Monthly Archives: November 2008

Will the Clinton Bashing Ever End?

So now that it is all but certain that Hillary Clinton will be our secretary of state, will the Clinton bashing calm down? I doubt it, but I hope so. ohllaryEvery article about tomorrow’s expected announcement has the undertone of distrust. What will she do? Will she undercut his policy and be a big bother taking Obama’s precious time away from more important presidential business? Does Bill still HATE him as everyone is just certain is the truth? Could those Clintons be plotting and planning some sort of coup? I am so tired of this speculation.

Why do they engender this from so many people? There is really no precedent for them in modern American history. Did the Adams’ have this same reaction? The Bushes certainly didn’t have this kind of talk bandied about with them. Nor has the Kennedy clan reached this level of anti-dynastic antipathy. It seems to be about Hillary. Bill definitely burned up some of his political capital during the primaries, but this enmity appears to come from somewhere else. The press has pushed it, but it also comes from both sides of the aisle. What exactly have they done to deserve this?

clintonr_468x612Bill was one of the most popular presidents in modern history both at home and abroad. And during the primary campaign he pissed off a lot of people by supporting his wife. The president shouldn’t be so political they seem to be saying. Bill is the same old Bill, but the political landscaped changed and he didn’t see it coming. His charm paled in comparison to the young Obama. Perhaps it was his pique at this upstart stealing his shine that made him seem less good old boy and more petulant loser. Yet even when it was over and Obama was the candidate, it looked like (from what we were shown on the news) Bill was holding a grudge. Even though Hillary was out doing her best to get Obama elected, the grumblings were everywhere about The Clintons and their dynastic pretensions. And when it was announced that Obama was offering Hillary the Secretary of State position, the floodgates opened wide.

All kinds of stories about the grudge, the Clintonian demands, the drama behinds the scenes, the “leaks” that must have come from the Clintons (despite the fact that many other administration appointments were also disclosed), Bill’s huge problems with conforming to the needs of the Obama administration for his wife’s sake, and on and on they went. Now that Bill has bent over backwards, agreeing to disclose everything about his finances, something that the pundits and prognosticators said would be impossible for him, and agreeing to let the Obama administration in on all his dealings, will the bashing stop?

What is it about this family, this man and woman, that keeps the public in pounce mode? They are both extremely smart, exceptionally capable, hugely charming and clearly ambitious. But both have chosen to devote themselves to public service. Both could certainly have done well in private practice. Maybe ego is a big part of their make-up, but at the level they have reached, who among them is without extreme self-confidence? Do they need a bit more hubris? Maybe. Could they have misjudged their special place in the country? Perhaps. But now that the dust has settled and they are both on board with Obama, can’t we all just get along? Please.

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Poetic Justice

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Ann Coulter’s mouth has been wired shut. She broke her jaw, though no one is saying how, but if there is a God above, he/she is laughing out loud. Could not have happened to a more deserving person.

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Second Acts

It seems that old rockers keep popping up in all kinds of places. Ted Nugent as the new voice of conservative America.

There are really only four things I have a strong aversion to: unloaded guns, dull knives, banjos, and Republicans in Name Only (RINOs).

neilyoung1Neil Young pushing for the electric car.

People just don’t know how cool these cars are. Efficient technology can power the existing designs we have today. We don’t need new tooling to start building electric cars now. We need kits to adapt what we are currently making to today’s demands. We need new thinking from new leaders and we need new perspectives from unions.

Then there’s Ry Cooder showing up in the NY Times travel section.ry-cooder-flatheadthumbnail

Ry’s latest project may be his strangest and most ambitious. It’s a trilogy of concept albums, plus a short novel, that resurrects a lost California of places and people that Ry, who is 61, remembers from growing up in the 1950s. It was a dryer and poorer place then, but rich in things he likes, like simplicity and ingenuity, good musicians, cool cats and hot cars.

Springsteen (not to mention Billy Joel, James Taylor, The Grateful Dead, and The Allman Brothers) gave concerts for Obama all over America.

And in a strange twist after the tortuous politics of the Christian right in this election, the Vatican has forgiven John Lennon for saying that the Beatles were more popular than Jesusimages

After so many years it sounds merely like the boasting of an English working-class lad struggling to cope with unexpected success.

In March of 1996 Lennon told a reporter, “Christianity will go. It will vanish and shrink. We’re more popular than Jesus now – I don’t know which will go first, rock and roll or Christianity. Jesus was alright, but his disciples were thick and ordinary. It’s them twisting it that ruins it for me.”

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Dollar a year Men

united_states_one_dollar_bill_obverseWhere are the captains of industry when we need them? There is precedent for business experts actually coming to the service of their country when we find ourselves in dire straights. And we are in a real crisis now, are we not?

When the United States entered World War I in 1917, the moral fervor of the American commitment, inspired by President Woodrow Wilson’s ringing call for a “war to end all wars,” motivated a large number of prominent merchants, manufacturers, bankers, professional men, and others to enter the service of the government as executives in departments in which they were expert. For their service they accepted only a token salary of one dollar per year, plus their necessary expenses. These federal appointees, and others who later followed their example, served primarily in times of national emergency, such as during the world wars.

Couldn’t some of our millionaire citizens come to the aid of their country now? Could we ask all the heads of companies we bail out to take $1 a year until they get back on track? Are there no decent rich people out there? How many millions does any one person need?

Iacocca did it in 1980. Would the CEO’s of the big three do it?

In 1979, a dollar at Chrysler was worth, well, a dollar. But on Jan. 7, 1980, that buck turned into $3.5 billion. Chrysler borrowed $1.2 billion by 1981, a year in which it cut losses to $500 million, from $1.7 billion in 1980. By 1983, the company paid back the loans years in advance and made $500 million.

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The Last 100 days

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While the press talks about what Obama will do in his first 100 days, I am watching Bush do his damage in his last 100. Since during his reign, the constitution has been shredded, the environment befouled at will, the economy flushed down the toilet by deregulation, what else is there for him to do?

He’s not done with us yet! Only today he decided to make it easier for health professionals to refuse to give care to some unfortunate souls based on their religious beliefs.

The proposed rule would prohibit recipients of federal money from discriminating against doctors, nurses and other health care workers who refuse to perform or to assist in the performance of abortions or sterilization procedures because of their “religious beliefs or moral convictions.”

It would also prevent hospitals, clinics, doctors’ offices and drugstores from requiring employees with religious or moral objections to “assist in the performance of any part of a health service program or research activity” financed by the Department of Health and Human Services.

Bush also gave the go ahead for the oil companies to rape public lands for oil-shale.

Firing off another decision that is angering environmental groups, the Bush administration has issued new regulations to develop oil shale deposits straddling almost two million acres of public lands in Colorado, Utah and Wyoming.

It is not the first time this month that the Bush administration has sought to make the best of its last days in office. Earlier this month, the Bureau of Land Management expanded its oil and gas lease program in eastern Utah to include tens of thousands of acres on or near the boundaries of three national parks.

The Bush administration seems intent on taking full advantage of a regulatory window that is about to close at the end of the week. In 1996, the Republican-controlled Congress passed the “Congressional Review Act,” which gives lawmakers a 60-day window to repeal new rules issued by executive agencies. The law was intended to prevent outgoing administrations from passing “midnight” rules in their waning hours.In practice, Mr. Book says, this means the Bush administration has until Thursday, Nov. 20, to issue regulations.

And what else has he done in his last 100 days? Since October 10th, he has

ignored Congressional statutes requiring privacy disclosures by his Department of Homeland Security and non-discrimination in hiring by faith-based groups receiving federal funds. In twice turning his back on the rule of law, Bush again resorted to his favorite executive power-grabbing tools, the signing statement and “interpretation” by the DOJ’s Office of Legal Counsel.

Last month, Attorney General Michael Mukasey rushed out new guidelines for the F.B.I. that permit agents to use chillingly intrusive techniques to collect information on Americans even where there is no evidence of wrongdoing.

Agents will be allowed to use informants to infiltrate lawful groups, engage in prolonged physical surveillance and lie about their identity while questioning a subject’s neighbors, relatives, co-workers and friends. The changes also give the F.B.I. — which has a long history of spying on civil rights groups and others — expanded latitude to use these techniques on people identified by racial, ethnic and religious background.

The administration showed further disdain for Americans’ privacy rights and for Congress’s power by making clear that it will ignore a provision in the legislation that established the Department of Homeland Security. The law requires the department’s privacy officer to account annually for any activity that could affect Americans’ privacy — and clearly stipulates that the report cannot be edited by any other officials at the department or the White House.

The Justice Department’s Office of Legal Counsel has now released a memo asserting that the law “does not prohibit” officials from homeland security or the White House from reviewing the report. The memo then argues that since the law allows the officials to review the report, it would be unconstitutional to stop them from changing it. George Orwell couldn’t have done better.

The administration has been especially busy weakening regulations that promote clean air and clean water and protect endangered species.

Mr. Bush, or more to the point, Vice President Dick Cheney, came to office determined to dismantle Bill Clinton’s environmental legacy, undo decades of environmental law and keep their friends in industry happy. Mr. Bush’s secretary of the interior, Dirk Kempthorne, has recently carved out significant exceptions to regulations requiring expert scientific review of any federal project that might harm endangered or threatened species (one consequence will be to relieve the agency of the need to assess the impact of global warming on at-risk species).

In coming weeks, we expect the Environmental Protection Agency to issue a final rule that would weaken a program created by the Clean Air Act, which requires utilities to install modern pollution controls when they upgrade their plants to produce more power. The agency is also expected to issue a final rule that would make it easier for coal-fired power plants to locate near national parks in defiance of longstanding Congressional mandates to protect air quality in areas of special natural or recreational value.

Interior also is awaiting E.P.A.’s concurrence on a proposal that would make it easier for mining companies to dump toxic mine wastes in valleys and streams. The interior department also has been rushing to open up millions of acres of pristine federal land to oil and gas exploration. He should not.

So what else can we look forward to? Pardons for all his criminal buddies. He could pardon himself if he wanted. But apparently it is hard to pardon people without spelling out what they are being pardoned for and then you have a handy list for future prosecutions. Possibilities: Jack Abramoff, Scooter Libby, Cheney, Rove, and all the rest of the thugs that helped him rip apart our civil liberties. He’s been stingier than most Presidents with the pardons, but it is a last chance to thank all those who helped him so much.

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Hillary Clinton Secretary of Ulterior Motives

Since the news came through that Hillary Clinton might be under consideration for the Obama administration’s secretary of state appointment, the news pundits have had a field day coming up with their reasons behind the choice. Most want to find ulterior motives for it. “He wants her out of the Senate so she won’t be able to give him problems with health care.” “Keep your friends close, and your enemies closer.” “He wants to keep her from running in 2012.”

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But what if he just thinks that she is the best person for the post? What if Obama is simply able to put the primaries behind him and move forward with the job we gave him? I have to say that Hillary in that post didn’t seem like the most obvious to me when I first heard it. What about Sec. of Health and Human Services? What is the experience she brings to the table? But then Kissinger came out and said:

“I believe it would be an outstanding appointment. If it is true, it shows a number of things, including great courage on the part of the President-Elect. To appoint a very strong personality into a prominent cabinet position requires a great deal of courage.”

She knows a wide variety of world leaders and it is clear that the world would be happy with her in the role. I think that Obama would want a strong independent thinker in the role, not someone who would be ruled by the vice president’s office, remember Condi. That Hillary and Obama have not agreed on every policy is not a negative. He is notable for wanting a variety of opinions around him. His mind thrives on synthesizing ideas, taking the best from may voices. Strong people like Hillary would be sure to give that intellect a good work out.

This is the best Hillary could hope for in my opinion, because despite being one of her early supporters, I know that there is still so much hatred of her here in America from both the left and the right, women and men, black and white. Fox News was, as expected, bashing her from the moment she took the stage. And NY Times Columnist Maureen Dowd never missed an opportunity to bash “The Clintons” during the whole cycle. I don’t think Hillary could win the American presidency, not because of the supposed sexism that derailed her; I think that there are people of every persuasion who hated her when she was in the White House with Bill for whatever reason, who would never have voted for her for president, and who will continue to distrust her and Bill until the end of time. Fortunately, if she becomes Secretary of State, those people are all in the US and her job will be in the world at large where they like her and respect her husband. So it is in the end the best of both worlds for her — huge responsibility and respect. And good for all of us, too.

The fly in the ointment may be Bill. Will his many international business and philanthropic dealings become a conflict of interest if Hillary takes the office? If he makes a speech that voices an opinion that runs counter to the new administration’s policy, is the family association enough to say that Hillary must address it. Putting a muzzle on Bill and expecting him to pull back on his agenda might be the only thing to derail this appointment.

This is the first time in history this has come up and I find it fascinating. Talk about sexism or gender politics! This could easily become the most interesting he said/she said ever.

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Signs of the times

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Seen today at the mall. Gotta love the truck driver.

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