Tabbed Browsing: January 2, 2011

Sundays, for many reasons – Sunday papers, long brunches, relaxing dog walks – are great days. Here are a few things I’m reading and watching tonight.

Bill Moyers, painted in the series “Americans who tell the Truth.”

Bill Moyers at the 40th Anniversary of Common Cause. A mutual friend sent me a copy of the text of Moyers’ speech, but it is wonderful to watch him deliver it. A great reflection on leadership, political idealism, and the meaning of democracy. A must watch, if for nothing else than the wonderful anecdotes Moyers so adeptly deploys.

Secession Vote in Sudan May Be Peaceful. In arguing that Sudan’s referendum vote on January 9th will likely be peaceful, The New York Times’ David Gettleman seems to overestimate President Bashir’s political-moral compass. An interesting story regardless. We all certainly hope for the outcome Gettleman predicts.

Diplomats Help Push Sales of Jetliners on the Global Market. This article, outlining the role political negotiations between American ambassadors and their foreign counterparts play in the international business of jetliners, poses a few intriguing questions about the roles our embassies play. The diplomatic cables the Times used to report this story portray ambassadors and embassy staff acting as trade representatives to their respective countries; bargaining and cajoling on behalf of one of this country’s largest corporations.

Jimmy Stewart filibusters in "Mr. Smith Goes to Washington."

Some argue that this levels the playing field when Boeing competitor-in-chief Airbus receives subsidies from the European government. Other argue that this confuses the roles ambassadors play abroad.

Resolved – Fix the Filibuster. Walter Mondale writes an excellent editorial that I missed in yesterday’s paper. I am – and always have been – opposed to modifying the essential elements of the filibuster. I believe that the US Senate remains, even when stalled by partisanship, the most important political institution in the free world, and the filibuster plays an important part in defending minority opinions at the heart of political debate. That said, I think eliminating “secret holds” and demanding Senators actually filibuster when they declare their intent to do so are sensible ways to improve the system.


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