Thursday, November 6, 2008

The Power Of The Internets

If there's one truly positive thing Barack Obama did for the field of political science with this campaign, it was to display the brilliant organizational power of the internet, and to take advantage of that power to unify the country. Obama won thanks in no small part to the net.

So I'm very glad to see Team Obama continues to use the internet by launching a web site of the transition team:

It's a brilliant idea, frankly. If the Obama transition team is this organized and this serious about informing the people exactly what they are doing, then more power to them. I'd like to see more of it.

Also, being President-Elect means you get to use .gov for YOUR website. Neener.

I wonder when the wingnuts will start complaining Obama is presuming he's the President or something...

Missing The Point

Now that the Democrats have won, the "Stop picking on Bush!" movement from the Sensible Centrists of the Village is now picking up steam. The explanation for 8 years of the worst President ever? Why, it's not his fault at all: Bush was just really unlucky.
But like so many presidents before him, Bush's reputation could change with time.

Harvard University political history scholar Barbara Kellerman said when President-elect Barack Obama takes over in January, people may view Bush in a new light.

"I think it's possible when people have stopped being as angry at the Bush administration as they are now ... that they will realize that some of this is just ... the luck of the draw."

Kellerman, author of the book "Bad Leadership: What It Is, How It Happens, Why It Matters," noted that Bush has not had luck on his side for the past eight years.

"He's [Bush] has been a quite unlucky president. Certain things happened on his watch that most people don't have to deal with -- a 9/11, a [Hurricane] Katrina, the financial crisis, being three obvious examples," she said.

"And yet they happened on his watch. He is being blamed," she said.

Is she angling for a job at the Bush Presidential Library or what?

Put aside the very real evidence that Bush helped bring about 9/11 and the financial crisis we're currently stuck in. Even if you consider them to be unlucky disasters like Hurricane Katrina, the reason he's going down as the Worst President Ever(tm) is strictly due to his reactions to these events -- the conscious choices he made and did not make -- that made every one of these problems orders of magnitude worse. His choices were not "bad luck". They were bad choices.

To blame the consequences of Bush's bad choices and the outcome of these events on luck is intellectually dishonest and pretty goddamn stupid. Bush's bad choices in the financial crisis are still being determined, but his reaction to Katrina was cold and calculated neglect designed to make Louisiana the red state it is today, minus a few hundred thousand black faces. And 9/11? His reaction was to invade the wrong country and embroil us in two ridiculous wars, all while failing to find the man responsible and spending $3 trillion, thousand of American soldiers, and hundreds of thousands of Iraqi and Afghanistan lives to do it. There was no luck involved there.

But it's fun to throw all that aside and feel sorry for Bush, apparently. No folks, he earned the epithet as the Worst President Ever...the only thing he ever earned in his life.


So Rahm Emanuel is Obama's White House Chief of Staff.

Rahm's pretty hardball for an operator...but then again that's what White house Chief of Staff does, you're the ultimate Washington Insider. Even "Change We Need" needs an operator on the inside to pull the levers to affect change.

Still, I'm sorry. I look at that picture and the first thing that pops into my mind is "Iago and Othello."

If it's indicative of all of Obama's appointments, that's one thing. But like it or not, the REST of Washington is still the rest of Washington, and that will require arm-twisting and being the bad guy.

Rahm is a pretty good bad guy. Also, he's one hell of a serious player with Israel. If Obama is serious about a two-state solution, it's Rahm who's going to be delivering the bad news to the Israelis.

WHCoS is important. New tag: Rahmbo.

The Economy Is Still The Big Issue

And the Dow is getting trashed today for the the second straight session, down 360+ points at 12:45 PM. The euphoria is over. The reality is here.

The reality is going to suck.

Post-Mortem, Post-Palin

The "where did McCain-Palin go wrong" articles are out. ABC News has a good one from Kate Snow.

Now that the defeated team of Sen. John McCain and Gov. Sarah Palin have gone their separate ways, the knives are out and Palin is the one who is getting filleted.

Revelations from anonymous critics from within the McCain-Palin campaign suggest a number of complaints about the Alaskan governor:

Fox News reports that Palin didn't know Africa was a continent and did not know the member nations of the North American Free Trade Agreement -- the United States, Mexico and Canada -- when she was picked for vice president.

The New York Times reports that McCain aides were outraged when Palin staffers scheduled her to speak with French President Nicholas Sarkozy, a conversation that turned out to be a radio station prank.

Newsweek reports that Palin spent far more than the previously reported $150,000 on clothes for herself and her family.

Several publications say she irked the McCain campaign by asking to make her own concession speech on election night.

The tension is likely to continue or get worse. Lawyers for the Republican National Committee are heading to Alaska to try to account for all the money that was spent on clothing, jewelry and luggage, according to The New York Times.

Reports of agitation between the two camps bubbled up in the final weeks of the campaign as Barack Obama began pulling away and the GOP duo was unable to regain the momentum.

But those reports are no longer in the rumor stage as McCain loyalists are now blasting away at the Alaska governor, who was a favorite of the Republican right during the campaign, but was cited in numerous polls as a reason why many Americans wouldn't vote for the Arizona Republican.

Perhaps the most dangerous allegation for Palin are reports in The New York Times and Newsweek that when she was urged by McCain adviser Nicole Wallace to buy three suits for the Republican convention and three suits for the campaign trail, she went on the now-infamous shopping spree at swank stores like Saks Fifth Avenue and Neiman Marcus.

A Republican donor who agreed to foot a majority of the expenses was stunned when he received the bill, Newsweek reported. Both the Times and Newsweek report that the budget for the clothing was expected to be between $20,000 and $25,000. Instead, the amount reported by the Republican National Committee was $150,000.

That wasn't the whole tab, however, according to Newsweek. The magazine claims that Palin leaned on some low-level staffers to put thousands of dollars of additional purchases on their credit cards. The national committee and McCain became aware of the extra expenditures, including clothes for husband Todd Palin, when the staffers sought reimbursement, Newsweek reported.

It gets worse. There's a clear factional split here in the GOP now. One side blames Palin and is fighting hard to have the extremist influence removed from the party for good. The other side blames McCain and blames the moderates for being "too liberal" and "not really being conservatives." Palin is their hero and is their hope for 2012.

One side will not survive the next few months. My money is on the moderate "Country Club" Republicans getting jettisoned or leaving wholesale for the other side: they are not wanted anymore.

By 2009 the GOP will be run by the Palinites, and they will be hunting Obama's head.


Rep. Roy Blunt out as Republican Whip (#2 guy in the House to the Minority Leader), as expected, his replacement is now certainly to be Screaming Wingnut Rep. Eric Cantor of Virginia. The message is that the Democrats are the ones in trouble here and that Cantor expects much of the House agenda to be set by the New GOP.
His constituents wouldn't mind seeing Cantor take the reins. Ted Brown, a Richmond resident and professor of political science, crumpled in his seat at Tuesday night's party when the networks called Old Dominion for Obama, but brightened considerably when asked about his local congressman. "I'm certainly not trying to write the political obituary of John Boehner or Roy Blunt, but there's some scenarios that one could easily picture Eric Cantor as the new Republican floor leader," Brown said. "If he wanted to exploit it he's earned a lot of political credit." Brown said Cantor's leadership could make a huge difference in preventing a Democratic stampede from taking over Washington. "Just as Bill Clinton did with health care, Obama, with such a large congressional majority, could be easily vulnerable to hubris and could overreach and hopefully we could see a tremendous bounce back in the midterms in 2010," Brown said.

Echoing Brown's sentiments about the dangers of Democratic overreach and predicting success at beating back the Democratic tide, Cantor said House leadership and especially Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi have alienated voters by flexing partisan muscles at a time of economic crisis. But he also sounded a hopeful note, saying he expects Democrats to work cooperatively with the minority in Congress and govern from the middle. "They're going to have members who frankly are coming from Republican seats," Cantor said. "They won't be able to survive in those seats unless they support some common sense conservative solutions and not be so far to the left." He added that: "by virtue of the way [Obama] conducted his race he understands this is a center-right country and you run on a conservative platform of cutting taxes for the middle class. That sort of indicates someone gets it."

Cantor was vague about his plans for an upcoming series of meetings Republicans will hold to decide how to rebuild, but he did not deny the GOP brand has taken a hit. Cantor cited Obama's financial advantage and the toxic environment for Republicans as factors contributing to the party's decline. The biggest problem, Cantor said, is that the GOP allowed Democrats to co-opt what has traditionally been a conservative message. "All of a sudden you hear Obama, Rahm Emanuel, and Chuck Schumer talk about the middle class as if the Democrats own the middle class issue," he said. "The middle class is, really was, our playing field. That's how Ronald Reagan came into power, that's how Newt Gingrich came into power, is to stick up for the working families … If nothing else, we couldn't get the message out. Look, Barack Obama ran as a conservative."

Now, understand the GOP just got their clock cleaned. But you see Democrats never's only a case where heretical moderate Republicans who "strayed from the path" lose.

Cantor honestly expects Obama to govern as the competent version of Bush. Since there's no way Obama will be able to do that to satisfaction of the Right, the GOP will simply remind him the same way they did with Clinton: bury the Dems in 2 years, get control of Congress, and impeach him.

Mitch McConnell and John Boehner will be convinced to step down as the GOP leadership, and quickly...or they will be removed. There is no possible compromise Obama can make, and the sooner he learns that, the sooner he can fight back. Clinton gave in...look where that got him for his efforts.

Left Or Center?

After the complete repudiation of Bush conservatism, why is nobody asking questions like "Will the new GOP go center or right?" and warning that partisan centrism and being too far RIGHT would be detrimental to the country?

It's because conservatism is ALWAYS okay no matter how extreme it is, but any liberalism in the classic sense is a partisan sin.

Setting aside opinions and rhetoric, let's look at some political realities:

  • The Democrats increased their control in Congress but did not achieve the filibuster-proof majority of 60 Senate seats, as McTague correctly forecast here. Notably, Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky survived a close race.
  • The so-called Blue Dog Democrats in the House will likely try to keep some sanity on spending, and will work with their Republican colleagues to that end.
  • A common refrain in Republican circles is that the party lost ground because they "abandoned conservative principles." True or not, they'll be much less likely to accede to increased Federal spending with a Democrat in the White House.
  • Obama is presumably smart enough to understand the majority of Americans really are centrists, which may seem self-evident but often gets lost in the "Red State-Blue State" clash that's dominated political discussions in recent years.

Such considerations should quell concerns about Obama steering the country dramatically leftward, even if that were his intent, which itself is debatable.

So with the GOP "much less likely" to work with the new President and admittedly MORE conservative and partisan than is this Obama's fault?

Can somebody explain this to me? I'd really like to know. Because it's going to be repeated ad nauseum over the next four years by the Village. "Why isn't President Obama doing everything he can to accomodate conservatives?"

What are conservatives doing to work with Obama other than expecting him to fold like a lawn chair just like Nancy will?

Dear Black America:

...Obama in the White House means we don't want to hear about how White America is racist ever again. In fact, Obama's job is now to make sure you understand we are officially absolved of any and all racial guilt from here on out as far as we're concerned because he only lost the White vote by 14 points or something, so get over it.


Signed, Wall Street Journal Editorial Board.

A man of mixed race has now reached the pinnacle of U.S. power only two generations since the end of Jim Crow. This is a tribute to American opportunity, and it is something that has never happened in another Western democracy -- notwithstanding European condescension about "racist" America. That blacks voted for Mr. Obama so heavily is a typical rite of American passage, and it is similar to the kind of cultural pride that Catholics took in the victory of John Kennedy in 1960.

While Mr. Obama lost among white voters, as most modern Democrats do, his success is due in part to the fact that he also muted any politics of racial grievance. We have had in recent years two black Secretaries of State, black CEOs of our largest corporations, black Governors and Generals -- and now we will have a President. One promise of his victory is that perhaps we can put to rest the myth of racism as a barrier to achievement in this splendid country. Mr. Obama has a special obligation to help do so.

Yes, racism is dead in this country just because a black man is President-Elect. That solved everything as far as the WSJ is concerned. I'm sure we won't see any sort of white supremacist backlash at all.

Buckle up, kids. When that backlash does happen, guess who'll be blamed for it by "flaunting their victory"?

Gotta love the post-racism era.

Oh Yeah Barry, About That Economy...

The stock market got hyper on the election, from Oct 27 to November 4 the Dow went up by 17%, the S&P 500 up 15%, NASDAQ up 10%. Yesterday all that came to a disastrous end. The Dow lost 500 points yesterday and will probably have a similarly bad day again today.

We're still in a bad, bad recession. 4Q sales numbers are dismal across the board and there's no light at the end of the tunnel. President-Elect Obama or not, there's still ten more weeks of Bush to deal with as a lame duck, and the reality of the situation is that holiday sales are going to be a graveyard for a lot of companies this year.

The fact of the matter is Ford, GM, and Chrysler may not make it January 20.
In coming weeks, companies and their lobbyists plan to "dial up" their urgency. Industry plans to underscore its belief that its immediate problems are not of its own making -- that the dire predicament is closely linked to the global credit crunch and survival depends on federal intervention.

While GM and Ford struggle, prospects at Chrysler LLC are the most uncertain. People involved in discussions about its future say the smallest of the U.S. manufacturers could merge, be spun off or be pushed into bankruptcy if not helped soon.

Engler said a Chrysler failure could cost up to 1 million jobs throughout the economy.

"It's not just the three auto companies, it's suppliers, all the way down the chain," Engler said.

If Chrysler goes under, you can tack a full point on the umemployment percentage from the ripple efects. Obama needs to name his economic team soon and get to work on what part of his campaign promises stay and which go...because another ten weeks of a collapsing global economy is something we can't afford at all.


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