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.