ANOTHER SLAP ON THE WRIST
NEW YORK TIMES
Not surprisingly, after spending an estimated $1.5 billion on consultants, the banks have found little wrongdoing and provided no meaningful relief. Equally unsurprising, regulators will let the banks off with a wrist slap for their failure to execute credible and effective reviews. …Regulators have said that the goal in ending the reviews is to provide relief to borrowers “in a more timely manner.” If it’s timely relief they wanted, they would not have instituted the deeply flawed review process in the first place, nor would they have let the sham reviews drag on for more than a year. Worse, the settlement amount is inadequate. Since there are no reliable analyses to identify wronged borrowers …there is also no clear way to apportion the $3.3 billion among 3.8 million borrowers covered by the settlement.
HOW TO WASTE A DECADE IN AFGHANISTAN
FREDERICK KAGAN AND KIMBERLY KAGAN
WALL STREET JOURNAL
Success in Afghanistan has always meant driving al Qaeda out and preventing it from returning. The U.S. cleared al Qaeda from the country in 2001-02 quickly, and with few forces. American efforts have since aimed at creating conditions in which Afghanistan will be able to keep al Qaeda out with limited international assistance. … If a much-reduced U.S. force level is announced, Afghans will say that the Americans have abandoned their country. They will be right. With a drastically reduced U.S. presence, the Afghan government and army will fracture, warlords will begin fighting each other and the insurgents and terrorists in ungoverned spaces. The conditions will be ideal for al Qaeda’s return. That’s failure. And it will matter.
GOP’S DISARRAY OVER DEBT CEILING
GOP leaders want to be granted the presumption of leverage based on the threat of default, yet they are not prepared to deliver on that threat. Even worse, they need to somehow signal publicly that they are not really serious about default as an option — otherwise the business community will come down on them hard — while simultaneously maintaining the public posture that the debt ceiling hike really is something Dems will need to pay for with concessions of their own. The GOP’s debt ceiling threat is an empty gimmick — far more of a gimmick than the “platinum coin” solution to it is.
THE GOP’S SAVIOR
Certainly, the storm — and, more important, Christie’s forceful response — boosted the governor’s standing. But the tea party’s record lows and Christie’s record highs tell a larger story: Americans are crying out for an end to ideological warfare. That has developed into Christie’s signature in New Jersey. He began his term promising tax cuts and fighting with the teachers union over tenure, pay and education reforms, but he now preaches reconciliation — a recurring theme in his State of the State address Tuesday afternoon. … “You see,” he told the legislators, “some things are above politics.” It’s a lesson that could help the national Republican Party loosen the tea party’s death grip.
WHICH PARTY WILL BLINK?
Someone’s going to have to blink. The White House is betting that it will be Republicans. Administration officials point to warnings from former House speaker Newt Gingrich about using the debt ceiling as a negotiating tactic. They note that McConnell shied away from repeating debt-ceiling threats, and that House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio), in an interview with the Wall Street Journal, described the debt ceiling as “not the ultimate leverage.” As the administration sees it, Republicans, having been forced to yield on tax rates and revenue, will capitulate again on governing-by-extortion over the debt ceiling. Republicans, in this assessment, are unprepared to shoot the hostage, and their business allies will not permit it.
HE WHO KNEW NOT
NEW YORK TIMES
Coach Mike Shanahan committed malpractice, letting a hobbled young quarterback lurch around “like a pirate with a peg leg,” as The Washington Post’s Sally Jenkins wrote. … At that moment, the Redskins became like the rest of Washington, and the rest of our self-centered, grasshopper attention-span culture — going for short-term gain and avoiding long-term pain. Everything they do on Capitol Hill is about getting through the next few months, or next few minutes, or next confrontation. John Boehner, after making a mess of the negotiations with the president, is now talking about raising the debt limit in monthly increments. What’s wrong with weekly, or how about hourly? Like Congress patching gaping fiscal wounds, the Redskins didn’t seem to fathom that they were damaging the franchise long term.