In a dramatic vote of confidence, Howard Dean—who as recently as last week said a bill without the public option “should be defeated”—helped broker and strongly endorsed the current Senate health care compromise yesterday, calling the Medicare buy-in proposal a “big step forward.” "There had to be a public option because the private sector doesn't work,” Dean told the Huffington Post. “And if they can make it work [without a public option], then let's see." That’s probably as far as Dean has ever strayed on this issue from his netroots base, which is irate over the current state of affairs.
This afternoon, for no particular reason, I swung by a conference in downtown DC at which an association of conservative state legislators was presenting its annual journalism award to Tucker Carlson. Carlson, in turn, had a few thoughts on current events, including a theory for why Obama--as he claimed--has so drastically overreached in his domestic agenda. Obama's problem is not that he's not smart, it's not that he's some kind of crazy Marxist. His problem is that he's never failed, actually. That's his problem.
Tea Party: The Documentary Film, chronicling the movement from Bush’s bailouts to 9/12, probably won’t be coming to any theaters near you. It “premiered” last night in Washington’s Reagan Center, with Astroturf instead of a red carpet and tuxedoed anti-tax types instead of shining starlets. The producers haven’t secured a distribution agreement, and are relying on word of mouth and their website to promote the DVD (a perfect Christmas gift, at only $19.95).
The debate over climate-change legislation in Australia has been a tangled and raucous tale, and it culminated yesterday with the Senate finally voting down Prime Minister Kevin Rudd's plan for a cap-and-trade system. The 41-33 vote against came shortly after the opposition Liberals ousted their pro-cap leader for arch-conservative Tony Abbott. This is the second time Australia's parliament has voted against a carbon cap, and under law, that means the prime minister can call for a "snap election" to reshuffle the legislature.
No matter what you think of it, the kind of troop increase that President Obama announced tonight is going to be expensive. With an estimated $1 billion dollar price tag for each additional thousand troops deployed, the new strategy will drive costs well above the $130 billion originally budgeted by the administration for the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan in fiscal year 2010, likely requiring a supplemental spending bill to pass sometime early next year.
Is climate change gender-neutral? Not according to the U.N. Population Fund, which earlier today released a report arguing that women suffer disproportionately from the impacts of global warming. Especially in developing countries, they can't flee changes like desertification and sea-level rise as easily as young men, who aren’t as tied to children and households. They're often caught up in civil conflicts ignited by scarce resources.
On an Indian summer afternoon in front of the Justice Department yesterday, a group of dark-suited ministers gathered to protest recently-passed hate crimes legislation, saying it had had a “chilling effect” on religious freedom. “We will not be bullied!” cried Reverend Pat Mahoney of the Christian Defense Coalition, to a rank of cameras. “We will not be pressured!
The Hill reported yesterday that the Employment Policies Institute, a “non-profit research organization” that’s been around since the mid-90s, is planning a $10 million media campaign over the next two months to defeat health care reform. The ads, featuring a former CBO director talking about how much the bill will add to the deficit, will run in six states represented by centrist legislators. “After what the House did, it was pretty clear that this whole debate is getting out of hand,” the institute’s director, Rick Berman, told the paper. Who’s Rick Berman?
To the frustration of many a cabinet secretary, the Obama administration is a little behind on its appointments. At this point—with only five weeks to go before the Senate breaks for recess—a little over half of the 514 positions that need filling have been filled. Some jobs are really important: The nominee for the Office of Legal Counsel has been held up for months. Obama’s choice for a USAID director came down just today. U.S. attorney nominations have slowed to a crawl. Other jobs?
In the few hours between landing after a swing through Pakistan, the Middle East, and North Africa and taking off again for Berlin, Singapore, Japan, and the Philippines, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton found time on Friday to stop over in much friendlier territory: a subterranean banquet hall at Washington’s Reagan International Trade Center.