Archive for June, 2010

Headed to Florida beaches

I’m headed to Santa Rosa Beach, Fla., for a wedding weekend. Congratulations, Kathleen and Josh!
While I’m away, please behave yourselves, and remember: No running with scissors!

Editor’s note: Enough with the name-calling. Comments are now closed for this entry.

Continue reading Headed to Florida beaches »

Haley and Scott bring the GOP badly-needed diversity

I’d like to offer congratulations to two victors from yesterday’s primaries — Republicans whose politics are quite different from mine but whose achievements are notable nevertheless. Because they won Republican primaries in South Carolina, a heavily Republican state, they are in an excellent position to win in November, bringing diversity to a GOP that is badly in need of more politicians of color.
One of the winners is state Rep. Tim Scott, who beat Strom Thurmond’s son, Paul Thurmond, to become the GOP nominee for a Congressional seat. It’s remarkable that the state long dominated by Thurmond and his brand of politics — and where activists still vet Republican candidates to see if they understand the “cause” of the War of Yankee Aggression — has nominated a black man to Congress. It’s another sign of the remarkable racial progress that the country has made in a relatively short period of time.
The other candidate deserving of congratulations is Nikki Haley, an …

Continue reading Haley and Scott bring the GOP badly-needed diversity »

Obama warns health insurers over rate hikes

Health insurance companies have figured out a manipulative strategy for protecting their profit margins in the face of the new health insurance law. They are already planning big hikes before the law takes effect. Then, conveniently, they’ll blame the rate hates on health care reform. Pretty sweet, huh?
President Obama has already called them on it, according to The WaPo:

President Obama met with the chief executives of more than a dozen major insurance companies at the White House on Tuesday to caution them against using new requirements in the recently enacted health-care reform legislation as a pretext to substantially raise premiums. “There are genuine cost drivers that are not caused by insurance companies. But what is also true is that we’ve got to make sure this new law is not being used as an excuse to simply drive up costs,” the president said in a brief speech afterward. “The CEOs here today need to know that they’re going to be required to justify unreasonable …

Continue reading Obama warns health insurers over rate hikes »

Judge in oil-drilling case protects oil companies — and his own investments

Joined by the Sierra Club, the Obama administration will appeal a decision by a New Orleans judge blocking the moratorium on oil drilling.

While the original legal brief may have been hastily put together, the Interior Department has more than enough reasons to justify its decision to suspend all deep-water drilling for six months, including this: In recent Congressional testimony, the executives of several major oil companies admitted that all of them had used the same consultant to assemble disaster plans just like BPs, which listed a dead scientist as an emergency contact. If BP’s emergency response plan didn’t work . . .

The administration also has ample reason to ask Judge Martin Feldman to recuse himself. From the NYT:

Groups supporting the moratorium quickly took aim on Tuesday at the judge, who was appointed to the federal bench in 1983 by President Ronald Reagan. Disclosure forms from 2008 obtained by the group Judicial Watch show that Feldman has invested in …

Continue reading Judge in oil-drilling case protects oil companies — and his own investments »

McChrystal’s unprofessional sniping forces us to confront the truth about Afghanistan: We’re losing

There are many things that might be said — and have been said — about General Stanley McChrystal’s utterly unprofessional comments about his civilian bosses, including President Obama, the commander-in-chief. Many have already noted that the Uniform Code of Military Justice makes clear that such comments are out-of-bounds:

Any commissioned officer who uses contemptuous words against the President, the Vice President, Congress, the Secretary of Defense, the Secretary of a military department, the Secretary of Transportation, or the Governor or legislature of any State, Territory, Commonwealth, or possession in which he is on duty or present shall be punished as a court-martial may direct.”

We’ll probably know in a matter of days whether the general will be cashiered.

But the general’s sniping also makes clear what many critics of Obama’s Afghanistan policy have been saying for months now: the war isn’t going well. Indeed, it may be unwinnable. If McChrystal were winning, it’s …

Continue reading McChrystal’s unprofessional sniping forces us to confront the truth about Afghanistan: We’re losing »

Obama talks about the importance of fathers

President Obama has always been a very credible speaker on the importance of fathers in the lives of their children. In his memoirs and in speeches on and off the campaign trail, he has spoken about his own life and how the absence of his father affected him.

His parents divorced when he was very young, and his father went back to Kenya. Obama saw him on one visit after that.

Today, the president carried the Father’s Day theme into extra innings with a White House event in which he urged more paternal responsibility. Among those in attendance, according to the White House invitation list, was Morehouse President Robert Franklin.

Earlier, the president visited one of Washington’s poorer neighborhoods to announce a new initiative to support fathers.

From the WaPo:

Speaking a day after Father’s Day, in what is becoming an annual ritual for the Obama administration, the president acknowledged the limits of government in forcing men to be good fathers, but said society still has …

Continue reading Obama talks about the importance of fathers »

Tough talkers want to ’secure the border.’ That means a draft and higher taxes

UPDATE: The White House says Kyl isn’t telling the truth, according to Politico:

But in a statement to POLITICO, White House Communications Director Dan Pfeiffer denied Kyl’s account of the conversation, saying “the president didn’t say that and Senator Kyl knows it.”

Sen. Jon Kyl (R-Ariz.) claims that President Obama is “holding the border hostage” until the Senate passes comprehensive immigration reform.

“The problem is, he said, if we secure the border, then you all won’t have any reason to support comprehensive immigration reform,” Kyl said, as the crowd in the room gasped loudly. “In other words, they’re holding it hostage.”

Though Obama has pledged to send an influx of National Guard to the U.S.-Mexico border, Kyl said the president made clear that border security is just a political tool in the broader goal of passing an immigration package through Congress.

Kyl said he was “not so sure” the president’s concern about GOP support was legitimate, but that regardless the …

Continue reading Tough talkers want to ’secure the border.’ That means a draft and higher taxes »

Like really hot weather? You’re in luck because climate change will bring more of it

If you like weird weather — floods, heat waves, droughts, record snow storms — you’re in luck: There will be more of it. Federal scientists have released a report on the likely effects of climate change, and they predict more of what we’ve seen lately around the country — extreme weather conditions, including earlier, and more frequent, heat waves.

A couple of weeks ago, one of Georgia’s more eccentric legislators, U.S. Rep. Paul Broun, stood up on the floor of the House to denounce the Obama administration for one more way it is allegedly trying to kill old people: hyperthermia (extreme heat). He denounced proposed energy legislation for a supposed tax that will make it impossible for the elderly to pay their electric bills, and they “depend on air conditioning to live,” he said. (Watch the video below.)

It’s interesting that Broun and other Republicans don’t see the very same threat from climate change, which the energy bill intends to ameliorate.

Earlier this month, the …

Continue reading Like really hot weather? You’re in luck because climate change will bring more of it »

It’s dumb to block smart kids from going to college, even if they’re here illegally

WASHINGTON — With Americans furious over illegal immigration — Democrats, independents, Republicans and tea partiers — there is little hope for comprehensive immigration reform this year. Incredibly, a majority supports Arizona’s ugly new law, which — no matter what its proponents say — begs for racial profiling.

The harsh political climate may begin to look a bit sunnier as the recession recedes and hiring picks up. In fact, there is room even now for leadership on the issue of illegal immigration.

While 58 percent of Americans support Arizona’s approach, 57 percent of the nation favors allowing undocumented workers a path to citizenship. Voters could probably be persuaded to support comprehensive immigration reform if Democratic leaders made a sustained push for it.

Until that happens, Congress ought to concentrate on a few small bills that would represent a modest improvement over the current reality for millions of those without papers — a life of living in the shadows, …

Continue reading It’s dumb to block smart kids from going to college, even if they’re here illegally »

Legalizing gay marriage wouldn’t affect traditional marriage

There are no good arguments for denying homosexuals the right to a civil (non-religious) marriage. But of all the arguments that opponents make, perhaps the most ridiculous is this: If gays are allowed to marry, heterosexual marriage will be weakened.

How, exactly, does that work?

Despite the utter illogic of the argument, a nationally-known, so-called expert on marriage — David Blankenhorn, founder of the Institute for American Values — testified in California’s Supreme Court yesterday in a case challenging a law that prohibits same-sex marriage.

Opponents of same-sex marriage in California rolled out their star witness Tuesday, an author and advocate who predicted that allowing gays and lesbians to wed would discourage heterosexual marriage and might lead to legalized polygamy.

Extending marital rights to couples who cannot conceive children would change marriage from “a child-based public institution to an adult-centered private institution” and “weaken the role of …

Continue reading Legalizing gay marriage wouldn’t affect traditional marriage »