Saturday, November 15, 2008

Obama's Opportunities?

On Bill Moyers' Journal, with of course Bill Moyers being off this week, Deborah Amos was talking to's Fred Kaplan (one of my favorite writers), and Elizabeth Rubin of the Council on Foreign Relations and the New York Times Magazine. Ms. Amos asked them a question about the oncoming Financial Crisis, and what it's going to do to the Obama Administration. Both Mr. Kaplan and Ms. Rubin had veeeeery interesting things to say about the opportunities (yes, opportunities) that await the President-Elect:

No postable video, but the link to the interview is right here.

ELIZABETH RUBIN: Yes and no. I mean, you could look at it another way, which is that if the U.S. is not just money bags then it means that other countries realize they actually have to do some work with the U.S. and with whoever is in the region. So in a way it makes the world much more interdependent. Rather than seeing the U.S. as - the U.S. is either going to do its policy for better or for worse 'cause they've got all the money. It doesn't work that way anymore.

FRED KAPLAN: Yeah, you know, the Cold War was actually an anomaly in history. I mean, this idea of two pretty stable blocs that faced off. And each of them controlled its half of the world. And that at one point, one of the sides just went poof. And I think the mistake that the Bush administration made at the end of the Cold War was they said, "We won the Cold War; therefore, we control everything and everybody has to bow down. We are stronger than ever. We are like Rome. Everybody has to do what we want."

But what was really going on, we were actually in some ways weaker than we were before because, in the old days, everybody kind of vaguely on our side, would look over to their shoulder and know that, oh geez, the Russian bear's over there. So, okay, I'll go against my interests to go along with this because the alternatives are too dreadful.

Well, now, the bear's gone. These countries, they can go their own way, pursue their own interests without much attention to what Washington says.

So what the next president has to do is really to adjust to America's reduced place in the world and to - how to advance our interests in a world where we actually control much less. And it's very difficult. But it also provides possibilities because there are ways of reciprocal benefits for both countries. And as Elizabeth was saying, you can create diplomatic situations where other countries feel a stake in the matter, too.

David Sirota. Still a tool.

This is what annoys me about Left-wing tool, David Sirota.

He wrote an article for today, saying that should President Bush attach a Columbia Free Trade deal to the Economic Stimulus Plan, the President-Elect  shouldn't fall for the trap that David Sirota has conveniently spotted for him, and should say no.

Umm, he said no...last week.  Yeah.  Ain't happening.  Via his new Chief of Staff.  Sunday, last week.  It was on the Television Shows.  Where you been?

Madelyn Dunham Laid To Rest...

Madelyn Dunham's been laid to rest in Hawaii.  Barack and Maya weren't there.  They're expected to attend a private ceremony together when the President-Elect comes to Hawaii later in the month.

R.I.P., Toot.  We'll take care of him for you.

The White House Counsel...

Obama's White House now has a Lawyer. Gregory B. Craig, a lawyer who quarterbacked President Bill Clinton’s impeachment defense, has been chosen for the job.

According to Wikipedia, the Counsel's role is to advise the President on all legal issues concerning the President and the White House.

The Office of Counsel to the President was created in 1943, and is responsible for advising on all legal aspects of policy questions, legal issues arising in connection with the President's decision to sign or veto legislation, ethical questions, financial disclosures, and conflicts of interest during employment and post employment. The Counsel's Office also helps define the line between official and political activities, oversees executive appointments and judicial selection, handles Presidential pardons, reviews legislation and Presidential statements, and handles lawsuits against the President in his role as President, as well as serving as the White House contact for the Department of Justice.

Although the White House Counsel offers legal advice to the President, the Counsel does so in the President's official capacity, and does not serve as the President's personal attorney. Therefore, controversy has emerged over the scope of the attorney-client privilege between the Counsel and the President. It is clear, however, that the privilege does not apply in personal matters, such as impeachment proceedings; thus, in such situations the President relies on a personal attorney for confidential legal advice.

A Matter of Bad Timing...

While NOW's concerns are well justified, isn't it bad timing to complain about a lack of women on the Cabinet when: a) no one's been appointed to the Cabinet yet, and b) Hillary is being considered for Secretary of State?

Lobbyists: The perfect process stories for a Saturday...

First, Process Stories.  That's basically any news story that shows the public the inner workings of Government or Politics.  They say that seeing how Laws get passed (or governing) is like watching sausage get made.  Any article that shows how the sausage is made is a Process Story.  It's also a way to eat up some column inches in a Newspaper when you don't have any actual news to print.

Second, Saturday.  If you want to bury a news story in America, you release word on Friday Night, aka the Friday Night Document Dump.  Dump a story after 6:00pm, East Coast Time, and it'll miss the Network National News (which most Americans still watch), and odds are it won't get traction even in time for the Sunday Morning Talkers.

Today's news cycle seems dominated by concerns over the Transition Team's having some Lobbyists on it, with stories in the Politico, New York Times, and the Washington Post.

Basically, the whole point of Obama's Lobbying ban is that he doesn't want Lobbyists, people paid to schill for various Companies, Industries and Interest Groups, in his Administration making policy.  We want to be sure people in his Administration are doing things because they're in the interests of the American people, and not eyeing a future paycheck once they leave Government Service.

After campaigning on promises to end the influence of lobbyists in the White House, Mr. Obama has imposed rules that bar officials on his transition team from handling any issues in areas of policy where they have lobbied over the last 12 months or from seeking to influence the same agencies for the next 12 months.

The people that thes articles are talking about aren't governing.  Right now, they're just going into the various Federal Agencies they've been assigned, to see what's going on, and reporting back to the President-Elect.  That's it.  Some of them might even take jobs in the Government under a President Obama, but as long as they're not working in the fields they're lobbying in it shouldn't be a problem.

My problem with these stories is that they're based on a false premise, then they turn around and accuse Obama of violating the false premise.  The rules as laid out aren't as puritanical as they're being made out to be.  They make it sound like there's a complete ban on Lobbyists, when there's not, and that Obama's violating it by having a Lobbyist anywhere in 500 miles of him.  Or they make Lobbying out to be a disease, and once infected the only place you can go into various Lobbyist Leper colonies around the world.

Lobbyists have caused a lot of problems, especially in the current administration.  But again, this is another situation were people are upset, but are getting upset about the wrong thing.  While, I'm not a fan of the process, the problem isn't Lobbying itself.  There should be people out in Washington advocating for ideas and policies.  The problem was, under the Bush Administration, Lobbyists were allowed to take over the process of Legislating and Governing.  It's one thing for a Lobbyist to step in an advocate on behalf of his client that X Oil Company be given a tax break to employ more people.  It's another when that same Lobbyist is allowed into the room with Congressional Staffers to re-write the Legislation for that tax break.  It's still worse when that Lobbyist was working in the Government a week before, and calls his or her old office to get the sucker fast-tracked.

The current Lobbying regulations may not go far enough, but I think they're reasonable.  The idea of banning Lobbyist contributions is to keep them from saying "Remember how good we were to you during the campaign, so now we need a favor."  The idea of banning meals is to make the Lobbyist live or die by the strength of their ideas, not the fact they took you to a $300 dollar meal at Signatures.  The idea of banning working for a Lobbying Firm after you leave Government Service is to keep your shoulder to the wheel, working for the American people, and not looking down the road to your next paycheck.

UPDATE (5:45pm Nov. 15th): The New York Times drags Biden into it, too.  Never mind that Ronald A. Klain was once Chief of Staff to a good Vice President (Gore), he's caught the dreaded Lobbyist virus!  Oooohhh.

The First Fireside Chat...

Friday, November 14, 2008

Ambinder: Already giving up on 2012?

Republicans already signaling that if the Titantic's going to sink, Sarah Palin should go ahead and be the Captain.

Ambinder: All the Hillary speculation may mean nothing...

...or it may not.

Atlantic Monthly's Marc Ambinder on the Hillary speculation:

Has Sen. Barack Obama ask Hillary Clinton to serve as his Secretary of State?

The Huffington Post, citing two sources, says yes, as does CNN's Gloria Borger.

I confess I cannot get sources to tell me this, which means that (a) they've got better sources than I do, which is quite possible, (b) or it isn't true, which is also possible. I know, very helpful. Sorry.

Here's what might be happening:

It is possible that Obama asked Clinton to serve, and that Clinton, hoping that it wouldn't leak, promptly told a bunch of aides, former aides and friends

It is possible that Obama asked Clinton to serve and that the Obama transition / campaign apparatus is parceling out leaks in order to service the news cycle somehow or habituate Democrats to the idea, or even to somehow float a trial balloon for world leaders who happen to be in Washington this weekend.

It is possible that Obama was solicitous; asked Clinton where she might want to serve, and that Clinton was left with the the impression that she had been offered a job.

It is possible that Obama was solicitous and genuinely interested in hearing from Clinton and genuinely wanted to know what she wanted to -- or planned to -- do over the next four years.

It is possible that Obama offered the job to her, that she asked him whether she could take a few days to think about, and that someone downstream found out about it from the principals and leaked it without authorization.

It is possible that Obama was solicitous and genuinely interested in hearing from Clinton and genuinely wanted to know what she wanted to do ... and downstream, based on what Clinton and Obama told people about the meeting, a mistranslation occurred and people became convinced that Obama had offered her something.
Ambinder goes on to speculate on the complications (all reasons why I don't think its going to be her).

When is a Leak a Leak?

Everyone seems reeeeal excited about the Obama leaks...but are they leaks? Opinions (like your mileage) may vary...

First, Keith Olbermann talked with Richard Wolffe of Newsweek who seems to reiterate some of the things he said on Wednesday. Calm down. Chill out. We don't necessarily know anything. (Richard comes on about 2:10 into the video).

Next, Keith talked to Craig Crawford of Congressional Quarterly, who seems to suggest that maybe, just maybe the leaks are intentional.

Even Rachel seems to throw some cold water on the idea.

As a side note, might have been nice to have invited someone other than Douglas Brinkley, who seemed to enjoy pouring cold water on Doris Kearns Goodwin's book.

TPM: Senator Begich...

Begich's overwhelming lead in the Alaska Senate race against soon-t0-be jailbird Ted Stevens has gone from 3, to 814, to 1022 in the last 48 hours.

But the best news comes from TPM's Eric Kleefield.

The Anchorage Daily News points out that some of these new ballots have come from the Mat-Su area, the right-wing stronghold that gave us Sarah Palin -- so the fact that Begich's lead is still going up is a very bad sign for the incumbent Republican. Not only is the pool of remaining votes shrinking, but Stevens is running out of GOP areas that could put him over the top.

Imitation is the sincerest form of...something.

The President-Elect oughta sue hyper-conservative Israeli Politician Benjamin Netanyahu for copyright infringement.

Meet your second new White House Senior Adviser...

It shall be Valerie Jarrett, according to the Chicago-Sun Times.

I guess this is officially kill the Senator Jarrett, and Cabinet rumors.

Not the smoothest performance on camera, but you get a nice vibe from her. Professional and Smart. She's known the Obamas for years, knows what makes them tick, and isn't a yes-woman.

Huffington Post had this to say (and it makes sense):

Jarrett's White House role may be similar to the one played by Karen Hughes in President Bush's first term, the Washington Post speculates, "providing political advice while keeping him grounded."

AP: Richardson Meets with The Boss....

Presumably this is also for the Secretary of State job.

I'm starting to think the Hillary's been offered it meme is not yet accurate.

He is my hands down first choice for the job. When things got bad for the Bush Administration in their deals with Kim Jong-Il, the Republicans actually turned to the Governor of New Mexico (and former U.N. Ambassador to go to Pyongyang and talk for them.)

UPDATE (7:02pm Pacific): Pretty much everyone has it now, including the Post.

I guess Chris Cuomo's a Racist...

It's only fair to wonder. During his interview with Bill Ayers today, Mr. Cuomo kept harping on how important Mr. Ayers "associations" with Terrorists were.

If I remember right, Chris Cuomo has an "association" with his Brother, former New York Attorney General, Andrew Cuomo, who as a Hillary supporter said of the President-Elect-to-be:

It's not a TV crazed race. Frankly, you can't buy your way into it. You can't shuck and jive at a press conference. All those moves you can make with the press don't work when you're in someone's living room.

January 10, 2008

I mean, I'm just following the same logic Mr. Cuomo used on Mr. Ayers.

Bayh gets the Senate rules wrong...

Turns out that interview with Senator Evan Bayh (D-IN) wasn't as informative as I'd hoped it was.

You'll recall the good Senator said:

And the final thing I'd say is, if he does retain his chairmanship, we still exert oversight over him and control over him. He doesn't have the ability to just do whatever he wants. The caucus still has the right to remove him from that position at any time if he starts going off on some kind of tangent.

Kinda what I was pinning my hopes on. Problem is, it won't work out that way.

According to former Democratic Senate Staffer Martin Paone (don't worry, he hasn't heard of you, either) if the Democrats would attempt such a switch, mid-year, for any reason, the Republicans would likely filibuster it.

"It takes a Senate resolution to change a chairmanship, and that resolution could be subject to a filibuster," Paone told the Huffington Post. Put simply, under Bayh's proposed scenario, Republicans would have every reason to filibuster a new Senate resolution taking Lieberman's chairmanship away if he was proving an effective antagonist of President Obama.

Paone noted that a similar game of political chess played out in the Senate's recent history. "We had a similar situation in the past with a Republican moderate senator, Mark Hatfield from Oregon, who voted the wrong way in the eyes of [former Sen. Rick] Santorum and others on the constitutional amendment on a balanced budget," Paone said. "There were rumblings they wanted to take his chairmanship away. But the ranking member on the committee was [Democratic] Sen. Robert Byrd, who wrote Hatfield a nice note saying, 'if they ever try to take your chairmanship away, I'll make sure we [Democrats] will filibuster such a resolution."

LA Times: Target the Donors...

Word is coming down, courtesy of the L.A. Times that the Gay Community of California is looking for payback:

More than a week after the passage of Proposition 8, activists opposed to the ban on gay marriage have shifted their protests to new arenas -- using boycotts to target businesses and individuals who contributed to the winning side.

Such donor lists are, after all, public information.  I'd feel less comfortable about this tactic if so much of the money hadn't come from out of State.

And now there's word that the head of the Los Angeles Film Festival, Rich Raddon, himself a Mormon, gave $1500 to Yes on 8, and now may be about to lose his job.

It's unfair (and I'm pretty sure illegal) to fire someone for their Political and Religious beliefs...on the other hand, if no one will sit down with you and do business with you, how's he gonna be expected to do his job?

I'm not sure how I feel about this.  This has the stink of McCarthyism about it, but at the same time if I learned that a guy in his position was a racist, or tried to take my rights away, I think I'd be looking for payback, too.

Leahy: Don't Let The Door Hit You...

Senator Pat Leahy (D-VT) fresh off his role in The Dark Knight, feels Senator Joe Lieberman (I-CT) needs to lose his Committee Chairmanship, and has said so publicly.

UPDATE (11:41am Pacific): Direct quote:

"I'm one who does not feel that somebody should be rewarded with a major chairmanship after doing what he did."


UPDATE (3:04m Pacific): Now Senator Bernie Saunders (I-VT) is saying it, too.

"To reward Senator Lieberman with a major committee chairmanship would be a slap in the face of millions of Americans who worked tirelessly for Barack Obama and who want to see real change in our country," Sanders in the statement sent our way by his office.

"Appointing someone to a major post who led the opposition to everything we are fighting for is not 'change we can believe in,'" Sanders continued. "I very much hope that Senator Lieberman stays in the Democratic caucus and is successful in regaining the confidence of those whom he has disappointed. This is not a time, however, in which he should be rewarded with a major committee chairmanship."

Secretary Clinton...

Word has spread around the world. It's out in the wind, and it's real. Senator Hillary Clinton (D-NY) and the President-Elect met yesterday in Chicago and talked about a role in his Administration. Appropriately, Senator Clinton is deferring all comment to the Office of the President-Elect. That's how you behave when you want the job.

So let's just cut to the chase. Pros:

The Clinton brand is still respected around the world. Having her would breathe a sigh of relief into World Capitols everywhere (except maybe Moscow and Tehran).

Senator Clinton can definitely do the job.

And it always helps to have a bridge to the Big Dog.

It also makes good Political sense in that no one can accuse Obama of dissing her now. And, if you want to build a "Team of Rivals", giving your Number 1 rival prime real estate in the Cabinet is good thinking.


Realistically, the Secretary will serve only four years, after that...what? She wouldn't go back to the Senate. That seat'll be taken. The idea of her running again in 2016 as a Former Senator and Secretary of State? Very few Cabinet Members have gone on to higher office...if any.

Politically, she's shown more of an interest in Domestic Policy than Foreign Policy. The Big Dog's more of a Foreign Policy guy.

Also, with all due deference to Senator Clinton's many skills, aren't there better people for the job?

And what about the Big Dog, and his Business and Foundation dealings? They'll come up in Confirmation Hearings, even though I expect her to easily be confirmed. (This is the Club after all, and the Club looks after its own).

UPDATE (2:12pm Pacific): According to a widely circulated report in the Huffington Post, Hillary's been offered the Job. She's asked for time to think it over, and that request has been granted.

Another pro, for the Obama side. Nothin' like neutralizing your chief rival with a big, big job. Bush did the same thing in 2000 with seemingly his top rival, Colin Powell. Obama to meet with McCain on Monday...

The President-Elect has invited his former rival, Senator John McCain (R-AZ) to a sit down in Chicago this Monday.

The incoming Chief of Staff and Senator Lindsey Graham (R-SC) will be joining them.

I can't claim credit for noticing this first, but...have you noticed who's missing from this get-together??

AP: The Fireside Chat...21st Century Style...

President-Elect Barack Obama plans to videotape his weekly radio addresses, and make them available via YouTube. (I would expect there to be a White House You Tube channel in the near future).

The first of these "Fireside Chats" will be available this Saturday at the Transition Website.

Why I remain an Ex-Catholic...

A Priest in Greenville, South Carolina has decided it's A-Okay to deny communion to Catholics who voted for Obama.

But gets worse. The Administrator of the diocese of Charleston has backed him up.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Lord Cheney...

Remember that scene in The Empire Strikes Back when Admrial Piett accidentally walks in on Darth Vader with his helmet off, and his head partially exposed?

Yeah, kinda reminds me of that.

Senator Feingold...

As you can tell, I haven't been too pleased with all the pushing and shoving people are giving the President-Elect.

But, I like Senator Russ Feingold (D-WI). I respect him, and I generally agree with him, especially on this.

Funny thing is, this uproar is from Murdoch's Fishwrap, and we're still not sure it's even accurate.

I don't think the President-Elect is going to let us down. I just wish folks would chill out and wait for the man to have Executive Authority, before hitting him with their wish lists.

No wonder they wouldn't let him buy the Cubs...

Mark Cuban, already blasting Obama's Economic Advisers.

President-Elect Obama's First Big Mistake

Obama's economic advisory team looks more like a semester's worth of guest speakers for an MBA class than a team that can truly help him. Entrepreneurs will lead us out of this mess. Talk to them.

Entrepreneurs, who eschewed Regulation and Oversight also led us into this mess, Mark.

BTW, Mark. The Mavs are 2-5 out of the gate. Tend to your own backyard before criticizing others.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

A Little More Rachel Bashing...

What follows is an actually informative interview with Senator Evan Bayh (D-IN).

He presents...and I can't believe I'm saying this...a good reason for keeping Lieberman in the caucus.

My main concern is will Rachel listen?

Bayh: One of two things will be likely to happen if we were to kick him out of his chairmanship. No. 1, he might very well decide to just resign from the Senate. You know, he probably would not want to be a person without a home, wandering the hallways without any influence of any kind. And Connecticut has a Republican governor, who would appoint a pure Republican to that seat, who would vote against the wishes of the president-elect and the Democratic caucus, you know, the vast, vast majority of the time. That's No. 1.

No. 2, Lieberman, Joe Lieberman might decide to stay and be embittered. And what would happen there would be from time to time, we have close votes. You've been reporting on the Alaska race and the Minnesota race and the Georgia race. We could be at 58, 59, maybe even 60 votes. Every two or three or four months, there's going to be a critically important vote, very close, every vote will count. And it might come down to one vote.

Now, if Senator Lieberman has a strong view, he'll vote his conscience, but if he's conflicted, frankly, you know, doesn't really know what to do, and we've exacted revenge on him, I suspect we could probably expect the same in return. That's really not where we want to go. Let's see if we can move this in a better direction.

And the final thing I'd say is, if he does retain his chairmanship, we still exert oversight over him and control over him. He doesn't have the ability to just do whatever he wants. The caucus still has the right to remove him from that position at any time if he starts going off on some kind of tangent.

Rachel Maddow...worth switching off.

If there's a reason I can't stand Rachel Maddow is that she lets her own fears and anxieties dictate how she covers news items, and frequently winds up getting things wrong.

On Countdown, Keith Olbermann talked with Richard Wolffe about the leaks coming out of the Obama Transition, or lack there of to be more precise. (Keith and Richard actually talk about the leaks 3:10 into the video).

Richard Wolffe gives a clear and concise reason why we should ignore a lot of these stories coming out of the Transition. Very few people in the Transition actually know what is going on. Since none of them are talking, no one else can possibly know what the hell's going on. As a result, you get news stories like the Murdoch Street Journals B.S. from a couple days ago.

But reality never means much to Rachel. Oh no, despite the fact that the Obama ship isn't dripping one bit, she's going to tell me that the "wheels are starting to squeak".

And that's when I shut her off.

It's getting ridiculous. All throughout the General Election, it was Obama isn't doing THIS enough. He's not doing THAT enough. I want him to be doing MORE of THIS. If he wants to win, he should do what I say he needs to do.

Newsflash Rachel. He's won campaigns. You haven't. Until you do, keep your advice to yourself. The President-Elect seems to be doing fine without it.

Begich Takes The Lead

Mark Begich takes a commanding lead in the Alaska Senate race...

UPDATE: (5:41pm Pacific): What was meant as snark may actually be true.

From Nate Silver:

Roughly 15,000 additional votes have come in in Alaska, with more to come, and Democrat Mark Begich has taken a three-vote lead over Republican Ted Stevens, 125019 to 125016.

More to come tonight and in the coming few days to finish off the race, but given where we expect the remaining votes are located, this looks very good for Begich. It looks very bad for Jon Stewart, Stephen Colbert, Bill Maher, and Andrew Sullivan, who probably wanted the material if Sarah Palin were to run to replace Stevens in a special election.
UPDATE (10:07pm Pacific): Now it's 814 Votes.

TPM: Obama Transition Team Staffs Up Internet Outreach Crew

Obama seems to be moving in the direction of making, an actual place to hang out and learn about what's going on in Government.

Looking at, I can only hope so.

Reuters: White House will listen to auto ideas from Congress

Gee, isn't that swell of them?

It wouldn't be because we're ready to move on without them, is it?

A Message from Hawaii...

An Email from Maya Soetoro-Ng (aka the President-Elect's Sister) has somehow gotten into the wind, courtesy of the Honolulu Advertiser.

I was kind of mixed on whether to post this or not, but the Email seems to be geared for as many people as possible. I had been wondering how the family had been doing since Toot's death last week. She seems to be doing okay. Reading the Email, the mix of joy and pain she's going through comes right off the page, as you would expect of anyone who has suffered this kind of loss.

UPDATE (11:08am, Pacific): Time Magazine has a piece on the Email, too.

Leave it to Stephen Colbert...

So, on his show last night "Stephen Colbert" tried his best to exploit the divide between Blacks and Gays, because that's what Republicans like "Colbert" do. (Note: "Stephen Colbert" is a wingnut, whereas Stephen Colbert, the actor who plays him, isn't.)

But he brought on Dan Savage, a gay columnist (and frequent Bill Maher guest) who I normally have a lot of respect for. So there I am holding my breath, wondering what the hell he's going to say about the Black-Gay divide.

Well, Dan Savage did what good columnists are supposed to do. He told me something I didn't know before.  He told me that the real problem in the Prop 8 voting here in California wasn't racial, it was generational.

The Colbert ReportMon - Thurs 11:30pm / 10:30c
Proposition 8 Protests - Dan Savage
Colbert Report Full Episodes2010 ElectionFox News

Nate Silver backs Dan up.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Massive Layoffs Expected... the Intelligence Industry, under an Obama Administration.

Because they've done such a good job.

Add, for the record, Murdoch Street Journal, the GITMO Shuttin' Down stories aren't going away.

Obama Celebrating Veteran's Day...

President-Elect Obama took a moment to honor our veterans in Chicago with Tammy Duckworth, Secretary of Veterans Affairs for the State of Illinois (and my own choice for the Cabinet position of the same name). Here are the photos from the Transition website.

Hey! I got an idea...

Now that we've voted him into office, let's push the President-Elect around!:

We got Anti-War Liberals calling for Obama to dump Secretary Gates.

We got the Wall Street Journal calling for Obama to keep Secretary Gates.

We got Dean Baker over at TPM saying that Obama shouldn't be listening to his Economic Advisors.

We got Veterans Groups pushing Obama to select Tammy Duckworth as Secretary of Veteran's Affairs.

We got Mayor Adrian Fenty of D.C. pushing the Obamas to put Malia and Sasha into Public Schools.

The line forms around the block, people.

UPDATE (4:31pm Pacific): For the first time ever, I'm going to Father. Who said in response to this nugget of information:

Dean Baker has it partially right. Clinton left the budget and the economy in good shape which is why the recession was short.

Bush broke his deal with Greenspan; Greenspan was to keep interest rates low and Bush was supposed to curtail "wasteful Clinton era spending", but he never did. Greenspan kept interest rates low and the housing bubble followed.

I don't think it can or should be blamed on Clinton and the Clinton team.

TPM: Taking the Wall Street Journal with a grain of salt perhaps?

From David Kurtz:

A couple of potentially disturbing reports today in the Wall Street Journal, one suggesting that Obama is not going to substantially rein in Bush-era intelligence activities and another reporting that Obama is leaning toward asking Bob Gates to stay on as secretary of defense.

There's tremendous pressure to report out anything that can be gleaned about the transition, so there's a tendency for every scrap of information to get blown out of proportion, making it tough to know how much credence to give any single report.
Once you start piling analysis on top of thin reporting, you've got yourself a house of cards held together with conjecture and speculation.

So I'm inclined to keep my powder dry until things shake out a bit more, but watching very closely.

From Salon's Walter Shapiro:

As Valerie Jarrett, co-chair of Obama's transition team, put it with deliberate blandness on "Meet the Press" Sunday: "I think one of the real strengths of Sen. Obama's campaign and now President-elect Obama's transition is that he really does like to think this through thoroughly and not telecast what he's going to do until he's ready to make a decision."

I'm following David Kurtz's suggestion. Until someone from the Office of the President-Elect says it, it ain't worth the paper it's printed on.

The Clintons vs. Obamas media obsession continues...

If there was one nice thing about having Sarah Palin to kick around for the last three months, it's that the media has gotten off its previous obsession, which was fomenting anger between the Clinton and Obama camps.

Nice to see that's over with.

Amazing thing about the the Wall Street Journal story from before, it doesn't say anything. Oh, Hillary is glad to mentor Michelle (duh). Oh, Hillary is trying to figure out her role in the Senate after an unexpected loss (unexpected? She lost six months ago.) Oh, and they're ticked about Obama not helping more to retire their campaign debt.

Uhh, a) maybe she shouldn't have run it up when she knew she going to lose, and b) Barack Obama has kinda been busy since August. You might have read about it in the papers.


So yesterday, the Bush Administration hints that if Obama pushes for Democratic support for CAFTA, Bush will support a second stimulus package in the lame duck session.

But today, the Bush Administration is backing off that assertion, saying there was no quid-pro-quo.

Might've had something to do with the incoming Chief of Staff saying there would be no quid-pro-quo on Trade and Stimulus.

Monday, November 10, 2008

The Wall Street Journal...arrgggh....

So on the one hand, we have an article from the Wall St. Journal basically saying that nothing's really going to change, Intelligence-wise, with the incoming Obama administration.

The problem is that the article, if you read it...doesn't really...well, quote anyone from the Transition Team or the Office of the President-Elect.

It mentions a bunch of people.

It mentions that John Brennan is the head of Obama's Intelligence Transition Team, but only mentions a quote taken from an interview from "before Election Day."

So, how exactly does this article purport to report...anything?

That's not to say the article might not be right, it may.  But it seems to go on and on to report stuff and with nothing hard to back it up.

NYT: The New New Deal?

Paul Krugman also says Go Bold!

"Saving the Taliban for a rainy day??"

Now, I think that even though India is bleeding us for jobs, even though they developed a Nuclear Weapon outside the purview of the International Community, they're our friends and we kinda need them in the coming fight against Al-Queda. We need them as a counterweight against the possibility of Pakistan (and their 25 nuclear weapons) falling into the hands of the Taliban and other Islamic Extremists.

But it now seems one of the problems we face in Afghanistan, one of the myriad problems that President Bush failed to comprehend, is the fact that Pakistan is afraid that India is going to make Afghanistan a client state.

This is a transcript from the Frontline Program "The War Briefing". (I was trying to find video, but was unsuccessful):

FRONTLINE NARRATOR: In the years after 9/11, the ISI (Pakistani Intelligence Service) grew worried that without the Taliban as a counterweight, Afghanistan would fall under the influence of its nemesis, India.

Prof. VALI NASR (Tufts University): The fundamental issue is this. Pakistan owned Afghanistan until 2001. We essentially turned Afghanistan into a neutral territory, and the Pakistanis fear that it's actually going to become an Indian territory. That to them is an absolute strategic loss, and they're going to fight it.

STEVE COLL (The New Yorker): The Pakistan army supports the Taliban out of a fear, and that fear is located in the belief that the United States is collaborating with India in Afghanistan to essentially encircle and weaken the Pakistani state.

FRONTLINE NARRATOR: The ISI viewed Afghan president Hamid Karzai with particular suspicion.

ROBERT D. KAPLAN (Atlantic Monthly): President Karzai has been provocatively pro-Indian. He has allowed the Indians to open consulates in Jalalabad, in Kandahar, in other places around Afghanistan. So the Pakistanis are enraged about Karzai. They see this as a pro-Indian state. And in this very difficult, violent part of the world, bad things happen in this situation.

FRONTLINE NARRATOR: When the Indian embassy in Kabul was blown up by a suicide bomber in July 2008, the evidence pointed to Pakistan's ISI and a long-time Afghan Taliban commander, Jalaluddin Haqqani.

STEVE COLL (The New Yorker): There's recent evidence that the Pakistani intelligence service apparently facilitated an attack by Haqqani's group against the Indian embassy in Kabul, the capital.

DEXTER FILKINS (The New York Times): A very senior member of the ISI told my newspaper that, "Jalaluddin Haqqani is one of our assets, and we're not ashamed to say that." Now, that's a pretty remarkable thing to hear from a senior Pakistani official. Pakistan claims to be fighting the Taliban and getting a lot of money from the United States to do that, when, in fact, elements within the Pakistani military and intelligence services have kept the Taliban around. You know, they kept them alive as a kind of insurance policy. I mean, as a former Pakistani official said to me, "We're saving the Taliban for a rainy day."

Four More Years! Four More Years!

MSNBC signs up Keith Olbermann for (at least) the length of the Obama Administration.

Farewell, GITMO! (You won't be missed.)

Barack is looking to close GITMO, and move the Prisoners here to the States to stand Trial.

And let the church say, Amen!

Party music...again provided via Youtube.

UPDATE as of 4:40pm Pacific Time: According to Politico's Whiteboard, Obama has released two statements. "He has not decided whether to close Guantanamo Bay, and he has not decided which executive orders to overturn."

More on this as it becomes available, but so far...I can't find these statements on the web or on the transition website.

UPDATE as of 5:07pm Pacific Time: I'm really confused. Politico has taken their story down off the whiteboard, and replaced it with...nothing.

Fallout from Sarah Palin's Two Minutes Hate...

Apparently, Sarah Palin wanted to be (Vice) President so bad that she was willing to endanger Barack Obama's life to do it.

I said it before, I'll said it again. Once you unleash that kind of hatred, it's impossible to control it. Sarah Palin wasn't thinking (she never does). She wanted what she wanted, and that's all that mattered

Sunday, November 9, 2008

Racism. It isn't just for America, anymore...

Sorry.  I don't think this blog was started in time to cover Silvio Berlisconi.

But we have a brand new right-wing a-hole from Poland speaking up, removing all doubt about what he is:

"Someone regarded by the (American) Republican right as a crypto-communist has become the leader of the world's greatest power ... and al Qaeda are rubbing their hands with glee that the new president wants peace, not war," Artur Gorski of the opposition Law and Justice (PiS) party told parliament last week.

The black messiah of the new left has crushed the Republican candidate John McCain, and America will soon pay a high price for this quirk of democracy," he added.

Obama is an approaching catastrophe. This marks the end of white man's civilisation," he said in an address.

Post: Bold is Good...

The Washington Post's E.J. Dionne has some (actual) sage advice for the incoming President:

The public's desire for more government action to heal the economy and guarantee health insurance coverage, along with its new skepticism about the deregulation of business, suggests that we are a moderate country that now leans slightly and warily left.

But that wariness means that progressives should avoid offering advice based on the assumption that an ideological revolution has already been consummated.
They should not imitate the triumphalism of Karl Rove and his acolytes, who interpreted President Bush's 50.8 percent victory in 2004 as the prelude to an enduring Republican majority.
This continues to emphasize a point I've been making to Tools on the Left.   But Dionne has equal scorn in this piece for Tools on the Right:

Yet Reagan offers another lesson: His first moves were bold, and Obama should not fear following his example. The president-elect is hearing that his greatest mistake would be something called "overreach." Democrats in Congress, it's implied, are hungry to impose wacky left-wing schemes that Obama must resist.

In fact, timidity is a far greater danger than overreaching, simply because it's quite easy to be cautious. And anyone who thinks House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and her followers are ultra-leftist ideologues has been asleep for the past two years. As Pelosi noted in an interview in her office this week, her moves have been shaped by a Democratic House caucus that includes both staunch liberals and resolute moderates. She knows where election victories come from.

TPM: The Mini Depression and the Maximum Strength Remedy

Former Clinton Labor Secretary Robert Reich gives us a little Econ 101.