"I didn't vote for Obama either," [Prince] explained. "Jehovah's Witnesses haven't voted for their whole inception." The controversy over a recent New Yorker "Talk of the Town" item, which Prince feels implied he supported the gay-marriage ban, has upset him. It's the first thing he wanted to discuss when the Web geeks had gone and we were alone. "I have friends that are gay and we study the Bible together," he said. He added that two sides fighting "only benefit the third person" who instigated the fight.
Wednesday, December 31, 2008
Following English parliamentary tradition and early Colonial and state practice, the framers made the Senate its own gatekeeper and guardian. Each house of Congress is "the Judge of the Elections, Returns, and Qualifications of its own members," according to Article 1, Section 5 of the Constitution. At the founding, Senators were elected by state legislatures. If the Senate believed that legislators in a given state had been bribed into voting for a particular candidate, the Senate could refuse to seat him.
And in case you were wondering about the Adam Clayton Powell case a lot of Legal Pundits have been bleating on about:
In the 1969 case of Powell v. McCormack, the Supreme Court properly held that the Constitution imposes limits on the power of the Senate and the House to exclude members. Some legal commentators say this decision trumps the Senate's power to exclude Burris. But the letter and spirit of Powell actually cut against him. The case involved an elected congressman, Adam Clayton Powell, whom the voters had clearly chosen in a fair election and whom the House nevertheless excluded—wrongly, the court held. The key fact is that there was no doubt whatsoever that Powell was the people's choice, and in issuing its ruling, the Warren Court repeatedly stressed this. The justices insisted that their ruling was aimed at protecting the people's right to vote. None of that spirit applies here. And that's why the case doesn't stand in the Senate's way now.
Powell also said that each house could "judge" the qualifications laid out in the Constitution (such as age) but could not make up new qualifications. Thus, if the Senate were to plausibly decide in good faith that a candidate failed to meet the Constitution's age requirement, Powell nowhere suggests that this senatorial determination should be set aside by ordinary federal courts. For similar reasons, federal courts should not interfere when the Senate plausibly and in good faith decides an election or return to be improper or corrupt. The critical point here is that the Constitution itself sets up the Senate as the highest court of Senate elections. When the Senate speaks as this court, its adjudications are legal judgments that no other court may properly reopen. If the Senate convicts a federal judge in an impeachment court, no other federal court may properly interfere. So, too, for Senate elections and returns.
Rep. Danny K. Davis (D-Ill.) would like to replace President-elect Barack Obama in the Senate. The appointment was dangled before him last Wednesday. He turned it down.
"I indicated I came to the conclusion there was too much discomfort on my part and the part of my family," Davis said. Anyway, he could not see how the governor could name anyone and make it stick.
But most important, Davis said he realized that if he took the job, "It would be difficult to generate the trust level people would have to have in me. I just decided there was too much turmoil, too much disagreement. It was something I wanted to do, but I said I would not take an appointment from the governor."
Tuesday, December 30, 2008
I just posted a comment on the Jed Report, and I want to generally repeat what I said there here.
If Gov. Rod Blagojevich were accused of trying of stealing a car, and then after his arrest, trying to turn around and sell that car, what would we call that? I think we could call it obstruction of justice. It's a blatant attempt to get away with what he was accused of doing in the first place.
Granted, Blagojevich did not steal a car, and the controversy surrounding the Illinois Junior Senate Seat should not be compared to grand theft auto. But let's be clear, Blagojevich is on tape, saying that he's not going to give away Obama's Senate seat for nothing, and resenting the Obama Team's "appreciation". He's now turned around and given the appointment to a man who's given him $14,000 in Campaign Contributions. How does anything about this not stink?
I speak as an African-American, with a distinct affinity for African-American Politicians. I want to see them protected. I want to see them do well. I had never heard of Roland Burris until this day, and frankly I hope I never hear from him again.
Burris is a weasel of a man. He has decided he wants this seat, and is willing to do or say anything to get it. One second, he's condemning Blagojevich's conduct, he's supporting the decision to have him summarily removed from office. The next second he's saying that he has no comment about the Governor's actions.
In our parlance, that translates to "Yassah, Massuh."
$14,000 Dollars in Campaign Cash, plus a sudden silence on Blagojevich's Innocence or guilt. Let's add on the fact that when pressed on whether this is a quid pro quo, all they'll say is "trust us, it ain't"???
How exactly are we supposed to trust a Governor under indictment for selling a Senate Seat, that his appointment to that Senate Seat is clean and legitimate?
I have been disappointed with Harry Reid in the past for some of his actions as Senate Majority Leader. If he lets Burris get seated, I have to say I will lose all respect for him.
The only way this man should see the Senate Floor is on the Tour, and maybe not even then.
Roland Burris is a good man and a fine public servant, but the Senate Democrats made it clear weeks ago that they cannot accept an appointment made by a governor who is accused of selling this very Senate seat. I agree with their decision, and it is extremely disappointing that Governor Blagojevich has chosen to ignore it. I believe the best resolution would be for the Governor to resign his office and allow a lawful and appropriate process of succession to take place. While Governor Blagojevich is entitled to his day in court, the people of Illinois are entitled to a functioning government and major decisions free of taint and controversy," said President-elect Obama.
"It is truly regrettable that despite requests from all 50 Democratic Senators and public officials throughout Illinois, Gov. Blagojevich would take the imprudent step of appointing someone to the United States Senate who would serve under a shadow and be plagued by questions of impropriety. We say this without prejudice toward Roland Burris's ability, and we respect his years of public service. But this is not about Mr. Burris; it is about the integrity of a governor accused of attempting to sell this United States Senate seat. Under these circumstances, anyone appointed by Gov. Blagojevich cannot be an effective representative of the people of Illinois and, as we have said, will not be seated by the Democratic Caucus.
"Next week we will start one of the most important debates of the year - outlining an economic recovery plan to create jobs and invest in America. And in the coming weeks, we will be working to protect homeowners and consumers, make America more energy independent, strengthen our national security, and improve health care and educational opportunities. There is much work to do and a lot at stake. It is thus critical that Illinois and every other state have two seated Senators without delay.
"We again urge Gov. Blagojevich to not make this appointment. It is unfair to Mr. Burris, it is unfair to the people of Illinois and it will ultimately not stand. The governor must put the interests of the people of Illinois and all Americans first by stepping aside now and letting his successor appoint someone who we will seat."
Oh, and by the way, Gov. Rod Blagojevich is appointing Roland Burris to Obama's Senate Seat.
Roland Burris is the former Illinois Attorney General. He was waaaay down on the list for consideration for this seat.
Now, the only question is will the Senate seat him?
...oh, and if Burris is even remotely clean (indications are that he is), as TPM asks why would he take this job?
Wednesday, December 24, 2008
In the seven weeks since Obama's victory, the President-elect has proven to be more of a pragmatist than labor envisioned. From his podium in Chicago during the debate over whether to bail out the Big Three automakers, Obama has been critical of the United Auto Workers, arguing that the union must be willing to grant concessions on its workers' hard-fought wages and benefits. Labor has also been disappointed by some of Obama's initial appointments. Rep. Xavier Becerra of California turned down the job of U.S. Trade Representative because, he told a radio station, he felt overhauling trade agreements would not be a top priority of the incoming Obama administration. Obama's eventual pick, former Dallas Mayor Ron Kirk, has a record of supporting free trade deals, anathema to labor. And some progressives were disappointed that Obama passed over labor activist Mary Beth Maxwell and instead chose Rep. Hilda Solis of California as Secretary of Labor. "Labor has every good reason to be wary since they've been disappointed by Dems before, such as Presidents Clinton and Carter," says Robert Borosage, co-director of the progressive advocacy group Campaign for America's Future.
Hmmm. Progressives are disappointed. Progressives are always disappointed, at least that's the meme nowadays.
From the SEIU Blog: "A Labor Secretary Working Families Can Count On"
Solis has proven her unwavering commitment to putting workers first by supporting fair wages, recognizing the importance of unions, enforcing workplace safety and wage protections. If picked, she will be the third Hispanic nominee in Obama's Cabinet, along with Obama's choice for secretary of commerce, New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson and his pick for secretary of the interior, Colorado Sen. Ken Salazar.
"It's extraordinary," SEIU President Andy Stern said in an interview yesterday with Talking Points Memo (TPM). "On every issue that's important to us, she has stood up for an America where everyone's hard work is valued and rewarded." Stern also issued a statement yesterday hailing Solis's nomination.
From the AFL-CIO Blog: "White House Task Force to Focus on America’s Working Families"
For the first time in eight years, working families have a place in the White House. Yesterday, President-elect Barack Obama said he will establish a White House Task Force on Working Families. Vice President-elect Joe Biden will head the task force.
The task force will be a major initiative from the Obama administration targeted at raising the living standards of middle-class, working families. Along with Biden, it will include top-level administration policymakers. The task force will conduct outreach sessions with representatives of labor, business and the advocacy communities.
And: "Sweeney Praises Nomination of Solis"
We’re confident that she will return to the Labor Department one of its core missions—to defend workers’ basic rights in our nation’s workplaces.
She’s proven to be a passionate leader and advocate for all working families. In fact, she’s voted with working men and women 97 percent of the time.
Tuesday, December 23, 2008
These accounts were communicated to the Office of the United States Attorney in interviews that were conducted last week. At the request of the Office, we delayed the release of this report until such time as the interviews could be completed. The interviews took place over a period of three days: Thursday, December 18, 2008 (the President-Elect); December 19, 2008 (Valerie Jarrett); and December 20, 2008 (Rahm Emanuel).
Two, will this satisfy Politico? (My bet is no, but...what else is there to reveal?)
The President-Elect had no contact or communication with Governor Blagojevich or members of his staff about the Senate seat. In various conversations with transition staff and others, the President-Elect expressed his preference that Valerie Jarrett work with him in the White House. He also stated that he would neither stand in her way if she wanted to pursue the Senate seat nor actively seek to have her or any other particular candidate appointed to the vacancy.
Mr. Emanuel had one or two telephone calls with Governor Blagojevich. Those conversations occurred between November 6 and November 8, 2008. Soon after he decided to accept the President-Elect's offer to serve as Chief of Staff in the White House, Mr. Emanuel placed a call to the Governor to give him a heads up that he was taking the Chief of Staff's position in the White House, and to advise him that he would be resigning his seat in the House of Representatives. They spoke about Mr. Emanuel's House seat, when he would be resigning and potential candidates to replace him. He also had a brief discussion with the Governor about the Senate seat and the merits of various people whom the Governor might consider. Mr. Emanuel and the Governor did not discuss a cabinet position, 501c(4), a private sector position for the Governor or any other personal benefit for the Governor.
In those early conversations with the Governor, Mr. Emanuel recommended Valarie Jarrett because he knew she was interested in the seat. He did so before learning -- in further conversations with the President-Elect -- that the President-Elect had ruled out communicating a preference for any one candidate. As noted above, the President-Elect believed it appropriate to provide the names of multiple candidates to be considered, along with others, who were qualified to hold the seat and able to retain it in a future election. The following week, Mr. Emanuel learned that the President-Elect and Ms. Jarrett with the President's strong encouragement had decided that she would take a position in the White House.
Yes, the Minnesota recount is going on...and on...and on...and on...
Currently, Democratic-Farm-Labor candidate Al Franken holds a massive 48 vote lead (and in this particular election, 48 votes is massive)...
...but stormin' Normie is up to old (as in Florida 2000 old) tricks.
Courtesy of Talking Point Memo's Eric Kleefield:
Coleman's lawyer Tony Trimble said the campaign wanted to re-argue 16 decisions on disputed ballots that the board had ruled on last week, plus they alleged that 34 ballots for which the challenges had been withdrawn were then wrongly allocated, giving an illegitimate boost to Franken. Note that 16 plus 34 equals 50 -- so if they were to somehow sweep this whole set of arguments, they would just manage to undo Franken's current 48-vote edge.
Well, the decision came in, and:
And it didn't work. The board just looked at all 16 ballots, and in all 16 cases declined to take any further action like the Coleman camp wanted. So don't expect the Franken camp to fire back, as lead attorney Marc Elias indicated they didn't want to do so but were prepared to compete. Just to make sure, Dem Sec. of State Mark Ritchie said on the board's behalf that they're not interested in this coming up again.
So, it's these 16 Votes...
...plus the 130 or so "duplicate" ballots Norm said were cast (though his proof of this is debatable)
...and the 1500-1600 inappropriately invalidated Absentee Ballots that were tossed out on Election day.
Maybe we'll have this resolved by the time Al needs to run for re-election in 2014.
Monday, December 22, 2008
Sunday, December 21, 2008
Barack Obama is promising that next week he’ll disclose contacts between his staff and disgraced Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich’s office, but he’s stopped short of pledging to release e-mails or other records that could be key to understanding those contacts.
Whatever such records exist may never see the light of day, thanks to a gap in government records disclosure laws that allows presidential transition teams to keep their documents — even those prepared using taxpayer dollars — out of the public record.
President-elect Barack Obama said Thursday morning that he is “confident” no one representing him took part in any pay-to-play dealings with Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich over filling Obama’s U.S. Senate seat, and pledged to release details of contacts between his team and the governor’s office in the next few days.
“I have never spoken to the governor on this subject. I am confident that no representatives of mine would have any part of any deals related to this seat. I think the materials released by the U.S. attorney reflect that fact,” Obama said at a Chicago news conference. “I’ve asked my team to gather the facts of any contacts with the governor’s office about this vacancy so that we can share them with you over the next few days.”
I guess it's all going to boil down to what your definition of "details" is. Obama could very well provide a report, but my guess is that the Reporters of the world want to double check the facts themselves. When he does so, they got another two days of stories. When he does, they got another two days of stories proclaiming how much his promises of transparency were false.
All mind you, when he's not the one under arrest, or under possible indictment.
Not the guy who was actually arrested, all the spotlight is shining on the President-Elect. Arguably the victim of said crime.
I understand the journalist's viewpoint in that, we have to clear the decks just in case Obama did something untoward...but no one seems to be asking the question, what if he's done nothing wrong??
Look at Mr. Isikoff's very first question: "Define "inappropriate," make good on your pledge of transparency and show us the internal report. All of it."
If there is a reason for the inherent hosility between Government officials and Journalists, it's because of questions like this. I'm also missing the part where the U.S. Attorney, Patrick Fitzgerald, asked the Office of the President-Elect to keep a lid of this stuff until December 22nd.
Second question "Explain what happened with Senate "Candidate 1."
The third question is actually the easiest to answer: "What did you know about Blago's exit strategy?"
Nothing, next question.
The fourth question is almost too insulting to repeat: "Have you shared everything you have on Rezko?"
My first answer would normally begin with a four-letter expletive. My problem with the word Rezko, it's become a short-hand, not for any actual corruption, but short-hand for possible corruption. It has been long known that Rezko was going to be a far bigger problem for other Illinois politicians not named Obama. Yet again, Obama is the one taking the heat.
And finally we come to "Will you promise to leave Fitzgerald alone?"
I want Fitzgerald left alone. I actually think Fitzgerald will be left alone. I think Blagojevich has a better chance at going to jail if Fitzgerald is left alone. At the same time, what if he's let go...what does that prove exactly? It's just one more story point that the press can hit and claim its doing its job.
Saturday, December 20, 2008
Friday, December 19, 2008
Here's the point for all you progressives that only talk to yourselves and haven't a clue about the "other" America: in a country where a national evangelical leader is fired for just voting for Obama, and thinking friendly thoughts about gays, the new progressive president has his work cut out!
If you all -- if we -- bitch each time Obama makes a strategic move, we are just shooting ourselves in the foot. Pipe down, and give him a chance. And by the way, America faces bigger problems right now than the window dressing at the inauguration.
Progressives are too used to failing. Stop worrying about little battles, you just won a war. It's all about real results now, not words, and not symbols. It is time to think like winners. The issue now is governance, not symbols.
Thursday, December 18, 2008
With one decision last night, Rep. Xavier Becerra pulled a twofer: He rebuffed the Obama administration and dashed the hopes several young Democrats who covet Becerra’s House leadership slot.
The California Democrat – the first high-profile figure to reject an Obama job offer – says he turned down the U.S. trade representative gig because he was concerned that trade would not be a big priority in the new administration.
But the Obama team may have already soured on Becerra thanks to his hemming and hawing over the post, according to people close to the situation. And a report about Becerra’s support of clemency for a Los Angeles drug dealer wasn’t good PR.
“Delaying this decision for two or three weeks wasn’t helping him or anyone,” said a House Democratic aide. “He’s conflicted, we understand that, but he’s got to make a decision. A lot of people are waiting, including the president.”
In the end, even though Becerra made the decision to take himself out of the running, the move had a mutual breakup feel to it.
Becerra told the Spanish-language newspaper La Opinion he had concluded that trade “would not be priority number one, perhaps not even two or three,” according to a loose translation of his remarks, adding that, “To do this job well, it would be necessary to travel a lot ... and also I have a family.”
Yet, you look at the Los Angeles Times (granted a Hometown paper for Becerra), and you see a different take on the same damn story:
"I don't see how it can be the front-burner issue for him, nor should it be, quite honestly," Becerra said in an interview with Los Angeles public radio. "Clearly the priority for this president, and I think he said it very well, will be economic recovery and jobs."Rep. Xavier Becerra said Wednesday that he turned down the position of U.S. trade representative in the incoming administration because the job will not be at the center of the action during a time of more pressing economic concerns.
The highest-profile candidate to decline a job offer from President-elect Barack Obama, the Los Angeles Democrat said he thinks he can have more influence as a ranking member of Congress than as the lead advisor on trade agreements.
Becerra's announcement that he wouldn't take the job, released Tuesday, ended several weeks of conversation between him and the Obama team about becoming the nation's chief trade negotiator.
Sources close to the talks say Becerra had been going back and forth over whether he wanted the job, and the talks were further complicated by news reports about Becerra's support of clemency for a convicted California drug dealer in 2001.
It's amazing what a subtle change a quote or two can do to a story...
In one Becerra is an egomanaic, whom even the President-Elect had wearied of...
In the other Becerrais a little more selfless. I can do a better job where I am now...
This is why you have to read more than one newspaper...more than one source for your information.
Now, I think Rick Warren is a two bit huckster. A Businessman who recognized there was a market out there for a slightly less venomous Christian Conservatism, and sold it to a public, ready to go out there and bash 'em some gays, but didn't want to look nasty doing so.
At the same time, given the level of furor about Rick Warren giving the Invocation...
..I mean, we do know what an Invocation is, right? It's the opening prayer at the Inaguaral. He says a little ditty to God and gets off stage.
Is Rick Warren going to say something other than a prayer at the beginning of the Inaguaral Festivities? I mean, heck, is it even going to be on Television? (Well, thanks to the Controversy, I'm sure it will now!)
Is Rick Warren going to be allowed to stand up there and rail against Homosexuality and Gay Marriage?
Has Rick Warren been given a Policy Platform to go out and put into practice that which he believes?
Has Barack Obama changed his own position on GLBT matters in the slightest??
If the GLBT Community ever wonders why it routinely gets its ass kicked in the Political Sphere, it could be the result of horse@#$% like this.
I mean this is what you're going to go after?
This is the battle you're going to choose?
Let me provide you the list of horse@#$% articles from Huffington Post as of today:
Joe Cutbirth: I Voted (twice) for Obama, and Apparently I LostLet's talk hope for a minute. Barack Obama seized the word "hope" this year, but back in 1977 my first political hero gave a big...Geoffrey Dunn: Et tu, Obama?: The Choice of Rick Warren Is Unacceptable
Chez Pazienza: Pastor and Servants?Warren's presence on inauguration day makes it seems as if God -- specifically the Pentecostal, Southern Baptist version -- will continue to be granted ascendancy within our government.Let's get the personal creds down at the beginning: I supported Barack Obama for President out the gate. Early on. And all the way through....
Leah McElrath Renna: Dear Obama: Here's Why You are Wrong on WarrenWith all due respect, President-Elect Obama, your response to lesbian and gay Americans that "it is important for America to come together, even though we...
Morgan Warners: When inclusion becomes relativismPresident-elect Barack Obama erred in asking Rick Warren to deliver the invocation at his inauguration. A spokeswoman for Obama implied that the move was made...
Jon Hoadley: On Rick Warren: What Are we Fighting For?The choice of Warren underscores the fact that no openly-LGBT person has been selected to take part in the Inaugural ceremony, or be named to any level of Obama's White House staff.
For the record, Jon Hoadley is either dumber than a box of hammers or an outright liar. There is a GLBT group marching in the Inaugural parade. One would think that counts as a part of the Inaugural ceremony. And openly gay Nancy Sutley has been appointed to head the White House Council on Environmental Quality.
Could there be more? Sure. But making such a broad statement, and then not backing it up because the facts don't suit your thesis is typical Bush.
Isobel White: Rick Warren: Another Damper on My Chance at Obama-maniaObama could have chosen any clergy member in the nation to deliver his invocation. So why one who spoke out so publicly in support of Prop 8. Why re-open painful wounds?
Phil Bronstein: Why Is Anyone Surprised Obama Picked Warren?This choice illustrates the downside of inspirational figures and the accompanying bad habit of investing in Obama your own ideas, values, priorities and views just because he moves you.
I don't understand how anyone who listened to Obama during the campaign would be shocked that Obama lets Warren give the invocation. It's vintage Obama. It does not signal agreement with Warren's political positions, some of which are clearly at odds with Obama's. Warren isn't making policy or even giving a sermon., He's saying a prayer and then possibly dancing later at some inaugural parties. If anything, it's the possibility of this dancing that should be deeply troubling to all Americans.
Lee Stranahan, Huffington Post.
While I understand the hurt and sense of betrayal, the Oblogger plans to withhold judgment until after Obama gets in office and creates policy, which is the important thing.
Obama will have to demonstrate his commitment to his LGBT constituency, which is sick and tired of getting thrown under the political bus... and rightly so.
But please... can cooler heads prevail? And may we let Obama get in office before we disown him? I say short-term sacrifice for long-term gain.
Rick Warren and I are on opposite sides of the ideological fence on so many issues: a woman's right to choose, stem cell research, school prayer, and gay marriage.
But I'm not up in arms about this choice because I don't see this invocation as an endorsement of his views, but rather Obama's doing just as he said he was going to do and inviting those with whom you have differences to be part of the table.
The Oblogger (a friend of mine from NYU)
Does this shift Obama's position on issues near and dear to folks on the left? Does this break or reinforce a campaign promise to attempt to bring the country together?
Consider this an olive branch and a signal to future generations that we as Americans must be accepting of all walks of life along with religious and political beliefs. This decision does not divide, it sends a message.
This demonstrates how Obama will be willing to have an open dialogue with all Americans and it clearly steers the country away from fear. I find it interesting that James Dobson has not condemned Warren for accepting well aware of Obama's position on social issues.
Ed Schultz. (Off air today because of an illness, but still blogging from his bedside).
In his short political career, Obama has deftly manipulated political symbols to his advantage, but he's never been one to pay homage to one of the most sacred regulations of identity politics, which is that one must take care of one's own kind before turning outward. His mind operates differently. Obama does believe, as many of his supporters do, that there are uncrossable demarcation lines between the reasonable and the profane. But he doesn't believe that Warren, someone he admires for reaching outside his (Warren's) comfort zone on AIDS, is all that different from himself. Obama is simultaneously capable of admiring Warren while disdaining Warren's oogedy boogedy appraoch to gay relationships and his uninformed response to torture. Warren's views might be hurtful to gays; Obama does not think they are harmful.
That said, his team bungled this a bit. Reaching out to gay groups to give them a heads up might have softened the edge of their reaction and given them internal confidence that they were valued members of Obama's coalition. Dropping the list (like it's hot), without pre-notice, must have seemed like a sharp slap in the face. The LGBT community is still very raw about Proposition 8, and one would assume that at least someone in Obama's inner circle would be aware of this.
Marc Ambinder, Atlantic Monthly.
How's the Gay Community going to deal with the double blow of Rick Warren giving the Invocation, and not getting Mary Beth Maxwell in as Labor Secretary?
For the record, Labor looooves the pick.
How about the first openly Gay Secretary of the Navy??
Here's Hilda supporting the Employee Free Choice Act of 2007:
Wednesday, December 17, 2008
In short, even John Dickerson is cracking back on what Dana Milbank said.
Barack Obama's initial response to the Rod Blagojevich scandal was flaccid. But his current posture seems perfectly reasonable. He has asked for a week before releasing details about his aides' contacts with the governor, and that's what he should get.
Reporters should keep asking questions, of course. Monday's exchange between Obama and John McCormick of the Chicago Tribune seemed to be a fine model for the new presidency. McCormick asked about a contradiction in Obama's statements about Blagojevich, and Obama said U.S. Attorney Patrick Fitzgerald asked him to wait until Dec. 22 before saying anything. As nonanswers go, it was fairly straightforward—far preferable to the usual tactic of giving a nonanswer and pretending it is a real answer.
In short, Press? Chill!
There's quite a distance among press management, artful shading, and outright fibbing. Overall, we're still figuring out where the next administration and its leader fall in that continuum. Right now, however, Obama is within the neighborhood of press management—an irritating but necessary part of the dance we'll be doing for the next four years. And reporters are likely to get a chance to ask more questions, and maybe get even better answers, if they don't assume immediately that Obama is trying to game the system.
The other reason the press should give Obama his time to answer is that if it doesn't, it risks undermining the authority it will need when he finally does answer the question. If every nonanswer is described as a failure, then there will be no language to describe a truly meaningful mistake.
And apparently, Dana Milbank's still bitter over Obama firing his personal pal, Samantha Power (even though Samantha Power has been hired back).
Now, he's complaining that Obama is just like Bush when it comes to the Press.
Obama's response to Blagojevich questions has been decidedly junior varsity. Begging off because of an ongoing investigation? Hiding behind Patrick Fitzgerald's skirt? Warning a reporter not to "waste" a question and asking for an alternative question? All four techniques were popularized by Bush.
Both Jason Zengerle of the New Republic, and Jason Linkins of The Huffington Post (the most comprehensive of the two pieces) jumped down Milbank's throat.
And Linkins points out, correctly, that Milbank only lists three techniques.
I think this is unfair for a couple of reasons. First, Obama held his press conference to introduce Duncan as the man he's chosen to head up the Department of Education. Dana says this was akin to "insomnia treatment," and I concede that the Blago scandal is certainly more entertaining; but, in the annals of what's important, I'd say that the country's education policy tops the legal travails of a midwestern governor. Is it really too much to expect the press to ask Obama some questions about education during a press conference held to unveil his Secretary of Education?
Second, Obama didn't hide behind Fitzgerald's skirt to dodge McCormick's question, and Obama didn't time the release of his campaign's report so that he'd be in Hawaii when it came out. Unless, that is, Dana has evidence that Obama planned all this with Fitzgerald, since it was Fitzgerald who requested that Obama hold off releasing the report until next. Now, it is convenient for Obama that Fitzgerald did this? Sure. But it's not like he's just inventing excuses to not answer Blago questions.
That's the rock in the road that reporters like Milbank have yet to surmount. Sure, the fact that the Obama team has been instructed to withhold the release of the report until December 22nd appears convenient from a press-process standpoint -- something self-obsessed reporters rarely tire of pointing out. But the order either came from Fitzgerald or it didn't. Obama is either complying with Fitzgerald's office or he isn't. If there's any question regarding what Fitzgerald has requested or instructed, then surely those questions should be directed at Fitzgerald, instead of simply being deployed as a suggestive pollutant at every Obama press conference between now and the report release.
My favorite part of the Linkins piece is when he called Milbank, a "Process Puppy".
Tuesday, December 16, 2008
Yet, it's terrible news for Obama, according to Howard Fineman.
The original release was supposed to be this week. But it was pushed back, the Obama camp said, at the request of the official investigating Blago: Chicago-based U.S. Attorney Patrick Fitzgerald, the 21st-century Eliot Ness. Fitz's office confirmed that he had made the request, though there is no way of knowing how adamant he was about it. The reasoning seems clear enough: Fitz does not want any information about the Obama's team's contacts to be made public because it might give Blago's bad guys—who allegedly tried to solicit bribes—clues about how to cover their tracks. But surely, if they acted wrongfully, they have gotten their stories straight by now.
So the timing of the report is more complicated than that. At least it seems that way from the manner in which Obama's own camp has been acting. They have been cautious and quiet in the extreme.
So, according to Fineman, Fitzgerald asked Obama to delay the report, but may not have really meant it. Is there anything Fineman bases this on?
No, just his own supposition.
Now, Fineman spends a majority of the focus on Rahm Emanuel, hinting in the headline and subheader that he could be in reeeeall trouble, but:
Neither Fitz nor anyone I have heard about or spoken to suggests that Emanuel did anything illegal or even untoward. It's not even clear if he heard anything incriminating about anybody.
Emanuel, understandably, is taking no chances. He has kept utterly quiet. He has pledged total cooperation with Fitzgerald and, apparently, is giving it.
He's even hired counsel, which makes sense because:
A prominent Washington criminal lawyer (who declined to be quoted because he did not know the particulars of the case) was sympathetic—and stressed that hiring a lawyer and moving cautiously was wise. "You always hear the cliché that this or that person made matters worse by going silent," he said. "It's usually just the opposite, at least legally. The fact is, Emanuel at the time was probably getting a hundred calls and e-mails a day. He may not remember what he had said, and even if he did, innocent words or answers can look or sound bad. The last thing you want to do now is say something else that would complicate things. Emanuel was dealing with this crazy big-haired guy who was running around saying who knows what."
Still, however justifiable the silence and caution, Emanuel (and, by extension, Obama) could pay a price for both as the Chicago mess simmers on. Emanuel already has blown up at members of the Chicago press corps—a newspaper reporter and a cameraman. Obama's transition team, eager to show its openness and focus on naming cabinet nominees, has been forced to spend day after day dealing with the Blago story. There's too much focus on Emanuel, whose naturally abrasive personality clashes with his boss's cool demeanor.And Republicans are now piling on Emanuel—and are likely to continue to do so. At this point, there seems little doubt that Emanuel will survive, and will take his place on Jan. 20 as chief of staff in the Oval Office. But he is already a bigger story than is good for either him or his boss—and delay, however legally justified, just makes it bigger. We'll know more next week—at least those of us who are paying attention.
Fineman does know that the Emanuel blew up at said Reporter after he had let the man into his house to use his bathroom, right??
Here's the incident in question:
Back at his home, Emanuel appeared "beet-red," according to an ABC News cameraman who was invited inside by Emanuel to use his bathroom this morning.
"I'm getting regular death threats. You've put my home address on national television. I'm pissed at the networks. You've intruded too much, " Emanuel said, according to the cameraman.
Ultimately, what I can't stand about the Press Corps is their desire to juice up a story at the cost of the facts, when the facts as they are...are plenty enough.
The facts are Fitzgerald is going after Rod Blagojevich. No one from the Obama Transition Team, at this time, is under any Legal Jeopardy.
Where they in Legal Jeopardy, it would be a story. But they're not, and the Media seems to be settling for "they could be legal jeopardy, who's to say" as their new standard.
Here's a fun coda to today's exhausting meeting of the Minnesota canvassing board: The Coleman campaign suddenly indicated that it wants to bring back some of their challenges that they'd previously withdrawn -- a development that will probably drag out this process well past the board's original goal of finishing by Friday.
We're down now to the just the Secretary of Labor, and then Obama can go on Vacation, and prepare to get the Family to D.C. (Remember school starts January 5th!)
As Chicago schools’ chief executive officer, Duncan has shown a genuine commitment to what we see as the essential priorities for an incoming education secretary. There may be times when we will differ, but we believe we will agree fully that America’s students and teachers need an education secretary committed to focusing on real solutions for closing the achievement gap and providing every child with a rigorous, well-rounded education that prepares him or her for college, work and life. Duncan has collaborated with the Chicago Teachers Union and other community partners on various reform programs to help students with the greatest needs. One of Chicago’s stand-out programs is a form of community schooling that brings a variety of wraparound services under the school roof, including tutoring, recreational and social service programs that extend through the evening hours.
Notice at no point does Newt defend Obama. He keeps it about his Party. Notice that the headline doesn't make that claim. (Not like before). He basically uses the "it's a time of national crisis, shut the F up" card...
I was saddened to learn that at a time of national trial, when a president-elect is preparing to take office in the midst of the worst financial crisis in over seventy years, that the Republican National Committee is engaged in the sort of negative, attack politics that the voters rejected in the 2006 and 2008 election cycles.
The recent web advertisement, "Questions Remain," is a destructive distraction. Clearly, we should insist that all taped communications regarding the Senate seat should be made public. However, that should be a matter of public policy, not an excuse for political attack.
In a time when America is facing real challenges, Republicans should be working to help the incoming President succeed in meeting them, regardless of his Party.
From now until the inaugural, Republicans should be offering to help the President-elect prepare to take office.
Furthermore, once President Obama takes office, Republicans should be eager to work with him when he is right, and, when he is wrong, offer a better solution, instead of just opposing him.
This is the only way the Republican Party will become known as the "better solutions" party, not just an opposition party. And this is the only way Republicans will ever regain the trust of the voters to return to the majority.
This ad is a terrible signal to be sending about both the goals of the Republican Party in the midst of the nation's troubled economic times and about whether we have actually learned anything from the defeats of 2006 and 2008.
Yeah, I couldn't believe it either. Then again, Newt is running for President.
The only weird thing is Newt trying to run from the Eisenhower wing of the Party. At least, that's the posture he's taking with this statement.
Are you kidding me??
Don't worry. It won't last.
Monday, December 15, 2008
No one should read anything more into it than what it was, which was an individual throwing a shoe.
Eric Zahren, a Secret Service spokesman.
They are already so protected as it is that it's hard to imagine how they could guard against something like this. It just comes with the territory.
John E. Pike, director of GlobalSecurity.org, a think tank on defense and security issues.
This was a room full of cleared and screened press, and that could be the case anywhere. We wouldn't expect this type of behavior out of our press corps, but within the security structure, people can still misbehave.
Eric Zahren, again.
Please explain to me again how "We wouldn't expect this type of behavior out of our press corps"??
Washington veterans, intimately familiar with the immutable laws of politics, assume that Obama's new approach won't last. Eventually, they think, he'll come up against an immovable object and he'll have to start putting actual heat on his opponents—or pressure on his allies.
And there are already signs that niceness won't cut it. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell didn't support the car bailout despite presidential pressure—from a fellow Republican no less—and the threat of getting blamed for further endangering the economy and ruining American car manufacturers. He's not the kind of fellow who is going to cave to Obama. Moreover, Republicans can't just agree with Obama all the time, or party activists will get even more cranky. Soon enough, Republicans will stop producing flaccid attacks that only help Obama and start to redefine themselves, and that will mean clashes. Sometimes that will lead to clashes meant purely for public show.
At the same time, Dickerson goes on to say that fear's a bad idea too.
The question for Obama is not likely to be whether he uses fear to govern but how he does. Maybe he will choose to obliterate Republican opposition by shaming them by name and turning the public against them. But that carries a risk. His popularity is based, in large part, on the promise that he'll make good on his pledge to be a post-partisan change agent. If he looks like too much of a partisan—or aides look too rough acting on his behalf—he'll damage his brand. That's why he barely inserted himself into the Georgia Senate race or the ongoing recount battle in the Minnesota Senate race.
I love Analysis/Editorial pieces that barely do either.
But give Dickerson credit for this. For someone whom I have accused (and expect to accuse again) of toeing the Conventional wisdom:
Obama's most powerful weapon is that he comes into office with an enormous mandate. An astounding 67 percent of respondents in a recent Wall Street Journal/NBC poll say they have positive feelings about him (45 percent say very positive)—a jump of 10 points from pre-election surveys. And the public is patient. Despite some recent press coverage, there is no revolt in the left wing of his party. Obama will be feared in Washington because he is loved in the country. "It's like gunboat diplomacy," one Washington veteran told me. Opponents surrender or give up the fight because they don't want to risk being on the wrong side of public opinion.
The Secret Service has had a bit of a year, this year. First, they blew it in Dallas during the Primary. They did get the meth heads in Denver, but the next four years are going to be the Super Bowl for the Protective Detail. This ain't a season of 24.
Sunday, December 14, 2008
Presidents tend to get their appointments, unless something untoward happens before or during the confirmation process. I have no doubt that they'll make him squirm over the Marc Rich pardon, but at the end of the day, he's the AG. The Democrats have numerical superiority on their side. They got the votes.
So what's the upside of having Karl Rove involved in the confirmation battle, if this story is true?
What's the advantage of being the regional, southern only party, being the party to shoot down the first African-American Attorney General?
Now, I'm not going to say that McCain didn't "mildly rebuke" his Party Leadership over the Blagojevich Scandal, but saying it was anything other than that is overboard.
You tell me. This is McCain's quote from this morning:
I think that the Obama campaign should and will give all information necessary. You know, in all due respect to the Republican National Committee and anybody -- right now, I think we should try to be working constructively together, not only on an issue such as this, but on the economy stimulus package, reforms that are necessary. And so, I don't know all the details of the relationship between President-elect Obama's campaign or his people and the governor of Illinois, but I have some confidence that all the information will come out. It always does, it seems to me.
Of course, I'm going to let the fact that he called it the Obama "Campaign" slide.
A "defense" of Obama it ain't.
Appleworld, of course, melted down. (Ya think?!?!)
When Zune-gate blew up around Obama, hundreds of bloggers and internet readers couldn't get enough. "NOOOOOOOOOOOO," one iPod-loving user wailed on the blog Engadget. "I want my vote back!"
"Excellent news," a pro-Zune user wrote. "Nice to see he doesn't conform to the crowd and taking style over substance."
Even Philadelphia City Paper reporter Neal Santos, who broke the news that Obama was using a Zune, felt the need to say more. "I don't know for sure that it was his," Santos said in an update to his Zune post. "It could belong to one of the many Secret Service dudes that were at the gym."
Noticing all the chaos the news was causing, the typically coy Obama press shop felt the need to respond. "The president-elect uses an iPod," an Obama spokesman told the Wall Street Journal.
Saturday, December 13, 2008
Friday, December 12, 2008
...yet it's Rahm Emanuel that's getting the death threats?? The guy who may have turned Blagojevich in. The guy who may be responsible for getting him busted.
...yet it's Barack Obama who has to explain himself to the media?
Someone explain America to me.
Then he voted, along with his Republican colleagues, to shut down the Auto Industry bailout.
The card show promptly kicked him off the schedule.
More often than not, though, the Media is only about eyeballs. Getting you to buy the paper, change the channel or sit through the ad. Never mind that skillfully doing their job will get you (the audience) to do that anyway.
You know I feel that the Mainstream Media has gotten lazy. Not biased, but trifling. They're still as good as every at who, what, where, when, but on the all important issue of why, our current batch of reporters either has no clue, takes wild-ass guesses, or worst of all sails with the conventional wisdom.
So, I'm flipping through the online Newsweek, and I come across this headline:
Barack The Untouchable
What the Blagojevich scandal might tell us about Obama's ethics.
Oh God, I say to myself. What are they going to say now?
But I always should remember one thing about reporting. The Reporters never write headlines.
In the aftermath of the arrest of Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich on a range of charges, including trying to sell Obama's Senate seat, and questions about whether other prominent Chicago politicians such as Rep. Jesse Jackson Jr. were involved, some in the national media have begun re-examining the president-elect's ethics. Tony Rezko, for one, is back in our sights. The fact that the political fixer was a big-time crony of Blagojevich's and raised funds for Obama—despite the total lack of evidence that he ever received patronage for it—is disturbing enough. While Obama supported ethics reforms as a state senator, he still "has an ambiguous reputation among those trying to clean up Illinois politics," John Fund wrote in the Wall Street Journal on Thursday. Fund went on to quote Jay Stewart, executive director of the Chicago Better Government Association, as saying: "We have a sick political culture, and that's the environment Barack Obama came from ... Obama has been noticeably silent on the issue of corruption here in his home state including, at this point, mostly Democratic politicians."
I may not be right about this, but I suspect that these inquisitive minds have Obama entirely wrong. It was no accident that U.S. Attorney Patrick Fitzgerald went out of his way to say Obama was not implicated in any way. One of the more telling excerpts from Blagojevich's wiretapped conversations indicates the governor was "bleeping" upset that the Obama team was "not willing to give him anything but appreciation" in exchange for appointing the president-elect's preferred candidate, Valerie Jarrett. There's a pattern here. From all the available evidence we can gather from his time in Illinois politics, Barack Obama is a major goody-two-shoes. And that may tell us a lot about what kind of president he's going to be.
Michael Hirsh goes on to compare and contrast Obama to another Democratic President, but one that's been overlooked in all the Roosevelt tones being laid on. He talked about Harry Truman.
When it comes to public integrity, Obama's early experience in rising through the seemingly irremediable corruption of Illinois politics offers some interesting parallels to Truman's record. According to former Chicago Tribune reporter David Mendell, his biographer, Obama has consistently gone out of his way to steer clear of the Illinois taint he knew was all around him. When his wife Michelle wanted to go to work for Jarrett in City Hall, "Obama looked at her and said 'Let's slow down here.' He's heard what goes on in Chicago City Hall," Mendell told me. Eventually Obama relented after meeting Jarrett and getting her reassurances that she would look out for Michelle—they soon became good friends, and she'll be at his side in the White House—but "initially he was very hesitant about her taking that job."
Obama was so keen on escaping the miasma of corruption that surrounded him, Mendell says, that he wouldn't even joke about it. During one campaign trip, Obama bought pizza and asked his entourage of reporters to chip in five dollars apiece, Mendell recalls. "I said, as kind of joke, 'That'll be 20 bucks on my expense account.' He chuckled and said, 'You only gave me five dollars.' He didn't get it. It was like, 'How could you even think of doing that?' … The guy does have a moral streak."
And, finally, he ends on a point of fairness:
So, yes, there will be questions about Obama, and there should be. "There's something on everybody. Man is conceived in sin and born in corruption," Willie Stark declared memorably in Robert Penn Warren's classic novel of political corruption, "All the King's Men" (inspired by Louisiana's Huey Long, of course). Obama may never entirely free himself of his association with the appalling Blagojevich and the state's culture of corruption.
But it's also clear that Obama came out of the presidential election intent on thoroughly burying these questions—on proving that, like Harry Truman, he could out-ethics everybody else. Hence, at the beginning of the transition, when questions arose about his relations with lobbyists, his campaign announced the strictest and most comprehensive ethics rules ever applied to an incoming administration. As initially drafted, they prohibited anyone who had lobbied or registered as a lobbyist in the previous 12 months even from working for the transition team in the policy areas on which they lobbied. They were so strict, in fact, that even some reform types complained they were excluding advisors who had lobbied Congress on not-for-profit issues like human rights, environment and labor.
People who have been briefed on the Illinois governor corruption investigation say Barack Obama chief of staff Rahm Emanuel is not a target of the probe. Emanuel, a Chicago congressman who would have been a likely contact between the Obama transition office and Gov. Rod Blagojevich, has been a focus of media attention since Obama said Thursday he has asked for an internal review of contacts between his staff and Blagojevich.
Emanuel has been refusing to answer questions about whether he's the "president-elect adviser" referred to in the criminal complaint that accuses Blagojevich of putting Obama's Senate seat up for sale. The complaint does not say that Blagojevich ever spoke to the unidentified Obama adviser about the Senate seat.
The two people who said Emanuel is not a target of the probe spoke on a condition of anonymity because the investigation is still under way. One is a person close to Emanuel, who said he has been told by investigators that he's not a subject of their investigation.
How Jay Leno is Contributing to Our Awful Economy
On Monday, NBC Universal chief executive Jeff Zucker told weary investors at an industry conference that the network was determined to cut costs. His comments came as the company laid off 500 employees and annnounced it would move Jay Leno to its 10 pm weekday time slot. This makes sense for NBC: Every hour of scripted programming costs about $5 million -- for fleets of writers, directors, cinematographers, actors, editors, and everyone in between. Leno's compensation is hefty but not nearly $5 million an hour, and his live show costs a fraction of that. (Big-name stars come to hawk their latest films and books for free.) The Wall Street Journal estimates the move will save NBC as much as $25 million a week, minus Leno's larger takehome pay.
It's happening all over the economy now. Star players are being moved to where they can do the work of many others, who are being laid off in large numbers. The stars earn more yet the companies save big because they decimate payrolls. It's done to improve profits and thereby calm anxious shareholders.
Somehow, though, it's not working. Shareholders are still anxious -- and becoming ever more so. Why? Because all the payroll cuts, multiplied across the economy, are reducing the capacity of consumers to buy goods and services. Which is why advertising budgets are being slashed. And with less advertising, NBC's profits will continue to plummet even as it cuts its costs.
What's rational for an individual company and wonderful for its star players turns out to be irrational for the economy as a whole. It's not Jeff Zucker's fault or any other executive armed with an axe. But this does suggest why smart government policies are critically important, especially now, and why a very large stimulus package is in the interest of everyone -- including Jeff Zucker and Jay Leno.
I can't wait until NBC/Universal asks for a bailout.
That's the angle being taken by our worthless Mainstream Media.
"They have never been in an executive position before," Rendell said on MSNBC’s "Morning Joe." "The rule of thumb is whatever you did, say it and get it over with and make it a one-day story as opposed to a three-day story. Politicians are always misjudging the intelligence of the American people."
The man who just cracked on Janet Napolitano for having no life is giving Barack Obama advice on handling the press?
Are you kidding me??
And they were worried about Biden??
The scandal involves Obama in only the most tangential way, as far as anyone knows, and actually seems to cast him in a favorable light. But the longer he leaves obvious questions unanswered, the longer the president-elect will have to talk about the seamier side of Illinois politics rather than initiatives such as saving the U.S. auto industry or revamping health care.
Maybe, I'm the one who misjudged Ed and Eugene. I like these guys, but they're dead-ass wrong.
What exactly is your responsibility for a story when you're as much a victim in these circumstances than anything else??
You actually had Reporters questioning Obama over the fact that he didn't repeat his call for Blagojevich's resignation.
You actually have reporters parsing when Obama used "I" versus "we" in his Press Conference yesterday.
I'm starting to get the feeling this is as much a result of Press Corps addicted to News Cycle Journalism with nothing to cover, finally getting their teeth into something, and if necessary making @#$% up to feed the beast.
Apparently covering the Financial Apocalypse is just too damn boring...
If Obama doesn't walk up to the State House, and put Blagojevich in cuffs himself, somehow it's his fault.
I expect this B.S. from Fox News...not Democrats and otherwise smart columnists...