Archive for March, 2009

Obama sets new approach to Afghanistan

From the Washington Post:

“President Obama this morning announced a new Afghanistan-Pakistan strategy that will require significantly higher levels of U.S. funding and thousands more military and civilian personnel to reverse what he called an “increasingly perilous” situation….

Among the resources required, he said, are an additional 4,000 troops, beyond the 17,000 he authorized last month, that will bring total U.S. deployments to more than 60,000. U.S. military expenses for Afghan operations this year, White House aides said, will increase about 60 percent from the current toll of $2 billion a month. The newly announced forces, from the Army’s 82nd Airborne Division, will serve as trainers and advisers to an Afghan army expected to double to 134,000 by 2011….

“In going forward,” he said, “we will not blindly stay the course,” but will monitor progress with a series of benchmarks and metrics imposed on Pakistan, Afghanistan and U.S. efforts. “And after years of mixed …

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The horrors of health insurance, public or private

In their proposed “budget,” House Republicans cite a couple of horror stories from Great Britain to illustrate why they are so strongly opposed to government-run health care. These cases, they argue, demonstrate that “under a government-run health system, bureaucrats would exercise increasing control over all health care decision-making and would resort to rationing of care as the sole means to control skyrocketing costs.”

ann marie rogers
The first case cited by the GOP involves Ann Marie Rogers, right, “who in 2006 filed a groundbreaking lawsuit in Britain seeking to force her local health care bureaucrat to pay for the breast cancer drug Herceptin.” They also quote Rogers:

“It makes me so angry that these trusts are playing God, saying ‘you can’t have this, you can’t have that.’ They’ve got no right to decide who can have this life-saving drug. This is not a poor country, after all. I have worked all my life and paid my taxes. It makes me sick to think a lot of women are in my …

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Unleash the Gubernator!

California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger told reporters yesterday Tuesday that he didn’t face the pressure some Republican state legislators faced in pushing through a necessary tax increase because unlike the legislators, he wasn’t going to be running for anything.

Did that mean he would not challenge Barbara Boxer for her U.S. Senate seat?

“When I say I’m not running for anything, that’s exactly what I mean . . . until you change the Constitution.”

Should we change the Constitution? Not specifically for Arnold, but for others as well. Michigan Gov. Jennifer Granholm, for example, was born in Canada and is ineligible. We take a lot of very smart, talented people out of the candidate pool with that native-born requirement, and for no rational reason that I can think of.

And as a bonus, once the Constitution is amended, Barack Obama could finally come clean about his REAL place of birth. Right guys?

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Gov’t, capitalism need each other

Given public anger and fear, that “socialist” Barack Obama could be a lot more radical than he has been. For example, he could be proposing marginal tax rates of 80 percent or higher on the richest Americans, like we had back in the ’50s, and with just a little stoking of public anger at the economic elite, he could probably pass it.

After all, 85 House Republicans — almost half the GOP caucus — bowed to populist sentiment last week by voting in favor of taxing AIG bonuses at 90 percent. That idea began to die only when Obama stepped in to say he didn’t think it was wise or necessary.

Obama does propose to raise the top rate from 35 percent to 39.6 percent, largely to help keep the deficit within the lower stratosphere. But that hardly makes him socialist. All he’s doing is letting the Bush tax cuts end, as they were scheduled by Bush to do. As Obama said in his news conference Tuesday, “Let’s go back to the rates that existed … during the Clinton era, when …

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For Israelis and Arabs, perpetual war

About a year or two ago, I realized that I had lost all hope for a peace settlement in the Middle East. Both sides are too far gone; the radicals and extremists have become the mainstream, and they are all more comfortable being at perpetual war with each other than they would be in peace. This is what they have come to know.

Stories like this confirm that conclusion.

The worst part is, I think that dooms Israel in the long run. A nation of six or seven million on a relatively tiny spit of open land cannot survive forever surrounded by hundreds of millions of hostile enemies. Today it has the power, but things change over time. Power ebbs and flows. Empires come and go.

Israel can last another 20 years, another 50 years, maybe another 70 years surrounded by people who hate it. But 100 years? 200 years?

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A power grab, but a necessary one

from the Washington Post:

“Treasury Secretary Timothy F. Geithner today told Congress the administration will seek unprecedented power to seize non-bank financial companies whose collapse could jeopardize the economy, a move Geithner said would have allowed the government to bail out insurance giant American International Group at a far lower cost to taxpayers.

The government at present has the authority to seize only banks.

Allowing the Treasury Department to take over a broader range of companies, such as large insurers, investment firms and hedge funds, would mark a significant shift from the existing model of financial regulation, which relies on independent agencies that are shielded from the political process. The Treasury secretary, a member of the president’s Cabinet, would exercise the new powers in consultation with the White House, the Federal Reserve and other regulators.

…. Rep. Barney Frank (D-Mass.) seemed inclined to support Geithner’s request, saying the …

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Cuz the times, they are a changin’

from the AJC:

“The Atlanta Journal-Constitution said Wednesday it will cut its full-time news staff by nearly 30 percent to lower costs as it tries to regain profitability amid a severe revenue slump.

The company also announced it will eliminate distribution to seven more outlying counties, reducing its circulation area to 20 metro Atlanta counties, effective April 26. The cutback will pare daily and Sunday circulation by 2 percent.

The AJC’s news staff will drop to about 230 full-time positions, down from about 323 currently. Staff members with five or more years with the company will be offered voluntary buyouts, with layoffs to follow if fewer than about 90 apply, the company said.

Most of the news staff cuts “will be in production and management, allowing us to keep as many news reporters as possible,” AJC and editor Julia Wallace said.

The cuts are expected to be completed in May.

The company laid off 48 part-time news staffers Tuesday and announced the …

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Should Notre Dame ‘disinvite’ Obama?

Notre Dame University has invited President Obama to deliver the commencement address this year, and Obama has accepted. That has outraged many on the right (some of whom are capable of going from zero to outrage faster than a speeding bullet.)

Newt Gingrich — he of the three wives — says on Twitter, that it’s “sad … since his policies are so anti catholic values. ” Katherine Jean Lopez of the National Review calls the invitation “shameful.”

“Last week the president of the United States perpetrated an assault on human dignity. No statements or press releases will undo what Notre Dame’s position in the eyes of the world is in response: “Doesn’t matter.” We’ve got THE ONE. So much for the One to whom the school’s namesake gave birth…. At Notre Dame, the administration there just made a choice. They took a giant step away from their identity as “Catholic.” They would rather be of this world than the one they supposedly exist to bring people toward.”

Right-wing Catholic …

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The best Congress lobbyists could buy

A lot of ink, paper and broadcast time has been consumed trying to trace the origins of the current economic collapse, with a lot of the blame being placed on government’s failure to regulate effectively.

Personally, I think that trail ends right here:

WASHINGTON (AP) — Here’s a peek at e-mails popping into lobbyists’ inboxes these days offering quality time with members of Congress:
—A weekend at the Clearwater, Fla., spring training home of the world champion Philadelphia Phillies with Rep. Allyson Schwartz, D-Pa., including a game, a meeting with players and a ballpark tour.
—Golf at a Montana course designed by Arnold Palmer and fly fishing on the state’s Madison, Gallatin and Yellowstone rivers with Sen. Max Baucus, D-Mont.
—A “Saint Patrick’s Day on the Rio Grande” reception at a Tex-Mex restaurant near the Capitol with Rep. Jeb Hensarling, R-Texas.
There’s a catch: Be prepared to contribute plenty of money.
Though it’s early in a non-election …

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Marine-linked high school a good option for some

From the AJC:

DeKalb County school officials are forging ahead with plans to open a first-of-its-kind military-style public high school, despite a growing campaign by activists upset at the involvement of the U.S. Marines.

“It’s the worst thing that’s ever happened in Georgia education,” said Michael Burke, a DeKalb resident and spokesman for the Georgia Veterans Alliance, a group that aligns itself with the work of the Georgia Peace and Justice Coalition, among others.

“The whole thing is just a ploy” to help the Marines recruit, Burke said. “We expect to fight it tooth and nail.”

That response irritated DeKalb school system officials. They said it stereotypes the proposed Marine school and students who may be interested in it. The protests — mounted largely through e-mails and letters — have not deterred them, they said.

“This is not a training ground to send kids into the military,” said DeKalb schools Superintendent Crawford Lewis, whose system, …

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