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WASHINGTON -- There are times when I flirt with the notion that the country would be better off with divided government.
WASHINGTON — Congress has acted, after a cruel delay, to renew the extension of unemployment benefits. Those who are unemployed through no fault of their own will be eligible to collect benefits for as long as 99 weeks. This is an awfully long time, and it raises the question: Is Congress subsidizing slackers? To put it in a slightly less provocative way, do the beefed-up benefits encourage people not to work?
WASHINGTON -- Elena Kagan, no surprise, did not live up to the Kagan standard of openness in answering questions during her confirmation hearing. Mitch McConnell did not live up to the McConnell standard of deference in voting against her.
WASHINGTON -- Stop procrastinating. That is always good advice, and always hard to heed. But in some situations procrastination is more damaging than others. One of those involves getting the country’s fiscal health in order. The latest advice to stop procrastinating -- or, perhaps more important, the latest explanation of why procrastinating will only make matters worse and the fix that much more painful -- comes courtesy of the Congressional Budget Office, and its new report on the long-term budget outlook (http://tinyurl.com/25a7chn).
WASHINGTON -- If I were President Obama, I’d be seriously rethinking James Clapper’s nomination to be director of national intelligence. At the very least, I’d call him in -- along with the umpty-ump other intelligence chieftains -- and order up another look at the serious problems with the sprawling intelligence bureaucracy exposed by The Washington Post.
WASHINGTON -- I owe Sarah Palin an apology.
WASHINGTON -- As a matter of policy, President Obama’s nomination of Donald Berwick to oversee Medicare and Medicaid was inspired: Berwick, co-founder of the Institute for Healthcare Improvement, is the country’s leading evangelist for the proposition that it is possible to deliver higher quality medical care at a lower cost. He’s not only preached that gospel; he’s shown that it can be translated into reality.
WASHINGTON -- And sometimes, life imitates farce.
WASHINGTON -- What is this, middle school? I was all set to sit down and write about women in politics, and applaud Tuesday’s results, when off pops the new Republican nominee for senator from California, Carly Fiorina, with a comment that takes you back to the cattiness of the school cafeteria.
To my dear friends and patients of my Lopez and San Juan Island communities (Orcas and Shaw please don’t feel left out, it’s just I don’t know as many of you.)
WASHINGTON -- “You don’t have to drink. You just have to pay.”
WASHINGTON -- Has Sarah Palin learned anything since she was plucked from obscurity almost two years ago? Not that I can tell.
WASHINGTON — She’s not gay, OK?
PHOENIX -- “What’s the matter with Arizona?” is the obvious question about the state’s new immigration law. There are a few obvious answers -- and a not-so-obvious one that I was surprised to hear from observers across the political spectrum here.
We used to live in a simpler world. It was a world in which we were blessed by an abundance of cheap hydropower and fossil fuels. It was a world in which our pursuit of low-cost electricity and fuel was not complicated by our mounting impact on the environment, natural resources and habitat. A world of seemingly endless economic growth and opportunities. Now that world is not so simple.
WASHINGTON -- I am so going to miss Justice Stevens.
WASHINGTON — It isn’t easy being a caucus of one.
WASHINGTON — The public is zero for seven at the Supreme Court this term.
WASHINGTON — There is something weird going on in the Republican Party when Oklahoma Sen. Tom Coburn is the voice of reason.
WASHINGTON -- My heart aches for the parents of Phoebe Prince, the 15-year-old Massachusetts high school student who committed suicide in January after being relentlessly bullied at school and online.
WASHINGTON -- A woman did it.
WASHINGTON — Here’s a phrase you can expect to hear a lot in the next few days: “According to the CBO.” The CBO is the Congressional Budget Office, the official scorekeeper of the costs of proposed legislation. Rarely has a CBO report been more anxiously awaited than the analysis released Thursday of the proposed changes to the Senate health care reform bill. Democrats are delighted with the bottom-line analysis that the measure would save $138 billion over the next 10 years, and as much as $1.2 trillion in the second 10 years -- all this while expanding coverage to 32 million people who would otherwise be uninsured.
WASHINGTON -- The chief justice is a big crybaby.
WASHINGTON—Sometimes I think I’ve gotten too cynical after so many years in Washington.
WASHINGTON -- Boy, you could see that one coming. It was a pivotal moment earlier this month when Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Mike Mullen and Defense Secretary Robert Gates backed repealing “don’t ask, don’t tell.” Pivotal, but not enough. I don’t spend a lot of time chatting up military officers, but enough to know that, just below the top-most ranks, there remains an enormous, if incomprehensible, amount of squeamishness about letting gay men and women serve openly in the military.
WASHINGTON -- How big a deal was Marco Rubio’s speech to CPAC Thursday? If you are asking, as former President George W. Bush did jokingly the other day, “Who the hell is Marco Rubio?” you probably won’t be for long. Rubio is the 38-year-old former speaker of the Florida House and a conservative challenger to the state’s Republican governor, Charlie Crist, in the GOP Senate primary. If you are asking, what is CPAC? you probably aren’t a conservative Republican. CPAC, the Conservative Political Action Conference, is, for several days every winter, the epicenter of the conservative movement; Ronald Reagan spoke before the group a dozen times.
WASHINGTON — The most striking part of Sen. Evan Bayh’s retirement announcement was his on-air job application. He’d be interested in managing a business, Bayh suggested, heading a university, or maybe running a charity.
WASHINGTON— Jenny Sanford was my role model, until I read her book. Well, not role model, exactly, but improbable heroine. When her cheating, blubbering, disappearing-with-his-soul-mate husband turned up on national television to confess that he had not been hiking the Appalachian Trail, Jenny Sanford was neither standing by his side nor crawling into a hole.
One morning, at the breakfast table, while eating a bowl of Fruity Pebbles, your chest begins to hurt. The pain worsens and you feel breathless. You briefly consider the possibility that what you’re eating really are pebbles.
WASHINGTON — My husband and I were away last week — working, but away. My mother was watching the kids, but she also works. So it was particularly important, I told my new but already somewhat spotty baby sitter, that she turn up on time, every day.
WASHINGTON -- This won’t comfort Democrats mourning the loss of their filibuster-proof…
2010 is an important year. We will participate in the 23rd U.S. Census to determine our nation’s population. The census is mandated every 10 years by the U.S. Constitution; the results are used to allocate congressional seats, electoral votes and government program funding.
San Juan County Health & Community Services will participate in the state’s annual Point in Time Count of Homeless Persons (PIT) on Thursday, January 28. Prior to that date it will contact and enlist the cooperation of local agencies and organizations that come in contact with homeless members of the community.
Weekly Note: Ruth Marcus will be replacing Ellen Goodman’s column. Goodman retired at the end of 2009.
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