God's Politics

the latest news on congress, health insurance, Pat Robertson, the budget, energy, Gerald Ford, Iraq, the Hussein hanging, New York hero, atheism, and select op-eds

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Congress. For new Congress, a long ‘to do’ list – “Sweeping back into power in both the House and Senate, Democrats launch a 100-hour legislative blitz to signal new management on Capitol Hill.” GOP girds for battle over Pelosi’s agenda – “As Democrats take control of Congress today with ambitious plans for a new agenda,[ The first 100 hours], early signs of bipartisan cooperation have all but evaporated on Capitol Hill, shattering Democrats’ hopes for a smooth transition into power.” Ethics Overhaul Tops the Agenda in New Congress– “House Democrats said that they would move immediately to try to sever ties between lawmakers and lobbyists who figured into scandals that helped Democrats win control of Congress.” Pelosi Walks Tightrope Enforcing Rules – “Today, after becoming the first Democratic speaker in 12 years and the first female speaker in the history of the House, Pelosi will offer a comprehensive package of ethics reforms, a down payment on her pledge to run “the most ethical Congress ever.”

Budget. Bush Signals Budget Accord – “President Bush promised yesterday to produce a plan to balance the federal budget in five years and challenged lawmakers to slash their special pet projects in half next year, embracing priorities of the new Democratic leadership that will assume control of Congress today.” Political wish lists not in sync – “As President Bush used a Rose Garden moment to offer up a menu of spending cuts, the newly empowered Democrats in Congress were poised to swiftly pass their own priorities, none of them on the president’s wish list.”

Energy. Democrats Hope to Take From Oil, Give To Green Energy – “House Democrats are crafting an energy package that would roll back billions of dollars worth of oil drilling incentives, raise billions more by boosting federal royalties paid by oil and gas companies for offshore production, and plow the money into new tax breaks for renewable energy sources,”

Gerald Ford. Ford Is Buried After Thousands in Hometown Pay Respects– “Though Mr. Ford had lived elsewhere for decades, Grand Rapids made it clear that it still considered this his true home and that it still considered him one of its most beloved, famous – and yet ordinary – men. In a city of 195,000 residents, some 57,000 waited since Tuesday evening in a line that wound through two miles of downtown to walk silently past Mr. Ford’s coffin inside his presidential museum, steps from where he would be buried.” A simple, heartfelt funeral for Ford – “The hometown that nurtured, voted for and never forgot Gerald Ford laid him to rest Wednesday after a simple but heartfelt funeral and an extraordinary display of public affection.”

Iraq-policy. Intelligence Chief Is Shifted to Deputy State Dept. Post-“ John D. Negroponte, whom President Bush installed less than two years ago as the first director of national intelligence, will soon leave his post to become the State Department’s second-ranking official … Negroponte will fill a critical job that has been vacant for months, and he is expected to play a leading role in shaping policy in Iraq.” Old guard back on Iraq policy – “a small but increasingly influential group of neoconsare again helping steer Iraq policy. A key part of the new Iraq plan that President Bush is expected to announce next week – a surge in U.S. troops coupled with a more focused counterinsurgency effort – has been one of the chief recommendations of these neocons since the fall of Saddam Hussein in 2003.”

Iraq-opposition. Groups large and small mark 3,000th U.S. death – “As the toll in Iraq passes 3,000 U.S. troop deaths, Americans are holding vigils and ceremonies to mark the grim milestone, honor the fallen and plead for an end to the war.” Awaiting Bush’s Iraq Plan, Democrats Weigh Replies– “Some key Senate Democrats say they could consider supporting a short-term increase in American troop levels in Iraq, a stance that reflects division within the party and could provide an opening for President Bush as he prepares to announce his revised plan for Iraq as early as next week.”

Saddam Hussein. Iraq Defends Hanging, but Holds Hussein Guard– “The Iraqi prime minister’s office on Wednesday mounted its first public defense of the way the government carried out the execution of Saddam Hussein, and said that Iraqi authorities had detained a guard who they believed was involved in recording the moment in a macabre and unauthorized video that has generated revu
lsion around the world.”

Health insurance. Gov. to seek insurance for all children – “Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger will propose that all Californian children, including those in the state illegally, be guaranteed medical insurance as part of the healthcare overhaul he intends to unveil next week, according to officials familiar with the plan. If enacted by the Legislature, his proposal would affect about 763,000 children who now lack insurance.”

Hero. NYC cheers death-defying rescuer – “A day after he jumped into the path of a subway train to save the life of a stranger, Wesley Autrey got a $5,000 reward, a day off and universal acclaim in a city where you supposedly don’t speak to people you don’t know, let alone rescue them.” Construction Worker One Day, Subway Hero the Next– “Wesley Autrey, who jumped on the subway tracks to save a man who had fallen, has been deluged with phones calls from well wishers.”

Pat’s predictions. Pat Robertson predicts deadly terror attack – “In what has become an annual tradition of prognostications, religious broadcaster Pat Robertson said God has told him that a terrorist attack on the United States would result in “mass killing” late in 2007.”

Religion-the opposition. Atheists challenge the religious right – “For some time, the religious right has decried “secular humanism,” a philosophy that rejects the supernatural or spiritual as a basis for moral decisionmaking. But now, nonbelievers are vigorously fighting back.”


The cheapening of justice (Clarence Page, Chicago Tribune) – “Although I oppose the death penalty, I toyed for many years with the notion that all executions should be televised. The video of Saddam Hussein’s hanging that has popped up on Internet sites has disabused me of that notion. Too many viewers appear to be enjoying it too much.”

Getting the Middle East Back on Our Side (Brent Scowcroft, New York Times) “As we work our way through this seemingly intractable problem in Iraq, we must constantly remember that this is not just a troublesome issue from which we can walk away if it seems too costly to continue. What is at stake is not only Iraq and the stability of the Middle East, but the global perception of the reliability of the United States as a partner in a deeply troubled world. We cannot afford to fail that test.”

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