As featured on p. 218 of "Bloggers on the Bus," under the name "a MyDD blogger."

Wednesday, February 04, 2009

The Good Shit

While today is in general a shitty day, it's not a total crapout. There have been a few victories of the "cleaning up Bush's mess" stripe.

First, Barack Obama signed an expansion of the State Children's Health Insurance Program, a fully paid-for bill that will cover an additional 4 million uninsured kids (11 million will be covered under the program in all). And importantly, he called it a first step to providing comprehensive health care reform.

"As I think everybody here will agree, this is only the first step," Obama said of the bill that reauthorizes the State Children's Health Insurance Program.

"Because the way I see it, providing coverage to 11 million children through CHIP is a down payment on my commitment to cover every single American," he said to applause before turning to the economic recovery bill.

"It won't be easy; it won't happen all at once," Obama said. "But this bill that I'm about to sign, that wasn't easy either."

Next, the Justice Department is righting the biggest wrong of the Monica Goodling era:

Remember Leslie Hagan, who last April was dismissed by Monica Goodling from the Justice Department's Executive Office for U.S. Attorneys because she was rumored to be gay?

Well, the Obama administration has righted that wrong, giving Hagen her job back, reports NPR, which broke the original story of her dismissal.

Hagen served as the liaison between DOJ and the U.S. Attorneys' committee on Native American affairs. In her performance evaluation, she received the highest possible ratings -- "outstanding" -- in each of five categories.

But Goodling, a Christian fundamentalist, heard a rumor that Hagen was gay. So it was curtains for her.

That's just the right thing to do as a matter of human decency. And the thing is, Hagen won the job on the merits, as part of a nationwide search and after several interviews. It's good to see "on the merits" in reference to a political job again.

Finally, Ken Salazar, showing an unusual partisan edge, is reversing oil and gas leases on federal land in Utah:

Interior Secretary Ken Salazar is canceling oil and gas leases on 77 parcels of federal land in Utah, according to sources familiar with the decision, ending a fierce battle over whether to allow energy exploration in the environmentally sensitive area.

The Bush administration conducted the lease sale in December, but environmental groups went to court to block the winning bids encompassing roughly 110,000 acres near pristine areas such as Nine Mile Canyon, Arches National Park and Dinosaur National Monument [...]

An Interior spokesman declined to comment on the matter, but several sources familiar with the decision said Salazar planned to announce it today, adding that he can reject the winning bids without a penalty because the transactions had not become final and the department has the discretion to accept or reject lease bids that prevail at a public auction.

This was the auction that environmentalist Tim DeChristopher tried to scuttle by buying up millions of dollars' worth of land without the ability to pay for it. Now he won't need to - Salazar cancelled the leases.

These are all all great accomplishments, but they are all backward-looking, fixing mistakes or realizing long-held goals. The forward-looking stuff is finding a much bumpier road.

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