Posted by: trickyguy | January 16, 2009

Democrats Versus Obama, Reid Leads Way

No one ever gets a free pass, although supposedly new presidents get a honeymoon period.  And, you’d think that Obama’s honeymoon would be longer than most, given the democratic majority in both houses.

Well, it’s not working out that way.  And hey, there’s never been a more important time to band together and give the man some support.  After all, he’s got some big issues to work through, and they won’t wait.

So here’s where, in fairness, I must point to a column in CNN by Ruben Navarrette.  Yes, that’s the same Mr. Navarrette that is often roasted in my postings on WordPress.

It’s just that this time, I must say that Mr. Navarrette’s article is spot on — totally.  He’s pointing out the challenges that Obama faces the day he’s sworn in, but that’s not the focus of the article.  Its main thrust, and that of this post, is the (two manufactured words) “pre-sniping” and “pre-obfuscation” of democrats in Congress.

Yep, before Obama’s even drawing a presidential paycheck, they are at their turf-protecting, obstructionist best.  And, why yes, they are led by none other than Harry Reid.  The same Harry Reid that, with Nancy Pelosi, ensured that the democrats really got nothing done the last two years.

It seems every democrat has a point to make.  Senator Feinstein, Rep. Conyers, they all have to go on record as objecting to something Obama has proposed.  And Reid leads the way with a comment I will share later.

But they all miss the point: the electorate, the American people, Joe Plumber, Jane Republican, John Democrat — in other words, their bosses — expect them to work together to get this nation back on the right track.  And we will hold responsible those we find dragging an oar in the water instead of rowing with the rest of the crew.

This is not to say that programs, policies, and plans of Mr. Obama should simply receive a rubber stamp approval.  No one is suggesting that.  However, the pre-whining and pre-sniping has got to stop.  Meet in private, understand what the man is thinking, and craft a compromise.  Do this before you posture publicly like some alpha dog on a playground.

Remember Congress, the only folks with approval ratings nearly as bad as Mr. Bush’s are you.  The American People will not stand for failure now, our nation’s future is at stake.

And, Mr. Reid, responding to Obama’s request to end the standoff regarding the seating of Roland Burris, had this to say: “I don’t work for Barack Obama — I work with him.”  What a team player.  What an ass.

Actually Mr. Reid, you are wrong.  You work for all Americans, and Barack Obama is one of them.  And you, sir, need to do a better job, or get your resume in order.

Posted by: trickyguy | January 16, 2009

Bill Frist on Bush Legacy

In today’s CNN Politics section, former Senate majority leader Bill Frist comments on the Bush legacy related to the fight against AIDS in Africa.  Follow the link below for the article.  My post takes issue with Mr. Frist’s assertion that this is Bush’s legacy.

Indeed, Bush’s commitment to fighting AIDS is commendable.  But our president does not get to be a single issue person; he does not get a pass for doing well on one thing, for having a single success.  We do not hire for this position based on a singular commitment or skill.  It is one of the most demanding jobs in the world, period.

I do not wish Mr. Bush ill, but neither will I turn a blind eye to his myriad failures as president.  It appears that Mr. Frist is willing to do so in announcing the Bush legacy of healing.

In fact, if Mr. Frist wishes to focus on achievements in Africa, where was Mr. Bush, and where were the other leaders of the free world, in preventing genocide and heinous atrocities in Rwanda and Congo?  Where was he in attempts to create sustainable agriculture and self-sufficiency in food production.  Yes, there was a lot to be done in Africa, and Mr. Bush helped.  But please, let’s not nominate him for sainthood just yet.

However, outside Africa, I fear that the Bush presidency will be judged harshly, and appropriately.

For engaging in a war in Iraq based on false premises (possibly known to be false at the time), with no strategy for conclusion, with the loss of more than four thousand American lives and nearly 100,000 Iraqi lives, and at a cost of hundreds of billion dollars.

For presiding over the greatest collapse in the economy since the Great Depression.  For delaying any response to that collapse until thousands of Americans had lost substantial portions of their life’s savings.  For finally responding to that collapse with a virtual get-out-of-jail-free card for those CEOs and firms that mismanaged their way into it.

For crafting a War on Terror that included such Machiavellian tactics as warrantless wiretapping of domestic telephone calls between US citizens, torture of suspected terrorists, incarceration of suspected terrorists without due process, access to counsel, or filing of charges.

And for populating his cabinet with some of the most corrupt and incompetent staff this nation has ever seen.  The otherwise admirable loyalty Mr. Bush showed toward Cheney, Rumsfeld, and Gonzales was misplaced.

Yes, Mr. Frist, there will be a legacy.  I daresay, though, that Mr. Bush’s admirable commitment to fighting AIDS will sadly be a footnote to an otherwise miserable performance.

Posted by: trickyguy | January 15, 2009

Dirty Illinois Politics and Poor Journalism

On January 2nd there was an article on about Illinois Governor Rod Blagojevich’s appointment of Roland Burris to fill the US Senate seat vacated by Barack Obama.  The author is Ruben Navarrette, a columnist for a paper in San Diego and a regular CNN contributor.  Here’s the link if you’d care to read it:

Basically Mr. Navarrette is blatantly playing the race card by insinuating that the senate democratic leadership’s protests about the nomination and the irregularities surrounding it are because of Mr. Burris’ skin color.  You see, Mr. Burris is an African-American former state attorney general.

When Mr. Navarrette writes such things, and CNN publishes them, they perform three huge disservices and, in doing so, bring discredit upon themselves as journalists.

First, they ignore the firestorm of criticism related to the governor’s arrest on corruption charges and the fairly damning evidence that the bulk of those charges directly relate to his attempt to barter the senate appointment for personal gain.

This criticism hasn’t been only from whites, only from Republicans, or only from residents of Illinois.  It has been from politicians and ordinary citizens of every race and party who are outraged at such blatant co-opting of the system.  They are rightly worried whether Mr. Burris’ appointment had “strings” attached to it or not.  The whole thing smells of backroom politics.

Second, playing the race card ignores the fact that the US Senate leadership was formalizing their objections to the seating of Mr. Burris based on a senate rule that has been in effect for more than 125 years, and for which no exceptions have ever been made.  That’s right: no exceptions, neither for white senators, nor for black senators.

The senate requires the senator’s credentials to be signed by both the governor and the secretary of state.  The Illinois Secretary of State, Jesse White, refused (initially) to do so because of the cloud over Blagojevich.  Again, this is a rule that has been upheld without exception since the 1800’s.  Seriously, suggesting that the US Senate leadership just look the other way is like a baseball game where most innings end with three outs, but if you really whine enough, we’ll give you an extra at bat.  By playing the race card, Mr. Navarrette kicks sand in the face of everyone who plays by the rules, whether they like them or not.  He just wants a pass given because — well he doesn’t say why — he just says it’s not being given because Burris is black.

Last of all, and most important, everyone who is making this a racial issue — and that’s not just Mr. Navarrette — is taking the focus off where it should be.  The focus should be on Mr. Burris’ qualifications, his skills, his passion, the path that brought him to the steps of one of the most powerful and respected institutions in the world.  Every time we talk about race, we diminish the lifetime of accomplishments that even allow Mr. Burris to be considered for such an honor.

Yes, Mr. Navarrette and the others playing the race card have surely relegated Mr. Burris’ senate career to always having an asterisk next to it, some whispers will always follow in his footsteps (psst, yeah, he’s the one), it will always be in the backs of our minds.

Shame on you Mr. Navarrette.  Shame on you CNN.

Posted by: trickyguy | January 15, 2009

Sarah Palin: Once More Into The Fray

Folks, just when you thought it was safe to go outside, the losing 2008 vice-presidential candidate, yes that’s right, Alaska governor Sarah Palin, is still jousting with journalists.

See this link:

Yes, if you look carefully at my posts, you will see that I have stated time and again that Mrs. Palin is not why the Republican ticket lost in November.  And that’s still as true as when I wrote it.

But it doesn’t mean I like her; it doesn’t mean I support her; and, it most certainly doesn’t mean I buy “the media used me” line.  Hey, if there ever was consensual sex, this was it.

Palin ate up the limelight, until it ate her up.  Katie Couric did not make her say the stupid stuff she did.  Hey, she came up with plenty of it unprompted at events planned for her by the campaign.  Nope, her frequent gaffes were all her own.

(In fact, she has made the hard-to-believe statement that her campaign handlers erred by putting in front of Couric a few more times after she blew the first interview.  Imagine this: “Press take note, our veep does not grant interview because of the tough questions she gets asked, and because of how thoroughly she blows the answers”.  Yeah right.)

And where was the surprise about media treatment anyway?  Eight years of GW being mercilessly ridiculed for his torture of the English language.  Dan Quayle’s famous spelling abilities.  Richard Nixon’s undisguised contempt for the press.  Hey it hasn’t ever been wine and roses between politicians and the media.  Sarah Palin knew that going in.

In closing the CNN article, there is a very telling comment by a Republican strategist to the effect that between now and 2012 Palin should keep her head down, stay out of the spotlight, and gain a little political maturity.  I haven’t heard better advice in a long time.

Sarah, I probably won’t support you in 2012.  But to avoid me outright laughing at you, please take a hiatus from national politics, run your state, and come back in 2012 with better cue cards.

Posted by: trickyguy | December 21, 2008

Dirty Dick Cheney: Outgoing Veep

Like the man beating the proverbial dead horse, I must pile onto Dick Cheney one more time.

It’s hard to like the guy.  Shifty look, beady eyes, direct association with many, many contemptible acts while acting as Bush’s hatchet man (along with Rove) — not much to like there.

But if you follow this link, the man refuses to apologize for saying the f-word in the halls of Congress to Patrick Leahy.  In dirty Dick’s interview, he refuses to say it was a mistake because Leahy was on him about Halliburton, and because Leahy had acted disingenuously.

Let’s take those one at a time.  First, Leahy was on him about a conflict of interest related to contracts related to reconstruction and supply for the Iraq effort that were mysteriously won by the firm that Cheney is the former CEO of.

Imagine that, a senator from the opposition party having a negative view of an obviously inappropriate contract award.  (Folks, I will not argue here about all the things that have come to light about this contract regarding overpricing, fraud, and so on.  You can read that for yourself.  This part of the post is merely pointing out that dirty Dick is responsible for his actions, and should not be surprised that a leading Democrat was staunchly against Cheney’s involvement in the incident.)

And then, dirty Dick was upset that Leahy could spout a bunch of negative rhetoric in the political arena and then “act as if he’s your best friend”.  Well, it’s my take that Dick mistook professional courtesy and tact for disingenuous behavior.  And, I would not expect him to recognize courtesy and tact when it is displayed, as he has so rarely exhibited it in his own conduct.  And even if Leahy was being two-faced, would it greatly surprise you to hear that stuff happens in Congress?

So dirty Dick uses these as reasons to justify not apologizing for uttering what is perhaps the most profane word in our language, and not in the men’s locker room at the gym, but on the floor of Congress.

Dick, you shame yourself, your administration, your party, and your fellow politicians by your reprehensible conduct.

And the last national politician I recall saying the f-word in public was tricky Dick Nixon.

Wow, Cheney, you’re in great company.  A pair of Dicks: one dirty and one tricky.  And, you’ll guess from my pseudonym, I’d prefer the tricky one.

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Posted by: trickyguy | December 13, 2008

Learning to HATE Comment Moderation

You bet I saw Heather’s nice tutorial on the new moderation features for the WordPress literati.

Wow, now it’s easier than ever before to censor those whose comments you don’t agree with.  You can muzzle the masses as it were.

Yep, you can sure that yours is the only voice heard on the topic of your choice.  Or you can be a real blogger and let your writing, and others’ opinions of it, stand on its own.

Posted by: trickyguy | November 27, 2008

Happy Thanksgiving

Thanksgiving good wishes and cheer to one and all.  We don’t often enough take stock of how well off we really are.  Following are some things to be thankful for.

Be thankful you are not in the Taj Hotel in Mumbai (where I have stayed at least a dozen times, most recently fourteen months ago).  India is a beautiful, but chaotic country.  Our country, however imperfect, has better security than that.

Be thankful that you are not in a country like Georgia with a dominant and powerful neighbor that invades if the political tide turns in a direction that they do not favor.  Our country is too powerful for that.

Be thankful that you live where democracy does thrive.  I spent much time in Saudi Arabia where, for all their money, they still lack one thing many Americans take for granted: the right to vote.

Be thankful that most Americans are able to live their lives far from violence.  A generation of Iraqi, Israeli, and Afghani children has not been so lucky.

Be thankful that we have a safe food supply.  Thousands of Chinese babies were not so lucky.

And the next time you are stressed waiting for a parking spot at Costco, the next time someone cuts you off in traffic, the next time your boss gives you little or no raise, stop and consider what you can indeed be thankful for.  And thank God that you’re an American.

Posted by: trickyguy | November 22, 2008

Sarah Palin in 2012?

My arch-conservative buddies at Fox (that right wing storefront masquerading as a news organization) closed the comment thread on an article by Greta asking whether Sarah Palin should run for president in 2012.

I just couldn’t let it lie.  And, I am sure, Gov. Palin would appreciate a few more minutes in the limelight.

Folks, Mrs. Palin was a truly interesting sidebar to this election.  While one can argue for days on end as to why McCain chose her as a running mate, and for an equally long time whether she is or is not qualified, you have to admit that she is interesting.

Gosh, her views are so far to the right that I daresay many Republicans even support them.  Then there are all of the issues with “troopergate” up there in Alaska.  The hubbub over her clothes and makeup.  Her unending series of gaffes and questionable statements.

Hey, for bloggers it doesn’t get better.  But, as I wrote in a previous post, she is not why the Republican ticket lost.  And that’s not what I wanted to write about here anyway.

The question is: should she run in 2012?  And the underlying question is: if so, what would it do for the Republicans’ chances?

To be sure, aside from John McCain as the nominee, not one of the other contenders got half as much press as Mrs. Palin did once she joined the ticket.  (I am comparing her publicity to that of the other primary candidates prior to the primary election.)  So why was that?  A female?  A fresh and not unattractive face?  Some highly polarizing views?  Her ‘folksy’ style of dialog?

So the fact that she attracts media attention is good, right?  Not so sure on that one.  More often it was pointing out the gaffe (Africa IS a country, isn’t it?).  It was thinly veiled criticism of style of speaking.  It was wondering who paid for that wardrobe.  Still, a famous saying in marketing notes that “I don’t care what you call me, just call me”.  Maybe the attention is good all by itself.

So is she qualified to be President of the United States?  I know, I know, not even close.  But let’s examine that a bit further.  Our president-elect has only non-profit and legislative experience.  Obama has, for example, no experience in a chief executive role where there is substantial budgetary responsibility.  Mrs. Palin, while not governor of a large state, has had, nonetheless, that burden of overseeing a budget and defending expenditures.

Does being a governor prepare you for the presidency?  Well, it worked for Carter.  And, although he never ascended, it did for Nelson Rockefeller.  Heck, Adlai Stevenson (yes, I know he didn’t win) considered himself qualified and his resume was topped with nothing more than being Attorney General of Kansas.

So maybe we are being too tough on Governor Palin in the area of qualifications.  Set that aside for a minute whether you agree or not.

Here’s the root of my post: she does not represent the core of the Republican Party.  She is far, far too conservative.  She is in lockstep with the white, Christian, anti-abortion, anti-gay, anti-environment right wing of the party.  And, folks, they are the minority of Republicans.  For sure, they are a vocal minority, but a minority nonetheless.

While you could read my previous post on this, basically the party of Lincoln is a party that supports pro-business policies, is fiscally conservative, believes in smaller government and a strong national defense.  It is not a party that advocates legislating what adults do in their own bedrooms, nor is it a party that is ignorant of the dangers of abusing the environment, nor is it a party that wishes America to be the world’s policeman and, at times, the world’s bully.

I do not believe that Sarah Palin should run for the Republican nomination in 2012.  Not because she is a woman.  Not because she has some challenging personality quirks.  Not because she is unqualified.  But because she does not represent the right kind of Republican Party.  She does not represent a party that will attract young voters, minorities, or moderates.  She does not represent a Republican Party that can win a national election.

So, if the Republican Party wants to offer Americans a real alternative to the Democrats in 2012, it had better get to work on a platform that goes back to core Republican values, and, with just as much urgency, find candidates that represent those values.

Otherwise we’re really talking about candidates for 2016.

Posted by: trickyguy | November 21, 2008

Best and Brightest; Or Most Clintonesque?

As the officially announced (and leaked) nominations for Barack Obama’s cabinet come out, I find myself in an odd position: I tend to agree with Republican comments that this is not the broad-based, reaching-across-the-aisle cabinet that was promised.  While there are many positions that we’ve heard nothing about yet, I am at least a little disturbed that this seems to be a virtual mirror of the Clinton administration, with a smattering of other democrats thrown in.

Put more bluntly, I did not vote for Obama to put Bill/Hillary Clinton back into the White House.  I suspect that most of those who voted for Obama did not either.

We need, and have demanded, change.  That does not simply mean change from the Republican policies of the last eight years; it means change period.  A new way of doing things.  True collaboration and cooperation.  A willingness to throw out every concept of how it has previously been done, and build the right government from scratch.

I am suspicious that the cabinet being formed cannot do that.  I suspect that many of them are at least part of the problem.  They are part of the political machine.  They are partisan.  They work within the system as opposed to advocate for a different one.

Carefully study the background of each key nominee.  I believe that you will have deep concerns as I do.

Barack Obama was elected on a platform of change, reconciliation, healing, working together, becoming the right kind of America again.  I truly hope he does not lose sight of that.  I truly hope does not simply toss away the mandate he has been given in favor of politics as usual.

If he does, the shine will come off this new era with historic rapidity.  And we will have passed by an opportunity of momentous proportions.

Posted by: trickyguy | November 19, 2008

Al-Qaeda And The American Conservatives

OK, I pulled you in with the title.  Don’t worry there is a legitimate point here.

Follow this link to a CNN story about comments made by the #2 man in Al-Qaeda (because there aren’t women in positions of power, I’d guess) regarding the election of Barack Obama.

There are two points to be made about this.

First is that if Al-Qaeda warmly welcomed the new president, I’d think they’d gone a bit off-message.  You know, they’re not really supposed to be in support of anything related to the US, certainly not our government.  And, to make a comparison to Malcolm X, and with it the not-too-thinly-veiled racism, well, while they couldn’t do that with Bush because he was white, it can’t really be surprising.

Second, and here’s where this blog will stir up the WordPress masses.  You don’t have to go far in cyberspace to find that Al-Zawahiri’scomments are actually more mild than many you’ll see from good ol’ Americans.  Yep, sour grapes, an American specialty dish, combined with doses of far-right Liberal hating and carefully disguised racism are driving some pretty outrageous posts.

On the first: what can we really do about al-Qaeda?  There will always be those who hate a free and open society — let’s just hope they aren’t as talented at violence as this group.  Hey, the comparisons to Malcolm X at least prove he did more research than is behind the bile they normally spew.

On the second, though, this points to a potentially serious problem.  If we take Obama at his word (which, it seems, few in the losing minority are prepared to do) that this government will be a unity government, collaborating across party lines to fix the nation’s problems, then this “take my ball and go home” attitude has to stop.

So, how to do that?  Well, if you liken the pouting conservatives to the kid in the schoolyard who didn’t get his way, then the best way is to show the wrongheadedness of their position is by the success that Obama’s approach will have.

Show them that Democrats, Republicans, Independents, people of all races, backgrounds, and political affiliations can work together to turn the economy around, make our nation safe, and reinvigorate the American Dream.  Have them ask their parents or grandparents what happened in WWII when a Democrat was president: Americans united against a common enemy.

We have to do that again.  There are too many smart, talented, and patriotic Americans in the conservative wing of the Republican Party to marginalize them (or to allow them to do it themselves) and not make them part of the success.  We need their energy, talent, ideas, and balance.

There will be other elections where they can work within our political system to put into place candidates that better represent their views.  But though this election is over, the work is just starting — and we need their help.

Won’t you please come back and play with the rest of the kids?

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