...I'm becoming more informed on current events. For example, my governor, Bill Richardson (D-NM), withdrew his nomination for Secretary of Commerce last week, after it was revealed he was facing a grand jury investigation into a pay-for-play scheme (a nicer way of saying corruption). Of course, no charges, indictments, let alone convictions have happened, but word on the political street is that Obama's team pushed hard for Richardson to step down to avoid expending political capital on the Senate approval process. Personally, I wish they would have gone through with the nomination. Richardson is quite good at any political job he takes. New Mexico has definitely improved under his watch. And as far as New Mexico politics goes, what some people think Richardson might have done is not at all outrageous, as the New York Times is discovering. It's a little ironic, however, that this story would come out a day after the Times praised Santa Fe to the high desert sky. I entirely support capping campaign contributions and creating an independent ethics commission for both the executive and legislative branches. But then, I am I near-socialist Democrat.
Speaking of socialism, how's that economic stimulus going Barack? Apparently, not too well when a Nobel Prize-winning economist and high-ranking senators from your own party call your plan inadequate. Oddly, I think this a brilliant political move on Obama's part, as Nate Silver observes. The president-elect is practically begging people to tell him what to spend money on. Starting on the low end of what most economists think is needed gives Congress, especially Democrats, political cover to add building projects in their districts. In the midst of a pretty bad recession, and with fears of a depression looming, this isn't wasteful "pork," but economy-saving, job-creating stimulus projects. Unfortunately, Obama, being the post-partisan savior that he thinks he needs to be, is putting a lot of tax cuts into the stimulus plan. Not that tax cuts for the poor and lower-middle class aren't good, it's just that those $300 billion go a lot further when paying for infrastructure projects rather than tax credits. Also, tax cuts to business aren't so good, as Matt Yglesias shows. Overall, $1.3 trillion is an unimaginable amount of money, and will double the already record-breaking $1.2 trillion budget deficit. But I'll take a shit-load of debt if it means our economy will have the possibility of paying it off, rather than sacrificing economic recovery just so fiscal conservatives can sleep better.
So New Mexico political upheaval: check. Economic crisis: check. What's left? Ah yes, Israel-Palestine. And I'm not going to touch it, but to say that everyone involves knows what they need to do. Israel needs to remove its settlements from the West Bank and allow the Palestinians to fully govern themselves. They also need to understand that there is such a thing as over-reaction, and bombing the shit out of Gaza does not equal self-defense. The Palestinians and the rest of the Arab world need to realize that Israel is here to stay and deal with it. Its destruction is not an option, at all. They need to stop blaming Israel and the West for their endemic under-development and poverty, which only create breeding grounds for extremism and terrorists.
All that's lacking is the political will on both sides and around the world to do what needs to be done, a la Jimmy Carter. The U.S. is in the best position to give Israel a good shaking. And of recent presidents, Obama is in the best position to help the rather ignorant American population that peace is in the best interest of Israel, and that peace can only be achieved through Israel withdrawing its settlements. I support Israel, and I support the peace process because I support Israel.