Monday, September 7, 2009

Czars, Opposition or Minority Party, Philippines Ferry, Iranian Nukes, and more

* I find it interesting that the GOP has gone after President Obama for appointing "czars" and Rep. Mike Pence has called for the White House to suspend appointment of "czars" while Congress vets them. While it is probably amateur politics to name them "czars" when you are a Democrat knowing the spin jobs of the right, policy "czars" are not new given Reagan's appointment of drug czars in the War on Drugs. It isn't like they have any special powers beyond the constitution or like they have suddenly usurped power. They were simply given a name other than "adviser" which is really what they are, personal advisers to the President on a given issue, something most Presidents have. And while Mike Pence would love to evaluate them, since they are not cabinet members who need confirmation, Congress has no more constitutional role in evaluating them than it did in evaluating Karl Rove. It is just one more in a long line of diversionary tactics instead of actual policy answers, to focus on name games rather than public policy.

* The stepping down of Obama Adviser, Van Jones, shows that President Obama's administration cares more about ethics and perception than previous administrations who gave it lip service. President Bush's first Executive Order demanded the resignation of any member perceived to be unethical, yet we saw the likes of Scooter Libby and others who would not step down until ultimately forced. In this case, Van Jones signed a petition in 2004 related to 9/11 which had absolutely nothing to do with his job dealing with environmental quality. Jones resigned of his own accord, but it makes a point about GOP promises vs. Obama administration actions, whereby they promise and refuse to follow through, and this administration puts actions out front to show what it believes in: more ethical administration policies than its predecessor.

* Ed Rollins made an interesting point on CNN's political ticker indicating that the GOP is the opposing party, not the minority party, which is quite telling. It is a rhetorical choice that they have made, to be the party of NO! for Americans, not the party of getting something done. As a result, Rollins is right that the Democrats should simply start forcing bills through and flexing their muscle but President Obama must be smart and strategic, but most of all, organizing of priorities. He cannot let the budget get out of control with every Democratic spending bill ever thought of, but he should push his agenda through and damn the Republicans. They have chosen their ground to be the opposition, not the minority in the country. Let them lay in that bed.

* The Philippines Ferry that sunk, leaving a handful dead, continues to illuminate a problem throughout the islands as their ferry industry has a history of accidents. In a nation made up of over 1000 islands, where island to island travel is vital for many to get around, it leaves residents with little choice but to take the risk. It is one of the problems of being a poor nation trying to develop: people are given the choice of being left behind or take risks that almost no one in the first world would find acceptable.

* I guess I just don't get why a nuclear Iran is such a great threat to the world. Maybe it could be this "madman" card foreign policy hawks tend to play with regards to nations like North Korea or Iran when they can't figure out their rational self-interests in their actions, which really says more about the hawks analysis than it does the leaders of these "rogue" nations. In case it isn't clear, we have made it fairly obvious that if you have active nukes, we aren't likely to mess with you militarily. I think that is incentive enough if I were a rogue nation. Beyond that, I don't know why it is such a huge threat. Does anyone really think that Iran is going to really nuke Israel or the United States in a great suicide wish? Or sell nukes to terrorists knowing we can track back nuclear materials pretty easily? Are these analysts just that bad or just that dishonest in their public assessments?

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