Monthly Archives: January 2009

Political This and That

This is such a fascinating time in politics. Lots of interesting stuff has been coming across my radar.

The NY Times says Caroline Kennedy’s quest for Senatorhood was derailed by issues involving taxes and a household employee. Time reporter Karen Tumulty, on Swampland, quipped, “Good news: she can still be Treasury Secretary.”

Abraham Lincoln was sworn in by Chief Justice Roger Traney, who championed the Dred Scott decision, which basically said blacks were inferior and unworthy of citizenship. Lincoln didn’t like Traney.

Obama voted against confirming John Roberts as chief justice. Their hands were on the same Bible as Lincoln’s and Traney’s. (Twice?) Interesting.

The left wing features all kinds of nutso groups crying for government action for their causes, and hopeful that Obama will heed their cries. Like the organic food people, who wanted Obama to hire an organic food expert as White House Chef, who would grow the family’s food in the White House garden and even publish the family menu as an example to the American people. But Obama decided to keep George Bush’s chef. Wouldn’t he have been a steak and potatoes kind of Texan? Nope. Turns out the current chef has been preparing organic food meals for years.

But all kinds of fringe interests will be yelping for attention in the years ahead. Republicans have their fringe groups, too, but mostly their attitude toward government is, “Leave us alone.”

Last night, Sean Hannity interviewed Rush Limbaugh. I watched it while treadmilling at the Y. It just made me laugh. Two totally-partisan guys discussing why they shouldn’t be criticized for criticizing Obama.

For a while, any criticism of Obama will be met by cries of racism. So while many reporters shamelessly fawn over Obama, others, who would be more of a mind to be objective and pointed, pull their punches because they don’t want to get the Don Imus treatment.

But soon, Obama will be rightfully critiqued for his decisions. And in the process, we’ll have a national discussion about why it’s okay–and not racist–to criticize a black President. I predict we’ll have that discussion soon. And I suspect Obama will be glad to have that discussion out of the way, and to be treated like anyone else in that office.

It’s just an interesting time in American politics.

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Change I Believe In

According to a Macworld article, there are no Macs in the White House–only a fleet of six-year-old PCs. Obama’s campaign ran on Macs, and Obama himself uses a Mac.

So, REAL change may be coming.

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The Barackberry

gd_sectera_edge.jpgThe most important office in the country, the White House, is a technological vacuum. No Facebook. No outside email access. No instant messaging. And, for the President, no Blackberry.

The word was that Obama would need to give up his beloved Blackberry, for national security and privacy reasons. It was an important management tool for him, but now, in the most important management position in the world, he wouldn’t be able to use it.

But now, the National Security Agency has approved the $3400 Sectera Edge (right), from General Dynamics. No, it’s not a Blackberry. I imagine it’ll be like downgrading from a Mac to a PC. But it’s something. And it can encrypt top-secret voice conversations and handle classified documents. We hope.

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Bush Departs with Style

George Bush showed incredible grace in how he left office. He set the standard for turning over the presidency to a new person. I read that the Bushes, last summer, began moving belongings to Texas to eliminate the spectacle of moving vans backing up to the White House as new moving vans arrived. All they had left was suitcases, basically.

Bush took some shots during Obama’s speech, but afterwards, showed only cordiality and respect for his successor.

The transition is something Bush could control.

He gets a lot of blame for Katrina, but only deserves some; the local and state governments in Louisiana deserve the lion’s share of the blame.

The economic collapse–I’m not sure who to blame for that, though we always want to assign blame to someone. The whole “American way of life” perhaps deserves the blame there, for our greed, lack of discipline, lax regulation, and spirit of “I want it all now.” So, though the collapse happened on Bush’s watch, and his policies contributed to it, this thing was a long time coming, and circumstances beyond our borders contributed mightily to it.

But Bush could control the transition. And what we saw was extraordinary class.

As opposed to the left-wing nuts who lined the route with “Arrest Bush” signs. On Morning Joe this morning, Mike Barnacle said, “The left doesn’t do graciousness well.” That was really an interesting observation.

(But lest you mistake me: there are still plenty of things for which George Bush deserves blame. And he did, indeed, occupy the office where the buck stops.)

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The “Mexico City Policy” See-Saw

In 1984, President Ronald Reagan devised what is called the “Mexico City policy,” which prohibits international family planning groups that advocate abortion in any way from receiving funds from the US Agency for International Development. That was a good thing.

In January 1993, one of President Clinton’s first acts in office was to list the ban. That was a bad thing.

In January 2001, President Bush reinstated the ban as his first executive order. That was a good thing.

Yesterday, on his first day in office, President Obama once again removed the restrictions. That was a bad thing.

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Busy Washington

This CNN article tells about the enormous influx of people into Washington DC and how it is affecting transportation, security, restaurants, lodging, etc. Very interesting. Must be a mess.

hopeposter.jpegAnother article tells about the brisk business by DC tattoo parlors, as people want a tattoo of the Obama logo, the word “hope,” or the red-and-blue Obama hope poster. The article adds, “None of the shop owners reported any history of George W. Bush tattoos.” Imagine that.

The two million people expected to come to Washington DC for the inauguration compares to:

  • 1.2 million who came to JFK’s LBJ’s inauguration in 1964 1965 (the current record).
  • 800,000 who came to Clinton’s inauguration.
  • 300,000 who came to George Bush’s inauguration.

There is definitely a Cult of Personality thing going on. But it is, indeed, a historic event, installing our first black president. How successfully Obama actually governs will determine just how historic today will be.

So today is, indeed, a day of success for our country, in that it shows how far we’ve come in racial matters. That makes me proud as an American and as a Christian. But in terms of the Obama presidency and actually governing, it is a day of mere hope and promise, of unrealized potential.

Now the fun begins.

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Why I’m Audaciously Hopeful

Barack Obama will find ways to disappoint and upset me, I’m sure. But right now, I’m very excited about a new administration taking over (I would have been excited about McCain taking over). Here are some of the reasons I have high hopes for an Obama administration.

  • For the US to elect a black man as president–what an incredible example to the rest of the world. I’ll bet it produces all kinds of shamed introspection in ingrown countries like England, France, Italy, and other nations with large but disenfranchised non-Caucasian populations.
  • We’re gonna get serious about alternative energy. That would never happen under Republicans, I’m sad to admit.
  • We’ll have an exemplary family in the White House (though most Presidential families are admirable, for the most part).
  • The rest of the world is excited about Obama. This is not a bad thing. Our unilateral, bullying actions during the last eight years have disappointed people in other countries, because they expected better of us. They need us to provide moral leadership. Under Obama, I am hopeful–and people around the world are hopeful–that we can provide that again. The world needs us.
  • There is a general spirit of optimism across the country. Obama-mania is a bit extreme, but it’s good to see people optimistic–and proud–of our country once again.
  • We’ll start abiding by international agreements again. Like the Geneva Conventions.
  • It’ll be nice having an orator in the White House–the first since Kennedy.
  • Obama is tech-savvy. He uses and understands the internet and new media. That’ll go a long way in wise problem-solving in the world of 2009.
  • Obama will, I trust, restore the proper balance of power in government. The Bush administration, following the lead of Dick Cheney and his chief of staff, David Addington (the most powerful man you’ve never heard of), focused a great deal of power in the Executive Branch and placed themselves above the law. (Read Jane Mayer’s incredible book, “The Dark Side.” It’s chilling, the way Cheney and Addington set the agenda and ran roughshod over Bush’s own staff of naieve Texans.)
  • I think Obama has the ability to rally the American people.
  • My country simply needs a fresh start.
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