Thursday, April 30, 2009

Supreme Court Justice Souter To Retire

So if thing's weren't partisan enough, Justice Souter is planning on retiring at the end of this term. This will complicate Obama's agenda slightly, as he'll have to work on passing health care reform AND confirming his Supreme Court nominee.

House Subcommittee to Hold Hearing on BCS

Tommorrow morning I am going to a hearing on the Hill that will be discussing the future of the BCS. Personally, I think a playoff would certainly make things more interesting to watch given that the main games will acutally mean something to everyone involved and have implications on the rest of the college football world. I do not think that a playoff system will result from this hearing or any others in the near future because of the money that is involved and the academic schedules of the institutions. Plus we would still probably see teams complaining about not getting into the playoff and they could make a case that they deserve to be in it. It would add a little more flavor like in March Madness where the Cinderellas make big noise and capture attention if schools not currently in the mix for championship contention because of the league they play in are able to make it into the playoff. Taking last year's bowl games as an example, I am sure Alabama would have come out stronger from the gate if it meant they would have had a shot at the title, but even still Utah would have earned a nice seed and advance in the bracket. If teams like Utah with not nearly the same level of talent as schools like USC, Florida, or Texas are able to compete with the big boys then why not give them a legitimate chance to prove their squad has what it takes? I will be interested in seeing where Representatives stand on the issue and if they will take enough interest to force the NCAA and ESPN to shift the system in a year or two.

Transportation secretary hints at aid for airlines

The airline industry has not been the same since 9/11, and I can see why there is a need to ensure that moving ahead in the future that airlines have better technology and can reduce costs and increase efficiency. Although the cost of oil has declined and airlines have tried to cut costs to make it more appealing to fly, they are still facing significant problems in both the short and long term. I think it is beneficial for the government to aid the process of modernization for airlines with the new GPS guide system because it will make a sound investment down the line. With the FAA already committed to the project, airlines would be forced to take a drastic hit in their ability to make profits if forced to pony up the money themselves and at this point in time that is not something I see them being willing or able to do. In doing so we would have a bargaining chip to force better relations between airlines and their employees and could potentially save some jobs in the process. All in all, I see the transformation of airline technology as something that could make it a lot smoother for travelers and airlines and would potentially serve as an additional means to curbing some of our dependence on foreign oil down the road.

Does Souter's silence on hiring mean he's leaving?

I think that Justice David Souter's lack of a decision for his law clerks does indicate a lack of uncertainty as to whether he wants to continue on the Court. If this is the case then we are going to see a string of Supreme Court Justices that will allow President Obama to take their places. It is just a matter of time before three of the liberal leaning judges decide to retire and for Souter to not have named his clerks indicates that something is up. Unless he is letting his current law clerks continue their service to him for another year, it does not seem like a practicle thing for him to do if he does want to stay on the bench because once clerks get the job they really have to get into the research mode for their bosses. When we went to watch the case at the Supreme Court, I did not notice anything unusual from Souter that would have demonstrated a lack of interest or desire to move onto something else in his life. I can imagine that he feels it might be time to step down and give the position to someone who can continue to serve for years to come, but he still does have his good mind on him and I would like to see him wait a few more years before succumbing to retirement.

Tomorrow Marks the Beginning of New G.I. Bill Era

There has been a buzz on capital hill about the new GI bill which is set to accept applications starting at midnight. This comes at a time when a record number of those eligible are participating in educational benefits programs sponsored by the armed forces, the number is currently at 70% of those eligible ( to give a point of reference in the WWII era it was 50 percent). The army is allowing for a total compensation of 36 months of education, this amount can be used by the serviceman/woman or can go towards there family by splitting up the months. The armed forces will give the maximum instate tuition as a base and then match every dollar a college puts towards the student after that amount. Clearly this is a strong incentive not only for those looking to join, but also for retaining those who have children entering college.

Bunning poised to retire

After months of arguing with his party about running for re-election, it appears as if Senator Bunning might actually step aside. After very poor fundraising quarter, Senator Bunning may finally be putting his party first. It will be interesting to see what ultimately happens with this race.

Credit Card Reform Rolls Through the House

In a true sign of bipartisanship the "Credit Cardholders' Bill of Rights Act" was passed today in the House by a vote of 357-70. This piece of legislation was a long time coming in what many felt was an unfair industry that preyed on those who could not pay the exorbitant fee's, yet were given incredibly high amounts of credit. While the bill would have implementation occur twelve months after its passage this is an important step towards reform of an industry. According to, the average household debt on credit cards was $10,679 for the end of 2008.

A Different Take on Crisis Coloring Books

When is the last time one of us colored in a picture of Pearl Harbor? What about troops storming the beaches of Normandy? No, well o.k., so then does anyone really feel that coloring in planes hitting the world trade center will actually help kids understand the issue and feel better about it. The book actually tells kids that if they experience stomach or headaches for 2 months to notify a parent so that they can "find someone to talk about your troubles". Do you really want a child suffering through pains for two months before any action. Putting that aside actually take a look at this thing. If you were 3 when it happened you would already be almost 11 right now, how many 11 year olds are taking in coloring books? I hate to be critical but when something this poorly planned is touted as a good development for children dealing with crisis, maybe we should take a bit more time and think about it before releasing it.

Egypt: Seeming Just a Bit TOOO Proactive on the Swine

This move seems not only to be extreme, but using a global flu outbreak to do something that the country has been attempting for years. As eating pork is a sin to Muslims and as such the increasingly Muslim country of Egypt has repeatedly attempted to rid itself of pig farming. Now they have taken an opportune moment to do so even after multiple health officials, including the UN and the WHO, have said pork and the pigs themselves are not linked to the disease spreading. Hopefully the farmers can hold off this attack until the public outcry forces a change in the policy to kill almost half a million pigs.

FEMA's 9/11 Coloring Book Aims to Teach Kids About Tragedy

I have to say that this was a very creative way for FEMA to engage children in a way that would teach them about some of the natural disasters and terrible events that have occurred in our nation's history. I do not agree with the decision to take the coloring book down from the website because color therapy is widely accepted in the psychology world as a means of recovery and understanding what has happened. There haven't been any statistics released by FEMA showing that this book caused pain or trauma and unless we see some significant evidence that that is the case then it is premature to remove a tool for children to utilize. We need to be educating our youth about the things that can happen and letting them learn through coloring is a way that makes the learning a fun experience. It is very difficult for adults to communicate with children about topics like 9/11 and so by coloring, children can put pictures to the words that adults communicate with them, which gives them another avenue to really grasp the situation. I would like to see the book placed back on FEMA's website and hopefully their reasons for taking it down have been solved.

Republicans target lone Democrat in Louisiana

Louisiana presents an interesting case for Republicans to truly test out their new look in the upcoming election. With Representative Charlie Melancon serving as the only Democrat in the state in the House, I could see this as a place for Republicans to go after a moderate Democrat in a district that is very much conservative. Even though Melancon is well-liked and respected, he does not concede totally to his Blue Dog roots on every issue and has been willing to side with his fellow Democrats on issues of spending. I think that if Republicans so desire they could attack this platform like have begun to do in the state. However, in order to force an effective turnover of the seat, they will need to find a candidate that is conservative enough to win the seat and will please the voters in the district and that is where I see the struggle in their decision to target Louisiana. They already face a significant challenge in getting Representative Cao back into office from his district and unless they can find someone to challenge Melancon they may just be stuck with him unless he decides to challenge Senator Vitter, a case that would pretty much assure a Republican wins the seat.

RNC members seek tighter money controls

I can understand how some Republicans could be disappointed with the job that Michael Steele has done since being given the lead of the National Committee. He has already lost the one key race in New York and does not seem to have much of a plan for attack on Democrats in the 2010 election. However, I do not see the point of restricting his ability to spend money and allocate resources from the Committee without the approval of the Executive Board. To me, it is Steele's job to do what he thinks is best for the party moving forward and he needs to be able to lead the party in the way that he sees fit. If members of the National Committee are so upset about how Steele has been using money then they should have either asked him to reign in on the spending or to resign. What it looks like to me is that there are individuals who are mad about not seeing their top choice for the position get the job and so now they are trying to gain back some of Steele's power solely for their own benefit and to reduce the appeal of the job for Steele. Although I am for fiscal responsibility, it just seems really tedious to me that Steele now would have to run by any expenditure over $100,000 and things like this cause disruption to the party.

GOP using Specter's own campaign ads against him

"In light of Senator Specter's changing political party, we [the GOP] felt it was our civic duty to adequately inform Pennsylvania Democrat primary voters about their new Senator's record and his close relationship with our former President George W. Bush," National Republican Senatorial Committee spokeswoman Amber Wilkerson said in a Wednesday announcement. This is what you risk when you change parties Specter.... hopefully you'll win your seat in the next a DEMOCRAT.

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Just When the Times Thought It Could Not Get Worse!!!

Apparently New York Times reporters don't like to tell others about their questions prior to asking the president of the United States, yet something tells me if he did not one reporter would be tempted to steal it. Enjoy...

Will Sestak challenge Specter in Dem primary?

10 decisions for Obama's next 100 days

Let's see what Obama plans to do in his next 100 days of office.

1. Fire another CEO, after GM CEO Rick Wagoner was fired?
According to Politico: "a financial firing would go a long way toward helping the Obama push back against complaints he’s been hard on the auto sector and easy on Wall Street. "

2. Go "nuclear" on health care?
Now that the Democrats have another Senate seat, Obama has the green light for passing health care legislation.

3. Deal with Gitmo and CIA interrogations.

4. Figure our stance on Israel and the Middle East.

5. Commencement speech at Notre Dame. 
According to Politico: "The commencement speech has not yet been written, but Obama aides suggest he’s likely to address the issue head-on in the manner he typically does when faced with a controversial topic. Expect him to stress the need to reduce the number of abortions."

6. Let Chrysler and GM go bankrupt?

7. Figure out some action for Pakistan.

8. Labor love: what to do about "legislation to make organizing unions easier, known as the Employee Free Choice Act."

9. Win on Energy Policy or risk loosing Democrats?
"Obama sees the so-called “cap and trade” plan as a win-win — cutting global warming by reducing greenhouse gas emissions and shifting the U.S. toward cleaner energy." Maybe he can rely on Specter?

10. Finally, figure out where to spend his vacation....

Citi seeking OK to award bonuses

Hasn't the government learned its lesson from the AIG debacle that caused public outrage and media scorn involving bonuses to TARP recipients. For Citi to have the gumption to ask for bonuses to be awarded to top executives to keep them from fleeting ship is something that I see as concerning. Yes, we want the companies to succeed and for that to happen we need to have skilled and properly trained executives in place. However, boosting the morale of the employees is not the only way to accomplish a successful turnover and so giving additional stock options is really not something I think we should be considering at this time. If employees are so negative about the state of the company then giving them some stock options merely gives them a bit of an incentive to make the company sound again, but we have no clue to what degree that boost will be or if they will merely walk out during a rough patch again. I hope the government takes the stance against bonuses of this nature because in the scope of things we need employees running those companies that are committed to the success because they enjoy what they do and see the value in being part of recovery rather than people who solely stick around because of the incentives that they can earn.

Jones considers challenging Boehner

Things might be getting interesting in Ohio for House Minority Leader John Boehner now that he has some competition. I do not think he will lose in the next election given the power he holds in the House and the commitment he has given to his conservative district in ensuring their values are maintained. However, Richard Jones is a very intriguing candidate for Ohio to take a look at given how popular he is among his constituency for his job as Sheriff. This is exactly what Republicans cannot afford at this point in time because instead of concentrating their money on areas where they can win back some seats, they are going to have to spend time, energy, and resources in this conservative district of Ohio during the primary season to get a candidate who will end up winning the seat most likely. Boehner and Republicans should be aiming to squash Jones right now and give him a reason to to decline entering the race because it would be a waste for him to go against Boehner who really seems like he has it made as the Representative Republicans want and can trust.

Snowe, Collins warn GOP to wake up

I do not see the Republicans losing Senators Snowe and Collins now that Arlen has jumped ship, but they do bring up interesting points regarding the future of the Republican Party. In regard to winning back a majority, Republicans will have to allow moderates to function in their party to win back some approval because not everyone is as committed to the cause as they would like to think. The question becomes how to sway moderates on key votes like the stimulus package and the cap and trade plan for Republicans. Instead of pushing Specter out the door, they could have given him some concessions that would have alleviated his fear of losing the party nomination in the future. Democrats have all but assured him that he will be their candidate and that he will be given every resource he needs to succeed. Rather than threatening members to stay in line, Republicans have to make it appealing to stay in the party and vote accordingly. For Republicans, it is better to have Specter on your side on most issues than to have a Democrat against you on pretty much all issues of significance. Whether or not they start to get the message is up to them, but if they hope to overcome the Democrats in the upcoming elections, a change in approach is necessary.

Fred Barnes on Specter defection

For the cool people sticking around past Sunday

Condoleezza Rice will be speaking at Sixth and I this Sunday, for anyone who's interested and going to be around. The link takes you to all of Sixth and I's events and the Condoleezza Rice event is the second one down as of this posting.

I'm tempted to go despite the $25 price tag. Even though I may not agree with her politically, I'm sure it would be fascinating to hear her speak. I've really been wanting to go to something at Sixth and I as well. It's technically a temple, but they host speakers and bands there all the time, which from what I've seen actually overshadows the spectrum of services across denominations they offer as well. They've done things like cooking classes by Spike Mendelsohn and performances by Rob Riggle and Lykke Li. Plus, it's supposed to just be a cool place. Might be worth checking out...

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Cheney for President!

An interesting op-ed arguing that if Cheney had run instead of McCain it would have 1. Woken the Republicans up to the fact that they were heading off an ideological cliff, not moderating too much; 2. led to a national debate on torture earlier in the process. While I would have loved to see the fireworks, I think the GOP really did give it their best shot with McCain.

Some Gitmo detainees will come to Europe

The problem still remains on what we are going to do with the Gitmo detainees. I know that rights probably have been violated by sending the detainees to Gitmo in the first place, but right now we do have to ensure that the safety of citizens of the world is maintained at a sufficient level. I can understand why many European countries are wavering on whether or not to take some of the people because who knows how they will react once released. There are obviously reports both ways on the success and failure of the release of detainees and how do we make it so that everyone else released is a success from now on? As Jones writes, when the government makes decisions like these it is clearly speculative as we cannot know what to expect once we release these prisoners. But does that stop us from proceeding? President Obama and Eric Holder want to move forward and since that is the decision they have made we need to work in the best way possible to get detainees in situations where they will not cause any harm or damage to anyone or any place. Getting help from European countries would be nice, but we obviously need to give them some sort of incentive to get them interested in taking on the detainees and that is something we should be negotiating right now.

Bunning bleeds; McConnell shrugs

I think Senator Jim Bunning may now not be so bad for Republicans given Arlen's decision to switch sides. Unless Republicans can find a candidate who they know can stand up for party well in the 2010 race, they may just have to stick with Bunning and hope for the best. Although there has been some disagreement between Bunning and Republican leaders, at least they know they can count on him for the votes when it matters. His fundraising totals are very low right now and I do not think he will make enough on his own unless he gets some help from his colleagues. Considering that Mitch McConnell comes from the same state he has to know whether or not there is a person capable from the GOP to take over for Bunning. If there isn't then Bunning becomes the de facto candidate and they should pump money into his war chest as soon as possible. McConnell had to raise almost $21 million the last time he ran and if he had to get that much to feel secure, then Bunning is going to need at least $15 million for re-election on top of the public support from McConnell and other Republican leaders. Bunning doesn't have very much time left if he is going to make a charge and so maybe the new filibuster scare will influence Republicans to take a chance on him once again.

Dems rail against Cantor train

Even though House Minority Whip Eric Cantor was against the decision to build the fast train from Vegas to Los Angeles, I do not think they should be pouncing on him for his decision to go after a train from D.C. to Richmond if their ultimate goal is to stimulate growth in the light rail system and create jobs that would go with it. It is something that they have in the pocket to attack him with, but I do not really see a difference in the two projects and if they are going after him for his hypocrisy they should do so in another matter. The train projects are both things that are not the most beneficial use of taxpayer money given how short the trips are already and if they really want support for projects like these in the future it is best to award as many of these as they can with as little disagreement from Republicans as possible. I know when I listen to parties talk about one another, the negativity turns me away and although it does reduce some of the ammo that Republicans have been throwing out, the backbone behind what is going on correlates with what Democrats want to see achieved. The more we talk about these infrastructure projects, the more susceptible they are to public disapproval because details of waste are inevitable and those are the things that Republicans will attack.

Is 'Potomac Fever' a new mutation of Swine Flu

...think about it... i propose a quarantine.

Inside Maryland's New Biosafety Level 4 Lab

Absolutely stunning lab; all the technology that goes into making a BSL-4 lab is really impressive. The viruses they study there, however, are absolutely terrifying. Let's hope they find some answers!

Kind of neat article in light of the Swine Flu issue.

Specter switching parties

Specter has switched to the Democratic party. Should make the 2010 Pennsylvania elections interesting.

Arlen Specter is going to be a Democrat?

I still can't believe it! His switch, along with the Al Franken's eventual win, would ideally give the Senate Democrats the 60 seat fillibuster vote. Yes, he's always been more of a moderate Republican player (as one of the 3 Republicans to back Pres. Obama's stimulus bill)-- but wow!

Fox Says It Won’t Show Obama Press Conference

For the first time, a major tv broadcast station will refuse President Obama air time on Wednesday. Instead of showing Obama's live press conference that will mark his first 100 days in office, FOX will air it's regularly programmed show.

This is so ridiculous. Understanding that networks have quotas to meet and money to make, they also have a responsibility to the public, much of which gets its news and current events exclusively from these networks. I'm not sure how FOX, which is already extremely biased, can legitimately justify refusing the President air time. I might be wrong, but I doubt CNN and MSNBC ever refused President Bush an hour of time on their networks.

Shortage of Doctors an Obstacle to Obama Goals

Obama is struggling to find ways to increase the number of primary care physicians in the country.

Is Van Tran the GOP's future?

From what it looks like to me, Van Tran is the perfect type of candidate for Republicans to be running in the race for a seat from California in the House of Representatives. Obviously, he has the support of some of the major players in the party and his background makes him very intriguing should he decide to run. Living close to California, I have seen the diversity that exists in places like Orange County. Tran has an excellent chance to reinvigorate the Vietnamese community and get them to help him and Republicans move closer to victory. I can see how incumbent Loretta Sanchez would have the edge to begin with given her Hispanic heritage and the large number of Hispanic voters within her district. What stands out to me though is that she understands the importance of the large Vietnamese community that she has to represent and has joined a Congressional caucus to demonstrate her support and appreciation of them. Yet, Tran probably would capture most of those votes and Sanchez would be left trying to work on getting party loyalists out to win. It has been proven that Republicans can win in the area and with former President Bush holding an edge when he ran for President in the district, Tran may just be able to swing the vote Republicans way once again.

Academic Steroids?

5 members arrested after crossing embassy perimeter

I was really surprised to learn that some of our U.S. Congressmen were out on the streets protesting against Sudan in front of the Sudanese embassy. I applaud them for having the courage to do something that most people would not and fight for their beliefs. The problem with Sudan is saddening as too many people have died at the hands of their government. When Congressmen get out and voice their displeasure like normal people we can really see them as people just like us who care about things going on in the world. Even though they could have stood up on the House floor and spoke about Sudan, I am not too sure that it would have done as much for the cause as what they did at the embassy. They have been able to bring attention to a problem that many people have not heard about or cared enough to do anything about with their decision to get arrested yesterday. When interest groups like the Save Darfur Coalition are able to get their representatives to the fence in protest it goes to show how much influence they can have if they push the right issue. Although the issue is a tricky one for the U.S. to get involved in, if representatives do care about the situation as much as the ones who were out in protest, it looks like something can be done.

What Obama has been able to accomplish in his first 100 days is enough to make any president envious

No other American president in modern memory has faced a learning curve as steep as the one that Barack Obama has encountered. When he began his quest for the Democratic nomination three years ago, the Dow Jones industrial average was 14,000, and the world was in the midst of a great economic boom. By the time he took office, America's financial industry was in chaos, credit markets were frozen, housing values were plummeting and the economy was in its worst contraction since the Great Depression. Add to that Afghanistan, Pakistan,Iraq, Iran and North Korea, and you get an extraordinary set of challenges.

President Obama Job Approval

Some interesting numbers....

White House push to nullify mining-waste rule

I think it is very important to ensure that our rivers, streams, and other sources of water remain clean. I like this push by the Obama administration to keep debris from entering our water because at the end of the day we do need to productively manage our use of waste. Although rocks and dirt are not the most harmful pollutants to the water, they still do contribute to problems down the road should people need to drink or use the water for some purpose. Coal mining plants should have in place a waste removal program already and even though it is probably easier to just dump it near the stream, they haven't been allowed to do so in the past and they have managed to get by. We have already seen some of the negative effects of unproperly monitored mining operations and the EPA estimates that about 2000 miles of streams across the nation. When we allow mining to posion our drinking water and cause risks to wildlife utilizing the water we run the risk of causing serious damage. On top of that, I think flooding of the streams could potentially occur and then we would be left with more problems down the road of rebuilding the areas affected.

Swine flu creates controversy on Twitter

Some observers say Twitter -- a micro-blogging site where users post 140-character messages -- has become a hotbed of unnecessary hype and misinformation about the outbreak, which is thought to have claimed more than 100 lives in Mexico.

Monday, April 27, 2009

Obama taps Google boss for science panel

The commitment from the President in dealing with scientific research and technological investment is something that we could benefit from given the people who has advise him on the next moves for America. I am not sure that funding is the only way for us to meet the demands that occur with our ever changing world, but it is something that can help us if utilized properly. Scientific improvement in the health care industry are things we need to accomplish moving forward. With the recent restrictions on stem cell research being lifted, we have a chance to make some major breakthroughs for healing individuals. In addition to health care, the technology sector can always be improved. Google, Microsoft, and MIT seem like the right partners to be teaming up with because of their consistent innovation and success in generating programs for the public. With the decline people majoring in fields like math and science, this may just be the incentive that people need to start focusing back in those sectors. The promise for growth is something that we cannot ignore even during our economic situation right now because we will end up recovering and when that happens, we will be better prepared to deal with the future due to this commitment.

Fox sticking with schedule instead of Obama

I never realized the cost associated with putting on a Presidential press conference for the major networks could be so high. Ten million dollars is a lot of money to be giving away especially at a time like right now when the advertising industry is not booming as much as it used to. While it is important for the President to be able to communicate with the public, I can understand how networks would only occasionally like to show these types of broadcasts if they do not have political analysts that could draw people in after the press conference. Even though Fox is probably getting some benefit in terms of partisan selection of broadcasting, the main reason that I feel they are not going ahead with the viewing is the money that it will cost them. I have never watched the show Lie to Me so I can't really judge if that is worthy of missing the president's address to the nation. However, I can see how people may start watching the show simply because it will be the only station without the Obama broadcast. Even with the high approval ratings that President Obama has, there are still some who do not like the direction he has taken and watching the Fox show may just be a way to protest him.

White House apologizes for low-flying plane

Although I didn't see it live, I can only imagine how it must have felt being in New York and seeing a plane fly so low near the World Trade Center. We have undergone so much since that tragic day and the recovery process is still underway. The government should planned a better operation if it wanted to take photographs of Air Force One because it is very easy to get frightened by a sight like this especially where the world saw one of the most horrific acts in history strike the United States. On top of the problem of scaring people, the government failed to communicate properly with local authorities and airport officials. They can claim all they want that there was a mix-up in the process, but that should never be the case when the federal government is flying an expensive plane in a civilian area. When we fail to communicate properly, we set ourselves up for situations that can be prevented and this falls into that category. I would like to see better use of the government's aircraft and energy than needing to take photographs of planes when they could have done the same pictures on the ground or even simulated what it would look like on the computer.

The Boy Scout of Baghdad

Amazing story about how Washington sabotaged the #1 investigator of corruption in Iraq. Makes you wonder what we are really working for in Baghdad.

Idealism Amid the Cynicism of Russian Politics

This article describes how a candidate for local election in St. Petersburg renounced his victory due to election fraud. I think that a young politician standing up for free and fair elections to the possible detriment of his own career is refreshing. Chances are this will have little impact on the majority party, the party of Putin, but at least it will draw public attention to Russia's corrupt political practices.

Atheism making a push

More and more atheists are "coming out" and declaring their lack of faith. This is an interesting article on the difficulties Atheists face and their recent moves to organize and lobby Congress. I was really surprised to read that Atheists rank the lowest of all minority groups in the U.S. in terms of invidivuals people wouldn't vote for or want their children to marry.

Reforming Graduate Studies

I love how everything is being reevaluated in light of the economy - why couldn't we have strategized to reduce spending before?

On Patrol With Nigeria's Police

Eye-opening to say the least

To Save Money, M.I.T. Drops 8 Sports Teams

In order to cut back on their budget, MIT has dropped all varsity sports teams. Alpine Skiing, Competitive Pistol (what the heck is that??), wrestling, gymnastics, and men's/women's ice hockey were eliminated on Thursday (a cutback that will save the school $1.5 million).

Website lets users rate Congress

With all of the advances in technology we now are able to connect with others around the country and talk politics. I think it is important for politicians to be aware of how constituents feel about the job that they are doing. Although a website like the one that will be launched this week probably will not be read directly by a member of Congress, I can see the value if only to provide people with an outlet to voice their opinions. You probably will end up with partisan commentary, but if there are Independents or constructive concerns being shared then something like this could work. I can see how constituents would grow frustrated by the limitations on how they can express their views to their representatives and rather than writing a letter or making an angry phone call, a website like this would give them the chance to review statements from others and determine whether or not people share their same views on the state of their representation. I am going to be interested to see if this website turns into something productive because if people utilize it properly then it would give members of Congress another avenue to determine public opinion.

Democrats pressure one of their own to exit Senate race in Buckeye State

Ohio is shaping up to be one of the more expensive races for the 2010 election season and there is no doubt that both parties see the viability of capturing the open Senate seat. I think Democrats should have made it clear who their candidate was going to be by now because the longer that they delay in naming their nominee the harder it will be to fight off the Republican Rob Portman, who is a master at fundraising and has proven capable of winning on a large scale. It would behoove the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee to stop dilly-dallying around with Jennifer Brunner and let her know exactly what she needs to do in order to get their support. Ohio is pretty much one of the biggest chances for Democrats to get the filibuster proof majority that they so desire and if Brunner is only able to drum up $200,000 in four months then how can they expect her to appeal to a wider audience that will end up footing the bill should she win the party's nomination? I think Portman has a very good opportunity to stretch out his war chest even larger as the Democrats continue to drag along and with that war chest he will be able to generate publicity for himself and demonstrate why he would be a better person for the job.

GOP Seeks New Mexico Comeback

Living so close to New Mexico, I have heard a lot about the control of the Democratic Party in the state. When Bill Richardson's scandals hit the airwaves it was like nonstop news reporting down in Phoenix because of how popular he was in his state. For him to have taken such a drastic reduction in public approval ratings indicates the point that politicians always are under the public eye and anytime they make mistakes they will have to face the brunt of the media and sometimes their constituents as well. I think President Obama had it right when he selected Richardson originally for his cabinet because Richardson championed his cause during the campaign season and helped draw Democrats to the polls. However, this is a state that I feel Republicans can win in and have shown their ability to do so in the past. The argument of too much power for Democrats in the state starts ringing bells when scandal after scandal is uncovered because that just makes the public tired of what is going on. With Richardson's approval at an all-time low and more Democrats becoming Independents in the state, Republicans have the opportunity to pounce if they campaign effectively.

Official White House photographer gets inside view

Photographer Pete Souza is on leave of absence from his normal post as an assistant professor of photojournalism at Ohio University's School of Visual Communication, Souza is the chief official White House photographer for President Obama, meaning he has an all-access pass to the president's most intimate and private moments. Souza brings a unique perspective to the job, having also been the official White House photographer during Ronald Reagan's presidency. He acknowledged that Reagan was probably more formal, but told CNN he sees similarities between the two

Swine Flu anyone?

Mexico seems to be the epicenter of the outbreak, where as many as 103 deaths are thought to have been caused by swine flu, the country's health minister said. An additional 1,614 reported cases have been reported in the country. Countries like Russia and the US are taking serious action to try to combat the spread of this disease. The United States stepped up preparations for a possible epidemic of the virus after 20 cases were confirmed, and Canada announced its first cases of the virus Sunday -- six mild cases. Meanwhile, Russia banned meat imports from Mexico and the southern US. Russia also plans to screen incoming passengers. Yet another disaster for President Obama and his administration.

Reforming health care

Like squeezing a balloon?

Obama's Tax Plan

Sunday, April 26, 2009

Bull in a Supermarket

Not sure which part is funnier, the bull chasing people or trying to figure out what all the Irish people are saying! Oye thick accents!

House Heavyweight Feels Threat to Power

So powerful was Representative John P. Murtha at one time that he used to put up billboards in his Western Pennsylvania district declaring that “the P is for Power.” Few in Congress dared disagree: he doled out or withheld billions in federal money each year for lawmakers’ pet projects, better known as earmarks. Recently, there have been a string of "federal criminal investigations of contractors or lobbyists close to Mr. Murtha," the top Democrat on the defense appropriations subcommittee, are threatening to undermine his backroom clout. 

And this is the man that Pelosi wanted for House Majority Leader... it's a good thing that Steny Hoyer won.

Computer to Compete in Jeopardy

Next step, take over control of all defense operations in the United States, eventually becoming self-aware and turning our nuclear missiles against us in a devastating attack. I say we strike now while we still can!

NFL Draft pick Jarron Gilbert jumps out of pool

I was watching the NFL Draft this morning and I saw something that I couldn't believe until I watched it for a second time. The Chicago Bears look like they got a steal with their selection of Jarron Gilbert and if he can get to the quarterback as well he can jump out of the pool, the Bears may just have a defensive lineman they were sorely missing last year. You should take a look at the YouTube clip attached in the link if you want to see a six foot five beast use his athleticism and leaping ability to get out of the shallow end of a pool.

World Bank gives aid to Mexico for swine flu

I think this fulfills the World Banks' mission of making the world a better place to live. It is definitely worthy for the World Bank to be helping Mexico in its recovery process and to ensure that as few people are affected by the swine flu or any other illness in the future. With the President's declaration of emergency over the outbreak, we need to be working towards getting people back to proper health. The aspect that I find very encouraging is that the World Bank is willing to commit funding in the future so that Mexico can build up its operations in the event that another outbreak takes place. We now understand that this is a potential problem and unless we work to eliminate the cause of the illness it is possible that it can just pop up back again in the future. I think the World Bank has done an admirable job in this situation given that they really only started working on aiding Mexico a couple of days ago. Being able to work quickly in putting together packages is probably not something that happens very often, but it is nice to see the World Bank stepping up at this time.

OPEC chief says oil prices are too low

The price of oil seems good to me as a consumer, but I understand why OPEC wants to increase the price as soon as possible. From an investment standpoint we only have a limited source of oil in the world and although we don't know exactly when our supply will be depleted, getting the most out of what do have is important moving forward. Working on reducing our dependence on oil should be a key initiative involved with the car companies that we are helping restructure because not only from a safety benefit, but also from an environmental aspect we can be doing good things for the country. It is going to take a lot of time to accomplish this goal, but in the mean time we can still continue to reduce our use of oil by limiting the amount of time we spend driving and by capitalizing on the public transportation systems that we have in place. I like President Obama's commitment to improving the infrastructure and light rail systems around the country because I have been able to see the benefits firsthand. Living here in D.C. has given me a whole new perspective on public transportation and it is much more convenient and less stressful than driving on the road.

GOP sees lessons, silver lining in Tedisco loss

Once Tedisco finally conceded the race to Murphy, I think Republicans started to wonder what went wrong. From what I could tell, Tedisco's advantages were significant once the race began, but he allowed himself to believe that he was going to win because of the large Republican base and the name recognition he had over his competition. While those are very good things to have in your pocket, I think he failed to promote a positive image of himself during the campaign. Rather than showing a lot of advertisements promoting the good things that he was going to bring to office, I constantly saw negative attacks on Murphy and his lack of experience in the political arena. Challenging Murphy's stance on the stimulus was something that needed to be done, but Tedisco failed to outline exactly how he would have increased the prosperity of the nation if elected. The point that the article focuses on with regard to the absentee ballots is very valid because Murphy understood that the race was going to be close and that if it came down to a few votes, he knew he needed all that he could get. Tedisco failed to go after citizens for absentee ballots and that ultimately cost him the seat. Republicans lost in their first potential race of change, but they can take away some of the lessons that caused Tedisco to concede and apply them next election because if they do not then Democrats may just hold or increase their lead in both houses.

Roemer to be tapped for India Amb.

It may be an indication that President Obama does not think the cap and trade policy is the most important issue in dealing with India since he selected Tim Roemer as his ambassador to India. I agree with this decision because the threat of Pakistan and Afghanistan becoming even bigger headaches than they are today presents a bigger problem in the short run that needs to be dealt with. Roemer has the expertise in the nuclear energy industry and is quite familiar with the region. I think that moving forward, Roemer will be able to use some of the knowledge he gained while serving on the Homeland Security House Committee because he was privy to some very important information with regard to the power of nuclear energy. President Obama's plea to eliminate use of all nuclear weapons would be something that both India and Pakistan would have to agree to because as of now they hold the threat of using these weapons on one another if provoked. We do not want another war breaking out and so bringing as much peace and tolerance to the region is important. I hope that Roemer is able to contribute to this transition because we are counting on him to spark some real communication.

Saturday, April 25, 2009

Boxer: Get ready for tough re-election fight

I am not surprised in the least that Barbara Boxer is running for re-election in 2010. She has shown that she is passionate about women's issues and the environment and depending on how the new cap and trade bill plays out she may be able to boast about her support for the measure. I do not see her losing the seat, but she seems to have focused a lot on the fundraising aspect of her campaign, which may indicate she sees that Republicans will be putting up more of a fight this time. She has doubled the amount of money she has accrued so far compared to the same point in time during her previous bid for re-election and now has a war chest of $4.1 million. She is going to need all of the money she can get because if as expected Carly Fiorina enters the race she will face stiff competition. I think it is good for Republicans to put her up for the bid because she has the ability to raise a significant amount of money from her former colleagues in Silicon Valley and has the campaign experience she gained while serving as an advisor to John McCain in the recent presidential election. If she decides to run, I think Republicans will definitely close the 20% gap that accrued the last time Boxer went up for re-election.

Olbermann challenges Hannity to be waterboarded

I came across this website and thought it was relevant given the increased attention being devoted to the truth commission and interrogation policies of the Bush administration. Sean Hannity is in for a big surprise if he ends up fulfilling his commitment to be waterboarded for charity. I like that he is confident enough in his beliefs to stand up for the administration and succumb himself to the interrogation technique. I am not too sure I would be able to last very long if I was subjected to it, but if he can last long enough to make money for charity I see it as something worth pursuing and would be interesting to see on television. The longer he can withstand the pain the more he will have justification to back up his support of the technique on his show. The facebook group associated with the website already has over 650 members that have accumulated within the last day and it appears as though there is significant interest in the project. The website itself has video of Hannity tentatively agreeing to the proposal, but until it actually happens, I think more and more people will be pushing to see it live on television.

Visit to the White House

Today I was lucky to get a tour of the White House (the famous 3 room tour of the East Wing). It was a beautiful day and I was very excited to be there, given its huge significance to our country. My favorite room was the Red Room in which Rutherford B. Hayes took the oath of office and he happens to be my relative. I also saw the china that he used for eating when he was president. I also enjoyed seeing the library (pictured above) and the various portraits of a number of past presidents.  After the visit, I went to the White House Visitor's Center... this is such a joke and it is so small! Unfortunately, I was hoping for something more educational, interactive, and with a better gift shop. What I found were a number of "replicated" chairs, pictures, and portraits, the originals of which are found in the White House. The one thing that I did like about the visitor's center was the small "White House" (pictured above). So all in all, it was a fantastic and exciting day in the lovely Capitol of DC.

Clinton renews support for Iraq

Hillary wants the US to stand by the Iraqi people... but for how long? According to 
the BBC,Hillary is quoted at a town-hall meeting with Iraqis of different interest groups: 
"We want to see a stable, sovereign, self-reliant Iraq". This gathering was a reminder of the difficulties lying ahead for Iraqi's in trying to take control of their country. Most of the questions directed at Mrs Clinton were close to a plea for American help in everything, from education to agriculture and the economy. In fact, one man questioned his government's ability to provide security after US troops left. It is nice to know that the US is still needed in places worldwide, but we do need to bring our troops home, hopefully sooner rather than later.

Dems looking at alternatives to Sen. Burris

I was extremely surprised by the low fundraising number that Senator Burris has acquired thus far. For him to not even raise $1000 in three months indicates to me that either he is not interested in running again or that his problems with Blago have turned people away from helping him. In either instance, I do not think Burris has the chance to win a re-election bid and it probably would be best for him to lie low as he has done recently to avoid some of the negative press and attention that is sure to come about once Blago's trial begins. Illinois is one of those states where I think a Democrat will end up winning the Senate seat even though their top candidate has yet to emerge in the public's eye. If they are aiming for state Treasurer Alexi Giannoulias then it is important for him to generate publicity for himself and allow him to build up his war chest even higher. The million dollars that he has raised up to this point seems like a good start, but the race will probably end up costing between $12-15 million total. It doesn't appear that citizens of Illinois have been turned off by Democrats despite all of the turmoil in the state so Republicans need to try and switch the heat back onto them if they want to end up winning back the seat.

Lights, camera, Kerry: Senator seeks movie funds

Senator Kerry has done a lot of weird things during his political career and his decision to fund and become part of a documentary team fits that bill. I like the idea of shining a light on the soldiers who have served our country in Iraq because we tend to forget about how dangerous the situation is there. They deserve to be recognized for their efforts and if done properly a documentary would enable them to put themselves on a higher platform and potentially reach more people with their message. The only problem that I see with this whole situation is how Senator Kerry is going about becoming a funder. I know that his personal wealth is one of the highest in Congress and it does not make a whole lot of sense to me why he would be using his campaign money to fund the movie. If he wanted to reach out to the soldiers it would have been a much nicer gesture to give from his own pocket because if the movie does end up losing money (even though making money is not really the goal of the project) then the people who contributed to Kerry's campaign may not see a return on their investment. Not that Kerry really needs to be worrying about his seat, but it is still better to demonstrate personal interest in the subject by donating from his own wealth because it takes more gusto and illustrates more care for the soldiers.

Globalization recedes

Friday, April 24, 2009

Ten Non-Incumbent House Candidates Topped $100K in First Quarter

I am not surprised to see that Republicans are generating a significant amount of cash to go after Democrats in the next election. The problem is that they are not approaching it in the most effective ways by going after incumbents that have wide support and have dominated their races in the past. For example, even though Republicans hate Representative John Murtha for his views and outspokenness, he seems like he is pretty secure in his seat. Murtha is one of the most active earmark requests in Congress and his constituents do end up seeing money spent back in their district as a result. Republican candidate William Russell seems like a nice guy given what I have seen of him in the news, but for him to have generated over $400,000 this early in the game means that Republicans feel they have shot in this race. Russell's military background makes him a classic national defense conservative and I would imagine that given the economy in Pennsylvania, the constituents would care more about economics than the threat of terrorism at this point in time. Fortunately for Republicans they are demonstrating that they can raise money even in trying times and that may just translate into a few surprises come election day.

Petraeus: Shippers should consider armed guards

I can see the value in having shippers protect themselves from pirates and attacks, but the problems lie in hiring armed guards and providing them with weaponry that they can use to start or end attacks. It would be giving them a lot of power over what takes place on ships and could potentially cause a testy situation for the U.S. if an armed guard accidentally damaged another country's ship or citizens. It is nearly impossible for us to rely on the U.S. navy to patrol all of the waters around the globe and so there definitely needs to be some intensified safety precautions being made by shippers and the Pentagon to reduce the number of pirate attacks. I agree with General Petraeus in his notion that what we are doing right now is not enough and now that pirates have a reason to be angry with our country we do need to develop a plan that can work. What that plan is going to be remains to be seen, but I think we have the ability to put together some sort of compromise to allow protection on board especially now that the public has a reason to see the problems with the issue.

Newly opened database shows airplane bird strikes not rare

I know the talk surrounding bird strikes has dropped a bit since the congressional hearing, but it is still something that I see as having an important implication for the safety of airplane travel. I don't think most citizens could have imagined how many strikes there have been in the last twenty years. Almost 100,000 in twenty years is a huge number that does give me a better perspective on what actually goes on during flights. Whenever I travel on planes I tend not to think about what is going on during the flight and although I don't think I will be worrying about a bird strike the next time I get on one, the number just seems to be sticking out in my mind. Fortunately we have not seen many deaths as a result of birds, but that doesn't mean we shouldn't be preparing to fix some of the potential problems down the road. Investing in the radar technology that is in place at some of the airports around the country would probably be a benefit to safety precautions. The plane is typically one of safest means of transportation and I don't see the bird strikes as causing that to decrease, but it is just gives you an interesting idea to consider when flying out of places like Dulles.

In His Majesty's Secret Service..see what i did there?

This morning King Abdullah of Jordan came to NBC Washington to record a pre-tape for Sunday’s episode of Meet the Press. I quickly realized how odd it would be to meet royalty…i never thought I would have to use the words ‘your majesty’ in earnest. Today, however, was different from most MTP tapings. I never entered the set, in fact, I never entered the green room. This morning I was given the unusual assignment of guarding the King’s private bathroom. After the cleaning crews left and spruced the bathroom up to royal proportions, I took my noble post with strict instructions to let noone in. Among the people I turned down: Deputy Bureau Chief for NBC News and Chris Matthews..none of the people were particularly enthused with the idea of going to a different bathroom, however, all were amused by the King’s commandeering of the washroom. Finally, fifteen minutes in, I was graced by his majesty himself as he shook my hand and introduced himself before using the royal facilities. Now surrounded by secret service officials and the King’s personal guards I held my post. When the king was done doing his thing he thanked me and left. I remained steadfast at my post until the taping was over to make sure ruffians like Matthews didn’t try to take the King’s ‘throne’.

its 6pm...time to leave

Tedisco concedes


Funny Video

yea it's been a long day

Public opinion about pursuing torturegate

Not very popular beyond the left base.

Neverending investigation?

Mr. Schwarzenegger Goes to Japan

..because it's friday

Bipartisanship R.I.P.?

Take me out to the ball game!

Cocktail Recipes for the Recession

Venezuela to give island to New Jersey

I haven't been to Petty's Island, but from what I have heard about its history it seems like it is a very nice gesture on the part of Venezuela. Protecting our wildlife is an important goal for us to have and hopefully with the turnover of this island we can make it a better place for our endangered birds and animals to live. Besides the animal protection component of the deal, I found out that William Penn once owned the island. For that reason alone we could have tried to secure the island and put up an educational and historical center. The history of the island is fascinating with the lawlessness that took place and how ships were wrecked around the area. It seems to me like it was a place for many people to engage in the vices of the day without having to succumb themselves to pressures of being seen doing such business. When the island lost all of his citizens it seems to have lost a bit of its edge, but even though nobody currently lives on the island it still is a place that could be of some value to us in the future and with the money that Venezuela is giving to help fund the conservation efforts for it we may even be able to move some inhabitants back to it within the next decade.

Can GOP Win Back the House in 2010?

I do not believe that Republicans will gain enough seats to take back control of the House during the midterm election like many of top Republicans are claiming they can do. The problem for Republicans is that Democrats haven't done much to reduce their favor with the public and so any messaging that Republicans can throw out there tend to leave a negative taste in people's mouths. The advantages that they had in communication strategies that made them so good during the last decade seem have faded away. They can offer visions of change and point out differences between themselves and Democrats, but until we see some of the effects of the policies implemented by the Democratic Congress it is going to be extremely difficult to change public opinion. On a smaller scale there definitely are races to be won with improved candidates and better run campaigns. In the districts that voted for Senator McCain for President, Republicans really have to show some party alignment and polarization between their incumbents and the Obama administration to take back those seats. However, in the overall scheme of things Democrats seem to be locked for at least another four years and that may not be such a bad thing for Republicans if they can rebuild and restructure themselves during that timeframe.

Obama addressing rising college tuition costs today

President Barack Obama will be underscoring his concern for middle-class families strained by rising tuition costs. The White House says the president will meet Friday with a family struggling to afford the cost of college. Obama is proposing to cut wasteful spending from the federal student loan program by ending taxpayer subsidies to banks.

Arizona told to speed up tracking of stimulus

One of the great things that I see coming from the legislation surrounding the new stimulus package is that we are committing ourselves back to accountability for our actions. I know in my home state that the local government has done a very poor job of releasing its books for public record and indicating how the taxpayer money is being spent. Instead of allowing such behavior to continue, I think Obama's plan for increased transparency will help Arizona and states around the country improve in their reporting techniques and become more efficient overall in their dealings. I was checking out to see exactly where the money is supposed to be spent and it is obvious to me that the President really feels like it is his duty to ensure the public becomes knowledgeable about the government's actions. Even though the government's website only details how the money is supposed to be spent, I still feel this is important because this way that everyday citizens can look at the direction being proposed for their state. With Medicare and education serving as the top two areas being funding in Arizona, I hope that these benefits can be accrued early enough to actually make an impact. It seems like the government has left states to deal with how they spend some of the money directed towards these goals and that is where we need to increase the tracking of stimulus dollars being spent by states so that we can determine if it is being spent properly.

Bad news from Baghdad

According to the BBC, at least 30 people have been killed and about 100 injured in a double suicide bombing at a revered Shia shrine in Baghdad. New statistics from Iraq's health ministry say that since 2005 when violence worsened more then 87,000 Iraqis have been killed. Just a sign that it will not be so easy to leave Iraq and turn our focus to Afghanistan and Pakistan as quickly as we had hoped.

North Korea Loves Being in the News, Just Not the People Who Report It

Two American reporters have been put on trial in North Korea for sneaking into the country illegally from China. This is just a small story on what will likely be a much larger issue in the days to come. These two American reporters knowingly broke the law and knew the consequences that could come with doing so, at the same time North Korea looks like it is trying to make a statement that it should be taken seriously in the world. Unfortunately it is hard to take Kim Jong-il as a legitimate leader when much of his country is starving, and or unemployed much of the time while he lives in a palace and is in the process of implementing a costly nuclear weapons program.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

good news

ever since I read this I've kept my hummer idling... your welcome

I'm just doing my part to defend glaciers

Dream in Gold

Like Charlotte posted earlier, we were fortunate enough to get into a power lunch with Antawn Jamison and Misty May-Treanor this afternoon. Heading into the lunch I thought it would be more of the lecture variety with both athletes discussing the problems of underage drinking. It was very surprising to me that although they did address the issue, the lunch was really an opportunity for us to meet some of our heroes in real life. They were great and very appreciative of the fact that they have the power to give back to the community and were eager to sign autographs, pose for photos, and even shoot some hoops with us. I knew Antawn was a nice person given his demeanor on the court, but he went out of his way to be accommodating and he even remembered our names well into the lunch. I got to play a bit of one on one against him and took a few shots. I scored the first bucket and then he made a shot and called it a tie so that he could play with some other fans. It was tremendous just being on the makeshift court with him. Misty was also very enthusiastic in her presentation and she was very personable with us. She signed a volleyball for me with advice to "dream in gold" and explained that whenever I set goals for myself I should proceed with confidence that I can achieve what I set my mind to and not to sell myself short. Given how I really enjoyed watching her and Kerri Walsh win the gold medal in Beijing it was mesmerizing to be in her presence and have her say a few words to me. The final person that I got to meet was Brenda Van Langer who is a college basketball analyst for ESPN. Not many people knew who she was so when I went up to her and mentioned that I enjoy listening to her play-by-play broadcasting and her insight into the game she was very impressed and was willing to give me a few minutes of her time. I asked her about what it is like going to practices during the final four and meeting with all of the stars of the game and she gave me an answer that pretty much summed up that it is terrific. Overall, I had great time meeting with some of my favorite athletes and seeing them give back to the community with their cause. Giving time and energy back to the fans not only makes what they had to say more meaningful, but it also gives young people a chance to see that athletes are humans and champion causes of concern just like the rest of us.

My meeting with Ike

Today I had the privilege of going to meet with the Chairman of the Armed Services Committee Ike Skelton. It was probably one of the best political experiences that I have ever had in that he called me into his office and talked with me about my future and how to accomplish the goals that I have set out for myself. Although I wouldn't have been able to has this opportunity without my Congressman setting it up for me, it was one that I feel was rewarding for both of us. Ike really enjoyed talking about his career prior to Congress when he practiced law in Missouri and then he showed me pictures of his life in politics. He even let me hold a letter written to him from former President Truman regarding the decision to allow MacArthur to take over during the war. The fact that he took about 15 minutes out of his day to speak one-on-one with me is quite refreshing to me given how I have seen many other members simply make a brief appearance and then move onto something else. Not only did he have great wisdom to share in his rise to Congress, but he also provided me with a chance to see history with his mementos he's collected over the years. It was a meeting that quite frankly he did not have to do much more than take a photograph, but it meant a lot to me that he cared to get to know me as well.

Summers dozes off during speech

Is President Obama tiring on people? The polls suggest that people still support him and his political agenda, but maybe his words do not hold the same credence as they once did. That is probably not the case, but nonetheless it is quite funny to me seeing a person take a brief nap during such an important meeting. I would think meeting with the President would energize a person despite the lack of sleep or tiredness that one has entering the White House. The issue at hand regarding the credit card reform is something that I see as an intriguing position for Democrats. Finding a solution that benefits both businesses and citizens is going to be difficult because credit card companies are not going to want to give away their power to charge fees and the like. However, considering that many people use credit cards and do not pay in full when they receive their statement, the public would rather see the reform take place and put some regulation on what credit card companies actually can do. With Obama's stance on the issue, it is likely that we as consumers will stand to benefit from the additional standards that will be placed on credit card companies.

Senate wants $5M to study financial crisis

Another study coming out of Congress that is going to cost us a lot of money. Five million dollars is a lot to be spending to finally uncover the details that led to the financial crisis we are in. I think I have a pretty good idea about all of the parties involved with what has been disclosed already and I am not so sure that by using this study that the public is going to come to the realization that they played just as big a hand in the mess as banks and the government. In the larger scope, the increase in governmental spending on fraud and enforcement of the law is something that we definitely needed. We know that the SEC has struggled to do its job properly recently and the decision we have to make is whether to increase the efficiency and number of workers dedicated to finding potential problems or to get rid of the commission all together. I think it is better to focus on the efficiency aspect because without the agency we have the possibility of seeing an increase in fraud cases. Now will adding money be the sole solution to the problem? The answer to that question is no and what that means is with a bill like this, things should be made more clear in terms of how efficiency is actually going to be achieved.

I got to meet 2 sports stars today...

I went with Brandon to a Sports Luncheon and I got a signed volley ball from Misty May and basketball from Antoine Jamison, pictured above and below- it was great fun!

U.S. Is Said to Prepare Filing for Chrysler Bankruptcy

A Bravura Opening

The author of this opinion column states that Obama has "shown a mastery of the art of managing the presidency." What do you think?

Watch for this on Meet the Press this Weekend

MTP is slipping in the ratings a bit...

My Skeleton

After Losing Freedom, Some Immigrants Face Loss of Custody of Their Children

Study Finds Pattern of Severe Droughts in Africa

With so much of Africa depending on rain to water the crops, scientists are worried that the next drought will destroy what little stability is left on the continent. The last "unusual" drought lasted for over three centuries. Normal patterns however, suggest that a severe drought occurs every 30 - 65 years. The scientists have been studying drying lake beds to get their data. They have said that their goal is to predict current drought and weather patterns for the next few decades to avoid having millions of people die from lack of water.

Should Speaker Pelosi be prosecuted?

Colleagues fear Inouye may get rolled by party

I think one of the more interesting changes that has come with the Democrats retaking power in Congress is how the committee power is no longer the same as it once was. I see party leaders as essentially writing the bills and controlling who gets the opportunity to place their opinions and suggestions on the table. I had always thought that being on the Appropriations Committee would have been one of the best jobs to have given that you could reward yourself and your constituents with earmarks and government spending projects more than in most other positions. However, with Senator Harry Reid taking the lead in dictating how funding is going to be doled out, it almost is like Senator Inouye is like a puppeteer who has to abide by the decisions of his party leaders rather than his own agenda. I hadn't realized the fact that very few bills now go through appropriations without significant influence from party leaders anymore and that if parties really want to get things funded they turn to the omnibus spending bills without individual member influence each year instead. To me this runs counter to what Jones would argue is the best way to go after achieving policy goals because it seems to be leading to more party escalation and less talk about how to weed out the unnecessary spending. It will be intriguing to see whether or not Senator Inouye tries to take back some of the power of his committee because if he doesn't then his position as Chairman really loses a lot of its relevance.

Policy Escalation vs. Stagnation - Considering "Good" & "Bad" Laws

Whether or not you support the tedious legislative process of bills being made into laws depends on whether you prefer the legislation of ‘bad’ laws or the hindrance of ‘good’ laws. This choice is difficult to make given the varying subjects of the bills, party affiliations and ideology.

For Congressman then, the legislative process must be both cumbersome and a relatively effective method for passing a bill. A Republican Senator, for example, would be more than glad to reject a bill supporting taxes on the wealthy, marveling at the barrier that the process has provided for him. At the same time, he would stomp his foot in impatience as a bill which supports tax cuts winds its way through the checks in a most lethargic way.

Should the process of making a bill into a law be made easier? Once again, the ‘bad’ law ‘good’ law question arises. In this case, we must not only look at what the framers intended, but also the political scene. By political scene, I mean the “danger” or “benefit” the bill actually poses to the American population.

Today, with major issues that affect the lives and livelihood of people such as unemployment, and rising health care costs, the process should not be made easier, but should not stagnate either. Legislators should have enough time to think about these issues and come up with a decision that suits them, and enough opportunities to reject unfavorable bills. All the same, stagnation is dangerous - successful legislation can only be passed if there is activity in Congress. What am I trying to say? Just that the consideration of whether you prefer the hindrance of bad laws versus the passage of good laws ultimately determines whether you prefer policy stagnation or escalation. In the case that you prefer both, what do you do?!

Capitol radio system could cost $100M

I think it is great that we are working to update the radio system that policemen use in the Capitol because it is definite need of an upgrade. One of the main observations that I have made is that the Capitol police are unable to communicate with one another as well as they should be able to. Instead of using the radios, I have witnessed numerous occasions in which policemen have to walk all the way to the other officer that they wish to communicate with because of the poor quality radios. During evacuations and fire drills, it has been total chaos and disorganization throughout my office building and lines that would not move. Had there actually been a real fire in the Longworth building, I am pretty sure most people would have been left to dry because none of the policemen knew which doors were to be open for the evacuation. Now I know this suggests that the police are unprepared or unfit to get their job done properly, but what I take out of it is that communication is somehow not getting through the right channels. Spending $100 million on an upgrade does seem like a lot of money for such a small task, but in the scope of things, safety should be the main concern of these officers and if not supplied with the right equipment how can we expect them to do their jobs in the best way possible?

Levi: The Palins 'blew us off'

I do not have much sympathy for Levi Johnston or his family now that they have gone the media route to get their taste of fame. The best thing for everyone involved would have been for Levi to keep quiet and remain out of the spotlight because if he is so concerned about his child then he would know better than to attack the mother's family on national television. Although Tripp is too young to understand what is going on, the bitterness and hostility that has arisen been the two families will probably hurt Tripp once he is old enough to learn about the difficulties of shuffling across one family to the other each week. Despite my belief that Sarah Palin is making more out of the situation than she should, the only thing that should matter right now is what is best for Tripp. Levi is not the answer to that question at this point in time because he has not much going for him, whereas Bristol has a family that is raising a child of their own and have the resources and time to devote to Tripp's upbringing. It seems like a no-brainer to me that Bristol should be given more visiting time with Tripp, but that does not mean Levi should be totally left out to dry. If Levi really wants to be there for his son then he needs to lead by example rather than threatening lawsuits, conducting interviews, and trying to get his name out there.