Moral Hazard, Fed Style

How exactly did the Federal Reserve gain the emergency authority to loan more than $1 trillion of taxpayer money to the banks secretly and without oversight? The Washington Post explains today in a long investigative piece by Binyamin Appelbaum and Neil Irwin. As it turns out, Sen. Chris Dodd slipped the necessary language into an Read More

A Muppet In President Obama's Court

Sonia Sotomayor is not the only recent Obama appointment. She may be the most significant pick, but she is hardly the most intriguing. To wit, I direct your attention to a short Associated Press item, which appeared in papers including the New York Times, about some of President Obama’s recent ambassadorial appointments: President Obama has Read More

The Way of the Warrior: Media Coverage of Gen. McChrystal

On May 12, 2009, Defense Secretary Robert Gates selected Gen. Stanley McChrystal to head our “Af-Pak” military operations. Though the selection was widely praised, two unsettling issues have dogged McChrystal’s ascent to the top of the military hierarchy. First, he participated in the cover-up of Pat Tillman’s mysterious “friendly-fire” death in Afghanistan. Second, as reported Read More

Obama’s Appointee Scorecard: Look #2

The other day, I wrote about the need to study the qualifications of presidential appointees. I noted how Obama’s choice for head of the Federal Emergency Management Agency, unlike Bush’s guy, Michael Brown, actually had decades of experience in precisely this area. However, before we start assuming that Obama only appoints people based on credentials, Read More

Tortured Rationalizations

In an opinion piece, the Wall Street Journal convincingly argues that top Democrats in Congress have been speaking out of both sides of their mouths in criticizing Bush Administration policy on Enhanced Interrogation Techniques (EITs), also known as torture. These days, Speaker Pelosi insists she heard and saw no evil. “We were not — I Read More

A Precursor to Revolution?

Pulitzer-Prize-winning investigative journalist and tax expert David Cay Johnston recently gave a provocative interview to the Vermont independent weekly Seven Days. In it, he reveals that he once wanted to become a homicide detective for the LAPD (a dream more common among investigative journalists than you might think) and that, despite his railing against the Read More

Leakaholics Anonymous

Apparently, I am not alone in being troubled by current large-media practices in reference to leaked material and unnamed sources. You can see what I had to say previously here and here, when I focused on the New York Times. Now comes Slate’s Today’s Papers column to note some similar problems at the Washington Post Read More

Gold Rush for Lobbyists

Reform may be in the air, but the Sunlight Foundation has a new report noting that nearly 1,700 new clients have signed up with lobbying firms in DC in the first quarter of 2009. Sunlight describes their initial findings as a “first pass” at scrutinizing a database of lobbying registrations. Of particular interest: Our first Read More

Leahy's Truth Commission Hits the Skids

Those of you following the prosecution trail will be interested to know that Patrick Leahy’s Truth Commission is a no-go. I was in a meeting with Leahy and 4 other Vermonters on Monday when he broke the news to us. We had asked for the meeting to learn why he supported a Truth Commission over Read More

More Leaks

In Not So Secret After All? (March 18), I pondered the spate of leaks on seemingly sensitive military and foreign policy matters. Well, here comes more. In the New York Times of March 28, we have in the lead story a full-blown leak-a-thon: President Obama’s plan to widen United States involvement in Afghanistan came after Read More

Truth or Reconciliation?

They are really coming. Official investigations of the George W. Bush administration are on the way. Karl Rove and Harriet Miers have just agreed to limited testimony before the House Judiciary Committee, which is looking into the seemingly politically-motivated firings of seven U.S. Attorneys. Judiciary Committee Chairman John Conyers and Patrick Leahy, his senate counterpart, Read More

It's the Culture, Stupid

Character is fate, the Romans learned, and biography is history. They’re also the essence of today’s headlines. As serious journalists tackle our Great Crash, they should begin by digging deep beneath the perfunctory clip-file profiles of the major players — from White House, Treasury and Fed to Congress to counting-house suites — to connect the dots of lives lived Read More

Railroading Good Government

The panic over government getting directly involved in running companies that can’t survive without federal support may be misguided. New York Times business reporter Louis Uchitelle makes this point, noting that As General Motors and Chrysler struggle to remain solvent, the railroad bailout of a generation ago could offer a template to the Obama administration Read More

Hillary's Bush Connection

Research support for this story was provided by the Investigative Fund of The Nation Institute. Published in conjunction with The Nation. IN THE CLINTONS’ PURSUIT OF POWER, there is no such thing as a strange bedfellow. One recently exposed inamorato was Norman Hsu, the mysterious businessman from Hong Kong who brought in $850,000 to Hillary Read More

25 Democratic Consultants

Jack Quinn served as Vice President Gore’s Chief of Staff, and later as Counsel to President Clinton. Now he is a partner in a political consulting and lobbying firm with a close friend of Tom DeLay, and together, they have represented clients who want to drill in fragile areas of Alaska, put the screws to Read More

Unholy Trinity: Katrina, Allbaugh and Brown

Days after Louisiana’s governor declared a state of emergency and the National Hurricane Center warned the White House that Hurricane Katrina could top the New Orleans levee system, the only FEMA official actually in New Orleans itself–Marty J. Bahamonde–was not even supposed to be there. He had been sent in advance of the storm and Read More