Archive for October, 2009

A statistical snapshot of a peevish, worried country

Picking through a new Wall Street Journal/NBCpoll for nuggets to feed the ravenous crowd:

Americans are more pessimistic than they were over the summer, with only 36 percent saying the country is on the right track, down from 42 percent in June. But that’s a lot better than we were a year ago, when only 12 percent thought we were on the right track.

The all-time high on Americans feeling the country was on the right track? It was 72 percent, and it came in September 2001.

Barack Obama’s job approval/disapproval split is 51/42, about where it has been since summer. The same question asked about Congress produces an approval/disapproval of 24/65.

Forty-two percent have at least a somewhat positive view of the Democratic Party. Only 25 percent have a similar view of the Republicans.

Only 27 percent have at least a somewhat positive view of Sarah Palin, compared to 46 percent with a somewhat negative or worse impression. That question has been asked seven times since she burst on …

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Lieberman won’t allow Senate vote on public option

Sen. Joe Lieberman of Connecticut has thrown down the gauntlet, announcing that if health-care reform includes a so-called “public option,” he would support a Republican filibuster to block a vote on the proposal.

As Lieberman told Politico:

“My answer is – we’re – we have the opportunity to do some great reforms here. These exchanges that we’re talking about, I think, are going to drive competition and probably bring the cost of health insurance down or at least contain the cost increases for a lot of people. Let’s give that two or three years to see how it works to see how it works before we talk about creating another entitlement that will end up increasing the national debt and putting more of a burden on taxpayers.”

That statement reveals a gross misunderstanding of the public option and how it would operate. It further suggests that Lieberman’s misgivings are not substantive but political in nature.

Under the Senate proposal, a publicly run entity would …

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Metro Atlanta’s regional identity beginning to take form

Maybe it’s global warming, I don’t know. But you can almost hear the ice beginning to crack and melt around us. It may be the sound of things finally breaking free, the sound of movement.

The first sign of thaw came last spring with the decision by the 10-county Atlanta Regional Commission to redirect $25 million in federal money to MARTA. That not only represented a tangible, financial commitment to transit, it marked an equally important commitment to the concept of metro Atlanta as an entity that has shared needs, obligations and resources.

The elected officials on ARC, many of them far removed geographically from MARTA’s service area, acknowledged by their vote that the ability to think regionally and act regionally has become critical to competing in a global economy.

It was, you might say, metro Atlanta’s Declaration of Interdependence.

As MARTA officials made clear, though, that $25 million was only a temporary fix. The agency’s looming budget crisis began …

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The Obama era is high cotton for conservatives

Bill Kristol, writing in the Washington Post, gushes about what a great time it is to be a conservative. I agree with him wholeheartedly. For conservatives, this is high cotton.

That may sound strange at first. The Democrats hold the White House and large majorities in both houses of Congress. A moderate to liberal agenda is being implemented in Washington. Karl Rove’s vision of a permanent Republican majority has been consigned to the ashbin of history, where it sits alongside Nikita Khrushchev’s ill-fated promise that “We will bury you.”

kristol

Bill Kristol, a true man of the people

So why is this such a fab time to be a conservative? Because by its nature, modern American conservatism is not well-suited to govern. That is not where it is happiest; that is not the environment in which it thrives.

Governing forces you to compromise; conservatives abhor compromise; it offends their sense of political purity. When you govern, your rhetoric and idealism are constantly tested against …

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Reid pushes ahead on health care, public option included

It wasn’t long ago that Republicans and even a few Democrats were proclaiming the death of health-insurance reform. “The Congress will not pass this,” Rep. John Boehner concluded a month ago. “It`s really time for the president to hit the reset button. Let`s stop all of this, and let`s sit down and start over in a bipartisan way to build a plan that Americans will support.”

That was then.

From the WSJ:

WASHINGTON — Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid said Monday that health-care legislation that comes before the Senate will have a government-run health-insurance plan that states will be able to choose not to carry.

Mr. Reid told reporters that, under the legislation, states would have until 2014 to “opt out” of the public option. He cast aside questions of whether the measure can attract the necessary 60 votes to avoid procedural delays.

“I believe we clearly will have the support of the [Democratic caucus] to move to the bill,” Mr. Reid said.

It’s still a long way from done. …

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What’s the right path in Afghanistan?

I hope it’s no secret that I remain torn on the path ahead in Afghanistan. I think we’ve got the right military leadership, and I think that the plan that leadership has put forward offers our best hope of success. But even with a smart plan and good leadership, I’m pessimistic about our chances of truly gaining control of the situation in Afghanistan.

Paul McGeough of the Sydney Morning Herald, who has reported extensively from Afghanistan, gave voice to a lot of those doubts in a recent speech. He had much the same reaction to Gen. Stanley McChrystal’s Afghan assessment as I did. It was largely candid and honest, but in places it seemed to be arguing against the very policy it was proposing.

McGeogh’s summation of the situation in Afghanistan, where he has visited 20 times by his count, is chilling:

“The Taliban is stronger, more violent and more in control than at any time since it was dislodged from Kabul in 2001. Foreign forces, mostly American, are dying at a greater …

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The Fox News-Obama feud much ado about little

You know, I just don’t get the controversy over the Obama administration’s criticism of Fox News. For one thing, it’s entirely accurate: Fox does not approach its job the same way other organizations do. Most legitimate news organizations honestly attempt to purge their presentations of bias. I’d be the first to concede that all journalistic institutions sometimes fall short of that goal, but the point is, as professionals they try.

Fox doesn’t even make the effort, or even the pretense of an effort. At best, they make the pretense of a pretense of an effort. Bias is what they’re selling — they know it, and their audience knows it. So what’s the big deal about the White House saying out loud what everyone already knows?

Beyond that, though, I’m surprised to see the Washington media play this as some kind of new threat to the purity of media-political relations. It’s not. The Bush administration used to complain publicly and often about coverage from MSNBC and NBC. The …

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Here’s fresh thread …

with which to weave a beautiful national tapestry. Don’t mess it up, or you’ll have to start all over again from the beginning!

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Dementia rates much higher for ex-NFL players

I’m a football fan, but this is serious business. The industry as a whole — from the NFL down to the PeeWee leagues — is going to have to address it through rules changes, medical changes and equipment changes. I’ve long wondered whether part of the answer might be softer equipment — fewer and softer pads, etc. — because in the modern game they’ve become less like protective devices and more like weapons to use against the opponent.

From the NYT:

When a survey commissioned by the National Football League recently indicated that dementia or similar memory-related diseases had been diagnosed in its retired players vastly more often than in the national population, the league claimed the study was unreliable.

But confidential data from the N.F.L.’s dementia assistance plan strongly corroborates claims of a link between football and later-life cognitive impairment. Records indicate that pro football’s retirees are experiencing moderate to advanced early-onset dementia at rates …

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Some home cookin’ by Tinsley Ellis for tonight’s travelin’ music

Atlanta’s own, bluesman Tinsley Ellis, plays the Variety in Little Five Points tonight. I’ve seen him there before and it’s a great show, a perfect fit of musician, venue and audience. I’m debating whether to go tonight, but browsing through the Tinsley “ouevre” on Youtube trying to make a selection, I just might have talked myself into it.

Dude’s the real thing, as this video shows you.

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