The "Town Hall meeting" with Congressman Mike Pence this morning at the Leland Residence was fairly well attended (compared to similar such events, not as a function of the district's population) and interesting, I thought. Pence talked about his recent decision not to join the congressional leadership so that he could continue to pursue his ideals and issues (limited government, strong defense, "traditional moral values," etc.), about his two major concerns for the year (deficit reduction and border security) and the "War on Terror." The questions covered giving greater access to passports, whether every child in the country has the right to have healthcare, health insurance costs for small business and how we could change our culture and insurance system, energy concerns and drilling in the Alaska National Wildlife Refuge, whether being born in the U.S. should give you automatic citizenship, concerns over the abuse of executive privilege related to wiretaps and torture, the federal outlook on highway I-69, and others. As in the past, I appreciated Mr. Pence's time speaking with his constituents, and I admired greatly those who had the initiative to speak and question him. All of my photos from the meeting are here.
Wednesday night I attended a screening of The Ambassador, a documentary about John Dimitri Negroponte, currently the U.S. Director of National Intelligence and formerly U.S. ambassador to Honduras, the United Nations and Iraq. Negroponte has been a controversial figure due to his involvement in the Iran-Contra Affair and human rights violations in Honduras, and the film took on those controversies by documenting Negroponte's career as a diplomat, his public and private statements about the accusations made against him, and the forces that influenced his path all along.
Continue reading "The Ambassador"
I generally avoid national bestselling political books that are just consolidated accounts of the political soap operas that go on in our nation's capital, designed to make more buzz and more money for the journalists or whistle-blowers or former aides that happened to keep really good notes during the experience. But once in a while there are some pretty compelling publications that appear in that genre, and I can't help but dive in. Bob Woodward's Plan of Attack certainly emerges as an example of a page-turner for anyone interested in national politics, the executive branch's decision making process, and especially how the U.S. ended up invading Iraq.
Continue reading "Plan of Attack by Bob Woodward"
It looks like the War on Terror is over. That is, it's now become a Global Struggle Against Violent Extremism, according to the Bush administration's shift in language being used to describe that particular set of economic, military, domestic law enforcement, and foreign policy initiatives. I suppose we've come along way from the national security policy known as "Smoke 'Em Out" or "Bring 'Em On", but this new phrasing doesn't really warm the heart either. As someone who has come to appreciate the value of framing - and how good the current administration has been at it in the political sense - I'd like to suggest a few bits of analysis of what this new frame means.
Continue reading "The War on Terror is Over"
Hayden L. Sheaffer, the pilot who is being raked over the coals for his role in flying a Cessna 150 into restricted airspace over Washington D.C. earlier this month, which prompted the scrambling of jets and the evacuation of thousands, noted today that he did in fact try to contact the military on the radio channel they instructed him to use, but that he couldn't get through. In today's issues, the New York Times reports that the Department of Homeland Security acknowledged that Sheaffer was instructed to use a frequency that was not available at the time. What? Huh? Okay, the guy shouldn't have gotten lost in the first place, but the whole incident was fairly ridiculous, and the thought that they might have been blown out of the sky because they were given instructions they couldn't follow is a pretty scary one. When I was flying Cessnas with minimal avionics (far from restricted airspace, mind you), I don't think would've had much of a "plan B" in that case either.