David A.

Stories by David A. Graham

  • How to Make an Obama Bush Scandal

    Everything that happens during Obama’s presidency seems to get termed his ‘Katrina’ or some other, usually inapt analogy. We explain the different approaches to naming an Obama Bush scandal, and how they might be applied in the future.
  • Surprise! 2009 Tax Bill Lowest in Nearly 60 Years

    Democratic leaders will no doubt be glad to see this report in this morning's USA Today. The paper ran the numbers, and by their calculations, Americans haven't seen such a low bill from the tax man since 1950. For those of you keeping score at home, that's 11 years before President Obama was born. Here's the key paragraph:...
  • Orrin Hatch's VAT Straw Man

    Sen. Orrin Hatch (R.-Utah) takes on the tax system in a Politico op-ed published Friday. A lot of what Hatch says is likely to resonate on both sides of the aisle: he's concerned that large tax increases could trip up the fragile but improving economy, and he argues that federal tax code is simply far too complicated. The latter is a point about which there's been an even greater consensus for even longer than the former, and it's accepted by both liberals and conservatives. So far, so good. And then this:...
  • Gulf Oil Spill: Prognosis Looks Grim; Obama Speaks in Louisiana

    An already bad situation seems to be turning worse in the Gulf of Mexico. News over the weekend suggested the effects of the growing oil spill will be worse than expected, and the leak may not be stopped any time soon. BP officials said Monday they were preparing to install a shutoff valve on one of three leaks, while work to stop the others continues. ...
  • Unions, Activists Convene March on Wall Street

    One day after Republicans agreed to allow debate on financial regulatory reform—and two days after Goldman Sachs executives were pilloried on the Hill—protesters will try to bring their fight to New York this afternoon. In a rally organized by the AFL-CIO and activists, protesters will march on Wall Street itself. They're calling for "Wall Street accountability, the creation of good jobs now, and an end to predatory lending practices." ...
  • New Attention Being Paid to Bank of North Dakota

    As Washington tries to regulate Wall Street's newfangled derivatives, government officials in at least a dozen states are mulling a more old-school response to the financial crisis: 100 percent state-run banks. Since 1919, North Dakota has operated the nation's only depository of this kind, a genuinely socialist enterprise that spins tax revenues into loans for in-state farmers, students, and small-business owners. Unlike other banks, the Bank of North Dakota (BND) plows about half its profits into the state budget and takes cues from the governor, who acts as chairman, and a seven-member advisory board that the governor appoints.In normal times, such a bank might not be politically palatable. Now, however, it's emerging as an attractive model for lawmakers—in large part because North -Dakota flourished during the recession, with the nation's lowest unemployment rate (about 4 percent) and one of the largest budget surpluses (more than$1 billion). Some of the state's well-being is...
  • What Obama's Cooper Union Audience Says About Financial Regulation

    There's a sense that political momentum has shifted in favor of financial reform. For example, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell has backed off earlier statements he made about starting over from scratch, and a derivatives-regulation measure even won the vote of one Republican, Iowa's Chuck Grassley, in committee yesterday....
  • Flights Resume From European Airports

    After days of paralysis, European airlines are back up and flying today. But although that news will hearten travelers who have spent days sleeping in concourses, experts warn that it will take weeks for the situation to get back to normal and all flights to be running on time. ...
  • Kal Penn, Actor and Obama Administration Official, Mugged in D.C.

    He escaped angry New Jersey cops and Guantánamo Bay, but Kal Penn was no match for the nation's capital. Gossip site TMZ reports that the actor-turned-political operative was mugged last night walking home in Washington, D.C. A robber apparently took Penn's "wallet and other personal property" at gunpoint around 1:20 a.m. That's no laughing matter—although there is a certain irony in the fact that the costar of the marijuana-fixated Harold and Kumar films had his 4/20 marred by the incident. (Also, plenty of other wags are taking their best shots.)...
  • Gates Memo: Reaction Roundup

    A hot New York Times scoop on U.S. policy has dispelled much of the warm, fuzzy feeling brought on by last week's nuclear summit in Washington. The paper reported Sunday on the existence of a memo that Defense Secretary Robert Gates wrote in January, stating that government simply doesn't have a viable long-term plan for dealing with Iran's nuclear program. One official told reporters that the memo was "a wake-up call." Gates is trying to cool off the heated response to the article, insisting that the Times missed the context of the memo: "The memo was not intended as a 'wake up call' or received as such by the President's national security team. Rather, it presented a number of questions and proposals intended to contribute to an orderly and timely decision making process."...
  • Survey: Despite Knowing the Risks, Young Adults Are Reckless About Online Security

    Ah, the folly of youth. According to a new survey that looks at young adults and their understanding of Internet security, an overwhelming majority of people between 18 and 27 are aware of the dangers of not protecting data but don't do much to deal with it. At least 73 percent say they're worried about online fraud or identity theft, but 71 percent of those surveyed say they're not especially careful about policing their financial data, social networking accounts, and other passwords. "The irony is that the most tech-savvy generation is the one playing Russian roulette—the one that knows the risk, but still does the risky behavior," says Sam Curry, chief technology officer at RSA, an IT security firm that sponsored the survey....
  • Obama's Visitation Rights Order: A Turning Point on Gay Rights?

    The White House caught pretty much everyone off guard last night with an executive order intended to ensure visitation rights for gay couples in hospitals. The order asks Kathleen Sebelius, the secretary of Health and Human Services, to allow people both to visit their partners and make medical decisions for them. Hospitals that don't comply stand to lose federal funding. Wrote Obama: ...
  • Arizona's Aggressive Stand on Immigration

    With immigration reform stalled in Washington, states have taken to passing their own border-related laws. But few have been as strict as the one OK'd last week by Arizona's state Senate. The bill, which is expected to be signed by the governor, requires police to investigate anyone they have "reasonable suspicion" may be in the country illegally—a measure that proponents claim will enhance public safety, making it easier for the feds to deport violent criminals before they strike.But based on the results of a similar national program, the opposite may be true. Since 2006 almost $184 million has been spent on 287(g), a federal-state alliance that turns local police officers into deputized immigration agents—empowered (but not required) to check the status of anyone suspected of a crime. The goal: weed out "dangerous criminal aliens." But last year the leaders of more than 50 urban police departments attacked the program as counterproductive, saying it foils real police work by...
  • John Paul Stevens's Legacy in Five Cases

    It's a funny thing about Justice John Paul Stevens, who announced today he's stepping down. Despite serving on the court for 35 years—that's 12 years longer than this Gaggler's even been alive—many observers agree that he came into his jurisprudential own in the last 10 to 15 years. A few key decisions are likely to be remembered as his most important ones. We called some observers to get their input, and combined their lists to produce this one. Among those contributing ideas: Doug Kendall, president of the progressive Constitutional Accountability Center; Brina Milikowsky, legal counsel at the liberal Alliance for Justice; the liberal People for the American Way; and Ilya Shapiro, a senior fellow in constitutional studies at the libertarian Cato Institute....
  • Twitter: Not Just for the Masses Anymore

    The world—and Twitter skeptics—saw a dramatic illustration of the microblogging service's usefulness in Iran last summer. Twitter provided an outlet for outsiders to understand what was going on in the country despite a brutal crackdown on media, and it was a useful tool for opposition protesters to organize and share information, evading government control....
  • wri-beware-small-states-tease

    Beware of Small States: Lebanon, Battleground of the Middle East

    This book is a wide-ranging, big-picture account by an author who truly knows the area. David Hirst highlights Lebanon’s central role in every major regional clash of the last 50 years and offers a drastically different (and, to many, an inflammatory) view of Israeli policy than what’s familiar to most American audiences.
  • Harry Reid: Not Much of a Mathematician

    With Congress on recess, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid is on the campaign trail in Nevada, preparing for a reelection fight in November. Via The Weekly Standard, he spoke with Carson City's Nevada Appeal yesterday and had an upbeat message: "If the election were held today, I'd win."...