Feed on

Maybe bin Laden’s death is just the cover story the Democrats have needed all along. You have to figure: None of them are happy about going home and telling the voters they’re cutting popular social programs, right? And they know where all the money’s going. If we pull out of Afghanistan, a major budget problem is solved:

Early on in a Senate Foreign Relations Committee hearing about Afghanistan today, Medea Benjamin of Code Pink interrupted a discussion about whether the United States should maintain current troop levels or draw down to a smaller force focused on counter-terrorism operations. “There is another opinion—just leave,” she said.

Senator John Kerry (D-MA), the committee’s chairman, quickly gaveled the hearing into a brief recess, and Benjamin left the room. Had she stuck around, she might have been surprised to hear the number-two Democrat in the Senate essentially echo her position.

Senator Dick Durbin (D-IL), the Democratic Party whip, asked by far the hearing’s most important question and one of the most pointed by a Democratic leader to date: “If you believe that resolution of this conflict by military means is highly unlikely and not a realistic basis for US policy, how can we send one more American soldier to fight and die in Afghanistan?” he said.

Durbin noted that “Afghanistan has been a graveyard of empires,” and repeatedly invoked the human cost borne by American soldiers. “We are now in a very sterile conversation about diplomacy and foreign policy,” he said. “The reality is they’re fighting and dying over there. And the question is—how long will we keep sending them?”

Aside from Durbin, other senators who attended the hearing—both Republican and Democrat—voiced serious concerns about extended commitments to Afghanistan. Not one openly called for staying the current course.

Senator Richard Lugar (R-IN) cited President Obama’s recent $100 billion budget request for fighting the war in fiscal year 2012, along with a strategy that “appears to be devoted to remaking the economic, political, and security culture of that country,” and said that “it is exceedingly difficult to conclude that our vast expenditures in Afghanistan represent a rational allocation of our military and financial assets.”

Lugar’s concerns were echoed by Senator Robert Menendez (D-NJ), who said plainly that “I’ve been supportive of the administration so far, but I have a real hard time as we move forward.” Menendez wondered aloud whether there was “an amount of money or plan that can actually work here.”

The only other Republican to speak, Senator Bob Corker (R-TN), also raised questions about the amount of money being spent. “I think the one thing that would stun the American people on the ground in Afghanistan, is how much we are investing in this country, and what we are investing in,” he said.

My new hero

Via Young Philly Politics:

This video is just 88 seconds and it’s great. At Corbett’s Marcellus Shale Advisory hearing last week, they set out two sign-up sheets for public comment. Only, they told the industry about one and the protesters about the other.

Guess which one they went to first?

In this video, a woman from Pittsburgh calmly and clearly confronts a Corbett Administration spokesperson about the trick. She comes off as smart, gutsy and reasonable. He comes off like someone who just got caught stealing an extra piece of cake at Church Camp.


Via Corrente. This sort of thinking is exactly what depressed me so much after working on the local mayoral primary. I saw that members of the media — and progressives– were supporting one candidate because of how much he resembled them. And once those newspapers and blog decided they were the ones who should be allowed to pick the candidate, it was all over.

It didn’t even matter who they picked; it was a profoundly undemocratic and narcissistic process. I looked at what happened here in this city and realized it had to be replicated on the national level, and that meant that the entire system was too corrupt to represent the interests of anyone not plugged into the elite levels.

That was four years ago, and I haven’t seen anything since then that has changed my mind. If anything, it’s even worse:

Unfortunately they do care, and care very much, if the Democrats speak good English, finish a sentence, and handle questions well.  That’s it.  That’s all it takes.  Just a president whose words are more pleasing to the ear, no matter what they’re actually saying.  Someone articulate and educated.  Someone who’s probably listened to a few episodes of This American Life.  Someone who reads the New Yorker or the New York Times or best of all, both.  Someone who has a favorite espresso drink, whatever it may happen to be.  In short, someone who at least gives the appearance of being one of us.

Just that and nothing more and the tedious minutiae of betrayals and crimes is not only forgiven, but all but forgotten.  The platitudes of Democrats like Obama are not just “the triumph of word over flesh, over color, over despair”, but over reality.

GOP drops Medicare from budget proposal

Encouraging news for now, at least until we find out the final details of this deal. Given the option, Republicans will always try to attack the programs that offer a social safety net. The only reason they’re backing off on this is that the opposition to the Medicare voucher plan has been loud and clear. Would that it was as easy to explain why spending caps are not only stupid, they’re immoral.

Don’t ever trust the Republicans to back off for good, even if they’ve gotten the message — for now — that voters won’t stand for Medicare cuts. They’ll just bludgeon the Democrats until they give them another trophy instead:

Senior Republicans conceded Wednesday that a deal is unlikely on a contentious plan to overhaul Medicare and offered to open budget talks with the White House by focusing on areas where both parties can agree, such as cutting farm subsidies.

On the eve of debt-reduction talks led by Vice President Biden, House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (Va.) said Republicans remain convinced that reining in federal retirement programs is the key to stabilizing the nation’s finances over the long term. But he said Republicans recognize they may need to look elsewhere to achieve consensus after President Obama “excoriated us” for a proposal to privatize Medicare.
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The Gulf

If you guessed that the energy lobby has prevented any meaning reforms on drilling, you’re right!

Jeffrey Sachs

“The world is drowning in corporate fraud.” Go read it, it’s good.


In memoriam:


See what happens when you don’t buy up all your domain names? (Hint: Read carefully.)

Sky pilot

Eric Burden and the Animals:

Spirit in the sky

Norman Greenbaum:

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