Again, there are elections tonight in Massachusetts (US Senate primary) as well as Houston, Texas (mayor). I actually won’t be around to report all that, but will double back to it when I get a chance. In the meantime…
• We’re in Day 2 of the Copenhagen conference, and already there’s a leak of a draft document that could threaten to blow up the whole thing, because the text would sideline the UN role in future talks and disadvantage developing countries. Activists are pissed and hopes are dashed for anything constructive to emerge. Hey, it’s just like our health care debate!
• Meanwhile, Lindsey Graham perfectly understands the message of the EPA’s endangerment finding on carbon dioxide, that it means Congress better get off their butts before the executive branch acts.
• Just weeks after releasing a poll showing him leading incumbent Blue Dog Allen Boyd in a Democratic primary, is Al Lawson preparing to bolt the race and run statewide instead? Based on what I’m hearing from people inside Florida, this may not be such a great loss.
• As the Medicare buy-in proposal gets sanded down, it’s worth pushing back on Kent Conrad’s contention about Medicare rates and rural reimbursement. It’s not the problem Conrad claims, it affects an extremely small number of providers, and the House actually deals with this by raising rural rates.
• A New Jersey state Senate panel passed a gay marriage bill by 7-6, bringing it to the full Senate. The vote is scheduled for Thursday, and if it passes it’s likely to be signed in a lame-duck session. Will New Jersey show up New York?
• Don’t look now, but there has been two days of protests in Iran among the nation’s students, the biggest protests since the summer with rioting in a dozen cities and over 200 arrests. Is this the best time for the US House to introduce sanctions which nobody thinks will work, and which the reform movement thinks will only harm the Iranian people? And why is J Street so keen to back it?
• Michael Steele wants to postpone the health care debate. Shockingly, the Democrats didn’t get right on that. Meanwhile, the latest electoral move from the Republicans is to ask incumbent Democrats nicely to retire. Also, shockingly, they may not comply!
• Here’s an interesting bit from the President’s speech on job creation today:
The fear among economists across the political spectrum that was — was that we were rapidly plummeting towards a second Great Depression. So, in the weeks and months that followed, we undertook a series of difficult steps to prevent that outcome. And we were forced to take those steps largely without the help of an opposition party, which, unfortunately, after having presided over the decision-making that had led to the crisis, decided to hand it over to others to solve.
Partisan! The President’s meeting with lawmakers about his jobs bill tomorrow.
• A horrific day in Baghdad, with blasts killing over 120 people. “Better” in Iraq does not mean completely safe or even the end of a war zone.
• The Taliban pays more for soldiers that coalition forces pay Afghans? At one level this is absurd because of the collective GDP of coalition nations relative to the Taliban, but at another level, it shows the absurdity of building a legitimate Afghan security force, since we cannot pay higher than Taliban wages forever, and the Afghan government has absolutely no ability to do so.
• Obama’s Interior Department has approved offshore drilling in the Arctic?
• Ron Paul has waged a decades-long campaign to audit the Federal Reserve – but now that the bill is on the verge of passing, he doesn’t plan to vote for it because it’s attached to a larger regulatory package. “That’s my tradition,” Paul said. It’s a unique one.
• It’s not enough to acknowledge that climate change is working if you respond by ignoring it. This seems to be a larger problem about humans and long-term thinking.
• Pakistan turned against Muslim extremism when they started targeting Muslim civilians. Maybe the same thing is happening in Somalia.
• I saw this episode of The Office and was appalled that Michael Scott promised free tuition to a bunch of students when he had no ability to pay. This is an interesting essay on the worthiness of that move.