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Is Congress up to the task before it?


Sat, Mar 28th, 2009
Posted in Commentary

I arrived in Congress in 1965, just as President Lyndon Johnson's transformation of the U.S. government was getting under way. It was an extraordinary time, as LBJ sent up to Capitol Hill his proposals for Medicare, Medicaid, aid to elementary and secondary education, the Voting Rights Act, and a host of other bills that reshaped Washington and its place in the nation's life. The United States was a different country by the time Congress finished.

We are at a juncture that may be as far-reaching and no less dramatic. With the economic crisis as a backdrop, President Obama has sent to Capitol Hill a budget that places the government more thoroughly in American life than at any time in the past three decades, and eschews the anti-tax, anti-regulatory approach to public policy that has generally predominated in recent decades. The White House has put Congress on notice that it intends to reform the health-care system, make fundamental improvements to public education, and remake national energy policy. These changes are necessary, it contends, to keep the U.S. economy strong and prosperous.

There is an important difference in the approaches taken by the two presidents, Johnson and Obama. Enjoying the momentum built by his landslide victory in the 1964 elections, Johnson gave Congress specific proposals, like the Medicaid bill and the Elementary and Secondary Education Act. He told Congress precisely what he wanted and then helped shape its response.

President Obama, on the other hand, has given Congress the goals he wants to pursue and the concepts he intends to support, then left it up to lawmakers to craft the fine print. As the New York Times put it recently, he is "taking a gamble in outsourcing the drafting of his agenda's details" to Congress.

This is not just a leap of faith on the President's part, however. Given the recent past, it also presents Congress with an exacting test of its ability to function effectively and produce policies that serve the American people well.

Congress has a history of not dealing well with the big issues. Now it's presented with a budget and a presidential agenda that offer no letup in big issues. Its challenge is two-fold: to act at a time of crisis and in an economy that's being reshaped by the day; and, despite the pressure to act quickly, to act in a manner that allows for the deliberation and consensus-building that uphold the democratic process.

How it will respond r .....
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One moment, please...

Sat, Mar 28th, 2009
Posted in Commentary

This past week has definitely been positively enlightening.

First, I need to thank all of our readers, in print and online, for giving me your feedback on our new features.

More and more people are replacing their time in front of th ..... 
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One moment, please...

Fri, Mar 20th, 2009
Posted in Commentary

As you read YOUR newspaper today, I hope you enjoy some new elements we have introduced in an effort to stimulate further interactivity with readers in print and online.

Beginning with the March 9 issue of the Fillmore County Journal, we ini ..... 
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Queen for a day wins her Hysterectomy

Fri, Mar 13th, 2009
Posted in Commentary

Have you seen the commercial for Colonoscopy Sweepstakes? Saturday Night Live would have been proud to have written that one but, alas, it was real. For those of you who wonder about the direction of health care, ponder no more. It is the purest of ..... 
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One moment, please... Homer Simpson moments

Fri, Feb 27th, 2009
Posted in Commentary



For those of you who didn't catch it in last Monday's Fillmore County Journal, to the lower left of my column is a reference point for which I feel an obligation to share with readers.

We made a mistake. We noted the author of the Jo ..... 
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Wind farms and wildlife

Fri, Feb 27th, 2009
Posted in Commentary



The wind itself may be free, but harnessing it for electrical power involves the expenses of wind turbine production, purchase of options on land for the placement of turbines and provision of service roads and substations. Indirect expenses ..... 
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One moment, please... Multiplicity

Fri, Feb 20th, 2009
Posted in Commentary

Recent Journal office conversations have inspired me to write a piece about the antics of the California octuplet lady, Nadya Suleman. Surely, you've heard about her and her 14 children. Who hasn't?

Can you imagine being the single mother of ..... 
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Hopeless problems, hopeful solutions

Fri, Feb 20th, 2009
Posted in Commentary

Problems:

1.) Humanity finds itself embroiled in regional conflicts everywhere on earth. Resource wars are being conducted even as economies contract. We have no baseline information on which to act regarding planetary atmosphere and climate ..... 
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All it takes is a little effort

Fri, Feb 20th, 2009
Posted in Commentary

Some things just get my blood boiling. I've witnessed people at highway Rest Areas dump garbage out their door onto the ground when there is a trash container steps away directly in front of their parked car. I have participated in "Adopt a Highway" ..... 
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