My conversation with Ahamed:
Friday, January 30, 2009
My conversation with Ahamed:
This recession is scary and complicated. It’s insane to try to tackle it and dozens of other complicated problems, all in one piece of legislation. Leadership involves prioritizing. Those who try to do everything at once will end up with a sprawling, lobbyist-driven mess that does nothing well.
Wednesday, January 28, 2009
We are defined by what life asks of us. As we go through life, we travel through institutions — first family and school, then the institutions of a profession or a craft.
Each of these institutions comes with certain rules and obligations that tell us how to do what we’re supposed to do. Journalism imposes habits that help reporters keep a mental distance from those they cover. Scientists have obligations to the community of researchers. In the process of absorbing the rules of the institutions we inhabit, we become who we are.
Tuesday, January 27, 2009
Saturday, January 24, 2009
A Journal for Jordan is a mother’s letter to her son–fierce in its honesty–about the father he lost before he could even speak. It is also a father’s posthumous advice for the son he will never know.
My conversation with Dana Canedy:
"Mr. Emanuel is arguably the second most powerful man in the country and, just a few days into his tenure, already one of the highest-profile chiefs of staff in recent memory... In recent months, he has played a critical role in the selection and courtship of nearly every cabinet member and key White House staff member."
"He has exerted influence on countless decisions; in meetings, administration officials say, Mr. Obama often allows him to speak first and last."
Friday, January 23, 2009
Thursday, January 22, 2009
Two years after launching the most technologically savvy presidential campaign in history, Obama officials ran smack into the constraints of the federal bureaucracy yesterday, encountering a jumble of disconnected phone lines, old computer software, and security regulations forbidding outside e-mail accounts.
Wednesday, January 21, 2009
Chief Justice John Roberts' administration of the presidential oath to Barack Obama was far from smooth. Early reports differ in saying who stumbled: NBC andABC say the flub was Roberts', while the AP says it was Obama's. I think both men were a bit nervous, and the error that emerged from their momentary disfluency came down to a problem of adverbial placement.
The Constitution gives the oath as:
"I do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will faithfully execute the office of President of the United States, and will to the best of my ability, preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States."
Here is the transcript as given by NBC and ABC:
ROBERTS: Are you prepared to take the oath, Senator?
OBAMA: I am.
ROBERTS: I, Barack Hussein Obama…
OBAMA: I, Barack…
ROBERTS: … do solemnly swear…
OBAMA: I, Barack Hussein Obama, do solemnly swear…
ROBERTS: … that I will execute the office of president to the United States faithfully…
OBAMA: … that I will execute…
ROBERTS: … faithfully the office of president of the United States…
OBAMA: … the office of president of the United States faithfully…
ROBERTS: … and will to the best of my ability…
OBAMA: … and will to the best of my ability…
ROBERTS: … preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States.
OBAMA: … preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States.
ROBERTS: So help you God?
OBAMA: So help me God.
ROBERTS: Congratulations, Mr. President.
In the embedded clause of the oath, the adverb faithfully is properly positioned after the auxiliary will (1). If you miss the adverb as it is placed in the official wording, you have two more chances for inserting it in a coherent fashion: placingfaithfully after the verb execute (2) or placing it at the end of the clause (3):
that I will 1 execute 2 the office of President of the United States 3
Roberts does indeed miss his opportunity to put faithfully in position 1, perhaps thrown by Obama repeating the opening phrase of the oath earlier than he expected. In Roberts' first attempt, faithfully ends up in clause-final position 3. Obama seems to realize that the placement is wrong, but repeats the first part of the clause all the way through to the verb: that I will execute. There's no possibility of getting faithfully back to position 1 at this point, but Roberts gets as close as he can by placing it in position 2, immediately after the verb, in his second attempt. Obama ignores the self-repair, however, and ends up repeating the misplaced version that Roberts originally supplied, with faithfully in clause-final position 3.
From the perspective of speech act theory and performativity, we could go on to consider whether felicity conditions failed for this particular speech act, since the wording was not actually the official one. But the question is moot: the oath is not actually performative, since Barack Obama became president immediately after 12 noon (before Roberts had even started to administer the oath), as several network commentators observed. And Jan Crawford Greenberg of ABC provides a historical precedent:
It's worth pointing out that Chief Justice William Howard Taft, who had been President himself, also flubbed the oath when he was swearing in Herbert Hoover in 1929. When Taft administered the oath, he said, "preserve, maintain and defend the Constitution," instead of "preserve, PROTECT, and defend." So where Roberts flipped a couple of words, Taft substituted an entirely new one.
There was one other minor slip-up on Roberts' part: in his first run-through of the embedded clause, he got a preposition wrong, saying "I will execute the office of president to the United States," rather than of. A less noticeable speech error, but nonetheless the type of thing that happens when one speaks from memory without written prompts, as Roberts apparently did.
[Update, 9:30 pm: Obama was just asked about the oath flub on ABC in a brief backstage interview at the Neighborhood Ball.
Robin Roberts: During the taking the oath of office, Chief Justice Roberts inadvertently switched some words up. You were trying to help him out there a little bit, it seemed, with your look.
Pres. Obama: Oh, listen, I think we're, uh, we're up there, we've got a lot of stuff on our minds, and he actually I think helped me out on a couple of, uh, stanzas there. So overall I think it went relatively smoothly and I'm very grateful to him.
From today's New York Times
Reporting for Duty | 9:33 a.m. President Obama reported to work at 8:35 a.m. on Wednesday, walking into the Oval Office for the first time as the nation’s chief executive.
He read the note left behind by George W. Bush, which was sitting in a folder on top of the desk, with a note marked “44.” Mr. Obama was in the office alone for a brief time, aides said, starting his day after a late night celebrating and dancing at inaugural balls across Washington.
So the new White House is officially opened for business, but it feels more like a start-up than the seat of government.
White House press secretary Robert Gibbs is not holding a briefing on Wednesday, aides said, deciding to delay his first official briefing until Thursday. Why? Most members of his staff have been waiting outside to be allowed onto the White House grounds.
Mr. Obama, who is on his way to a prayer service at the National Cathedral, has a series of meetings coming up with this economic advisers and the Joint Chiefs. He also will preside over the Cabinet swearing-in ceremony for seven members of his Cabinet who were confirmed on Tuesday by the Senate.
Tuesday, January 20, 2009
Sunday, January 18, 2009
The baby-boomer generation, reared and suckled on post-Vietnam divides, staged their battles like bitter spouses after years of a failed marriage who never really planned on divorce. Now, with this first post-boomer politician, the children who witnessed their parents’ endless fighting have taken over. And it’s the children who seem like adults.
Thursday, January 15, 2009
Tuesday, January 13, 2009
My Conversation with Randy Shaw:
Monday, January 12, 2009
It seems that among liberal democracies, it is only in the U.S .Congress that a defense against terror that results in the slaying of hundreds of Palestinian children is not cause for agonized soul-searching. In my view, such Israeli “defense” has crossed the line.
My conversation with Patrick Tyler:
Friday, January 9, 2009
It's not an issue of class, but of intelligence. Whether Caroline should be appointed to the Senate or not, she is a graduate of Harvard and Columbia Law and is an educated and accomplished woman.
Lisa Belkin, in her New York Times Magazine story last week, makes the case that it is Caroline who, as a mother going back into the workplace, that is being discriminated against.
My Conversation with Lisa Belkin:
Wednesday, January 7, 2009
The thinking goes that the existing brands—The New York Times, The Washington Post, The Wall Street Journal—will be the ones making that transition, challenged but still dominant as sources of original reporting. But what if the old media dies much more quickly? What if a hurricane comes along and obliterates the dunes entirely? Specifically, what if TheNew York Times goes out of business—like, this May?
And if Feinstein et al really do try to head it off at the pass and deny Panetta's nomination, all the new president has to do is gather up some of the documents about illegal activities at the CIA - Drugs, anyone? Attempted coups? Illegal domestic surveillance? - in recent years that will be newly available to him on January 20, leak those documents to the press, cause a storm of controversy (and some Pulitzer Prizes to boot), have the new Senate Foreign Relations Committee chair, Senator Kerry, call for public hearings (reminiscent of his Iran-Contra and BCCI investigations), and, voila, place Feinstein and friends - and those who are behind them in this - in checkmate.
Tuesday, January 6, 2009
Apple Introduces Revolutionary New Laptop With No Keyboard
I think the choices are not merely good, but inspired, and I see the friction with Feinstein and Rockefeller as a plus rather than a minus. The selection of Admiral Blair, a tough retired Naval intelligence professional, quite appropriately puts the key coordinating position for the intelligence community in the hands of a non-political figure who commands uniform respect among its rank-and-file. On the other hand, Panetta has no experience in the intelligence community—he would be a fresh face. He has gathered broad respect for his managerial competence and for his ability as a legislator. He acquitted himself ably as chief-of-staff to Bill Clinton, even in rough sailing.
Monday, January 5, 2009
London's Daily Mail reports that the end of the holidays, cold weather and economic gloom will make today one of the most stressful days of the year for returning to work. But experts have come up with an unlikely remedy - throwing a tantrum. Releasing tension through shouting and screaming is a really beneficial way to expel the negative energies caused by stress,' said body language expert Judi James.
Experts say throwing a tantrum can help people deal with stress 'When stress threatens to overwhelm you, try a short sustained burst of shouting, or alternatively, go somewhere quiet, close your eyes and take a few deep breaths to help calm you down.'
The advice comes as a survey reveals that people are most likely to be irritated by colleagues eating noisily (28 per cent), sniffing (26 per cent), talking too loudly on the phone (21 per cent) and even singing (5 per cent). Researchers found only one in ten prefer to sit quietly to combat tension, while more than a third admitted to having tantrums.
Sunday, January 4, 2009
Is there any other significant issue in American political life, besides Israel, where (a) citizens split almost evenly in their views, yet (b) the leaders of both parties adopt identical lockstep positions which leave half of the citizenry with no real voice? More notably still, is there any other position, besides Israel, where (a) a party's voters overwhelmingly embrace one position (Israel should not have attacked Gaza) but (b) that party's leadership unanimously embraces the exact opposite position (Israel was absolutely right to attack Gaza and the U.S. must support Israel unequivocally)? Does that happen with any other issue?