Archive for January, 2009

We here in the West of Ireland reckon we know quite a lot about American Politics, with a particular emphasis on the innermost workings of The White House. I don’t think we’re alone in this, I think much of the developed world now feels much the same.

Of course we are probably mistaken but that’s not really the point. I will come to the point by-and-by.

Our education-proper started in September 1999 when a new TV series appeared (they don’t really ‘explode’, do they?) onto our screens. ‘The West Wing’ was smart, sharp, fast, witty, intelligent and engaging. It took us into the White House with new American President Jed Bartlett and introduced us to his staff and his family as well as his ambitions and his challenges.

Click to continue reading “The West (of Ireland) Wing”

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I remember when I first worked in Washington, D.C. for a congressional committee almost eight years ago.  It was the Committee on Government Reform.  It was easy to crack jokes about government and reform.  People would ask “Isn’t that an oxymoron?” and it would be easy to laugh.  In recent years it has been that particular committee that has had some doozies when it come to “government reform” including looking into steroids in baseball.  How do steroids in baseball coincide with government reform?  You’ve got me.  But since my days working for the committee, I’ve tried to keep an eye out for how government works to reform itself.  In Indiana, it has taken drastic steps.

In an effort to cut costs, streamline government and more importantly, save tax payer dollars in a struggling economy, Indiana Governor Mitch Daniels has taken bold initiative in his agenda this year, that would eliminate township government, make several of the county elected positions appointed, call for a single elected county executive instead of three county commissioners (that currently act a legislative and executive body) as well as many other moves meant to streamline local government.

Why such broad sweeping changes?

Click to continue reading “Government Reform: Oxymoron or Can It Happen?”

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Well, on the surface this post may not really appear to be related to this blog. However, this is very much a non-partisan issue that will affect most of us regardless of what your politics are. What I’m talking about is the revision to the Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act that will be in effect February 10, 2009.

The CPSIA has been revised, submitted to Congress for approval, and signed off by President Bush that now states that any and all products intended for use by children under the age of 12 will now need to be tested for lead, not only by the manufacturers, but also by the retailers.  In order for any retailer to sell any products to be used by children under the age of 12 the retailers are now required to get a certificate stating the product is safe and contains no lead.  Here’s the FAQS.

Click to continue reading “Unintended consequences?”

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Politico 44 reported today that President Barack Obama wasted no time diving in on Day One on what has been the most persistent and thorny issue for all his predecessors: Mideast diplomacy. Obama phoned four of the region’s most American-friendly leaders: President Mubarak of Egypt, Prime Minister Olmert of Israel, King Abdullah of Jordan, and President Abbas of the Palestinian Authority.

Obama had avoided any extended discussion about Gaza during the transition, frequently reminding reporters that there is “only one president at a time.” But even before a full day has gone by since his swearing in, Obama is sending a message that he intends to take a more active role than Bush in the region.

“He used this opportunity on his first day in office to communicate his commitment to active engagement in pursuit of Arab-Israeli peace from the beginning of his term, and to express his hope for their continued cooperation and leadership,” said Robert Gibbs in a statement. “In the aftermath of the Gaza conflict, he emphasized his determination to work to help consolidate the ceasefire by establishing an effective anti-smuggling regime to prevent Hamas from rearming, and facilitating in partnership with the Palestinian Authority a major reconstruction effort for Palestinians in Gaza. He pledged that the United States would do its part to make these efforts successful, working closely with the international community and these partners as they fulfill their responsibilities as well. The President appreciated the spirit of partnership and warm nature of these calls.”

Click to continue reading “Inside Gaza: The Lynchpin of Lasting Peace in the Middle East”

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As if the jubilation from the Democratic National Convention, where Barack Obama made history winning the Democratic Party Nomination for President, has never ended, more than two million Americans are expected to travel to Washington DC to witness what might be the most historic Inauguration in our nation’s history; while many more millions are expected to watch on television and the web. But massive parties come at a massive cost. CNN Money, Bloomberg.com, Politico and many other news outlets are reporting that Inaugural festivities will exceed $150 million by the time the galas and streamers are all cleaned up—down to the last piece of confetti. This enormous price tag just begs the question: Should we be spending so much money, even for a historic inauguration, when our economy is deep in a recession?


Click to continue reading “Inauguration Party Like No Other”

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