Friday, November 28, 2008

Pakistan and India get together...

From our, "It's-Very-Important-That-This-Doesn't-Start-A-Nuclear-War-Department", the Pakistani Intelligence Chief is heading for Mumbai to help with the Investigation...

Roughly equivalent to Iranian Intelligence coming over here and helping with...anything.

UPDATE (9:14pm Pacific): According to the Times of India, not so much.

Fireside Chat for November 29, 2008

A litte early this week.  After all, it is Thanksgiving Weekend...

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

HuffPo: "Obama Advisers Concerned By Gates Decision -- 'Makes Them Look Wimpy'"

Here we go again. This time from the Huffington Post.

There is an article in the Politics Section of the Huffington Post entitled: "Obama Advisers Concerned By Gates Decision -- 'Makes Them Look Wimpy'"

It links to an article in The New York Times, called: "Obama Plans to Retain Gates at Defense Department"

Scanning the article, we see the following:

“From our point of view, it looks pretty damn good because of continuity and stability,” said an Obama adviser, who insisted on anonymity to discuss confidential deliberations. “And I don’t think there are any ideological problems.”

The point of the article was to announce Gates' retention. It was not a piece about Obama advisers complaining about the retention; despite what Huffington Post seems to think. But, to be fair:

In deciding to ask Mr. Gates to stay, Mr. Obama put aside concerns that he would send a jarring signal after a political campaign in which he made opposition to the war his signature issue in the early days. Some Democrats who have advised his campaign quietly complained that he was undercutting his own message and risked alienating war critics who formed his initial base of support, especially after tapping his primary rival, Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton, for secretary of state.

But advisers argued that Mr. Gates was a practical public servant who was also interested in drawing down troops in Iraq when conditions allow.

The key paragraph, at least in Huffington Post's mind, is as follows:

But it also stirred a debate inside Mr. Obama’s circles, where some advisers worried that the decision to turn to a Republican appointee — something President Bill Clinton did in naming William S. Cohen to the defense post in 1997 — would reinforce the notion that Democrats could not manage the military. “It makes them look like they’re too wimpy to be trusted to run the building,” said one adviser who asked not to be named.

Keeping Mr. Gates after a polarizing campaign on the war also seemed incongruous to some. “I really can’t begin to understand from a political point of view how Barack Obama, a person who got the nomination because he ran against the Iraq war, can keep around the guy who’s been in charge of it for the last two years,” said Loren B. Thompson, head of the Lexington Institute, a research organization.

The Lexington Institute is something I've never heard of. This is from it's mission statement:

It is the goal of the Lexington Institute to inform, educate, and shape the public debate of national priorities in those areas that are of surpassing importance to the future success of democracy, such as national security, education reform, tax reform, immigration and federal policy concerning science and technology. By promoting America's ability to project power around the globe we not only defend the homeland of democracy, but also sustain the international stability in which other free-market democracies can thrive.

Uhhh, sounds fairly conservative to me. At least, they resemble the bunch who brought us into this War in Iraq. I can't imagine any of these guys are close to the Obama Campaign. Maybe they are, but since they're not identified as such in the NYT Piece, I kinda doubt it. So I'm left to wonder why the New York Times is going to them for quotes.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

NYT: Obama "lagging" on Biden...


This is weird.

When I'm calling bull!@#$, I'm usually calling out Fox or the Murdoch St. Journal (which I recognize as being one in the same)...

But here I am calling out the Grey Lady...

Like I said, weird.

This from this morning's article For Biden, No Portfolio but the Role of a Counselor:

So far, Mr. Biden has not been given a defined portfolio, the way Al Gore was given the environment and technology in 1992. And Mr. Obama’s aides say they do not expect Mr. Biden to assume the kind of muscular role that Vice President Dick Cheney has played over the last eight years, although he is expected to put out a number of fires.

Funny. I seem to recall a Newsweek Magazine Article, written by Jonathan Alter (who I trust waaay more now than Helene Cooper) from back in October:

Biden, who had stayed neutral in the Democratic primaries after dropping out in January, told Obama that he was "ready to be second fiddle" and sought no specific portfolio—but only if he got a guaranteed hourlong, one-on-one session with the president every week (like Al Gore's lunches with Bill Clinton, and George H.W. Bush's with Ronald Reagan) and a presence at all important meetings. Obama said yes, that he wanted him for his judgment and for his help in enacting a big legislative agenda. And so the job was defined: "My role will be to say, 'Boss, here's the way I'd go about it'."

What Alter said does eventually make its way into the New York Times piece:

Mr. Biden is spending most weekdays in Chicago, where he stays in a hotel and has lunch once a week with Mr. Obama. During the days, Mr. Biden, Mr. Obama and a coterie of advisers are in the team’s transition offices, going through possible hires. Mr. Biden has been involved in cabinet and policy decisions, offering advice to the president-elect, aides said.

Mr. Obama’s aides say Mr. Biden has backed the decision to appoint Mrs. Clinton secretary of state. “If he had made an argument against it, it would have carried a lot of weight,” a senior aide to the transition said. “He was totally in support of it.”

But in the end, what I find objectionable is Helene Cooper's desire to make something out of nothing, to force drama into a benign process piece.

"So far, Mr. Biden has not been given a portfolio".  Well, according to Newsweek he didn't ask for one.

So far, it looks like the arrangement worked out between Obama and Biden is working as promised.

If I want drama, I've got the Clintons for that.

The Second Obama Economic Presser...

Less than thrilled...

Okay, so it looks like Robert Gates is going to stay on (for at least a little while) as Secretary of Defense.

It was a story long predicted by the SMSM (Wendell: Stinkin' Mainstream Media), and long resisted by me.

Personally, I was hoping for Chuck Hagel (R-NB), soon-to-be former Senator, Vietnam Veteran, and vocal Iraq War Critic.

But my Dad had a question about Gates' deputies.  According to Politico:

Gates has been negotiating with Obama emissaries over his deputies — some will be retained, and some new — and how the Pentagon will be run.

Monday, November 24, 2008

Your Director of the White House's Domestic Policy Council...

Introducing Melody Barnes, former Kennedy Aide, and President-elect Obama's Director-designate of the Domestic Policy Council.

The Domestic Policy Council (DPC) of the United States is the principal forum used by the President of the United States for considering domestic policy matters, excluding economic matters, which are the domain of the National Economic Council. It is a committee of Cabinet chaired by the President.

Attendees Under Bush:
Richard B. Cheney (Vice President)
Michael Leavitt (Secretary of Health and Human Services)
Michael Mukasey (Attorney General)
Elaine Chao (Secretary of Labor)
Gordon Mansfield (Secretary of Veterans Affairs)
Dirk Kempthorne (Secretary of the Interior)
Margaret Spellings (Secretary of Education)
Steve Preston (Secretary of Housing and Urban Development)
Chuck Conner (Secretary of Agriculture)
Mary Peters (Secretary of Transportation)
Carlos Gutierrez (Secretary of Commerce)
Samuel Bodman (Secretary of Energy)
Henry Paulson (Secretary of the Treasury)
Stephen L. Johnson (Administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency)
Edward Lazear (Chair of the Council of Economic Advisers)
Jim Nussle (Director of the Office of Management and Budget)
Keith Hennessey (Assistant to the President for Economic Policy)
John Walters (Director of the Office of National Drug Control Policy)

The Obama Economic Team Presser...

And introducing, your starting four for your Economic Meltdown:

This is about controlling Black People...

Randi Rhodes, on her nationally syndicated Radio Show, alerted folks to this story going on down in Mississippi.

Reginald Simpson, a student at Pearl Junior High, explained that when students on the bus started saying, "Obama is our president," the bus driver told them she didn't want to hear his name. One kid said, "This is history woman," and according to Simpson, "She pulled over and kicked me and the kid off the bus." They were left waiting at the high school and later taken to their own school.

Rest assured, the local ACLU is looking into the matter.

A complete prohibition of political speech violates the First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution and will not be tolerated,” the ACLU said in a statement. “This election should serve as an opportunity to educate students and encourage tolerance.”

Translation: Stand goin' to Court.

The ACLU is encouraging students and parents to contact the group if they are subjected to or witness any form of restrictions on speech, discipline, or santions in response to protected speech activities. Call (601) 354-3408 or 888-354-ACLU (2258).

The story is also posted here (another local Mississippi station) here.

The video of this story is best viewed via the Raw Story version of this tale.

Granted, it may not have been politic for one of kids to refer to the Bus Driver as "woman", but at the same time, if she really wanted to get the kid in trouble, legitimately, she would have gotten to school on her normal route, and reported said kid to the Principal.

But no, that wasn't good enough.

She had to make sure these kids were afraid to say President-Elect Barack Obama's name.  She can't have little black kids thinking they're somebody, especially with hard and fast proof out there that they can be somebody.

This is about controlling black people.

To paraphrase: "Yeah, one of y'all may have made it, but we're going to make sure that the rest of you damn well know where your place is."

Meet your new United States Senator from Delaware...

Gov. Ruth Ann Minner said today she will appointed Ted Kaufman, a longtime, close adviser to Sen. Joe Biden to fill the senator's seat until a 2010 special election.

UPDATE (12:30pm Pacific): The Hill beat me to it.  Nuts.  One of these days!

Our Media, as ever, sharp as butter knives...

So, on the one hand, we have the New York Times saying that Hugo Chavez was dealt a huuuuge blow in recent elections:

President Hugo Chávez’s supporters suffered defeat in several state and municipal races on Sunday, with the opposition retaining power in Zulia, the country’s most populous state, and winning crucial races here in the capital, the National Electoral Council said. the very next paragraph:

Pro-Chávez candidates won 17 of the 22 governor’s races at stake. Many of the seats that Mr. Chavez’s supporters did win were in relatively sparsely populated rural states.

Conversely, we have our friends at McClatchy Newspapers saying just the opposite:

President Hugo Chavez's candidates won a majority of the governor's elections in Venezuela on Sunday, but opposition forces could point to gains with victories in several major states as well as the capital city, Caracas.

I guess I should be grateful because at least we have two different News Organizations actually going out there, doing their own reporting even though they come to day and night different conclusions.

My guess is that the Media really wants to lead with a story that Hugo Chavez got his butt handed to him, but the conclusions are mixed.  You can read the results either way.

This is why reading the news, and keeping track of the news is dependent on the viewer reading more than one source.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

All Michelle, All The Time...

Newsweek Magazine is giving Michelle the cover, and a bunch of ink in between.

The first article is: What Michelle Means To Us, as in us Black people.

The new First Lady will have the chance to knock down ugly stereotypes about black women and educate the world about American black culture more generally. But perhaps more important—even apart from what her husband can do—Michelle has the power to change the way African-Americans see ourselves, our lives and our possibilities.

The next is a piece about raising kids in the White House.

The Obamas may enforce a bit of normalcy by making the kids do chores and make their beds—advice that Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis gave to Hillary in 1992. But the Obama family will grapple with issues that former first kids haven't had to face. Chelsea Clinton, the last girl of a similar age in the White House, grew up well before the era of Facebook and cell-phone snapshots. Banning Facebook entirely could risk alienating the Obama girls from their peers, but restrictions will almost certainly be necessary for their own protection. Schools that were once valued for their ability to protect famous kids from prying eyes are now wide open if their students choose to post photos or status updates.

And finally, there's an interview with Michelle.

It's just unknown. And like any new thing, it feels a bit daunting until you have your plan. What I do know is that once the pieces start coming together, I think that's when the excitement can begin. When the girls know what school they're going to be in, they'll have a sense of how that's going to feel, and they'll know what their rooms look like. All my anticipation is really around the girls, making sure that they're OK. Barack and I … it's going to be a hard job. He likes hard jobs [laughs]. We know we have a lot of work to do. That's just a natural part of it. But as soon as I know that the kids are where they need to be, the other stuff is just hard work, which we are used to.
UPDATE: I should have noted, but the Michelle Interview was conducted on the Campaign Trail, so it's not new.

TPM: The hidden influence of Brent Scowcroft...

Josh and the gang nailed this one. They've been talking up Brent Scowcroft long before the Murdoch St. Journal got ahold of the story.

Mr. Scowcroft spoke by phone with President-elect Barack Obama last week, the latest in a months-long series of conversations between the two men about defense and foreign-policy issues, according to people familiar with the discussions.

The article title indicates that there are a lot of Scowcroft ties within the Obama Administration.

Defense Secretary Robert Gates, who was deputy national-security adviser under Mr. Scowcroft in the George H.W. Bush administration, is almost certain to be retained by Mr. Obama, according to aides to the president-elect. Richard Haass, a Scowcroft protégé and former State Department official, could be tapped for a senior National Security Council, State Department or intelligence position. Mr. Haass currently runs the Council on Foreign Relations.

Other prominent Republicans with close ties to Mr. Obama include former Secretary of State Colin Powell, who endorsed the Democrat in the final days of the campaign, and Indiana Sen. Richard Lugar, a senior member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.

Yes and no. I think the title overstates the case. How many of those people are really going to get jobs in the Administration? Gates, so far, seems to be more of a media invention than anything else. I'll admit that it might just happen, but I'm still waiting for someone from the Transition to say he's on the list. Haass, maybe, but are these to enough to be talking about "Scowcroft ties??"

But to me, the key paragraph(s), which explains many, many motivations:

Mr. Scowcroft's re-emergence caps a tumultuous few years for the 83-year-old former Air Force general. In the run-up to the Iraq war, Mr. Scowcroft wrote an opinion column in The Wall Street Journal arguing against an invasion and warning that it would "seriously jeopardize, if not destroy" the Bush administration's war on terrorism. In speeches and interviews, he regularly criticized both the decision to invade Iraq and the Bush team's handling of the war effort.

The White House responded by removing Mr. Scowcroft from his position as chairman of a foreign intelligence advisory board. Defenders of the Bush policy say the president has planted the seeds of democracy in the Middle East and preserved strong ties with Israel, which had a tense relationship with the elder President Bush when Mr. Scowcroft was national-security adviser.

Mr. Scowcroft, who stayed neutral in this year's presidential campaign, is a prominent advocate of a "realist" approach to foreign policy that favors deal-making over the ideological commitments the second Bush administration was known for.

"He said before the war that this is a war of choice that we shouldn't be engaged in. I think that has resonated with Obama," said Amy Zegart, a public-policy professor at the University of California, Los Angeles, who served as an adviser on national-security matters to Mr. Bush's 2000 campaign.