Archive for February, 2009

A GPS reading on where we are in the political landscape

The Fox News poll numbers:

Obama Job Approval:

60% Approve, 26% Disapprove

Congressional Job Approval
All: 39% Approve, 50% Disapprove
Dems: 46% approve, 45% disapprove
Reps: 34% approve, 56% disapprove

Obama Favorable Rating
68% Favorable, 25% Unfavorable

How confident are you that the new Obama administration will be able to make significant positive change for the country?

    64% Confident, 33% not confident

That 34 percent approval rating for congressional Republicans is interesting for a lot of reasons, but mainly because you see that number so often. This question and others as well, including President Bush’s approval rating and the question above about Obama’s ability to make positive change, are basically just different ways to identify the GOP base. It’s roughly about a third of the voting public.

And their problem, which they clearly haven’t solved, is how to grow beyond that number. Right now the Republicans in Congress are just playing to that 34 percent, rebuilding …

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Knuckle-down, buckle-down, do it do it do it!

It’s Friday evening again, and I just finished the Sunday editorial. Hoo-Ray.

Last week I mentioned my father’s fondness for Roger Miller. He played Roger so often I can recite every single word of his lyrics even all these years later. That could explain a thing or two, huh?

So, after a week in which the stock market collapsed and unemployment set another record, it seems fitting to post Roger’s reminder that even with all the world’s problems, “you can be happy, if you’ve a mind to. All you gotta do is put your mind to it — knuckle-down, buckle-down, do it do it do it!”

So go do it.

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Iseman v. New York Times

Re: The settlement agreement between lobbyist Vicki Iseman and the New York Times.

As a journalist, I’d make several points:

1.) Iseman emerged the winner. She didn’t get the $27 million she sought, but she won significant concessions. As a rule, a newspaper does not willingly give plaintiffs a good deal of space in its publication to argue their case in public, yet the Times did. In a note to its readers, the Times also acknowledged that “the article did not state, and The Times did not intend to conclude, that Ms. Iseman had engaged in a romantic affair with Senator McCain or an unethical relationship on behalf of her clients in breach of the public trust.” That too is significant.

2.) Iseman deserved this win; the Times deserved this outcome as well. The newspaper’s claim that it did not intend to imply a romantic relationship between Iseman and John McCain cannot withstand any honest reading of the piece in question. The article did try to communicate through innuendo …

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Richard Perle channels Sgt. Schultz

When the attacks of Sept. 11 came, a group of like-minded foreign policy wonks sprinkled throughout important posts in the Washington establishment — at the Pentagon, at the White House, at the State Department — saw an opportunity and seized it.

schultz
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All believed that the power of the U.S. military to mold the world to American benefit had in general been underused; all believed that public anger and fear over Sept. 11 gave them the chance to change that. They even had a first target in mind to demonstrate their theory: Iraq, an Arab country with no ties whatsoever to the attacks of Sept. 11 (although some would try to fabricate such ties as a way to advance their goals.)

The names are familiar to us now, and will be familiar to historians studying what became the single greatest foreign policy folly in U.S. history:

Among others, they include DIck Cheney, Paul Wolfowitz, Lewis Libby, John Bolton, Newt Gingrich, William Kristol, James Woolsey and of course, Richard Perle, …

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So … what’s your problem with Pelosi?

I’d like to understand something that only our conservative posters can probably explain:

What’s your issue with Nancy Pelosi?

Seriously.

pelosiYes, she’s a Democrat. I get that. Yes, she’s from San Francisco. And yes, I understand the political usefulness of casting her as a real-life Emmanuel Goldstein, an Object of Hate. That was particularly true back before the Democrats had such an obvious party leader in President Obama.

But I’d like to see specific things that Pelosi has said or done that might justify the level of vilification directed at her, because as far as I can tell it’s vastly out of scale to her alleged crimes.

For example, I regularly get emails containing a collection of outrageous statements by Pelosi, but when you read those quotes and try to trace them back to their source, they all turn out to be fake.

If you have to fabricate quotations in order to justify hating someone, doesn’t that kind of tell you something?

(Typo corrected above)

UPDATE: Well, as of …

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Obama makes it clear: No ‘Fairness Doctrine’

From Fox News:

“President Obama opposes any move to bring back the so-called Fairness Doctrine, a spokesman told FOXNews.com Wednesday.

The statement is the first definitive stance the administration has taken since an aide told an industry publication last summer that Obama opposes the doctrine — a long-abolished policy that would require broadcasters to provide opposing viewpoints on controversial issues.

“As the president stated during the campaign, he does not believe the Fairness Doctrine should be reinstated,” White House spokesman Ben LaBolt told FOXNews.com….

Fueling discussion, a report in the American Spectator this week said aides to Democratic Rep. Henry Waxman, Calif., met last week with staff for the Federal Communications Commission to discuss ways to enact Fairness Doctrine policies. The report said Waxman was also interested in applying those standards to the Internet, which drew ridicule from supporters and opponents of the doctrine.

Both the FCC and …

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GOP played politics on stimulus bill, and lost anyway

Arlen Specter was one of just three Senate Republicans to buck his party and vote in favor of President Obama’s stimulus package. After he announced his decision, he says, a fellow GOP senator approached him in private to offer congratulations.

When asked, however, that unknown senator declined to join Specter because he was too afraid of drawing a primary challenge. He was glad somebody was doing the right thing, but he wouldn’t risk it himself.

As Specter put it, “there are a lot of people in the Republican caucus who are glad to see this action taken without their fingerprints, without their participation. … I think a good part of the caucus agrees with the person I quoted.”

In the House, of course, not a single Republican voted in favor of the stimulus bill, a fact the GOP celebrated as a great victory. As Republican Party chairman Michael Steele later told the House GOP, “The goose egg that you laid on the president’s desk was just beautiful.”

Given such …

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‘A nation of cowards’ on race issues

I hesitate to post this because, well, maybe I’m a bit of a coward. Or maybe I’ve just seen where discussions like this can take us.

But let’s try anyway. Keep it civil, clean and honest folks.

“WASHINGTON — Eric Holder, the nation’s first black attorney general, said Wednesday the United States was “a nation of cowards” on matters of race, with most Americans avoiding candid discussions of racial issues. In a speech to Justice Department employees marking Black History Month, Holder said the workplace is largely integrated but Americans still self-segregate on the weekends and in their private lives.

“Though this nation has proudly thought of itself as an ethnic melting pot, in things racial we have always been and I believe continue to be, in too many ways, essentially a nation of cowards,” Holder said.

Race issues continue to be a topic of political discussion, but “we, as average Americans, simply do not talk enough with each other about race.”

Holder’s speech echoed …

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We shouldn’t try to hide U.S. war dead

President Obama has promised to reconsider the blanket policy of banning photographs and video of military caskets as they are brought home from overseas, and he should.

Officially, the policy was instituted as a means to protect the privacy of dead soldiers and their families. But it was never really about that. The identities of those in specific caskets was never public knowledge, and even those families who may have wanted coverage of their loved one’s return were not given that choice.
dover caskets

From the beginning, the policy was an effort to hide the true cost of war, and those who argued for changing it were often accused of being unpatriotic.

However, it is a strange sort of patriotism that requires us not to mark the sacrifice that others make in our name, that requires us to avert our national gaze when the bodies come home from war. The tradition of honoring those who have fallen is as old as war itself, and even today warriors will risk their lives to recover the bodies of …

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Some days, the economic news just stuns you

Some days, the never-ending deluge of bad economic news begins to feel downright surreal. As recently as six months ago, none of this would have seemed remotely possible; now it’s daily reality, with no apparent bottom.

For example, here are today’s top headlines at Yahoo’s finance page:

# Stocks seesaw as housing plan details unfold- AP
# Home construction drops far more than expected- AP
# Industrial production worse than expected in Jan.- AP
# Oil stays near $35 after big drop overnight- AP
# General Electric CEO declines bonus for 2008- AP
# GM, Chrysler seek billions more, to cut more jobs- AP
# General Electric CEO declines bonus for 2008- AP
# Goodyear cutting nearly 5,000 jobs after 4Q loss- AP
# Analyst: “Nationalization” of Citi and BofA Inevitable in ‘09- Tech

What’s the worst news on that list? That we’re nationalizing huge banks? That home construction dropped far more than expected — and it was no doubt expected to drop a LOT?

Maybe it’s the CEO of GE declining a …

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