Saturday, November 8, 2008

The Gatekeeper

In his essay at Docudharma Friday A Progressive/Liberal Agenda Buhdydharma initiated some discussion of what changes would be considered and desired to be included by progressives as an agenda to be lobbied for to Barack Obama as he takes up his new job as President, and people offered a range of ideas, many based on rolling back things that George Bush had instituted during his eight years in office.

As distasteful as it may be to many quite possibly the most important thing to be considered in developing such an agenda is not what people might want, but what is going to be politically possible to achieve with an Obama presidency. The dark spirit of political pragmatism rears its ugly head here, since there is little point, though I'd be the last to say no point, in asking for things that are not politically likely.

Which raises the questions, what or who will determine politically what is possible to achieve? What are the roadblocks? Who will be standing in the road fending off or screening all comers to Obama with requests?

Who do you have to please? Who do you have to get past? Who will decide whether Obama even hears your pleas? Who will set the tone, at least initially, for Obamas presidency?

The White House Chief of Staff is the second highest-ranking member of the Executive Office of the President of the United States and a senior aide to the President. Some individuals who have held the position, including Sherman Adams, have been dubbed "The Second-Most Powerful Man in Washington" due to the nature of the job.

The duties of the White House Chief of Staff vary greatly from one administration to another. However, the chief of staff has been responsible for overseeing the actions of the White House staff, managing the president's schedule, and deciding who is allowed to meet with the president. Because of these duties, the Chief of Staff has at various times been dubbed "The Gatekeeper" and "The Co-President". (wikipedia)

In a WSJ article this morning a story about Obama's incoming White House Chief of Staff makes it clear what to expect initially from Obama, and by omission what not to expect as he makes it clear that he will do his utmost too keep Obama reined in as a center right Democrat.

Basically a play it safe non progressive administration. And perhaps much worse that that.

In Rahm Emanuel's telling, the Democratic victories on Tuesday were a continuum of what began in the 2006 midterm elections, when his party won majorities in the House and the Senate for the first time in 12 years.
Recently, I spoke with Mr. Emanuel during a short layover at the Detroit airport. Officially, he hadn't yet been offered the new post, and when queried about the prospect of serving in the Obama White House he demurred. But Mr. Emanuel, who turns 49 later this month, was eager to discuss Congress's agenda going forward. He explained how Democrats can avoid the mistakes that felled the Republican majority, and he reflected on the lessons learned as a high-ranking member of President Clinton's brain trust in the 1990s.

Asked what Barack Obama was elected to do, and what legislation he's likely to find on his Oval Office desk soonest, Mr. Emanuel didn't hesitate. "Bucket one would have children's health care, Schip," he said. "It has bipartisan agreement in the House and Senate. It's something President-elect Obama expects to see. Second would be [ending current restrictions on federally funded] stem-cell research. And third would be an economic recovery package focused on the two principles of job creation and tax relief for middle-class families."

The last time a Democratic president's party also ran Congress was 1992. Just two years later, however, voters changed their mind about that arrangement and gave the GOP control of the House and Senate. Mr. Emanuel said he's not at all concerned that the party will overplay its hand this time. He insisted that his caucus is mindful of what happened to Democrats in 1994 and the Republican Congress in 2006.
"the lesson is to do what you got elected to do," said Mr. Emanuel. "Do what you talked about on the campaign. If you got elected, that's what people expect. Don't go off on tangents where part of your party is demanding an ideological litmus test. Neither of those things was part of the campaign."
So I asked Mr. Emanuel if the election of an unabashed liberal like Mr. Obama has made the New Democrat strategy obsolete. Perhaps what we witnessed on Tuesday means that liberalism is ascendant and the U.S. is no longer a center-right nation. "I think the country is incredibly pragmatic," he responded. "Pragmatic and progressive. But you still have to mix and match different approaches to reach your objectives. You have to be flexible."

He said the similarities between Barack Obama and the last Democratic president matter more than the differences. "Both Barack and Bill Clinton have an incredible connection to the public," he said. "Both ran on a message of hope. Both ran against failed policies that let the country down prior to them being elected. I don't think the country is yearning for an ideological answer. If anything it's the opposite. They want real solutions to real problems. And if we do an ideological test, we will fail. Our challenge is to work to solve the actual problems that the country is facing, not work to satisfy any constituency or ideological wing of the party."

So who is this guy? Who is Rahm Emanual? What does he want and stand for? What is his vision of an Obama presidency? What has he done in the past that will give some clues as to how he will operate as "Co-President"?

David Swanson is the creator of, the Washington Director of and co-founder of the coalition; a board member of Progressive Democrats of America; of the Backbone Campaign; and of Voters for Peace. He serves on a working group of United for Peace and Justice. He has worked as a newspaper reporter and as a communications director, with jobs including Press Secretary for Dennis Kucinich's 2004 presidential campaign.

A couple of days ago he spoke with Real News CEO Paul Jay about the ramifications of Emanual in the Chief of Staff position.

You may not much like what he had to say.

There's more: "The Gatekeeper" >>

Friday, November 7, 2008


Leave it to Ted Rall to provide a bracing dose of realism on the Obama election.

You know you’re in for fun with a column that has the subhead of “Obama Win More Hysterical Than Historical.”

If that’s not enough, here’s more meat for you:

Don't be fooled by the electoral college rout. The popular vote reveals that United States remains a deeply divided country. Bush got 51 percent of the vote in 2004; Kerry drew 48 percent. Obama defeated McCain 51-48. A surge of newly registered voters, including many African-Americans energized by Obama's candidacy, accounts for the three percent difference.

No one's mind has changed. People who voted for Bush in 2004 voted for McCain. If everyone who voted for Obama had shown up at the polls four years ago, John Kerry would be president. Obama's victory is the triumph of retail fundraising, computer metrics, and a team of smart, focused advisors who knew how to exploit them.

And, while he doesn’t go into Naderland and call Obama an uncle Tom, he does add this:
Obama had a white upbringing. A product of the elite, he went to an Ivy League college (the same as mine, at the same time). If we were looking at President-Elect Sharpton, I/d believe in this change. (Too scary? Exactly.) As things stand, the rich white people who own and run the country have little to fear.

Read Ted Rall – if you dare.

There's more: "‘NO WE DIDN’T’" >>

We’ve agreed to something with Iraq

Unfortunately, our own BushCo government won’t tell us WHAT changes it has accepted in its status of forces agreement with Iraq.

It WILL tell us, though, that it’s through negotiating changes on the SOFA:

A US official, speaking on the condition of anonymity, said “there may be requests for clarifications (from the Iraqis) but as far as we're concerned that process of negotiating has come to an end.”

Don’t worry, though; Arab-language Asharq Al-Awsat fills in what BushCo won’t tell us.

Among other things, BushCo reportedly dropped a clause authorizing Washington and Baghdad to seek an extension for retaining troops in the cities beyond 2009 and in the country beyond 2011.

There's more: "We’ve agreed to something with Iraq" >>


Even through all the hours of volunteering, miles of travel, days of anticipation; I could never have imagined a feeling like this. A feeling that cannot be described…a historic feeling.

Through voter registration drives, phone banks shifts, campaign rallies and debate watching parties. I could never have imagined that I would be a part of something my kids could be so proud of me for.

As the day approached, a sense of numbness came over me as I continued to do my small part to be a part of history. A numbness that removed any feeling of counting pre-hatched eggs of historic proportions. Even as momentum grew, I did not let my efforts become complacent.

I think of the sacrifices and hours I gave then sit in awe as I realize they don’t even compare to what he gave for this…historic opportunity.

Everyone dreams of that story they can tell their kids, their grandkids and great-grandkids. The story that always can be summed up with these words…


I was there in Springfield he first asked the nation to say, “Yes We can!”

I was there in the room of dozens calling voters in other states to tell them about this great man.

I was there when I had to say good-bye to Trinity and Daddy J.

I was there in Denver when he accepted the nomination, united a party and ignited a nation.

I was there among the hundreds who registered last minute voters in Illinois, Indiana, Michigan and Ohio.

I was there when people opened their homes to watch the debates with strangers held by the common belief that CHANGE and HOPE are possible.

I was there when a young boy asked “VOTE FOR MY BETTER TOMORROW”

I was there when hundreds of thousands voted early in record numbers.

I was there when we called on millions of young voters to take back their country and show this country that our generation is not lost.

I was there in Indiana and Ohio when we believed that we could turn RED into BLUE.

I was there when 250,000 waited outside of Grant Park, the site of race riots just 40 years ago, in hopes of being there when history was made.

I was there when each electoral vote was awarded…


Then 70

Then 130

Then 197

Then 207

Then 273

And finally 292

I was there when we danced in Grant Park when he won.

I was there when strangers hugged each other and cried in each other’s arms, overcome by the emotion of the moment.

I was there when many called their loved ones to share the news.

I was there as they sold T-shirts, buttons, towels so we’d never forget this night.

I was there when Oprah and Jesse cried.

I was there when 250,000+ screamed “Yes We Can” as he walked on stage.

I was there.

Never in my life…even during the campaign did I expect to feel such a joy that could be compared to the births of my children. Yet there I was…calling my little girls in tears to let them know that I loved them and to remind them that this night proves that anything can happen and importantly to look to this day if they ever doubt what they are capable of.

I was there when millions celebrated in the streets all of the country as if they celebrated a new year when in fact they were celebrating a new day, a new country and a new belief in to what is possible.

I was there the next morning as everyone scrambled to newsstands to pick up their piece of history.

I was there as to witness homeless men and women smile from ear to ear to spend their only dimes and nickels on anything with his face on it.

I was there.

I was there.

I was there and nothing can compare to that. No one can take that from me.

Yet life goes on…as will I. Back to my life before “I was there”; before history was made as a nation said “Yes we can”.

So as my hair turns grey and my children grow, I now have my old man story that I will tell over and over. I have my story that will define my generation. A story I hope will inspire all and motivate others. A story that will be read by those that weren’t there so that they may create their own “I was there” moment.

I may not have been there when ROSA SAT


But damn it…I was there when OBAMA RAN

And I pray that I am there when OUR CHILDREN FLY


There's more: ""I WAS THERE"" >>

Thursday, November 6, 2008

The Real 2008 Election Picture

From Mark Newman, Department of Physics and Center for the Study of Complex Systems, University of Michigan:

Election results by state

Most of us are, by now, familiar with the maps the TV channels and web sites use to show the results of the presidential election:

The states are colored red or blue to indicate whether a majority of their voters voted for the Republican candidate, John McCain, or the Democratic candidate, Barack Obama, respectively. Looking at this map it gives the impression that the Republicans won the election handily, since there is rather more red on the map than there is blue. In fact, however, the reverse is true – the Democrats won by a substantial margin. The explanation for this apparent paradox, as pointed out by many people, is that the map fails to take account of the population distribution. It fails to allow for the fact that the population of the red states is on average significantly lower than that of the blue ones. The blue may be small in area, but they represent a large number of voters, which is what matters in an election.

We can correct for this by making use of a cartogram, a map in which the sizes of states are rescaled according to their population. That is, states are drawn with size proportional not to their acreage but to the number of their inhabitants, states with more people appearing larger than states with fewer, regardless of their actual area on the ground. On such a map, for example, the state of Rhode Island, with its 1.1 million inhabitants, would appear about twice the size of Wyoming, which has half a million, even though Wyoming has 60 times the acreage of Rhode Island.

Here are the 2008 presidential election results on a population cartogram of this type:

Hat Tip To BentLiberal @ Docudharma

And on the flip: Palin's "real" America: From Larisa Alexandrovna at-Largely this morning...

Sarah Palin has told us over and over that she represents real Americans. So consider this very interesting analysis from New York Times, showing the areas of America that delivered more Republican votes than in 2004:

In comparison, look at the below map showing where there was an increase in Democratic voters:

Um, Sarah, looks like your real America is a tiny strip where mountain folk still dwell.

There's more: "The Real 2008 Election Picture" >>

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Mr. President...

There's more: "Mr. President..." >>

Monday, November 3, 2008




DEMOCRATIC LANDSLIDE 11/4/8 copyright 2008 Cosanostradamus blog me no blogs

Record Nationwide Popular Turnout Buries Old Regime In The United States Of America



Election Guide 2008

Congressional Election Information

US Election Assistance Commission

Registering to Vote and Voting

Find your polling place


Election Protection

Report Voting Problems

[Cross-posted at blog me no blogs.]

There's more: "DEMOCRATIC LANDSLIDE 11/4/8" >>

Sunday, November 2, 2008




"Cafferty File: McCain Not U.S. Citizen?"
CNN says McCain's eligibility is questionable.

"Sarah Palin and the Alaska Independence Party. Palin addresses AIP convention"
Palin praises "inspiring work" by gun-toting right-wing nuts toward breaking up the United States.

NOT ELIGIBLE TO BE COMMANDER-IN-CHIEF: McCain Could Be Disqualified If He Wins; Palin Might Then Bust Up The United States, Her Secret Agenda. Pelosi Is Next In Line...

Much has been made of the fact that Barack Hussein Obama's father was born in Kenya, and that his mother divorced the Dad and remarried a man in Indonesia, where Obama then went to live. But Barack was born in Honolulu, Hawaii, as his birth records show, and his mother was always a U.S. citizen.

John Sidney McCain III was born somewhere in Latin America, supposedly on a shadowy military facility in the jungles of Panama. Was it foreign soil? Are there any records? Who were his real mother and father? Is there any proof of his parentage? Or was his birth deliberately moved to Central America to conceal his true origins? Was his actual mother a Panamanian prostitute? Was his true father a Columbian gigolo? Does anyone really know? Who is John McCain?

He claims to be the same person who was arrested and imprisoned by the Vietnamese government for terror-bombing Vietnamese children. He says he was brainwashed by them, and forced to make propaganda for them. Did his programming include taking over the United States of America? To what end? Can he be trusted today? Has he ever been de-programmed? By whom? For what purpose? Is he a Manchurian Candidate, bent upon our destruction, possibly a communist, islamist or fascist dupe? How do we know?

Until these questions are answered, McCain is or should be ineligible to serve as President of the United States. His unqualified lunatic choice for next-in-line for the Presidency, Vice Presidential candidate Sarah Palin, currently under investigation in Alaska, is an advocate of secession from the Union, which is treasonous. If she attempts to take over the government, military and law enforcement officers would be duty-bound to arrest and imprison her. That would leave us without a President, until Nancy Pelosi, next in line as Speaker of the House of Representatives, could step in. If our enemies don't step in first.



Would we rather have Nancy Pelosi appointed or Barack Obama elected as President? That is the real choice. America cannot stand any more chaos and uncertainty. To avoid all this, we have no choice but to elect the only competent loyal American born in this country that is still in the race and eligible to take the office of the Presidency, Barack Obama. Vote Country First, America! You don't want to live in Manchuria, do you?

(Where is Manchuria, anyway? Is that where Fu Manchu is from? Wicked kewl 'stash, bro! It might not be so bad after all, living the Manchu way! Do they have helmet laws? How much is gas there? Just askin'.)

"John McCain, the Republican Bet"
See, the Latino's know!

' Born in 1936, in a US base in the Panama Canal, another issue that went against him when he ran for the White House in 2000. According to the US Constitution, to run for the Presidency you have to be born in a state of the Union. '

"McCain's citizenship called into question"
I thought Romney was a cholo, that vato!
' This issue has been raised before in the presidential campaigns of Barry Goldwater, born in Arizona territory not the United States, and George Romney, born in Mexico. But it was never resolved. In 1964, the Supreme Court seemed to say, without deciding, that "natural born" meant born inside the United States. In an opinion on an unrelated issue, the court observed, "The rights of citizenship of the native born and of the naturalized person are of the same dignity and are coextensive. The only difference drawn by the Constitution is that only the 'natural born' citizen is eligible to be President." But that language is not legally binding, and the Supreme Court has never ruled on what "natural born" means. '

"McCain’s Canal Zone Birth Prompts Queries About Whether That Rules Him Out"
Musty? McCain is musty, all right!
' Mr. McCain’s likely nomination as the Republican candidate for president and the happenstance of his birth in the Panama Canal Zone in 1936 are reviving a musty debate that has surfaced periodically since the founders first set quill to parchment and declared that only a “natural-born citizen” can hold the nation’s highest office. Almost since those words were written in 1787 with scant explanation, their precise meaning has been the stuff of confusion, law school review articles, whisper campaigns and civics class debates over whether only those delivered on American soil can be truly natural born. To date, no American to take the presidential oath has had an official birthplace outside the 50 states. “There are powerful arguments that Senator McCain or anyone else in this position is constitutionally qualified, but there is certainly no precedent,” said Sarah H. Duggin, an associate professor of law at Catholic University who has studied the issue extensively. “It is not a slam-dunk situation.” Ms. Duggin and others who have explored the arcane subject in depth say legal argument and basic fairness may indeed be on the side of Mr. McCain, a longtime member of Congress from Arizona. But multiple experts and scholarly reviews say the issue has never been definitively resolved by either Congress or the Supreme Court. “They ought to have the same rights,” said Don Nickles, a former Republican senator from Oklahoma who in 2004 introduced legislation that would have established that children born abroad to American citizens could harbor presidential ambitions without a legal cloud over their hopes. “There is some ambiguity because there has never been a court case on what ‘natural-born citizen’ means.” The conflict that could conceivably ensnare Mr. McCain goes more to the interpretation of “natural born” when weighed against intent and decades of immigration law. Mr. McCain’s citizenship was established by statutes covering the offspring of Americans abroad and laws specific to the Canal Zone as Congress realized that Americans would be living and working in the area for extended periods. But whether he qualifies as natural-born has been a topic of Internet buzz for months, with some declaring him ineligible while others assert that he meets all the basic constitutional qualifications — a natural-born citizen at least 35 years of age with 14 years of residence. “I don’t think he has any problem whatsoever,” said Mr. Nickles, a McCain supporter. “But I wouldn’t be a bit surprised if somebody is going to try to make an issue out of it. If it goes to court, I think he will win.” '

"Sarah Palin: Voted Most Likely to Secede"
Maybe it's because she can see Russia from her taxpayer-funded hot-tub.
' But one item in her resume seems to be unknown by the majority of Americans, since it has gone virtually unreported by most of the mainstream media. This is the fact that Sarah Palin would actually like for the state of Alaska to secede from the United States and become its own sovereign nation. Palin's husband Todd was, for a number of years, a card carrying member of the Alaskan Independence Party (the AIP), whose avowed goal is getting a vote for secession on the ballot in Alaska, and passed as quickly a possible. Sarah Palin herself can be seen in a DVD she sent to the AIP's convention, welcoming them and effusively praising their efforts to dismember the United States. '

"We're Outta Here"
By golly, they're traitors!
' Todd Palin, husband of Sarah, was a member of the secessionist Alaska Independence Party from 1995 through 2002. That's the information we just got from the Alaska Division of elections. Probably not coincidentally, 2002 was the first time Sarah Palin ran for statewide office in Alaska. '

"Meet Sarah Palin's radical right-wing pals"
"Welcome to the White House, boys! When would you like to pull the U.S. military out of Alaska? Would noon today be OK? Kool-aid, anyone?"
' Though Chryson belongs to a fringe political party, one that advocates the secession of Alaska from the Union, and that organizes with other like-minded secessionist movements from Canada to the Deep South, he is not without peculiar influence in state politics, especially the rise of Sarah Palin. An obscure figure outside of Alaska, Chryson has been a political fixture in the hometown of the Republican vice-presidential nominee for over a decade. During the 1990s, when Chryson directed the AIP, he and another radical right-winger, Steve Stoll, played a quiet but pivotal role in electing Palin as mayor of Wasilla and shaping her political agenda afterward. Both Stoll and Chryson not only contributed to Palin's campaign financially, they played major behind-the-scenes roles in the Palin camp before, during and after her victory. Palin backed Chryson as he successfully advanced a host of anti-tax, pro-gun initiatives, including one that altered the state Constitution's language to better facilitate the formation of anti-government militias. She joined in their vendetta against several local officials they disliked, and listened to their advice about hiring. She attempted to name Stoll, a John Birch Society activist known in the Mat-Su Valley as "Black Helicopter Steve," to an empty Wasilla City Council seat. "Every time I showed up her door was open," said Chryson. "And that policy continued when she became governor." '

[Cross-posted on blog me no blogs.].