Later On

A blog written for those whose interests more or less match mine.

Archive for February 26th, 2009

Clay Shirky’s Here Comes Everybody

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I just can’t recommend this book highly enough. I believe that you would find it as fascinating as I do. He has a gift for making complex ideas clear and simple.

Written by Leisureguy

26 February 2009 at 3:12 pm

Posted in Books, Daily life

Very interesting: Obama and farm policy

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This post is quite interesting:

President Obama caused a minor explosion in the foodpol blogosphere when he said during Tuesday’s non-State of The Union Address that "in this budget, we will…end direct payments to large agribusinesses that don’t need them." Needless to say, much speculation has since ensued.

Was Bam talking about ending the subsidy program outright? Capping the amount of subsidies that farmers can receive? Some previously secret plan to do battle with Big Ag?

The confusion is understandable. The government actually has a number of ways of paying farmers for doing (and not doing) various things – including commodity price supports, so-called "counter-cyclical payments," payments for land conservation as well as something specifically referred to as "direct payments" – all of which get lumped into the term "subsidies." For the record, if you really want all the details on the direct payment program, you can see theUSDA’s description (though why would you want to?). And the confusion doesn’t end there. Spokesmen from two different farm groups both agreed via this Reuters article that "direct payments" could also be taken to mean any cash payment to farmers of any kind.

But I seriously doubt that the President will be attacking subsidies in general, at least any time soon. First of all, even if Bam and Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack wanted to embark on serious subsidy reform, it would be all but impossible. Like many large and complex programs, agricultural subsidies aren’t "re-authorized" by Congress every year – the Farm Bill runs on approximately a five-year cycle and was just re-authorized in 2008. Though its official name is the Food, Conservation, and Energy Act of 2008, you will see it referred to as "the 2008 Farm Bill" at least until 2012 when it is due to be renewed. Meanwhile, the re-authorization process is controlled by the House and Senate Agriculture committees. There is no way that the President, no matter how popular he may be, could force those committees to revisit these programs outside the five-year cycle (and if there is a way, I’d love to know it).

So what the heck was Bam talking about in the non-State of The Union Address? I’m pretty sure he was referring to this element of the 2008 Farm Bill:

Continue reading. There’s a lot more.

Written by Leisureguy

26 February 2009 at 1:37 pm

The GOP hates women and sex

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Along with other objects of hatred: people of non-Christian religions, minorities, the poor, gays and lesbians, and so on. But seldom is it so clearly revealed recently. Steve Benen writes:

This is an unusually instructive look into the far-right’s perspective on sexual health.

Democrats were outraged Wednesday morning when [Colorado] Republican state Sen. Dave Schultheis said he planned to vote against a bill to require HIV tests for pregnant women because the disease "stems from sexual promiscuity" and he didn’t think the Legislature should "remove the negative consequences that take place from poor behavior and unacceptable behavior." The Colorado Springs lawmaker then proceeded to cast the lone vote against SB-179, which passed 32-1 and moves on to the House.

Schultheis, it’s worth noting, is the state senator for James Dobson and Focus on the Family.

I can’t relate to an ideology that can fairly be described as "twisted," but let’s be clear. Schultheis believes it’s important for women to face "negative consequences" for sexual behavior that he considers "unacceptable." If that means more women and children become HIV positive, he’s fine with that.

It’s a perspective that effectively argues, as my friend Morbo once put it, "They sinned, now let them suffer for it."

It’s the same rationale that led many conservatives to oppose initiatives to combat the human papillomavirus (HPV), which increases a woman’s chances of developing cervical cancer. A vaccine that immunizes against HPV infection has been developed, but some far-right groups, most notably the Family Research Council, have opposed making it widely available to young women. As an FRC representative said a while back, the vaccine "could be potentially harmful" to women "because they may see it as a license to engage in premarital sex."

It’s practically identical to Schultheis’ take. The key is to discourage sex. If the discouragement leads to "negative consequences" — cancer, HIV, etc. — so be it.

Remember, these folks like to consider themselves "pro-family." No, I don’t understand it, either.

Written by Leisureguy

26 February 2009 at 1:33 pm

Posted in Daily life, GOP, Health, Medical

Good column on Karl Rove

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It’s a good column, but I’d rather Karl just go away.

Written by Leisureguy

26 February 2009 at 1:29 pm

Posted in GOP

Delivering on a promise: no more medical marijuana raids

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Medical marijuana is legal in California and 13 other states, which the DEA doesn’t like. So periodically (particularly down in southern California), the DEA will raid a state-legal dispensary. That now ends: the Federal government will respect state government laws:

Attorney General Eric Holder said at a press conference Wednesday that the Justice Department will no longer raid medical marijuana clubs that are established legally under state law. His declaration is a fulfillment of a campaign promise by President Barack Obama, and marks a major shift from the previous administration.

After the inauguration, the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) continued to carry out such raids, despite Obama’s promise. Holder was asked if those raids represented American policy going forward.

"No," he said. "What the president said during the campaign, you’ll be surprised to know, will be consistent with what we’ll be doing in law enforcement. He was my boss during the campaign. He is formally and technically and by law my boss now. What he said during the campaign is now American policy."

The exchange takes place at about the 25:00 mark here.

Holder’s declaration is a high point for the movement to legalize medical marijuana, which has been growing for decades despite federal hostility.

In 2007, for a book on drug culture and drug trends, This Is Your Country On Drugs, that will be released in June, I toured a number of the medical marijuana dispensaries in question and interviewed their owners and customers. This is what I found, excerpted from the book: …

Continue reading because there’s a lot more of interest.

Written by Leisureguy

26 February 2009 at 1:27 pm

No Drudge for me, thanks.

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And here’s a good example of why Drudge is not worth reading.

Written by Leisureguy

26 February 2009 at 1:11 pm

Posted in Media

Beer and Beef Stew

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I’ve made this dish (in general—not the particular recipe photographed above) many times, and it’s always good. I usually use beef brisket as the cut of meat. Key ingredients: beef, onions, beer, butter, and thyme.

Written by Leisureguy

26 February 2009 at 12:53 pm

Useful and interesting YouTube series

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Depression-era cooking.

Written by Leisureguy

26 February 2009 at 12:49 pm

More support for EFCA

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Jefferson Morley at the Washington Independent:

Unmentioned in President Obama’s speech to Congress last night was the impending battle over “card check,” which promises to be anything but post-partisan. As conservatives debate how to defeat the Employee Free Choice Act — which, if passed, proponents argue would make it easier for workers to form unions — advocates of the law have fired their own salvo,  a letter of support from more than three dozen prominent economists, including two Nobel Prize winners.

The statement, released by the Economic Policy Institute today, states:

“Although its collapse has dominated recent media coverage, the financial sector is not the only segment of the U.S. economy running into serious trouble. The institutions that govern the labor market have also failed, producing the unusual and unhealthy situation in which hourly compensation for American workers has stagnated even as their productivity soared.

EFCA, which would allow workers to unionize without a secret ballot,  “is not a panacea,” the signatories say, “but it would restore some balance to our labor markets.”

Among the supporters are several economists better known for their neoclassical “free trade” convictions than defending unions — including Laura Tyson, a former adviser to President Clinton who sits on the boards of Morgan Stanley and ATT, and Jagdish Bhagwati, Columbia University professor and former adviser to the World Trade Organization.

The Nobel Prize-winning economists checking in for labor are Kenneth Arrow and Robert Solow, emeritus professors at Stanford and MIT respectively. Their support for unionization reflects an emerging viewpoint among many economists that a successful global free trade regime depends on the growth of strong social safety nets.

Written by Leisureguy

26 February 2009 at 12:33 pm

US being a bit more objective about Israel

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This is a good sign, I think:

This is a mildly encouraging report, from Haaretz:

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has relayed messages to Israel in the past week expressing anger at obstacles Israel is placing to the delivery of humanitarian aid to the Gaza Strip. A leading political source in Jerusalem noted that senior Clinton aides have made it clear that the matter will be central to Clinton’s planned visit to Israel next Tuesday.

Ahead of Clinton’s visit, special U.S. envoy to the Middle East George Mitchell is expected to issue a sharply worded protest on the same matter when he arrives here Thursday.

"Israel is not making enough effort to improve the humanitarian situation in Gaza," senior U.S. officials told Israeli counterparts last week, and reiterated Washington’s view by saying that "the U.S. expects Israel to meet its commitments on this matter."

As many Obama/Clinton cynics will be quick to point out (reasonably so), this is a relatively confined objection and only an incremental change in tone, but it’s the kind of divergence between the U.S. and Israel that would have been inconceivable during the Bush administration.  What is vital, as a preliminary matter, is that the U.S. no longer blindly accept and endorse actions from Israel that are contrary to American interests.  Changes of this sort, if they’re going to happen at all, are only going to happen gradually and incrementally.

Someone wanted these American criticisms of Israel to be publicized.  And the accusations — that Israel is purposely blocking humanitarian aid to Gaza and "angering" the U.S. by doing so — are relatively serious, both in tone and content.  As I’ve noted before, there are two competing theories about why Hillary Clinton agreed to leave her Senate seat and become Secretary of State:  because (a) she was tempted by the opportunity to claim the historic legacy of forging a Middle East peace agreement (which will unquestionably require substantially more American pressure on, and opposition to, Israeli actions and is probably something that only someone with a past record of solid AIPAC credentials (as she has) can do), or (b) she wants to use that position to impose her hawkish views on American foreign policy.

Though I personally find (a) more likely, only time will tell which of those is true.  Bolstering option (a) is that it’s hard to believe that George Mitchell was willing to take on this assignment unless he has the authority to apply the pressure on Israel which is an absolute pre-requisite for any hope of success.  For now, those who desire a serious change in U.S. policy towards Israel should welcome any signs — even limited and preliminary ones — that the U.S. is willing to forcefully and, when necessary, publicly oppose and condemn Israeli actions (as we do with all other foreign countries).

It’s also worth noting that …

Continue reading.

Written by Leisureguy

26 February 2009 at 12:29 pm

Obama on healthcare

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Mike Lillis reports for the Washington Independent:

It wasn’t the most eloquent line of the speech, nor is it likely to make many headlines this week, but President Barack Obama’s Tuesday-night pronouncement that Medicare reform can’t happen without an overhaul of the nation’s entire health-care system marked a stark departure from the popular Washington notion that the country’s long-term budget crisis could be solved by slashing entitlement spending alone.

“Comprehensive health care reform,” Obama said is his address to a joint session of Congress, “is the best way to strengthen Medicare for years to come.”

That thinking will likely have sweeping policy implications as lawmakers debate steps to keep the country solvent in the face of projections that federal spending is on an unsustainable path, largely due to the skyrocketing costs of Medicare and Medicaid. Many observers have used those projections to identify an “entitlement crisis,” encompassing not only the federal health care programs, but Social Security as well.

To address this “crisis,” Congress has dabbled perennially at the edges of Medicare in hopes of trimming costs; conservatives have pushed plans to privatize Social Security; and lawmakers from both sides of the aisle have proposed the formation of commissions charged with reforming the entitlement programs to put them on a path to solvency. Critics view these proposals as backdoor efforts to slash Medicare and Social Security benefits.

Obama’s statement Tuesday is some indication that the White House has rejected the bundled “entitlement crisis” argument, and will instead approach the nation’s budget challenges by tackling the surging, across-the-board costs in health care, which, at current rates, would bankrupt Medicare and Medicaid. The broader approach, many experts say, is vital to fixing the problem.

“[T]he nation faces a daunting health care financing problem that bedevils private insurers and public programs alike,” Henry Aaron, a health policy expert at the Brookings Institution, wrote this week on Brookings’ Website. “The distinction is critical. How the problem is defined will determine whether the debate on how to solve it has any real chance of succeeding.”

There is little dispute that Washington faces severe long-term budget troubles and that rising health care costs are at the root of the problem. A federal report released this week indicates that health care spending will rise by 6.2 percent per year over the next decade — 2.1 percentage points higher than the economy is projected to grow over the same span…

Continue reading.

Written by Leisureguy

26 February 2009 at 12:27 pm

Ezra Klein on healthcare

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Interesting post by Ezra Klein:

The two health care scoops I’ve had in the last week — that the Obama administration expects the legislation they sign to cap or otherwise reform the employer deduction and to pursue universality through an individual mandate — have both, to my frustration, been understood as gotchas. The Obama campaign said one thing — though in both cases, they hedged during the campaign — and the Obama administration will end up doing another. But the larger story here is not what Obama said in the campaign. It’s what he’s signaling to Congress.

In 1994, Bill Clinton built himself a brand new health care plan. It wasn’t similar to anything proposed in Congress. It didn’t look like George Mitchell’s health care plan or Jim Cooper’s legislation. (It was like something John Garamendi had proposed in California, but few knew about that.) Managed care amidst managed competition was a new theory. A smart theory, maybe, but a new one. Every Congressman had to understand, and then be convinced of, an idea they weren’t previously committed to. That meant the process required more time and began with fewer allies.

Conversely, Obama is moving into alignment with the preexisting center of the health care reform debate. The individual mandate has conquered the Senate. It is in Ron Wyden’s bipartisan Healthy Americans Act. It is in Max Baucus’s White Paper. Today, CBO director Doug Elmendorf testified that “near-universal coverage” — the CBO is more careful than politicians — “would require mechanisms for pooling risks, subsidies to make health insurance less expensive, and an enforceable mandate.” (Read his prepared remarks, which go into much more detail, here).

Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Leisureguy

26 February 2009 at 12:23 pm

Snowball debt payment

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I just read a comment from a reader named Dan:

I really like the spreadsheet, and your spreadsheet coupled with a snowball worksheet (also freeware) from are what I am using to crawl (and I mean crawl) my way out of debt. I use your worksheet to capture all income and variables, then the Vertex42 worksheet to more effectively pay down debt. Between the two of you, I plan on being Credit Card debt free in six years.

My spreadsheet is an Excel workbook and it’s available for free download. The Vertex42 site is quite interesting and worth a click. I think the worksheet that Dan’s referring to is this one. Take a look—maybe it will help you.

Written by Leisureguy

26 February 2009 at 12:19 pm

Posted in Daily life, Software

Tagged with

Kindle version of the Guide to Gourmet Shaving?

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A friend suggested that I make Leisureguy’s Guide to Gourmet Shaving available on the Kindle. I did a little clicking, and it looks fairly easy except for the formatting. I would have to reformat the book specifically for the Kindle, I see. Maybe later. Would it be a good idea?

Written by Leisureguy

26 February 2009 at 12:08 pm

Immigrants’ right to counsel

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This needs to be fixed:

On Jan. 7, just two weeks before the inauguration of President Obama, Attorney General Michael Mukasey ruled that immigrants have no right to be represented by a lawyer, and no right to appeal an adverse ruling based on a lawyer’s mistakes.

“Neither the Constitution nor any statutory or regulatory provision,” the Attorney General wrote, “entitles an alien to a do-over if his initial removal proceeding is prejudiced by the mistakes of a privately retained lawyer.”

This last-minute decision has gotten little media attention, but it has dismayed immigration lawyers, who say clients frequently come to them with legitimate asylum or other claims that should allow them to remain in the United States, but that their previous lawyers either didn’t know the law, missed a critical deadline or just didn’t bother to communicate with their client. For the last 20 years, immigrants have had the right to re-open a case if they could show that they were denied a fair hearing due to their lawyer’s mistakes.

Immigration attorney Ann Buwalda, for example, has a client, a man in his mid-20s who fled Egypt after he was attacked by Islamic extremists there. The client, whose name Buwalda could not release, filed a petition for asylum in the United States, claiming that as a Christian, he would be persecuted if he returned to Egypt. An immigration judge ruled that wasn’t sufficient to merit asylum, and the Board of Immigration appeals affirmed that decision. His lawyer never told him the decision had been issued, however. In the meantime, the young man married a U.S. citizen. When he and his wife entered an immigration office in Norfolk, Va. to fill out the necessary paperwork to register their marriage, he was arrested.

“He was handcuffed and taken away because the [Board of Immigration] decision triggers 30 days to leave the country, or a deportation order takes effect,” said Buwalda. “They took him to jail, and his wife was left behind, wailing in distress.”

When Buwalda took over the case, she said the previous attorney initially refused to cooperate or even to turn over the case files. “Obviously there was a problem with prior counsel. Had my client received appropriate communication from his lawyer, he would not be in detention and he would be happily enjoying marital bliss.”

Buwalda says she sees about three or four clients a month whose cases were similarly mishandled by a previous attorney.

Immigrants are particularly vulnerable to exploitation by unethical attorneys. “They have language barriers, and often they don’t read or can’t understand what they read,” said Buwalda. “So a lot is based on trust.”

Shoddy lawyering and unlicensed legal practice by “notarios” who are not lawyers but often claim to be is so widespread that the American Bar Association specifically warns about them on its website. “In many cases the work performed by such individuals results in missed deadlines, the filing of incorrect or incomplete forms, or the filing of false claims with the government,” according to the ABA. “As a result of the advice or actions of such individuals an immigrant can miss opportunities to obtain legal residency, can be unnecessarily deported, or can be subject to civil and/or criminal liability for the filing of false claims.”

A 2007 investigation by Business Week found that “thousands of immigrants fall victim to crooked or incompetent lawyers or to people posing as lawyers. . . . The attorneys either mishandle their applications or simply take their money and never bother filing the required documents.”

Emanuel Tippon, an immigration attorney based in Hawaii who’s writing a book on the problem of ineffective counsel in immigration proceedings and has reviewed more than a thousand such cases, confirms that the problem is widespread. “Many of these people are not lawyers. They may be real estate agents,” he said. “The problem with these people is that the damages they cause are irreversible.”

Mukasey’s ruling appears to affect not only the right to appeal due to a lawyer’s error, but the right even to consult with a lawyer before appearing before an immigration judge…

Continue reading. You can explain many actions by the GOP by assuming that the GOP hates the poor and minorities and women. It may not be true that they do, but the legislation and rulings that they support would certainly be supported by someone with that attitude.

Written by Leisureguy

26 February 2009 at 11:31 am

Israel is really out of control

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Look at this:

For more than seven weeks, the international aid group Mercy Corps has been trying to send 90 tons of macaroni to the isolated Gaza Strip as part of a global campaign to help the 1.4 million Palestinians there rebuild their lives after Israel’s recent devastating 22-day military operation.

Israel, which controls most of what goes into and out of Gaza, has said no repeatedly.

At first, Israeli officials said that they wanted to make sure that the macaroni wasn’t destined for a Hamas charity. Then they said macaroni was banned because they didn’t consider it an essential food item.

On Wednesday, days after American lawmakers raised pointed questions about the macaroni ban, Israeli authorities said that they were preparing to give the pasta a green light.

For the international aid community, the dispute is emblematic of the red tape and political maneuvering that have stymied efforts to rebuild Gaza.

"We’re at the end of our rope," said David Holdridge, the head of Middle East emergency relief efforts for Mercy Corps. "This is just ridiculous. It’s absolutely absurd."

The Israeli restrictions are expected to be a central issue in the coming days when George Mitchell, President Barack Obama’s new Middle East special envoy, and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton arrive in the region for discussions about how to help Gaza without strengthening Hamas, its hard-line Islamist ruler.

"Aid should never be used as a political weapon," State Department spokesman Robert Wood said Wednesday in Washington. "We’ll try to push to get into Gaza as many supplies as possible."

The macaroni standoff drew the attention of U.S. lawmakers who made a rare trip last week to the Gaza Strip.

"Is someone going to kill you with a piece of macaroni?" Rep. Brian Baird, a Washington state Democrat who joined Minnesota Democratic Rep. Keith Ellison in visiting Gaza, reportedly said after hearing about the aid restrictions.

Along with macaroni, Israel has prevented aid groups that are helping Gaza from sending in everything from paper and crayons to tomato paste and lentils. …

Continue reading.

Written by Leisureguy

26 February 2009 at 11:26 am

Posted in Daily life, Government

Tagged with ,

Jindal annoys Alaskans

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Alaska is generally a GOP state, so Jindal lacks foresight. The story:

In his official Republican response to President Barack Obama’s speech to the nation Tuesday, Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal said repeatedly that "Americans can do anything!"

With one exception, apparently. We don’t need to keep an eye on simmering volcanoes.

Jindal singled out "volcano monitoring" as an unnecessary frill that Democrats stuck in the recently adopted stimulus package.

"Their legislation is larded with wasteful spending," Jindal said. "It includes … $140 million for something called ‘volcano monitoring.’ Instead of monitoring volcanoes, what Congress should be monitoring is the eruption of spending in Washington, D.C."

Jindal’s comments provoked an eruption of their own. Alaska politicians, liberal bloggers and some scientists began pointing out how useful it is to let people know when a volcano in their neighborhood is about to explode.

"Volcano monitoring is a matter of life and death in Alaska," Democratic Sen. Mark Begich said in an open letter to Jindal.

Republican Sen. Lisa Murkowski quickly agreed, noting in a press statement how "absolutely appropriate" it is to spend money on volcano monitoring. However, said Murkowski, Jindal raised "a legitimate question about funding volcano monitoring in legislation that’s supposed to create jobs for unemployed Americans."

Jindal appears to have exaggerated by tenfold the $140 million he said was destined for the nation’s volcano observatories.

Nearly all of that amount — included in the stimulus bill for funding U.S. Geological Survey projects — will go to other USGS functions nationwide, such as repairing facilities and mapping, said John Eichelberger, who heads the agency’s Volcano Hazards Program in Reston, Va.

Only about $14 million will be spent on "monitoring volcanoes," mostly in Alaska, he said.

Continue reading.

Written by Leisureguy

26 February 2009 at 11:23 am

Healthcare reform progress

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Interesting article in Congressional Quarterly. It begins:

Billy Tauzin, the drug industry’s top lobbyist, and Ron Pollack, one of the left’s leading advocates for universal coverage, enjoy an easy familiarity with each other, a vibe they’d like to see spread to erstwhile foes on Capitol Hill in the battle over how to revamp health care. In a meeting with CQ reporters and editors on Wednesday, the pair said the alliance of seemingly disparate groups is finding common ground, and they suggested a big announcement would be coming soon.

So far, the groups are finding consensus on universal coverage, preventive care and the importance of strengthening safety net programs such as Medicaid and the State Children’s Health Insurance Program (SCHIP), the two men said. They said their efforts should boost efforts in Congress to reach a deal this year on revamping health care.

The common ground in the group, called the “Health Reform Dialog,” goes only so far — “we’re dating, we’re not married,” Pollack quipped at the meeting. But any signs of progress right now would be happily welcomed by lawmakers and congressional aides worried about the slow start of the administration’s overhaul effort.

Continuing questions about who will lead the charge in the Senate and the increasingly troublesome absence of a new secretary to head the department of Health and Human Services (HHS) undercut the ringing declaration by President Obama in his address to Congress Tuesday night that a health overhaul will be accomplished this year.

While Senate Finance Committee Chairman Max Baucus , D-Mont., has begun …

Continue reading.

Written by Leisureguy

26 February 2009 at 11:14 am

David Corn’s take on Obama’s speech

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David Corn is a thoughtful journalist who’s often been proved right. Here’s his take on Obama’s speech:

An organized mind at work is a wonderful thing to watch. During his address to a joint session of Congress on Tuesday night, President Barack Obama placed the mind of his presidency on display, and it was wonderfully organized. The speech—a State of the Union stand-in—presented a clear, mostly left-of-center agenda for his presidency and a series of forceful rationales for his proposed actions. Obama offered all this up with a now-familiar fair dose of charm and grace. It’s been years since any BMOC in Washington has presented such an extensive and well-articulated plan for—dare one say it—change.

This was a political speech, so it had the predictable elements: Americans don’t give up, we’ll pull together and rise again. But the strategic thrust of the speech was deftly delivered: Obama declared that the crisis—make that, crises—of the moment offers opportunities for fundamental shifts in national policies related to the economy, energy, education, and health care. In other words, the current calamity provides additional cause to proceed rapidly and ambitiously on these fronts.

At the start of the address, Obama said now was not the time to “lay blame” for the current predicament. But he did, noting that for years Washington—a.k.a. the George W. Bush administration—did little to deal with fundamental economic flaws, the nation’s oil dependency, and the country’s troubled health care system. “We have lived through an era,” Obama said, “where too often, short-term gains were prized over long-term prosperity; where we failed to look beyond the next payment, the next quarter, or the next election. A surplus became an excuse to transfer wealth to the wealthy instead of an opportunity to invest in our future.” So now, he added, a “day of reckoning has arrived.”

Thus, a young black guy stood before Congress and in front of an older white guy (Vice President Joe Biden) and a woman (House Speaker Nancy Pelosi) to lay out a road map for saving America.

Much of the first half of Obama’s speech was devoted to …

Continue reading.

Written by Leisureguy

26 February 2009 at 10:41 am

A good sign: Congress will step up to the plate

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From the Center on American Progress:

Speaking on the Senate floor yesterday, Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Patrick Leahy (D-VT) reiterated his call to form a truth commission to investigate Bush administration wrongdoings, and announced that the committee would hold hearings on the matter next Wednesday. Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI) rose after Leahy to support the call for investigations into "this past carnival of folly, greed, lies, and wrongdoing." "If we blind ourselves to this history, we deny ourselves its lessons," he said, warning that such an investigation will not be comfortable or easy. "We are optimists, we Americans. We are proud of our country. Contrition comes hard to us," Whitehouse added. Last night on MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow Show, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) said that she believed Leahy’s truth commission model might not be strong enough. "What I have some concern about though is it has immunity. And I think that some of the issues involved here, like the services part, politicizing of the Justice Department, and the rest, they have criminal ramifications, and I don’t think we should be giving them immunity," Pelosi said. Asked if she supported "a call for criminal investigations," Pelosi responded, "Absolutely." A recent poll found that more than 60 percent of Americans favors investigations into Bush wrongdoings, including warrantless wiretapping and torture.

Written by Leisureguy

26 February 2009 at 10:36 am

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