The Transition Is Beginning to Reveal A Lack of Christmas Cheer

December 11, 2008

Michael Sneed’s column in The Chicago Sun-Times carried an interesting item Thursday: President-Elect Obama, his family and staff was rejected from moving in Blair House before the Inauguration. Blair House traditionally serves as a residence for the President-Elect. The historical site also provides room and board for guests of the sitting Commander-in-Chief.

From the pages of Sneed’s piece:

To wit: Sneed hears Obama wanted to move his family and his transition team to Blair House, which is across from the White House, nearly two weeks before the president-elect historically moves there on Jan. 15 — five days before the inaugural.

The backshot: A source tells Sneed: “There were reportedly two reasons for the request: Obama’s children start school in early January — and the move could be interpreted as a New Year’s symbolic gesture showing the president-elect in a presidential capacity across from the White House on Jan. 2, the day after New Year’s Day.”

Why didn’t it happen? The columnist reveals the answer:

Responses: An Obama spokesman tells Sneed they were told Blair House had guests until Jan. 15. … Sally McDonough, a spokesman for first lady Laura Bush, tells Sneed: “Respectfully, we are keeping transition conversations quiet. But Jan. 15 is historically the time when incoming presidents occupy Blair House, which is the president’s guest house.”

Isn’t it ironic when the Bushes are so worried about their legacy, that they would pull this move? So much for the spirit of making things smooth and civil leading up to the Inauguration. Isn’t that what the current American leader wanted to show his constituents as well as his successor?

Nevertheless, President Bush is not done in demonstrating such “good will” during the holidays. It seems like he’s trying at break-neck speed to roll out some legislation that will make it hard for the next Administration to undo:

Just six weeks before President-elect Barack Obama takes office, the Bush administration issued revised endangered species regulations Thursday to reduce the input of federal scientists and to block the law from being used to fight global warming.

The changes, which will go into effect in about 30 days, were completed in just four months. But they could take Obama much longer to reverse.

[…]

The rules also prohibit federal agencies from evaluating the effect on endangered species and the places they live from a project’s contribution to increased global warming.

If you think about it, these are laws that would warm the very cockles of Governor Sarah Palin’s (R-AK) heart. After all, you can’t forget what she did to the wolves and the polar bears.

(Thanks to wndycty for the news story regarding Blair House)

Do You Think Bipartisanship is Overrated?

December 11, 2008

As in all my open threads, the floor is yours in order to make or break the case whether bipartisanship is just a thing of the past or is it the fad of the moment by virtue of the 2008 elections. Historical examples needed, if necessary.

Just remember, no hate speech, personal attacks or spam. Passionate and enlightened discussion is always welcome.

One Small Request For President-Elect Obama

December 10, 2008

Even though these days find President-Elect Obama with his hands full, I hope that one of his advisers would mention this little tidbit: if the Department of Homeland Security must be kept, please change its name. Ever since the Republicans began throwing around the word “homeland”, it has always been a quiet reminder of a fascist dictatorship instead of a democracy.

Well, heck. Let’s be blunt. The word, “homeland” is synonymous with the Third Reich and the “vaterland”. It is rather offensive. Furthermore, the word and its connotation flies in the face of everything Americans have fought for and believed in.

The very notion of tying America to the “fatherland” reeks of authoritarianism conveying a society that is submissive and child-like. The “homeland”, as a concept, also emits a sense of McCarthyism pitting neighbor against neighbor in the race of who represents the most patriotic and servile to the state. This aspect could be seen in the eruption of super-patriotism right after the attacks on the Pentagon and the World Trade center.

In the spirit of change and the restoration of an American government of the people, the notion of the “homeland” has outlived its use. We must not live in a nation of fear and terror anymore. Striking down the word and meaning of the “homeland” shows that as citizens of the United States, we didn’t let September 11th own us.

The time for empowerment has come.

Meanwhile, Back in Washington D.C.

December 10, 2008

While the Blagojevich scandal continues to erupt in Illinois, the MSM seems to have forgotten the economy has been the focus of talks all week in Congress. Most importantly, the House just approved $14 billion dollars of financial aid for the Big Three. However, it comes with a caveat: change the way you do business or a car czar will help you do it.

The main question here is whether this bail-out is more about the companies themselves or the workers. In light of how the passage of TARP went, a lot of scrutiny is going to be place on the endeavors of the car companies to straighten up during these tough economic times. Although the money saves a lot of jobs in the process, the burden of proof is on the automotive industry to show that they are grateful for this shot in the arm.

What has been disgusting and ironic about the entire bailout scandal is that while money continues to flow to help the corporations, former and current executives are the first ones to blame the poor and people of color for the financial crisis. Chagrining self-reflexivity, the management at the top refuse to even shine the mirror upon themselves. The Bush Administration and some Wall St. denziens knew in advance of what was going to happen and did very little to prevent the economic downturn.

The time for reckoning is in the air. Haven’t you heard? In light of the outcry of the bailout, some of the suits on Wall St. have had to give up their bonuses.

Who’s Side Is the MSM On?

December 10, 2008

It’s been an astounding couple of days since the Governor Rod Blagojevich (D-Ill) story broke. Virtually everywhere, anchors, pundits, commentators and other talking heads have been examining every nuance and word in the responses in reference to the Illinois governor’s arrest last night. There are plenty of questions along with lots of speculation. Of course, the transcript that still has piqued everyone’s interest of how this matter all went down has been making the rounds from talk show to talk show.

However, the one thing that stands out is the fact that the MSM has been salivating over this scandal. If anyone thought that the MSM was changing their tune from their years of sycophancy during the Bush Administration, they thought wrong. While the corruption of Sarah Palin (R-AK) and other republican officials get ignored in the wake of President Bush trying to “rebuild his legacy”, the pictures, reports and the discourse centers around tying Mr. Blagojevich to Mr. Obama.

There are many things to conclude from this. As a Senator, Mr. Obama would have to deal with the Governor of his state. That is a given. Similarly, so would Congressman Jesse Jackson Jr (D-Ill). However, dealing with in any official capacity does not mean that they liked or respected the governor of Illinois. It was well known in Chicago political circles that both politicians went out of their way to avoid and cease contact with Mr. Blagojevich. And if you read the transcript of the complaint last night (which you couldn’t miss the ugliness of the words and tone of the arrested governor), you’d know that Mr. Blagojevich and the President-Elect were far from bosom buddies.

And it showed when Mr. Obama called for the Illinois governor’s resignation, too.

Not to be crass here, but what did the MSM miss about Mr. Blagojevich saying that Mr. Obama was a “motherf*****?” What about “f*** them,” [the Obama transition team] went over their heads?

(Warning: PDF of complaint is NSFW due to excessive and strong adult language.)

A Day of All Days

December 9, 2008

If you were anywhere near the news Tuesday, you’d suddenly notice that today was not a day for politicians of any persuasion. First of all, there is the over-the-top drama brewing around the arrest of the Democratic Governor of Illinois, Rod Blagojevich. Authorities arrested Mr. Blagojevich over the fact that he tried to “sell” the Senate Seat vacated by President-Elect Barack Obama. The charges bordered on conspiracy and solicitation to commit bribery, among other counts of corruption within the document of complaint against him.

Even more, the complaint filed against the sitting governor is a eye-opening tale eventually painting the character and the behavior of a man who was brought down by his own words. Within its pages, the transcript of Mr. Blagojevich’s taped phone calls let out a slew of potty mouthed invectives against the man about to become the 44th President of the United States. The only shining light in this entire brouhaha was the good sense of the Obama camp to stay away from the radioactive nature coming out of Springfield.

But before Republicans can snicker over what happened in Illinois politics, there is the latest scuttlebutt surrounding former Idaho Senator Larry Craig. Remember him?

Mr. Craig thought he could tap-dance his way out of disorderly conduct charges. But unfortunately, the wheels of fate worked against him. An appeals court in Minnesota refused to withdraw his guilty plea. He failed to make his case. And what he tried to leave behind ended up adhering to him just like toilet paper would stick to the bottom of one’s shoe.

Consequently, these two stories are indicative of a larger trend that is happening within the expanse of the United States. Because the corruption of the past has been arrogantly dismissed by a lot of politicians who felt that they could get away with it, the American people are waking up about who they want to represent them in the government. The United States populace is demanding accountability now. Knowing that in order to get out of the dark nightmare that this country is in, we need people to lead us who are not only more ethical, but highly qualified too.

So, maybe today was karma’s way of taking out the trash. We’ll see what type of effect this has down the road.

Karl Rove Calls Out the Opposition In New Book

December 8, 2008

As the administration of President George W. Bush lurches to a close, there is always room for parting gifts. One of which, by virtue of the Huffington Post, deals with a story behind what political operative and current FOX News consultant Karl Rove plans to reveal in his upcoming book. After the ink was dried on the $1.5 million dollar publishing deal, the former Deputy White House Chief of Staff to the 43rd President of the United States has vowed to point out people who opposed Mr. Bush during the leader’s time in office.

Why, that almost sounds like another situation entirely, doesn’t it?

Read it for yourself from the Huffington Post article:

Also reserved for between the covers of Rove’s book is his checklist of the “great many of the political actors in this town (who) never accepted [Bush] as a legitimate president.”

“I’ve got behind-the-scenes episodes that are going to show how unreceiving they were of this man as president of the United States,” Rove said, adding: “I’m going to name names and show examples.”

Let’s get something clear. Mr. Rove can name names all he wants, but the evidence shows otherwise why Mr. Bush was not treated as legitimate in some circles. Why, he must have been asleep the last eight years as Mr. Bush dragged this country right down the toilet. Well heck. He also must have missed the fact that sometimes, Mr. Bush even brought this lack of respect upon himself.

So while Mr. Rove thinks he can use such outing tactics to shame others via the printed word, there are folks who have gotten wise to his modus operandi.

After all, Executive Privilege does not last forever.

The Drama That Should Have Been Over A Long Time Ago

December 8, 2008

While America is dealing with problems that are poised to mar the very fabric of the country, there is a side phenomenon brewing. It is the reaction against President-Elect Barack Obama’s eligibility to hold office. This aspect has to do with whether Mr. Obama is an American citizen or not by virtue of his birth. Clearly, the Hawaii Department of Health has already declared the former Senator from Illinois’ birth certificate was authentic.

So when the Supreme Court refused to hear the Leo Donofrio case concerning these facts, it might have been a given that the issue was over as far as the highest court in the land had anything to do with it. You’d also think that the posting of Mr. Obama’s Birth Certificate on several sites, including Fight The Smears.org and the non-partisan Factcheck.org would settle this matter once and for all.

But alas, you thought wrong.

There are already a dozen other suits waiting in the pipeline. The next case to be conferenced, filed by Cort Wrotnowski, has been referred to the Supreme Court by Justice Antonin Scalia. The review of the Wrotnowski petition will ironically be held on December 12, 2008–the day the Supreme Court of the United States decided the case Bush v. Gore.

Despite the fact that this issue has been debunked repeatedly, there is a conclusion to be made about why this particular subject continues to have a life of its own: racism and fear.

A lot has been made by the Republicans concerning the fact that President-Elect Obama was not “American” enough. In fact, nothing was done to stop the insinuations of “anti-Americanism” and “terrorism”. Consequently, these ideas were filtered down into Mr. Obama’s middle name. The aspect of his name–shared with his father–continue to set off the connotations of being “foreign” and “mysterious”. Unfortunately, these insinuations also have to do with the perception of “super-patriotism” which was born out of the September 11, 2001 aftermath. In that vein, anyone with brown skin or a funny name was painted as suspect because they did not gibe with the expectations of the dominant culture.

In the end, Mr. Obama is not alone when it comes to challenges such as these. He is one of seven Presidents who had foreign-born parents.

If people are so much in an uproar about whether some of our dignitaries were born in the United States, what about Republican nominee John McCain? Unlike Mr. Obama, the Arizona Senator was born outside of the United States, period.

Edit: made a correction about the number of Presidents who had foreign born parents.

One More Thing To Say About Alphainventions.com

December 8, 2008

It’s been around a week since I’ve had this free service, alphainventions.com. I can truly say that it has doubled the hits on my blog. I thank the creator of this service for that. My blog has awoken from a deep sleep.

Although I read a lot of blogs in my spare time, this service is also great for getting a sample of what is out there. As a result, I felt I’ve been on a sumptuous voyage of the different persuasions, tastes and ideas of the blogosphere.

The jury is still out to the ultimate impact of this service. But for now, it has done a good job in widening the net in terms of blog readership and contact between bloggers.

Will The Corporations Change Their Tune?

December 7, 2008

In a lengthy interview on NBC’s Meet the Press Sunday morning, President-Elect Barack Obama said a number of things that were highly important when setting the agenda during his upcoming term as American leader. Firstly, the former Illinois Senator sided with the laid-off Republic Windows and Doors factory workers as they protested the loss of their jobs in the wake of the recession. Another item of note is that there needs to be work done to stop the slide in foreclosures that are happening daily across the country. Although Mr. Obama described the economy getting a lot worse before it recovers, he advocated for immediate and meticulous attention to reignite it via introducing much needed policies that would work on rebuilding America’s infrastructure.

But the best thing? Mr. Obama said that the corporations must be more responsible and ethical in their daily dealings:

What we haven’t seen is a sense of urgency and the willingness to make tough decisions. And what we still see are executive compensation packages for the auto industry that are out of line compared to their competitors, their Japanese competitors who are doing a lot better.

Now, it’s not unique to the auto industry. We have seen that across the board. Certainly, we saw it on Wall Street. And part of what I’m hoping to introduce as the next president is a new ethic of responsibility where we say that, if you’re laying off workers, the least you can do, when you’re making $25 million a year, is give up some of your compensation and some of your bonuses. Figure out ways in which workers maybe have to take a haircut, but they can still keep their jobs, they can still keep their health care and they can still stay in their homes. That kind of notion of shared benefits and burdens is something that I think has been lost for too long, and it’s something that I’d like to see restored.

Simply put, drastic times call for measures which favor the American worker again. For years, the corporations have enjoyed the perks the government has given them. The biggest gift of all happened to be the gradual dismantling and eventual repeal of the Glass-Steagall Act in 1933. The passage and signing of the Gramm-Leech-Billey Act of 1999 signaled the regulations of the New Deal were over. At first, these measures for financial institutions were liberatory. Commercial and Investment banks could join forces into a single entity. This type of corporate marriage in the financial world meant more ways to make money hand over fist by pitting the greedy against the most vunerable. It didn’t stay within the borders of one’s country. These dealings extended internationally too.

But, the higher the high, the greater the fall. Not only did large entities like Citigroup, Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac and Bear Stearns take a nose dive; a string of other companies people have known and loved over the years (such as Archway & Mother’s Cookies Co., Tower Records and Sharper Image) have shut their doors to the public as well. Within the last four years of the Bush Presidency, the list of folding business (especially those filing for bankruptcy) has grown larger and more nebulous. Those who survived the trial by fire this far has pared down their operations so much that consumers deal with bare-bone operations with few luxuries.

But even despite all the horrific happenings of the economic downturn, the managment still kept their golden parachutes and other perks while their employees suffered cut-backs. Similarly, the story of Enron depicts one of the most heinous examples of corporate greed and employee negligence. The Enron scandal still stings for a lot of people–including many Californians.

In light of this, corporations are not going to change over night to be more ethical entities if they continually get rewarded by their political cronies year after year. Instead, there has to be a reintroduction of more regulations along with more support to enforce the restrictions already on the books. Without such backing, the same old thing will happen in a quid pro quo fashion.

We have to start somewhere in order to rebuild a new type of society from the ruins left in the wake of the Bush years. This means more consideration for workers and their rights. Without the support of the workers, management cannot get anywhere. After all, the workers are voters and conscious consumers. They read the papers, discuss politics and even watch the news just like the majority of other citizens in the United States. Ignore and treat them like the dirt under someone’s shoe and the outcry becomes enormous. Case in point? The 2008 Elections.