Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Home Run, Touchdown, Three Pointer

per Barbara Boxer. I guess that about covers it. Our president was game-on tonight and wiped out the opposition.

Bobby Jindahl's response was so bad. How bad was it? According to conservative NY Times columnist David Brooks, "Jindahl's speech was possibly the worst response to a presidential address in history."

I do have a few thoughts about Jindahl's speech:

a) if he thinks a high speed train between San Francisco and Los Angeles will get him from Disneyland to Las Vegas, I hope somebody will teach him how to use Google maps.

b) he said, "Government can't help you. Look what happened after Katrina?" To that I say, Yeh, Republicans were in charge. Way to go, Jindahl.

c) if the Republican Party plans on hanging their 2012 presidential hat on Jindahl they will LOOSE. I guess I hope they do just that.

Finally, I'm very proud of our President, and of the American people for electing him. He delivered for us tonight and our job is to support him while holding him accountable.

So, my message to you? Tag, you're it.

What Do The Republicans Get If They Refuse To Get Onboard?

Click on link above for the answer.

Or maybe you have a better idea. I invite you to post your recommendation here.

A tip of the hat to Fake Howard Dean for this.

Sunday, February 22, 2009

The Great Debate

Click on the link above then vote your choice via "comments" below.

Saturday, February 21, 2009

Netanyahu: Conservative or Pragmatist?

Benjamin Netanyahu, Likud Party leader chosen Friday to form the next Israeli government, is proud of a conversation he had with Barack Obama last summer in Jerusalem when Obama was still running for President.

“You and I have a lot in common,” Mr. Obama said, according to Mr. Netanyahu’s account. “I started on the left and moved to the center. You started on the right and moved to the center. We are both pragmatists who like to get things done.”

Whether Netanyahu's account is accurate remains a question but the substance of it is telling. If Netanyahu believes, and is proud of, such a conversation, it suggests that he sees himself as a pragmatist. The question is how he defines pragmatic.

He has said he wants to form a centrist governing coalition and has even called on Kadima, the centrist party of Tzipi Livni, his leading opponent in the recent election, and the center-left Labor Party lead by Ehud Barak, the country's Defense Minister, to join him in a unity government. Ms. Livni has said she prefers to go into the opposition but has agreed to meet wtih Netanyahu on Sunday for discussions. Barak has already said he will head into the opposition.

But in Israel it is believed that Netanyahu's government is likely to consist of parties of the right that oppose a Palestinian state and want to continue expansion of settlements in the West Bank. If so, pragmatist is not what I would call him.

“I don’t think he has much compunction in sacrificing an ideological position as long as it keeps him in power,” said Yaron Ezrahi, a liberal political scientist at Hebrew University. “We either need a prime minister who is ideologically committed to a two-state solution and has the power to move the country in that direction, or a very flexible opportunist who appears committed to the right but acts according to what is necessary,” according to a story in the New York Times today (link above).

Which is Netanyahu? We shall see.

The Case for Nationalizing our Banks

Nouriel Roubini, rock star economist and professor at NYU, who is sometimes referred to as, "Doctor Doom," is anything but a downer according to Tunku Varadarajan's column in yesterday's Wall Street Journal.

"The man has instant impact on public debate. An idea he floated only last week -- that our "zombie banks" be temporarily nationalized -- aired first on Forbes.com, where he writes a weekly column. It has evolved, in the space of just a few days, from radical solution to almost received wisdom," says the Varadarajan column.

It "is something the partisans would have regarded as anathema a few weeks ago. But when I and others put it in the context of the Swedish approach [of the 1990s] -- i.e. you take banks over, you clean them up, and you sell them in rapid order to the private sector -- it's clear that it's temporary. No one's in favor of a permanent government takeover of the financial system," opines Roubini.

Even Lindsey Graham, the conservative Republican Senator from South Carolina, says he wouldn't take the idea off the table and Alan Greenspan, former head of the Fed said this week in Financial Times, "it may be necessary to temporarily nationalize some banks in order to facilitate a swift and orderly restructuring."

"I think that we're going to see the policy adopted in the next few months . . . in six months or so," states Roubini. "Six months from now, even firms that today look solvent are going to look insolvent. Most of the major banks -- almost all of them -- are going to look insolvent. In which case, if you take them all over all at once, you cause less damage than if you would if you took over a couple now, and created so much confusion and panic and nervousness," he continues.

But you can read the whole story on the WSJ opinion page (link under title of this column). Be sure to pay attention to the part about how the press has covered this whole situation.

U.S. Agrees to Treaty Reducing Mercury Emissions

If you don't believe your vote counts check this out.

More than 140 countries have agreed to negotiate a legally binding treaty that would slash the use of metal mercury. Its intent is to reduce people's exposure to a toxin that negatively affects brain development in infants and young children everywhere.

The agreement was announced at a meeting of United Nations Environmental Ministers in Nairobi yesterday and happened after the Obama administration reversed the Bush administration's position on the issue. China, India and other nations immediately agreed to endorse the goal of a mandatory treaty.

And what was the Bush administration's objection to such a treaty? According to the Washington Post, "The Bush administration had said it preferred to push for voluntary reductions in mercury emissions because the process of negotiating a treaty would be long and cumbersome."

For years environmentalists have been lobbying for just such a treaty and all it took was electing a president who believes that protecting our children is worth a "...long and cumbersome..." negotiation.

"Only a few weeks ago, nations remained divided on how to deal with this major public health threat which touches everyone in every country of the world.
said Achim Stiner, executive director of the U.N. Environmental Program. "Today, the world's environment ministers, armed with the full facts and full choices, decided the time for talking was over -- the time for action on this pollution is now," Stiner continued.

In an interview earlier this month, Steiner said the agreement "will be a major, confidence-building boost for not only the chemicals and health agenda but right across the environmental challenges of our time, from biodiversity loss to climate change."

Formal negotiations will begin late this year and should be completed by early 2013. The White House issued a statement saying a future treaty would use "a combination of legally binding and voluntary commitments" to cut mercury emissions from industrial processes as well as coal-fired power plants and small-scale mining.

"The United States will play a leading role in working with other nations to craft a global, legally binding agreement that will prevent the spread of mercury into the environment and improve the health of workers, pregnant women and children throughout the world," said Nancy Sutley, who chairs the White House Council on Environmental Quality, in the statement.

"While the majority of mercury exposure in the United States stems from non-domestic emissions, all 50 states have issued mercury contamination advisories for fish in their waters. Marine mammals eaten by native Arctic peoples, such as pilot and beluga whales, have mercury concentrations that exceed recommended levels," says a Washington Post story.

The story continues: "Environmentalist Susan Egan Keane, a policy analyst for the Natural Resources Defense Council who attended the Nairobi session, called the agreement "an amazing and astonishing turn of events."

"For six or seven years, the Bush administration had absolutely blocked any attempt to create a legally binding instrument," Keane said. "The Obama administration, within three or four weeks of inauguration, was able to put that into reverse."

So, there you have it. What the Bush administration refused to do the hard work to accomplish, the Obama administration has taken on within its first month in office. Sort of brings to mind George W. Bush's repeated admonishions that being president is ,"Hard work."

An aside of pride: Nancy Sutley is from Los Angeles and happens to be a lesbian; just one of the many gay and lesbian appointees in the new administration.

Thursday, February 19, 2009

We have a Waaaay Cool First Couple & Other Things

Heard today that Michelle Obama has invited Sweet Honey In the Rock to perform at the White House and was ecstatic. Then I heard that this Sunday Earth, Wind, and Fire will be performing at the White House. Whoa! I am so jealous. I so want to be there. I didn't even want to attend the inauguration as much as this performance. We have a waaaaay cool first couple.

I can't believe we lived through eight long years of really rough wilderness.

And on the labor front: Hilda Solis is finally going to be confirmed as Labor Secretary - no thanks to the 19th century Republican Party that obstructs every worthwhile thing that's happening in the Senate. They just can't believe that we're going to actually have a Labor Secretary who supports Labor. What a concept?

They've been spoiled the last eight years what with Elaine Chao sitting on 13 corporate boards and being married to Mitch McConnell (R) Ky, the Republican Minority leader, while serving as Labor Secretary for the Bush Administration. Chao took what some call a "relaxed attitude" toward the regulation of coal mines - especially safety regulations. She also instituted a wage freeze on certain farmworkers; something her husband couldn't get done in the Senate. Oh and she attended Mitch's fundraisers and chatted up his corporate donors while hiring his former aides.

And now the Republicans are SCREAMING about the fact that our new Labor Secretary supports the Employee Free Choice Act. They're actually demanding that she recuse herself from most issues under her direction because she is truly a Labor Secretary, not a corporate beard pretending to be one.

What a difference an election makes. How sweeeeet it is!

On the other side of the country: when a pair of gay dads are traveling across country via air with their twin baby girls, how does it work? You wouldn't believe how complicated it is what with birth certificates etc. Max Mutchnick (created Will and Grace) and his husband flew to New York recently to show off the girls to their grandparents - well check it out: the link is above.