Tuesday, March 23, 2010


Well, it's finally over. We have reform, and it's a great thing. Not single payer, not perfect by any means, but a pretty damn good start. And, of course, there is already a backlash. Republicans in the form of a grumpy John McCain have put the country on notice that everything and anything the Dems do will be stonewalled because...well, because they won.

I don't begrudge the GOP a little bitterness. The ones that weren't totally in the pocket of the insurance cabal actually seemed quite sincere in their ideology. The utter despair I'm seeing amongst their ranks reminds me of how I felt when Bush went to war. I can relate to that hollowness of the chest, and the almost constant stress headache.

But I have to say, deciding that the answer to losing this battle is to turn into a brick wall, refusing to even allow committees to meet for non-partisan things like pine beetle control and such, is just crazy. And it's bad for the country.

I disagree profoundly with the conservatives, but I don't want a war. I want them to have a voice, a seat at the table. I want that because I continue to hope that they might see, when the earth does not go screaming into the sun over the next few years, that progressives actually have some pretty good ideas. And, I want to know what they think, too, because they are Americans who deserve to be heard.

So come on, guys. Drop the petty lawsuits. Stop with the tantrums. We know you're pissed, but removing yourself from the discussion out of spite isn't going to do you any good. We've been there. We know.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Settlement Slapstick

Israel and the U.S. have overcome worse spats than the current brouhaha over the announcement of new settlements in Jerusalem just as Veep Biden arrived in country to attempt a reboot of the peace process. One way or another, things will get patched up.

The question, however, becomes more serious when a closer look is taken at the internal politics that seemingly led to the embarrassing faux pas. Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu is caught between strident right wing expansionists, and a desire to heal the strained relations with the U.S. that have hardened since Obama's inauguration. The Prime Minister's ability to operate unsabotaged by his own people is now an issue, and that, of course, has implications for his tenure in office.

With the Arab League summit in Tripoli looming, Netanyahu must surely be aware that America will expect movement on Israel's part in return for Biden, in the words of one Haaretz correspondent, "...wiping the spit off his face by pretending it was rain." Europe, too, has withheld upgrading various agreements with Israel until it becomes clear that peace talks will actually take place.

If there was ever a doubt that the first thing the Palestinian Authority would want on the table was borders, there is none now. Israel will be unable to credibly demand that the U.S. back them on security being the first order of business, and Netanyahu has only himself to thank for that.