Archive for the ‘1’ Category

david brooks

March 5, 2010

I normally like David Brooks.  His style.  His politics. What he has to say.  But his recent column about the Tea Party movement was just plain stupid.  The Tea Party is a damn Republican front.

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tea party = republican front

March 5, 2010

New York Times columnist David Brooks wrote a piece this morning in which he favorably compared the Tea Party Movement with the New Left civil right/anti-war movement that emerged in the 1960s, at least with respect to methods.

Oh for gawds sake, David.  The Tea Party is a Republican front.  Nothing less, nothing more.

Maybe the bulk of folks in it are independents — but the Tea Party leadership is outright Republican and anti-Democrat.  It’s led by the very same Republicans who said nothing, did nothing while GW Bush went merrily on his spending spree.

When the so-called Tea Party kicks out those “said nothing, did nothing” Republicans from the top echelons and invites Democrats, then I’ll perk up and listen. ‘Til then, fogettaboutit.

It’s just another arrow in the Republican quiver against Democrats.

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bayh says move to the middle

January 25, 2010
Strange how a single loss can mean so much in terms of the history and direction of this country.   There’s a message in there that’s got to be worth listening to.  Is there any louder wake-up call than the loss of Ted Kennedy’s seat to a Republican?  Not spending time to figure out where our footing is firmest on grounds that are ever shifting if not sinking is a recipe for disaster. . . . . But, let’s not panic. Don’t need to call Winston Wolf just yet, okay.  This is January 1994, not January 1995.  If it was January 1995, then maybe you call the problem solver.  Maybe not.  Above all, Obama needs to be the cool cucumber that he seems to be, because that’s who the nation needs: a thoughtful, deliberate, and activist president (within reason, of course).

Bayh’s Prognosis: Democrats Must Move to the Middle, By Gerald F. Seib, Wall Street Journal (January 25, 2010)

Sen. Evan Bayh of Indiana, the very embodiment of calm understatement, seems an unlikely character to play the role of scold. But in recent weeks—particularly after last week’s Massachusetts mauling—he has been scolding his Democratic Party, and sternly.

His message: Democrats and their president need to move decisively to the political center and root themselves there by showing they are serious about controlling spending and the deficit, which angry mainstream voters see as the real sign that Washington is out of touch.

Thus, while many Democrats complain the Obama administration’s problems arise because it hasn’t been aggressive enough in pursuing a liberal agenda, Mr. Bayh arises to make the opposite case.

President Barack Obama, Mr. Bayh said in an interview, needs to “step it up” in his State of the Union address Wednesday and get tougher with Congress. Here’s his message to the White House: “My strong advice is for you to draw a line in the sand on spending in the State of the Union, and to have the president pledge to veto spending bills that exceed the limits he puts out.”

Many in his party, Mr. Bayh said, are “tone deaf” about the real message voters are sending, which is that Democrats have “overreached rather than looking for consensus with moderates and independents.” He added: “It is amazing that some people here in Congress still don’t get it.…For those people it may take a political catastrophe of biblical proportions before they get it. I don’t think we’ll get to that. But we might.”

These are stern words from a man known more for rounding the edges of a debate than sharpening them. But they come from someone who knows a thing or two about Democrats wandering into political minefields.

Mr. Bayh saw it happen in his own family. His father, Birch Bayh, was a respected veteran senator from Indiana in his own right when the conservative Reagan Revolution snuck up in 1980 and washed him and a Democratic Senate majority out to sea.

The son subsequently followed his father into politics and became governor of Indiana at the age of 32. From that seat, he watched as Democrats in Washington were again hit by a wave from the right in 1994 and lost control of both houses of Congress.

“Every 14 or 16 years we seem to have to relearn this lesson,” Mr. Bayh said. “I do have a sense of deja vu, and the movie doesn’t have a happy ending.” But, he added, “there is an alternative ending we have an opportunity to write.”
He has a personal stake in the ending, for he is up for re-election this year. He has been considered among the safest of Democrats, having won his seat last time with 62% of the vote. He has polled well ahead of any known Republican foes and has a daunting $12.7 million campaign war chest.

Still, the climate has turned so rapidly that some national Republicans are urging conservative Rep. Mike Pence, the House’s third-ranking member and a vocal leader of the opposition to Democrats’ health-care overhaul efforts, to challenge Mr. Bayh. It’s unclear whether he will; Indiana’s filing deadline is still a few weeks away. Mr. Bayh said his poll numbers suggest he has a strong lead against any Republican foe.

In any case, Mr. Bayh has been sounding political alarm bells for weeks now over rising anger in the heartland. Part of voters’ anger, he said, is directed “at all large institutions that they think have an unfair advantage. Part of it is a feeling that the rules of the game have been rigged to favor the big guys over ordinary people.”

But Mr. Bayh bored in on this: “Part of it is anger at fiscal irresponsibility in Washington. People are having to make hard choices.…They don’t see Washington joining in that.”

Thus, Mr. Bayh was one of only three Democrats to vote against a massive, catch-all, end-of-year spending bill his party’s leaders steered through Congress in December. He then asked Mr. Obama to veto it. In the aftermath of the vote, he put out a statement saying bluntly: “Washington is totally out of touch with mainstream America.” Remember, that was well before Democrats lost that Massachusetts Senate seat.

Now, Mr. Bayh wants Congress to pass a jobs bill without “the usual grab bag” of spending items, but with tax cuts for small businesses that create jobs.

He isn’t sure bashing banks will bring real economic improvement to average Americans, and he staunchly opposes denying Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke a second term. He said he prefers “positive populism” in the form of, for example, more aggressive moves to create jobs and lower college costs. Above all, he wants that presidential line in the sand on spending and deficits.

“The only way Democrats can govern in this country is by making common cause with moderates and independents,” he said. “It may be too late to regain them on health care. It’s not too late to regain them on spending.” To a president being pulled by some toward the left, and by others toward easy populism, Evan Bayh makes the case for driving a stake firmly in the political center instead.

btw . . .

January 18, 2010

BTW: here’s a  pic of the President holding up a hoodie from the school that I attended back in the day.  Local youths and my fellow alum are loving it.  Small world . . . .



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very good job, room for improvement

December 29, 2009

Looking back over 2009 without getting into details, I’m convinced historians will positively view Obama’s first year in office. I think historians will say Obama succeeded in attempting to “set the table” for the “dinner” that is ultimately to come. You can see this in his outreach to the muslim world. And, in his approach to reforming health care, by working with Capitol Hill in a way that came perilously close to too much “hands off.” The stimulus plan epitomizes this approach, since, by definition, the benefits are suppose to come soon-after in the near to medium term.

From what I can glean, Obama is detached in a cool, Kennedy-like manner; but, unlike Clinton in his early years, his team doesn’t appear to let things spiral down into chaos because of this cool detachment. No one is mistaking the detachment for lack of concern or discipline.

Obama’s business model appears to be working.  He gives the Capitol Hill big wigs room to do their stuff, and lets them get the credit. So, in Obama 2009, the public did not see an over-reaching figure trying to meet certain benchmarks for this or that agenda item, and, in so doing, running rough-shod over the public or Capitol Hill.  Of course, Republicans belly-ached — but that’s an expected part of political kabuki, right?

In contrast, Clinton, in my opinion, over-reached with his health care reform by failing to include the public, an approach many pundits say was responsible for undoing that earlier reform effort.  (But, let’s remember that, for every Moses, there’s got to be an Aaron).  By taking his time and including the public, Obama inoculates his team and the Democrats against Harry and Louise and fulminating right-wing Republicans.

So, yeah, Obama’s polls might me down; but that’s to be expected.  There was bound to be some amount of fog that would surround, befuddle and even scare Joe and Jane Q. Public.  But the fog will eventually lift, and, when it does, we’ll see were moving on the right path.

But all of the above is about how Obama “managed” 2009 very well. For that, history will applaud Obama. But for history to really take notice of Obama, he’s going to have to take his presidency to another level. That doesn’t mean scolding pols holding out on health care reform even more, or wagging an angry finger in the direction of Wall Street. No, Obama needs to think along the lines of what Lincoln sought to do with his Gettysburg Address, as Garry Wills convincingly writes.

I’d love for Obama to give a presumptively low-profile speech (perhaps delivered on a Friday morning to a gathering of bleary-eyed Rotarians or Lion’s Club members) that, in a candid-speak manner that Obama is capable of, connects health care reform, the global economic system, and America’s role now and far, far into the 21st century.  As the pre-eminent leader in the world, America has an obligation to be a beacon of hope and freedom, and to see that these ideals are strengthened and woven into international regimes, accords, and norms of behavior. Yet the economy we are in is characterized by ebbs and flows the likes and magnitudes to which we are not yet accustomed, although 2008-2009 was certainly a wake up call.   This will not change.  Against this larger backdrop, things like health care reform matter by offering Americans a firmer footing in a global economic regime characterized by flux. Innovation, capital- and business formation matter. Rather than undoing it, we want to and must continue to be the leader in this fast-paced new economic order. Can you imagine a world where an economic giant like China becomes the driving force behind the norms and principles of international regimes and agreements?

on the public option . . in whatever form

December 15, 2009

“If not now, when; if not us, who?”

— Ronald Reagan quoting the Rabbi Hillel as the then-governor of California embarked on efforts to “clean the mess in Berkeley”

embarassing, yes, but not like mathias rust

November 30, 2009

Remember when Mathias Rust flew his plane from West Germany to Finland to Moscow back in 1987?  He parked that baby right in the middle of Red Square, of all places.  Now that caused damage of monumental proportions, to the old Soviet regime at least.  So, yeah, the intrusion into the White House party embarrassed the Secret Service and maybe even President Obama (though I doubt it); but, in the end, it wasn’t damaging like what Mathias Rust did over twenty years ago. . . . But in the meantime let’s tighten up the security.

proud of obama

November 16, 2009

I do not know the details of what President Obama said in China yesterday, but from what I am reading in the papers, I think his think history will look back at the talk about the Internet is as a signature moment. [note: update December 15, 2009]

kudos . . . now let’s move on

July 24, 2009

Kudos to the president for discussing the Professor Gates situation, laying the issue out there as it really is.  And double kudos to the president for trying to ratchet-down the controversy.  Like he said, it was a teachable moment all around.  Now, let’s get back to work.

xerox and the demise of the soviet

June 9, 2009

Ronald Reagan and Jackson Democrats gave the push that ultimately toppled a USSR hobbled by the weight of rampant paranoia that stifled innovation needed to keep up with the United States.  The Russian Communist Party kept close watch on all forms of communication fearing that users of something as simple as the xerox machine would be up to no good.  Scientists and entrepreneurs could not operate effectively in this climate of suspicion.  Repeated decades of stunted growth finally caught up to the Communist Party, who by the late 1970s found that they did not posses the economic base and intellectual capital to keep up with the West.  Efforts by Gorbachev to reform and open up the economy through perestroika were too late.  The Soviet system gasped its last breath in 1991. In clamping down on the free exchange of ideas via the Internet by requiring all computers to include web-filters, strangely enough, we find the Peoples’ Republic of China repeating the paranoia of the old Soviet, inviting the same consequences born by the Communist Russia onto itself.   Will these communists never learn?