Wednesday, December 31, 2008
West Wing Obama Style
Monday, December 08, 2008
David Gregory: "Goofily Hollow"
I couldn't agree more. I've NEVER heard David Gregory say an original thing either, as I noted here a week ago. But Kaus probably knows him better than I do, so it's reassuring to have the back up.
The Right Man: "It brings out the kid in all of us," reports the N.Y. Daily News, quoting one Greg Packer, 44, of Huntington, L.I.:
"It's that sense of togetherness that keeps me coming back."
Packer, of course, is "the entire media's designated 'man on the street' for all articles ever written." The secret of his success, it's pretty clear, is that he always spouts the CW that mainstream newspaper editors want to hear (and think their readers want to read). ... Hmm. David Gregory has just been made moderator of Meet the Press. The secret of Gregory's success seems to be that he always spouts the CW that his mainstream producers want to hear (and think their viewers want to hear too).
Wouldn't Packer be better? I mean, he's got Gregory's unerring CW-spouting capacity, plus he's got Tim Russert-style blue collar street cred. He's a "highway maintenance worker," for Chrissakes! I think NBC missed a bet here. ...
P.S.: How bad a choice was Gregory? Let me put it this way: I've heard George Stephanopoulos say interesting things. I've heard Tom Brokaw say interesting things. I've heard Mort Kondracke say interesting things. I've heard David Broder say interesting things, and Norah O'Donnell and David Gergen and Gwen Ifill and even (once) Sam Donaldson. I heard Tim Russert say interesting things. I've never heard David Gregory say an interesting thing. He is a can't-miss discussion-killer--the Sunday morning equivalent of Senator Montoya. ... But that's an insult to Sen. Montoya. Montoya didn't actually drain the Watergate hearings of interest. He just gave everyone a chance to take a brief break. ... P.P.S.: Gregory seems not straightforwardly dull, but somehow goofily hollow. Hard to believe those people out "beyond the Potomac and beyond the Hudson River in New York City" won't pick up on this. ... [They say he's good on Imus--ed Imus won't be there.] ...[link via RS's feed]1:34 A.M.
NBC Makes Another Crazy Call
Jay Leno is going to be on every week night at 10 pm, the New York Times reports.
He is not funny. And his "Jay Walking" in which stupidity and ignorance is held up as funny and admirable and showcases and makes stars of idiots is the worst thing on television. I said so 12 years ago, and it's even more true today. Thank you, Jay, for Sarah Palin.
Now I can retire when I should without being worried about missing Law & Order or ER.
More From Colbert's Christmas
Sunday, December 07, 2008
The Irony (& Lesson) of The Best And The Brightest
And he's not so worried about Obama's security team, but rather the economic, reminding us that these guys pushed along bankign deregulation under Clinton. (They did the same in my field - telecommunications - I remember being incredulous and arguing a lot with my friends in the field).
He finishes with Rubin - and doesn't even mention the worse. But he says enough and in the end says that Rubin absence now may show Obama to be bright and wise.
Don't miss story of what Sam Rayburn said to Johnson. For history buffs, it's a great book.
Opening the White House
MR. BROKAW: And General Shinseki was right.
Let me ask you as we conclude this program this morning about whether you and Michelle have had any discussions about the impact that you're going to have on this country in other ways besides international and domestic policies. You're going to have a huge impact, culturally, in terms of the tone of the country.As he began that answer I thought to myself, but say why the arts are important, especially now. And then he did. (That happened a couple of times and more often than ever, what comes out of his mouth is exactly what I'm thinking and hoping will come out of his mouth).
PRES.-ELECT OBAMA: Right.
MR. BROKAW: Who are the kinds of artists that you would like to bring to the White House?
PRES.-ELECT OBAMA: Oh, well, you know, we have thought about this because part of what we want to do is to open up the White House and, and remind people this is, this is the people's house. There is an incredible bully pulpit to be used when it comes to, for example, education. Yes, we're going to have an education policy. Yes, we're going to be putting more money into school construction. But, ultimately, we want to talk about parents reading to their kids. We want to invite kids from local schools into the White House. When it comes to science, elevating science once again, and having lectures in the White House where people are talking about traveling to the stars or breaking down atoms, inspiring our youth to get a sense of what discovery is all about. Thinking about the diversity of our culture and, and inviting jazz musicians and classical musicians and poetry readings in the White House so that, once again, we appreciate this incredible tapestry that's America. I--you know, that, I think, is, is going to be incredibly important, particularly because we're going through hard times. And, historically, what has always brought us through hard times is that national character, that sense of optimism, that willingness to look forward, that, that sense that better days are ahead. I think that our art and our culture, our science, you know, that's the essence of what makes America special, and, and we want to project that as much as possible in the White House.
As someone who worked who started her professional career working for the Congressional Arts Caucus (and later for PBS), I strongly believe in the importance of arts - literature and music and theater in our cultural and civic life. So hearing this so excited me. Our new president is a writer, a good one.
When I think of this, it all seems unbelievable to me! He is really going to be our President.
The other aspect that excited me was his statement that the White House needs to be open. I'm not sure what that means beyond what he stated above, but I hope it means more than that.
For those of us who have lived in DC for the last 20 years, so much has been barricaded off. One used to be able to drive right by the White House - north or south of it. Now, all is blocked. Not only do the road closures wreck havoc in the community, the message these concrete walls send is horrible. Obama seems to understand that - both the importance of the relationship to the immediate community of DC, and the message such a lock-down sends.
Here's hoping he opens the White House not only to local students, but allows local traffic to go by without locals having to be reminded of nefarious threats.
A Fresh Look at Van Gogh's Starry Starry Night
And the music is Don McLean.
Saturday, December 06, 2008
Christopher Buckley Amuses Again, on Acela
I too have had these thoughts in the quiet car of the Acela between DC and NY but I never did any thing about the peace breakers.
And I didn't write 6 books while doing so or shh the FBI Director either.
On DC Statehood
I support DC statehood. Here's the official site that promotes voting rights for DC residents - DC Votes.
As noted here, DC is more populated than many states.
Matthew Yglesias proposes a federal city - outlined above - that is much smaller than DC now, with the only inhabitants being the First Family.
Either that or we should be exempt from federal tax, as Alex Massie proposes.
But what about a grand bargain? In return for not having a vote in Congress, how about abolishing the federal income tax for DC residents? I suspect there are many who'd be all in favour of that. And of course such a move would do more to repopulate the city - complete with the kind of urban density Matt's in favour of - and regenerate its schools and so on than just about anything else.Andrew Sullivan supports Massie's idea, and adds, We could become Hong Kong on the Potomac.
James Joyner suggests a third option: Maryland reabsorbs DC. He argues that DC Statehood violates "serious principles," such as it's geographical too small (20x smaller than Rhode Island); that the tiny states in New England never should have been created (because they are too small); DC is not a "state-like" entity (whatever that means). None of these seem like principles to me.
He finishes with this flair:
So, what’s the rational argument for giving DC two Senators when twenty-six other cities and 49 of 50 states are bigger? There is none.Well, yes there is - residents of DC are taxed by the federal government and have no voting representation in Congress.
Didn't we fight a revolution over taxation with no representation???
Alexandria, Virginia was originally to be part of DC, but Virginia took it back in 1847. That's where James Joyner now lives. Hmmmmm.
With this election, DC residents can finally hope - for some resolution to the injustice. Thank you Obama.
Bill Clinton - Again Trouble
From Friday's New York Times, Bill Clinton Speech in Malaysia Irks Investors.
Mr. Clinton spoke before nearly 3,000 people in Kuala Lumpur at the invitation of Vinod Sekhar, a Malaysian businessman whose foundation paid Mr. Clinton $200,000, according to several people with knowledge of the fee. The figure is on the lower end of the scale that Mr. Clinton usually commands for his speeches.
“You should be proud of this man,” Mr. Clinton told the audience, pointing at Mr. Sekhar, the 40-year-old chief executive of the Petra Group, a privately held rubber technology company.
But several angry investors in Britain and Malaysia say they disagree with the former president’s glowing assessment of Mr. Sekhar, whose company has suffered a rough few weeks.
“I believe he is using Bill Clinton — this is what he does,” said Abdul Azim Zabidi, a former board member of the Petra Group who claims Mr. Sekhar broke numerous promises to him and still owes him $100,000. “He just wants to get new investors.”
Even if Bill wants to stop for the sake of his wife, even if Obama has shackles on him - the man has not evidence an abundance of personal discipline.
I remain uneasy.
Friday, December 05, 2008
Evidence of GOP M.O. - Negotiate with Foreign Enemies to Affect US Election
In the final months of his administration, President Lyndon B. Johnson voiced worry over the Vietnam War peace talks and stridently suggested that associates of Richard M. Nixon were trying to keep South Vietnam away from the table until after the 1968 election, recordings of telephone conversations released Thursday show.Reagan did same, meddling in the Iran hostage crisis, committing treason to defeat Carter in 1980. I don't go in for conspiracy theories, but the October Surprise, as it's called, has some pretty convincing backing.
"This is treason," Johnson said, referring to people close to Nixon, during a conversation with Senate Republican leader Everett Dirksen. The Democratic president never accused the Republican who would succeed him of treason, but Johnson said, "If Nixon keeps the South Vietnamese away from the [peace] conference, well, that's going to be his responsibility."
Thursday, December 04, 2008
Well, Nixon is back. The National Archives released tapes that were made in November and December 1972, right after Nixon won in a landslide. (That was the first presidential campaign I remember).
Nixon invented resentment politics, of which Palin is just the latest to embrace and the first since Nixon to actually not be pretending to have a reason to be resentful unlike both Bush 41 and 43 who pretended to be cowboys instead of the Ivy Leaguers they in fact were.
Lest you think Nixon is irrelevant today, here's Noam Scheiber at the New Republic on the resentments of Sarah Palin in a piece called Barracuda.
That hardly makes her the first politician to run on class resentments--nearly every conservative from George W. Bush to Mitt Romney has sought a bond with voters by attacking the over-educated and entitled. But more often than not these conservatives are elites themselves; hence the spectacle of Yale legacies and Harvard millionaires (and most of the Fox News executive suite) railing against wine-swilling sophisticates. Palin, by contrast, may be the first conservative politician since Nixon to experience resentment so authentically. For her, it's not so much a political tool as a motivating principle.Here's Nixon on the Ivy League -
NIXON: "The Ivy League presidents? Why, I'll never let those sons-of-b------ in the White House again. Never, never, never. They're finished. The Ivy League schools are finished ... Henry, I would never have had them in. Don't do that again ... They came out against us when it was tough ... Don't ever go to an Ivy League school again, ever. Never, never, never."Daily Beast has a write up here.
Here's Keith on the new tapes:
Just in time for the Nixon/Frost movie.
Designers Design for Michelle
Which ones do you like? (I like, in this order, the Koi Suwannagate #9, Peter Som #21 and #40; Tuleh #41 and the Chanel, #7.)
Interesting to me who is not included: Narciso Rodriguez, who also designed my favorite Obama t-shirt as well as Carolyn Bessette Kennedy's wedding dress, which put him on the map. New York Magazine describes his style as "Sexy, bold women's wear with a touch of Jackie O-whimsy."
Maybe he's doing the real deal and is being discrete, unlike the designer of a ring Obama is reported to be buying for Michelle to thank her for her support.
1977 Frost/Nixon Interview Again in 2008
But Ron Howard (yes, Opie) directed and produced a movie based on the play, also called Frost/Nixon, that is soon to be released on December 26. He and the writer Peter Morgan (who wrote both the play and the screen play) speak for over 30 minutes on NPR, discussing the play, the challenges of adaptation to film and why Nixon still intrigues. You can listen here.
And the original Frost/Nixon interviews were just released on DVD, just in time for Christmas. Frost interviewed Nixon for 28 and 3/4 hours over 12 days in 1977.
David Frost made an appearance on The Daily Show. He relays how Nixon said, "I wouldn't want to be a Russian leader, they never know when they are being taped." Unbelievable.
Emma Thompson on the Energy of Hope
And read this write up about it from The Daily Beast.
Emma Thompson says this in the interview:
She continues: “Blokes can have various false starts and start over again.” She describes a male friend who at 52 is about to have his first child. “That is open to them and that makes a difference in your mental state. In you’re 30s [as a woman] you’re thinking, whatever relationship you get into, is that going to be the one, or what’s the point in having it? Men have much longer,” she says. “Women have to make these decisions earlier on.”Film opens in the US on January 23rd (The first weekend after the inauguration).
Thompson hopes the movie might suggest that there are abundant new possibilities for love and eroticism, particularly for women getting older. “I hope it widens the palette,” she says. “I’d like audiences to walk away and think, ‘Okay I think I’ll do that,’ whatever it is they’re thinking about that’s exciting. I want to give them the energy of hope.”
Tuesday, December 02, 2008
10 Year Old Makes Pitch to Interview Obama
Also, Biden tells the crowd about the sleepovers his granddaughters had with the Obama girls. Biden's grandchildren go to Sidwell Friends and their closeness with the Obama kids was a factor for them to go there.
Anyway, this 10 year old from Palm Beach is just terrific and has a great smile. Be sure to watch to the end.
and then the young man makes a pitch to interview Obama.
I learned about this at the Huff Post where Jason Linkins writes THIS INTERVIEW MUST HAPPEN. I couldn't agree more. (Linkins has a good write up and offers great context - re Reggie Love, for example).
Monday, December 01, 2008
Has the Great Triangulator Been Triangulated?
Obama made Bill submit to 9 - count 'em 9 - conditions. This news was released on Saturday (perhaps to avoid overclouding the official announcement today).
The disclosure of contributors is among nine conditions that Mr. Clinton signed off on during discussions with representatives of Mr. Obama; all go beyond the requirements of law.
- disclose the more than 200,000 donors to his foundation publicly (not just to Obama's vetting team)/ So far, his foundation has raised over $500 million.
- incorporate his Clinton Global Initiative separately from his foundation
- hold only the Global Initiative's annual meetings in the USA
- no longer accept donations from foreign government (in the past these have included Kuwait, Qatar,
- submit personal speeches for review by ethics official of State Department (hmm, who report to his wife?) and, if necessary, the White House counsel's office (that would be Greg Craig). Clinton made over 10 million dollars last year giving speeches. He and she are married and share that wealth.
- business activities for review same as his speeches
- Clinton will not solicit sponsorships for the Initiative.
- 4 initiatives under the foundation will be allowed to continue as currently set up, with funding from governments of Britain, France, Norway and Sweden which address AIDS, climate change, development and sustainable growth.
And before any one sends him to India and Pakistan on a diplomatic mission, let's remember it was Richard Holbrooke who was the wizard negotiator of the Dayton accords.
Oh and true to his self-aggrandizing form, on the conclusion of Obama's press conference today, Bill Clinton release a statement - as if any one still cares what he thinks. It was relayed with rolled eyes.
MTP Host Announced. I Will No Longer Watch
I heard him speak on the Diane Rehm show, and in other venues - and was horrified at how dismissive he was of a caller's views. He is arrogant, defensive, unoriginal in thought. He has been an apologist for Bush as well, and is one of the ones most responsible for not effectively challenging Bush when he was in the White House press corp. And I sometimes watch his program at 6 on MSNBC (a poor substitute for the Tucker Carlson show he replaced).
The biggest problem: he doesn't know his facts so he misses the piercing follow up.
Well, he is tall.
Almost any of the others would I have been better. I'd have preferred Chuck Todd or Gwen Ifill or Ted Koppel or Andrea Mitchell.
I still do watch Morning Joe, though am increasingly disappointed when I have to listen to them quarrel over falsehoods (there was a funny moment when Andrea had to point out to them they were both wrong). Lawrence O'Donnell is good at injecting reality checks. But even when they don't go off the reservation of planet earth, I can barely stand to listen to Mika's equivocating and giggling. Admittedly, I may be bias because I knew her and her rambunctious brothers in college.
But increasingly I'm becoming disappointed with MSNBC. No, I'm not a fan of Rachel Maddow either; I don't find her very intelligent or original either. Her thinking is predictable and therefore un-challenging and uninteresting.
MSNBC didn't even provide coverage of Mumbai this weekend.
Shameful all around.
Hope For Short People
I noticed this too, but at least Hillary (who was first to the podium after Obama) had the experience to tilt the mikes down toward her mouth so that the from the camera view you could see her eyes and nose.
Beware of Boobs
What's Going On With Some Conservatives???
Maybe it is in Republican DNA, as this opinion writer opined yesterday in the Los Angeles Times (hat tip: TPM)
But there is another rendition of the story of modern conservatism, one that doesn't begin with Goldwater and doesn't celebrate his libertarian orientation. It is a less heroic story, and one that may go a much longer way toward really explaining the Republican Party's past electoral fortunes and its future. In this tale, the real father of modern Republicanism is Sen. Joe McCarthy, and the line doesn't run from Goldwater to Reagan to George W. Bush; it runs from McCarthy to Nixon to Bush and possibly now to Sarah Palin. It centralizes what one might call the McCarthy gene, something deep in the DNA of the Republican Party that determines how Republicans run for office, and because it is genetic, it isn't likely to be expunged any time soon.I found that very interesting. And the whole piece deserves a full read.
This country needs a healthy - and by that I mean real, realist, intelligently rigorous opposition. More Ross (see particularly this and this Bill Moyers program from July in a discussion about conservatives and their future) and Andrew Sullivan than Sarah. She represents a sickness or as Noonan suggest media mischief.
I wish it were just media mischief. I don't think she or her follows or the wackos on radio are so easily dismissed or ignored.
Obama Introduces His Team and Outlines Vision
Also, he actually answered the questions asked and when he didn't he said so, and said why. Last week Obama said that his hope for Thanksgiving next year is that the American people would feel they could trust the government. Answering questions is a good way to start rebuilding that trust. And he said a lot of good things in the questions and answer period, you can see for yourself at the link above.
The common thread linking these challenges is the fundamental reality that in the 21st century, our destiny is shared with the world’s. From our markets to our security; from our public health to our climate –we must act with the understanding that, now more than ever, we have a stake in what happens across the globe. And as we learned so painfully on 9/11, terror cannot be contained by borders, nor safety provided by oceans alone.This is how Obama concluded his opening remarks:
And so, in this uncertain world, the time has come for a new beginning – a new dawn of American leadership to overcome the challenges of the 21st century, and to seize the opportunities embedded in those challenges. We will strengthen our capacity to defeat our enemies and support our friends. We will renew old alliances and forge new and enduring partnerships. We will show the world once more that America is relentless in defense of our people, steady in advancing our interests, and committed to the ideals that shine as a beacon to the world: democracy and justice; opportunity and unyielding hope – because American values are America’s greatest export to the world.
To succeed, we must pursue a new strategy that skillfully uses, balances, and integrates all elements of American power: our military and diplomacy; our intelligence and law enforcement; our economy and the power of our moral example.
I also liked what Eric Holder had to say, on two fronts -
We move forward with the humility that comes with knowing that there are brave men and women protecting us on our frontlines, diplomats and intelligence officers in dangerous corners of the world, troops serving their second, third, or fourth tours, FBI agents in the field, cops on the beat, prosecutors in our courts, and cargo inspectors at our ports.
These selfless Americans whose name are unknown to most of us, will form the backbone of our effort. If we serve as well as they are serving, we will protect our country and promote our values.
And as we move forward with respect for American's tradition of a bipartisan national security policy and a commitment to national unity, we have to recall that when it comes to keeping our nation and our people safe, we are not Republicans or Democrats. We are Americans. There's no monopoly of power of wisdom in either party.
Together, as one nation, as one people, we can shape our times instead of being shaped by them. Together, we will meet the challenges of the 21st century not with fear but with hope.
The Department of Justice plays a unique role on this team. It is incumbent those of us who lead the department to ensure not only that the nation is safe but also that our laws and traditions are respected. There is not a tension between those two. We can and we must ensure that the American people remain secure and that the great constitutional guarantees that define us as a nation are truly valued.that would be a reference to the terror legal memos.
And then he said this
National security concerns are not defined only by the challenges created by terrorists abroad but also by criminals in our midst, whether they be criminals located on the street or in a board room.I felt good after watching this today
Obama's Vision for US Security and World Affairs
Yet all three of his choices — Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton as the rival turned secretary of state; Gen. James L. Jones, the former NATO commander, as national security adviser, and Robert M. Gates, the current and future defense secretary — have embraced a sweeping shift of priorities and resources in the national security arena. The shift would create a greatly expanded corps of diplomats and aid workers that, in the vision of the incoming Obama administration, would be engaged in projects around the world aimed at preventing conflicts and rebuilding failed states. However, it is unclear whether the financing would be shifted from the Pentagon; Mr. Obama has also committed to increasing the number of American combat troops. Whether they can make the change — one that Mr. Obama started talking about in the summer of 2007, when his candidacy was a long shot at best — “will be the great foreign policy experiment of the Obama presidency,” one of his senior advisers said recently.And he's prepared for Limbaugh:
Mr. Obama’s advisers said they were already bracing themselves for the charge from the right that he is investing in social work, even though President Bush repeatedly promised such a shift, starting in a series of speeches in late 2005.And note this:
Several times during his presidency, Mr. Bush promised to alter that strategy, even creating a “civilian reserve corps” of nation-builders under State Department auspices, but the administration never committed serious funds or personnel to the effort. If Mr. Obama and his team can bring about that kind of shift, it could mark one of the most significant changes in national security strategy in decades and greatly enhance the powers of Mrs. Clinton as secretary of state.Now - earlier this month, about a week after the election, a Republican Georgia Congressman compared Obama to Hitler because of this policy directive, which Obama had clearly stated during the campaign (never mind that Gates and Bush himself were suggesting the very same thing):
Let's hope tomorrow Georgia does the right thing and does not re-elect that draft dodging, chicken hawk Senator Chambliss.
WASHINGTON — A Republican congressman from Georgia said Monday he fears that President-elect Obama will establish a Gestapo-like security force to impose a Marxist dictatorship.
"It may sound a bit crazy and off base, but the thing is, he's the one who proposed this national security force," Rep. Paul Broun said of Obama in an interview Monday with The Associated Press. "I'm just trying to bring attention to the fact that we may _ may not, I hope not _ but we may have a problem with that type of philosophy of radical socialism or Marxism."
Broun cited a July speech by Obama that has circulated on the Internet in which the then-Democratic presidential candidate called for a civilian force to take some of the national security burden off the military.
"That's exactly what Hitler did in Nazi Germany and it's exactly what the Soviet Union did," Broun said. "When he's proposing to have a national security force that's answering to him, that is as strong as the U.S. military, he's showing me signs of being Marxist."
Obama's comments about a national security force came during a speech in Colorado in which he called for expanding the nation's foreign service.