Tag: Obama Administration

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In the intro to the flagship podcast, we hear Richard Nixon’s famous “I am not a crook” denial, followed by Chris Christie’s “I am not a bully.” These are great examples of how sharing the contents of a politician’s heart can leave voters with the exact opposite of the desired impression. In the immortal words […]

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Loosening Home Lending Standards — What Could Go Wrong?

 

051414housing-600x396After a near-depression and worst-ever financial crisis that cost the US economy as much as $14 trillion, one might think Washington would be careful to avoid repeating the same policy mistakes. One might think, for instance, Washington would think twice and then thrice before loosening mortgage lending standards to boost home ownership, particularly among low-income borrowers. Because, you know, loosened mortgage standards seem to have played some role in helping set the stage for the catastrophic mortgage meltdown.

Recall three conclusions from the National Commission on the Causes of the Financial and Economic Crisis in the United States:

1.) From the majority report: “We conclude collapsing mortgage-lending standards and the mortgage securitization pipeline lit and spread the flame of contagion and crisis.”

Hacks and Flacks

 

Barack ObamaHaving blogged for some time now, I understand that there are partisan divisions in the political blogosphere, and I understand as well that they are here to stay. That having been said, it is worth noting—as James Oliphant does — that port-side bloggers are acting as publicity agents, apologists, and all-around hacks on behalf of the Obama Administration to a degree not seen before. Certainly, the administration of George W. Bush never benefited from the presence of a similar cyber-praetorian guard acting to advance its interests.

Read the following excerpt well, and note that there are a host of “journalists” who act more like one would expect paid White House staffers to behave. And boy, do they get the benefits that come with toeing the line:

When Jay Carney was grilled at length by Jonathan Karl of ABC News over an email outlining administration talking points in the wake of the 2012 Benghazi attack, it was not, by the reckoning of many observers, the White House press secretary’s finest hour. Carney was alternately defensive and dismissive, arguably fueling a bonfire he was trying to tamp down.

That Old Clintonian Dysfunction

 

As Hillary Clinton is gearing up for another possible run at the presidency, Politico has written an in-depth story regarding Clinton’s love-hate relationship with the media. And it is mostly hate, as one of Clinton’s advisers is more than happy to admit: “Look, she hates you. Period. That’s never going to change.” I am more than willing to believe those words, and they point to why Hillary Clinton should never be president of the United States.

We are still being governed by an administration that claims to have been the most transparent in history, even though the record is clear that it is anything but. And this is an administration with relatively good relations with the media, featuring a president who has basically been a media darling ever since he burst on the national and international stage. If an administration with this many advantages when it comes to being able to charm the media still sees fit to make a mockery of transparency, what makes anyone think that in a future (Hillary) Clinton administration, there will be anything resembling more transparency, especially when one considers Clinton’s often-difficult history with the press?

Why Did Anyone Believe That Power Politics Went Away?

 

Be sure to read this piece by Raphael Cohen and Gabriel Scheinmann, which serves to remind us that, even though it is not the 19th century, nation-states still play the Great Game. There is nothing particularly earth-shattering in this revelation, but it has to be emphasized nonetheless because the Obama administration—through the comments of Secretary Kerry—seems to have thought that international power politics were a thing of the past. The Administration ought to have known better than that, but, for a time, it seemed to pretend not to know. If that kind of naïveté doesn’t bother you, you are more laid back than I am.

The following excerpt is especially worth pondering:

The Nation’s False and Dishonest Crimea Narrative

 

For those who believe that the recent annexation of Crimea by Russia might actually unite Americans of all ideological stripes in opposition to the thuggishness of the Putin regime, I give you this piece by editors of the Nation. It shows that even now, in the immediate aftermath of the annexation, while historical memories are still fresh, there are those who are willing to rewrite current events in order to advance a narrative filled with desperate attempts to explain away unjustified Russian bellicosity. And of course, it ought to surprise no one that the editors are willing to put forth false attempts at establishing moral equivalence in order to leave readers with the idea that the United States is really at fault in this story.

The urgent issue today is to stop the drift toward hot war. Yes, Vladimir Putin’s annexation of Crimea trespasses on international law, though it is difficult to bear US officials’ invocation of a principle that Washington itself has often violated (see, most recently, Kosovo and Iraq, the latter now marking the eleventh anniversary of an illegal US invasion and occupation). Financial and visa sanctions, while inflicting a cost on Russia, will not deter Moscow. As Putin argued in his March 18 speech before the Russian Federal Assembly, Russia feels “cornered” and has been repeatedly “deceived” by the West—particularly Washington—since the Soviet Union broke apart more than two decades ago, especially in light of the expansion of NATO to its borders.

John Mearsheimer is Sober, Level-Headed, and Clear-Thinking . . . Except When He Isn’t

 

I recommend to everyone this piece on the present and expected future interplay between China, Taiwan and the United States written by my former professor, John Mearsheimer. It is exceedingly well-written, very hard-headed, and reveals that Mearsheimer has done his homework when it comes to the history of China and Taiwan. It doesn’t make for comfortable reading if one is Taiwanese, American, or a member of any Asian country that seeks to offset or balance against Chinese hegemony in Asia, but, if anything, the unsettling nature of the piece makes it all the more important.

Speaking of well-written Mearsheimerian articles, check out this recent one on the crisis concerning Russia and Ukraine, and the state of American policymaking. Again, Mearsheimer lays out the facts persuasively, accurately gauges each side’s interests and bargaining power, and then offers policy prescriptions that demonstrate a realistic understanding of the situation at play.