October 2009

Snowe Backs Finance Committee Version of Healthcare Reform

Maine senator Olympia Snowe said that she will back the Finance Committee’s version of the healthcare reform legislation. This makes her the first, and perhaps the only, Republican senator to vocally put herself behind the legislation. She made the statement with the caveat that she will not necessarily support any further versions of the bill- but if it goes through un-touched in the Finance Committee version, then she will support it. Fair enough.

The Recession is Over! ... (?)

So the recession has ended- Reuters said so. If you are like me, you don’t know the technical definition of a recession. Obviously, it doesn’t mean a period like recess when we were all in grade school. Take the collapse of Wall Street, the ripples and/or causes throughout the credit and real estate mortgage world, and the resulting jolt to both the U.S. and world economies and you have what has been overwhelmingly referred to as the worst recession since the actual Great Depression. So, what does that mean?

Obama and Gay Rights

The last time we had a charismatic Democratic president bent on change and hope it was Bill Clinton. He made some progress, but largely failed in his efforts to pass healthcare reform or create meaningful, positive welfare reform. One of the other things he did while in office was create the “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” legislation, meaning that people joining the military did not need to disclose their sexual orientation, and that the military was forbidden from asking about it.

Well, Obama is weighing in on this very issue, pledging to end restrictions on the service of gays in the military. He told a huge crowd that he is committed to ending “don’t ask, don’t tell” in the military. “That’s my commitment to you,” he said.

Iran Subtly Threatens Jerusalem

Iran is not subtle. I remember writing a week or so back about how Iran is not good at international foreign relations- and today is another example of why they continue to scare the hell out of most western countries and the main response anytime they go on TV talking about things is either eye-rolling or abject fear. It probably has a lot to do with why people can’t trust them on the nuclear issue and continue to send investigative team after investigative team into the country, looking and relooking at the same plants (except for now they will be looking at the new plant which Iran sort of, ok, completely lied about for a few years…)

No, Really, I'm Fine

Things have been tough lately, if by "lately" you mean "for the past two years". It seems like every single day now I've got somebody checking in with me to make sure everything is okay. I mean, jeez, I'm made of tougher stuff than that. It's really not a big deal that I'm going through a rough patch. There's no need to be all like, "Are you sure you're not too stressed? You can take a break if you want." How many times do I have to say it? I'm the freaking President. Stress is what I do.

Foreclosure Will Directly Affect 1 in 16 Americans?

For my money, the politics of the next few years rests on stopping the foreclosure crisis. Yes, healthcare is important, dealing with climate change is imperative, but both of those are adding something new into the mix that hasn’t been there up until now. The financial crisis has created a gigantic glut of foreclosures- and that is the core of the American Dream. If that starts slipping away from families, what is there to hold onto?

According to Reuters, there is a foreclosure filing every 13 seconds in America.

Every 13 seconds!

Healthcare Bill Cost Cut 15%

Are we still talking about the Healthcare bill? Yes, we emphatically are. And now we are talking cost, because that is where the decisions are made in the end, whether things go forward or die in committees before they can make it to the floor for votes.

What was just months ago blasted as certain to cost over $1 Trillion is now being billed at an estimated $829 Billion and would cut the federal deficit by $81 Billion over 10 years. Well, let’s do it then! That’s some pretty fantastic news on the cost front- an over 15% reduction? I’m starting to think that Obama played the politics out right on this one- let everybody complain and protest during the break and come back with rebuttals and a cheaper plan- nice.

Obama Speaks of Unmistakable and Relentless Approach to al Qaeda

So why is it that almost a decade later al-Qaeda is still making headlines and dictating at least one ongoing war in Afghanistan? Probably the biggest reason is that we can’t catch the guy who is in charge. 8 years after 9/11, Osama bin Laden is still making messages for the Internet, making threats, and recently even tried to make ally-friends with the EU, asking them to join him in rebuking and opposing the United States.

Right. Well, while I doubt we are in much danger of losing the EU to an al-Qaeda alliance, it’s hard to look at the war in Afghanistan and the ongoing struggle with al-Qaeda as successful.

The Military Looks To Become More Agile

The U.S. Army is looking to become more “agile.” Seriously.

Dwight Eisenhower gave an epic speech during his presidency where he addressed for the first time what he called the “Military-Industrial Complex,” saying that if we were not careful to keep the military actions of the United States separate from the business-industrial concerns and objectives of the folks who build the weapons we would end up with essentially one entity- something Orwell-esque where the government starts wars in order to keep the economy going.

G7 Has Meeting That Means Little

The G7 told China this weekend to strengthen the yuan, a suggestion that China is not all that excited about.

The G7 holds a series of meetings between the finance ministers from France, Germany, Italy, Japan, United Kingdom, the United States and Canada – (Canada?). So of course one issue is that China isn’t in the G7, so why should they listen to their recommendation, right? Maybe invite them to join the group and they may be more receptive to suggestions you make guys- hell, they may even help you make the suggestion.

U.S. Pressed by the EU on Climate Change

In a move that should surprise no one, the EU is pressing the U.S. to do more on climate change. This was called for earlier this week by the UN and is warranted with everything going on around climate change.

Here are a few points to consider:

1.    The U.S. is the #2 emitter of carbon emissions in the world, only recently falling from #1.
2.    The U.S. has around 300 million people out of the world’s 6.6 billion or more. Do the division: We are 1/22 of the world’s population and the second largest contributor to the problem.
3.    The U.S. refused to ratify the Kyoto Protocol.
4.    The U.S. is ignoring the Copenhagen climate summit as a deadline for passing meaningful climate change legislation.

Chicago WILL Host the Olympics

I'll be honest, at first I didn't give two tosses about the whole Olympic Games in Chicago thing. I mean, I've got a lot on my plate right now. Sure, I'd be proud and everything, but when you're in the middle of two intractable wars, an economic meltdown, an embarrassing health care crisis and the prospect of half the damn country voting for a certifiably insane wolf-murderer from up north in 2012, the idea of some dude who's really good at throwing javelins coming to my city to throw some javelins better than a Korean guy who's also really good at throwing javelins isn't really more than a consolation prize.

Women Should Not Have the Right to Vote, According to the Right

On his radio show, political personality Alan Colmes interviewed one of the regular columnists for the National Review, conservative author John Derbyshire. During the online interview Derbyshire stated that women's suffrage, which legally recognized the rights of women to vote in the United States, should be repealed and that the nation would be better off if women were not allowed to vote. 

Micronations: Tired of the Country's Politics and the Status Quo? Join a New One!

If you have ever thought that the United States has just gotten too large to manage effectively or too large to manage the greed and corruption and that the system just does not work then you are not alone. A set of creative visionaries and dreamers have set out to create societies of their own with like minded individuals in the micronational movement. A micronation, sometimes referred to as a new country project, is an attempt to create a separate and autonomous society that breaks away from its larger, macro world counterparts to be independent communities.

The Nuclear Question

Transparency means trust- and right now Iran has some of the lowest amount of each from the international community- in fact, Iran is so suspected by the West that the U.S. is willing to set up a meeting with them just to talk about what will be talked about at the 6 country meeting that is happening now-

That’s fear, paranoia and suspicion enough to fill a Hollywood movie, perhaps even an entire season of Melrose Place (looks like they could use a little more of that to get the ratings up), but in truth, it’s all true. Twice now Iran has lied about and hidden a nuclear enrichment facility- as they say, fool me once, shame on you, fool me twice, shame on me.

And now, third time, try to fool the world a third time? Something has to change.