September 21, 2012
The taxpayer bailouts of General Motors and Chrysler kept the companies afloat while they went through bankruptcy, averting liquidations that would have caused catastrophic job losses across the U.S. auto industry at the height of the recession. One consequence of the intervention, however, is that the government is still holding on to more than a fourth of GM's stock. The Treasury Department argues that the time isn't right to sell and that GM's shares are undervalued by the market.
September 12, 2012
In case anyone had forgotten, Moody's Investors Service issued a stark reminder Tuesday that the federal government is speeding headlong toward a political and financial cliff. On Jan. 1, a number of temporary tax cuts are due to expire just as new spending restraints kick in, pulling hundreds of billions of dollars out of the U.S. economy and potentially triggering another recession. At the same time, Washington is expected to reach the limit of its borrowing authority, necessitating another increase in its debt limit.
September 9, 2012
Like the Republican convention that preceded it, the Democratic National Convention was a combination of infomercial, revival meeting (with former President Clinton in the role of evangelist in chief) and audition for rising political stars. Also like the Republican gathering, it was predictably longer on general pronouncements than on precise policy prescriptions. Still, the convention in Charlotte, N.C., effectively dramatized important differences between the two parties and their candidates.
July 26, 2012
As he begins a weeklong trip to Britain, Israel and Poland designed to burnish his foreign policy credentials, Mitt Romney is offering a critique of President Obama's military and diplomatic policies that is long on bluster and short on detailed disagreements. So far, he has provided mostly hyperbole, broad and vague criticisms, and cheap shots. In a speech Tuesday to the Veterans of Foreign Wars, for instance, he said that Obama had "given trust where it is not earned, insult where it is not deserved, and apology where it is not due. " He revived the canard that Obama has been traipsing around the world apologizing for America and accused the president of lecturing Israel, undermining its position and speaking "as if our closest ally in the Middle East was the problem.
July 24, 2012
As severe as they may be, the penalties that the National Collegiate Athletic Assn. imposed on Penn State University's football program Monday aren't likely to have as profound an impact on the school as the scandal that caused revered coach Joe Paterno to be ousted in disgrace last year. The larger purpose of the sanctions - including a four-year ban on bowl games, 40 fewer scholarships, 111 wins revoked and a $60-million fine - is to tell universities across the country that there's a considerable price to pay for letting their mission become subservient to their athletics programs.
July 10, 2012 |
SEOUL - More than five months into a bitter strike, hundreds of employees at leading South Korean broadcasters are still off the job, not because of bread-and-butter issues such as pay or job security, but what they regard as heavy-handed government efforts to silence them. Hailed until recently as a beacon of free press in Asia, South Korea is now facing what broadcast journalists complain is the worst media climate since the country's democratization in the 1980s. Editorial employees of Munhwa Broadcasting Corp., or MBC, walked out Jan. 30 and were followed by journalists at the Korea Broadcasting System, or KBS, the news-only cable channel YTN, and the publicly funded news agency Yonhap.
July 3, 2012
Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton is putting a positive spin on a new peace plan for Syria agreed to over the weekend in Geneva by the Syria Action Group, which comprises the permanent members of the United Nations Security Council as well as Turkey and Arab representatives. We hope her optimism is justified, but Russia continues to send maddeningly mixed signals about whether it recognizes that the time has come for Syrian President Bashar Assad to step down. Already a humanitarian tragedy, the civil war in Syria now threatens to spill into international conflict.
July 1, 2012
A photo of a man building a house may look exactly like a picture of him making repairs or one of him taking the place apart brick by brick, so it can be hard to tell whether a snapshot shows the beginning, the middle or the end of a major project. And so it is with this year's state budget: Are we watching California being put back together or witnessing its demolition? A generation of Californians has lived through several spasms of financial restructuring, some of which hit us from outside, some of which we created ourselves.
June 24, 2012 |
Cronkite Douglas Brinkley Harper: 820 pp., $34.99 Walter Cronkite was not inclined to introspection, and historian Douglas Brinkley emulates his subject in this thorough biography of the news broadcaster who in 1972 was declared "The Most Trusted Man in America. " Brinkley's lengthy narrative spends as much time on Cronkite's stints as a paperboy as on his father's alcoholism and his parents' divorce. The author seems more interested in the ins and outs of Cronkite's strained professional relationship with Dan Rather than in his 65-year marriage - though smart, sardonic Betsy Cronkite gets her due as the woman who could cut Walter down to size.