Monday, August 31, 2009

Summer Homework
Is it too much? Here's a NYTimes panel on the question of summer work and homework, generally for children. Whose view is closest to yours?

Sunday, August 30, 2009

Know What This Is?

Answer here. Pretty cool.

Saturday, August 29, 2009

Remember When TARP Was Sold as an Investment?
And not just a bunch of money we simply threw out the window to save the financial system? Well, it turns out we are actually making a profit on some of it. The $700 billion original cost is shrinking as banks pay back the US Treasury - and then some. By the time the whole thing plays out, we may even break even on the deal (with the added bonus of perhaps avoiding the complete meltdown of the economy in a global depression).

Friday, August 28, 2009

Lunkhead of the Week
Steven Anderson. Some weeks, it's an easy call.
Deep Thought
Given the state of things, politically - with liberals frustrated and confused about his health care strategy, independents predictably weak-kneed when it comes to actually doing something, and Republicans just frothing-at-the-mouth, batshit insane, it's pretty impressive really that Obama's approval ratings are as high as 50%.
Argues for compromise. Would you take this deal?
More Ted
Kenny B wants to know why this isn't playing on newscasts across the country re health care.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

What is the Price?
In case your eyes have been dry all day, here's Ted on the minimum wage 2 years ago.
The Lion of the Senate
Rest in Peace, Ted Kennedy. Read the President's statement here.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Health Reform Updates
Some recommended links:
Jon Gabel of the National Opinion Research Center writes an op-ed in the NYTimes questioning the ability of the CBO to accurately predict savings in reform:
As health care reform makes its way through Congress, the budget office’s assessment of how much various elements might cost may determine the details of legislation, and whether it ultimately passes. But when it comes to forecasting the costs of reform, the budget office’s record is suspect. In each of the past three decades, when assessing major changes in Medicare, it has substantially underestimated the savings the changes would bring.
At TPM, Josh posts the concerns of a doctor has an idea why fellow professionals aren't more engaged in the reform effort:
Remember our daily lives: every insurance company requires that we are certified with them, every company has a different form to use, every company says no to our initial request. Hospitals rarely collect more than 40 cents on the dollar billed. THEY DRIVE US CRAZY. So, why not enlist us in the cause?

There are many examples of low-hanging fruit: a universal billing form, available for electronic submission to cut down on paper work and administration costs; a penalty for a claim incorrectly rejected...He needs to show us why reform will improve our working lives as well as our patients lives. If he did that, there would be no louder advocates.
Steven Pearlstein rips Michael Steele.

David Leonhardt explains the benefits of an approach like Wyden-Bennett, which Nashville Congressman *sigh* Jim Cooper supports, but hardly anyone else.
In the simplest version, families would receive a voucher worth as much as their employer spends on their health insurance. They would then buy an insurance plan on an “exchange” where insurers would compete for their business. The government would regulate this exchange. Insurers would be required to offer basic benefits, and insurers that attracted a sicker group of patients would be subsidized by those that attracted a healthier group.

The immediate advantage would be that people could choose a plan that fit their own preferences, rather than having to accept a plan chosen by human resources....

The longer-term advantage would be that health insurance would become fully subject to the brutal and wonderful forces of the market. Insurers that offered better plans — plans that drew on places like the Mayo Clinic to offer good, lower-cost care — would win more customers.
Don't Try This at Home
Thanks to Mark for sending.

Monday, August 24, 2009

God Help Us
Wasn't Timothy McVeigh a right-wing terrorist? Also, just a year ago weren't we at war with terror? I guess it's ok if you're a Republican.
In Which I Sort of Agree with Douthat
It doesn't feel great to, but I basically agree with his column this morning, which ends this way:
If the Congressional Democrats can’t get a health care package through, it won’t prove that President Obama is a sellout or an incompetent. It will prove that Congress’s liberal leaders are lousy tacticians, and that its centrist deal-makers are deal-makers first, poll watchers second and loyal Democrats a distant third. And it will prove that the Democratic Party is institutionally incapable of delivering on its most significant promises.

You have to assume that on some level Congress understands this — which is why you also have to assume that some kind of legislation will eventually pass.

If it doesn’t, President Obama will have been defeated. But it’s the party, not the president, that will have failed.

Friday, August 21, 2009

Lunkheads of the Week
Michelle Bachmann and Jim Demint pull off a rare feat not credibly attempted by elected officials since the 1960s. Ladies and gentlemen, I give you The Full Crazy. Josh has more at TPM.
Capitalism: A Love Story
Honestly, the trailer doesn't look great to me, but Michael Moore's new movie will surely be fun to watch. He says "I made this movie as if it was going to be the last movie I was allowed to make." Out in October.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

"It's Important That You Don't Only Use Marshmallows"
That was my favorite sentence from this researcher, explaining the findings and lessons from the Marshmallow Game (which I looked up thanks to a weekend conversation with Stevie T), a test done of children ages 4 and 5 that turns out to be strongly predictive of academic success and higher psychological functioning. Apparently, it features prominently in a newish book called "The Time Paradox".
Looking for Silver Lining
Even without a public option, health reform would - so far as I can tell - still include the following:

1. Individual mandate would require Americans to be insured, even young healthy people who think they don't need it.

2. New regulations would prohibit insurance companies from denying coverage to the sick, and from dropping people just for changing jobs or losing their job. Regulations would prohibit caps on coverage.

3. A health care exchange would operate as an entry point for those not covered through their employment - it would list a menu of private health coverage options from insurance providers, offering citizens the same options that federal employees have.

4. Government subsidies - calibrated to an average of the 3 lowest prices in the exchange - would help low-income and lowish-income Americans pay for health insurance. With the mandates and the subsidy, near-universal coverage would be achieved.

5. Companies (of a certain size) that refuse to offer medical coverage to their employees would be required to pay into the subsidy pool.

6. Small businesses would receive tax incentives for covering employees.

There are surely others, but those are the ones I've heard the most, and none of them depend on a public option added to the exchange (do they?). The public option would help keep coverage costs down, and keep insurance companies honest in other ways, and those things alone make it a badly needed element of reform, but does it really render the other accomplishments "not real reform" as so many (including Howard Dean, God love him) are saying? Are we over-reacting on the left? Am I just pissed about losing yet another political fight to Republicans and other government-haters and fear-mongerers? Or is this really worth a line in the sand? These are honest questions and I am educable here, so help me out.

I tend to believe reports that the White House was completely surprised by the public option becoming the lynch-pin of reform, and that President Obama really sees it as only one small piece of the broader reform effort - not one of the principles but only one of his preferences for achieving them. Tell me how my glass half-full thought here is off base - as I'm sure it is. Are we right policy-wise to make the public option the defining piece of real reform? Politically, are we right to do it, given that surely this is the frame most comfortable to Republicans?

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Ruts Are Real
Apparently, stress brings on changes in the brain that compel us to seek routines and habits, even the ones that bring on stress in the first place.
...researchers have discovered that the sensation of being highly stressed can rewire the brain in ways that promote its sinister persistence.
“Behaviors become habitual faster in stressed animals than in the controls, and worse, the stressed animals can’t shift back to goal-directed behaviors when that would be the better approach,” Dr. [Nuna] Sousa said....

Robert Sapolsky, a neurobiologist who studies stress at Stanford University School of Medicine, said, “This is a great model for understanding why we end up in a rut, and then dig ourselves deeper and deeper into that rut.”
There's a little bit of hope though. With the removal of the stressors, the effects on the brain are reversible. Good luck with that.
Damn You, Facebook!!
The girl I had a huge crush on in 12th Grade is a "fan" of Sarah Palin. Did I need to know that?

Monday, August 17, 2009

Dr. Dean in the House
I don't buy conspiracy theories that somehow Democrats and Obama have everyone right where they want them on health reform. (Not a member of an organized political party....)

Maybe strong reform is still salvageable, but seems like what's going on is just what it looks like: some bungling, some lowering the bar, and negotiating from weakness (for some reason). Hopefully a bill will still be standing at the end with some measure of reform still in it.

I tend to agree with Howard Fineman, who I just heard say that approaching universality of coverage was always the part Obama cared about, not publicly run competition, which has somehow become the litmus test. But for those of you that want to believe, Howard Dean says don't worry. It's all going to work out just fine, public option intact.
Insanity [UPDATED]
Will this phenomenon simply continue to escalate until finally something horrible happens? Hopefully I am underestimating the sanity of politically-charged gun owners.

[UPDATE: At TPM, Josh makes good sense on this issue, concluding: "...put me down as not believing we should allow the brandishing of firearms in proximity of the president as an acceptable way of expressing opposition to the president. Shouldn't this be obvious?"

But the next logical point has to be heard as well. The reason the White House will *never let the Secret Service* establish policies targeting that kind of behavior is a political one: Obama will not want to be seen as fulfilling the prophecy of the irrational right that said he will take away their guns. If one nutjob legally carrying a gun in a protest zone is detained or forcibly disarmed, firearms will be everywhere and we won't hear the end of it.

The good news is that this problem - political as it is - has a very reasonable and easy political solution: some Republican who is respected by gun nuts needs to be the one to come out against this kind of display and demand the Secret Service take additional protective measures by expanding the no-gun perimeter in public gathering places around the President at events. The bad news is, yeah I can't think of who would do it, either. But the fact that nobody on the other side is raising this issue as a matter of essential security - protecting our President, for goodness sake! - is a pretty good indicator of the current Republican commitment to disunity.

Say what you will about even the Clinton years. I don't remember armed protestors showing up with impunity. When did this become ok?]

Friday, August 14, 2009

Lunkhead of the Week
I've had my eye on the Whole Foods CEO, John Mackey, for potentially award-winning lunkhead excellence, until I saw the letter sent out by Representative Paul Broun (Crazy-GA), warning of the President's health reform plan.
Obama and his advisors are modeling this rationing board after European systems that use age and life-expectancy as key factors in deciding the "cost efficiency" of a procedure.

In other words: When mama falls and breaks her hip, she'll just lie in her bed in pain until she dies with pneumonia because her needed surgery is not cost efficient.
Broun wins. Can you believe it's come to nonsense like this? As low as my opinion of Republicans had already sunk, I have to say they've surprised even me in this debate.
Movie Notes
Believe it or not, I really liked the new movie Julie and Julia. I was pretty surprised myself. It's funny and sweet and understated in some truly nice moments. Kind of fluffy but without being too sappy or childish. Yeah a dumb moment here and there, but didn't detract from the overall fun of it. And, as much as I went to watch Streep's performance, I honestly forgot it was her after a while. It seems stupidly obvious to even say, but she really is pretty good. Lots of it is her voice here, but plenty of subtle physical things going on as well (not that I'm some acting expert).

I followed that up with Adoration last night. Not sure I could have picked a more completely different film. Atom Egoyan's movies are always a fascinating, gradual uncovering of truth, and Adoration is no different. This one is HEAVY though, all the way through. And some of the real head-scratching decisions you witness early on don't really hold up under the weight, even if they are to some degree explained by the time you get to the end. As much as I wanted to like it - and definitely was moved and surprised in a few very poignnant moments, the whole thing just comes off as too contrived to hold together.

Lastly, it's not out yet, but District 9 is getting great reviews, which I of course have not read because I don't like to do that sort of thing. Still, you can tell from the headlines they're very positive.
A nasty takedown of Rick Santorum after news that the Republican former PA Senator is considering a 2012 run for President. Here's the thing: this slap was authored by prominent GOP strategist Mark McKinnon.
I’m a pretty tolerant guy, but beyond his ideology, some of Santorum’s behavior is just a little bizarre. For example, Santorum has six children. In 1996, he had son born prematurely who lived for only two hours. He and wife brought the child home and introduced the dead infant to the rest of their children as “your brother Gabriel” and slept with the body overnight.
Preemptive strike? We can only hope this is the tone of a long contentious struggle for the Republican nomination. Who's the biggest nutjob without being too unpalatable? Bring on the crazy!

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Sleep Deprived
It's no secret anymore that sleep patterns are strongly tied to overall health and well-being - including childhood development. Our brains and bodies do lots of important stuff during that time, and can't do important stuff well during waking time if it hasn't had enough. It's also no secret that some people just need less than other people. But there are also those (I plead guilty) who, when confronted by this health requirement, like to offer the I-need-less-than-others excuse even though I don't really know if it's true, whether less sleep is really affecting my health and performance or not.

All of that to preface the discovery of a gene that really does allow some to thrive perfectly well on only 6 hours per night. Before you claim "Aha! I am one of those people!", you should know that no, you are not, and neither am I. At least, chances are very, very good that we aren't.
The gene is vanishingly rare in humans, occurring in less than 3% of people.

So almost everyone who claims they only need six hours' sleep is kidding themselves. And the consequences of chronic sleep deprivation are serious, says Clete Kushida, president of the American Academy of Sleep Medicine and director of Stanford University's Sleep Medicine Center. Sleep deprivation has been linked to an increase in motor vehicle accidents, deficiencies in short-term memory, focus and attention as well as depressed mood and a decrease in the ability to control appetite.
Ying-Hui Fu, a professor of neurology at UCSF...cautions that most people who habitually get less than eight hours sleep a night are only building up a large, dangerous, sleep debt.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

For-It-Before-He-Was-Against-It Award
Newt Gingrich, who used to be a big booster of end-of-life counseling programs, but is now just a big tool, playing to the crazies.

Meanwhile, one of the weirder stories I read this week touted the possibility of Senator Chuck Grassley (R-IA) as a potential presidential candidate, because Republicans are "in need of an 'adult' who can speak for the party without embarrassing it". Grassley himself demonstrates the argument today that while they may need it, he is not that man.
Euthanasia and the Conversations of Ethics Nerds
If you wonder where all the talk of euthanasia and "death panels" came from, a good piece in Salon ties it all together. The bogeyman - in case you hadn't heard - is Ezekiel Emanuel, one of the best known medical ethicists in the country, who just happens (the conspiracy theorists note) to be the brother of Rahm, the President's Chief of Staff.

If you've ever taken an Ethics 101 class, or engaged in any of that kind of discussion, you know that there's a certain kind of intractable intellectual problem that drives the uncovering of ethical philosophy. If you or I were to just happen to overhear one of these conversations about, say, how do we decide who to throw off the boat if one of us had to die so that all of us could live? we might be a bit appalled if we didn't know the context, that it was a hypothetical for the purpose of an academic discussion of principles.

That is essentially what happened to Dr. Emanuel, who, despite becoming the "death panel" poster boy for Palin et al, is as it turns out a staunch opponent of legal euthanasia and doctor-assisted suicide. Read all about it.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Obama Town Hall
Must have had a no-crazies-allowed sign out front. There were some questions of dissent, but without the frothing at the mouth and ridiculous lies it's actually a decent conversation - a few legitimate disagreements laid out, and myths dispelled. Watch a replay if you get a chance. Or read it here, if you're into that.

Monday, August 10, 2009

Wishful Thinking
What if newspapers and news stations reported on what is actually in the various health insurance reform bills moving through Congress, instead of just reporting on what celebrity politicians, pundits and various crazy people believe, or want us to believe is in the bill - followed of course by "reporting" on the way the other side reacts to this "news".

Has anyone seen any actual in-depth coverage of the content of proposed health reform legislation? Beyond "public option" and "no more pre-existing conditions", it's pretty tough to piece any real specifics together. You would think, in a normal world, that would be a perfect job for, you know, journalists.
Steven Hawking is British
Investor's Business Daily apparently has the dumbest editorial board in the world. Maybe some reporter could ask Hawking if he would prefer to have America's health care system to the U.K.'s NHS.
Strenuous Exercise May Not Help You Lose Weight
Time Magazine Cover Story:
The basic problem is that while it's true that exercise burns calories and that you must burn calories to lose weight, exercise has another effect: it can stimulate hunger. That causes us to eat more, which in turn can negate the weight-loss benefits we just accrued. Exercise, in other words, isn't necessarily helping us lose weight. It may even be making it harder.
After we exercise, we often crave sugary calories like those in muffins or in "sports" drinks like Gatorade. A standard 20-oz. bottle of Gatorade contains 130 calories. If you're hot and thirsty after a 20-minute run in summer heat, it's easy to guzzle that bottle in 20 seconds, in which case the caloric expenditure and the caloric intake are probably a wash. From a weight-loss perspective, you would have been better off sitting on the sofa knitting.
Many obesity researchers now believe that very frequent, low-level physical activity — the kind humans did for tens of thousands of years before the leaf blower was invented — may actually work better for us than the occasional bouts of exercise you get as a gym rat. "You cannot sit still all day long and then have 30 minutes of exercise without producing stress on the muscles," says Hans-Rudolf Berthoud, a neurobiologist at LSU's Pennington Biomedical Research Center who has studied nutrition for 20 years. "The muscles will ache, and you may not want to move after. But to burn calories, the muscle movements don't have to be extreme. It would be better to distribute the movements throughout the day."

Friday, August 07, 2009

Enough is Enough
Will this new statement from Sarah Palin finally be enough irresponsible fear-mongering to warrant the President coming out swinging? From her recent Facebook post. Absolutely outrageous. How low can they go?
The America I know and love is not one in which my parents or my baby with Down Syndrome will have to stand in front of Obama's "death panel" so his bureaucrats can decide, based on a subjective judgment of their "level of productivity in society," whether they are worthy of health care. Such a system is downright evil.
Remember the fight over NAFTA? When Al Gore debated Ross Perot on Larry King and shredded his critiques? Can we not get someone to go toe-to-toe with Palin in a similar setting to do the same thing over health care? I'm surprised Dems have not generated a single forum to really explain the details - and stomp out the rumors - in a setting that will allow actual discussion. Can we not get an hour of time on the teevee to explain it?
Lunkhead of the Week
I could have chosen many of the usual suspects, from Rush to Lou Dobbs to Glenn Beck, for spreading fear and falsehood over the healthcare debate, calling it socialism and comparing Obama to Hitler. But you've heard of all those lunkheads. So my choice this week is the spokesman for Americans for Prosperity (via TPM), a group leading a tour of the country to rally rage against reform. Listen to the way he riles up this mostly senior crowd, scares the hell out of them with lies, and incites them into anti-government action.
Did President Bush Let Gog and Magog Dictate Foreign Policy
Here's a post I prepared for the church-state blog, but then thought better of actually hitting the publish button. Might as well put it somewhere.

You might want to go ahead and swallow whatever morning beverage you're drinking before you read this account of President Bush's efforts to rally support for the Iraq War, apparently confirmed in a new book by French journalist Jean-Claude Maurice. We can all at least hope that it's not true.
The president of the United States, in a top-secret phone call to [then-President Jacques Chirac], asked for French troops to join American soldiers in attacking Iraq as a mission from God.

Now out of office, Chirac recounts that the American leader appealed to their “common faith” (Christianity) and told him: “Gog and Magog are at work in the Middle East…. The biblical prophecies are being fulfilled…. This confrontation is willed by God, who wants to use this conflict to erase his people’s enemies before a New Age begins.”
Sadly, on the heels of news that Scripture and religious imagery adorned the Pentagon's Iraq War reports to the Bush White House, this very strange story can't simply be dismissed, can it? Perhaps a reporter could follow up with Mr. Chirac and Mr. Bush and determine if it's possible that recent U.S. foreign policy was indeed driven by a 5th-grade reading of Ezekiel.

[UPDATE: Nevermind, published it anyway.]

Thursday, August 06, 2009

Stephen Pearlstein writes this in tomorrow's Washington Post:
The recent attacks by Republican leaders and their ideological fellow-travelers on the effort to reform the health-care system have been so misleading, so disingenuous, that they could only spring from a cynical effort to gain partisan political advantage. By poisoning the political well, they've given up any pretense of being the loyal opposition. They've become political terrorists, willing to say or do anything to prevent the country from reaching a consensus on one of its most serious domestic problems.

There are lots of valid criticisms that can be made against the health reform plans moving through Congress -- I've made a few myself. But there is no credible way to look at what has been proposed by the president or any congressional committee and conclude that these will result in a government takeover of the health-care system. That is a flat-out lie whose only purpose is to scare the public and stop political conversation.
A New Approach
Maybe if Paula Abdul hadn't quit American Idol, this speech by John Brennan, formerly of the Bush Administration and now the Assistant to the President for Homeland Security and Counterterrorism, might have gotten into the news. It's a long one, but worth the read.
First, and perhaps most significantly, the fight against terrorists and violent extremists has been returned to its right and proper place: no longer defining—indeed, distorting—our entire national security and foreign policy, but rather serving as a vital part of those larger policies. President Obama has made it clear that the United States will not be defined simply by what we are against, but by what we are for—the opportunity, liberties, prosperity, and common aspirations we share with the world.

Rather than looking at allies and other nations through the narrow prism of terrorism—whether they are with us or against us—the administration is now engaging other countries and peoples across a broader range of areas. Rather than treating so many of our foreign affairs programs—foreign assistance, development, democracy promotion—as simply extensions of the fight against terrorists, we will do these things—promote economic growth, good governance, transparency and accountability—because they serve our common interests and common security; not just in regions gripped by violent extremism, but around the world.
Indeed, it was telling that the President was actually criticized in certain quarters in this country for not using words like "terror," "terrorism" or "terrorist" in [his Cairo] speech. This goes to the heart of his new approach. Why should a great and powerful nation like the United States allow its relationship with more than a billion Muslims around the world be defined by the narrow hatred and nihilistic actions of an exceptionally small minority of Muslims? After all, this is precisely what Osama bin Laden intended with the Sept. 11 attacks: to use al Qaeda to foment a clash of civilizations in which the United States and Islam are seen as distinct identities that are in conflict. In his approach to the world and in his approach to safeguarding the American people, President Obama is determined not to validate al Qaeda’s twisted worldview.
Clunker Update
No link, but heard on NPR that a deal has been reached with the House. Senate will vote today to approve the House extension, with the understanding that when they come back in a month, the House will revise to take the $2 billion from new funding instead of from the stimulus bill's renewable energy loan program.

Wednesday, August 05, 2009

Crazies Out in Force
Democratic Rep "physically assaulted" at event. No details, so that could I guess mean most anything. Still, did anything like this happen even once during our march to war based on a lie? Taken from the Florida recount playbook, nobody expresses violent outrage like Republicans.
I admit, I am not the legitimate author of Article 19. No sense lying anymore now that my authentic Kenyan birth certificate has been uncovered.
Make your own here.
Watching Other People Brown
I missed this, but over the weekend Michael Pollan had a feature in New York Times Magazine, his thoughts on our current relationship to cooking after watching the new Julia Child-related film starring Meryl Streep.
That learning to cook could lead an American woman to success of any kind would have seemed utterly implausible in 1949; that it is so thoroughly plausible 60 years later owes everything to Julia Child’s legacy. Julie Powell operates in a world that Julia Child helped to create, one where food is taken seriously, where chefs have been welcomed into the repertory company of American celebrity and where cooking has become a broadly appealing mise-en-scène in which success stories can plausibly be set and played out. How amazing is it that we live today in a culture that has not only something called the Food Network but now a hit show on that network called “The Next Food Network Star,” which thousands of 20- and 30-somethings compete eagerly to become? It would seem we have come a long way from Swanson TV dinners.
But here’s what I don’t get: How is it that we are so eager to watch other people browning beef cubes on screen but so much less eager to brown them ourselves? For the rise of Julia Child as a figure of cultural consequence — along with Alice Waters and Mario Batali and Martha Stewart and Emeril Lagasse and whoever is crowned the next Food Network star — has, paradoxically, coincided with the rise of fast food, home-meal replacements and the decline and fall of everyday home cooking.
Don't be fooled, by the way. He does get many of the reasons why we are keen to watch others cook but no so much into doing it ourselves. Much of the piece is spent delving into exactly those factors that explain perfectly well the reasons behind this loss, which he suggests may be far more damaging than even sympathetic readers would have thought. That the reasons for this cultural change may be perfectly understandable though, and the prospect of turning back essentially impossible, doesn't undo or lessen that damage.

Tuesday, August 04, 2009

You Be A Senator
Your "cash for clunkers" program has helped send car sales suddenly upward. Buyers are lining up for the $3500-4500 rebates, trading in gas guzzlers for more efficient vehicles (61% more efficient, according to the White House). But, they are doing it so much faster than you expected when you initially voted for the program, it's about to run out of money months ahead of schedule. You could have probably set more stringent mileage limits (currently, buyers get $3500 for improving mileage by 4-10 mpg, or $4500 for improving by more than 10) and paid out a little less tax money per rebate, and had an even better success. As it is, though, a win for the economy and a modest win for the environment, right?

So, here is your dilemma: the House has already passed an extension of $2 billion and gone on break for August. The rebate program is set to run out of money by Friday, and you're set to go on your own recess after that anyway. And oh yeah your staff just told you that the House bill secured the money for their extension by taking $2 billion from a renewable energy loan program that probably would have more environmental benefit. You're not really sure how the initial estimate - that this money would fund rebates through September - could have been so far off, and there's not enough time to figure that out before recess.

You never would have been for $3 billion in a clunkers program and $2 billion less in energy loans in the first place, but that's essentially what auto dealers across the state are ringing your phone off the hook demanding you support.

What do you do?

Monday, August 03, 2009

White House Video
I like this inside look - describing what happens to mail sent to the President.
Why Did We Wait So Long
To start calling it "health insurance reform"? Obama started last week, and I'm hearing Senators finally doing the same on my teevee today. It seems obvious and effective. Many many Americans are wary of reforming their health care, but wouldn't mind taking the scalpel to their health insurance. Couldn't they have thought of this during the transition, or the campaign?