January 2010

U.S. Announces New Missile Defense Systems in the Persian Gulf

The U.S. announced that it will be expanding both air and sea-based missile defense systems in and around the Persian Gulf. The move is a response to a perceived threat from Iran.

"The chairman has made it clear many times that he remains concerned about the ballistic missile threat posed by Iran, but it would be inappropriate to discuss any mitigation or defense measures we might have in place to deter/defeat that threat," said a spokesman for Admiral Mike Mullen, chairman of the U.S. military's Joint Chiefs of Staff.

U.S. government to reduce GHG emissions

The U.S. government has announced its intention to reduce its GHG emissions by 28% by 2020. Apparently President Obama issued an executive order.

It’s funny that I am finding myself taking a much more cynical view of the Obama presidency after the state of the union address. I’m not sure what it is, yet, but something about everything coming out of the White House now seems to strike me as political chess less so than it used to. Maybe I was swept up in the honeymoon period for longer than some, maybe I truly believed in what Obama was saying for the past year, or maybe I just wanted to.

Obama vs. Republicans on TV

"Join with me. Let's do this together, Republicans and Democrats." These are just some of President Obama’s words in this weeks extremely unusual face to face meeting with the Reupblican leaders. Reuters says the session lasted 82 minutes and essentially served to highlight the political divide between the Dems and Republicans. And he did some of this live on Cable.

For his part, Obama wavered between two approaches- accusing the Republicans of blocking his policies and at the same time asked them to join with him in creating jobs and other moves to help the economy get back on its feet.

Chris Matthews: Racist, Stupid, or… Good?

“He is post-racial, by all appearances… You know, I forgot he was black tonight for an hour…”

That’s the quote getting so many people up in arms all over the Internet. Disclaimer: Chris Matthews is an idiot. Watch the video for yourself, but keep watching because here’s what he said next:

“He’s gone a long way to become the leader of this country and passed so much history. I mean it’s something we don’t even think about. I was watching and I thought, wait a minute …he’s an African-American guy in front of a bunch of white people and there he is president of the United States and we’ve completely forgotten about that tonight.” –C. Matthews.

How a Turn-coat and Brain Cancer Have Hurt Health Care Reform

Let’s consider Joe Lieberman for a moment. At what point exactly did he get in the national spotlight? Hmmmmm, let’s see if we can remember.  If I am thinking correctly (and I don’t always), it was at the 2000 Democratic Convention when Senator Lieberman formally accepted the nomination to run on the Democratic ticket in the hopes of becoming the Vice President of the United States.

Thoughts on Obama's State of the Union Speech

President Obama stood up for his first state of the union address tonight amidst the proverbial massive applause. While there is massive uncertainty about what he will talk about and what he is going to make happen.

He proposes taking $30 billion toward small business loans. This is great- agreed. How about triple that?

He proposes eliminating all capital gains taxes for business.

He proposes slashing tax breaks for companies that ship jobs overseas and shift them to companies who give jobs to Americans. I like this- but how are you going to do it? That’s easy to clap for. He references the tax bill that the House passed and urges the senate to adopt something similar. He says he wants a job bill on his desk without delay.

We are a half hour in and he hasn’t mentioned the health care situation at all.

The National Deficit is Crazy Big

Politics is money. And right now that means that politics is about the economy- both unemployment and the growing national deficit.

A quick primer: Deficit vs. Debt

The national deficit is how much we spent minus how much we made.

U.S. 2009 Income – U.S. 2009 Spending = National deficit for 2009

The national debt is the grand total of how much we owe.

National deficit 1776, +77, +78…+2008 +2009= National Debt.

Our current national debt is over $12 trillion.

The State of Obama

President Obama is not doing well- and it is in this climate that he will take to the podim to deliver the State of the Union address. On one hand, presidents have to give this address regardless of the state of the actual union all the time, so it is no big deal. On the other hand, this one will be as much a state of Obama as it is a state of the union. Obama’s approval numbers have been dropping, and though he is still one of the most popular presidents ever, it’s obvious that the honeymoon has been over for a while. It’s not all his fault- the economy was bad when he got here, the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq were already well entrenched, and the housing/financial crisis was on its way spiraling downward.

Israel Plants Trees In West Bank

Ah yes, Israel is making dramatically public their claim to some regions in the West Bank, land that they treat more or less as their own anyway, building and maintaining a series of settlements there. The land is not technically part of Israel, but Netanyahu reiterated the claim long-held by Israel that the land is theirs and that they will continue to treat it as such. By way of symbol, he and other Israelis planted trees in the settlement.

"Our message is clear: We are planting here, we will stay here, we will build here, this place will be an inseparable part of the State of Israel for eternity," said Netanyahu.

Will Obama Succeed in Killing Limitless Capitalism?

Everyone is trying to figure out what to do about the bank crisis, how to move forward, and how to prevent anything like what happened in 2007 from ever happening again. The hard part, of course, is that there is no set answer- no economics text book is written about what you are supposed to do when the house of cards known as credit and loans actually collapses. For decades now our economy has been built on the principle that the more you lend the more you will make- so it was in some senses inevitable that as our banks got better at making loans we would get better at getting them, and once everyone had borrowed as much money as they possibly could…, well, something would have to give.

Inside The Minds of The Cabinet










President Barack Obama: I'm really having second thoughts about this lavender tie. I mean, I get really tired of blue and red all the time, so I try to mix it up, but I just don't think this cuts the mustard. I asked Michelle if it was distracting and she said no, but I can tell by the looks on the press people's faces that it is. It's just this girlie beacon keeping everyone from paying attention to what's coming out of my mouth and that sucks because I'm really very good with words. Oh, damn it, I let my gigantic, gangly hand stray over the podium again. I can't move it too quickly or I'll look weird. Sigh. This press conference is a disaster already.

How Scott Brown Won the Election

So Massachusetts voters have elected Scott Brown rather than Martha Coakley. A Republican rather than a Democrat will assume the vacant seat in the senate. The Democrats now have 59 rather than 60 seats there. Massachusetts, a decidedly Blue state, has elected a Republican senator to take over for legendary senator Edward Kennedy- the longest champion of the health care cause that the senate had.

It begs the obvious questions: How did this happen? What are the Democrats going to do about it?

Massachusetts Race Basically a Tie.

I’ve been writing about the health care reform legislation for months now. I almost don’t know what I’ll do when it either passes or fails- I’ll lose such a consistent piece of subject matter. It’s a hopeful piece of legislation in a time where the rest of the news seems to be about war and financial ruin and the failures of the world’s governments to agree on how to address climate change.

U.S. Disaster Response to Haiti

The U.S. has crafted an internal reputation as the kind of place where we are the bastion of hope, peace and democracy to the world. And in many instances, we do our best to be just that. In others, we use it as a front and just go and take whatever we want. And then, in times of worldwide humanitarian need, like hopefully the climate change disaster in many poor nations, we send in the aid that countries need to take care of themselves when things are beyond hopeless.

We didn’t do so well with Hurricane Katrina- in reality, Bush took too long, his administration and department didn’t do enough, and he basically dropped the ball. In a big way. If we had it to do again, we would do it differently. When Tsunamis hit southeast Asia earlier, we didn’t do so well either. No kudos, no hope, peace and democracy there.  

The U.S. Trade Gap is Bigger and Bigger...

The U.S. is having issues with money- and not surprisingly, the issues that most Americans are having- buying too much and more than we actually have money to afford, along with carrying a lot of debt that we don’t actually have the means of paying off anytime soon- and we are just not talking about it.
The numbers are just in for November, and is seems that the U.S. trade deficit got much larger, ballooned is the term Reuters used, in part because oil went up over $5 per barrel and demand from consumers started going up again. It grew by 36.4 billion, or 9.7%, which is the largest deficit since last year in January, which could signal both healthy consumption in the economy and something to be worried about- we haven’t actually changed our habits at all.

Same Sex Marriage Again on Trial in California

Gay marriage is continuing to be a hot button issue with lawmakers, and continuing to be a contentious issue even in California. In a case that challenges California’s Prop 8, two same sex couples are making their case, along with lawyers to a California court, that they should be able to be legally married.
Same-sex marriage is legal in 5 states and the District of Columbia as of the end of 2009. In others, gay couples have the option of entering into a domestic partnership, though often there are significant legal differences between that and marriage.

"Being able to call him my husband is so definitive," said Paul Katami, one of the men who is suing for the right to marry his partner.

Yemen: Fact and Fiction

Alright, it's been a rough month so far on the whole terrorism front and now everybody's making a stink about Yemen. Seriously, Yemen. Is it just me or is the Right running out of brown people to blame for our problems? Before this business gets out of hand, I'd like to tackle some of the myths surrounding the nation and hopefully illuminate the situation with some good, old-fashioned facts. Alright, let's begin.

Sanctions Against Israel?

The unthinkable is happening: the U.S. mentioned the idea of placing sanctions on Israel. After decades of being a staunch supporter of the 60 year old nation, U.S. diplomats are not hinting that they are considering some kind of sanctions or other action if Israel does not stop building settlements in the West Bank, but they are saying it is one of the possible courses of action.

"Under American law, the United States can withhold support on loan guarantees to Israel," said George Mitchell, a U.S. peace envoy.