THE FIFTH COLUMNIST by P.M. Carpenter
Early in the Washington Post's fretful analysis of the erosion of a Beltway bipartisanship that never was, one detects without much effort a problem that isn't.
"Deep philosophical differences between the two parties and political calculations by both sides" have failed "to find consensus," wrote an alarmed Dan Balz yesterday (actually, he's not that alarmed; he merely wants readers to be). Yet just before that, in the oddly demonstrable justification for this alarm, he reminds us that President Obama's "budget blueprint was approved over unanimous Republican opposition, and his stimulus package passed with scant GOP support. Bookmark/Search this post with: buzzflash | delicious | digg | yahoo | technorati Technorati Tags: P.M. Carpenter bipartisanship obama republicans congress balz
The Reward Method of corruption is pretty straightforward: As opposed to the Payoff Method whereby[...]
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A quick Kansas polling update for our lunch hour today: The pleasant news is Senator Sam Brownback[...]
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As Chris and Joe have both mentioned, in freeing the US hostage held by the Somali pirates, and capturing a pirate, Obama has passed his first national security test with flying colors.
Obama's handling of the crisis showed a president who was comfortable in relying on the U.S. military, much as his predecessor, George W. Bush, did.Let's not forget Obama's Republican predecessor's first national security test. You remember, when George Bush capitulated to China and apologized after they took our airmen hostage. Then there was Bush's second national security test, stopping bin Laden from striking America. That one didn't go so well either. And in eight years, Bush never did catch bin Laden, nor did he give any indication that he cared to.
But it also showed a new commander in chief who was willing to use all the tools at his disposal, bringing in federal law enforcement officials to handle the judicial elements of the crisis.
The rescue appeared to vindicate Obama's muted but determined handling of the incident.
Some people never learn.Come on now, "military victory"? Some health care advice for the POTUS.Uh-oh. What does "out" mean, General?Rick Warren punks out. Dismissing criticism of Obama's lack of "bi-partisanship." Nothing like a good InstaSmackdown.[...]
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The parking lots and picnic tables were crowded this weekend at Moore Park, named for my former brother-in-law in Underhill, Vermont, the kind of quiet, close-knit American town seen mostly these days on Turner Classic Movies but suddenly besieged by media after the capture of its resident, Richard Phillips, by pirates in the Indian Ocean.
For four days, until his dramatic rescue yesterday, Capt. Phillips' family was held hostage too by hordes of reporters in cars and satellite trucks until the State Police moved them off to the town center, where they spent their time, according to one local witness, "milling about with nothing to do but talk on their cell phones or to each other" after trying to get taciturn Vermonters to emote about their grief over the seaman's plight.
Even after Capt. Phillips' release, his wife Andrea stayed out of sight, leaving it to shipping company spokeswoman Allison McColl to read a family statement from a clipboard:
"The Phillips family wants to thank you all for your support and prayers. They have felt the caring and concern extended by the nation to their family. This is truly a very happy Easter for the Phillips family.
"Andrea and Richard have spoken. I think you can all imagine their joy, and what a happy moment that was for them. They?re all just so happy and relieved."
They did get a second-hand version of Mrs. Phillips' reaction. "She was laughing while she was on the phone with him," McColl told reporters. "She was saying his trademark sense of humor was still very much intact, and he's in great spirits. If you guys could have seen her light up when she talked to him, it was really remarkable."
But her lighting up was not on camera in a place where people still try to live their lives in private, even while under the hot eye of a media event.
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A Tea Party for Stupidity Monday's Headlines: Mood of America may have finally hit bottom Storm brews as Italian hoteliers target forecasters Sébastien Clerc's common sense crusade to improve French education Iraqi leaders[...]
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A Cruel Cousin
I have a cousin who is a smug "born again" dittohead. His 94 year-oldBookmark/Search this post with: buzzflash | delicious | digg | yahoo | technorati Technorati Tags: Other Ask Zoe
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Over at RealClarPolitics, Jay Cost takes Obama to task for failing to live up to his promises of bipartisanship. Cost writes:
Instead, my criticism of the President is that he promised to be above this. He made that the core pledge of his candidacy, the principal reason he should receive the nomination and ultimately the presidency over the dozen or so other contenders across both parties who had better résumés but had been part of the partisan hackery. It was always going to be damned near impossible to move beyond heated partisanship - given all the structural forces that have been at work since the founding, and the ones that have been increasing in the last half century or so. In my opinion, that excuses President Obama for not moving us beyond it - but it does not excuse candidate Obama from promising that he could. Either he knew better and should not have made that promise (and, by extension, should not have run, given the centrality of this promise) - or he didn't know better and was just naïve. Either way, it is appropriate to hold him to account.What Cost accuses Obama of is acting in bad faith -- he promised "bipartisanship" and hasn't delivered.
Note that, in Schmitt's explication of Obama's "bipartisanship", we are operating somewhat in the conditional tense. We start by assuming that one's opponents are acting in good faith, extending an olive branch to them and therefore pressing the reset button on the ongoing game of tit-for-tat. If the opponent demonstrates that they are not acting in good faith, however, all bets are off and we are back in the partisan game.
What I find most interesting about Obama's approach to bipartisanship is how seriously he takes conservatism. As Michael Tomasky describes it in his review of The Audacity of Hope, "The chapters boil down to a pattern: here's what the right believes about subject X, and here's what the left believes; and while I basically side with the left, I think the right has a point or two that we should consider, and the left can sometimes get a little carried away." What I find fascinating about his language about unity and cross-partisanship is that it is not premised on finding Republicans who agree with him, but on taking in good faith the language and positions of actual conservatism -- people who don't agree with him. That's very different from the longed-for consensus of the Washington Post editorial page.
The reason the conservative power structure has been so dangerous, and is especially dangerous in opposition, is that it can operate almost entirely on bad faith. It thrives on protest, complaint, fear: higher taxes, you won't be able to choose your doctor, liberals coddle terrorists, etc. One way to deal with that kind of bad-faith opposition is to draw the person in, treat them as if they were operating in good faith, and draw them into a conversation about how they actually would solve the problem. If they have nothing, it shows. And that's not a tactic of bipartisan Washington idealists -- it's a hard-nosed tactic of community organizers, who are acutely aware of power and conflict. It's how you deal with people with intractable demands -- put ?em on a committee. Then define the committee's mission your way.
Perhaps I'm making assumptions about the degree to which Obama is conscious that his pitch is a tactic of change. But his speeches show all the passion of Edwards or Clinton, his history is as a community organizer and aggressive reformer (I first heard his name 10 years ago because he was on the board of the Joyce Foundation in Chicago, which was the leading supporter of real campaign finance reform at the time, and he has shown extraordinary political skill in drawing Senator Clinton into a clumsy overreaction. If we understand Obama's approach as a means, and not the limit of what he understands about American politics, it has great promise as a theory of change, probably greater promise than either "work for it" or "demand it," although we'll need a large dose of hard work and an engaged social movement as well.
Thailand protesters injured as troops open fire
Thai troops fired into the air in Bangkok and used teargas to clear protesters from the streets today as the government sought to reassert its authority.
Demonstrators at a main junction in the capital fought back, throwing at least one petrol bomb. Thai medical authorities reported 70 people injured, most by teargas.
The protesters retreated slightly after soldiers moved in at midday local time (0620 BST). Nearby, a line of troops in full battledress fired into the air and turned water cannon on the crowd. Earlier, the protesters commandeered about 30 public buses and forced military vehicles to halt. At one point they climbed on top of two armoured personnel carriers, waving flags and shouting "democracy".
Ceasefire hope for civilians trapped in Tamil Tiger zone
Mahinda Rajapaksa, Sri Lanka's President, ordered his Army yesterday to suspend operations against the Tamil Tigers for two days to allow tens of thousands of civilians to escape from a "no-fire" zone where they are trapped with the last of the rebels.
After a two-year offensive, the Army has pinned the Tigers down in a seven square-mile strip of coastline in northeastern Sri Lanka and is poised to defeat them as a conventional force, bringing a formal end to 26 years of civil war.
But Mr Rajapaksa has come under intense international pressure to protect 150,000 ethnic Tamil civilians estimated by the UN to be trapped inside the "safety zone" - and coming under regular artillery fire from government forces.
The United States, Britain, Norway and Japan called for an end to the "futile" fighting on Friday and more than 100,000 people, led by British Tamils, marched through London on Saturday to demand a ceasefire. Tamil protesters also stormed the Sri Lankan Embassy in Oslo yesterday.
Japan's culture of not spending crimps economic rebound
OBU, JAPAN - Japan's "lost decade" has turned a nation of savers into one in which people are even more reluctant to part with their yen - which holds lessons for the US.
Normally, a healthy savings ethic is an enviable trait: Witness how much trouble Americans have gotten in by spending beyond their checkbooks. But Japanese thriftiness has gone so far that it is undermining the nation's ability to surmount a deepening economic slump. It presages challenges consumption-oriented nations may face in getting people to reopen their wallets.