Showing posts with label Rahmbo. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Rahmbo. Show all posts

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Strike? Out.

Chicago kids are back in school today as the Chicago Teachers Union has voted to suspend the strike and finish hashing out their deal with Mayor Rahmbo.

Chicago Teachers Union delegates voted on Tuesday to suspend their strike, several delegates said as they departed a meeting of union leaders.

The decision ends a confrontation with Mayor Rahm Emanuel over reform of the third largest U.S. school district.

The strike of 29,000 teachers and support staff at Chicago Public Schools kept 350,000 kindergarten, elementary and high school students out of class for seven school days.

"We are going back. All of our teachers are happy to be going back," said Jay Rehak, an English teacher at Whitney Young high school as he departed the closed meeting.

And all without a word from President Obama, who was politically very wise not to get involved.  Pretty much everyone wins in this scenario in fact except for Rahmbo:  POTUS, teachers, kids, schools, parents...but not the Mayor.  No way.

Rahm in fact looks like a complete ass over this, especially in light of Romney's 47% comments.  We'll see, but he's persona non grata as far as I'm concerned.

Friday, September 14, 2012

School Of Life

Gawker's John Cook analyzes the Chicago Teachers Union strike and Rahm Emanuel's ongoing disaster as Mayor and has an interesting solution to the public education problem in America:  get rid of private schools and level the playing field for all kids.

This would of course be a radical and highly disruptive step. It would involve forcibly transferring ownership of all existing private schools to the school district in which they reside, and readjusting local tax schemes to capture the tuition parents currently pay (the nationwide average is $8,549 per year, which means a total of $47 billion is spent each year on opting out of the public education system). Then access to the newly "nationalized" schools would have to be distributed on some fair basis to local students, with the wealthy kids who don't make the cut into their old schools being sent to the regular ones, without air conditioning or libraries. And resources would have to be redistributed within the school districts so that the resources formerly lavished on private schools could be spent shoring up the failing public ones.

This is not an original idea. Billionaire wise hobbit Warren Buffet once told school reformer Michelle Rhee that the easiest way to fix schools was to "make private schools illegal and assign every child to a public school by random lottery." In England, the notion of banning private education—while highly unlikely—has long been a part of the political debate entertained by major-party candidates.

And while it would have the practical effect of forcing school boards and municipalities to be accountable to their privileged elite as well as their poor families, there's also a moral argument for banning private education. Put simply: Equality of opportunity demands that children should not be penalized—or advantaged—by the accident of their birth. Educational benefits, which are the most crucial resource when it comes to determining the life-outcomes for children of all backgrounds, shouldn't be distributed based on how rich your parents are. They should be distributed equally. Even if we stipulate that radical inequality is OK for adults—once you are out in the world, you rise or fall by the work of your own hands—when it comes to children, it's perverse to dole out educations based on arbitrary circumstances completely beyond their control.

In other words, if Mitt Romney's sons and Barack Obama's daughters had to attend public schools, I'm betting public schools would be remarkably better than they are.  Instead, America seems increasingly going the opposite direction:  privatization (and profitization) of public education.  We're already seeing the disastrous results of that in Florida and Louisiana.  When the point of public school become making a profit and not teaching kids, everybody loses in the end.

But of course, Cook's solution will never happen.  The rich will continue to stay rich through domination of national resources, and that includes education.  He who has the gold, makes the rules.  We've been Darwining off the lower class in this country for decades.  now with globalization, we're Darwining off the middle-class too.

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Dirty Pool, Old Man

Now, I know Rahm Emanuel is on the wrong side of this Chicago teachers' strike and all, but there is no call for something like this, folks.



Chicago Teachers Union Strikes Go Too Far
[Image: @DanielStrauss4]



At long last sir, have you no decency?

Friday, July 27, 2012

Eat Mor Vile Speech

You have no idea how much it galls me to agree with Glenn Effing Greenwald on anything, but he's right about Chicago Mayor Rahmbo going after Chik-Fil-A and denying them a permit to operate a franchise in the city for the sole reason that their President is a homophobic asshole.

Obviously, it’s perfectly legitimate for private citizens to decide not to patronize a business with executives who have such views (I’d likely refrain from doing so in this case). Beyond that, if a business is engaging in discriminatory hiring or service practices in violation of the law — refusing to hire gay employees or serve gay patrons in cities which have made sexual orientation discrimination illegal — then it is perfectly legitimate to take action against them.

But that is not the case here; the actions are purely in retribution against the views of the business’ top executive on the desirability of same-sex marriage:
Boston Mayor Thomas Menino has said Chick-fil-A “doesn’t belong in Boston” because of [Chick-fil-A President Dan] Cathy’s discriminatory stance.
On Wednesday, the tag team of Emanuel and Moreno joined the chorus, citing Cathy’s anti-gay views.
Yes, Chicago, Dan Cathy is a homophobe, a bigot, and an unapologetic assclown.  I refuse to eat at Chik-Fil-A for the sole reason that Cathy is a continued hateful bigot.  But the Constitution is pretty gorram clear about what constitutes free speech, and the Supreme Court recently issued a ruling on that fact in March of 2011 saying that our old friends, the anti-gay bigots of Westboro Baptist Church, have the Constitutional right to say awful things about people.

You can't deny Chik-Fil-A a permit because Dan Cathy is a bigot.  Period.

As my Salon colleague Mary Elizabeth Williams noted when writing about the controversy in Boston: “Aside from the fact that Chick-fil-A is always closed on Sunday, there’s no evidence those beliefs have been institutionalized in any way. There’s no record of refusing service to gay patrons, or unfair hiring practices, or a hostile work environment.” Indeed, Joe Moreno, the Chicago alderman who represents a “hipster ward” and who initially blocked the business’ expansion, made clear that he was motivated not by any alleged discriminatory business practices but solely by “bigoted, homophobic comments”: namely, the Chick-fil-A President’s view that the Bible mandates marriages be between men and women only. And as Williams noted, the company oversees a “foundation that’s contributed financially to” numerous right-wing groups: Eagle Forum, Focus on the Family and the Family Research Council, among others.

That's awful of them.  But it is not illegal to have that opinion.  Defense of free speech in the United States requires that clear cases of vile speech like this are protected and cannot be used to punish an organization.  It requires accepting that fact.  It requires vigilance and swift legal action should those opinions become discriminatory action, but the opinions themselves are valid.  You have the right to have those opinions, and I have the right to disagree with them.  That's how America works, people.

Glenn Greenwald is someone I rarely agree with and in fact his transgressions against logic, discourse, reason, and propriety are well documented.  But he is right here, this is Constitution 101, folks.

And as far as Rahmbo goes, you screwed it badly, man.  Let these guys open their restaurant.  Then don't eat there.  But you treat them in accordance to the letter of the law.

I have an opinion too:  screw Chik-Fil-A, and screw the people who eat there.  Constitution allows me to say that right here.  Your mileage may of course vary.  By the way, Facebook?  That means Dem strategist Karl Frisch gets to post this.


Do we understand the whole "vile speech is protected under the Constitution" thing now?


Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Chicago, Chicago, That Tolerant Town

California and New York have both taken cracks at legalizing same-sex marriage, and 2012 looks to be the year the other big blue state in the nation -- Illinois -- considers laws to legalize it.

Less than a year since civil unions became legal in Illinois, a push to give same-sex couples the right to marry has emerged at the state Capitol with the support of high-profile public figures but also much skepticism that gay marriage will be approved this year.

The divisiveness of the issue was illustrated last week when Washington state's governor signed gay marriage into law and New Jersey's governor vetoed it. In Illinois, Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel and several statewide officials back gay marriage, but the topic is replete with potential political repercussions that many lawmakers want to avoid during an election year.

The conventional wisdom in Springfield is that lawmakers will first focus on winning March 20 primary contests as they run in new districts and then attempt to pass a budget and escape the spring session taking as few controversial votes as possible.

"It's going to be a tough year to pass any legislation that's outside of budget and pension issues," said Sen. David Koehler, a Peoria Democrat who championed the civil union legislation. "It's going to more of an election-year agenda in the state Legislature."

And that battle last year for civil unions was a close, close thing.  I'm not sure this effort will end up going anywhere, but then again with Rahmbo twisting arms, who knows.  It would be another big boost in a blue state with a population of nearly 13 million in shifting the debate that allowing same-sex marriage does absolutely nothing to "threaten" existing marriages in the country.

We'll see how this goes.

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Last Call

He's back, you $%#@*& bunch of %#$*&^!

Rahm Emanuel can run for mayor of Chicago. The Illinois Supreme Court unanimously ruled today that Emanuel is eligible, overturning an appellate court decision, and ending months of legal back-and-forth.

In the decision, the higher court offered this criticism: "the novel standard adopted by the appellate court majority is without any foundation in Illinois law."

Cannot wait for the acceptance speech, where he thanks every last %#*&$% one of us.

Monday, January 24, 2011

Rahm Boned III: The Chicago Way

An appellate court in Chicago has just kicked Rahm Emmanuel off the ballot for next month's Chicago Mayoral election in a 2-1 decision.

The ruling, which was announced on Monday, comes as a significant and unexpected setback for Mr. Emanuel, who has been a front-runner both in polls and in fundraising in the race to replace Richard M. Daley, the city’s longest serving mayor who will retire this spring.

The question of Mr. Emanuel’s residency -– and whether he had lived in Chicago long enough to appear on the city’s ballot -– had been a matter of debate since Mr. Emanuel departed the White House last fall to run for mayor.

Mr. Emanuel contended that he had always maintained a home in Chicago, the city where he was born, and that his time at the White House was a matter of national service. But Mr. Emanuel’s opponents said that Mr. Emanuel did not meet the state’s legal requirements for running for a mayor’s job, one of which included living in the city for a year before Election Day. His return to Chicago in the fall, they argued, did not come soon enough to run on a Feb. 22 ballot.

An elections board had concurred with Mr. Emanuel, as had a Cook County judge. But the Illinois Appellate Court -– in a 2 to 1 ruling -– found the opposite. With time running short and ballot arrangements already being finalized for election day, the issues seemed certain to go to the state Supreme Court. 

That's putting it mildly.   The decision would invalidate a number of candidates based on national service, so yeah, this one's going to the Illinois Supreme Court with shocking alacrity, especially with just 29 days to the election.

We'll see.

Thursday, January 6, 2011

Zandar's Thought Of The Day

Paul Volcker's out at the White House.

Former Federal Reserve Chairman Paul Volcker plans to leave his role as head of a panel of experts advising President Barack Obama on the economy, sources familiar with the decision said on Wednesday.

The departure of Volcker, 83, from the President's Economic Recovery Advisory Board is among a series of changes Obama is planning to announce soon.

The decision to leave the board was Volcker's. A source close to him said he was ready to continue to advise Obama on an informal basis as often as the president would like.

The one guy who knew what he was doing as far as the economy is leaving.  Meanwhile Helicopter Ben and Timmy get to stay, and Obama has just picked up JP Morgan Chase exec Bill Daley as his new Chief of Staff, because apparently Rahmbo didn't have enough corporate ties.

This is one of those times where I think Obama is doing the wrong thing to the point of outright stupidity.  All you need to know about Bill Daley?  Larry Kudlow loves the guy.

President Obama marks another milestone in his post-election move to the center by appointing pro-business Democrat William E. Daley to the powerful post of White House chief of staff. If there are any doubts that Obama wants to repair his business-bashing image, this should dispel them.

It’s an excellent appointment. 

Which means here in reality, it's as lousy as they come.

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Last Call

Rahmbo lives!

Rahm Emanuel is a Chicago resident and therefore can run for mayor, the Chicago Board of Election Commissioners ruled Thursday.

The unanimous ruling in favor of the former White House chief of staff comes after board hearing officer Joe Morris ruled early Thursday morning that Emanuel’s name should remain on the ballot even though he moved to Washington D.C. in 2009 to work for President Obama. After a hearing later in the morning, the board affirmed Morris’ decision that Emanuel didn’t lose his residency status and therefore can continue his campaign.

Board Commissioner Richard Cowen said the ruling was based on the fact that Emanuel never abandoned his residence in Ravenswood, which he established long before he and his family moved and rented out his home. Cowen said that although state law requires candidates to live in the state for a year prior to the Feb. 22 election, he said case law states that candidates only need to be physically present in the city to establish residency in the first place — not to continue it. Emanuel clearly intended to return to Chicago all along, Cowen said.

There's a reason why folks want him off the ballot:  he's going to win easily in February.  The downside is I expect Republican Sen. Mark Kirk to start giving Hizzoner Rahmbo a damn hard time, along with every other Republicans yelling "Chicago Way politics!" like it means something.

Ignore them.

Friday, October 8, 2010

Jonesing For The Exit

As expected, President Obama's National Security Adviser, Gen. Jim Jones, is leaving the White House.

Gen. James Jones, President Barack Obama's national security adviser, is stepping down and will be replaced by his top deputy Tom Donilon, two senior administration officials told The Associated Press on Friday.

Obama will announce the change in a Rose Garden ceremony on Friday with both men. Jones' resignation will take effect in two weeks.

The move, though expected, is the latest high-profile departure among Obama's leadership team. Chief of staff Rahm Emanuel left just last week, and the president is expected to see more change at the top as Obama's tenure nears the two-year mark and the grinding pace of the White House takes a toll.

Jones, who retired from active duty in February 2007 after more than 40 years of uniformed service, had planned all along to leave the national security adviser's post within two years, said one official. The officials spoke on condition of anonymity because the president had not yet announced the decisions.

Again, this was widely expected, although right before the election seems a bit odd...then again...Rahmbo.

Friday, October 1, 2010

Replacing Rahmbo

Ezra Klein has an excellent round-up of everything you'd might want to know about the man replacing Rahm Emanuel as White House Chief Of Throwing Things Staff:  Pete Rouse.

Emanuel was a gift from the Gods of Journalistic Color. He was witty and profane. He liked talking to the press, and his friends and foes liked talking about him to the press. He had an outsized personality and a Washington legend that could be used to explain both his achievements and his shortcomings. The man who is replacing him, Pete Rouse, doesn't.

Rouse, who used to be known as the '101st senator,' was Tom Daschle's former chief of staff. When Daschle unexpectedly lost his 2004 reelection race, Obama snapped him up. Rouse went from being chief of staff for the most powerful Democrat in the Senate to being chief of staff for the body's most junior member. It turned out to be a good decision.

Quiet and retiring, Rouse doesn't make a point of going on the Sunday shows or talking to reporters. Remember that no-drama thing you used to hear about the Obama team? That's Rouse. He's like a black hole for drama. But that means few in Washington know much about him.

The reality is if Rahm was the Don of the White House, then Rouse was the Consigliere, the guy who actually fixed all the problems that Rahm and Larry Summers would cause with the rest of the White House Staff.  Rahmbo was the lightning rod for the administration, but Rouse was the fixer behind the scenes.  In his own words:

"The deputy chiefs of staff report to me, one for policy and one for operations, who run the place from day to day...I fix problems. There’s a number of us who fix problems - execution, anticipate things. I know a lot of the senators, Rahm knows the House very well. The thing about both the campaign and the office here, it’s very collaborative. You have a loosely enforced hierarchy where people are responsible for certain things, but people get along very well and there’s no turf. People help each other and not compete with each other. That’s the Obama style, and that was the Daschle style too when he was leader."

Rahm got both the glory and and brickbats as Chief of Swearing Staff.   Rouse got all the work done.  Now Rouse has to handle it all.  We'll see what he can do for Obama as the face of the White House now.

Thursday, September 30, 2010

Rahm Boned: New Blood, Part Do

Rahmbo's out, Pete Rouse is the new White House Chief of Yelling Stalking People In The Shower Hippie Punching Staff.

Two people close to Rahm Emanuel said Thursday he will resign as White House chief of staff on Friday, and will begin his campaign for Chicago mayor by meeting with voters in the city on Monday.

The two people familiar with his plans, who spoke on condition of anonymity because they did not want to pre-empt Emanuel's announcement, said he will return to Chicago over the weekend and begin touring neighborhoods on Monday.

"He intends to run for mayor," one of the people told The Associated Press.

Both people said they did not know when Emanuel would make an official announcement about his mayoral bid but that he would launch a website with a message to Chicago voters in the near future.

Not going to retire the tag, but a Chief of Staff leaving a month before election day is about as "screw you" as it comes.  I said I wanted him gone and now he is.  Obama said he would go after the midterms, Rahmbo apparently had other ideas.

Funny.  Doesn't feel much like any sort of victory for Obama here.

Monday, June 21, 2010

Rahm-Go, Last Blood?

The UK Telegraph is reporting that White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel is leaving at the end of the year.
Washington insiders say he will quit within six to eight months in frustration at their unwillingness to "bang heads together" to get policy pushed through. 
Mr Emanuel, 50, enjoys a good working relationship with Mr Obama but they are understood to have reached an understanding that differences over style mean he will serve only half the full four-year term.

Friends say he is also worried about burnout and losing touch with his young family due to the pressure of one of most high profile jobs in US politics.

"I would bet he will go after the midterms," said a leading Democratic consultant in Washington. "Nobody thinks it's working but they can't get rid of him – that would look awful. He needs the right sort of job to go to but the consensus is he'll go." 
Odd thing to drop to the press six months before going.  The White House's heavy hitter reduced to whining to the UK press?  I can understand this story coming out around Thanksgiving, but on late Father's Day weekend?  It's not like Rahm will get more respect from this.  The Village certainly is going to be damn miffed this one went to the Telegraph and not the Grey Lady or the WaPo.

No reason for Rahm to leak this.  He doesn't benefit unless he's trying to pre-martyr himself as the guy who could have saved the Democrats from big losses in November, but that's not his style, and it makes him look like an ass.

The Firebaggers are happy this morning.  The Wingers say its rats deserting a sinking ship of state.  But given the Village efforts to rehabilitate Rahm in February and again in March, I asked who was going to win that battle, the other combatants were the team of Obama budget guru David Axelrod and OFA campaign head David Plouffe.

Given this weekend's article on Team Obama fully backing Plouffe's OFA as the winning strategy for 2010, it looks like Rahm has immediately countered to...exact revenge?  That still makes no sense.  We'll hear nothing but WHITE HOUSE IN TOTAL DISARRAY for the next, oh, 30 months.

Not sure what Rahm's long game here is, and the Guardian article doesn't use Rahm as a source, but has "Washington insiders" saying they believe he will now leave and can totally understand why.

As I've said before the target's been Obama, and I think it's true again here.  Somebody's burning the White House and it's not Rahm.

Sunday, March 7, 2010

The Other Piece Of The Puzzle

It makes sense that in Washington, if somebody wins in the Village press, somebody else has to lose.  Its a zero sum game they play up there.  In the case of the Village raising up Rahm Emmanuel we now know who the ordained loser is in the battle:  Obama's budget guru, David Axelrod.
Critics, pointing to the administration’s stalled legislative agenda, falling poll numbers and muddled messaging, suggest that kind of devotion is part of the problem at the White House. Recent news reports have cast the White House chief of staff, Rahm Emanuel, as the administration’s chief pragmatist, and Mr. Axelrod, by implication, as something of a swooning loyalist. “I’ve heard him be called a ‘Moonie,’ ” dismissed Mr. Axelrod’s close friend, former Commerce Secretary William Daley. Or as the White House press secretary, Robert Gibbs, joked, “the guy who walks in front of the president with rose petals.”

Still, it is a charge that infuriates Mr. Axelrod, the president’s closest aide, longest-serving adviser and political alter ego. “I guess I have been castigated for believing too deeply in the president,” he said, lapsing into the sarcasm he tends to deploy when playing defense.

No one has taken the perceived failings of the administration more personally or shown the strain as plainly as Mr. Axelrod, who as White House senior adviser oversees every aspect of how Mr. Obama is presented. As such, Mr. Axelrod, the president’s mustachioed message maven, has felt the brunt of criticism over what many view as the administration’s failure to clearly define and disseminate Mr. Obama’s agenda and accomplishments for the country.

“The Obama White House has lost the narrative in the way that the Obama campaign never did,” said James Morone, a political scientist at Brown University. “They essentially took the president’s great strength as a messenger and failed to use it smartly.”

Mr. Axelrod said he accepts some blame for what he called “communication failures,” though he acknowledges bafflement that the administration’s efforts to stimulate the economy in a crisis, overhaul health care and prosecute two wars have been so routinely framed by opponents as the handiwork of a big-government, soft-on-terrorism, politics-of-the-past ideologue.

“For me, the question is, why haven’t we broken through more than we have?” Mr. Axelrod said. “Why haven’t we broken through?” 
The entire point of this piece is to be the answer to "Well, if Rahmbo's head doesn't need to roll for Obama's perceived failures, whose head does need to roll?"   Read between the lines and you see that Mark Leibovich has already had Axelrod fall on his sword in this piece, taking the blame for the "bubble" that the President's in, being responsible for Obama's "out of touch arrogance" and "messaging failures" and that he doesn't have the answers.

The Axeman has just been offered up as a sacrifice.  Make no mistake about it, if this is Rahm vs Axe, Rahm is winning the Village game by three or four touchdowns.  It's even worse that Axelrod is Obama's "messaging maven" and should really have known better than this.  It so obviously throws him under the bus you have to wonder if he's naive or just incompetent...and that's deadly in Washington circles.

While the blogs have been going after Rahm, the Village is going after the Axeman.  Who will win this battle?

And isn't the far more important battle concerning what decisions Obama is making?  Isn't either outcome painting Obama as a puppet being led rather than a President who leads?

That's the far more important point here.  It seems neither side is getting the point of this Village hit job, that the real target is Obama himself.

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

It Takes A Village To Raise A Rahmbo

The WaPo's campaign to save Rahm Emanuel from the Dirty F'ckin Hippies continues apace.  This time it's staffer Jason Horowitz going to bat for Rahm as "the only voice of reason" in the White House.
But a contrarian narrative is emerging: Emanuel is a force of political reason within the White House and could have helped the administration avoid its current bind if the president had heeded his advice on some of the most sensitive subjects of the year: health-care reform, jobs and trying alleged terrorists in civilian courts.

It is a view propounded by lawmakers and early supporters of President Obama who are frustrated because they think the administration has gone for the perfect at the expense of the plausible. They believe Emanuel, the town's leading purveyor of four-letter words, a former Israeli army volunteer and a product of a famously argumentative family, was not aggressive enough in trying to persuade a singularly self-assured president and a coterie of true-believer advisers that "change you can believe in" is best pursued through accomplishments you can pass.

By all accounts, Obama selected Emanuel for his experience in the Clinton White House, his long relationships with the media and Democratic donors, and his well-established -- and well-earned -- reputation as a political enforcer, all of which neatly counterbalanced Obama's detached, professorial manner. A president who would need the deft navigation of Congress to pass his ambitious legislation turned to the Illinois congressman and former chairman of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee because he possessed a unique understanding of the legislative mind.

The pairing made sense, but things haven't worked out as expected. And in the search for what has gone wrong, influential Democrats are -- in unusually frank terms -- blaming Obama and his closest campaign aides for not listening to Emanuel. And this puts the 50-year-old chief of staff in a very uncomfortable position. 
Listening to Emanuel would serve "all our overall goals," said Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz (D-Fla.). "I think that Rahm's considerable legislative experience translates into advice that the president should heed."
I called this last week.  Rahm's pulling an Alexander Haig here and making it clear to those who oppose him inside...and outside...the White House that he's the guy calling the shots and that's not going to change.  Even better, the Village is now clearly backing Rahm's overly pragmatic worldview even when that worldview differs from that of a certain "singularly self-assured president".

This is straight Hippie Punching, here.  And the Village has always considered Obama to be a hippie.  The hope here is that Rahm is the surrogate for Clintonian triangulation, and that the president and the rest of his advisors will listen to the only man worth listening to in the West Wing.

The Village has found their man in the Oval Office, and it's not Obama.  That's a problem, and a potentially big one.  They love covering an infighting story, and it's even better if they're the ones creating the infighting story between Rahm and Obama.

Of course, Obama can make all this go away if he just jettisons his entire agenda and goes with Rahm's Sensible Centrist approach...

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Is He Rahm-Boned?

Cenk Uygur argues that last weekend's Dana Milbank "Leave Rahm alooooone!" special was Rahm's "Screw you!" on the way out the door.
Since Rahm is obviously feeding this to Milbank, that is very revealing. You don't throw these kinds of bombs unless you've already lost. This is an act of desperation. It's bound to make mortal enemies of these people inside Obama's inner circle. You can't really work with these people anymore. That means you're already finished there.

This is basically Rahm saying on his way out, I was right all along and these guys were wrong. Maybe it's a last minute attempt at a Hail Mary to swing the decision in his favor if he can start a conversation in DC about how he had offered better advice than the other three to Obama (by the way, everything he claims to have been right about inside the article was disastrous advice that led Obama further and further away from his voters). But either way, that means he thinks he is very close to being on his way out the door.

For my part, I don't think it will work at all. It seems desperate, vindictive, political and obvious. If Obama was still considering which direction he was going to go, I think this will certainly cinch it. He hates these kinds of leaks and this kind of internal dissension. Rahm is done. Thank God.
I'm not entirely convinced still.  I think it's Rahmbo trying to look like the bad guy here in order to take the heat off Obama among the Dems so that his boss can get health care reform done.  I'm also entirely sure Rahmbo likes being the heavy.

There's also the theory that this is Rahm serving very public notice to the rest of the West Wing that he's not leaving, but that he's pulling an Alexander Haig and stating "I'm in charge here."  He clearly has the ability to play Dana Milbank in the attack position at will.  He may be looking to see if anyone's got the stones to check his raise, especially after the recent article earlier this month on Obama's inner circle leading him astray.  This could be Rahmbo setting a firebreak by taking out part of the forest himself.   The message could be "Anybody else want to leak?"

Still Uygur does have a damn good point:  if this is Rahmbo being subtle, he's doing it wrong to the point where it looks like he's setting his own house on fire.  It's unusually ham-handed and nasty even for Rahm, and it smacks of desperation.

Either way, it's taking attention off Obama right now and is giving him some breathing room from the left.  He's going to need it with this public option thing.

Saturday, February 20, 2010

Defending Rahmbo's Honor

Dana Milbank of the WaPo makes the argument that Obama needs Rahmbo because he's the only smart person Obama has working for him, and that apparently includes Obama himself.

No really.  That's the argument.
Obama's first year fell apart in large part because he didn't follow his chief of staff's advice on crucial matters. Arguably, Emanuel is the only person keeping Obama from becoming Jimmy Carter.

Obama chose the profane former Clinton adviser for a reason. Where the president is airy and idealistic, Rahm is earthy and calculating. One thinks big; the other, a former House Democratic Caucus chair, understands the congressional mind, in which small stuff counts for more than broad strokes.

Obama's problem is that his other confidants -- particularly Valerie Jarrett and Robert Gibbs, and, to a lesser extent, David Axelrod -- are part of the Cult of Obama. In love with the president, they believe he is a transformational figure who needn't dirty his hands in politics.

The president would have been better off heeding Emanuel's counsel. For example, Emanuel bitterly opposed former White House counsel Greg Craig's effort to close the Guantanamo Bay prison within a year, arguing that it wasn't politically feasible. Obama overruled Emanuel, the deadline wasn't met, and Republicans pounced on the president and the Democrats for trying to bring terrorists to U.S. prisons. Likewise, Emanuel fought fiercely against Attorney General Eric Holder's plan to send Khalid Sheik Mohammed to New York for a trial. Emanuel lost, and the result was another political fiasco.

Obama's greatest mistake was failing to listen to Emanuel on health care. Early on, Emanuel argued for a smaller bill with popular items, such as expanding health coverage for children and young adults, that could win some Republican support. He opposed the public option as a needless distraction.

The president disregarded that strategy and sided with Capitol Hill liberals who hoped to ram a larger, less popular bill through Congress with Democratic votes only. The result was, as the world now knows, disastrous.

Had it gone Emanuel's way, a politically popular health-care bill would have passed long ago, leaving plenty of time for other attractive priorities, such as efforts to make college more affordable. We would have seen a continuation of the momentum of the first half of 2009, when Obama followed Emanuel's strategy and got 11 substantive bills on his desk before the August recess. 
If I'm reading this correctly, Milbank is saying "So if Obama had followed Rahm's advice and basically thrown the Dirty F'ckin Hippies under the bus immediately and then had gone straight to the Republicans and asked them how they wanted him to govern, we'd be having a great time right now."

First, what Milbank is really saying is "If Obama had only followed my advice..."  Let's get that out of the way right now.

Second, Milbank believes that Rahmbo should be in charge.  He doesn't have a high opinion of any of Obama's other inner circle members, and he has an even lower opinion of the President for listening to them, and not Rahm (and by extension, Dana Milbank.)

Third, even after the Clinton years, we still have Villagers who believe that Democratic Presidents will be rewarded by doing what the GOP tells them they should be doing.  Clinton wasn't impeached or anything despite tacking to the right after 1994 enough to win re-election in 1996.  The GOP isn't going to make that mistake again.  And by "mistake" I mean "allow a Democratic President to be re-elected".

Fourth, a "smaller bill with popular items, such as expanding health coverage for children and young adults, that could win some Republican support" is a laughable concept that does not exist.  No popular health care reform bill that a Democratic President and Congress could have taken credit for would ever be embraced by a Republican.  Period.

Is Milbank really this dense?  Has he been paying any attention at all to the CPAC conference?  Do you think the Tea Party movement would have gone away with a GOP health care bill?  Do you think they wouldn't be screaming "Socialist" and demanding the long-form birth certificate and posting pictures of Obama as a witch doctor on the internet?

Denial is an interesting mechanism.  But in the end, it always comes down to the Villagers complaining that Democrats aren't Republican enough.

Friday, February 12, 2010

Muzzled And Puzzled

Today's must read is Tim Dickinson's column in Rolling Stone on how Team Obama swept its grassroots operations aside to instead make backroom deals with Congress...and got us into the current mess we're in.
As a candidate swept into office by a grass-roots revolution of his own creation, Obama was poised to reinvent Washington politics, just as he had reinvented the modern political campaign. Obama and his team hadn't simply collected millions of e-mail addresses, they had networked activists, online and off — often down to the street level. By the end of the campaign, Obama's top foot soldiers were more than volunteers. They were seasoned organizers, habituated to the hard work of reaching out to neighbors and communicating Obama's vision for change.

As president, Obama promised to use technology to open up the halls of power and keep the American people involved. "If you want to know how I'll govern," he said, "just look at our campaign." His activists wouldn't just be cheerleaders; they would be partners in delivering on his mandate, serving as the most fearsome whip Washington had ever seen. "At the end of the campaign, we entered into an implied contract with Obama," says Marta Evry, who served as a regional field organizer in California for the campaign. "He was going to fight for change, and we were going to fight with him."

The problems started before Obama was even elected. While his top advisers worked for months to carefully plot out a transition to governing, their plan to institutionalize its campaign apparatus was as ill-considered as George Bush's invasion of Iraq. "There was absolutely no transition planning," says Micah Sifry, the co-founder of techPresident, a watchdog group that just published a special report on OFA's first year. In what Sifry decries as a case of "criminal political negligence," Obama's grass-roots network effectively went dark for two months after Election Day, failing to engage activists eager for their new marching orders. "The movement moment," he says, "was lost."

The blame, insiders say, rests squarely with Plouffe. "That was totally Plouffe's thing," a top member of the president's inner circle recalls of the transition planning. "It really was David."

By that point, at the end of the campaign, Plouffe had his eyes on the exit. He was gaunt, exhausted. His wife was about to give birth to their second child. He needed a break. "There was no question of my joining the administration," he recounts in his memoir. So Plouffe, in a truly bizarre call, decided to incorporate Obama for America as part of the Democratic National Committee. The move meant that the machinery of an insurgent candidate, one who had vowed to upend the Washington establishment, would now become part of that establishment, subject to the entrenched, partisan interests of the Democratic Party. It made about as much sense as moving Greenpeace into the headquarters of ExxonMobil.

Steve Hildebrand, Obama's deputy campaign manager, tried to dissuade Plouffe. "The DNC is a political entity," he says. "Senators who you are going to need to put significant pressure on to deliver change — like Ben Nelson of Nebraska, who was opposed to health care reform — are voting members of the DNC. It limited how aggressive you could be." Hildebrand pushed Plouffe to make "Obama 2.0" an independent nonprofit, similar to FreedomWorks and Americans for Prosperity, the right-wing instigators of the Tea Party uprising. Free from the party apparatus, Hildebrand argued, the group could raise unlimited funds and "put enough pressure on conservative Democrats to keep them in line."
Only now is Plouffe back, and only in the last month since the Coakley loss has Team Obama finally started to turn around the ship.  But the damage has already been done.  The super-majority has been lost.  Obamacare is on life support.  Cap and trade and immigration are non-starters, repealing DADT is in administrative limbo just like closing Gitmo, and the only think keeping Obama afloat right now is the fact that America still hates the GOP more and still blames them for most of the mess.

But yes, throwing away the Obama grassroots operation was arguably Obama's biggest mistake.  I'm glad to see Plouffe back and the OFA machine running again.  But it should have been running all year. Assuming the beltway was the solution to a national image game that the GOP was winning was a rookie mistake and one that is costing all of us dearly.

The damage still hasn't been calculated.

Monday, February 8, 2010

Four Politicos Of The Obamapocalypse

Today's must-read is Steve Clemons's analysis of this weekend's FT piece pinning Obama's problems on his core Chicago team:  the bad cop/good cop team of  Rahmbo and Obama's political face Valerie Jarrett, budget guru David "Axeman" Axelrod and WH spokesman Robert Gibbs:
It's a vital article -- a brave one -- that interviews "dozens of interviews with his closest allies and friends in Washington".

Most are unnamed because the consequences of retribution from this powerful foursome can be severe in an access-dependent town. John Podesta, President of the powerful, adminstration-tilting Center for American Progress, had the temerity and self-confidence to put his thoughts publicly on the record. But most others could not.

Mark Schmitt, executive editor of the liberal magazine American Prospect, wrote that "Luce has written what seems to me the best and most succinct rundown of what's gone wrong in the White House, with particular attention to the role of Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel." But some of the big aggregators out there -- Mike Allen at Politico and ABC's The Note among others -- didn't give Luce's juicy and lengthy essay any love.

Why not? Allen is a good friend of mine and tries to keep a good balance between tough-hitting political stuff but also goes out of his way to give strokes to those in the White House he can -- particularly "Axe" -- who is a regular in Mike's daily Playbook. I try to do the same to be honest and have a particular thing for Bill Burton's wit and was pleased to see Rahm Emanuel giving David Geffen rather than Rick Warren lots of hugs during the Inauguration eve fests.

But this Luce piece is unavoidably, accurately hard-hitting, and while many of the nation's top news anchors and editors are sending emails back and forth (I have been sent three such emails in confidence) on what a spot-on piece Luce wrought on the administration, they fear that the "four horsepersons of the Obama White House" will shut down and cut off access to those who give the essay 'legs.'

But in the too regularly vapid chatter about DC's political scene, serious critiques of the internal game around Obama not only deserve review on their own merits but have to be read -- because Obama is not winning. He is failing and people need to consider "why".

Any serious survey of the Obama administration's accomplishments and setbacks over the last year has to conclude that the administration is deeply in the red.

If current trends continue, this once mesmerizing Camelot-ish operation will be be seen in the history books as the presidential administration that -- to distort slightly and inversely paraphrase Churchill -- never have so many talented people managed to achieve so little with so much.
He's got a point.  I have my own problem with Rahmbo, but Axelrod, Jarrett and Gibbs are part of the problem too, along with economic point man Larry Summers.  All of them are pushing Obama to be the great Reagan style dealmaker with this GOP caucus that simply believes it can outwait him in order to destroy him.  The rest of the universe knows the GOP will rather watch the country burn to the ground just so they can blame Obama.

Obama does appear to be taking some steps, like bringing in Paul Volcker and David Plouffe, but he's still keeping his Chicago crew around.  That's a mistake. Going along to get along doesn't work when the other side is negotiating in 100% bad faith.

I dunno when Obama will figure this out.

[UPDATE 1:28 PM] Both BooMan's response to this and Digby's response to this are worth reading as well, but it's worth nothing that like myself, they both say Rahm's blown it and that he's part of the problem.  Both however take umbrage with the solution that Obama needs different insiders.  That's correct.

Obama needs to get out of the bubble and get past his own gatekeepers.

Thursday, February 4, 2010

Clued In
Above: Chuck Todd's crew searches for clues.

Over at NBC's First Read this morning, the Scooby Gang has discovered the Useful Idiot factor of "Some on the Left say...", in this case the notion of Rahmbo getting canned.
*** The other R-word -- Rahm: Just askin’, but have we all missed the REAL story in the controversy over the R-word that White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel uttered and for which he apologized? It’s that someone has it out for Rahm. Given that someone leaked a six-month-old anecdote to the Wall Street Journal (which contained that R-word), there is clearly an effort to embarrass the chief of staff, hoping it leads either to a trimming of his sails or forces him out of his position. And do note that the criticism he has received comes from the group of folks Rahm was disparaging in that anecdote: the left.
Hey guys?  Welcome to 2009.

Still, this certainly means "Even the Left wants Rahm fired" and equating him to Karl Rove will now become the latest attack on Obama by the Village.  Rahm's an ineffective jackass, sure...but that's a reason to fire, say, most of Congress, the Village, the Supreme Court and everyone in the Beltway, not just Rahm.
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