Wednesday, December 24, 2008

A Chirstmastime Fireside for December 24, 2008

Merry Christmas, from the President-Elect...

Is it just me, or do you think the President-Elect shot this one and last week's back to back?

Time: Does Labor still support Obama?

From the current Time Magazine:

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.

Did anyone at Time bother to ask the Unions?

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

The Blagojevich more thing.

One, the report confirms that everyone's talked to the U.S. Attorney, and that was the reason for the delay in the report:

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 Blagojevich Report...

The complete report can be found at the Transition Website. It's a bit of a snoozer, which is what you should be hoping for if you're rooting for Obama. The key paragraphs, to me, are as follows, and lay out the basic spine of the story:

Barack Obama:

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.

Rahm Emanuel:

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.

TPM: The Neverending Story...

Election 2008!, still, because we just can't get enough...

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... 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.

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Politico: Yeah, but he COULD be up to something...

From the Politico:

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.

But, wait a second, the very article Politico mentions (from December 11, 2008):

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.

Newsweek: Who's Under Arrest Here??

There's a tone to Michael Isikoff's latest piece in Newsweek that I find both offensive and troubling.  Why is the onus is being put on Barack Obama tell what did he know and when did he know it?  

Not the guy who was actually arrested, all the spotlight is shining on the President-Elect. Arguably the victim of said crime.

Isikoff's one of the good guy's, normally, but ain't nobody above an ass whoopin'.

Yeah, yeah, I know.  "Obama's the higher profile guy right now," the Press bleats.  "He's the sexier story, plus Blagojevich's Lawyer won't give us anything on him, so we have to turn to Obama."

Which is why people don't trust the Press anymore.

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??

The Journalists response would be that no one should fear having to answer a few question, but they, you and I all know that's now how the game works. We're watching it right now. The Journalists of the world are playing their typical, lazy-ass game of drama-inflation. They get to sell a few more papers, put a few more eyeballs in front of the screen, yet we get no closer to what actually happened. But what actually happened doesn't matter in journalism anymore. It's just about hitting that number...

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."

Again, the onus being that Obama is actually the one under possible indictment.  Why not just ask "what did you do to make the guy actually under arrest so upset?"

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?"

Of course, if Obama replaces Fitzgerald (which by the way, it's his right to do) Obama MUST be guilty of something.

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.