Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Politcal Blotter: No better time than now to 'Imagine'

EDITOR'S NOTE: This is a sampling of political writer Josh Richman's blog, The Political Blotter. Read more and post comments at www.ibabuzz.com/politics.

Dec. 8

It was 28 years ago today that the former Beatle was gunned down on a Manhattan sidewalk. I was a 9-year-old in Queens at the time; I remember it clearly. The only other time I've seen my hometown engage in that kind of shell-shocked mourning was after 9/11.

I was only 7 months old when Lennon released "Imagine," now renowned the world over as an anthem for peace. It still gives me chills every time I hear it, that peaceful man's voice calling for sanity in this warlike world.

He would be 68 now if he had lived; I wonder what he'd think of 2008's world, what role he would be playing, what songs he would be writing.

Lennon once said that your way of life is a political statement; I think it behooves us all to remember that and act accordingly. We know what his statement was "... what will yours be?

Dec. 10

Rep. Jerry McNerney, D-Pleasanton, is crowing that he has officially secured a seat on the House Committee on Energy and Commerce, which deals not only with those namesake issues but also has input on health care and consumer affairs and protection. McNerney, a wind energy engineer by trade, said he's "thrilled."

"I'm anxious to delve into some of the committee's issues, including the development of a Advertisementnew national energy policy that focuses on the use and production of renewable energy and addressing the need for affordable and accessible healthcare for all Americans," he said in his news release.

McNerney in his first term had served on the House Select Committee on Energy Independence and Global Warming; the Transportation and Infrastructure Committee; the Veterans Affairs Committee; and the Science and Technology Committee.

Spokesman Andy Stone said McNerney will probably have to relinquish one of those seats, given the fact that he already needed a waiver to let him serve on four committees at once.

His new appointment became official today after a vote in the Steering and Policy Committee and then a ratifying vote by the entire Democratic Caucus. The vote and ratification also cemented last month's palace coup staged by Rep. Henry Waxman, D-Los Angeles, to replace Rep. John Dingell, D-Mich., as Energy and Commerce's chairman — a change which seems to be taking the panel in a much more liberal direction. Waxman is seen as more aligned with President-elect Barack Obama and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-San Francisco, on issues such as cutting greenhouse gas emissions and other environmental concerns; Dingell, the panel's top Democrat for close to three decades, was a staunch supporter of Detroit automakers and other big industries such as electric utilities.

So, an interesting place for McNerney to be, at an interesting time.

Dec. 10

Rep. Barbara Lee, D-Oakland, joined House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer, D-Md., today in releasing a report to President-elect Barack Obama on the House's goals and recommendations in working toward peace in Darfur.

"It has been over five years since Congress declared that genocide was taking place in the Darfur region of Sudan," Lee said in a statement issued later today. "With hundreds of thousands killed, deteriorating conditions and no end in sight, we felt it important to release this white paper outlining our recommendations for the incoming administration on addressing this genocide."

"The U.S. must be leaders in the peace process in Darfur. President-elect Obama has already stated his commitment to addressing the genocide in Darfur, and we in Congress are prepared to work diligently with his administration towards a swift resolution to this dire situation."

Hoyer, Lee and nine other House members from both sides of the aisle signed the white paper, which among other recommendations urges Obama to appoint a full-time, senior-level envoy to lead the charge on a new round of peace talks; to conduct an immediate assessment of the deteriorating humanitarian conditions in the region; and to coordinate with United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon as soon as possible to give peacekeepers the authority and resources they need to save lives.

Lee's been very active on Darfur; she pushed successfully for a law letting states to divest from companies doing business with the government of Sudan (she'd introduced it as H.R.180, though it was U.S. Sen. Chris Dodd's similar S.2271 that was eventually signed into law), and her resolutions calling for action from the League of Arab States and China to use their leverage with Sudan to end the genocide both passed in the House. She has gone to Darfur three times, most recently with Hoyer in April 2007.

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