Thursday, November 27, 2008

Iraq Status Forces Agreement

The Republican standard-bearer in the last two presidential campaigns (President George W. Bush in 2004 and Senator John McCain in 2008) ran against an"arbitrary" U.S. troop withdrawal from Iraq. President Bush ran against a Democratic opponent who said he "voted for the war" before voting against it. Senator McCain (R-Arizona) and his running mate, Governor Sarah Palin (R-Alaska) said we cannot wave the white flag of surrender by agreeing to a timetable for a U.S. troop withdrawal.

Today, however, the Iraqi Paliament voted for a status forces agreement brokered between the Bush and Maliki administrations that does just that. American forces will be required to withdraw from Iraq's cities and towns (and consequently retreat to the military bases) within the next six months (June 30, 2009) and from the country altogether within the next three years (December 31, 2011).

This gives President-elect Barack Obama the cover he needs to to fulfill his promise and remove our troops from Iraq though it provides him with some leeway to withdraw as carefully as we should have got in. The Democrats won Congress by running against the increasingly unpopular war in Iraq.

President George W. Bush, however, doubled down with a surge in troops with the intent of providing for the country's security so that Iraq's rival political factions could negotiate in good faith. Those negotiations have not led to the hydrocarbon law or to a political status agreement for Kirkuk and the surrounding oil fields.

Now our time in Iraq is coming to an end. The incoming president and his national security team will have 3 years to draft and implement his plan to withdraw our forces from Iraq. He can, I guess, ask the Iraqis to sign onto an extension should war break out but this would require the Iraqi government's consent and he will face criticism from those who will question why we our diverting our precious time, money, and lives to this hopelessly long and thankless endeavor when they can be used in the search for Osama bin Laden and the weak economy.

President-elect Obama is expected to unveil his national security team next week. He is expected to nominate Senator Hillary Clinton (D-New York) to serve as his Secretary of State and Retired General James Jones as his national security adviser while asking the current Secretary of Defense, Robert Gates, to stay on for another year.

Mr. Obama should instruct them to devise a way to withdraw our forces "as quickly as is prudent" (if I may borrow a phrase from the junior senator from New York) while pressing the negotiators from Iraq's competing factions to compromise on provincial elections, oil wealth redistribution, and incorporating the Sunni Awakening into Iraq's new administrative infrastructure. Iraq's political factions, Obama must adamantly instruct our generals, should not hold our military's response to pending crises, hostage.

Monday, November 24, 2008

Bipartisan Collapse

and former Clinton Treasurer Robert Rubin and a trio of three friends (one the main risk officer charged with investigating his trading friends) are blamed for Citibank's fall.

the collapse in the financial markets is bipartisan insofar as it involved Clinton officials and Republicans. It is Republican insofar as the common theme is the same - deregulation, deregulation, and deregulation.

Triangulation had its pitfalls.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

What Brought About the Finanial Collapse

Apparently a philosophy of deregulation at the Office of Thrift Supervision and a conflict of interest (funding depends upon the assessments made by those it is supposed to police). Amazing.

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Jones as National Security Advisor

Retired General James L. Jones may be President-elect Barack Obama's pick as national security adviser which, if The Washington Post's account is true, isn't surprising.

What is of interest, however, is this passage, which seems designed in some way to lower Clinton's stature enough so that we aren't left with the impression that Obama is not in charge:

"Meanwhile, several sources said that Jones has moved to the top of the list to be Obama's national security adviser and that the sides are in advanced talks. Sources familiar with the discussions said Obama is considering expanding the scope of the job to give the adviser the kind of authority once wielded by powerful figures such as Henry A. Kissinger."

Interesting.

Worship at The National Cathedral

"The cathedral sponsors programs on interfaith dialogue with Muslims, Jews, Hindus, Buddhists, Bahais and people of other faiths. Former president Mohammad Khatami of Iran attended a Christian-Muslim-Judaic conference there in 2006. Twice a year, there is an Abrahamic roundtable with Bishop John Chane, Rabbi Bruce Lustig and professor Akbar Ahmed of American University's School of International Service. Last spring, a "Lighting to Unite" event concluded the centennial. The theme: "One Spirit among many nations." With a background of sound and lights, the festival drew believers and nonbelievers from all over the country. "We wanted them to experience their humanity," says Lloyd, "to have the sense that they shared a common life with each other."

I am drawn to the cathedral over all of the other sacred spaces in Washington because it is the most pluralistic of the places of worship I've been to.

On Nov. 12, Deepak Chopra, a Hindu, spoke there to a packed house. Asked about Obama in the question-and-answer session afterward, he said that the president-elect "has transcended religious identity. Just imagine when he puts his hand on the Bible to be sworn in and says, 'I, Barack Hussein Obama' . . . How wonderful!"

It would indeed be wonderful for the country to have a president who worshiped at a place most likely to welcome all Americans and all people of the world alike."


Sally Quinn
of The Washington Post

Amen to that.

Yes. A president for all Americanse should worship at a church that respects all Americans.

Vetting Process Discourages Applicants?

Didn't deter Clinton.

The Weekend Preview

1. "FOX News Sunday" on FOX (Sunday at 10:00 AM ET):

Topics This Week - Obama's fiscal policies, the auto bailout, working relationship between Congress and the White House, cabinet pick punditry, a look into Air Force One.

(a) Obama Administration Fiscal Policies:
David Axelrod, Obama's future senior White House advisor, on the fiscal policies Obama would pursue.

(b) Congress and the auto industry and Barack Obama: Representative John Boehner (R-Ohio) and Representative Steny Hoyer (D-Maryland) on the prospects of an auto bailout and the expected working relationship with the incoming Obama administration.

(c) FOX News Sunday Panel: Brit Hume of FOX News, Mara Liasson of National Public Radio, Bill Kristol of The Weekly Standard, and Juan Williams of National Public Radio on the cabinet picks.

(d) Power Player of the Week: the men and women behind Air Force One.

This show, which is hosted by Chris Wallace on Sunday mornings, is repeated at 2:00 PM ET and 6:00 PM ET on the FOX News Channel.



2. "This Week" on ABC (Sunday at 10:00 AM ET):

Topics This Week - Axelrod on the transition and Clinton at state, two senators on the auto bailout and the economic future, roundtable on the cabinet picks and economy.

(a) Interview with the future Senior White House Advisor: David Axelrod on the fiscal crisis, the White House transition and Senator Hillary Clinton at State Department.

(b) The future of the Auto Industry and the Economy: Senator Charles Schumer (D-New York) and Senator Richard Shelby (R-Alabama) on a future bail out and economy.

(c) Roundtable: George Will of ABC, David Brooks of The New York Times, Robert Kuttner, and Arianna Huffington of The Huffington Post on Obama's cabinet picks and the economy.

(d) In Memorium: honoring noted celebrities, politicians, or soldiers that died this month.

(e) Sunday Funnies: excerpts from the late night talk shows.

This show is hosted by George Stephanopoulos on Sunday mornings.


3. "Meet The Press" on NBC (Sunday at 10:30 AM ET):

Topics This Week - two former Cabinet secretaries on the economy and the White House transition, interview with Senator Lieberman, roundtable discussion on the auto industry and the president-elect's cabinet picks.


(a) The Economy and the Transition: former Reagan Treasurer and Bush Secretary of State Howard Baker and former Clinton Commerce Secretary William Daley on the transition and the economy.

(b) Interview with Lieberman: Senator Joseph Lieberman (I-Connecticut) in an interview following the election. Though he endorsed Senator John McCain (R-Arizona), the Democrats allowed him to keep his seat as the Chairman of the Homeland Security Committee. Questions concerning his rhetoric expected.

(c) Roundtable: Erin Burnett of CNBC, Paul Ingrassia (formerly of The Wall Street Journal), Eugene Robinson of The Washington Post, and NBC Political Director Chuck Todd on the future of the auto industry and the White House transition.

This show, which is temporarily being hosted by Tom Brokaw on Sunday mornings, is repeated at 2:00 PM ET and 6:00 PM ET on MSNBC.


4. "Face The Nation" on CBS (Sunday at 10:30 AM ET):

Topic This Week - the economy and the auto industry.

Guests include Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-California) and future Obama Chief Economic Adviser Austan Goolsbee.

This show is hosted by Bob Schieffer on Sunday mornings.


5. "Late Edition with Wolf Blitzer" on CNN (Sunday at 11:00 AM ET):

Topics This Week - the auto bail out, Midwest without the auto industry, the economy, the transition.

Guests in no particular order:

(a) Congress and an Auto Bailout: Senator Carl Levin (D-Michigan) and Senator Kay Bailey Hutchison (R-Texas) on saving the auto industry.

(b) Interview: Governor Jennifer Granholm (D-Michigan) on an auto bailout and the potential for a Midwest economic recovery without the Big Three.

(c) Interview: Former Governor and presidential candidate Mitt Romney (R-Massachusetts) on the economy, auto bailout, and a probable response to former GOP presidential rival Mike Huckabee's assertions that he is a recent conservative convert.

(d) More on the Economy: Forbes Inc. President and CEO Steve Forbes and former Clinton Labor Secretary Robert Reich on the economy and the auto bail out. Not sure if they are debating one another or interviewed one-on-one.

(e) Political Strategists: Republican Strategist Ed Rollins and Democratic Strategist James Carville.

This two-hour show is hosted by Wolf Blitzer on Sunday mornings.

More on Clinton

"Perhaps the best evidence of this is a perpetual donation to the William J. Clinton Foundation from Canadian tycoon Frank Giustra, in which Giustra has promised to give the charity half of the future profits from his global mining empire for the rest of his life.

The unorthodox arrangement could present ethical concerns for Sen. Clinton if foreign governments believe they can curry favor with her by helping Giustra's far-flung mining operations, or if they fear that restricting his activities would damage their relations with her."


I still don't know why the president-elect got himself into this mess. Senator Clinton has star power but she lacks the experience she claims to have. Why not Richard Hoolbrooke?

Obama on the Economy

President-elect Barack Obama hasn't worked out the details but he seems to be headed in the right direction with a strong economic team. Tapping CBO director Peter R. Orszag to serve as his White House Budget Director assures us Obama has an interest in the legislative process and working with the new Congress. Word of Timothy F. Geithner's pick for Treasury Secretary brought comfort to Wall Street Mr. Geithner is the president of the Federal Reserve Bank of New York. He also served as the Undersecretary of the Treasury for International Affairs. His expertise in the global economy will provide Obama with the mans to develop a comprehensive diplomatic agenda that balances this country's national security and financial concerns.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Disgusting

"It's almost like seeing a guy show up at the soup kitchen in high-hat and tuxedo. . . . I mean, couldn't you all have downgraded to first class or jet-pooled or something to get here?" - Representative Gary L. Ackerman (D-New York) as quoted in The Washington Post

Wow. They really live in a cocoon. Their companies are going down but they are completely oblivious with respect to what is going on around them. 401K's and IRA's complete wiped out. Companies laying off workers. Their own companies are in need of aid which is why they are begging Congress to cover their bills at the taxpayers' expense and yet they come to beg in style.


"I understand the intent, but I think where we are is okay,"
Alan Mulally of Ford said in response to one congressman's question concerning the chief executive's potential willingness to work $1.00 a year. Yeah. Heeeee's okay. Joe the taxpayer? Hmmmmm.

Where is a lynch mob when when we need it?

More on Clinton at State

My question is whether a President Obama and a Secretary of State Clinton, given all that has gone down between them and their staffs, can have that kind of relationship, particularly with Mrs. Clinton always thinking four to eight years ahead, and the possibility that she may run again for the presidency. I just don’t know.

Every word that is said between them in public, and every leak, will be scrutinized for what it means politically and whether there is daylight. That is not a reason not to appoint Mrs. Clinton. But it is a reason for everyone around the president-elect to take a deep breath and ask whether they are prepared to have the kind of air-tight relationship with Mrs. Clinton that is required for effective diplomacy.

When it comes to appointing a secretary of state, you do not want a team of rivals.
Thomas Friedman in The New York Times

Maureen Dowd is singing a different tune. She's for Clinton as Secretary of State:

"It may be Obama’s very willingness to take the albatross of Bill from around Hillary’s neck and sling it around his own that impresses Bill. Obama is overlooking all his cherished dictums against drama and leaking and his lofty vetting standards to try and create a situation where the country can benefit from the talent of the Clintons while curbing their cheesy excesses, like their endless cash flow from foreigners.

And in turn, Bill is doing all he can — he’s disclosing sketchy donors and business interests and figuring out how he could curb his global gallivanting to have fewer conflicts of interest — to help his wife get the job."


"Fewer conflicts of interest?" How about none? The endless cash flow from foreigners - that's "cheesy?" No. It reeks conflict of interest to me.


Obama's terms
accepted, but how about our terms?

In discussions over the last few days, Mr. Clinton has agreed to disclose some major donors to his charitable foundation and to subject his future foundation activities and paid speeches to review by the White House counsel’s office and the State Department ethics office, according to Democrats close to the negotiations.


Did not Obama promise transparency? Selective disclosure is not disclosure. It's hiding that which might prove embarrassing.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Private v. State Diplomacy: Clinton at State

"We have long argued that presidents, sitting or retired, should not be permitted to collect this sort of secret cash for their libraries. The imperative for disclosure is even greater in the case of the Clintons because of Ms. Clinton's continuing involvement in public life. Among those reported to have given $1 million or more are Kuwait, Qatar, Brunei, Taiwan and the United Arab Emirates; the Saudi royal family gave $10 million. If Ms. Clinton is to serve as the nation's chief diplomat, the nation is entitled to know what foreign interests have donated generously to help her husband.

Even more complicated is how the Clintons could pursue their parallel careers if she were to become secretary of state. Mr. Clinton would have to give up his lucrative foreign speechmaking and deal-brokering. And for all the good works of his foundation, which has focused on preventing the spread of HIV/AIDS, promoting sustainable growth and alleviating global poverty, it is difficult to see how Mr. Clinton's work with a nongovernmental organization could continue alongside Ms. Clinton's work for the U.S. government. When Mr. Clinton exhorted a foreign government to provide funding or cooperation, would he be carrying the implicit support of the U.S. government? Consider Mr. Clinton's September 2005 trip to Kazakhstan with Canadian mining tycoon Frank Giustra, who has given $130 million to the Clinton foundation. The two men attended a banquet with Kazakh strongman Nursultan Nazarbayev; within a few days, Mr. Giustra had obtained preliminary agreements for his company to buy into uranium projects controlled by the state-owned uranium agency. Neither President Obama nor, if it comes to that, Secretary of State Clinton needs headaches like these."
- editorial from The Washington Post

Which of course begs the question - why would Obama pick her?

Stevens

"Democrats Gain as Stevens Loses His Senate Race" - rather dumb headline.

Of course the Democrats gain from Stevens' loss. Maybe I should be surprised by the results. Outgoing Senator Ted Stevens, in spite of being a convicted felon, lost his election by a hair. Way too many people voted for the convicted felon. Way too many voters think it is okay to send a criminal to Washington, D.C. But then again, a not so insignificant segment of the voting population believe that their politicians in Washington, D.C., are crooks. The question for many voters who go to the polling places is not whether the candidates they are voting for is a crook but whether the candidates they are voting for is their crook - a crook that votes for what they want.

I guess that's why President George W. Bush won a second term. His stupidity and his missteps weren't in doubt but his policies fell more in line with the conservative agenda.

Obama and the Clintons

"Since leaving the White House, Mr. Clinton has amassed a personal fortune through speeches, book writing and business dealings while also building a philanthropic organization that helps to expand global education, health care and nutrition. He travels the world as an elder statesman rallying world leaders to support his goals.

At the same time, he has also accepted millions of dollars from foreign officials and businesses without disclosing many details. Since its formation in 1998, Mr. Clinton’s foundation has raised more than $500 million, allowing him to build a state-of-the-art presidential library while burnishing an image as a philanthropic giant. He is not required by law to identify the donors and has steadfastly refused to do so."
- from The New York Times

If President-elect Barack Obama nominates Senator Hillary Clinton, (D-New York) one of his former rivals in the Democratic primary, to serve as his Secretary of State the Democrats and Republicans in Congress should insist upon the full disclosure of former President Bill Clinton's donor lists. Obama promised us a transparent presidency and we should insist upon it. His failure to provide Clinton's donor lists will open him up to charges of hypocrisy while contributing to an emerging suspicion that his foreign and domestic programs are influenced by Clinton's wealthy contributors.

Just a reminder of the muck Obama is driving his administration into. Mining financier Frank Guistra. Kazakh president Nursultan A. Nazarbayev. Does the no drama Obama team really want to drag us through another Clinton soap opera?

And for whom? Senator Clinton doesn't have the experience she ran on. She was granted no national security clearance in the Clinton White House.

Update:

David Broder, in The Washington Post, says no to Clinton as Secretary of State.

Clinton is the wrong person for that job in this administration. It's not the best use of her talents, and it's certainly not the best fit for this new president.

Key passages:



... What Obama needs in the person running the State Department is a diplomat who will carry out his foreign policy. He does not need someone who will tell him how to approach the world or be his mentor in international relations. One of the principal reasons he was elected was that, relying on his instincts, he came to the correct conclusion that war with Iraq was not in America's interest. He was more right about that than most of us in Washington, including Hillary Clinton. ...

... Even if Hillary Clinton were ready to play such a subordinate role, which she might be, in return for a promise that her voice would be heard in the most serious policy debates, the presence of Bill Clinton makes that a doubly difficult assignment. The former president has, through the Clinton Global Initiative and his own extensive foreign travels and worldwide contacts, made himself a force in international affairs. It would be unfair, and unlikely, for him to shut down his own private foreign policy actions because they might conflict with his wife's responsibilities. But foreign leaders would inevitably see Bill Clinton as an alternative route toward influencing American policy. And he would be unlikely to remain silent."


So, in sum:

No on Clinton because

(a) Obama needs a loyal but intelligent diplomat, not a mentor.
(b) Bill Clinton, as a president and international leader in his own right, would be
viewed by national leaders abroad wrongly as a go-to-guy on foreign policy when
Obama is the commander-in-chief.

Too bad we missed that point.

Monday, November 17, 2008

No to Hillary

I'm with Christopher Hitchens on this one.

Senator Hillary Clinton provides no change, no experience (less the "35 years of experience" fighting for people is a lie which the media did not go after) while marrying Obama to all of her and her husband's conflicts of interests (particularly his dealings abroad. We can do without the obligatory rehash of what transpired in the 90s and the obligatory investigations into her husband's financial ties abroad. Obama should offer her an ambassadorship to the Marshall Islands or Madagascar or some other exotic but relatively unimportant place or let her stay in the senate.

First Christopher Buckley

now David Frum.

Wow. Yes. He may be leaving on his own terms for his own reasons but, the fact remains that he is leaving the magazine because of the heat. He was troubled by the magazine's wholehearted support for Governor Sarah Palin (R-Alaska), and the party's declining support from the intellectual crowd. Key quote:


"Yet, on the other hand, the highly educated yuppie states where there really are just all white people—and a few asians, e.g. oregon, washington—you're just dead. Obama won those by 17% each. He didn't even need blacks or latinos to win those states—just college educated white people. Same across the quasi social democracies of the upper midwest—wisconsin, minnesota, iowa. small black populations, few latinos, educated whites, fairly strong labor movements. You're pretty much shut out up there, too unless you figure out a modernizing message."


Winking and dropping those 'g's apparently didn't help know-nothing Sarah Palin in her vice presidential debate with the smart and well-informed but gaffe-prone Senator and now Vice President-elect Joe Biden.

Speaking of which, what the editor's most memorable reaction to Sarah Palin's vice presidential debate performance?


"I'm sure I'm not the only male in America who, when Palin dropped her first wink, sat up a little straighter on the couch and said, "Hey, I think she just winked at me." And her smile. By the end, when she clearly knew she was doing well, it was so sparkling it was almost mesmerizing. It sent little starbursts through the screen and ricocheting around the living rooms of America. This is a quality that can't be learned; it's either something you have or you don't, and man, she's got it."


Richard Lowry, posted October 3 at 12:08 PM. Shortly after noon.

Bail Out of the auto Industry

Not as Bad As It Seems

The elimination of many more workers, most of them union members and earning upwards of $20 an hour, would be devastating in Michigan, Ohio and Indiana, where the American automakers and many of their suppliers are concentrated. In fact, many of those jobs may disappear even if the companies win government assistance.

But other employers would take their place over time. As the foreign companies stepped up production to replace what would be lost by an American company’s collapse, the transplants would add to their existing work force of 78,000, replacing many of the lost jobs, although at lower wages, with fewer benefits and at nonunion factories in other parts of the country.
perhaps . but there is no guarantee and there is always the question of how long it would take before Toyota, Honda and company can replace what GM lost.

Count me in with Robert Samuelson's crowd. GM gets should get a bail out in spite of itself only because there are too many jobs on the line but as taxpayers we are or at least should be entitled to extract some concessions from GM management and labor.
If GM fails to somehow cut its labor costs, its leaders will return for another bail out two months from now.

Solution to Proposition 8

the most reasonable offer yet, and coming from a conservative Catholic who is no friend to the gay community. Get the state out of the marriage business altogether and have the state refer to each union, heterosexual and homosexual alike, as a civil union or domestic partnership. Anyone who wants to get "married" can do so at their own church, synagogue, mosque, temple, etc. in accordance with the rules that are adopted by said church, synagogue, mosque, temple, or whatever.

Friday, November 14, 2008

Food For Thought for the Gay Community

Interesting but does Mr. Richard Thompson Ford really speak for most of the people who voted for Proposition 8 or only for the sophisticated people who appreciate nuance?

The Weekend Preview

1. "FOX News Sunday" on FOX (Sunday at 10:00 AM ET):

Topics This Week - Congressional action on the financial crisis, the future of the Republican Party, and cabinet speculation.

(a) Congressional Action on the Finance Crisis: Senator Jon Kyl (R-Arizona) and Senator Byron Dorgan on a potential automobile industry bailout proposal and the best use for the $700 billion from the financial rescue plan.

(b) The Republican Party's Future: Governor Tim Pawlenty (R-Minnesota) and former Lieutenant Governor Michael Steele (R-Maryland) on the future of the Republican Party.

(c) FOX News Sunday Panel: Brit Hume of FOX News, Juan Williams of National Public Radio, Bill Kristol of The Weekly Standard, Mara Liasson of National Public Radio, and Charles Krauthammer of The Washington Post on the cabinet pick speculation.

This show, which is hosted by Chris Wallace, is repeated on the FOX News Channel at 2:00 PM ET and 6:00 PM ET.


2. "Meet The Press" on NBC (Sunday at 10:30 AM ET):

Topics This Week - an auto bailout, energy dependence, and a roundtable on the Obama transition, the economic crisis and Clinton's role in an Obama administration.


(a) Congress on a Potential Automobile Bail out: Senator Carl Levin (D-Michigan) and Senator Richard Shelby (R-Alabama) on a bail out bill for the automobile industry.

(b) Energy Independence: BP Capital Management Founder and CEO T. Boone Pickens on how our energy dependence effects the economy and the environment.

(c) Roundtable: Tom Friedman of The New York Times, Katty Kay of the BBC, Andrea Mitchell of NBC, and Travis Smiley of PBS on the economic crisis, the Obama transition and Senator Hillary Clinton's role in an Obama administration.

This show, which is temporarily hosted by Tom Brokaw, is repeated on MSNBC at 2:00 PM ET and 6:00 PM ET.



3. "This Week" on ABC (Sunday at 10:00 AM ET):

Topic This Week - Schwarzeneger interview, roundtable on the Obama transition, financial crisis and the auto bail out.

(a) Sunday Exclusive: Governor Arnold Schwarzeneger (R-California) on California's $28 billion deficit, the means by which he would close the gap (spending cuts and tax increases), wildfires and his state's vote on Proposition 8.

(b) Roundtable: Paul Krugman of The New York Times, and Sam Donaldson, Cokie Roberts, and George Will of ABC News on the potential csbinet picks, the financial crisis, and an auto bailout.

This show is hosted by George Stephanopoulos on Sunday mornings.


4. "Face The Nation" on CBS (Sunday at 10:30 AM ET): nothing posted as of yet. This show is hosted by Bob Schieffer on Sunday mornings.

5. "Late Edition with Wolf Blitzer" (Sunday at 11:00 AM ET): nothing posted as of yet. This two-hour show is hosted by Wolf Blitzer on Sunday mornings.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

What to Do With Lieberman

Keep him in the Caucus and let him keep stay at Homeland Security.

Why?

(a) Senator Lieberman's behavior on the campaign trail notwithstanding,
('m referring to distance himself from Governor Sarah Palin's (R-Alaska)
"palling around with terrorists" accusations). President-elect Barack Obama
promised to change the tone in Washington. Changing the tone requires healing
old wounds which in turn requires a little forgiveness.

(b) Forgiving Lieberman should be easy. He breaks from the party on only
two matters - foreign policy. Lieberman votes with the Democratic Party
a good 90 + percent of the time. If Obama values diversity in opinion
he would not stifle it by punishing one who provides a dissenting viewpoint
every now and then.

(c) Why give the Republicans a seat they didn't earn?

Thank you Olbermann

He gets it.

"

"... In a time of impermanence and fly-by-night relationships, these people over here want the same chance at permanence and happiness that is your option. They don't want to deny you yours. They don't want to take anything away from you. They want what you want—a chance to be a little less alone in the world.

Only now you are saying to them—no. You can't have it on these terms. Maybe something similar. If they behave. If they don't cause too much trouble. You'll even give them all the same legal rights—even as you're taking away the legal right, which they already had. A world around them, still anchored in love and marriage, and you are saying, no, you can't marry. What if somebody passed a law that said you couldn't marry? ..."


"... And uncountable in our history are the number of men and women, forced by society into marrying the opposite sex, in sham marriages, or marriages of convenience, or just marriages of not knowing, centuries of men and women who have lived their lives in shame and unhappiness, and who have, through a lie to themselves or others, broken countless other lives, of spouses and children, all because we said a man couldn't marry another man, or a woman couldn't marry another woman. The sanctity of marriage.

How many marriages like that have there been and how on earth do they increase the "sanctity" of marriage rather than render the term, meaningless? ..."

"...You don't have to help it, you don't have it applaud it, you don't have to fight for it. Just don't put it out. Just don't extinguish it. Because while it may at first look like that love is between two people you don't know and you don't understand and maybe you don't even want to know. It is, in fact, the ember of your love, for your fellow person just because this is the only world we have. And the other guy counts, too."

The "Cheerful" [wink wink?] Opposition

Featuring, Representative Eric Cantor (R-Virginia), Representative Mike Pence (Indiana) and "FOX News Sunday" host Chris Wallace.

CANTOR: Well, listen, there's no question the numbers are startling. And if you do look at the turnout numbers and the responses of those interviewed, we have to demonstrate, number one, that we understand what people are going through. Our vision going forward has to be one of reform.

WALLACE: Up next, we'll hear from two young gun House Republicans on where their party goes next. Back after the break.

MORE

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

WALLACE: And we're back now to talk about the future of the Republican Party with two rising GOP stars — from Richmond, Virginia, Congressman Eric Cantor, who was in position to become the number two Republican in the House.

And here in studio, Indiana Congressman Mike Pence, who's set to move up to the number three spot.

And, Congressmen, welcome back to "Fox News Sunday."


CONGRESSMAN MIKE PENCE: Thank you, Chris.

WALLACE: Congressman Cantor, you just heard John Podesta, the head of the Obama transition team, talking. He said that he believes that Election Day was a victory for the progressive philosophy. Is he right?

CONGRESSMAN ERIC CANTOR: You know, I — obviously, Chris, I disagree with that. And I think if you look at some of the indicators in the polling post the election, this was not some kind of realignment of the electorate, not some kind of shift of the American people toward some style of European social big government type of philosophy.

I think instead what has — we have seen happen is a tremendous distrust on the part of the people in their government. We were, you know, associated with this government for the past eight years.

And you can look at some of the things that people are upset about, whether it was the latest in the financial crisis, whether it was the handling of the response to Hurricane Katrina, or whether it was the continued ratcheting up of federal spending in Washington.

All of these things, I think, led to the fact that we did not perform well in this election. We'll have to regroup. We'll have to come back to this notion that it really is not about left versus right. It's not about conservative versus liberal. It's about right versus wrong.

And we're going to have to take into consideration the fact that this country has grown more diverse, and — but there is still yet a common element among the American people. And that is they want to see a government that works for them.

And we still believe very strongly that it is our common-sense conservative principles of a limited government, of lower taxes, of reining in federal spending that will provide the type of solutions to the challenges that face American people in their everyday lives.

And I do believe that this will be what our road map will contain going forward.


WALLACE: But let me bring this — bring up something that you just said with Congressman Pence.

Congressman Cantor at the beginning said this wasn't a victory for big government and European social solutions. Now, obviously, the Obama campaign or the Obama camp now wouldn't call it that, but those were certainly the issues in this campaign — questions of taxes. The idea — the charge of socialism was brought up.

The American people didn't seem to buy it.



WALLACE: Congressman Cantor, let's look at some of the exit polls from Tuesday night. Back in 2004, the same percentage of voters, 37 percent, identified themselves as Republicans and Democrats. Tuesday, Democrats had a seven-point advantage.

And look at these voting blocks. Mr. Obama did 14 points better among Hispanics than John Kerry did, plus eight among people making more than $100,000 a year, plus 12 among young voters.


Congressman Cantor, when you look at those numbers, when you look at the fact that you have — are losing the West Coast, you're in the process of losing the Rocky Mountain West, and you now don't have a single House Republican member from New England, isn't the GOP in some trouble?

But look. There's no question, Barack Obama is an extraordinary communicator. The success of his campaign was largely based on a message that he was able to connect with a broad swath of the American people.

There's no question that the Republican Party has got to stop doing things the way they've always done them. We were doing things that we'd been doing for the last 10 years.

The incredible innovation and use of technology that the Obama campaign and the Democrats employed is stunning. We're going to have to change.

The Republican Party will have to begin to adapt those innovations and that technology to make sure that we can reach out to the increasing diverse population of this country.

But at the end of the day, it is about a message of change. And what we're going to be faced with when we come back to Congress in January is a president who probably will be facing extraordinary challenges at a historic level.

If you look at, obviously, the roiling global financial situation, if you look at the fact that much of this country distrusts its government, if you look at the fact that we're still fighting in two wars, I think that the Republicans in Congress will stand ready to work with this new president.

But if he then says, "I'm going to pivot away from my campaign promise to raise taxes and find a solution where we can help families and small businesses create jobs and find some type of security again," then we'll support him.

If, in turn — that he veers left and says, "No, the way to do this is to crank up the government spending machine and to raise taxes on families and small businesses," we're going to oppose him.

You know, and so there is going to be, I think, a willingness to try and get things done. But at the end of the day, I think you will see a Republican Party in Congress serving as a check and a balance against Mr. Obama's power and Speaker Pelosi's power.


WALLACE: But forgive me, Congressman Pence. An awful lot of what Congressman Cantor just said was what John McCain was saying, and the public rejected it. I mean, those were the issues on which this campaign was fought.

I don't think this was just all about the charm of Barack Obama. I think there were some issues involved here as well.

How do you come up with a new message that will resonate in the parts of the country — and I'm talking about New England, the far west, the Rocky Mountain West — where people are beginning to tune you out?

I had Karl Rove on on election night, and he said, "It's not enough to just go back and say, 'Well, we're the party of Ronald Reagan."' He says you've got to come up with new conservative solutions to the problems that people face today.


PENCE: Right. But you build those conservative solutions, Chris, on the same time-honored principles of limited government, a belief in free markets, a belief in the sanctity of life and the sanctity of marriage.

You look at those social issues, Chris — you know, there were three state referendums on marriage. All three of them carried — I think in Florida, California and Arizona.

You know, the vitality of the conservative movement around the country is very real. I don't think we should draw any broad conclusions, as Eric said, about a big realignment. You know, my...


WALLACE: So what do you do, as I say, to speak to people to say, "We can solve your problems..."

PENCE: Oh, I think that...

WALLACE: "... better than the Democrats?"

PENCE: Well, I think number one, I like your question because I think being in the minority in the House and Senate for two years, what we've learned is we've got to speak to the American people.

What we've learned is that a minority of conservatives in the House plus the American people equals a majority.

And last August, when House Republicans held the House floor for five weeks and demanded that Speaker Nancy Pelosi abandon her historic opposition to more domestic drilling, the American people mobilized, contacted their members of the House of Representatives, and the policy changed.

That's exactly the kind of approach you're going to see. It's going to be a cheerful opposition. We're going to carry those timeless principles of limited government, a strong defense, traditional values to the American people.

And we're going to invite the American people — when the opposition is appropriate, we're going to invite the American people to join us in stopping any slide to the left by the Obama administration or Pelosi Democrats.



So, at the end of the segment what did wee get from the Republicans? Nothing. They will oppose, oppose and oppose what Obama proposes and oh, they will defend straight Americans from the "threat" posed by 3-10% of the population that is gay, bi, or transgendered.

wow. Now that's a winning platform.

Arnold Schwarzenegger on Prop 8

from this week's "Late Edition with Wolf Blitzer"

or well, in this case, "Late Edition with" John King.

KING: You lost on another one, on Proposition 8. It was not your idea, but you support same-sex marriage. And the proposition banning same-sex marriage passed. Many would look at California, which is viewed as this progressive, open-minded state, and say, why? What happened?

SCHWARZENEGGER: You know, I think that the people of California just, again, have spoken on this issue, and they went against it, just like they did in the year 2000, when they voted against it in Proposition 22. And here they had a chance again. And you know, they had a very, very strong campaign, the pro-Proposition 8 people, and I think that the people that tried to defeat it did not have maybe as good a campaign or had as much money behind it, whatever.

I think it is unfortunate, obviously, but it's not the end, because I think this will go back into the courts, this will go back to the Supreme Court and all this, because the Supreme Court very clearly in California has declared this unconstitutional. It's the same as in the 1948 case when blacks and whites were not allowed to marry. This is -- this falls into the same category.

Nice. [Gay] Loving v. Virginia (crossed out and replaced with) California?. Now if only he was saying this day after day after day before Californians went to the polls.

So, I think that we will, again, you know, maybe undo that if the court is willing to do that, and then move forward from there and again lead in that area.


KING: As a governor, from a policy perspective, are those couples who were married, same-sex couples who are already married in California, are they in jeopardy in any way?

SCHWARZENEGGER: No, not at all. No. It's just from now on. You know, it's -- there is no marriage between a man and a woman, until, like I said, the court determines (ph) it over or does anything about that.

KING: Is it a generational challenge, in your view, that maybe five or 10 or 20 years from now, it will be an easier issue?

SCHWARZENEGGER: Well, it's also -- it's not just easier or harder. It's just a cultural issue, also, because as you could see, because of the big turnout amongst African-Americans and Latinos, that had an effect, also, which they did not expect. So there's all kinds of other things. And I think the religious groups have done a really, you know, big campaign, a lot of them, you know, to support Proposition 8 and so on. And, you know -- so it's a very, very difficult thing.

And it's -- when I was campaigning for Proposition 11, a lot of times press came to me and they said, "Governor, why are you doing that? It has failed five times before. Why a sixth time?" And I said, look, I learned the messages from lifting weights. Sometimes I tried to lift the weight 10 times and I failed, but the 11th time, I lifted it. I said, so I learned that you should never, ever give up. And I think it's the same with this issue with Proposition 11. They should never get up. They should be on it and on it until they get it done.


A word of inspiration. Never give up. We won't. and we'll be waiting for you to spot for us.

Cabinet Posts - I'll Second that

Richard Cohen's suggestions seem good to me.

Particularly with Al Gore at State, and if Klein is as reformist as Cohen makes him out to be, I'll take him as well. Runner-ups include Richard Holbrooke and Senator Richard Lugar (R-Indiana). At Education, Klein obviously could not tell local boards what to do but he can further the debate on merit pay, charter schools, and education reform in general.


Oh, and either (a) keep Robert Gates at Defense or (b) pick Chuck Hagel (R-Nebraska) to replace him.

Hitler Comparisons Again?

Why is this congressman compare one alleged aspect of Senator Barack Obama's agenda with Adolf Hitler's? And how, pray tell, can he take away our right to bear arms if the Second Amendment, as interpreted now by the Supreme Court, grants us the right to carry weapons? Did we compare President George W. Bush and Vice President Cheney to Adolf Hitler when we found out about their secret wiretapping program which was created and implemented without Congressional approval or oversight? Did we compare President Bush to Hitler when he denied citizen and non-citizen "war combatants" alike habeas corpus rights? Did we refer to Adolf Hitler when President Bush pushed through his misnamed "Patriot Act?"

I don't think so. Did Rep. Paul Broun (R-Georgia)? Don't count on it.

Sunday, November 09, 2008

What is It About New Jersey's

politicians?

Savage: Criticized for the Wrong Reason

Dan Savage is filled with rage, one felt by gay Americans across this country. Some now say he is behaving like a racist lunatic for making the following statement:

"African American voters in California voted overwhelmingly for Prop 8, writing anti-gay discrimination into California’s constitution and banning same-sex marriage in that state. Seventy percent of African American voters approved Prop 8, according to exit polls, compared to 53% of Latino voters, 49% of white voters, 49% of Asian voters.

I’m not sure what to do with this. I’m thrilled that we’ve just elected our first African-American president. I wept last night. I wept reading the papers this morning. But I can’t help but feeling hurt that the love and support aren’t mutual.

I do know this, though: I’m done pretending that the handful of racist gay white men out there—and they’re out there, and I think they’re scum—are a bigger problem for African Americans, gay and straight, than the huge numbers of homophobic African Americans are for gay Americans, whatever their color.

This will get my name scratched of the invite list of the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force, which is famous for its anti-racist-training seminars, but whatever.

Finally, I’m searching for some exit poll data from California. I’ll eat my shorts if gay and lesbian voters went for McCain at anything approaching the rate that black voters went for Prop 8."


Calling racists "scum" should put to end these charges of racism. And as far as Savage's comparison between the problem racist "scum" pose to African American straights and gays are concerned and the problem homophobic "scum" pose to African American and white gays are concerned, he's probably right. The former group's views have been marginalized while the latter group's views are still accepted by way too many people. Now would this statement be distorted by the religious right? Yes. Would this statement further the healing process? Probably not. But it is not itself a racist statement that it is being made out to be and the charges of racism that have followed say more about the ones leveling them then they do about Savage himself.

He does however deserve some criticism for his reciprocation statement. For starters, one should not base his or her support for civil rights legislation on a "I'll scratch your back if you scratch mine" mentality. Advancing the cause of civil rights is right on the merits. If we are all equal then we must all be treated as equals. The African American's voting preference on Proposition 8 is appalling and the focus on them is quite understandable given that they were at one time the recipients of discrimination in its most ugly form but their vote for discrimination makes the Voting Acts Right, Brown v. Board of Education, and the civil rights legislation that both followed and preceded those advancements no less valid now then at the time when they were passed (or in the case of legal court cases, held).

Second, and I don't know if this is why Mr. Savage voted for him, but it seems from his statement that he voted for Obama simply because the guy is an African American and not because he was the better of two candidates (or the lesser of two evils) or because he was the guy with the better platform. That he pave the way for African American children is an added bonus but not by any means a sufficient reason for voting for him.

Proposition 13 Anyone?

A sarcastic response to California's gay marriage ban at DailyKos.

Banning gays from marrying their loved ones does little (and that's granting the "family values" crowd way too much) to save marriage. Gays will do what gays will do whether their marriages are recognized or not, just as straights will do what straights will do whether gay marriages are recognized or not. One does not, after all, marry anyone; they marry someone, and sexual attraction no doubt, contributes to that choice in partner. Is sexual satisfaction enough to sustain a union? No. Of course not. But it does bring them together.

So unless we are dealing with a 3 on the Kinsley scale (someone at the margins, a "soft" straight or gay or, more likely a self-identifying bisexual) banning someone from marrying his or her partner of the same sex will do nothing to (a) persuade them to find a partner of the opposite sex (since sexual satisfaction cannot be fulfilled with an opposite sex partner) and (b) remove the temptation of straight people from entering into a gay union (they would not have entertained the thought).

Divorce, however, is a far greater threat to "family values" insofar as it breaks up many families (straight as well as gay) and denies the children the right of having both, a father and a mother. The parents may share custody but it is no guarantee and even when it is given the child has to be moved from one or the other for it to work. Now where did we hear of this right to a father and mother from? Proposition 8's supporters of course.

I don't think the people of California were voting to protect their family values. If they were, they would have banned divorce, not gay marriage. No. They were protecting their favored religious values, which of course, they have every right to live by as long as they don't them impose them on everyone else as they have done in California, Arkansas, and Florida. Here too, though the Daily Kos writer is more right than wrong. The Bible condemns both, homosexuality and divorce.

The anti-gay straight "family values" advocates in these three states, however, won't vote to ban divorce. Enforcing a moral or religious code which they themselves would never think of breaking on others is far easier than enforcing one which they would have to live by.

Saturday, November 08, 2008

Rioting?

PERKINS: You don't change public policy to accommodate a few. You shape public policy to what is beneficial to society as a whole. And look, the people of California have played by the rules.

They have now twice gone to the ballot and they have put this issue on, just like everybody else does. I mean, there's rules in a democracy, there's rules; we're governed by a constitution and there are ways to change a constitution.

The people have played by the rules. I mean, why will not the homosexual activists quit rioting and quit attacking Mormons and using religious bigotry. And if they want to change --

BLOOM: That doesn't look like a riot to me.

PERKINS: If they want to change the laws, get the consent of the people. It's that simple.

COOPER: Tony, where have the riots been, Tony where has the riots has been?

PERKINS: Well, I mean they've spray painted churches in California; they've been jumping on police cars.

BLOOM: Anderson, we're looking at a protest of peaceful people just like it was done in the '50s and '60s for African-Americans.

PERKINS: Well, there were arrests the other night.

BLOOM: There's always a couple of lunatics on every side of the debate. And by the way, those of us who favor gay rights don't all fall into that category.



Sigh. Tony Perkins, always trying to portray the gays in the most negative light?

So, what riots? I hear of protests but where's the riots? Where are the firebombings? the broken windows? Cars overturned? women and children beaten and raped? To date Perkins can only point to one incident where a gay protester climbed onto the top of a police car.

One, maybe two incidents? I hear of protests, and last I checked, we have a right to protest in this country.

Jennfer Roback Morse's statement deserves more press coverage too:


"The No on 8 movement can not take No for an answer. [Insert: damn right they will take "no for an answer."]They are protesting in front of the Mormon Temple in LA. [heaven forbid they exercise their First Amendment right to peacefully assemble. the horror. the horror.] See it here. This display of religious bigotry is beyond the pale. [Insert: well they were targeted because they largely funded the proposition, which itself was an act of religious bigotry. how else can you describe an act mandating conformance to religious principles?] These people lost the argument in the public square, fair and square. [Insert: yes. they lost the argument but referendums imposing restrictions on the rights of unpopular minorities are not "fair and square."] Yet they show their contempt for the voters and their neighbors by protesting an entirely peaceful and lawful religious minority that is exercising its rights to politcal participation. [Insert: and they have every right to hold this and any voting group that voted to restrict their rights in contempt. They are not bound to respect any and every decision that is made. Only to abide by it. And by the way, protests are themselves legitimate acts of "political participation.]

These same activists are filing frivolous lawsuits to try to have Proposition 8 overturned. The City Attorneys of LA and San Francisco are parties to the lawsuits. By what authority to these people commit their entire cities to their personal political agendas? LA County voted Yes on Prop 8. Blacks and Latinos voted overwhelmingly in favor of Prop 8. I don't see the gay rights activists marching in black and Latino neighborhoods. [Insert: good point. they should make a stop in those neighborhoods as well.]
Anti-Mormon bigotry and anti-Christian biogtry is the one form of politically correct bigotry. [Insert: casting the oppressors as the victims? wow. I haven't seen this before.] The gay lobby can safely retaliate against Mormons, in a way that would be unthinkable for them to retaliate against blacks, Latinos or working class whites, all of whom voted solidly for Proposition 8."


Morse apparently believes we have no right to vent. To Express the anger, despair, sadness, "contempt," defiance, or disgust which we feel after these votes in Arkansas, California, Florida. Apparently, our feelings don't count for anything. Perhaps she can take a page or two from her more humane ideological soulmate at Beliefnet.com.

Friday, November 07, 2008

Palin to blame?

Now that the election is over some aides to Senator John McCain (R-Arizona) are trying to shift the blame for their loss on Governor Sarah Palin for their loss. McCain's aides apparently expressed their concerns to chief political correspondent Carl Cameron of FOX News that they were concerned about the ignorance she displayed not only during the Katie Couric interview but also behind the scenes. Governor Palin apparently left them with the impression that she didn't know which countries signed onto the North American Free Trade Agreement or whether Africa was a continent or a country.

If these revelations are designed to shift the blame of McCain's loss to Palin it isn't working. We know that Govrnor Palin is a know-nothing who wasn't properly vetted by the McCain staff. Reminding us that Senator McCain's running mate is a know-nothing reflects poorly on the man who picked her as much as it reflects poorly on her. McCain chose someone who he thought would be a game-changer without considering her qualifications (or lack there of for the position).

Senator McCain had a difficult road in either case however. Though he at first opposed President George W. Bush's economic policies (he initially voted against the Bush tax cuts). Senator McCain wed himself to those policies. He said economics weren't his strong suit. He said the "fundamentals of the economy were strong" and then was forced to backtrack when it was proven to be wrong. He relied upon the advice of a man who claimed we were a "nation of whiners" who were suffering from a "mental" but not an actual recession.

He vowed to fire the SEC Chairman, Chris Cox, for the debacle on Wall Street even though no such authority is given to a president. He said he would "suspend" his campaign, head back to Washington to partake in the bailout negotiations, and said he would not return for the first scheduled presidential debate unless a deal was reached. McCain though was caught doing some interviews before he headed back to Washington. Reporters said he did not contribute to the discussions behind closed doors. And then, when nothing was reached, he flew back to Mississippi to participate in the first of three presidential debates he vowed to skip if no agreement on the bailout package was reached.

The voters thought he behaved erratically. In the debates, he came across as the grumpy, old, angry and bitter man who did everything he could to drive up his opponent's negatives without offering himself up as a positive alternative.

There is, I'm sure, enough bblame to go around. Giving vice presidency to Mitt Romney might have saved him from defeat in Colorado. Had McCain stuck to his (unfortunately) liberal immigration principles, he might have kept New Mexico, Nevada and Colorado in the Republican column. He did not, however, and the way he ran his campaign might have doomed him from the start, whether Palin was there to screw up or not.

False Pretenses Deja Vu

"During a news broadcast that began at 11 p.m., Georgia announced that Georgian villages were being shelled, and declared an operation “to restore constitutional order” in South Ossetia. The bombardment of Tskhinvali started soon after the broadcast.

According to the monitors, however, no shelling of Georgian villages could be heard in the hours before the Georgian bombardment. At least two of the four villages that Georgia has since said were under fire were near the observers’ office in Tskhinvali, and the monitors there likely would have heard artillery fire nearby."
from this article in The New York Times

And Senator John McCain wanted us to boot the Russians out of the G-8 Summit and start the second Cold War over this faulty information? Deja vu all over again.

Though it sounded tepid, President-elect Barack Obama's initial reaction seemed far more reassuring and, as it turns out, accurate.

Wednesday, November 05, 2008

Yes We Did but No Gays Can't

Last night history was made when voters across the country cast their ballots for Senator Barack Obama, to be the 44th president of the United States. What transpired last night was truly remarkable to all who watched. Tears flowing down the eyes of African and white American alike for their champion. A new day has dawned in America. Reverend Jesse Jackson was in tears. African Americans who spoke to reporters expressed the excitement they felt for voting for one of their own.

Pundit after pundit and African American civil rights spokesperson after spokesperson spoke of their pride in what happened. Reverend Jeremiah Wright. Bill Ayers. Barack Hussein Osama. The candidate who "pals around with terrorists." Socialist. Communist. Marxist. The much-spoken-of Bradley Effect. Ignored. Voters had the economy on their mind and African Americans, Hispanics, and college-educated whites cast their ballot for the candidate who spoke about the economy.

African Americans who were interviewed were jubilant.

No one can say what the future portends for us. We don't know if the president-elect will go down in history as one of the greatest or one of the worst presidents of the United States. If he will be one of the more successful presidents or one of the more unsuccessful presidents.

Come January 20, when he takes the oath of office and moves into the White House, President-elect and outgoing Senator Barack Obama (D-Illinois) will inherit a mandate unheard of in recent history by a whopping 7.5 million margin in the popular vote and a 186 vote margin in the electoral college.

He held his own in the traditionally Democratic states and took from the Republicans eight states that went for outgoing President George W. Bush - Ohio (called before 9:30 PM) , New Mexico (called at 9:30 PM) , Iowa (called by 10:30 PM), Virginia (called at 11:07 PM), Colorado , Florida and Virginia by 11:30 PM, and Indiana by 2:08 AM. Yes. History was made and documented by your humble political blogger. North Carolina has not yet been called which is ironic for anyone who was watching Chuck Todd go through the analysis of the Virginia and North Carolina races before Ohio was called).

As expected, the Democratic Party made some in-roads in the senate and the House. The Democrats have at minimum gained five seats in the senate, with voters of New Hampshire and North Carolina ousting the Republican incumbents from those states - John Sununu and Elizabeth Dole - and voters of Colorado, New Mexico, and Virginia opting for the Democrat in the seats vacated by Republican incumbents. The races in Alaska, Minnesota, and Oregon are still too close to call.

These victories can be attributed to a variety of factors. Senator Obama's get-out-the-vote team no doubt contributed to these hard-earned victories as did the the discrediting of the Republican Party's brand name.

Come January 20, however, President-elect (then President) Obama will be presented with enormous challenges - a floundering economy, a skyrocketing deficit, entitlement programs on the verge of bankruptcy, a crumbling transportation and energy infrastructure, and two wars in the Middle and Near East. These problems will force him to postpone if not abandon his call for a government-funded health insurance program and tax cuts for the middle class.

The Political Heretic was proud that we have shattered one glass ceiling last night. We don't know if Senator Obama or any African American could have won in a stronger economic environment but we can say, without out doubt, that the prejudice which some may harbor towards people of color was not strong enough to override the very real economic concerns voters brought into the election booth.

One glass ceiling still remains however, as last night's election results show. Gay Americans, the Political Heretic included, could not help but feel bitter about the adoption ban which passed in Arkansas and the marriage amendments that passed in Florida, Arizona, and California nor could we help but feel resentful towards the very group who, while they cheered as their glass ceiling was shattered, overwhelmingly voted to impose (in California) or sustain (in Florida and Arizona) a glass ceiling on us.

Monday, November 03, 2008

Andrew Sullivan With Obama

Not a surprise given what he's been saying on the blog but still, he is a conservative who endorsed President Bill Clinton (then urged him to resign after the Monical Lewinsky scandal), Bush the retard (to distinguish him from his far smarter and intellectually curious father) in 2000, and then Senator John Kerry in 2004.


Among the no votes - Rod Dreher@BeliefNet.

Retarded Leaders in the Republican Party

And today’s Republican Party is a disgrace, a dim shadow of its former self. The cautiously deliberative, fiscally conservative, great internationalist party one associates with names like Dwight D. Eisenhower is simply dead. Replacing it we have a cacophony of imbecilic voices like Sean Hannity, Ann Coulter, Rush Limbaugh (ask yourself—if you were a serious politician with a smidgen of intellect—would you even entertain questions from this veritable moronic inferno, or prefer to steer clear of such cheap carnivals?). Essentially, today’s Republican party is little more than a reincarnation of the Know-Nothing party (like the one of yore, this one too particularly outraged by immigrants, illegal ones only we are led to believe, of course…), a confused morass of vindictiveness crossed with fear crossed with abject ignorance (think Joe the Plumber, the supposed Country First Everyman who rants incoherently about how Barack Obama’s victory would mean the death of Israel, perhaps the greatest inanity I’ve overheard of all in the awful din of this painfully long election season, and this in a season rife with them). Gregory Djerejian at The Belgravia Dispatch (his blog).

Oh, and he's with Obama:

"Into this cauldron, and on the other side of the aisle, we have Mr. Obama. He is not perfect, he is no messiah delivered from the heavens, and it is true his resume is relatively thin (to which one might respond, who had bigger, more experienced resumes than Dick Cheney and Don Rumsfeld?). But let us be very clear: Mr. Obama has nonetheless been a tremendous gift to us, and we would be foolish in the extreme not to hope dearly for his victory. He himself is a consummate professional with undeniable potential for greatness. To have already achieved what he has been able to speaks volumes, getting to where he's gotten to alone, given all the road-blocks in his way. Yet he is humble too, and is evidently surrounding himself by very serious and knowledgeable people on the economy (think Paul Volker, Larry Summers, or Warren Buffett). On foreign policy while his posture on issues like Afghanistan and even Georgia have given me some concerns, his overall world-view and appetite to engage in robust diplomacy is light years better than the McCain approach.

Let us be plain: one man offers a continuation of the Bush Doctrine, in the main, the other, a repudiation of it. Mr. Obama's main stress on diplomacy as a neglected tool in our arsenal is of the highest importance, and lives in stark contrast to breezy 'bomb, bomb, bomb' Iran cretinism (as the saying goes, there is always a litle truth in every joke). And his election alone—in one major, fell swoop—would immediately go a long way towards helping restore much of America’s lost soft-power, by reminding the world that an African-American who was just a state senator a few years back, whose middle name is Hussein and last name rhymes with Osama, can, not only unseat the current premier Democratic dynasty (the Clinton’s, of course, who’d replaced the Kennedy’s), but then take on and likely prevail (fingers crossed!) over the hard-hitting, hyper-aggressive Republican Party, this only seven short years after the greatest terror attack ever inflicted on the American homeland. Yes, we dare dream when we think of this story, and we must respect Obama for always remaining steady, holding to his dignity, fighting hard but fair (sometimes definitely hard-ball so to win, as with public financing, but so be it, it was a no-brainer), keeping cool amidst the manufactured scandals of Wright, Ayers, Khalidi (even Marty Peretz stood up to be counted on this last), and the rest of the bogus trash hurled his way. It is very rare we have a paradigm-shifting, generational candidate like Mr. Obama, and as I said, we are very lucky indeed he has chosen to run this cycle, not again, because he is some messiah, but because he is a major new talent who will inject desperately needed fresh thinking and approaches in a moribund Washington, capital of a country in steep decline of late."

Voting Against the Republican Brand

Keeping it short and simple. as opposed to the long way.

President

"You’ll immediately see where I’m coming from when I tell you I simply cannot conceive that anybody in this great nation would vote to continue the leadership that has all but destroyed our country. Even if the Republicans had fielded a viable slate, it would be unthinkable to leave them in control, but they’re running a man who all his career in the Senate has been tied to the failed hands-off policies aimed at strangling government and leaving the way clear for rigged profits in every area of business, an old, sick man, accompanied on the ticket by a person whose lack of preparation makes it unthinkable that she will be in all probability our president should their ticket win. Vote Obama-Biden, and let’s start trying to figure out how to put our country back together again."

Punish the bastards, damnit! Punish them.

The Ads Not Run in California

leave it to Jonathan Rauch to speak truth to power:

Whatever the tactical considerations, the absence of gay couples and gay marriages from California's gay-marriage debate makes for an oddly hollow discussion. It leaves voters of good conscience to conjure in their own minds the ads that are not being aired: Ads that show how gay marriage directly affects the couples and communities that need it most.

What might such ads show? Well, one might feature someone like my friend Brian, who married his partner, Doug, on Saturday. They already had a domestic partnership, but that could not begin to match the power of marriage, sealed before parents and friends in a ceremony in San Francisco. "It's how you say this is forever and do it publicly," Brian says. "It's very different from getting a form notarized at Mailboxes Etc."

An ad might show Brian driving Doug to the hospital and sitting at his bedside after surgery. Marriage is unique because of the high social expectations that go with it. Chief among those expectations is that spouses will do whatever is necessary to care for each other -- which is valuable, because census data show that almost a third of California's gay couples have only one wage-earner, and almost a fifth have at least one disabled partner (about the same, by the way, as for straight married couples). By supporting and reinforcing the care-giving commitment, each marriage, gay no less than straight, creates social capital for the whole community.

Brian and Doug don't have kids, but a fourth of California's gay couples do, according to census data. An ad might show some of those kids watching as their parents, previously denied marriage, tie the knot. For children, no other arrangement matches the security and stability afforded by married parents, because no other arrangement confers comparable status and social support. If they could cast ballots, how many of the more than 50,000 children being raised in California's same-sex households would vote to deprive themselves of married parents?

Or an ad might feature a gay teenager celebrating his parents' 20th wedding anniversary and dreaming of his own someday. There are countless gay youths for whom the prospect of marriage will be so much more tangible if it is embraced by the nation's largest state. The breakthrough effect of same-sex marriage is not on the mature gay couples who can finally get marriage licenses, important though that is; it is the effect on generations of gay kids who will no longer grow up assuming that their love must separate them from life's most essential institution.

Obama Taking the Wrong Path

I hope this isn't a sign of things to come. Senator Obama says he wants to unite the country. He says there are no red states or blue states, just the United States. Well then he must provide access to those who agree with him and those who do not.

Sunday, November 02, 2008

Media Bias at MSNBC and FOX

"Everyone's entitled to their own opinions but not their own facts." Not anymore:

"When Politico.com reported on Oct. 21 that the Republican National Committee had spent $150,000 on clothing for Gov. Sarah Palin of Alaska, Mr. Olbermann interrupted his 8 p.m. program on MSNBC to promote the story and discuss it, as did Rachel Maddow, whose program follows.

Fox News Channel reported it first the next morning, on “Fox & Friends,” in a segment in which the report was described as sexist and unfair, and Bill O’Reilly and Ms. Van Susteren later criticized the news media on their programs for giving it as much attention as they had.

“It was ridiculous,” said Mr. O’Reilly, singling out The New York Times in particular for covering the purchase.

That was a role reversal from spring 2007, when news broke that former Senator John Edwards had paid $400 for a haircut out of his Democratic presidential campaign account.

Mr. Olbermann named Mr. Hannity the “Worst Person in the World,” a running feature on his program, for making fun of Mr. Edwards’s haircut and showing video of him styling his hair before an interview.

Mr. O’Reilly had said of Mr. Edwards at the time: “He runs around telling Americans the system is rigged, while paying $400 for a haircut. This guy is a one-man sitcom.”

Tom Rosenstiel, director of the Project for Excellence in Journalism at the Pew Research Center, said, “To some extent, they are reverse images of each other.”


The executive producers' excuse?

Mr. Rosenstiel said Fox News Channel and MSNBC showed ideological differences, “obviously more so at night.” And executives at those networks said that opinion was kept to their prime-time lineups and away from their news reporting.


Except here's the problem -

The opinion shows are the ones they broadcast in prime time, when everyone can watch them.

Health Skepticism for Obama's Win

Say what you will about MSNBC and Rachel Maddow's partisan leanings. She hasn't drunk the cool-aid. The Political Heretic has been watching her special tonight and just heard her question Senator Barack Obama's strategy in the swing states. Here is is, playing on Republican fields where he has not seal the deal while McCain goes to Pennsylvania - which Obama must hold even as the race tightens.

The Political Heretic thinks we cannot just give Florida, Ohio, Colorado, Nevada, North Carolina, New Mexico, or even Virginia to Obama. The polls are close so it may all depend upon turnout. Obama may have the superior get-out-the vote teams in these states but McCain might be able to rely upon the evangelicals to get out the vote.

Saturday, November 01, 2008

As a General Rule Vote for the Democrats but No Endorsement in the New Jersey Senate Race;

The Bush administration gave us two wars (one which turned out to be a waste in time, money and lives), tax cuts that largely benefited the wealthy without "trickling down" to the middle class, deregulation that contributed to the credit crisis on Wall Street, and an erosion to our civil liberties. The Republicans stood by the president, voting to go to war in Iraq, voting for the president's tax cuts for the rich, voting to suspend habeas corpus, voting for telecom immunity for providing the government with the tools for spying on American citizens, and voting for Justices John Roberts and Samuel A. Alito, two justices who would take our privacy rights away, to the Supreme Court.

They were ousted from power two years ago not only because they voted for an increasingly unpopular war but because they said we must stay and win the war. Fine. But they did insist upon a new strategy and they did insist that the president explain how he would get the factions to sit at the negotiating table. Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell's Republicans ran as the filibuster party that decided to block legislation, not modify it. The Political Heretic urges Americans to vote for their Democratic Senate and House candidates when they enter the voting booth on Tuesday in all but one case - New Jersey's senate race.

The 84-year old incumbent, Senator Frank R. Lautenberg, is affiliated with the right party at the right time in the right state with the right positions on taxes, the war in Iraq, the environment and the social issues but he is too old and it showed in his poor debate performance six years ago (Imagine James Stockdale in the the 1992 vice presidential debates).

Though a moderate, former Representative Dick Zimmer (R-NJ) is running on the same tax cuts, small government, and "no arbitrary withdrawal" Republican platform that deserves to be repudiated in November. He is best remembered for his role in passing "Meghan's Law" when he was in the state senate and for losing to former Senator Robert Torricelli (D-New Jersey) in a nasty and brutal campaign where both tried to out mud-sling each other.

A case can be made for voting against either of these two candidates. New Jersey voters, if the stench is too strong when you enter the voting booth, feel free to do a write-in or vote for the third party candidates on the ballot.

Ballot Amendment: Split Verdict on the Abortion Amendments

Voters in California and South Dakota will have an opportunity to impose restrictions on the right to an abortion when they go to the polls this Tuesday.

In California, they will be voting on a parental consent law. Proposition 4 would bar minors from having an abortion for a 48-hour period starting from the point at which their parent(s) or legal guardian(s). Its proponents say this provides the parents or legal guardians with a chance to provide their traumatized daughters with their advice before they make a decision they may or may not regret. It could provide parents and their children with an opportunity to talk about the procedure and the consequences before a decision is made. Ideally, it would break the barriers which the traumatized pregnant daughter would create by shaming herself into silence.

Proposition 4 opponents say it would expose children trapped in abusive relationships to further harm.

The Political Heretic thinks the opponents' concerns were sufficiently addressed and hopes California's residents vote for proposition 4. Courts can waive the requirement in cases where they deem the abortion to be in the child's best interest or in cases where their maturity is "clear and convincing." Abused children can seek relief from the requirements by appearing before a judge. Notification requirements can be fulfilled by other relatives if the doctor reported the parents to law enforcement. The law enforcement trigger serves two vital purposes. It closes a loop hole which the abortion industry might abuse while protecting the child from relatives who might otherwise inform abusive parents about their teenage daughter's decision to have an abortion.

This carefully-crafted proposition deserves California's support.

South Dakota residents will have an opportunity to vote on a far more restrictive ban that inevitably would be challenged within the federal courts. Measure 11 would ban adult and child alike from the right to have an abortion though it provides for life, rape, and incest. A similar ban that did not include those exceptions was rejected by South Dakota's residents two years ago. The Supreme Court's rulings in Roe v. Wade and Casey v. Planned Parenthood, which protects a woman's right to have an abortion, would render that measure unenforceable so this measure is designed to invite a Supreme Court challenge with the hope of having those two rulings overturned.

The Political Heretic believes this measure should go down to defeat. Measure 11 is overly restrictive in so far as it bars mature, adult women from the right to make health-care related decisions with their doctors, whether the "unborn child" is a sentient being with an interest in living (and consequently a right to live) or not. As the Political Heretic had stated in prior occasions, the case for protecting the life of the "unborn child" strengthens as it grows over a period of time. He considers laws which bar first-term abortions to be overly restrictive and those which do not bar third-trimester abortions under-restrictive.

Voters should reject Measure 11.