The 2008 election is finally over. Former Minnesota senator and incumbent Norm Coleman has officially conceded the race to Senator-Elect Al Franken, after the Minnesota Supreme Court unanimously decreed that Franken was the winner. Two hundred and thirty-nine days after the election was held, it should be noted.
Archive of Articles for June, 2009
Tomorrow will be an important date in the history of America's involvement in Iraq. Because it is the first milestone on the timeline for withdrawal that Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri Al-Maliki wrested from George W. Bush late last year. Which means, barring unforeseen circumstances (always a possibility in a war zone), tomorrow will mark the beginning of the end of America's military presence in Iraq.
Dan Froomkin's "White House Watch" column today will be the last one that appears on WashingtonPost.com. Froomkin has expressed interest in possibly moving the column elsewhere and continuing it, and I consider this a test of whether newspapers are (a.) smart enough to realize this is the way to modernize and move into the future of journalism, or (b.) dumb as a bag of hammers. WashingtonPost.com has obviously chosen the (b.) route. Because Froomkin's column is a shining example of how newspapers could migrate from their print business model to the more interactive web-based model they need to be in to survive.
Every so often I get a wild-and-crazy idea on a subject I know little about. These usually are later proven to be unworkable or unwise (by people who do know what they're talking about), but this low level of success shall not deter me. Because right now, in the midst of two roaring debates ("how to pay for healthcare reform" and "how to wean ourselves off foreign oil"), there seems to be a partial answer to both that nobody has hit upon yet. Instead of paying for healthcare by taxing soda, sugar, fast food, tobacco, or liquor (all of which have been proposed so far, as well as other less-direct taxes like tinkering with the income tax system), why not tax plastic?
The American media has an enormous double standard on portrayals of violence on our television screens. It can be succinctly summed up as: real-world violence is obscured or (even worse) turned into a cartoon, but fictional violence is shown in stunningly full-color and high-definition clinical graphic detail -- for our entertainment. This disconnect is infantile. It is a form of censorship that the American public, for the most part, isn't even really aware of. But sometimes, as in the footage of the death of Neda from Iran, the disconnect itself is glaringly apparent.
So there are going to be some ground rules that are going to apply to all insurance companies, because I think the American people understand that, too often, insurance companies have been spending more time thinking about how to take premiums and then avoid providing people coverage than they have been thinking about how can we make sure that insurance is there, health care is there when families need it.
Representative Barney Frank of Massachusetts has introduced two pieces of legislation on marijuana -- one medical, and one recreational -- that deserve a lot more attention (and support by fellow House members) than they have been getting. The first would change federal law to allow states to experiment with medical marijuana without interference from Washington. And the second would drastically reduce federal penalties for "personal possession" of marijuana.
Friday Talking Points  -- Is Obama The Only Person Who Remembers What America Did In Iran In 1953?
Welcome back to your weekly Friday Talking Points roundup. This week will be a bit unusual, as instead of the normal list of talking points Democrats everywhere should be using this weekend in conversations (especially with the media), I'm devoting the entire talking points segment to one single issue -- why what President Obama is doing on the situation in Iran is exactly the right thing to do, and why his hands are tied (by the ropes of American history) so that saying anything more enthusiastic than he's already said would actually be counterproductive if you support the Iranians currently marching in the streets. Because there is a giant elephant in the room of the discussion of American/Iranian relations that nobody wants to discuss, and nobody (other than Obama himself) is even admitting exists -- an elephant with the year "1953" painted on its side. But more about that later, let's take care of the weekly chores first.
The debate in Washington over healthcare reform seems to be missing an important voice: the public. Where are the crowds of people demanding better healthcare? Where are the voices of those who have healthcare horror stories to tell? Where is the grassroots effort to define the problem adequately?
My first choice of a headline for today's column was "Obama's Gay Honeymoon Over," but then I thought better of it. President Obama is currently trying to placate a group of supporters who are not in a mood to be impressed right now with mere incrementalism. Gay rights supporters, quite rightly, are now asking Obama point-blank: "When are you going to make good on all those promises you made to us on the campaign trail? How long are we supposed to wait?"