Friday, July 31, 2009

"Doing the right thing for the country"

What an antiquated notion. It's never mentioned in this article about the new Democratic congressmen from more conservative areas. As always, re-election is more important than actually doing what's right.

I love Congress.

Veterans in academia

I don't have much of a comment, but I really enjoyed this post by Abu Aardvark. Here's hoping many many veterans take advantage of the extraordinary (and most certainly deserved) opportunity afforded them by the new GI Bill.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

The vast left-wing conspiracy

I'm part of it. I started working for these guys a short while ago, and while I was chatting with a coworker today, she mentioned that we are the conspiracy that tea-baggers and ditto-heads talk about. Nobody knows who we are, yet we work tirelessly for progressive issues and groups, raising awareness and money. You know what, that's a conspiracy of which I'm just fine being a part.

Here's a question that came from a different coworker: Are there any conservative groups that canvass? The closest I could think of is proselytizing Christians.

Anyway, blogging will be light as I can now do more than bloviate about the issues I care about: I am actually out there doing what I can to get people involved. Health care is the big one right now, and I'm glad to be working on it.

(Of course, anything said on this blog reflect my thoughts and mine alone, and do not reflect the positions of the Fund for the Public Interest.)

Sunday, July 26, 2009

The Death of the F-22

WaPo has a great article about the Obama administration's lobbying effort to kill the ~$2bn in extra F-22 funding that the Senate tried to stick in the defense budget. (Hat tip: Abu Muqawama)

It's good to hear that Rahmbo and Joe Biden have not forgotten how to wrangle votes on the Hill. Hopefully the Obama team can bring some of that firepower to bear on Health Care and the Energy bill.

It makes it especially sweet that Saxby Chambliss was the Senator who had sponsored the addition of the funding to the budget. Any time Mr. Chambliss suffers a defeat is welcome news to me.

Friday, July 24, 2009

When is a centrist just a wimp?

If you ask Mr Pearlstein, the Blue Dogs fall under the category of wimp.

Money quote:
The problem with the Blue Dogs is that they tend to confuse centrism with splitting the difference between the warring camps, or making policy by choosing one from Column A and one from Column B. The more effective centrists use their political leverage to create a Column C.

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Words of wisdom from Nate Silver

538 (Nate Silver) has a good post about the hysteria of the 24 hour news cycle and why health care is neither doing fantastic nor in dire straights. Always nice to have a voice of reason.

Friday, July 17, 2009

Gates gets testy

Robert Gates seems to be fed up with congress. He's getting a bit feisty over congress' interference in his plans to get Defense spending in line with the country's actual needs.

Saxby Chambliss' comments in that article make me want to tear my hair out. He plays the veterans card to explain his opposition to capping F-22 production. This from a guy who beat Max Cleland by calling him unpatriotic. Excuse me if I call bullshit. And why doesn't he just tell the truth? "The plane is assembled in my state, and like almost everyone in the US Senate (or House), I put the needs of a few people in my state or district above the needs of my country."

I can't blame Gates for being a bit ticked off.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Party of "No"

Talking Points Memo posted this amusing contrast of Democrat and Republican versions of health care reform.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Reading Roundup

It's been a week, so here are some interesting links:

An Israeli group called Breaking the Silence published a report about the murky ROE and the actions of IDF soldiers in Gaza. The IDF doesn't seem to take it seriously. Will Israel stop shooting itself in the foot at some point?

One of the nagging concerns of mine that I've mentioned on this blog before is President Obama's tendency to too easily acquiesce to Congress and some Democratic constituencies. Steven Pearlstein calls for a leader for health care reform, and so far I don't know that Mr. Obama has stepped up. If we're going to get out of this recession AND start to combat the staggering national debt, we're going to need to make some real hard choices, and we need the rhetorical power of Mr. Obama behind the right ones. Raising the retirement age, raising taxes on more than the tiny fraction of people that make over $250k, getting real work done on climate change on health care will all require more than congress is able to give. Mr. Obama needs to step up.

Abu Aardvark uses Jay Z and rap to examine the role of America as a hegemony. This piece is brilliant. I didn't realize foreign policy academics were into rap. You learn something new every day.

GOP Whip Eric Cantor has a PAC named Every Republican Is Crucial (ERIC). Putting aside the odd narcissisism of that phrase and the acronym that spells his name, my question is "Since when?" Apparently the most popular and respected Republican in the country isn't crucial. The GOP certainly didn't seem to lose much sleep over Arlen Specter's defection. I guess every nutty, party-line, far right Republican is crucial? I just don't get it.

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Monday, July 6, 2009

Well, America? Are you watching?

That is what Reza Aslan wants to know, on behalf of Iranian protesters. Roger Cohen wishes he was in Iran to do so.

It's not over yet.

Thursday, assuming the protests are as large as is being predicted, we will see if Iran's security forces and Baseej militias can take on numbers of protesters that may reach into 6 figures. Unstoppable force, immovable object? Either way, as Mr Cohen says, we should bear witness to what happens. I'm watching, Mr Aslan (and people of Iran), even if CNN doesn't want to help me do so.

Thursday, July 2, 2009

The president needs an editor

At his press conference the other day, we heard this exchange over the tobacco bill:

Q Thank you, Mr. President. As a former smoker, I understand the frustration and the fear that comes with quitting. But with the new law that you signed yesterday regulating the tobacco industry, I'd like to ask you a few questions. How many cigarettes a day --

THE PRESIDENT: A few questions? (Laughter.)

Q How many cigarettes a day do you now smoke? Do you smoke alone or in the presence of other people? And do you believe the new law would help you to quit? If so, why?

THE PRESIDENT: Well, first of all, the new law that was put in place is not about me, it's about the next generation of kids coming up. So I think it's fair, Margaret, to just say that you just think it's neat to ask me about my smoking, as opposed to it being relevant to my new law. (Laughter.) But that's fine, I understand. It's an interesting human -- it's an interesting human interest story.

But I've said before that, as a former smoker, I constantly struggle with it. Have I fallen off the wagon sometimes? Yes. Am I a daily smoker, a constant smoker? No. I don't do it in front of my kids, I don't do it in front of my family, and I would say that I am 95 percent cured, but there are times where -- (laughter) -- there are times where I mess up. And, I mean, I've said this before. I get this question about once every month or so, and I don't know what to tell you, other than the fact that, like folks who go to AA, once you've gone down this path, then it's something you continually struggle with, which is precisely why the legislation we signed was so important, because what we don't want is kids going down that path in the first place. Okay?

How many times on West Wing did CJ work with Toby or Josh to come up with a quick, snappy answer to a difficult question? It seemed to happen every episode. Why didn't the president have a soundbite of an answer? He used two paragraphs when a sentence would have worked. (At least he didn't call the reporter stupid.)

The Bush/West Wing answer
"This bill is aimed at keeping kids from starting smoking. If kids don't start, they won't have to struggle with quitting like I have. Next question."

Maybe I just wish I was Sam Seaborn.