Month: January 2009

Senator Judd Gregg as Secretary of Commerce?

The possibility of Republican Senator Judd Gregg of New Hampshire, a moderate Republican who has always had a good relationship with Barack Obama, being named to be Secretary of Commerce comes across as a very appealing idea.

Senator Gregg, well respected in the Senate and considered one of the few remaining moderate Republicans, has served as a Congressman and as Governor of New Hampshire and is finishing his third term in the Senate.  Despite his moderate voting record, he is seen as being in trouble in a re-election bid in 2010 with the Democratic trend since 2006, and his moderate Republican colleague in the Senate, John  Sununu, Jr was defeated in his re-election bid in 2008 by former Democratic governor Jeanne Shaheen.  Gregg may see joining the Obama administration as its third GOP cabinet member as an appealing idea, and certainly it would continue to promote Obama’s idea of bipartisanship in difficult times.

It would also allow the Democrats to reach the magic filibuster proof level of 60 senators, since the Democratic governor of New Hampshire, John Lynch, would be likely to name a Democratic replacement for Gregg.  This would, along with a final seating of Al Franken in Minnesota, lead to that magic number of senators that the Democrats have sought.

However, the Republican party is certainly not happy about such an eventuality and may put pressure on Senator Gregg not to join Obama as part of the issue of party loyalty.  We shall see in the coming days what will happen!

Obama and Biden, and Labor and the Middle Class

Barack Obama has set into motion a series of actions that will revive the American labor movement, which has been in dire straits since the election of Ronald Reagan in 1980.

This is great news, and Obama has commissioned Vice President Joe Biden to promote the interests of the middle class, which has been in decline since its peak economically in 1973.  No one better than the Vice President could be selected, as Biden was well known as the "poorest" Senator with the fewest assets of any senator and emerging from a working class family that struggled to succeed. 

We are fortunate that our President and Vice President come from "common man" backgrounds.  We have had enough of politicians who do not understand the problems of labor and the middle class and only have cared about the bottom line for the wealthy.  Obama is emerging as in the tradition of FDR and LBJ in his plans to bring necessary domestic reform, which will go beyond the New Deal and Great Society!

Rudy Guiliani and Wall Street Bonuses

Former NYC Mayor Rudy Guiliani has just demonstrated why we should be so thankful that his presidential campaign flopped so badly early in 2008.

At a time when the nation is falling into the worst economic downturn since the Great Depression, Guiliani is insensitive enough to remark that taking away multi million dollar bonuses from Wall Street executives will hurt the NYC economy.  This is stated as President Obama rightfully denounces the total arrogance of the wealthy elite on Wall Street who have shown total irresponsibility and insensitivity to what they have wrought by their unethical and often illegal financial practices.

Thank goodness that at this time of trouble that we have a man of principle and appropriate outrage as our President, instead of a man who seems not to care about the suffering caused by his party as they led the Congress for 14 years and the White House for the last eight years.  More comments like this and the country will become more Blue than it is already!

Michael Steele, the New GOP National Chairman

The Republican party has taken a wise step by selecting Michael Steele, the former Lieutenant Governor of Maryland, and a leading African American conservative, as their national chairman.

Naming Steele was by far the best choice the GOP had out of the six available candidates.  While I do not agree with Steele on many issues, if any, he is a reasonable political figure who will improve the image of the Republican party and make it possible over time for the GOP to appeal to African Americans and other minorities, an urgent need if they are to have a future other than in the old South and the Mormon West.

This puts the burden on the Obama administration to insure that the Democratic party does not live on its laurels and to realize that Steele poses a real challenge to what is now the Blue Majority in America as a result of the 2008 presidential election.

A Commentary on Religiosity in America

A new survey that has emerged rates the 50 states by the extent of their religiosity.  The results, particularly on the top and bottom, are very revealing.

The top three "religious" states are Mississippi, Alabama and South Carolina.  The least "religious" states are Maine, New Hampshire and Vermont.

The above statement speaks volumes.  The most "religious" states have a long history of being the most backward economically, the most prejudicial on the issue of race and religion and immigration and the role of women in society.  The least "religious" states are precisely the opposite. 

It is ironic that so called "religious" people have no problem historically in promoting discrimination, hate, prejudice, narrow mindedness and intolerance.  This demonstrates perfectly why religion MUST be kept separate from government policy.  Freedom of religion means the right of everyone to pray as they wish or not pray and believe.  It should NOT mean that they should be engaged in making government policy at any level, as their record historically is a true disgrace when they have been allowed by politicians to have undue influence!

The Economic Stimulus Bill and Senate Republicans

With the Economic Stimulus bill having passed the US House of Representatives but with not one Republican supporter, the bill now goes to the US Senate.

The hope is that some Republican senators will give their backing to some version of the bill acceptable to the Democratic majority in both houses and to President Obama.  One can imagine the possibility that at least a few–Susan Collins of Maine, Olympia Snowe of Maine, Arlen Specter of Pennsylvania, and George Voinovich of Ohio–might give their weight in support of the bill and therefore promote bipartisanship.  Also, it can be hoped that some other GOP senators might surprise the country and also support the bill and that this will prompt some GOP House members to give their support after the conference committee report is drawn up in a couple of weeks.

At a crucial time such as now, with the country in dire economic straits, Obama’s call for bipartisanship comes across as genuine, and the nation needs such a spirit on the part of the Republican party to promote what is good for the future of the nation.

Sarah Palin Forms a Political Action Committee

Sarah Palin is back in the limelight, forming a Political Action Committee, which is clearly designed to promote conservative causes but also keep  her in the forefront of the news as she considers an entrance into the national political scene for the next election  cycle.

At a time when the GOP is shown to be strong in only five states, including Alaska, one has to wonder if Sarah Palin is delusional.  Could it be that she is just as delusional as the newly removed former Governor of Illinois, Rod Blagojevich, who seems not to have understood how wacky he came across as in the weeks since he was arrested on allegations that he was trying to sell the Senate seat of Barack Obama? 

What is it about politicians such as Blagojevich and Palin that they don’t get it?  That indeed, no one with any common sense has any desire to see them seeking power, that the message they put forth does not ring a bell in voters?  It is indeed sad that we cannot see a sense of reality in them.  Neither has any future worth considering.  Again, with Blagojevich gone, I plead with Sarah Palin–Please be gone!  :)

An Ocean of Blue Politically and the GOP Boycott of the Budget Bill

A new Gallup poll analysis of the 2008 election indicates a massive shift politically in America, with the nation becoming overwhelmingly blue or Democratic either in victory or in trend.

Only five states are strongly red or Republican, worth only 20 electoral votes. Those states are Utah, Wyoming, Idaho, Alaska and Nebraska.  It is very obvious that the Republican party is in crisis, and their upcoming decision on Friday as to their National Chairman will be a crucial indicator of where they are planning to go in the near future.

If the GOP follows the trend as it stands now, they will be in the wilderness for a long time, and although it is certainly unlikely, who can say that they will not become a disappearing party, to be replaced by a more viable alternative to the Democratic party.  With not one member of the GOP in the House backing the Obama budget bill in a moment of great economic crisis this evening, that could well be their swan song if they do not face reality.  Instead of playing politics and responding to Obama’s gesture of bipartisanship, the Republicans have shown a lack of leadership at a crucial moment!

The Senate in 2010 Elections: Likely Scenario

When one examines the US Senate, now 58 Democrats and 41 Republicans with Al Franken (D) likely taking over the Minnesota Senate seat after Norm Coleman has his day in court, it looks like a projection of the 2010 Senate races puts the Democrats in a very good situation.  It is likely that the Democrats will gain a few more seats in the next election with the news that four Republican Senators will retire–Kit Bond of Missouri, Sam Brownback of Kansas, Mel Martinez of Florida, and George Voinovich of Ohio. 

At the same time, the appointments of senators by the Governors of Illinois and New York may actually endanger Democratic control of those seats.  Neither Roland Burris nor Kristen Gillebrand will have an easy time winning over the likely challengers they will face in primaries in 2010, and that makes it possible that a strong Republican nominee might grab those seats.  Colorado’s new senator, Michael Bennet, seems likely also to have challengers in the primary, particularly because he has no political experience and was a surprise choice as well. 

So under the circumstances, while the Democrats should gain seats, there will be an element of uncertainty due to the gubernatorial appointments that came about due to the elevation of Barack Obama, Hillary Clinton and Ken Salazar to leadership of the Democratic national administration. Only more reason to pursue Senator Russ Feingold’s proposal of a constitutional amendment that would set up special elections for vacant Senate seats, taking that power away from state governors and putting it back in the hands of the people of the states.

Obama One Week Report

It has been one week since Barack Obama took the oath of office as President of the United States.

As one looks back on this week, what comes across is a great sense of change and activism on the part of the 44th President.  One wonders if Obama has had time to sleep.  He has so changed the political atmosphere in Washington and certainly cannot be accused of lack of action.

Obama has banned the use of controversial CIA interrogation tactics that included waterboarding, ordered the closure within one year of the US military prison camp at Guantonomo Bay, Cuba, and begun planning for the withdrawal of combat troops from Iraq.  He also has declared war on typical lobbying influence, promoted a massive economic stimulus plan estimated at $825 million , and has begun trying to rescind the last minute actions on rules and regulations put into place by former President George W. Bush.

It is obvious he is trying to repudiate and roll back the actions and policies of the last eight years under Bush and Cheney.  While always very cordial to Bush during the transition,  he is attempting to change as much as possible the trend of the Bush years.  He comes across as a transformational President who is anxious to also reshape the direction of our foreign policy by sending special envoys to the Middle East and to Pakistan and Afghanistan.  His interview with an Arab news media source makes clear that we want a new approach to the Islamic world, while at the same time, he makes clear his constant and continued support of Israel and his willingness to challenge Al Quaeda terrorism.  He is not caving in to terrorism but wishes to change the dialogue and end the name calling, so common to President Bush and Vice President Cheney, regarding the Islamic world.

He is making clear his backing of science and promotion of the environment, including a strong policy on global warming, and wishes to give various states, including California, the authority to demand higher mileage standards from the auto industry in the future.  He also has begun to promote a change on family planning subsidies that will promote abortion, indicates plans to change the "don’t ask, don’t tell"  policy toward gays in the military, and to promote transparency on policy making and making  many federal government records accessible to public scrutiny.

Barack Obama will be criticized for some of his initiatives, but he has certainly hit the ground running and has already made the office of the Presidency more influential and powerful by his broad policy pronouncements in just one week in office.  He is not afraid of controversy and it is obvious his First Hundred Days will probably match the level of action of Franklin D. Roosevelt in 1933.  Certainly, the next few months to May 1 will not be boring or unimaginative in any form!