Friday, December 18, 2009

Things I Don't Understand

Today, by which I mean today, Friday, December 18, there are two great unsolved mysteries on the political scene: What on earth does Joe Lieberman think he's doing? and What on earth does China think it's doing? There are also subsidiary mysteries that someone may understand, but I don't.

Much ink has already (or many electrons have already) been spilled over Lieberman, and how he's now willing to sink the health bill if it includes something that was part of his platform in 2006. I have no new insight on this, but if I find out that he's being blackmailed by someone with a photo of him eating pork gyoza off a prostitute's stomach, I promise to post the information here (and, if possible, the photo as well). In the realm of things Obama probably knows but I don't, what's going on with Olympia Snowe? She said she wouldn't vote for the bill with a public option, but now any semblance of a public option is gone, and Ben Nelson is threatening to stop the bill over abortion. Snowe was one of the two Republicans who voted against the language that Nelson wanted. Time to step up, Olympia (does she have a nickname?), unless you think that people in Maine are doing just fine on health care. If you think that, you know different people in Maine than I do.

As for China at Copenhagen, well, they say it's a matter of principle. The principle here, evidently, is that international treaties should not include mechanisms for monitoring or enforcement. One thing to be said for this is that it will make it very easy to negotiate international treaties, since anyone can agree to anything. What makes the situation  even more bizarre is that China made a big show of being angry at Europe for not living up to its obligations under the Kyoto treaty, obligations that China was exempted from. Hmm, perhaps Europe would have done better if Kyoto had included monitoring and enforcement provisions, don't you think? The question that I don't understand, but some people may, is why this is playing in the papers as a big confrontation between China and the U.S. Where's Europe? Don't they have an opinion on this? Don't they have a poodle/dachshund/corgi in this fight?

By the way, here are my personal opinions on these two issues: Health care with new abortion restrictions? Kill it. Climate treaty with no monitoring? Kill it. I say this believing health care reform and a climate treaty to be extremely important.

Addendum: Silly me. I should have realized that, however deep and sincere Senator Nelson's beliefs about abortion are, what he's mainly after is more bucks for Nebraska. (I think that "are" in that last clause would be wrong, don't you?)  Hope that turns out to be his true goal. This is no time to be straining at gnats. And by the way, what on earth does think it's doing? Saying the Senate bill should be voted down because there's no public option? I mean, please. Leave the irrational ideological rigidity to the other side.

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