Monthly Archives: November 2008

Lieberman Dilemma

So, just how much do the Dems. want to exact revenge on Joe Liberman might determine whether they reach the coveted 60 mark in the senate. Joe Lieberman has proven himself to be an unprincipled, self serving moralist along the lines of Bill Bennett, someone I cannot stand.  Beyond that, left to his own devises he could steer his chairmanship of homeland security and government oversight into the disruptive waters of trying to subvert the new administration before it even gets started.

he ought to go.

But then again, knowing that Lieberman could be removed from his chairmanshipand publicly humiliated by the democratic caucus could well keep him on a very short leash. Given that he votes with the dems. about 90% on domestic issues, and given the very real possibility that the new senate will also include Mark Begitch, Al franken and Martin (GA), Lieberman would make the dems filibuster proof (if indeed he were held by the short hairs). 

How ironic for McCain’s bff.  he might actually guarantee Obama’s success.

“It’s a New Day” by Will.i.am

Just Found Palin’s America

Last night I found Palin’s America at an Elvis impersonator concert at a lounge in the Delaware Park Race Track and Casino.   I enjoy kitsch; always have.  Kitsch is simulation where the joke is on the folks who confuse the simulation for reality.

Last night I also discovered Palin country.

“Elvis” in a casino. Kitsch, right?  Man, you would have thought the crowd was dancing away its tears (Tuesday eve).  For them, the short bald guy wearing an Elvis toupee and late-Elvis Vegas style costume, was the KING.

And I discovered that just as you don’t want to be the only person holding up a Barack sign at a Palin rally, you don’t want to be the Jew-looking guy trying to get a quick I-phone photo (note: taking picture inside a casino is a violation of delaware state law. i won’t do it again).  I almost got my head handed to me by a gent about 75 years old sitting at the bar right behind me.  You’d think i was keeping him from his savior itself.

The crowd was made up of folks from Rising Sun, Maryland (because his denim jacket said so), which is still home to Maryland’s Klan. The guy would have shot me if only the casino let him in with his sidearm. Damn regulations! 

Last night, Elvis was my kitschy celebration of Barack.  For the all  white, Elvis worshipping crowd, the evening was religion. Folks sweating elderly gyrations, and old ladies swooning with heavily perfumed Elvis scarves.

Elvis country is Palin country, a small, anachronistic but intensely loyal group that finds religion in being transported back to the ole “separate but equal” days of the 1950s.

but hey, I won $13 bucks!!!!

photo

Emanuel yes, Summers no

Every President needs as asshole, and Rahm Emanuel is going to be Barack Obama’s.  That’s a good thing; Obama is going to have some time of it trying to implement his post Keynesian stimulus plan, but the Emanuel appointment as chief of staff just increased the chances that Obama’s first 100 days could more closely resemble FDR than Bill Clinton.  

The Emanuel appointment also means Obama intends to follow the path of doing what’s right rather than what is merely popular. Rahm will help steer through the flak, which is where Rahm shines, steering through the flak and getting the job done. Rahm may not be on message in terms of a progressive agenda (he certainly wasn’t during the 90’s and his choices in lining up congressional candidates for the 06 election bypassed many a good progressive candidate– but the dems took control in 06, in no small part because of Emanuel’s keen tactical sensibilities), but as chief of staff he needn’t be.

The President’s chief of staff need be a tactical magician, which he is, and with sharp elbows, which he has.  As long as the President isn’t brain dead (think George Bush), the chief of staff job description is to take the President’s message and implement it (it isn’t to make policy, which is Barack’s job); to wheel and deal and maneuver policy entrepreneurs in Congress and the huge number of executive branch bureaucrats to make sure that the president sees his policy objectives realized. Nobody does this better than Rahm Emmanuel. 

Lawrence Summers at Treasury is another story. Like Emanuel, Summers is an asshole and one who enjoys his own publicity and his own drama; At this moment, the president elect needs a consummate administrator whose mission is all about policy and has nothing to do with personal drama or ambition.  At Harvard, Summers went out of his way to antagonize his faculty and alienate his staff. Such “drama would pointlessly stymie some of the most important economic initiatives this country has seen in a couple generations.  

In addition, Summers expertise and his claim to fame as Clinton’s Treasury Secretary had everything to do with the sort of economic deregulation that led to the current crisis. It makes little sense to bring Summers back in; His ambition would be in the game; but his professional training and ideological commitment would be an anathama to the job at hand.

Napolitano for DHS Chief

Gotta tell you that I believe anyone would be a vast improvement over Michael Chertoff as head of DHS. Today, Arizona Governor Janet Napolitano was named to join Obama’s transition team which also puts her in the mix for a potential appointment in the new Administration.  Her name is being floated as a possible Attorney general, but more likely, DHS Chief.

On two recent occasions Napolitano has sided with the anti-federalization of immigration forces, which I believe is the right step in the was on immigrants in this country.

In recent years since 911 but more recently since 2006, state and local governments have endeavored to usurp federal control over immigration control. They have done so in two ways: first by requested MOU’s with DHS to be part of the “287)g) program which allows state and local government to receive federal training to enforce criminal immigration laws. In large part 287g is an unfunded “mandate,” which means states and locales can be part of this federal program if they pay for it.  Much of the money funding Maricpoa county Sheriff Joe Arpaio has come from an Arizona state fund.

Notably Napolitano recently redirected these moneys away from Arpaio because he has used his 287 g authority to enforce civil immigration laws, which violates the MOU; he has also used the funds and his 287g status to go after citizen and resident aliens because of their surname, the language they speak or the color of their skin.  Arpaio is currently being sued by the ACLU for his abuse of power and violating the 4th amendment rights of his residents.  

Napalotano’s actions took guts because Arpaio remains extremely popular and was re-elected on Tuesday.

 

Napolitano has also taken a stand in opposition to state and local anti-immigrant ordinances.

In large part anti-immigrant ordinances and 287g practices run amok are representative of the incredible abuses of power in the immigration field committed by Chertoff and the DOJ during the past seven years since 911.

Napolitano may just be the right person to reverse  these lawless trends.

Senate Still in Play for Dem Control

Although the press has concluded the democrats are “resigned” to get 57 seats in the Senate, three contests remain quite up in the air and I think dems still have a decent shot at the magic 60.

In Minnesota, the vote differential of 337 votes gets Al Franken an automatic recount.  Saxbe Chambliss fell short of 50% in his race against Jim Martin, which means there will be an automatic run-off, which will garner national attention as well as a national mobilization of republicans and democrats to georgia. Anything can happen.Keep in mind the dems still have lots of cash on hand and the front page national press attention. Finally in Alaska,  Mark Begich still thinks he has the votes to beat Ted Stevens. 60,000 votes were never counted.

Clearly the democrats won a mandate Tuesday night. But since it was just revealed that Obama just won North carolina and the dems could still pick up 3 more senate seats, this mandate could still surge into a landslide.  this will make some difference come January.

The importance of this is that a landslide, even more than a mandate, will quiet the right wing fox argument that Obama and the dems have no mandate for change.  Further it will empower progressives to push Obama and Congress to act more vigorously to get out out of iraq immediately, insure 44 million uninsured more quickly, and challenge oil company hegemony, more comprehensively.

Morning in America? 3 ideas

Obama’s campaign insignia always reminded me of Reagan’s morning in America theme from his 1984 campaign.  I never thought the ’80s were much of a morning for america. This morning, remain a bit skeptical about how much things have really changed, but my cynicism has subsided, and i am certainly willing to give us the benefit of the doubt that we can indeed launch a new era.

In addition to harkening nostalgic memories of Reagan’s campaign theme, Obama might well benefit from taking another page from the Reagan playbook. Reagan’s presidency played out in accordance with 3 major theme: the first of which was ending the cold war; the second was getting government out of the lives of the people, and the third one i cannot remember this morning.

Anyway, i do not wish the debate the merits of Reagan’s three goals (i do not think he was responsible for ending the cold war, and he presided over the largest growth in the federal government in history up to that point…) What is important here is that his entire presidency rolled out from these three first order principles.

Such simplicity and focus would serve Obama well as his transition commences. Last night he began the daunting task of enumerating his priorities. I heard two and can imagine the third.

1) End the war in iraq 

2) Rebuild the crumbling economic infrastructure

3) Energy Policy

and a fourth:  4)  redefine patriotism to create a civic climate of service and national sacrifice.

I think a first term that succeeds in ending the war and turning around the economy certainly earns Obama a second term when he could well give us national health care and a sustainable energy policy.

Just my two cents the morning after.