Thursday, December 31, 2009

Republican Hypocrisy

I generally take the position that most people consider themselves good and well-motivated.  When people do or say things with which I disagree, I try to understand what they are saying to themselves to justify their misguided ways.  Often, I will conclude that they are either deluding themselves or they believe some higher cause is achieved by maybe shading the truth or ignoring evidence that may contradict their view or action.

So, I mostly attribute Republican lies and deceit with willful ignorance or an "ends justifies the means" approach to politics.  And their end to to obtain power.

But the Republican response to the Detroit underwear bomber blows my theory.  In this instance, they are just evil.  Their relentless attacks on Obama are now completely divorced from any credibility and are shameless, hypocritical efforts to destroy our President without any regard to what it does to our country.  When Democrats criticized Bush, they were said to be unpatriotic.  Republicans, like Dick Cheney, now show no qualms about aggressively politicizing every move Obama makes.  It is truly sickening.

Think Progress has a good account of Cheney's latest outrage.  As does Eugene Robinson in today's Washington Post. 

Sadly, the American public doesn't punish this kind of behavior.  It think the only think that we save our country in the next few years is for the voters to smack the Republicans for the third time in a row.  Right now, they feel politically vindicated because they have succeeded tainting the healthcare reform legislation by making the process of its enactment as ugly as possible.  Eventually, the bill will pass and we will move on to the slow process of implementation.  It is unclear what it's short term political impact will be.  They key in November will be the economy.  If the economy improves and Obama's policies are vindicated, they are dead meat.  And we might see a new Republican party that believes it has some responsibility to govern.  If unemployment remains high and they make political gains, the trench warfare will continue to the detriment of the country.  Our steady decline will continue.

God help us.

Monday, December 28, 2009

Iran and New Media

Here's a quote from an expert on developments in Iran that says it all for me:
Current chatter of an imminent national strike being planned – an enormous development if it proves to be true – is just one example of how such a structure allows the opposition movement to organize through a decentralized communication network rather than a rigid hierarchy.

Iran on the Brink?

This morning on CNN Robin Wright, the great journalist on the Middle East, speculated on whether events in Iran represented a "Berlin Wall" moment.  While she wasn't sure, she said it could be.  What a monumental prospect.  I find events in Iran exhilarating.  I'm not deluded into thinking the outcome might turn Iran into a western secular  democracy.  What it does represent to me is the extend to which justice can prevail, that oppression can be resisted, that,  ultimately, the people can rule.  I am also hopeful that part of the reason the people of Iran can resist is because information can no longer be permanently suppressed.  In an earlier era, the resisters would not have been able to coordinate the way they have, nor could  they inform the rest of the world what was happening there.  For instance, few would have known that the nephew of Mousavi was killed by the regime.  That event appears to have thrown gasoline on a raging fire. 

Thanks to Andrew Sullivan, I've come across a great web site with a very sophisticated analysis of events in Iran, called "the newest deal."  Here's a sample:

So when word of yesterday’s bloodshed reaches the country’s religious centers – and it surely will in the midst of the chaos that has erupted during the last forty-eight hours – outrage can be expected in Qom. This may soon put Iran’s clerics, both conservative and moderate, in an unenviable position: sacrificing their coveted theocracy in order to salvage their religion’s sanctity. For if it was unclear up until this point, there is surely no way that any clerical scholar of Islam can any longer defend the actions of the Islamic Republic – especially when such actions are committed in Islam’s name, for that matter.

What is happening in Iran seems truly historic. Yet, American media seems strangely oblivious. While they appear late to this realization, at least CNN is devoting the appropriate attention. Meanwhile, on the Today Show, the news at the top of the hour devoted maybe 10 seconds to Iran.

Saturday, December 26, 2009

Krugman on the Team

Paul Krugman is making it his business to prove to the left that the healthcare reform bill will be a major progressive win.  In his blog, he displays a very impressive graph from the Kaiser Family Foundation that shows how much the average family will be subsidized, based on family income.

But, best of all is this opening paragraph:
A couple of notes to address complaints about the Senate bill from the left and the center. (There’s no use addressing complaints from the right; in general, the safest thing when dealing with crazy people is to avoid eye contact.) Emphasis added.

Friday, December 25, 2009

Celebrating Healthcare Reform

I have to admit, my admiration for Paul Krugman varies proportional to his support for President Obama.  Since he supported Hillary during the primaries, he's not particularly invested in Obama as an individual.  So, generally, when he's critical, he comes at Obama from the Left and I get conflicted.  But, when he lines up with Obama, all is right with the world.

Today, he comes out in strong support of the Senate healthcare reform bill.  Yes, it is a compromise, but a compromise that represents and massive change in direction in American politics.  Of course, he does take a gentle shot at Obama by pointing out that the bill is closer to Hillary Clinton campaign proposal than to Obama's.  But his conclusion is strong:

And for all its flaws and limitations, it’s a great achievement. It will provide real, concrete help to tens of millions of Americans and greater security to everyone. And it establishes the principle — even if it falls somewhat short in practice — that all Americans are entitled to essential health care.
While I am pretty far to the Left ideologically, I am also a pragmatist when it comes to policymaking.  As I've noted in a previous post, the bill will be seen as one of the great legislative achievements of the past fifty years.  I'm glad Krugman agrees with me.

Christmas 2009

There's an interesting Christmas tradeoff as you move through life. When Santa rules the day (i.e. the kids are young), the stress is high leading up to the big day. Are there enough gifts? Have we visited enough Santa's? Have all the rituals, I mean traditions, been served? By the time Christmas arrives, you're exhausted....and then you have to get up at 5 am to start opening presents. But the delight the kinds exhibit is precious and almost makes it all worthwhile.

When your kids are 19 and 15, the stress is much lower. There's no "magic" to be preserved, although there are traditions. It remains a special time of year, but in a more authentic way.

And you get to sleep in.

Our day has been relaxed and very pleasant. We attended midnight Mass at St. Anselm's Abbey, stayed briefly for cookies and to wish the monks a Merry Christmas. We didn't get to bed until 2 am and I was up at 7. The kids got up at 11. We opened gifts and everyone came away happy. Now, we're just gliding through the day.

Notwithstanding all the pleasantness, it is a very different Christmas, the first without my mother and without Rita's Aunt Gen. We won't feel the full brunt of their absence until with get up to Boston tomorrow. My mother and Gen were true lovers of Christmas and there will be a big empty place in this holiday season.

Also, this is the first Christmas in which we won't be staying in the attic room in Rita's mother's house in Brookline. Year after year, I would chafe at the confined quarters and wish we could stay in a hotel. Admittedly less so in recent years as Rita and I have learned to accommodate each other's needs during this annual pilgrimage. But I have to say, I will miss the old house and will chafe at new inconveniences at the Dedham Hilton.

So, all in all, a nice, but somewhat bittersweet, holiday.

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Healthcare Reform

Lots of commentary on healthcare reform today. Suffice it to say that opinion is mixed on Obama's accomplishment in this area. Looking back, I predict this legislation will be considered a stunning achievement. Yes, it is much less that most liberals want. It's less than Obama wants. But it is what it is. And what it is is the most significant piece of social welfare legislation since Medicare.

Obama suffers from the size of his original ambition. As we begin to focus on what's in this bill, you realize that, two years ago, anyone who would have predicted legislation of this kind be enacted into law would have been considered delusional. The Patient Bill of Rights, 30 million more people covered by health insurance, free preventive care, thousands of new community health center, etc., etc. While the left criticizes Obama as to timid, as his change incremental, he's changing America.

For a more articulate account of Obama's brilliant first year, check out Jacob Weisberg's piece in Slate Magazine. It declares Obama's first year on par with FDR and LBJ. I think he's right.

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Baucus Calls Out Republicans

Max Baucus, who's been hammered by the left for diddling with the Republicans for months, now must listen to the Republicans lie about how they were excluded from healthcare reform process. Understandably, he erupts. What took him so long?

Monday, December 21, 2009

The Year in Google Wave

Google Wave could be the next big thing, if only I could figure out how to use it:

Saturday, December 19, 2009

The Christmas Blizzard of 2009

It's the big one. A huge snowstorm has arrived. Our long wait is over. It's 10:30 in the morning with the heavy snow just starting and there's already more than 8 inches on the ground. Weathermen are predicting up to 2 feet. Bliss!!

I've got the fire going, the Christmas music playing. We've got nowhere to go. So, we have a very cozy day ahead of us. It's like God hit the "pause button." My son Danny was scheduled to come home from college today, but, instead, he's going sledding on the Gettysburg Battlefield. I'm envious, but so glad he will have that experience. I told him to take pictures.

This almost the perfect storm. It's only flaw is that it occurred on the weekend.

And, in case you're saying, "Right, wait until you have to shovel!" Not to worry. My neighbor has already come by with the first pass with his snowblower.

Let it snow, let it snow, let it snow!

Friday, December 18, 2009


I love this post of a comment from Talking Points Memo comparing our current situation on healthcare reform.  Sounds very right to me.