reimbursement rates are determined by negotiations, often highly antagonistic. Insurers always attribute premium increases to the underlying cost of care, while doctors and hospitals always argue that there isn't enough competition among health plans. Both claims are "true," some of the time—but it depends on which side has more market power.

Insurers extract lower rates by steering patients and revenue to certain providers through their networks. Providers gain bargaining leverage when health plans can't credibly threaten to exclude them, whether because their share of the market is too large or due to public demand for "must have" hospitals. Consolidation will increasingly feed off itself as providers and insurers vie to get the whip hand in rate negotiations.

Most neutral experts believe the balance of power has tipped toward providers over the last decade, though this isn't always anticompetitive. Higher rates generally reflect investments in staffing, technology, specialization and sometimes consumer preferences. There is also the cost-shift to private insurance to offset Medicare's price controls. However, most economic studies on hospital M&A over the last two decades show that consolidation increases unit prices, though there is significant disagreement over the magnitude.

Accountable care organizations may become little more than a pretext for building up market power and fixing prices. The American Medical Association wants the government to stop insurers from individual contracting in favor of "exclusive dealing arrangements" with ACOs. In effect, the AMA wants a mandatory collective bargaining tool that would convert ACOs into unions.

"In a lot of states, the problem is just you don't have competition at all," President Obama said in February at his health summit. "We want competition."

Yet the consolidation wave is churning the insurance markets and reshaping clinical medicine with almost no public scrutiny. A rational system would give consumers an incentive to reward those businesses that innovate and deliver higher quality at lower cost, whether they are providers or insurers. ObamaCare is already moving the U.S. even further from the rational world, and this forced retreat will continue the longer it is left in place.

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Press Briefing

Oct 25, 2010

President Obama’s message at the Moving America Forward rally in Las Vegas

The Feds vs. Fruit Juice - The FTC goes to war against those who promote the health benefits of the pomegranate

Back to Work at California HQ

Panama's Presidential Temptation - Its market-friendly leader is beguiled by grandiose state projects

President Obama & Moving America Forward Rally Fires Up Base

Licensing to Kill - A new study shows how city regulations harm small business

OFA: What Can You Do to Help Further Change?

Another Drilling Smackdown - The White House loses again in court

Los Angeles Goes All in with President Obama

The G-20's 'Rebalancing' Act - Dollar devaluation is not a global growth strategy

Federal President's Weekly Address: Letting Wall Street Run Wild Again

How to Privatize the Mortgage Market - Europeans manage just fine without Fannie and Freddie-type agencies

The White House Blog: What Do They Expect in Return?

The NAACP's Unhealthy Tea Party Obsession - Black-on-black crime remains at epidemic levels and black children continue to suffer in bad schools. Doesn't the organization have better things to worry about?

Our Fiscal Policy Paradox - Government's kitbag is overflowing with ways to spur demand. Yet fiscal policy sits idle, paralyzed by extreme partisanship.

Stiglitz: Why Easier Money Won't Work - The Fed risks fueling a destructive bond market bubble, while any gains from a weaker dollar will come at the expense of those to whom we hope to export

The Real Case for Defunding NPR - My quarrel with government subsidies is that they cast a chill over the markets in which entrepreneurs seek to raise capital for highbrow journalism

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Press Briefing

Oct 23, 2010

Iraq Prime Minister Calls WikiLeaks Report Political

Al-shabab ordered Kismayo district residents to pay a monthly fee

Obama Rebuilt the Regulatory State. Now, Republicans Are About To Destroy It.

What's the Worst That Could Happen With The New Health Law?

Moral Arguments for Soaking the Rich

City Centered: Investing in Metropolitan Areas to Build the Next Economy

Friday, October 22, 2010

High costs of making batteries stall affordability of electric cars

High costs of making batteries stall affordability of electric cars. By Mike Ramsey
The Wall Street Journal Europe, page 22, Oct 19, 2010

The push to get electric cars on the road is backed by governments and auto makers around the world, but they face a hurdle that may be tough to overcome: the stubbornly high cost of the giant battery packs that power the vehicles.

Both the industry and government are betting that a quick takeoff in electric-car sales will drive down the price of the battery packs, which can account for more than half the cost of an electric vehicle.

But a number of scientists and automotive engineers believe cost reductions will be hard to come by. Unlike with tires or toasters, battery packs aren't likely to enjoy traditional economies of scale as their makers ramp up production.

Some experts say that increased production of batteries means the price of the key metals used in their manufacture will remain steady—or maybe even rise—at least in the short term.

These experts also say the price of the electronic parts used in battery packs as well as the enclosures that house the batteries aren't likely to decline appreciably.

The U.S. Department of Energy has set a goal of bringing down car-battery costs by 70% from last year's price, which it estimated at $1,000 per kilowatt hour of battery capacity, by 2014.

Jay Whitacre, a battery researcher and technology policy analyst at Carnegie Mellon University, is skeptical. The government's goals "are aggressive and worth striving for, but they are not attainable in the next three to five years," he said in an interview. "It will be a decade at least" before that price reduction is reached.

The high cost of batteries is evident in the prices set for early electric cars. Nissan Motor Co.'s Leaf, due in the U.S. in December, is priced at $33,000. Current industry estimates say its battery pack alone costs Nissan about $15,600.

That cost will make it difficult for the Leaf to turn a profit. And it also may make the Leaf a tough sell, since even with government tax breaks the car will cost more than twice the $13,520 starting price of the similar-size Nissan Versa hatchback.

Nissan won't comment on the price of the battery packs, other than to say that the first versions of the Leaf won't make money. Only later, when the company begins mass-producing the battery units in 2013, will the car be profitable, according to Nissan.

The Japanese company believes it can cut battery costs through manufacturing scale. It is building a plant in Smyrna, Tenn., that will have the capacity to assemble up to 200,000 packs a year.

Other proponents of electric vehicles agree that battery costs will fall as production ramps up. "They will come down by a factor of two, if not more, in the next five years," said David Vieau, chief executive officer of A123 Systems, a start-up that recently opened a battery plant in Plymouth, Mich.

Alex Molinaroli, president of Johnson Controls Inc.'s battery division, is confident it can reduce the cost of making batteries by 50% in the next five years, though the company won't say what today's cost is. The cost reduction by one of the world's biggest car-battery makers will mostly come from efficient factory management, cutting waste and other management-related costs, not from fundamental improvement of battery technology, he said.

But researchers such as Mr. Whitacre, the National Academies of Science and even some car makers aren't convinced, mainly because more than 30% of the cost of the batteries comes from metals such as nickel, manganese and cobalt. (Lithium makes up only a small portion of the metals in the batteries.)

Prices for these metals, which are set on commodities markets, aren't expected to fall with increasing battery production—and may even rise as demand grows, according to a study by the Academies of Science released earlier this year and engineers familiar with battery production.

Lithium-ion battery cells already are mass produced for computers and cellphones and the costs of the batteries fell 35% from 2000 through 2008—but they haven't gone down much more in recent years, according to the Academies of Science study.

The Academies and Toyota Motor Corp. have publicly said they don't think the Department of Energy goals are achievable and that cost reductions are likely to be far lower. It likely will be 20 years before costs fall by 50%—not the three or so years the DOE projects—according to an Academy council studying battery costs. The council was made up of nearly a dozen researchers in the battery field.

"Economies of scale are often cited as a factor that can drive down costs, but hundreds of millions to billions of ... [battery] cells already are being produced in optimized factories. Building more factories is unlikely to have a great impact on costs," the Academies report said.

The report added that the cost of the battery-pack enclosure that holds the cells is a major portion of the total battery-pack cost, and isn't likely to come down much. In addition, battery packs include electronic sensors and controls that regulate the voltage moving through and the heat being generated by the cells. Since those electronics already are mass-produced commodities, their prices may not fall much with higher production, the study said.

Lastly, the labor involved in assembling battery packs is expensive because employees need to be more highly trained than traditional factory staff because they work in a high-voltage environment. That means labor costs are unlikely to drop, said a senior executive at one battery manufacturer.

When car makers began using nickel-metal hydride batteries, an older technology, in their early hybrid vehicles, the cost of the packs fell only 11% from 2000 to 2006 and has seen little change since, according to the Academies study.

Toyota executives, including Takeshi Uchiyamada, global chief of engineering, say their experience with nickel-metal hydride batteries makes them skeptical that the prices of lithium ion battery pack prices will fall substantially.

"The cost reductions aren't attainable even in the next 10 years," said Menahem Anderman, principal of Total Battery Consulting Inc., a California-based battery research firm. "We still don't know how much it will cost to make sure the batteries meet reliability, safety and durability standards. And now we are trying to reduce costs, which automatically affect those first three things."

Press Briefing

Oct 22, 2010

President Obama: It Gets Better

When Will Our Progressive Corporatism Nightmare End?

Employers, Insurance and Health Care

Fed’s Plosser: Bad Incentives Drove Much of Financial Crisis

Partnership for Sustainable Communities Awards Grants to Build Infrastructure…

OFA: Progress In Iowa

Offshore Oil Drilling in Shallow Water: Good Safety Record, Less Risky

Jobs and Economic Security for America's Women Report

Remarks by the President at a Rally in Portland, Oregon

Can Yoga Be Christian? - An exercise craze provokes questions of body and soul

Tax Cut Facts: How Obama’s Tax Cuts Are Helping American Families

San Francisco's Public Pension Revolt - The city has cut back on almost every service: Summer schools have been shut, potholes deepen, parks close early, and services for the poor have been pared to the quick.

Building Stronger, Sustainable Communities Through Strategic Coordination

The Tea Party Is Wrong About Earmarks - Why just accept the president's spending priorities? Congress has the right and duty to make appropriations in the public interest.

The Role and Perspectives of Arms Control and Confidence- and Security-Building Regimes in Building Trust in the Evolving Security Environment

Soros Bets on Nevada - The campaign to hijack state judicial selection

President’s Working Group on Financial Markets Releases Money Market Funds Report

Britain's 'Austerity' Lessons - What Margaret Thatcher can teach David Cameron—and the Republican Party

New Haitian Mango Centers will Increase Production and Incomes for Thousands of Haitian Mango Farmers

NPR's Taxpayer-Funded Intolerance - All Americans, particularly those of Arab or Muslim descent, should protest the firing of Juan Williams

Focus on Nutrition:  Creating Inclusive Partnerships and Deepening our Knowledge

Providing Jobs and Economic Security for America's Women

Struggles and Triumphs: Afghan Governor Naeemi Discusses Progress in Afghanistan

A Free Trade Agreement with South Korea Would Promote Both Prosperity and Security

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Press Briefing

Oct 21, 2010

Video: Open for Questions: Cybersecurity

Renewable Electricity Standards Kill Jobs Too

Video: National Arts and Humanities Youth Program Awards

WaPo Editorial: Nicaragua, Honduras and hypocrisy

Watch a Campaign Update and Make Calls Tonight

Britain Bows Out of the Security Game - New defense cuts will leave the U.K. unable to support even its current deployment in Afghanistan

Getting Out the Early Vote

France's Perpetual Revolution - The left seems to have forgotten Marx's line about history repeating itself as tragedy and farce

Cutting Through the Rhetoric on Spending

Card Checkmate - Voters in four states head to the polls to preserve honest union elections

A Small Business in Arkansas Benefits from the Affordable Care Act

WikiPropaganda - Wikipedia bars a global warming censor from editing its pages

Video: Campaign Update with Mitch Stewart: October 20, 2010

The SEC's Mozilo settlement gives the political class a pass

Fired Up in Ohio

The Biggest Race You Haven't Heard Of - A rare chance to defuse the pension bomb

Joe Biden: "Remember when the GOP was in control?"

Brookings: The needy have a direct interest in substantial reductions in the federal deficit - beginning with the end of nearly all A.R.R.A. expansion in safety net spending

Federal Prez's Incoherent Closing Argument - While the economy is the No. 1 issue, the president constantly changes the subject

State Dept: Briefing on Pending Major Arms Sale

ObamaCare's Incentive to Drop Insurance - My state of Tennessee could reduce costs by over $146 million using the legislated mechanics of health reform to transfer coverage to the federal government

Ambassador-at-Large for Global Women's Issues: Video Remarks to the African Union Launch of the Decade for Women

President Obama Prefers Imported Oil over American Made

Democracy -- not on the march

Walter and Miriam Schneir - A longtime champion of the Rosenbergs tries to confront the evidence

U.S. - Maghreb Entrepreneurship Conference: December 1-2, 2010

Obama and the Coming Palestinian State - What if the president abstains from a Security Council vote establishing one?

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Press Briefing

Oct 20, 2010

Adrienne Explains How College Students Are Benefiting from the Affordable Care Act

Bernanke's Inflation Target Misses the Mark - The more latitude the Fed has to try to spur economic growth, the more economic uncertainty there will be

President Obama Signs Executive Order On Education and Hispanics

ObamaCare, for Some - Step right up and get your waiver

Haitian Farmers Increase Agriculture Productivity through Support of U.S. Government

Volte-Face - GM's new electric car depends on coal-belching power plants to charge its batteries. What's the point?

Remarks by the President at DSCC Fundraiser

Where France Goes . . . other Western entitlement nations are likely to follow

The Basel Committee's response to the financial crisis: report to the G20

Bravo, Canada - A U.N. snub is a badge of honor

Vietnam-US Relations: Past, Present, and Future

The Overseas Profits Elephant in the Room - There's a trillion dollars waiting to be repatriated if tax policy is right

The Cuba Embargo at 50

Misconceptions about energy lead to waste

A Free Press Stirs in North Korea - Armed with pinhole cameras and flash drives, journalists are getting videos, photographs and reporting out of the Hermit Kingdom

There Is No 'War on Teachers' - There is a growing bipartisan agreement on the importance of rewarding good ones

Press Briefing

Oct 19, 2010

Background on the White House Science Fair

China's Rare Earths Gambit - Beijing is courting a backlash by denying access to vital elements

The Challenges and Opportunities of Biotechnology. Assistant Secretary, Bureau of Economic, Energy and Business Affairs

The Housing Bust Lobby - Obama is right to resist the foreclosure wails from the political left

Dinner with Putin: Musings on the Politics of Modernization in Russia

The Trouble With Talking to the Taliban - As in Vietnam, compromise is not in the insurgents' playbook

Remarks by the President and First Lady at a Reception for Governor Ted Strickland

Treasury Announces Plan to Continue to Sell Citigroup Common Stock

Conservatives: The Left Still Doesn’t Get Poverty

President Obama to Host White House Science Fair

Washington State's Union Tax - Bill Gates Sr. supports a state income tax on wealthy Washingtonians, but public unions are the real muscle behind the initiative

Next Steps on U.S.-Russian Nuclear Negotiations and Nuclear Non-Proliferation

Data Dump RE: Political Positioning in the Maghreb-Sahel

Barack Obama: "Our destiny is written by us"

How the Fed Is Holding Back Recovery - By promising to print more money, it's giving Congress an excuse to avoid critical tax and spending cuts

The US Perspective on Eurasian Energy

California’s Climate Policy: The Present and Future of AB 32

Monday, October 18, 2010

Press Briefing

Oct 18, 2010

In China, Even the Premier Is Censored. By L. Gordon Crovitz
The Wall Street Journal, page A18, Oct 18, 2010

From the outside, China can seem monolithic, run by Communist Party officials united by the prime directive of maintaining power. But every once in a while splits become visible and remind us that while China may now be the world's second-largest economy, there's a steep price for being a laggard when it comes to the free flow of information.

Consider Prime Minister Wen Jiabao. He has called for political reform several times in recent months, but censors have blocked domestic reporting of his comments. This led to an open letter from 23 well-known Communist Party elders calling for free speech. The letter was posted last week in a blog area of, one of the country's largest websites, and widely shared before being removed.

This letter is worth attention, both for its authors and its substance. The signatories include a who's who of former Communist Party propagandists, including Li Rui, the former private secretary to Mao Zedong, and retired top editors of the People's Daily (the party's mouthpiece), Xinhua (the official news agency) and the China Daily (the state-run English-language newspaper).

"Retired older officials can speak more loudly," says Xiao Qiang, editor of China Digital Times, a news site based at the University of California, Berkeley. "They can protect the middle-aged people who currently hold the same roles as editors and party propagandists by speaking for them." Mr. Xiao points out that the letter's "rhetoric on political reform is not very different from the language of the Charter 08 document," the freedom manifesto that sent Liu Xiaobo to jail and helped him win this year's Nobel Peace Prize.

The letter notes that the Chinese Constitution claims freedom of speech and the press, but this "formal avowal and concrete denial has become a scandalous mark." It cites a CNN interview earlier this month in which Premier Wen said, "Freedom of speech is indispensable for any nation," and points out the irony that these comments were blocked by domestic media.

"Even the premier of our country does not have freedom of speech or of the press," the party elders write. "If we endeavor to find those responsible, we are utterly incapable of putting our finger on a specific person. This is the work of invisible hands. For their own reasons, they violate our constitution, often ordering by telephone that the works of such and such a person cannot be published, or that such and such an event cannot be reported in the media.

"These invisible hands are our Central Propaganda Department. Right now the department is placed above the Central Committee of the Communist Party, and above the State Council. We would ask, what right does the Central Propaganda Department have to muzzle the speech of the premier? What right does it have to rob the people of our nation of their right to know what the premier has said?"

The party elders note that Britain gave its colony of Hong Kong more freedom than the Communist Party gives China: "The freedom of speech and freedom of the press given to residents of Hong Kong by the British authorities there was not empty, appearing only on paper. It was enacted and realized."

The letter writers appeal to Chinese nationalism: "In countries around the world, the development of the rule of law in news and publishing" long ago replaced censorship, and "this is greatly in the favor of the development of the humanities and natural sciences, and in promoting social harmony and historical progress." They note that "England did away with censorship in 1695. France abolished its censorship system in 1881." This means "our present system of censorship leaves news and book publishing in our country 315 years behind England and 129 years behind France."

By censoring news in recent years about toxic baby formula, the SARS virus and blood centers infected with AIDS, Beijing has encouraged cynicism by its citizens about its own government. Even the elite—even the premier—wonder about their own liberties.

The letter from the party elders reminds us that it's not just dissidents who dissent. "Although most of this letter's signers carried out the party's will during their careers," longtime China watcher and legal scholar Jerome Cohen says, "the letter provides immediate tangible evidence that at least a minority within the elite is bitter and disillusioned." Bao Pu, a Hong Kong-based book publisher whose father was an economic reform leader in Beijing, reports that more than 1,000 people so far have added their names to the letter.

The Communist Party will reform itself when its splits become too wide to cover over. For the outside world, the opportunity is to encourage the growing number of disillusioned cadres who understand that modern countries rely on a free flow of information, for ordinary citizens and their leaders alike.

The Ethanol Bailout - EPA does the industry another big favor

Savagery in the East - How Stalin and then Hitler turned the borderlands of Eastern Europe into killing fields

Buying the Senior Vote - Federal President wants $15 billion in checks for grandma

Statement by Treasury Sec Geithner and Acting Director, Office of Management and Budget, on Budget Results for Fiscal Year 2010

California's Cap-and-Trade War - The battle to repeal a self-destructive climate change law

White House Council on Women and Girls: A Battle that Takes Place Every Day

Why a Foreclosure Moratorium Is a Bad Idea - A special bankruptcy law could help borrowers while letting housing markets clear

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Press Briefing

Oct 16, 2010

Boehner's K Street Cabinet

Lies, Damn Lies and the ObamaCare Sales Pitch - The White House's ObamaCare defense is becoming even more frantic and desperate

Urbanization Policy in an Uncertain Economy. By Allen L. Clark, Meril Dobrin Fujiki, and Mariko Davidson (eds.)

Christie Is Right About the Hudson River Big Dig - The money might be better spent on New Jersey's roads, which are rated among the worst in the nation

The New START Treaty. By Marcie B. Ries, Deputy Assistant Secretary, Bureau of Arms Control, Verification and Compliance. Remarks by Delegation of the United States of America to the First Committee of the United Nations General Assembly. New York City, October 15, 2010

Arnold's Last Hurrah - A modest pension victory amid the overall triumph of Sacramento

Advanced Nuclear Non-Proliferation: Peaceful Uses Initiative

Why Liberals Don't Get the Tea Party Movement. By Peter Berkowitz
Our universities haven't taught much political history for decades. No wonder so many progressives have disdain for the principles that animated the Federalist debates.
WSJ, Oct 16, 2010

Highly educated people say the darndest things, these days particularly about the tea party movement. Vast numbers of other highly educated people read and hear these dubious pronouncements, smile knowingly, and nod their heads in agreement. University educations and advanced degrees notwithstanding, they lack a basic understanding of the contours of American constitutional government.

New York Times columnist Paul Krugman got the ball rolling in April 2009, just ahead of the first major tea party rallies on April 15, by falsely asserting that "the tea parties don't represent a spontaneous outpouring of public sentiment. They're AstroTurf (fake grass-roots) events."

Having learned next to nothing in the intervening 16 months about one of the most spectacular grass-roots political movements in American history, fellow Times columnist Frank Rich denied in August of this year that the tea party movement is "spontaneous and leaderless," insisting instead that it is the instrument of billionaire brothers David and Charles Koch.

Washington Post columnist E. J. Dionne criticized the tea party as unrepresentative in two ways. It "constitutes a sliver of opinion on the extreme end of politics receiving attention out of all proportion with its numbers," he asserted last month. This was a step back from his rash prediction five months before that since it "represents a relatively small minority of Americans on the right end of politics," the tea party movement "will not determine the outcome of the 2010 elections."

In February, Mr. Dionne argued that the tea party was also unrepresentative because it reflected a political principle that lost out at America's founding and deserves to be permanently retired: "Anti-statism, a profound mistrust of power in Washington goes all the way back to the Anti-Federalists who opposed the Constitution itself because they saw it concentrating too much authority in the central government."

Mr. Dionne follows in the footsteps of progressive historian Richard Hofstadter, whose influential 1964 book "The Paranoid Style in American Politics" argued that Barry Goldwater and his supporters displayed a "style of mind" characterized by "heated exaggeration, suspiciousness, and conspiratorial fantasy." Similarly, the "suspicion of government" that the tea party movement shares with the Anti-Federalists, Mr. Dionne maintained, "is not amenable to 'facts'" because "opposing government is a matter of principle."

To be sure, the tea party sports its share of clowns, kooks and creeps. And some of its favored candidates and loudest voices have made embarrassing statements and embraced reckless policies. This, however, does not distinguish the tea party movement from the competition.

Born in response to President Obama's self-declared desire to fundamentally change America, the tea party movement has made its central goals abundantly clear. Activists and the sizeable swath of voters who sympathize with them want to reduce the massively ballooning national debt, cut runaway federal spending, keep taxes in check, reinvigorate the economy, and block the expansion of the state into citizens' lives.

In other words, the tea party movement is inspired above all by a commitment to limited government. And that does distinguish it from the competition.

But far from reflecting a recurring pathology in our politics or the losing side in the debate over the Constitution, the devotion to limited government lies at the heart of the American experiment in liberal democracy. The Federalists who won ratification of the Constitution—most notably Alexander Hamilton, James Madison and John Jay—shared with their Anti-Federalist opponents the view that centralized power presented a formidable and abiding threat to the individual liberty that it was government's primary task to secure. They differed over how to deal with the threat.

The Anti-Federalists—including Patrick Henry, Samuel Bryan and Robert Yates—adopted the traditional view that liberty depended on state power exercised in close proximity to the people. The Federalists replied in Federalist 9 that the "science of politics," which had "received great improvement," showed that in an extended and properly structured republic liberty could be achieved and with greater security and stability.

This improved science of politics was based not on abstract theory or complex calculations but on what is referred to in Federalist 51 as "inventions of prudence" grounded in the reading of classic and modern authors, broad experience of self-government in the colonies, and acute observations about the imperfections and finer points of human nature. It taught that constitutionally enumerated powers; a separation, balance, and blending of these powers among branches of the federal government; and a distribution of powers between the federal and state governments would operate to leave substantial authority to the states while both preventing abuses by the federal government and providing it with the energy needed to defend liberty.

Whether members have read much or little of The Federalist, the tea party movement's focus on keeping government within bounds and answerable to the people reflects the devotion to limited government embodied in the Constitution. One reason this is poorly understood among our best educated citizens is that American politics is poorly taught at the universities that credentialed them. Indeed, even as the tea party calls for the return to constitutional basics, our universities neglect The Federalist and its classic exposition of constitutional principles.

For the better part of two generations, the best political science departments have concentrated on equipping students with skills for performing empirical research and teaching mathematical models that purport to describe political affairs. Meanwhile, leading history departments have emphasized social history and issues of race, class and gender at the expense of constitutional history, diplomatic history and military history.

Neither professors of political science nor of history have made a priority of instructing students in the founding principles of American constitutional government. Nor have they taught about the contest between the progressive vision and the conservative vision that has characterized American politics since Woodrow Wilson (then a political scientist at Princeton) helped launch the progressive movement in the late 19th century by arguing that the Constitution had become obsolete and hindered democratic reform.

Then there are the proliferating classes in practical ethics and moral reasoning. These expose students to hypothetical conundrums involving individuals in surreal circumstances suddenly facing life and death decisions, or present contentious public policy questions and explore the range of respectable progressive opinions for resolving them. Such exercises may sharpen students' ability to argue. They do little to teach about self-government.

They certainly do not teach about the virtues, or qualities of mind and character, that enable citizens to shoulder their political responsibilities and prosper amidst the opportunities and uncertainties that freedom brings. Nor do they teach the beliefs, practices and associations that foster such virtues and those that endanger them.

Those who doubt that the failings of higher education in America have political consequences need only reflect on the quality of progressive commentary on the tea party movement. Our universities have produced two generations of highly educated people who seem unable to recognize the spirited defense of fundamental American principles, even when it takes place for more than a year and a half right in front of their noses.

Mr. Berkowitz is a senior fellow at Stanford's Hoover Institution.

Remarks to the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation Women's Entrepreneurship Summit

What Bernanke Didn't Say - The dollar? Someone else's problem

Debt-For-Nature Agreement to Conserve Costa Rica’s Forests

Currency Chaos: Where Do We Go From Here? - Mundell: 'The most important initiative you could take to improve the world economy would be to stabilize the dollar-euro rate'

Federal President's Weekly Address: Washington Republicans "Rewarding Corporations That Create Jobs and Profits Overseas"

A Real Vaccine Scare - Lawsuits, autism and the Supreme Court

Adrian Fenty and Michelle Rhee: We fought for D.C. schools. Now it's up to you.

Myron Scholes on Whether QE2 Will Work

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Press Briefing

Oct 15, 2010

State Dept: Advancing Sustainable Agriculture Through the Committee on World Food Security

Poll conducted by the Democratic-leaning firm of Penn, Schoen & Berland: 44% of likely voters in districts "say the Democratic Party is more dominated by its extreme elements," 37% say the same about the GOP

In The NYT Magazine: Education of a President

Voters on ObamaCare: Informed and Opposed - A new poll shows that opposition to the individual mandate is intense

The U.S. National Space Policy, International Cooperation and the Pursuit of TCBMs

The Education of Barney Frank - The benefits of a competitive election


ObamaCare in Court - A Florida judge allows the major state lawsuit to proceed to trial

The U.S.-European Relationship: Global Challenges and International Economic Architecture

Liberalism and Public Works - Entitlement politics leaves little money for roads and tunnels

Re: The Geopolitics of Emotion

Stop Bashing Business, Mr. President - If we tried to start The Home Depot today, it's a stone cold certainty that it would never have gotten off the ground

US Pledges Additional $1 Million to Help Displaced Afghans in Pakistan and Their Host Communities

Republicans appear poised for major gains in the Midwest, a region dominated by the president in 2008

Press Briefing

Oct 15, 2010

Organizing for America: See the Progress in Your Community

China’s Auto Boom and Oil Strategy

Democrats: Moving America Forward

Side Effects: How Government Micromanagement Could Discourage Access to Some Preventive Services

Press Briefing

Oct 14, 2010

Culture Evolves Slowly, Falls Apart Quickly

White House - What Health Reform Means for African Americans

The Peace Prize's Subversive Potential - The Soviet Union faced pressure after Andrei Sakharov won the Nobel in 1975. Now it's China's turn.

Sec Clinton: Townterview with Students, Women Leaders, and Members of Civil Society

Education Reform Setback - Washington, D.C. shows its maverick schools chancellor the door

Under Secretary Maria Otero Highlights New Partnership on Safe Water, Sanitation, and Hygiene Education for Schools in Developing Countries

The Election Gong Show - Federal President fails to speak up against antitrade, anti-China campaigning.

White House - What You Missed: Tuesday Talk with Elizabeth Warren

How to Reform ObamaCare Starting Now - States should steer the mandated health-insurance exchanges in a pro-market direction and dare Washington to stop them

Press Roundtable at U.S. Embassy in Cairo

The president says secret foreign money might steal the election. He's not even fooling the New York Times

Transatlantic Missile Defense: Looking to the NATO Lisbon Summit

Susan Dunn has written an engaging story of bare - knuck led political treachery that pits a president at the peak of his popularity against entrenched congressional leaders who didn't like where he was taking the country and their party. FDR tried to use the power of the White House, and his personality, to run his opponents out of the Democratic Party. He failed miserably.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Press Briefing

Oct 13, 2010

Abducted and Tortured for Reporting the News — 'This is the consequence of writing against the government,' my captors said

A new CNN poll shows that people are becoming more nostalgic for the Bush years

Under Secretary Brainard Remarks at the Institute of International Bankers' Regulatory Dialogue with Government Officials

How to avoid another Alan Hevesi: turn defined benefit retirement plans into 401(k)-style defined contribution plans

Four Governors on How to Cut Spending - How they are coping and how they plan to save money in the future

Liberating the Gulf - But a drilling ban persists by other means

Organizing for America's John Pyrch: Step 2

A Growth Agenda for America - An economy grows through increased production, which is financed by capital or savings. Congress can encourage this process with the right tax reform.

Final paper on supervisory colleges issued by the Basel Committee

Political Target Practice - A case study in what Democrats really mean by campaign 'disclosure'

Vote 2010 Update with Michelle Obama

The 2010 Spending Record - In two years, a 21.4% increase

Secretary Clinton Travel Diary: Sec Clinton Dedicates New Embassy Compound and Robert C. Frasure Street

Obama and the Politics of Outsourcing - For every job outsourced to Bangalore, nearly two jobs are created in Buffalo or other American cities

Activists Have Nothing to Say to Grand Jury | By Elizabeth DiNovella

Europe the Intolerant - The continent's progressive image is a fabrication of the American liberal mind

President Obama: Attend a Vote 2010 House Party

Obamacare vs. the Rule of Law

David Plouffe Obama Campaign Update: October 12, 2010

Hope and Change - The politics of uplift and inspiration, 2010

U.S. Positions at the Annual Meeting of the First Committee of the United Nations General Assembly

Boehner's 'Plan B' for ObamaCare - Hearings can be used to sell market-friendly fixes

Are Humans Genetically Disposed to Be Statists?

Pakistan Is Not America's Enemy - A sustained U.S.-Pakistani partnership after the Soviet withdrawal from Afghanistan could have produced a very different history than the one we wrestle with today

If You Cant Beat Them, Silence Them

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Press Briefing

Oct 11, 2010

White House blog post on the struggles of LGBT youth

The Fed Compounds Its Mistakes - Talk of increasing inflation to reduce unemployment is dangerous and unnecessary

USAID Assistance in Pakistan

Shootout at the EPA Corral - Texas takes aim at the White House's illegal carbon rules

The Economics of Drug Violence - Competition in the narcotics trade is preferable to monopolistic syndicates

Ayaan Hirsi Ali: In Holland, Free Speech on Trial

Remarks at Afghanistan Minerals Roadshow

Shutting Up Business - Democrats unleash the IRS and Justice on donors to their political opponents

Enduring Leadership: Marshall's Legacy For American Public Diplomacy in the 21st Century

MIRACLE: California’s Air Becomes 340% Cleaner Overnight

Geithner in Sunday's Washington Post: ‘Five Myths about Tarp’

Afghanistan must embrace women's rights

Remarks to the International Youth Foundation's 20th Anniversary Reception

A Nobel Vision of a Better China - With Peace Prize winner Liu Xiaobo, China's pro-democracy movement may finally have found its leader

Technology = Salvation - An early investor in Facebook on the subprime crisis and why American ingenuity has hit a dead end

The Politics of Foreclosure - Washington's latest obstacle to a housing market recovery

Friday, October 8, 2010

Press Briefing

Oct 08, 2010

The Employment Situation in September

Tibetans Find Freedom in Exile - Since the Dalai Lama's expulsion in 1959, India has become home to at least 120,000

New Patterns of Investment in the Global Economy: Implications for U.S. Leadership

The U.S. Will Lose a China Trade War - Washington can't afford a weak-dollar policy. The only thing standing between the U.S. and a Greek-style sovereign debt crisis is the dollar's status as the global currency.

Update: U.S. Response to Pakistan's Flooding Disaster

Missed Trade Opportunity - The European Union capitalizes on U.S. protectionism -- South Korea Free Trade Agreement

Community of Democracies Informal Ministerial Meeting

The 'Limited Inflationists' - Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke and his QE Street Band

Remarks at the Trygve Lie Symposium on Business and Human Rights

Murdoch: Unless we measure success by how children perform, we'll have higher standards for pop stars than public schools

How to Contain Radical Islam: Lessons from South Asia

How a Bagram Detainee Foiled the Euro Terror Plot - The plan was disrupted because we were lucky enough to have the key witness in detention. It's a shame we didn't try to extract similar intelligence from Times Square bomber Faisal Shahzad.

Using Functional Populations to Create More Realistic Simulations

Revolt of the Accountants - Washington is turning America into Paperwork Nation

Remarks for Launch of Global Leaders Council for Reproductive Health

Obama's Energy-Policy Goals Versus China's

China's Ambitions in the South China Sea

Side Effects: Obamacare Compels More Employers to Dump Coverage

The Protectionist Instinct - Political support for free trade is a remarkable achievement of civic education—one threatened by our weak economy

Will Growing Government Debt Undermine the American Dream? The Implications of Mounting Federal Debt and Spending for the Debt-Paying Generation

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Press Briefing

Oct 07, 2010

The Obama Administration's Support for the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis, and Malaria

Geithner's 'Cooperation' - Dollar devaluation is not economic leadership

Secretary of Treasury Timothy F. Geithner Remarks at the Brookings Institution

Toward a New American Century - Immigration reform, investments in human capital, and a saner housing policy can help restore U.S. economic leadership

Fighting Back Against Arbitrary Government Rule

ObamaCare and the Election - The GOP needs to raise the health-care stakes in 2010, and beyond

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Press Briefing

Oct 06, 2010

The Coming Golden Age of Television - TV networks and video programming are among the only traditional media to grow since the advent of the Internet

The Demilitarization of Europe - Our NATO allies aren't spending enough to be credible security partners anymore

Of Scoundrels and Speech - The First Amendment protects even jerks

Undiplomatic Hold-Ups - Boxer and Brownback vs. U.S. interests

UNHCR Roundtable on Asylum-Seekers and Refugees Seeking Protection on Account of Their Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity

Pax Americana and the New Iraq - Iraq's Shiites, especially, have a healthy fear of Iran and a desire to keep Persian power at bay

Assistant Secretary for Financial Markets Mary J. Miller Remarks before the Future Industry Association Treasury and Rates Conference

The Soul of the Spending Machine - Republicans need new rules to aid their policy priorities

61st Session of the UNHCR Executive Committee - U.S. Government Plenary Statement

Why praise violent, misogynistic hip-hop stars?

Remarks by Delegation of the United States of America to the First Committee of the United Nations General Assembly

The Private Sector Can Improve Infrastructure with Privatization not a Bank

Serendipitous Connections - Innovation occurs when ideas from different people bang against each other

How Handwriting Trains the Brain - Forming Letters Is Key to Learning, Memory, Ideas