Tag Archives: iraq

Long Live the King

This week was a thriller.

Bernie Madoff thought he was a smooth criminal. Turns out he’s just bad. Really, really bad.

SCOTUS says it don’t matter if you’re black or white.

The House has a bill it hopes will heal the world. Will the Senate tell them to beat it? (No one, after all, wants to be defeated.)

LGBT groups think Obama secretly wishes they’d just keep it in the closet.

And Mark Sanford is starting with the man in the mirror. He’s asking him to change his ways.

But we begin this week with a milestone in what’s become a millstone. American troops are withdrawing from Iraqi towns and cities today, effectively ending U.S. occupation of those areas.

The drawdown is part of a Bush Administration plan sketched out this time last year. Dick Cheney supported the plan at the time, but since the responsibility now belongs to the Democrats, he says it puts America in danger.

Iraq is the main course on a full foreign policy plate. President Obama condemned a weekend Honduran coup, and Iran is still wracked by fear—not to mention increasingly jittery about foreign interference.

Despite turmoil abroad, domestic issues take may top billing this week. Yesterday, two court verdicts set the tone. First, the Supreme Court overturned a lower court’s ruling against New Haven, Conn. firefighters who claimed they were passed over for promotion because they are white.

The lower court ruling was issued by a panel of three judges including Obama’s Supreme Court nominee Sonia Sotomayor. Will this ruling threaten her confirmation? Doubtful. Will it make the hearings more interesting? Darn tootin’.

The other verdict came from Manhattan, where convicted swindler Bernard Madoff got the maximum: 150 years in prison. Madoff cheated 8,000 investors out of hundreds of billions of dollars. His case has become a focus for Americans who’ve lost jobs, homes, and retirements to economic forces beyond their control. Madoff himself is now a symbol of greed and crookedness, and few people were sad to see him jailed.

Back in Washington, Congress turns its attention from the environment to healthcare, which is shaping up to be an ugly fight. Senate Republican leaders held a press conference today to declare a need for reform and a desire to block whatever Democrats come up with.

Speaking of the Democrats, President Obama has again turned the details of a major legislative priority over to a rudderless Congress (see this week’s Top 5). So far the strategy has worked, but eventually the House may need more direction from the other end of Pennsylvania Avenue.

Other loose ends may affect the balance of power in Washington. Mark Sanford isn’t quitting (yet), but his plans to run for the White House in three years are on indefinite hold. He’s the second potential GOP 2012-er to flame out in the last two weeks.

The aforementioned House climate change bill may face well-entrenched opposition in the Senate. President Obama showed praiseworthy resistance (in the Blog’s humble opinion) to the House version’s protectionist clauses. Do the Democrats know what they think about trade policy?

And Al Franken is finally a Senator, but illnesses still keep Dems short of 60 votes.

And so the chaos continues. One final note this week: the Blog will be out of the office for the next month. Dry your tears. If you want to keep track of the Blog’s travels, check our sister blog.

See you in August.

Top 5

The week’s best political reporting and commentary…

CNN: “Jenny Sanford becomes the new political paradigm” by Gloria Borger.

The New York Times: “Baucus Grabs Pacesetter Role on Health Bill” by David Herszenhorn.

The Washington Post: “Despite Majority, Obama to be Tested” by Murray and Balz.

Real Clear Politics: “Alice in Medical Care” by Thomas Sowell.

TIME: “FDR: Getting it Right” by Bill Clinton.

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The Case

Welcome to a special Monday edition of Ripples. Check back throughout the day tomorrow for coverage of exit polls, news reports, and the votes as they come in. Wednesday, the blog will bring you a breakdown of the final results.

 

Today, I want to make my final case for Barack Obama.

 

This blog takes its name from the words of Robert Kennedy. Two years after Bobby gave his “Ripples of Hope” speech in South Africa, he announced his candidacy for White House. At his first campaign stop, in a dusty Kansas gymnasium, he concluded his remarks this way:

 

“Our country is in danger: not just from foreign enemies, but above all, from our own misguided policies—and what they can do to the nation that Thomas Jefferson said was the last great hope of mankind.

 

“There is a contest on, not for the rule of America but for the heart of America. In [this campaign] we are going to decide what this country will stand for—and what kind of [people] we are.”

 

Today, nobody need be told America is in danger. Both campaigns know our economy, foreign policy, environment, healthcare, and education are suffering, and there’s plenty of evidence to sustain that view.

 

In the last two months, we have witnessed the consequences of greed at home. Americans are losing their jobs, their savings, their homes.

 

Today, one in seven Americans has no health insurance. One in five American children is born into poverty.

 

Our roads and bridges are crumbling and we are still haunted by the buckling of our levies in New Orleans more than three years ago.

 

We are floundering in Afghanistan, where more Americans are being killed than in Iraq. Osama bin Laden still plots.

 

The war in Iraq has cost 4,000 lives, $580 billion, and the respect of our friends around the world. We fund Iraq’s government, which has a $79 million budget surplus. The United States has a $428 billion budget deficit.

 

We face nuclear threats from Iran, Russia, and Pakistan. The economies of Asia outpace our own. We owe China half a trillion dollars.

 

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These threats endanger America’s world leadership. And yet the greatest threat to our nation can neither be quantified nor found on a map. We cannot bargain or legislate our way around it.

 

Dear reader, the greatest threat to America is a decline of self-confidence. We have lost sight of how very special it is to be American.

 

Look at our people, our Constitution, our laws, and our institutions and you will see a nation whose character is closer to the heart of God than any ever nation ever chartered by humankind.

 

Our history brims with what’s possible. Our forebears left the only world they’d ever known to hew from a wild continent a new life. We fought a war over the meaning of independence and another war over the meaning of freedom. We settled the West, we chased Fascism from the face of the Earth, and we built an economy for history to envy. We stared down communism and we sent a man to the moon. America sent a man to the moon.

 

But in our success we have wandered from the imagination and determination that set us apart. We have ceded what Franklin Roosevelt called our “righteous might” to follow cheap lusts and vanity.

 

John McCain is a good man, an according-to-Hoyle hero. But since Watergate, faith in our ability to govern ourselves has been shadowed by our misgivings of government run amok. McCain promises more of the doubt, contempt, and suspicion with which we hold our government.

 

Barack Obama cannot single-handedly raise us from our present doldrums to lofty heights. Nobody could, and Obama knows as much.

 

The first time I heard him speak, he quoted Martin Luther King, Jr. He said, “The arc of history is long, but it bends toward justice.”

 

Obama added, “But it doesn’t bend all by itself. If you want it to bend toward justice, you have to reach up, grab ahold of it, and bend it there yourself.”

 

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That’s what this election is about: reaching up for the arc of history and bending it where we want it to go.

 

We can take on the issues that plague our economy. We can halt and reverse the damage still being done to our environment. We can raise standards of education, lower the poverty rate, and guarantee no American ever has to wonder whether they can afford a doctor. We can secure America from threats within and without, and restore our nation to its rightful place as the world’s broker of peace.

 

Obama’s presidency promises to be a point where, as Seamus Haney says, “hope and history rhyme.” But ultimately, he asks us to take responsibility for our own future. He invites us to reclaim ownership of our government.

 

America’s challenges are many and great. The only reason we have not already overcome them is because we have forgotten what is possible when America stands together. Stand up, dear reader. Be counted.

 

On Deck: Just Do It

The blog has made no secret of its choice in this election. Whether you plan to vote for Change, for Country First, or for Cookie Monster, please, please vote tomorrow.

 

Only a tiny fraction of all the people in the history of humanity have had the right to choose their leaders. It is a sacred thing to cast a ballot. Don’t miss your chance.