Posts Tagged ‘Obama’

A Nowruz Message from President Obama (Iranian New Year)

March 20, 2009

I can’t help but agree with Ezra Klein of The American Prospect on this one:

There are times when it’s hard to believe that this is how my country acts now. That somewhere in government, some young bureaucrat had the idea that the President should publicly honor the Iranian New Year, and that bureaucrat felt that her superiors would also think this a good idea, and, indeed, the thought went all the way to the President, who agreed that a display of engagement and goodwill was consonant with our national values and foreign policy goals. It is hard to believe that five years after we were ordering “freedom fries” in the congressional cafeteria, we’re posting Persian translations at Whitehouse.gov.

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The inside story of why not a single House Republican supported the president’s stimulus package; and other related news.

February 1, 2009

This may be the only post for the day (I have GOT to focus on LSAT stuff till the test next Sat.; and, there’s a big bowl people are passing around tonight or something), save for a possible later post about incredibly silly (and perhaps cruel) pet gadgets.  The articles in TheDailyBeast and Nate Silver’s 538.com are really worth your attention, partic. Silver’s.

The Daily Beast explores some inside baseball on why the stimulus bill drew not a single GOP vote in the House:

It turned out that this estimate was 1,000 percent too high, because Emanuel’s go-for-the-big-win style, even when mixed with the president’s earnest charm, did not gain even one vote from the House GOP. The caucus held together like a stone wall when it came time to vote on the Democratic-authored $825 billion stimulus package—all 177 members joined 11 “Blue Dog” Democrats for the 244-188 final tally. How this was done explains the sudden and surprising new discipline of the Republican Party.

Joe Klein defends the spirit of bipartisanship:

Obama’s almost fetishistic pursuit of Republicans — two hours spent with the crabby minority at the Capitol! — is another attempt to deprive his enemies of a Great Satan. The President will make some Republican-oriented concessions, dropping some of the cheesier spending from the stimulus plan. He will get some GOP votes for his stimulus package, but more important, he is establishing himself as a relentlessly reasonable and polite presence in town — and his comity is making it all the more difficult for buffoons like Rush Limbaugh to influence the tone of the Republican opposition.

Time explains the spending from a Keynesian perspective:

— we all really do seem to be Keynesians now. Just about every expert agrees that pumping $1 trillion into a moribund economy will rev up the ethereal goods-and-services engine that Keynes called “aggregate demand” and stimulate at least some short-term activity, even if it is all wasted on money pits.

Political pollster and presidential campaign guru whizkid wunderkind Nate Silver offers some bleak prognostications for the future of the GOP.  Here he explains The Republican Death Spiral:

Most fundamentally of all, the McCain campaign radically overestimated the importance of appealing to the base. House Republicans may be replicating their mistake. Self-described conservative Republicans represent only about 20 percent of the population. This base is not necessarily becoming smaller; it’s still alive and kicking. What is true, however, is that the (1) base has never been sufficient to form a winning electoral coalition, and (2) that there are fewer and fewer non-base (e.g. moderates, libertarian Republicans, Republican leaning-independents). As these moderates have fled the GOP, the party’s electoral fortunes have tanked. But simultaneously, they have had less and less influence on the Republican message.
Thus the Republicans, arguably, are in something of a death spiral. The more conservative, partisan, and strident their message becomes, the more they alienate non-base Republicans. But the more they alienate non-base Republicans, the fewer of them are left to worry about appeasing. Thus, their message becomes continually more appealing to the base — but more conservative, partisan, and strident to the rest of us. And the process loops back upon itself.

not much more

Is 60 within reach??

January 30, 2009

The Obama administration has been floating the idea of naming Republican Sen. Judd Gregg (N.H.) to be Commerce Secretary. 

Politico does the math:

Democrats “are delighted because it could mean they gain a pivotal seat.” Asked “whether he’d ever been offered the Commerce job, Gregg told Politico: ‘I am not at liberty to discuss that.'” Politico adds that “a White House official would say only that Obama “has not made a decision” about the Commerce job.” New Hampshire Gov. John Lynch “is a Democrat. If Gregg were to leave and Lynch were to appoint a Democrat in his place — and if Al Franken wins in Minnesota — the Democratic Party would suddenly control 60 seats in the Senate.”

 I wonder how this will all pan out.  I imagine the GOP will try their hardest to get him to stay, preventing the 60-seat, filibuster-breakin’, magic number.  But like, this may be Gregg’s dream job.  I hope hope hope…

Of course, the identity-politics-pander-parade is doing their best to derail this fucking GIFT.

Black President, White Hands

January 29, 2009

This is pretty ridiculous.  Are there no black men in Utah?

Has Obama ended the “war on terror”?

January 28, 2009

 A MotherJones writer poses the question to Robert Gibbs:

At Robert Gibbs’ first briefing as White House press secretary on Thursday afternoon, I asked if the president had booted the war metaphor. Gibbs replied that Obama had used language that was consistent with his inaugural address. In that speech, Obama had indeed said that “our nation is at war, against a far-reaching network of violence and hatred.” But he did not use the standard “war on terror” phrase. Instead he threw the word “war” against a specific target.

He then offers a handy summation:

He’s obviously not allergic to the term. But it’s not the description he reaches for first when he publicly discusses the matter.

Foreign Policy isn’t buying it:

The war on terror has been the country’s defining national security narrative since 9/11, and politicians across the political spectrum have paid obeisance to it.

Further in, they display unusually high cynicism too:

MORE…

Good Collection of Inauguration Photos from all over

January 27, 2009

Some VERY cool inauguration pictures from here and abroad.  This one is, by far, my favorite. (Note, posted below is a slightly diff. image due to tech. issues, I refer to the version of this shot that’s in the link).  You can see Bush’s picture being replaced by Obama’s, at such an iconic symbol of our military and of our post-9/11 detention policies.  I absolutely love every time I see something that reminds me that these dudes, at Gitmo and elsewhere, see his name and his face with the title of “Commander in Chief”.  It just makes it so clear for them, in their own language.

Make sure you scroll all the way to the last pic too.

Twofer

January 26, 2009

You get a two-for-one today, Citizens.  The nature of these two links are such that I can’t present their juicy contents directly on this post, so you gotta hit up these links.

•It appears someone has leaked Bush’s note to Obama to the Huffington Post!  (HatTip: Jebediah)

•This is an awesome super-photo taken during the inauguration.  Actually,:

It’s made up of 220 images and the final image size is 59,783 X 24,658 pixels or 1,474 megapixels.

Ergo…you can zoom way the funk in and see that Clarence Thomas is sleeping (black pride!  wait, we’re talkin about Thomas. nevermind!) or see whatever else.  You really can zoom-in like a muthafucka and explore.

“I’m not saying I did.  I’m just sayin’…” -Bush

Caption Contest!!

January 24, 2009

Write a caption for SamuraiBama.  Winner announced Monday morning.

Gawker fucks with your head

January 24, 2009

Gawker has a 5-panel picture set showing the morphing of Bush into Obama.  It appears Industrial Light and Magic is the brains behind the morph, but leave it to gawker to make life livable.  They earned the post with this line:

This is your “soul-melting funny foto of the week,” a terrifying morph from dumb old George W. Chimpy McHilter to President Hopey Hussein.

bush-hussein-obama

They are also correct in highlighting the third shot:

Look at the middle one and feel all the joy sucked from your life! Enjoy your weekend! That face will haunt it!

It’s like killing a unicorn.  (hit this link  or at the top for a bigger pic)

Stanley Fish on the prosaic power of the Inaugural Address

January 24, 2009

Stanely Fish of NYT takes a second look at Obama’s Inaugural Address and makes a case for it being far more powerful when read than when heard.  In a generally positive review, he argues that the speech was packed with contemplative nuggets that beg closer examination:

Of course, as something heard rather than viewed, the speech provides no spaces for contemplation. We have barely taken in a small rhetorical flourish like “All this we can do. All this we will do” before it disappears in the rear-view mirror. But if we regard the text as an object rather than as a performance in time, it becomes possible (and rewarding) to do what the pundits are doing: linger over each alliteration, parse each emphasis, tease out each implication.

Foxman and others on the Israeli Right don’t want fairness.

January 22, 2009

I’m not even joking.  That’s essentially their criticism. From Walt at ForeignPolicy:

The New York Times reports that President Obama will appoint former Senator George Mitchell as his chief envoy on Israel-Palestine. According to Jewish Week, ADL national director Abraham Foxman thinks Mitchell is an inappropriate choice because he is “fair,” and has been “meticulously even-handed.” As Matt Yglesias points out, fairness is a quality that we normally prize in an envoy.

But because the US hasn’t been fair in the past, Foxman is “concerned.  I’m not sure the situation requires that kind of approach in the Middle East.”

WOW.  Do most Americans think we shouldn’t use envoys and negotiators who are fair?  Does anyone else think that our one-sided support of Israel isn’t helping the situation (and possibly isn’t helping the US end extremism in the region)?  The last paragraph from JW about sums it up:

Major pro-Israel groups “tend to favor the kind of mediator with the least prospects of success,” said MJ Rosenberg, a longtime pro-Israel activist and policy director for the Israel Policy Forum (IPF). “George Mitchell worries them because he was so successful in Northern Ireland, a success that was built on his persistence and his utterly impartiality … and a deal means Israeli concessions which they have never favored.  The stronger the candidate for envoy or mediator — the more of an honest broker he or she would be — the more uncomfortable they are.”

Yglesias adds another point that I agree with:

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Swearing-in Do-over

January 22, 2009

President Obama and Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts met again to give the ‘ole presidential oath another try.  Statement from White House Counsel Greg Craig:

“We believe that the oath of office was administered effectively and that the President was sworn in appropriately yesterday. But the oath appears in the Constitution itself. And out of an abundance of caution, because there was one word out of sequence, Chief Justice Roberts administered the oath a second time.”

I think this was probably a good idea, generally speaking, but I definitely think this would have been much better had he retaken the oath before issuing any Presidential Executive Orders.  As it stands now, I do see a potential window down the road for challenges to the legality of those orders issued before the full and proper oath was taken.  I do understand that one reading of the Constitution allows that the President-Elect becomes the President-in-fact at 12 Noon regardless of the oath, as many commentators mentioned during the inauguration.  However, the Constitution does specifically prescribe the oath that the President-Elect must take, and the interpretation that views the oath-taking as critical to becoming the president is certainly supported by Obama’s decision to retake the oath (to get it exactly as the Constitution requires, thus, legitimizing the actual oath as the (or “a”) threshold for becoming president).

Overall, I do think it was wise of them.  Maybe they didn’t want to make a big issue of it at the time, and decided later (perhaps after some constitutional scholars weighed-in on the (full and proper) oath’s importance) to just retake it as soon as possible and end any ambiguity.  All I’m saying is that they have only ended any ambiguity from the retake onward.  Any presidential action done before that could still be argued as being invalid—if you interpret the Constitution as requiring the proper oath to become Pres, not just 12 Noon passing (a view Obama apparently shares, given the retake).

(HatTip: Politico)

Inaugural Address: transcript and commentary

January 21, 2009

Here is the transcript.

And here is NYT’s analysis of the speech: Speech Spanned History, but Confronted Bush

I, too, found it notable that he painted his presidency as a function of Bush’s—that he defined himself or his upcoming term as an end to the previous leadership.  I really think there would not have been an Obama now were it not for Bush.  I doubt Obama’s higher-minded politics would have taken hold to the extent that they did were it not for the very fertile ground in the minds of voters  for such a politics (Rove used division with such effectiveness and such nastiness, to such national detriment, that running as Obama did was received as far less naive and idealistic than it probably would’ve been otherwise).  Similarly, had it not been for the severity of the damage caused by Bush (and the vulgar demographic homogeneity of the GOP), I doubt the country would have been this willing to support a such newcomer with bold promises of nebulous change (not to mention, the little thing about his race).

Overall, I was quite pleased with it.  He had some wonderful lines, artistically speaking (“know that you are on the wrong side of history, but that we will extend a hand if you are willing to unclench your fist”), and some very important lines, politically speaking (speaking directly to Muslims without bluster, including “nonbelievers” like me in his America).  It also made sure to lock into history that he inherited much of this mess, and to steer his supporters’ enthusiasm into a recognition of the challenges we all  must embrace.

For the curious, astute, or media-weary Citizens…follow me

THEY WILL OPINE

January 20, 2009

WSJ offers a stinging welcome to our new president with its editorial: The Opacity of Hope

On a much more optimistic note, Brooks puts together an excellent essay on the Politics of Cohesion.  He explores what Francis Fukuyama called The Great Disruption, the period that began in the 60s and consisted of much upheaval and a reexamination of the old institutions and norms.  He explains it far too well for me to continue-on in his stead, but his description of Obama, as someone who can finally usher in the end of Disruption, is worth getting in before the jump:

Obama aims to realize the end-of-ideology politics that Daniel Bell and others glimpsed in the early 1960s. He sees himself as a pragmatist, an empiricist. Politics is not personal with him. He does not turn political disagreements into a status contest between one kind of person and another. He is convinced that most Americans practice their politics between the 40-yard lines.

I ❤ Obama

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Obama & historical significance

January 17, 2009

As much as I want to fight back my emotional response to this AP article, I think it’s important for our generation to remain (or become) conscious of the extent to which racial division and animosity was prevalent in our society just 50 or 60 years ago, as this article mentions.  But things were bad even more recently: the first half of the book Nixonland (regretably, ‘half’ is as far as I got before the spector of the LSAT loomed) totally opened my eyes to race riots in Watts, California and the on-the-fly deputization of white male citizens to shoot any black male on the street during the riots in Detroit—both in the 60s, a mere 40 years ago.

How Obama is changing the Democrats

January 17, 2009

This is a cool article I read from New York Magazine about how Obama is very much an Independent, both impressive and alarming to different groups on both the right and the left.  Due to his renown use of the Internet to create a grass-roots following of his own, Obama is the rare president who can slightly circumvent Congress and get his supporters, who are also someone’s Congressional constituent, to apply pressure on Capital Hill to support Obama’s proposals.

The article explains it pretty well, but it is going to be exciting to see how Obama’s operation meshes with the DNC and whether there’ll be friction.  Or, my hope, that the DNC will be defined by Obama’s new style and this will serve as a general realignment or redefinition of the Democratic party—-into something far more pragmatic (while still progressive) and contemporary.  ♦Here are some excerpts♦

With the selection last week of Obama’s friend, Virginia governor Tim Kaine, to chair the party, the question has more or less been answered: Much of the campaign’s grassroots operation, I’m told, will reside at the DNC. What Obama is wagering is that, with some clever branding (read camouflage), the fealty of his non-Democratic followers to him personally will overcome whatever nausea they experience owing to the partisan affiliation. And though the move has been interpreted as a sign of Obama’s empowering the DNC by having it absorb the network, I suspect that the opposite may happen. The Obama network—with its greater resources and zeal—may effectively absorb the party.

In the shorter term, it’s clear what Obama intends to do with his new machine: put it to work lobbying on behalf of his legislative agenda. Around the country, countless Obamaphiles are itching to pummel Capitol Hill with e-mail or show up at congressional town meetings. Presidents often attempt to go over the heads of Congress to the voters, but never before has one directly enlisted them to pressure their elected representatives, especially those of his own party. “Obama and his political operation have assets that no president has ever had before,” says Micah Sifry, co-founder of the Personal Democracy Forum. “We have no previous model for this—it’s completely new.”

(sorry this is post is turning into a long one…I just couldn’t bring myself scrap this last excerpt.  get your scroll on)

For Obama, the implications of this extraordinary degree of political security are enormous. It frees him from kowtowing to either the left or the right, to set about redefining the party in his own terms. Hardly anyone doubts that the moment for such a recasting is at hand—though they tend to imagine the future simply as an updated version of the past….“It’s 2009, and what Obama has done is create a redirect of the entire political culture—new media, new demographics, new electoral map, a whole new set of governing challenges that will be the basis of the next 20 or 30 years. He’s gonna be a critical piece of that arc. And it’s not a restoration. It’s a period of reinvention.”

Unless, of course, it isn’t. No great feat of imagination is needed to see how the whole project could end in tears. The stimulus fails. Things continue to fall apart. A new Great Depression ensues. And Obama is blamed and soon enough finds himself out on the speaking circuit with pal (ahem) Bill Clinton.

Update: NYT examines some poll results that suggest optimism and good news for Obama: Americans are “prepared to give him years to deal with the crush of problems he faces starting Tuesday”