Monday, December 22, 2008
Following that, there was the recent reporting (which I covered here and here at The Paradox) that Chris Matthews was using a possible Senate run as a bargaining chip in his contract negotiations with MSNBC. Matthews ended up renewing his contract last week, which I neglected to report because at the moment the Christmas miracle of SNOW in Las Vegas was trumping all political thought or reason in my brain, but the discussion surrounding the possibility of Matthews leaving MSNBC was causing some consternation around the network. So, back to my original thought, is all the infighting catching up to Keith and Rachel, who share an agent and who have always gotten on so well? Or has Keith stopped throwing to Rachel simply because her ratings are now such that she doesn't need the throw anymore? Am I reading too much into what I'm calling Keith's slight of my hero, Rachel Maddow? Input is welcome.
P.S. I blogged about this seemingly unimportant topic to distract myself from all the depressing news of the day. When I have sufficiently collected my thoughts I might go back to those depressing topics, but for now, this is what my psyche can handle.
Thursday, December 18, 2008
and this from the LV Review Journal. Keep in mind that the Luxor is black in color...
And this is what it looked like on my way home from work (but this is lifted from the RJ as well):
I want to point out that I grew up in Sault Ste. Marie, MI (EUP What what!??) where there is snow regularly 9 months per year and an average yearly snowfall of 128 inches (and up to 209 inches) and went to college in Chicago (about 38 inches/year) - both of these experiences should have ingrained in me NOT to get excited about snow. But just bear with me... this is Vegas! This was a historic weather moment! It was on the national news! And I was here for it!
Soooo this is a politics blog, right? I think my point at the beginning of all this was that despite what the big news is, my focus is on... no, not the snow actually... Al Franken! With an apparant projected lead of only 89 votes (and an actual deficit of exactly 5 votes to Norm Coleman), the Minneapolis Star Tribune is reporting that Mr. Franken will be "vaulted" to a win over Coleman. This came about because the Minnesota Supreme Court today "rejected an attempt by incumbent Norm Coleman to block the state Canvassing Board from counting improperly rejected absentee ballots." There are 1600 ballots involved in this ruling, and the decision requires both campaigns to set a uniform standard for how the improperly rejected ballots should be counted. And through the hoodoo voodoo mumbo jumbo that is vote projection, this ruling means that Franken has more than a fighting chance. I say YAY because well, I love me the Dems, and also because Franken is funny and cool and wrote this sketch for SNL, which was awesome:
So, with this turn of events, we (might) get another progressive vote in the Senate. Hip hip hooray! I'm not calling the race or anything, but I really didn't think it would take this turn. So... snow in Sin City, and an SNL writer in the Senate... hell frozen over? ;-)
Tuesday, December 16, 2008
There are all kinds of things to think about this - my first thought was, "holy crap, President Bush has mad reflexes!!!" Many others had this thought!
I thought I would try to compile much of the silliness that has sprung up all over in video and .gif form regarding this shoe throwing fiasco!
Who Throws a Shoe?
The really sad thing about all this is that there are some reports that the shoe-throwing reporter has been beaten while in custody. It is only just that the reporter would face some type of punishment - as funny as the whole thing was, it's also terribly disrespectful, and I want you to think about what would be done in this country (which has a very humane domestic justice system, I'd like to point out) if someone threw a shoe at a foreign leader during a press conference. Even if it were someone we don't like very much. Let's say... Hugo Chavez? That shoe-thrower would be taken down and taken into custody before you can say "you fight like a woman!" and while he most likely would not face anything like life in prison, he would definitely face some type of punishment. All that said... he certainly would not be beaten in custody (i hope). This reporter reportedly has "a broken arm, broken ribs, and internal bleeding." These reports are denied by the Iraqi military. Muntadar al-Zaidi has become something of a hero in Iraq these last few days, and his press union is asking for clemency for his crime (of insulting a foreign leader and disrespecting the Iraqi leader, who was standing next to Mr. Bush). I don't condone throwing shit at people... but hell, the man made his point, no one was hurt, and it caused endless creative products to be born on the internet! I hope his punishment is minimal and that the reports of beatings turn out to be false.
And now, you too can throw a shoe!
Update: Yep, i think our domestic justice system is humane. (I don't think it's especially well functioning or effective in reducing recidivism. But humane, yes). My views on what we do to those we detain outside our borders is another matter altogether, as pointed out in the comments section. Just wanted to make sure we're clear here...
Wednesday, December 10, 2008
Tuesday, December 9, 2008
I'll start by saying that Chicago is my second home, I went to school at Loyola, and when I worked for Senator Richard Durbin in the summer of 2005, I indirectly did work for many Illinois Democrats, including Barack Obama, but not so much for G-Rod (old nickname for the governor). I was registered to vote in the state of Illinois. I never had the opportunity to vote for Blagojevich based on his re-election schedule (he was first elected to office during my first year in Chicago and I lived there 4 years), though I'm sure I would have at the time, based on political allegiances... tho I always found G-Rod a little shady. And look here what I dug up... Summer 2005:
Yep, there I am, 3 years younger, 20 (30?) pounds heavier, smiling like a goofball with my corrupt asshole of a governor. Why am I showing you this? Well, it's already out there and I figure I better get it out there again now and explain it before I'm running for office in 15 years and someone digs it up and says this was 3 years later than it really was or that I was somehow in the mix with this yahoo.
Okay in case you didn't see the news today, I should explain. G-Rod was taken into Federal custody this morning and is accused of conspiring to sell or trade Barack Obama's Senate seat to the highest bidder! How low can you get?? I'm sickened. Let's leave the corruption to the Republicans, shall we?
And something else... not only "how low and slimy can you get?" but "how dumb can you be???" This is a guy who yesterday said he's got "nothin but sunshine over [him]," and invited wiretapping on his phones! Well the ubiguitous "they" called his bluff, listened to his calls, and lo and behold he found himself in custody this morning. Derrr...
Nobody with those beady little eyes and that much hair should be trusted, I think.
(above lawlpicture compliments of the OMG TOO SOON blog specifically Noctolator - stealing w/out crediting is for loozers)
Monday, December 8, 2008
As many of you know (and if you don't, you can read my feelings here), I have long been frustrated with the perception that we in the military suffer from political groupthink. I have been equally frustrated that many actually do seem to suffer from that affliction. And I have been most frustrated by the fact that many in the Republican party claim to be the best representation of service members and veterans, while they simultaneously continue to cut benefits, redefine combat injuries (to exclude roadside bombs and landmines!) and refuse to grant benefits to treat post-traumatic stress disorder, more often than not calling it a prior condition. And these are the people who are supposed to be the party of the military? Give me a break. So, if these things don't make you angry enough, let me remind you of General Eric Shinseki, who was fired by President Bush and ridiculed by Secretary Rumsfeld after telling Congress in 2003 that it would take "on the order of several hundred thousand soldiers," to occupy Iraq, because "we're talking about post-hostilities control over a piece of geography that's fairly significant with the kinds of ethnic tensions that could lead to other problems." Does this sound like a wise prediction to anyone else? Maybe that's because that is exactly the situation we have found ourselves in. The man made a measured, analytical, well-informed decision, and was then rewarded for his candor by losing his job. Well, guess what dear readers... our President-Elect has remedied the situation by appointing General Shinseki as the Secretary of Veterans' Affairs. Or I should say he has begun to remedy the situation. This particular situation will take a while to remedy. One of General Shinseki's first orders of business will be to re-redefined "combat injuries" to include COMBAT INJURIES like roadside bombs and landmines. The absolute ludicrous nature of the fact that somehow such injuries could be excluded (and thereby denied benefits) astounds me. Even worse are those who have been told they had a case of pre-existing depression or paranoia and thus cannot be treated for PTSD. PTSD is terrifying not just for the afflicted warrior but also, and I might say especially, for the friends and family of that person. Imagine having your husband return home after six months, a year, fifteen months if he's Army, and not knowing him anymore. Seeing him twitch at loud noises. Watching him lay awake at night and ultimately just give up on trying to sleep. Maybe even reaching for a weapon or resorting to violence at the slightest provocation. I'm not making these things up, they are classic symptoms of PTSD and I have seen them firsthand. Now imagine the VA telling you that you'll just have to deal with your husband's newfound craziness (at personal risk to you, I might add), because he probably just had a pre-existing condition. This makes me absolutely sick. With Shinseki at the helm, my deepest hope is that these labeling errors will be resolved, resulting in the best care we can possibly provide to our military members and families.
Arianna Huffington has an excellent post on the topic of General Shinseki's appointment in which she discusses Obama's propensity for rewarding those who "got it right," (Shinseki) rather than promoting and rewarding those who got it wrong (Rumsfeld, Brown of FEMA, etc). Here's to 8 years of getting it right.
Thursday, December 4, 2008
To answer Emily's question, Chris Matthews is actually a Redskins fan, according to an interview with Philadelphia Magazine last year - tho it does appear that if he were to choose between the Steelers and the Eagles, he would pick the Eagles. What do you expect though, he is from Philly. Can't blame the guy. His heart belongs to the Philadelphia Phillies, of course.
Why am I talking about Chris again today? Because there's new Chris news! He has apparantly already chosen a home in Philadelphia to establish residency in the state. MSNBC has advised him that if he truly intends to run for the Senate, he should step down from his show soon rather than when his contract is up in June. Some think he's just using it as a bargaining chip for his upcoming contract negotiations. My advice to you, Mr. Matthews, is to just go ahead and run, don't press your luck with MSNBC - After all the controversy after the Republican National Convention regarding Matthews and the appearance the MSNBC (and NBC more broadly) was "in the tank" for the Dems, MSNBC doesn't have a whole lot of incentive to keep him around. I'm a good liberal and even I can see pretty clearly that MSNBC is a pretty darn left leaning news channel - not that that's all they've got. David Gregory, Joe Scarborough, David Schuster, Chuck Todd - all relatively moderate, unbiased reporters. But then you've got the 3 hours every night of Chris, Keith, and Rachel - big delicious gulps of righteous indignation, and biting progressive wit. Of course their shows are not billed as "the news" but rather are personality driven programs with clear motivations. They don't front.
In other news, the Iraqi government under Prime Minister Maliki has passed a new agreement that requires U.S. troops to be out by Jan 1, 2012. It warms my heart to know there's an end... it would warm my heart more if the agreement said 2011... or 2010... That's all I will say about that.
Wednesday, December 3, 2008
Tuesday, December 2, 2008
Despite my prediction that the Meet the Press moderator position would go to MSNBC's political director Chuck Todd, the powers that be have ignored me and given the position to MSNBC's David Gregory. Of course, this isn't official yet... but all the bloggers are saying it. I don't even know why traditional media exists anymore! P.S. I like Gregory - very even, a good choice for moderator.
Now, to be fair, Matthews has strongly denied that he is thinking about a run, much less hiring campaign staffers as fivethirtyeight initially reported on Friday. FiveThirtyEight's sources say different. Matthews's contract with MSNBC is up in June with no talk of renegotiations just yet, and why shouldn't he look forward to a 2010 run? He would be up against Arlen Specter, a 78 year old man (who will be 80 during the election) who has been in office since 1980. He is relatively moderate as Republicans go, and his Wiki page claims that he "has a higher approval rating among registered Democrats in Pennsylvania than Republicans (though the difference is within the margin of error)." So, what's my problem with this particular Republican that makes me wish him to be unseated by Mr. Matthews? Well - I don't really have one. But how much fun would it be to watch Chris Matthews campaign and talk about shivers up his leg and tingles down his spine and all the other sexual imagery you can think of in reference to politics, and while he's at it, the Philadelphia Phillies, while trying to get elected? Plus maybe he'd accidentally grab some more boobies on talk shows during the campaign, which would provide months of hilarity.
There's also the fact that I think Chris Matthews is a really good man with a really good heart. I would sincerely miss his show, which is far more entertaining and less self-important than Keith (but less witty and intellectual than Rachel), but I'm holding out hope for a Matthews campaign!
Monday, December 1, 2008
A couple months ago, while speaking to the press, Mr. Bush said something along the lines of, "Thank goodness I won't be around next year, but you suckers will be." (That is NOT the exact quote, but I can't find it anywhere. That's the gist of it though!) The point is that this guy is ready to go. He has been extraordinarily cooperative with Obama's transition team, to his credit. There are no reports of shenanigans (like when President Clinton's staffers removed the W's from all the White House keyboards... heh...) in the handover. Our current president seems determined to provide a dignified, professional, and thoroughly thought out transition to our next president. Kudos for that, Mr. Bush. However, since there's only so much longer we can revel in your terrible inadequacy, here are the 5 Best Bushisms of 2008!
5) "Thank you, your Holiness. Awesome speech!" --to Pope Benedict after he spoke at the White House, Washington, D.C., April 15, 2008
4) "Wait a minute. What did you just say? You're predicting $4-a-gallon gas? ... That's interesting. I hadn't heard that." --at a news conference, Washington, D.C., Feb. 28, 2008
3) "And so, General, I want to thank you for your service. And I appreciate the fact that you really snatched defeat out of the jaws of those who are trying to defeat us in Iraq." --to Army Gen. Ray Odierno, Washington, D.C., March 3, 2008
2) "Goodbye from the world's biggest polluter." --in parting words to British Prime Minister Gordon Brown and French President Nicolas Sarkozy at his final G-8 Summit, punching the air and grinning widely as the two leaders looked on in shock, Rusutsu, Japan, July 10, 2008
1) "I'll be long gone before some smart person ever figures out what happened inside this Oval Office." --Washington, D.C., May 12, 2008
Monday, November 24, 2008
Saturday, November 22, 2008
I had to make a note, after my own weeks of speculation, that it's all but official that Geithner will soon be named Treasury Secretary while Cuddly Bear Richardson will be Commerce Secretary. It also looks (but lets not count our chickens...) like the appointment of Obama's economic team might do something to calm the markets. I'll believe that when my Roth IRA is worth at least 75% of what I've put into it... (grumble...wasting my retirement fund in the stupid stock market... shoulda put it under a mattress... grumble)
Time to fight Obama's push for college football playoff
- Rick Morrissey | In the wake of the news
- November 21, 2008
The enemy has brought out the big gun.
Those of us who don't want to see a playoff in college football now have to stand by and take our lumps while President-elect Barack Obama practically calls the Bowl Championship Series anti-American.
(By the way, clip and save for your grandchildren; this is a special Obama keepsake column.)
The president-elect's decision to confront one of the true pressing issues of our time has emboldened proponents of a playoff format, including many media members, to speak out passionately on the subject. There hasn't been this much indignation among sports columnists since plaid sports coats were declared out of style.
"If you've got a bunch of teams who play throughout the season, and many of them have one loss or two losses, there's no clear, decisive winner," Obama said recently on " 60 Minutes." "We should be creating a playoff system."
Yes, the Big Guy-in-Waiting used the occasion of his first interview since winning the presidential election to talk about the absence of a college football playoff system. A TV audience of 24 million heard him say he wants an eight-team playoff. We APers (anti-playoffers), a small, awkwardly named group, don't.
"It would add three weeks to the season," Obama said. "You could trim back on the regular season. I don't know any serious fan of college football who has disagreed with me. So I'm going to throw my weight around a little bit. I think it's the right thing to do."
Did you pick up on the way he relegated us APers to the margins? It's sneaky logic: Serious football fans want a playoff. Therefore, anyone not in favor of a playoff should stop thinking of himself as a serious fan.
The argument we hear most—that college football is the only sport that doesn't have a playoff—is the best argument for keeping things the way they are. What's wrong with being unique? Why do people want college football to be like everything else?
From late August into January, the country turns into a glorious mess of civil discussions and unruly arguments. College football isn't about consensus building. You say Alabama absolutely should be No. 1? I say Texas Tech and its amped-up offense deserves the top spot. I also say your sister is so ugly that when she was born, they put tinted windows on the incubator. But that's just me not knowing when to stop.
In almost any other sport, you can't remember who finished second. You can in college football because the second-ranked team is almost always so honked off it makes a huge racket. I like that. I like tumult and debate and human error.
You say 11-0 Ball State should have a chance to prove it's among the best teams in the nation. I say the Cardinals should count their lucky stars there isn't a playoff. Ball State, ranked 17th in the BCS standings, wouldn't make a 16-team playoff if it started today.
If Obama's eight-team plan were in effect, undefeated Boise State would not get to take part in a playoff this season. The Broncos are ranked ninth in the current BCS standings.
Somebody—lots of somebodies—will be unhappy with any system. Under the current BCS setup, almost everyone has the opportunity to be unhappy. There's equal-opportunity unhappiness. It's a lot more fun this way.
And there's always this: Every regular-season game means something. You lose a game, there's a decent chance you've lost the opportunity to play for the national championship. Moral of the story: Don't lose.
We APers have to stick together and stay strong. We're surrounded on all sides by people who are desperate for change. I tried to contact Big Ten Commissioner Jim Delany and Atlantic Coast Conference Commissioner John Swofford, both of whom are big backers of the BCS format. A spokesman said Delany believes he has said all he wants to say on the topic, and Swofford didn't return a call.
Fellas, this is not the time to let down your guard. The future president of the United States has vowed to turn college football into the NFL.
This is a time for vigilance, for protecting a unique format, for speaking out. Despite all the computers, statistics and rankings, the current setup says we're human. We're flawed. But it also says we have a sense of humor. Sit back and laugh at the chaos.
For those of who like the system as it is, the good news is that ESPN just signed a contract to televise BCS games from 2011 through 2014.
Mr. Obama, a college playoff system is a change we don't need, but I can see you're unwilling to budge. I wonder what Vladimir Putin thinks about this.
Heh... tinted windows FTW
Friday, November 21, 2008
Word has it that before the interview the reporter asked if Palin wanted to move so there wouldn't be a slaughter going on in the background and Palin was just fine where she was... mostly i just think the whole thing is funny. It's not like there's blood or giblets spraying everywhere, but that would be a GREAT idea for an SNL parody this week!
Thursday, November 20, 2008
Also, Chris Matthews's return to Ellen was today. He came out with his hands up and didn't attempt to dance this time. Ellen thanked him for being a good sport and called him "a really good man." Watch the segment here!
Tuesday, November 18, 2008
Today, in preparation for Matthews's return to her show Thursday, Ellen practiced some self-defense moves just in case he gets frisky again. This link will take you to the article and video (the player is fancy and I can't embed it).
I'm sure his appearance Thursday will be memorable!
Plenty of breaking news tonight - Senator Ted Stevens of Alaska has officially been defeated by Anchorage Mayor Mark Begich (by about 3,700 votes...) how weird is it that Alaskans would even almost vote in a convicted felon, nevermind a 7-count convicted felon? You can't vote, Mr. Stevens, but even you can be Senator!!! Except, not anymore.
Next, President-Elect Obama has selected former Clinton administration deputy attorney general Eric Holder as Attorney General. Holder is the first African American to lead the justice department. All these Clinton appointments leave the liberal blogosphere asking "what kind of change is this?" I will go back to my argument for Rahmbo (sigh..): Were 8 years of peace and prosperity under Bill Clinton too easy for you? I suspect that Mr. Obama will use these appointees' strengths and knowledge of the White House (as a government entity) to combat naysayers' issue that he is too inexperienced. I also suspect that Mr. Obama is smart and strong-willed enough to both listen to his political appointees and value their knowledge, as well as to hold his own and go head to head with them on issues. I should point out that he is repeatedly picking people who absolutely will go head to head with him. These are not yes-men and women. It really will be a team of rivals, as keeps being mentioned by the talking heads.
Next, apparently everyone doodles, including presidential and vice-presidential candidates. What do Obama's and Palin's doodles say about them? His are "economical" while hers "look like a teenager's writing." Are we entirely surprised? Should we also be wary of the doodle-analyst's political bent? Should we also just be wary of a doodle-analyst in general? Seriously, can one make a living that way? I definitely need to change careers.
Finally, on the Hillary front - everybody says she's been offered the position. The word is that it's Bill's (possibly) shady financial dealings which are holding up the actual appointment. And the new word from sources close to her is that Hillary might reject the offer anyway (according to Politico.) "She is still weighing this, independent of President Clinton's work" the source said, indicating that press reporting of HRC's willingness to accept the appointment as soon as Bill's vetting is done is inaccurate. Know what it sounds like to me? Sounds like she's completely willing and ready to accept the job. Of course she's "weighing it" - if Obama decides not to appoint her based on her husband's business ventures, she's got an out... she didn't want the job in the first place! I did the same thing at 8 years old when my mean big brothers would change the channel from Nickelodeon to MTV... "Good, i didn't want to watch that dumb kid stuff anyway" - I was just deciding what to watch next ;-)
Monday, November 17, 2008
Sunday, November 16, 2008
Note: You'll need to start at the bottom of this post to read the updates in order!
7:53: Yep, all done. Can't help but notice that the interview spent 23 minutes straight on policy and cabinet questions, and the next 30 on what I might call fluff. I think the real purpose of this interview was to get America acquainted with the Obamas as a family, since we've heard nothing but policy and campaign promises for the last 2 years, and we're a little sick of it at this point. It might have been nice to get another cabinet announcement, but otherwise, i'm satisfied. I love seeing Barack and Michelle together. Thanks for following along, if you did, and if not, thanks for taking the time to read through my first live blog!
7:50: Another commercial break! I think that means the interview is over...
7:49: And we're back to the potential of a college football playoff. Barack says he'll throw his weight around and get one... He's mostly joking, but who knows? If we can go to the moon, we can surely have 1 College Football champion per year in this country, right?
7:48: Barack makes the same observation i just made below about the order of the questions!
7:47: Also funny that the question of the mother-in-law moving in comes after the question about the dog moving in...
7:46: The dog question! The deal is that the dog isn't coming to the White House until the family is settled in... but how funny is it that there's some weird obsession in America with the dog?
7:41: Commercial break. Stretching fingers.
7:39: Steve asks Barack how Michelle will leave her imprint as First Lady - why didn't he ask her directly? Michelle is artful and tactful "women can do more than one thing well." She talks about military families (w00t!), making an impact in the D.C. area, etc.
7:37: They note that life has calmed down since the election, but Barack seems miffed that he can't take a walk on his own, or take his wife on a walk, or even go to the barber - he has to have his barber come to an "undisclosed location" to cut his hair. Miffed might be the wrong word... I might say sad.
7:36: I love that he keeps looking to his wife when he discusses the girls. These two are a real unit.
7:33: How was the visit to the White House? What did you talk about? Michelle tries to picture her kids running around with the as-yet-unadopted dog... the notion of sleepovers in the White House is brought up by Barack himself. Lucky little girls...
7:32: AWWWW... Barack and Michelle are quite possibly the cutest married couple I've ever seen. Talking about Harold's chicken shack and his old crappy car... i want to be their best friend...
7:26: Michelle joins Barack in the interview. She talks about how unbelievable it was when the results came in that her husband had been elected, and her pride in the country we live in to have affected this historic moment. This is a fun part of the interview... discussing the emotions of election night, Barack and Michelle's as well as those of the entire country. I'm glad Steve chose to ask these questions... "what was the conversation like the next morning at the breakfast table?" It reminds us how real these people are.
7:23: Finally, a commercial. I'm exhausted!
7:22: Every great president has had the ability to explain to the American people what is going on, what his plans are... he mentions FDR, JFK. This is something that has been lacking in recent years. Either because of super-secrecy, or because the president wasn't entirely sure himself...
7:17: Steve tries to get some cabinet announcements, including the Clinton question! Guess what answer he gets... "You're not getting anything out of me." He does affirm that there will definitely be Republicans in the cabinet, though.
7:16: Close to my heart: When will you begin redeployments out of Iraq? Obama's answer, paraphrased: The minute I take office, we will establish a plan and start drawing down our troops. And p.s. the situation in Afghanistan is so bad that we need to refocus there.
7:15: Can I just take a moment to discuss how utterly lovely it is to have an articulate president? This man doesn't dance around any questions - he is straightforward and knowledgeable. And as Seth Myers told us last night on SNL: "It's official... for the next 4 years, it's pronouced NU-CLE-AR" --- praise the Lord.
7:12: Ah the magic of editing... next shot panned out shows no sign of the big red arrow...
7:11: hahaha... camera pans out and Obama's red tie is hanging out the bottom of his buttoned black suit, it's a little too long so it reminds me of one of those shirts from the late 90's with the arrow pointing down proclaiming "Tickle THIS Elmo!"
7:10: The question that keeps coming up... is this year a parallel to 1932? Obama states that what we are going through is not nearly as bad as that... we do not have a 25% unemployment rate, for example.
7:05: The president-elect notes that there are a lot more people hovering around him since the big win, but it's nice to be home in his own bed. No kidding on the extra security details and people in general around him. Chicago, despite its deep love for Mr. Obama, is griping loudly about the traffic jams his security detail causes in the Loop, and the strain on Chicago police officers to work the detail.
7:00: the first look at the interview - there's that winning smile. And they replay that walk onto the stage on election night where Michelle was wearing that loud dress... she's gorgeous, anyway.
6:59 p.m.: Live blogging the Obama-60 Minutes interview begins in 1 minute!
Tonight, our President-Elect will appear on 60 Minutes. My thoughts on that afterwards. (Yeah, i know it's already aired on the east coast... I love the weather out here but it sucks being 3 hours behind on everything!)
And finally, know how much I love Rahmbo? Here's a Rahmbo Fact Generator sent to me by John. The difference between Rahm facts and Chuck Norris facts? Rahm facts are 100% true! Just keep hitting refresh for new facts :-)
Friday, November 14, 2008
Wednesday, November 12, 2008
"Rahmbonics" Making a Comeback
Newly coined Obama chief of staff Rahm Emanuel was on his best behavior during his Sunday show debut this weekend – measured, calm, bi-partisan.
But when it came to the notorious ability of the Illinois political street fighter to mangle the English language – well, let’s just say Rahm hit a touchdown.
Friends and colleagues – particularly in the Clinton White House - have dubbed this phenomenon “Rahmbonics” over the years and on “Face the Nation” and “This Week,” Emanuel engaged in a veritable festival of mixed metaphors.
The jumbling began during a discussion of how Washington leaders have put off dealing with energy issues since the oil crisis in 1974 and health care for nearly just as long.
"We had a crisis, we kicked it down the can," Emanuel explained to "Face the Nation" host Bob Schieffer.
"These are – just taking those two examples, these are crises you can no longer afford to kick down the can," he continued. "The crisis we have here, the American people know we have one and they are ready and willing to start to tackle those problems. You cannot afford now to kick those down the can any longer."
To which Schieffer simply replied, "All right," and moved on.
"Kicking the can down the road" has been a favorite metaphor politicians have used to describe someone who is postponing a decision or avoiding an issue.
But Emanuel's Yogi Berra-style translation of the phrase should come as no surprise to those who know him well. Speechwriters in the Clinton White House, where he was an aide, used to collect choice examples of "Rahmbonics" and post them on a bulletin board. Oftentimes they involved sports.
"He'd say something like you can't kick a field goal in the ninth inning," recalled Jake Siewert, a longtime friend as well as a former Clinton press secretary and longtime admirer of Emanuel’s verbal skills.
Shutting a revolving door was another Emanuel classic. He used the phrase in 1998 to explain a Clinton plan to require states to report illegal drug use among inmates before receiving federal money for prisons.
"We have to slam shut the revolving door between drugs and crime," he told The New York Times.
"We kept tabs on them,” said a former Clinton speechwriter who asked not to be named. “There was a certain kind of admiration in involved in this.”
The mix-ups that made it into newspapers, as opposed to those he blurted out in staff meetings, were the ones that intrigued Emanuel's White House colleagues the most.
Quoting Emanuel-style metaphors even became a game among some members of the Washington press corps.
"You figure if he's quoted in the newspaper he'd given it more thought," said Siewert, adding that Emanuel has a sense of humor about his way with words. "He's pretty well aware of it. I mean he thinks fast and talks fast."
Emanuel’s appearances last Sunday made clear his metaphor mixing is a treat the public will get more of in coming months.
Despite the disorienting image of "This Week" host George Stephanopoulos addressing his longtime friend and former Clinton White House colleague with the formal "Congressman Emanuel," Emanuel kept familiar when he attempted the "kicking the can down the road" line again in reference to energy, health care and economic crises.
"So this provides an opportunity to finally tackle the issues that for too long have been postponed, kicked down the road – kicked down the road, basically," he said.
He also suggested bridging the auto industry, when discussing government's role in helping country's struggling car manufacturers.
"President elect Obama has asked his economic team to look at different options of what it takes to help bridge the auto industry," he said. "So they are part of not only a revived economy but part of an energy policy going forward."
So, to sum Emanuel up: don’t expect an Obama administration to let the clock run out in the final quarter when the bases are loaded – even if the blitz of crises facing the country makes them want to kick the road down the can.
Tuesday, November 11, 2008
So as I was sitting here on my couch blogging, and enjoying my day off, it occurred to me that I am an ungrateful jerk for not saying something earlier: Happy Veterans Day everyone! As a friend noted to me this morning, "Hug a veteran today!" If you can't find one to hug, I recommend hopping on over to AmericaSupportsYou.mil to send a message to the troops, join a homefront group, or send a care package.
The bill at the state level: A) Eroded abortion rights by redefining the fetus at any stage a person, which ultimately makes abortion completely illegal - very very few dems would have voted for such a law- and here's the kicker - the law was B. Unneccessary because there was already an Illinois State law in place that explicitly protected babies born alive, (since 1975). I want to point out here that even the Illinois Medical Association opposed the law.
In Illinois, at the time, “Thirteen different bills relating to the rights of infants born alive as the result of a botched abortion were proposed during the 92nd (2001-2002) and 93rd (2003-2004) Illinois General Assemblies. See The Illinois Analogs to the Born-Alive Infants Protection Act. Five bills - 92-1095, 92-1662, 93-1082, 93-2631, and 93-2855 - were essentially copies of the federal Born-Alive Infants Protection Act of 2002 (BAIPA). However, only the fifth bill contained a “preservation clause”, (about how a person is defined, which solved problem A., above), similar to the federal BAIPA.”
“None of the bills in the 93rd assembly made it to a full Senate vote. Senate Bill 93-1083 (didn’t have the clause at first) never made it out of the Health & Human Services Committee, of which Obama was Chair. Senate Bills 93-2631 and 93-2855 (this last had the clause) never made it out of the Rules Committee, of which Obama was not a member.”
So he never had a chance to vote on any that were like the federal BAIPA on the Senate floor.
When the Senate bill 93-1083 went to the Health and Human Services committee which Obama chaired, it was amended to have the Federal “preservation clause”, but after discussion, the bill was killed by the majority of Dems-(6) to Rep-(4). Obama cast his, the 7th vote against, with the Dems. The Dems (and others) were still unsure about this bill, concerned how the 1975 law would be affected and other implications.
The bill did eventually pass in Illinois, in 2005, after much revision.
“The 2003 bill could have affected the way courts interpret the 1975 law, which Planned Parenthood and the Illinois State Medical Society contended could have far-reaching implications”, & “In 2005, Illinois lawmakers inserted an extra provision asserting that the law would not affect “existing federal or state law regarding abortion.”, (this solved problem B.). "The measure passed, without opposition from Planned Parenthood and with the support of groups opposed to abortion.”- chicagotribune.com
The point here is that Obama is, of course, not a baby-killing hate machine. There are fear-mongers out there who look for any way to demonize the pro-choice movement, when it is pretty obvious (after some serious research) that the Illinois Senate Dems were looking for a well-thought out and necessary bill, and refused to vote on gut-reaction. It is easy to say "Obama voted against saving babies born alive!" and a little harder to take the time to understand the intricacies of the bill and of the system in general. Can you imagine that man looking at his beautiful little girls and arguing that any child should be left to die? You can't, because he wouldn't, and never did.
I want to thank Ruth, a voice of reason at thismodernage.wordpress.com, for her careful research into this issue and specifically into the bill that was introduced onto the Illinois Senate floor in 2003. When she gets back to me with a blog or website I will credit her work properly.
"My Wife is Going to Kill Me When I Get Home"
Joe Scarborough dropped the "F" bomb Monday morning on Morning Joe...
(hat tip: FishbowlDC)
Monday, November 10, 2008
To start, I beg of my fellow military members to please explain to me what the heck they are so afraid of. I have many friends claiming that they will jump ship and get out of the Air Force at their first opportunity because the country dared to elect Barack Obama. The best explanation anyone can give me is that Obama is "socialist" (which is ridiculous) or that he plans on "cutting the military." I have yet to see documentation or anything better than the hateful rhetoric they have heard spouted on Fox News. As a matter of fact, Obama plans to increase the size of the Army and the Marine Corps, meaning fewer "in-lieu-of" assignments for the Air Force (assignments in which an Airman or Sailor deploys with the army to perform a function such as guard duty, convoy duty, or checkpoint duty, for which he or she is not trained as his or her primary job in his or her own branch of service). Also, did you not notice the force shaping and Reduction in Forces (RIF) that we've experienced under George W. Bush? The size of the military ebbs and flows with the needs of the nation, we know that and it's something we accept as the way of things. No particular party has cut or increased the size of the military more than another.
I don't even know where to start. Maybe with the fact that this armageddon attitude is melodramatic and distasteful to start with - remember 2004 when many Democrats claimed they'd be moving to Canada when Bush won? I don't have stats on this, but I doubt a whole lot actually moved, and despite the economic situation we're in now and the deadly war we're still fighting in Iraq, we're all still Americans and pretty much okay. I beg you doomsdayers to please remember that what happens in Washington generally has a pretty slim effect on your day-to-day life. It's how you treat others that matters. No one is taking away your guns, raising your taxes, or taking away your birthday. Stop whining, please, and get on with your life.
Next, I want to point out how upset I was during the campaign every time John McCain or Sarah Palin tried to speak for me as a veteran or military member. McCain said something during the first debate that really got under my skin:
"I know the veterans, I know them well, and I know that they know that I'll take care of them, and I have been proud of their support and their recognition of my service to the veterans, and I love them, and I'll take care of them, and they know that I'll take care of them."
How dare you sir? These are the words of someone with an absolutely abysmal record in relation to support and care of veterans. How on earth can he claim to speak for me? Somehow, however, there is almost a blind allegiance to the Republican party among military members - or at least a perceived allegiance. Turns out that among active duty military, McCain held 55% of the vote while Obama held 45%. Hardly a mandate for McCain or the Republicans among military. And while there is no exit poll for veterans that I have been able to find, I am willing to bet that close to a majority, if not an actual majority, of retired or separated military voted for Senator Obama (If anyone can find a poll that proves or disproves this, either way, I would be very interested. I can only find opinion polls from months before the election).
Brandon Friedman at VetVoice.com put together an unbelievably well researched, fact-checked compilation of McCain's terrible record in regards to the military and retired/separated veterans. Among the points noted are that McCain is given an abysmal 20% rating by the non-partisan group Disabled American Veterans, he voted over and over (and over) again against funding for veterans (and somehow it's Obama that gives Cindy McCain a shiver down her spine?) and he strongly and vocally opposed the 21st century GI Bill, which did pass, thank goodness, but certainly not with his help - he skipped the vote to be at a fundraiser. (This bill, for my civilian friends, is one of the very good things our government has done for us lately. It has provided tangible benefits to my Airmen in the form of education funding and opportunities, expanding more military benefits (including tuition assistance) to spouses and families, and many other very positive changes to military benefits. Need I mention that Obama fought for and voted for this bill?) So my dear military friends, next time a Republican claims to speak for you and you blindly follow his or her lead, I beg you to actually look at his or her record first.
I want to point out how ridiculous it is that there is even a perception out there that Republicans are somehow more patriotic or more apt to serve their country. Al Gore served in Vietnam. John Kerry did, too. Joe Biden's son is currently serving in Iraq. George McGovern was a war hero. Peter Kaufmann at Politico, a former Naval officer, discusses this phenomenon of the Republican stranglehold on military voters. I urge you to go read this article. He discusses how that hold was never more than surface-deep:
"Prior to Vietnam, military service was seen as an obligation of all Americans – regardless of political affiliation or wealth. George H.W. Bush and John F. Kennedy were both sons of privileged, politically-connected families who served heroically in the military during World War II. Back then, this was seen as your duty as an American – and no political party could lay an exclusive claim to the flag."
I want to see this era return. As Kaufmann points out, there are now more Democrats in Congress who are veterans than there are Republican veterans. Look at these facts and understand that we are all American. We all love our country. It is curious to me that you might turn your back on serving your country because you disagree politically with your Commander-in-Chief. One might be tempted to call you unpatriotic. I wouldn't, but I might seriously question your motives for entering the military in the first place. I just served 3 years under a Commander-in-Chief with whom I fundamentally disagree on many, many issues, but he was my Commander-in-Chief and I took an oath to serve my country. When you took that same oath, did it have the precondition that you would leave the service if we voted a Democrat into office? I might get out of the military in a couple of years because it's not the best fit for me as a career, but I know I'll be able to look back and say that I served honorably and did what my country asked of me. Good luck to those of you who will not be able to say that.
Comments are strongly, strongly encouraged - I have many, many friends in the military who I would like to hear from on this issue. And as for my civilian buddies, what say you? Do you perceive the military as strongly Republican or as non-partisan, with only duty, honor, and country on our minds? What does it say about the military if you do associate it with a particular party?
Sunday, November 9, 2008
Nobody's More Irish Than Barack Obama
Fortune believes that former Treasury Secretary Lawrence (Larry) Summers is in the lead to get the job. Summers, who served in the Clinton Administration, wouldn't be a surprise pick. He along with other economic experts, ex-Treasury Secretary Robert Rubin and former chairman of the Federal Reserve Paul Volcker, have advised Obama during the campaign, especially as the economic crisis unfolded. Volcker is said to be highly interested in the Treasury job, but Summers, with support from Rubin, has the inside track.
But if history has taught us anything, it's that the most obvious choice is not necessarily the one who will win out. I'd like to see America's most beloved investor, and richest man, in the post. He made his own billions and is one of the most respected investors in America's history. Imagine Buffett as Treasury Secretary, Powell as SECDEF (though I don't think that will happen, unfortunately), and our friend Bill Richardson as Secretary of State... what a well-rounded, highly respected, bi-partisan cabinet we would have to look to for all matters of national importance. It gives me goosebumps (the good kind!) just thinking about it
Friday, November 7, 2008
"He is going to raise taxes on the middle class, though. They were right about that. Skinny Black Guys hate the middle class. No reason. Just do."
-People Online ran a five-things-you-don't-know-about-Rahm article that I'll run here as a follow-up to my earlier post on Rahmbo. What a goofy guy...
• He's the real-life Ari's brother. His youngest brother Ariel (Ari) Emanuel is a founder of the Endeavor talent agency in Hollywood and was an inspiration for Jeremy Piven's character, Ari Gold, on HBO’s Entourage. Not to be outdone, Rahm is said have been a model for Bradley Whitford's character, Josh Lyman, on The West Wing.
• He could have been a ballet dancer. He studied ballet as a teen and was offered a scholarship to join the renowned Joffrey Ballet, but went to Sarah Lawrence College instead.
• He's missing part of a finger. In his youth, Emanuel badly cut a finger on a meat slicer while working at an Arby's. The wound became infected, and he lost half of the middle finger on his right hand.
• He volunteered with the Israeli army. During the first Gulf War, he did a stint as a civilian volunteer with the Israel Defense Forces, rust-proofing brakes on a base in northern Israel.
• He once sent a rotten dead fish to a political enemy. In the Clinton administration, his take-no-prisoners style earned him the nickname "Rahm-bo."
Politico published a great look at Representative Rahm Emanuel (D-IL) last night that discusses the message Obama's choice for White House Chief of Staff sends to the nation and to our representatives in Washington. Emanuel is feisty, to say the least. In the Clinton White House in 1993, where he served as an aide, Hillary Clinton and then-Chief of Staff Mack McLarty tried to "ease him out" of his position - which he fought virulently for, refusing to leave until Bill Clinton told him to his face to go - something he knew would not happen. He is a strong Democratic leader, but as is being repeatedly pointed out, he is not an idealogical choice. While Obama is not sending a message of bipartisanship with this pick (and really, the President's Chief of Staff should be someone who can speak on behalf of the president - a "reach across the aisle" choice would not be trusted by people who need to know that when the President is not around, his Chief of Staff will tell them what the President would have said). The signal he is sending with the choice is that he wants to make things happen, and make them happen quickly, from day one in office. Emanuel is, even according to Senator Lindsey Graham (R-SC), a good choice. He had this to say in a statement yesterday:
"This is a wise choice by President-elect Obama.
"Rahm knows Capitol Hill and has great political skills. He can be a tough partisan but also understands the need to work together. He is well-suited for the position of White House Chief of Staff.
"I worked closely with him during the presidential debate negotiations which were completed in record time. When we hit a rough spot, he always looked for a path forward. I consider Rahm to be a friend and colleague. He's tough but fair. Honest, direct, and candid. These qualities will serve President-elect Obama well.
"Rahm understands the challenges facing our nation and will, consistent with the agenda set by President-elect Obama, work to find common ground where it exists. I look forward to working with him in his new position and will continue to do everything I can to help find a pathway forward on the difficult problems facing our nation."
Not sure whether one would really want Graham's endorsement (it's kinda like when McCain got Cheney's endorsement in the final days of the campaign, but with less dire consequences), but my point in including it is that Rahmbo's appointment to this post can be respected by both parties.
There are those, of course, who feel this choice is a slap in the face of all of us who thought Obama would bring real change to the White House, starting off by picking a staff full of newbies and outsiders, apparently. John Kass over at the Trib points out that Emanuel is a Chicago Daley machine guy - hardly one to transcend politics as usual.
Here's what I think: Rahm Emanuel is Obama's personal confidant. He also has several important policy disagreements with Obama, and is extraordinarily blunt, making him ideal as an aide. He also really, truly knows how to get work done in Washington. He is in touch with Republicans and Democrats, and he makes things happen. Obama, a relative newbie to practical application of the process, needs someone who understands the logistics of the White House well. Emanuel is an outstanding choice.
Next on the agenda - the Secretary of State appointment. Looks like it's down to New Mexico Governor Bill Richardson, former U.N. Ambassador Richard Holbrooke, and Massachusettes Senator John Kerry. No-brainer, says I: my vote is for Bill Richardson. I just want to hug him. Shouldn't you want to hug your SecState?
First, comment on the blog, so I can respond on the blog and it will look like someone's actually reading this thing! I have it set up so that you don't need a blogger account to comment, so everybody, anybody, leave comments!
Next: I am fully aware that Obama was against Prop 8. Any good progressive would be. Most of them were! My argument was, however, that time and resources may not have been allocated to the defeat of the proposition in the proportions that the Mormon church was committed to contributing in its support. Also, Obama's job as a political candidate, and soon as the president, is not to necessarily meddle in state ballot measures - he can, however, encourage state representatives to fight the good fight.
The other comment I received about the post was that it was a bit of a rant - my apologies! I want this blog to be entertaining and informative, not angry.
In a few: My discussion of Obama's newly appointed White House Chief of Staff, Rahm Emanuel.