Month: November 2008

“Joe the Plumber”, Michele Bachmann, Sarah Palin–PLEASE GO AWAY!

Now that the election is over, one would think that we would not have to deal with "Joe the Plumber",  Michele Bachmann, and Sarah Palin.  But no such luck, unfortunately :(

"Joe the Plumber"  (Sam Wurzelbacher) now accuses Senator John McCain of not defending Sarah Palin from criticism that she caused him the election, except for the fact he PRECISELY did that on a late night talk show and has always been gracious to her, at least in public.  I do have to wonder what his true feelings are, however :)  LOL

Congresswoman Michele Bachmann of Minnesota had talked about members of Congress and Barack Obama being anti American and needing to be investigated, in the middle of October on HARD BALL with Chris Matthews, but yesterday went on Hannity and Colmes to deny she ever said that.  She seems to have forgotten about video tapes and the fact that many saw her interview with Chris Matthews, including the author.  She has a bit of a problem in telling the truth, but after all, she is a religious woman, so that does not matter, since she apparently knows the ULTIMATE TRUTH !  :)

Sarah Palin has gone on a wave of interviews with media that she avoided during the campaign, and has invoked God wanting her to open any door of opportunity and go through it.  Can we possibly stop bringing the deity into the political system, as the voters clearly repudiated the right wing of the Republican party in the recent election?  As the author has stated elsewhere, the GOP MUST move away from the Christian right and not be held hostage by it if it wishes to revive as a serious alternative for voters.  And it should be pointed out that the Christian right has nowhere to go even if unhappy with the moderation move by the Republican party, as they are not about to vote Democratic, so PLEASE stop catering to one third of the country and go back to the Founding Fathers who emphasized SEPARATION of church and state!

My conclusion for "Joe the Plumber", Michele Bachmann, and Sarah Palin, is PLEASE GO AWAY!  ENOUGH ALREADY!  :)

Alaska Senate Race Goes to Democrat Mark Begich!

Good news has just been reported that Democratic Mayor Mark Begich of Anchorage, Alaska has won the Senate race over long term Senator Ted Stevens, who was recently convicted of seven felonies in a federal trial, and would have been facing explusion by his Senate colleagues had he been reelected. 

Stevens has served forty years in the Senate, longer than any Republican senator in US history, but his career ends in disgrace, not only because of his felony convictions, but also because of the controversial "Bridge to Nowhere" which became part of the 2008 presidential campaign and was used as the poster boy for the attack on "earmarks" passed on a regular basis by members of Congress.

Stevens’ departure will be welcome for another reason–he was a nasty, grouchy old man, and apparently may have been a nasty, grouchy middle aged man years ago :)  LOL  His arrogance was legendary and his absence may improve overall Senate relations, although there are other Senate Republicans who also need to promote the idea of cooperation and open mindedness in order to create a good bipartisan mood for the next Congress.  Unfortunately, don’t bet on that!

Senator Chuck Hagel, the Republican Party and Rush Limbaugh

Retiring Senator Chuck Hagel of Nebraska really laced it into the Republican party in a speech at Johns Hopkins University, pointing out that the party had totally failed in its message and programs in the past eight years, and calling for diplomacy and willingness to talk with the nation’s enemies as a way to bridge the gap on the world scene, something advocated by President Elect Obama and many foreign policy specialists, including Republican former Secretaries of State, during the election campaign.

He also said that Rush Limbaugh seemed to be so good at giving advice that he should run for office rather than just pontificate  on his radio show.  Obviously, Hagel was being sarcastic, as he clearly meant that Limbaugh had no conception of how to deal with diplomatic or military matters and was just being what he is always best at, being a windbag.

Senator Hagel is soon to leave the Senate after two distinguished terms, and he will be missed.  He is a man of principle and courage, who has gained many admirers, including the author, and it is hoped that he will be utilized in some fashion by the new President, as one of the better examples of a Republican who can contribute to a Democratic administration in a non partisan spirit.

The “Lion of the Senate” Returns

It was so encouraging to see the return to the lameduck session of Senator Edward Kennedy of Massachusetts, recovering from cancer surgery.

Ted Kennedy is truly the "Lion of the Senate" as many have called him, including Senator John McCain of Arizona.  There is plenty of potential to criticize aspects of his past life, particularly his personal foibles.  One can clearly condemn shortcomings in his long life, and still recognize the greatness of this man, who will go down in history as one of the all time giants of the Senate.  Already having served longer than any senator except Robert Byrd and Strom Thurmond, and having by far a more reputable Senate record than either of those men, we can only hope that he will fully recover from his brain tumor and be able to devote more years to his exceptional Senate record of concern about health care, education, immigration, the economy, the environment, foreign policy, etc etc as the list goes on.

We are fortunate that he has served so long and has made a greater impact on American history than his brothers who were taken from us much too early by tragedy.  He is truly respected by both liberals and conservatives as someone they are  proud of and who reflects well on the Senate.  So hopefully, Kennedy will be able to fulfill his expressed wish to help assist President Obama in the accomplishment of his goals.

“Clintonites” in the Obama Administration

It seems apparent that President Elect Barack Obama will be employing many former "Clintonites" in his administration, and it makes perfect sense.

The Democrats have been in the wilderness a lot in the past 40 years, with only four years of Jimmy Carter in the late 1970s and the two terms of Bill Clinton in the 90s, so there are far fewer alternatives for Democrats than there were for the Republicans, who have controlled the Presidency for the other 28 of the past 40 years.

Just as Clinton leaned on Carter appointees, so Obama is leaning on Clinton appointees.  Very few Carter people are still available after nearly 30 years since Jimmy Carter left office.   Early indications are that the Clinton appointees that Obama is recruiting are excellent choices, including Rahm Emanuel as Chief of Staff, Gregory Craig as likely White House Counselor, and Eric Holder as likely Attorney General.  Also, of course, rumors are heavy that Hillary Clinton may become Secretary of State if her husband’s financial affairs can be fully vetted and be shown to NOT present an embarrassment to the Obama administration.

The search for talented people who served  Bill Clinton is fascinating, and shows wisdom on the part of the President Elect.  We all will watch with great interest over the next two months to the inauguration.

The Joe Lieberman Odyssey

The oddyssey of Senator Joseph Lieberman of Connecticut is a story that will one day be written by some scholar, and what a story it is!

When Joe Lieberman ran for the US Senate in 1988 against liberal Republican Lowell Weicker, the conservative intellectual and founder of the NATIONAL REVIEW, William F. Buckley, Jr.,  endorsed him and called him his "favorite Democrat".  That should have been a warning that Joe Lieberman would NEVER be obedient to any party label or loyal to his Senate colleagues.

Lieberman made a record as a man of principle in his first two terms in the Senate, including backing traditional Democratic social and economic ideas, and also having the courage to condemn President Bill Clinton’s misbehavior which led to his impeachment trial.  Few Democrats were willing to criticize the President’s behavior and what he put the country through in 1998 and 1999, derailing any possibility of real accomplishment of Clinton ideas in his second term. 

In 2000, Vice President Al Gore thought enough of Joe Lieberman to make him his running mate, and most Democrats were pleased by that move, and one must not forget that the Gore-Lieberman  ticket DID win the popular vote, although the Supreme Court ruled in favor of George W. Bush in the Florida controversy.

Once America was attacked on September 11, Lieberman, like others, rallied to the support of the Bush administration, and no one would have debated that.  But then he became the Democrat most behind the Iraq War even after revelations that Saddam Hussein had no Weapons of Mass Destruction and that our intelligence was flawed and that Bush went to war without real justification.  As other Democrats abandoned support of the Bush administration, Lieberman continued to side with Bush and decided he would back the candidacy of John McCain and trash Senator Barack Obama during the election campaign of 2008.  He had already lost the Democratic nomination and won back his Senate seat as an Independent in 2006, continuing as part of the Democratic caucus, actually allowing the Democrats a bare control of the Senate in the past two years.  Still basically a Democrat except on the Iraq war and support of John McCain, he angered many who wanted to kick him out of his Homeland Security chairmanship in the Senate in the new 111th Congress.

However, wisely in my opinion, President Elect Obama took the view that he did not want the Democrats in the Senate to employ revenge on Lieberman, and they have just honored his wish by a vote of 42-13, with his only punishment being the loss of a subcommittee chairmanship and a statement condemning his support of the Republican nominee during the election campaign.

One does have to wonder, however, if the result would have been the same, if the rumored possible choice of Lieberman as McCain’s running mate had occurred, instead of McCain’s choice of Sarah Palin.  In that circumstance, I do not believe the Democrats would have forgiven him and I doubt that I would be so generous on this matter as President Elect Obama has now displayed.  But as it stands, I am glad Lieberman is still part of the Democratic caucus.

The question now is will Senator Lieberman behave more like a true Democrat, or will he become a problem to the Obama Administration in the next four years?  This will, indeed, be interesting to watch!

The “60 Minutes” Interview

The "60 Minutes" interview with the President Elect and the new First Lady on Sunday evening was an inspirational moment, one of the best events in recent history of that venerable news magazine, which has been on television now for 40 years.

President Elect Obama was gracious, charming, forthcoming and  presented an image of calm, cool demeanor to the interviewer, Scott Pelley.  He made clear that he wished  to emulate Abraham Lincoln in having a "Team of Rivals" and was ready to experiment a la Franklin D. Roosevelt  during the New Deal.  He said he would not be  ideological and would employ tactics, whether used by FDR or Ronald Reagan, to deal with the many crises we face, the worst situation since the 1930s.  He showed a high level of pragmatism, and said he would never give up considering alternatives if certain ideas or programs did not work out.

Obama gave the American public a renewed sense of confidence that he would never stop striving to solve the problems he faces, and his wife Michelle, demonstrated a warmth, sense of humor and classiness that will add to the image of the White House.  The new couple, with their two daughters, will present a new sense of beginning and optimism to the White House and will make the uncertain future much more exciting and dynamic than any First Family since the Kennedys nearly 50 years ago!

The Auto Industry Bailout Crisis

America is faced with a major crisis in the auto industry, as the Big Three auto makers, General Motors, Ford and Chrysler are all faced with likely bankruptcy if the United States government does not come to the rescue with loans in the very near future.

There is a temptation to say that it is their fault, that they have produced cars that the American public does not want, that their CEOs have abused their positions and shown no signs of leadership, but rather of greed and excess and lack of corporate responsibility.  Therefore, many are saying that the auto makers should be allowed to die, or at the least, reorganize.  Accusations of corporate socialism abound, and it is hard to have sympathy for companies so poorly run and administered.

The problem with this viewpoint is that the collapse of the domestic auto industry would affect millions of workers, not only directly in the three companies but also in  ancillary industries, and would add two to three percent, at the least, to the present unemployment rate of 6.5 percent.  It would devastate the industrial Midwest in particular–Michigan, Ohio, Indiana and Illinois–and would affect the budgets of cities and states in the area and would have an "avalanche" effect on the entire American economy.  Back in the 1950s, it was said that as General Motors went, so went the nation.

Therefore, it seems to me that we cannot allow the dissolving of the industry as it would have a deleterious effect on the entire economy, but the auto makers MUST orient themselves to the competition they face from Toyota, Honda and other foreign competition in the field, and produce cars that represent the future of transportation.  The CEOs must not be allowed to abuse their positions, and new leadership must be installed, and the US government, in return for assistance to the industry, must insist on transparency and close oversight and regulation of the auto makers as the price to restore the industry and keep millions of people working. 

Hopefully, the troubles in the auto industry will not be allowed to escalate to the point that it promotes a general collapse of the economy and the onset of a Great Depression, but I must admit I am very concerned and wonder what the future holds as President Elect Barack Obama moves closer to Inauguration Day.

Team of Rivals: Doris Kearns Goodwin’s Effect on Obama

President-Elect Obama last year read the pathbreaking work on Abraham Lincoln published by noted scholar Doris Kearns Goodwin, which described how Lincoln selected all of his political rivals in the campaign of 1860 for his cabinet advisers, and how they often argued and debated, but also how they helped strengthen his leadership during the most difficult times in our history, the Civil War years.  Obama also called and spoke to Goodwin and made clear how he was impressed by what Lincoln had done and how he hoped to follow his lead, were he to be elected President of the United States.

Now, it seems as if Obama is about to fulfill his promise.  There are strong indications that Obama is ready to appoint his chief rival, Senator Hillary Clinton of New York, to head the State Department, and therefore become the top cabinet offiicial, just as Lincoln picked his chief rival, Senator William Seward of New York, to the same position.  Anyone who has studied American History knows Seward turned out to be one of the best Secretaries of State in our history. 

Additionally, it seems likely that Obama will have Bill Richardson, Governor of New Mexico, as an important advisor and possible cabinet officer, and already has Joe Biden as his Vice President.  The thought of Clinton, Richardson, and Biden as key figures in foreign policy is very exciting and will certainly present a great image to the nations of the world.  Obama is demonstrating he has a secure personality and wants vigorous discussion and debate among his top cabinet members and advisers, and that he wishes to be challenged by people more experienced than himself.  The fact that he does NOT want "Yes Men"  is extremely significant and gives hope that our country will have a brilliant administration ready to deal with crises, both domestic and foreign, that require the "Best and the Brightest"!

Sixty Democratic Seats in the Senate Still Possible!

Ten days after the 2008 election, it is still a possibility that the Democrats could gain three contested Senate seats and reach the magic number of 60, theoretically a filibuster proof total, with of course the assumption that Senator Joe Lieberman of Connecticut will be accommodated and that all Democrats will always be loyal to the party at crucial times, which is certainly not guaranteed.

The Minnesota Senate race, with a lead of 206 for Republican Norm Coleman over Democrat Al Franken is about to go into manual recount and there is likely a good chance that Franken might be able to pull it out.  The Alaska Senate race now shows Democrat Mark Begich, Mayor of Anchorage, ahead by about 800 votes with many more votes not yet counted, over Republican Senator Ted Stevens, who if re-elected is likely be expelled from the Senate due to his felony conviction on seven counts shortly before Election Day.  The Georgia Senate race with Republican Saxby Chambliss over Democrat Jim Martin is moving toward a runoff due to the failure of either to get a majority of the vote, required by Georgia law, and that will be the most difficult for the Democrats to win, but memories of Chambliss’s abuse of Senator Max Cleland, a triple amputee, during the 2002 Senate matchup, makes one wish that somehow, Martin is able to emerge victorious. 

Even without some or all three of those Senate seats, it is likely that many times we will see moderate Republicans such as the two Maine senators, Olympia Snowe and Susan Collins, Pennsylvania Senator Arlen Specter and Indiana Senator Richard Lugar, a good friend of President-Elect Obama on foreign policy matters, willing to join the Democratic majority on many issues, so as to avoid a filibuster. 

With the Democrats having a substantial margin in the Senate and some Republicans willing to cross the aisle at times, and this could include Senator John McCain at times as well, the Obama administration should be able to accomplish many of their goals.