I’m told that the Superbowl is on today. I haven’t seen Matthew Yglesias post on the big game today — but his earlier exposes on big guys chasing a ball in the cold have intimidated me regarding my ignorance of the game.
Jim Plunkett and his wife once gave me a Plunkett/L.A. Raiders Christmans ornament for my tree — but as best I can tell, not that many people remember Plunkett, at least not in my circles. I went to two years of elementary school and one year of junior high school in Upper Darby, Pennsylvania — just outside of Philadelphia — and then spent a magnificent year at Pease Air Force Base in Portsmouth, NH — where I delivered the Boston Globe and where our high school band often played at New England Patriots games in Boston. So, since my barely self-realized loyalties are divided, I’m indifferent to the outcome today.
But in the lead up to the game, those of us who can’t take football mania have been watching C-Span, and apparently, I’ve been yacking away on two C-Span stations and football-phobics have been watching and writing to me today.
In one of the broadcasts, I am moderating a meeting with Harlan Ullman, author of Finishing Business: Ten Steps to Defeat Global Terror (with foreward and afterword respectively by Newt Gingrich and Wesley Clark) Ullman is actually the guy who was the chief conceptualizer of “Shock and Awe” as a military doctine — and who has since been a conservative critic of the Department of Defense and Bush administration for failing to organize effectively for the kind of threat Osama bin Laden represented. I’ll never forget how angry Ullman was that the DoD labeled its invasion of Iraq one inspired by “Shock and Awe” because he argued then that few of the core elements of the true ‘shock and awe’ doctrine were applied to the effort — and instead the administration used his concept as a bumper sticker slogan and as camouflage to lead the nation’s military into a distraction of resources and quagmire.
In the other program, I am a panelist in a meeting organized by the American Institute of Contemporary German Studies discussing the impact of the President’s inaugural remarks and evolving foreign policy on his upcoming trip to Europe.
One of the things that came over the transom because of these C-Span shows was an email reference to this interesting website: www.newdemocracy.org. As best I can tell, this site tries to create a format in which the public can vote on legislation and initiaves that the Congress is pondering.
I think that the site’s designer has some challenges ahead in simplifying the process. Anything that involves legislation, bills, amendments, etc. is clunky — but I like the concept a lot. In a way, Josh Marshall suggested that the public somehow get the opportunity to see and critique legislation so that idiotic amendments (like the Istook Amendment) get some kind of feedback and screeching whistles by the public before passed.
There is a lot of Michael Moore-bashing in vogue now, in both parties. But I’d say that one of Moore’s most successful blows in Farenheit 9/11 was that legislators rarely read (and according to John Conyers, never read) the bills they are voting on.
David Johnson is going to make a major push for his New Democracy site after the President’s annual budget proposal is released, and we wish him luck.
— Steve Clemons