Saturday, 25 April 2009

It's August 2008 All Over Again

It seems the Republican Party still hasn't come up with an argument against Barack Obama's abiding popularity.

So they've returned to the tried and toothless. My new best buddy RNC Chair Michael Steele just sent me an e-mail that's like a greatest hits CD - a sort of McCain campaign reunion concert - of attacks on Barack that didn't work the first time around. The one new gobbet of dis-information they've stuck in is the bit where the jump up and down, shouting that he apparently called America arrogant! To FRENCH people!

Sure. For the record, here's the full quote:

"In America, there is a failure to appreciate Europe's leading role in the world. Instead of celebrating your dynamic union and seeking to partner with you to meet common challenges, there have been times where America has shown arrogance and been dismissive, even derisive. But in Europe, there is an anti-Americanism that is at once casual, but can also be insidious. Instead of recognizing the good that America so often does in the world, there have been times where Europeans choose to blame America for much of what is bad. On both sides of the Atlantic, these attitudes have become all too common. They are not wise. They do not represent the truth. They threaten to widen the divide across the Atlantic and leave us both more isolated. They fail to acknowledge the fundamental truth that America cannot confront the challenges of this century alone, but that Europe cannot confront them without America."

Why does the President hate America?

Anyway, here's the full RNC e-mail - enjoy.

Dear Karin,
Recently in his speech in France, Barack Obama called America "arrogant." 1 I'm sure the French loved it -- And so did the liberal press.

But who is this president who calls the American people arrogant?

This is the same politician whose supporters anointed him "The One" and a candidate who boasted that his election would be remembered as "the moment when the rise of the oceans began to slow and our planet began to heal." 2

This is the same man who indicated his disdain for small town and working Americans when he said they "cling to guns or religion or antipathy to people who aren't like them," while addressing a group of San Francisco caviar and champagne liberal elitists.

How arrogant is that? Arrogant enough?

In truth, President Obama seems to champion the twisted "Blame-America First" mentality of the worst of the American left.

More importantly, it shows an absence of wisdom to criticize the United States while on foreign soil, and then join with the Pelosi-Reid Democrats in Congress to do everything possible to end American exceptionalism and create a weak, dependent socialist state patterned after the examples of Europe.

He has taken steps towards nationalizing American auto companies; firing executives while leaving in power the same Union Bosses who funded his campaign and helped cripple the U.S.'s manufacturing base.

He has refused to let financial firms pay back taxpayer-funded bailout loans 3 so he can make them hostages to the whims of the Federal government.

As a lawyer, Obama once sued the same financial institutions on behalf of radical groups like ACORN for failing to use leftist social engineering criteria for lending instead of an applicant's ability to repay a loan.

He campaigned on "transparency" and "integrity" in government and then has nominated a rogue gallery of tax evaders, Washington bureaucrats, and lobbyists to run his Administration.

Obama brazenly follows his chief of staff's maxim of "You never want a serious crisis to go to waste...This crisis provides the opportunity for us to do things that you could not do before" 4 to cripple our free markets with massive taxation and spending that wrests away our freedoms and puts even our great-grandchildren in debt.

And now, anyone who dares speak out against or challenge Obama's ultra-liberal agenda, such as the hundreds of thousands of patriots who attended last week's Tea Parties, should expect to be labeled "unhealthy" by this Adminstration. 5 Now, THAT is arrogance!
You know that Barack Obama's hubris and charisma conceal the inexperience and lack of wisdom that our country cannot afford in its president.

And though the teleprompter and mainstream media liberals may delay America's realization of the peril the Obama White House portends for our future for a while, the eventual failure of leftist policies and ineffective leadership will not.

We must be ready when that time comes.

Please help the Republican Party's effort to spread the word about the Democrats' arrogance of power and support GOP Members of Congress as they work to hold the Obama Democrats accountable to the American people, by making a contribution of $1,000, $500, $100, $50, or $25 to the Republican National Committee today.

Your gift will also help support the recruitment and election of principled candidates who will defeat the Democrats in 2009 and 2010 and lay the groundwork for ending Barack Obama's grip on power in 2012. Thank you.


Michael Steele
Chairman, Republican National Committee

Of course the original message included a call for donations at the end. Instead, as a suggestion, you might want to chip in a few dollars here: or here:

Friday, 24 April 2009

Seems Nutty Is Flavour of the Month in Washington

President Obama's Nominee for Office of Legal Counsel, Dawn Johnsen, is a specialist in constitutional law who has spent many years working in that office, including a stint heading it up as Acting Assistant Attorney General from 1997 until 1998.

But, apparently some folks - including leading Senate Democrat Ben Nelson, of Nebraska - have a problem with Dawn. Republicans plus Nelson have indicated that they will not support her nonimation in the Senate. What's their problem with her?

Well, apparently Ben Nelson is concerned about her time spent working for a particular organisation - NARAL. That's right - it turns out, horror of horrors, that apparently Dawn Johnsen is PRO-CHOICE! (Like the President, the Vice President, the Secretary of State, tha vast majority of all Democrats and 60% of the American public...)

Nelson's spokesman says:

"Senator Nelson is very concerned about the nomination of Dawn Johnsen, based on her previous position as Counsel for NARAL. He believes that the Office of Legal Counsel is a position in which personal views can have an impact and is concerned about her outspoken pro-choice views on abortion."

But... abortion is LEGAL. Constitutionally protected, even. Nothing that Johnsen, or even Congress could do would overturn the Supreme Court's ruling on that.

So this (Democratic!) Senator's objection is that Dawn Johnsen, in her role at the Office of Legal Counsel, would be forced to work to... uphold the law? That to his great regret and concern her position is to... strongly support the current legal and constitutional framework?

Don't know what their serving in the Senate Cafeteria these days, but it seems to be something kinda nutty.

HINT: Should you wish to let Senator Nelson know your thoughts, you can reach him at

Washington, D.C.
720 Hart Senate Office Building
United States Senate
Washington, DC 20510
Tel: (202) 224-6551
Fax: (202) 228-0012

Blago - By Request

Brendan asked my why I haven't written about Blago - AKA disgraced former Governmor Rod Blagojevich. OK, I will!

But I guess if anything the reason I haven't done so before is because it's hard to mock him. No seriously. The guy was under suspicion for corruption and tells the press that he would welcome the FBI to tape his conversations. So they do. He promptly decides to put a US Sentate seat up for sale - on tape. That I could mock. But then we find that he also was trying to strip money that had already been allocated to a local childrens hospital unless they gave money to his campaign. Still in the realm of mockable. But THEN he insists on appointing someone to the senate post he was busted for trying to sell - and when there's uproar over this he insinuates that they are persecuting his nominee because of racism. He compares himself to Martin Luther Kind and Nelson Mandela.

I can't make that sound any funnier than it already is.

And NOW - while under federal indictment he seeks permission to go to Costa Rica so he can film a Survival style reality TV series. The judge denies him permission and suggests that perhaps he doesn't fully appreciate the seriousness of the situation he is in.

He therefore goes outside and... well, read it for yourself:

Outside court, after the hearing, Blagojevich told swarming reporters: "This is another day in the big city. I know what the truth is when it concerns me, and I know that I've done absolutely nothing wrong. ...I'm actually looking forward to this day in court. ...I want to prove my innocence, I want to vindicate myself."

He stopped several times to greet non-media onlookers and curiosity seekers.

"I didn't let you down," he said to one woman.

"Want to get on TV? Come on in!" (emphasis mine) he yelled at another man.

Asked by a reporter how active he will be legally in his own defense, the former governor replied: "I'm going to be very active. I know a lot of things about me."

Then he goes on the Today show and tells them he is still hoping to find some way of eating bugs for pay. On account of how much he loves his children.

View more news videos at:

Nope, not much I can do with that. Stay healthy Rod, you are a master of the form of absurdist drama and therefore a national treasure.

Thursday, 23 April 2009

Republicans Blocking Sebelius Nomination? Madness

Just a quick post to say that the Republicans' current efforts to block the nomination of Kathleen Sebelius as Secretary of Health and Human Services is... flat out crazy.

They describe her as a "fairly contentious" candidate.

She's the Governor of Kansas. KANSAS. One of the most conservative states in the country.

And she's extremely popular there, with a reputation for pragmatism and problem solving. She's exceptionally well qualified. And she's pretty much the exact opposite of contentious. Except, of course, that she is a Democrat.

The Wichita Eagle editorial department blog writes of the GOP obstruction: "Many of the Kansans of both parties who elected Sebelius to statewide office four times may have trouble recognizing thier cautious, middle-of-the-road governor in the portrait painted nationally of an abortion- and socialism-loving tax cheat."

Seriously, the Republicans need to get a grip. Not only is the obstructionism annoying, but the country actually needs a non-insane second Party.

Imbyism - A Word is Born

So I have been mulling my thoughts about the current state of British politics, and have been searching for a word to define the pattern that seems to be cropping up. My sense is that more and more, political life here in the UK is motivated by small local groups who just want to hold on to stuff they have that they like.

Don't take away our post office!

Don't close our hospital!

Here in Walthamstow we are currently fighting to prevent closure of (I kid you not):

There's this sorrowful sense that loads of services we love and appreciate are being taken away from us - and this seems to be happening in local communities across the country.

I call this Imbyism. You know, like Nimbyism - Not In My Backyard - which is the phenomenon where people protest the arrival of things they object to.

In My Backyard-ism - Imbyism - is my word for protesting and fighting to keep the things in your neighborhood that you like.

And if I'm right that it is the underlying tenor of politics in the UK right now - then that does not bode well for Labour. They really ought to start giving people some stuff they want. Or at least stop taking it away.

Wednesday, 22 April 2009

It's All Over Now, Baby Blue

I've just read a really interesting article on Politico about Obama's seeming imperviousness to cultural attacks from the right. Though I have this sneaking suspicion that the article is really looking for an excuse to dig up every single anti-Obama culture war argument they can find ("He bowed to the Saudi king! He ADMITS his middle name is Hussein! He's talking to... FRENCH people!") in the guise of analysing them, I think the underlying point of the article is basically true: no one gives a damn.

This has many causes, but first among equals, perhaps, is the general sense that the political center of gravity has shifted away from the Baby Boomer generation and therefore from its generational arguments - draft dodging hippies versus "silent majority" reactionaries. As in my previous post about Socialism, to many of us these types of arguments feel stale and irrelevant.

But the article also makes another point that I found trememdously inciteful (and encouraging):

And then there is the nature of Obama’s victory last year.

“He had a coalition where he didn’t have to figure out how to get socially conservative voters behind him,” noted Carrick, a South Carolina native who has helped his clients navigate the culture wars. “He won with younger voters, Latinos, African-Americans and college-educated suburban voters. Those folks, for different reasons, just don’t care about some of these issues.”

In other words, Obama didn't win in November just because he was able to persuade a sufficient number of actually-conservative voters that he wouldn't be too scarily progressive. He actually has a pretty respectable majority composed of people who WANT him to be at least somewhat progressive. Demographic changes in the country, plus the most successful Democratic get out the vote operation in History have made that possible for the first time in a long time.

Larry Sabato thinks this will be a re-aligning election - personally I'm not sure. We'll know in a couple of years whether we're heading in that direction, because a successful midterm election would make three in a row for the Democrats.

But I do think there are trends in our favor that go beyond just the Republican failure to get themselves organised. Although that is, it must be said, quite spectacular in its own right.

Update: And another thing! As Steve Benen at Washington Monthly points out and as I should have mentioned initially:

It also seems that Obama isn't taking any meaningful hits because his policy agenda is fairly close to the one he presented during the campaign. Martin questions, for example, why the president has gotten away with a more progressive policy towards Cuba. Maybe it's because he already told us he'd do exactly that?

Indeed, with a few notable exceptions, most of the President Obama's agenda is in line with Candidate Obama's agenda. He wants to raise taxes on the wealthy while cutting them for the middle class? He wants to reform the health care system? He wants a withdrawal timeline for U.S. troops in Iraq?

Perhaps the president "skates" on these issues -- all of which the right finds outrageous -- because it's what voters hired him to do.