Morning News Roundup
Frozen Shelter from the Storm President Bush and Treasury Secretary Pauslon have unveiled a strategy for dealing with the ongoing subprime mortgage crunch. Their proposal would freeze the interest rates specific homeowners are paying on their Adjustable Rate Mortgages instead … Read More
Frozen Shelter from the Storm President Bush and Treasury Secretary Pauslon have unveiled a strategy for dealing with the ongoing subprime mortgage crunch. Their proposal would freeze the interest rates specific homeowners are paying on their Adjustable Rate Mortgages instead of allowing those ARM rates to increase. Democrats contend that the plan does not go far enough in assisting at-risk homeowners. Iraq: Democrats vs. the Veep (and Themselves) The news from Iraq continues to shift and the Politico features two related stories about how the Administration and Democrats in Congress continue to rival one another for control over war policy. Martin Kady reports that the Democrats are backing off their more drastic attempts to end the engagement in Iraq because of intra-party disagreements about the current success, or lack thereof, in the region. And from this position of indecision and fracture, Vice President Cheney, in an interview, reiterated a familiar litany of grievances against Congressional Democrats. The Vice President even predicted "a self-governing democracy would be firmly established in Iraq" by 2009. Unfortunately the piece does not detail whether the Vice President meant that "a democracy" that would be "firmly established" in Iraq would actually be Iraq's own national government and/or if that government, though "democratic" and "firmly established," would maintain a cohesive and ordered Iraqi society. Gotta ask about those pesky words. (Un)Talkin' Those World War III Blues (?) The segments of a declassified NIE report released this week contained "highly confident" speculation that Iran discontinued the weapons-development division of its nuclear program in 2003 and the "moderately confident" assessment that Iran has not since reinvested in the weapons program. Obviously, this finding is irresistible political fodder for partisans, but it places both sides in awkward territory: the very report (in which many claims turned out to be lacking in credibility) that bolstered the Administration's claims for preemptive war against Iraq is now being hailed by those same critics as reliable proof that the Administration's rhetoric towards Iran has been, merely, callous and hollow war-mongering. On the other hand, the Administration ought to explain why their recent public jargon towards Iran has included overheated and loaded phrases like "World War III." On a related note, the NIE becomes an important public relations tool for Russia and China to use to strengthen their strategic alliance with Iran and oppose further sanctions against President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's government. Romney's Plea for Big Love Today's the big day for Mitt Romney: he's committed himself to defending his religious preference and is attempting to tell the GOP base that the LDS is NBD. After Romney's campaign has played up his front-runner status, by way of his traditional bid for the Republican nomination (meaning: win Iowa and New Hampshire and hope for momentum in South Carolina and beyond), it is unclear whether this crucial defensive tactic will bring about further changes in the way the Romney campaign casts itself in the current political drama. Bob Novak is skeptical of what Romney can accomplish with this speech. George Packer, in the New Yorker, reveals the real problem of what's happening with this collision between the Mormon Romney and the Republican base (and, sadly, it has absolutely nothing to do with how and why JFK reconciled politics and Roman Catholicism). Resistance to Resistance Well, Slavoj Zizek probably won't admit that Chavez's power grab was overzealous even though 51% of Venezuelan voters called "bullshit" on his program. The New York Times reports today on further fallout from the vote. The New Republic has its own breakdown of what Chavez's loss means to his system of democratic authoritarianism. Concurrently, Bolivia's President, Evo Morales, is playing chicken with his political opponents by calling for a referendum on whether he and the nine regional governors of Bolivia (many of whom oppose Morales' policies) should continue to hold their offices.
High ‘80s in December: Sounds Good to OPEC Despite the price of oil reaching the $99 level at the end of November, the fact that the price is now hovering between $86-89 is enough for OPEC to decline to increase its production of oil.