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Joe McQuade

Centrist Principles Of The Obama Nation

22 posts in this topic

Until today I've always told folks that if they would only read one of Obama's books, it needed to be the first one. Now I'm recommending the second.

"Dreams From My Father," written when Obama was still young, reveals the character of a remarkable man. "The Audacity of Hope," written after he burst onto the national stage, shows where he wants to lead the country.

David Brooks, to his credit, has read both books. In this column he urges Obama to stick to the approach set forth in "Hope."

Hear hear!

+++

From the NYT:

November 7, 2008

Op-Ed Columnist

Change I Can Believe In

By DAVID BROOKS

I have dreams. I may seem like a boring pundit whose most exotic fantasies involve G.A.O. reports, but deep down, I have dreams. And right now I'm dreaming of the successful presidency this country needs. I'm dreaming of an administration led by Barack Obama, but which stretches beyond the normal Democratic base. It makes time for moderate voters, suburban voters, rural voters and even people who voted for the other guy.

The administration of my dreams understands where the country is today. Its members know that, as Andrew Kohut of the Pew Research Center put it on "The NewsHour," "This was an election where the middle asserted itself." There was "no sign" of a "movement to the left."

Only 17 percent of Americans trust the government to do the right thing most or all of the time, according to an October New York Times/CBS News poll. So the members of my dream Obama administration understand that they cannot impose an ideological program the country does not accept. New presidents in 1932 and 1964 could presuppose a basic level of trust in government. But today, as Bill Galston of the Brookings Institution observes, the new president is going to have to build that trust deliberately and step by step.

Walking into the Obama White House of my dreams will be like walking into the Gates Foundation. The people there will be ostentatiously pragmatic and data-driven. They'll hunt good ideas like venture capitalists. They'll have no faith in all-powerful bureaucrats issuing edicts from the center. Instead, they'll use that language of decentralized networks, bottom-up reform and scalable innovation.

They will actually believe in that stuff Obama says about postpartisan politics. That means there won't just be a few token liberal Republicans in marginal jobs. There will be people like Robert Gates at Defense and Ray LaHood, Stuart Butler, Diane Ravitch, Douglas Holtz-Eakin and Jim Talent at other important jobs.

The Obama administration of my dreams will insist that Congressional Democrats reinstate bipartisan conference committees. They'll invite G.O.P. leaders to the White House for real meetings and then re-invite them, even if they give hostile press conferences on the White House driveway.

They'll do things conservatives disagree with, but they'll also show that they're not toadies of the liberal interest groups. They'll insist on merit pay and preserving No Child Left Behind's accountability standards, no matter what the teachers' unions say. They'll postpone contentious fights on things like card check legislation.

Most of all, they'll take significant action on the problems facing the country without causing a mass freak-out among voters to the right of Nancy Pelosi.

They'll do this by explaining to the American people that there are two stages to their domestic policy thinking, the short-term and the long-term.

The short-term strategy will have two goals: to mitigate the pain of the recession and the change the culture of Washington. The first step will be to complete the round of stimulus packages that are sure to come.

Then they'll take up two ideas that already have bipartisan support: middle-class tax relief and an energy package. The current economic and energy crisis is an opportunity to do what was not done in similar circumstances in 1974 — transform this country's energy supply. A comprehensive bill — encompassing everything from off-shore drilling to green technologies — would stimulate the economy and nurture new political coalitions.

When the recession shows signs of bottoming out, then my dream administration would begin phase two. The long-term strategy would be about restoring fiscal balances and reforming fundamental institutions.

By this time, the budget deficit could be zooming past $1.5 trillion a year. The U.S. will be borrowing oceans of money from abroad. My dream administration will show that it understands that the remedy for a culture of debt is not more long-term debt. It will side with those who worry that long-term deficits could lead to ruinous interest-rate hikes.

My dream administration will announce a Budget Rebalancing Initiative. Somebody like Representative Jim Cooper would go through the budget and take out the programs and tax expenditures that don't work. "If we have no spending cuts, then we're saying government is perfect. Nobody believes that," Cooper says.

Having built bipartisan relationships, having shown some fiscal toughness, having seen the economy through the tough times, my dream administration will then be in a position to take up health care reform, tax reform, education reform and a long-range infrastructure initiative. These reforms may have to start slow and on the cheap. But real reform would be imaginable since politics as we know it would be transformed.

Is it all just a dream? I hope not. In any case, please be quiet and let me have my moment.

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Obama is not just about bridging races and ideologies. In Salon, a Gen X-er says she now better understands her Boomer parents:

An open apology to boomers everywhere

Your earnest, self-important prattle has gotten on Gen X nerves for decades. But now we finally get it.

By Heather Havrilesky

Nov. 07, 2008 |

Dear boomers: We're sorry for rolling our eyes at you all these years. We apologize for scoffing at your earnestness, your lack of self-deprecation, your tendency to take yourselves a little too seriously. We can go ahead and admit now that we grew tired of hearing about the '60s and the peace movement, as if you had to live through those times to understand anything at all. It's true, we didn't completely partake of your idealism and your notions about community. Frankly, it looked gray and saggy in your hands, these many decades later. Chanting "What do we want? Peace! When do we want it? Now!" at that rally against the Iraq War made us feel self-conscious in spite of ourselves. We felt like cliches. We wondered why someone couldn't come up with a newer, catchier, pro-peace slogan over the course of 40 years of protests. We knew we shouldn't care that some of you were wearing socks with sandals and smelled like you'd been on the bus with Wavy Gravy for the last three decades, but we cared anyway. We couldn't help it. It's just who we are.

And look, we really did stand for something, underneath all the eye-rolling. We're feminists, we care about the environment, we want to improve race relations, we volunteer. We're just low-key about it. We never wanted to do it the way you did it: So unselfconscious, so optimistic, guilelessly throwing yourself behind Team Liberal. We didn't get that. We aren't joiners. We don't like carrying signs. We tend to disagree, if only on principle.

But when we watched Barack Obama's victory speech on Tuesday night, we looked into the eyes of a real leader, and decades of cynicism about politics and grassroots movements and community melted away in a single moment. We heard the voice of a man who can inspire with his words, who's unashamed of his own intelligence, who's willing to treat the citizens of this country like smart, capable people, worthy of respect. For the first time in some of our lifetimes, we believed.

Suddenly it makes sense, what you've been trying to tell us about John F. Kennedy and Martin Luther King, Jr. Sure, we knew all about their roles in history, we'd learned about them in a million classes, through countless books and documentaries. Eventually, though, the endless memorials and tributes and TV specials and Oliver Stone films grew a little tedious. We didn't quite understand why you've never let those two go, why you'd speak so relentlessly about a better time.

But how could we have known? We were raised under Ronald Reagan, smiling emptily under a shellacked cap of shiny brown hair like a demon clown, warning us (With a knowing nod! With a wink!) about those evil Russians stockpiling nuclear arms thousands of miles away. We were raised by "The Love Boat" and "Eight Is Enough" and "Charlie's Angels," a steady flow of saccharine tales with clunky morals. There were smiling families, hugging and learning important lessons on every channel, while at home, our parents threw dishes at each other's heads. We went to church and learned about God's divine plan every Sunday, but all it took was one Dr. Seuss cartoon about an entire world that existed on a speck of dust, and our belief in God was deconstructed in an instant. Our childhoods were one long existential crisis. We ate Happy Meals while watching the Space Shuttle blow into tiny bits.

You and all your boomer friends read "I'm Okay, You're Okay," and tried desperately to avoid the mistakes of your parents, those stoic alcoholics of the so-called Greatest Generation. But you couldn't quite put your ideals into motion. As our parents, you told us to tell you anything, to be honest, to come to you with our problems, but when we did, you were uncomfortable and dismissive. You didn't really want to know how we felt. When we were emotional, you flashed back to that time your drunk mother threw the jack-o'-lantern into the street. You loved us, but you were passive-aggressive and avoidant in spite of your best intentions.

You did your best. But we rose out of that murky soup of love and confusion, of stated beliefs without the actions to back them up, and we grew cynical. We doubted even the most heartfelt, genuine statements. We didn't want to be blind to our own faults, like you were, so we paraded our faults around, exalted in our shortcomings. The worst thing, to us, was to not see ourselves clearly. The worst thing was to not be in on the joke.

So we cast a jaded eye on ourselves and each other. We drank too much and listened to obscure indie rock bands. We dressed badly and communicated in four-letter words and read books like "Infinite Jest" and "The Corrections," modern-day versions of your precious J.D. Salinger in which everyone is a fake and the high capitalist world is bought and sold and even the purest form of art is a commodity, not to be taken seriously. No one can be trusted, nothing is pure -- these are the truths we held to be self-evident.

No, we weren't always ready to get involved and make the world a better place, because the air we breathed was toxic with absurdity and excess. Consider our head-spinning trajectory: Mr. Rogers, Son of Sam, the Iran Hostage Crisis, Catholic school, the Hite Report, "The Day After," Edwin Meese, rampant divorce, "Fantasy Island," "Endless Love," Jeffrey Dahmer, the Happy Meal, the Lockerbie air disaster, Toyotathons, John Updike, "Who Wants to Marry a Millionaire?" Do you see how far we had to come? How we were primed to hate our own country, and ourselves along with it?

And then most of us became mature, rational adults at the exact moment that a reckless frat boy boomer became our president. Just when we were starting to understand how to be a part of the larger world outside, Gore had the election stolen right out of his hands in Florida, and then the twin towers collapsed before our eyes. At first we felt moved to act for the greater good in the wake of that tragedy. But then the whole country seemed to implode in front of us, from our invasion of two sovereign nations to the rise of celebrity culture to tanning beds to McMansions to Guantánamo Bay to Hummers and a big, faceless herd of humans in low-rider ass pants, chattering about whether or not to get Botox. It was so sad and pathetic that it was funny to us, even if it was only sad and pathetic to you. We urged you to get a sense of humor; We'd lived this way for years, after all. Things were much worse now, worse than ever -- but we'd always expected that they would be, eventually. That's one of the few rewards of being deeply pessimistic, of being trained to lower our expectations, of living in a constant state of distrust and learned helplessness.

But on Tuesday night, that changed. We understood, for the first time in our lives, what it means to be a part of something big, without reservation. We saw the joy in that. We knew that history had been made, and we were happy to have made calls and sent money and knocked on doors for this man. We felt like we were really, truly participants in history, that we had a connection to those people in the crowd at Grant Park and those kids crying and celebrating in Compton on the local news. We were all Americans, together, old and young, black and white and Latino and Asian, and it didn't feel hokey or overly earnest to admit it for once.

So we apologize to you, for making fun of your earnestness. We never want to go back to our old way of thinking. Sure, we'll still be our irreverent, self-deprecating, exasperating selves, but we also want to believe. We want to follow this man, and trust him, and give him our full support. The world may not be transformed overnight, the economy may still struggle, Obama will surely make his share of mistakes. But we want to stand behind him, stand behind this country, and show our fellow Americans the same respect that this new leader of ours has shown all of us, in his words, in his manner, and in his promises.

On Tuesday night, we could all sense, with open hearts, that this man meant what he said. There's no shame in seeing that clearly, together. There's no shame in trusting someone's words, and allowing those words to move and inspire you. There's no shame in throwing ourselves into this new future with full hearts, with tears in our eyes, unself-consciously.

And in 15 years, our kids probably won't understand it when we talk about the night that Obama was elected president, either. They'll sigh deeply and roll their eyes and say they've heard this story a million times before, so please shut up about it already. They'll purse their lips and think about how our hair looks stupid and we smell like old cheese.

But maybe, just maybe, we can change the world enough that they'll get it. Maybe if we dare to hope, eventually hope won't feel quite so daring.

-- By Heather Havrilesky

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My God.

What an absolutely fabulous item!

We never want to go back to our old way of thinking.

That is what the "hope" is - I cannot stress enough how this has little to do with Obama and EVERYTHING to do with US!

If we don't individually take stock of ourselves and what our BEST role, not just ANY role, as an American Citizen is, then this election won't mean a damn.

The Brooks piece was grand too. I may disagree on specifics but I completely agree on intent.

All of us need to start thinking, acting, and saying our opinions as constructively as Mr. Brooks. We can disagree but if we even HINT that we are GLAD when things go wrong, the we should consider ourselves one of the reasons things go wrong. Go wrong they will too. It is inevitable when we are attempting both change and catharsis at the same time.

However, if WE act from a responsible, non-threatening, non-partisan Constitutional basis, then we will also force our leaders to act that way as well. We have PROVEN in this election that the big money people do not have to be the ones running the show. However, if we lapse back into the role of observer, that void of activity will be filled with those not as lazy as we and those who are seeking that opportunity to get citizens out of the way of self-interest.

We can whine about stuff - even if we fully believe our point are valid. Bottom line, the question is what does that whining achieve? Nothing.

Action - that's the ticket. Letters, phone calls, community organization and activism, keeping INVOLVED!

I'm not even specifying the goals for these activities. Your objectives may differ from mine. That is what a democracy is all about.

The governed ARE the governors.

Let's remember that,

aC

Edited by Au Courant

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From a news bulletin published by the Democratic Leadership Council which, with the Concord Coalition, represents the pinnacle of American centrism:

"Yesterday, President-elect Barack Obama appointed Congressman Rahm Emanuel, co-chair of the DLC's Bi-Partisan Congressional Debate Series, and co-author, with DLC President Bruce Reed, of

"The Plan: Big Ideas for America," as White House chief of staff.

That's what we need, folks.

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Today's oped by one of my favorite writers echoes the topic title. Although focusing on the history-making decision of the USA to elect a black man, Ms. Noonan ventures further afield.

Interesting read but my primary point in posting is to ask if you see this as odd writing by Ms. Noonan. If I hadn't seen her byline, I'd never have guessed she'd written it. The language is awkward and, in places, the grammar is weird.

Is it just too early for me to be reading this stuff or do you see it the same way?

ac

Source: WSJ - The Children are Watching

Edited by Au Courant

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Interesting read but my primary point in posting is to ask if you see this as odd writing by Ms. Noonan. If I hadn't seen her byline, I'd never have guessed she'd written it. The language is awkward and, in places, the grammar is weird.

Source: WSJ - The Children are Watching

You are right. This is strange.

Two possibilities come to mind. 1) She relies on an editor more than we might have thought, and that editor had the day off. 2) She doesn't rely on an editor, but on this day she relied on a few too many martinis.

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LOL Joe.

I watch Morning Joe for about 30 mins most mornings, and Noonan's on a couple of times a week. That piece was not out of the ordinary for her on Obama, imo.

Were it not for the fact that imo the gop took neoliberalism to an absurd extreme that even Reagan didn't buy, when he bemoaned the existence of medicare, I'd find the McCain loss very dispiriting. But I voted for Obama, an african-american from Lincoln-land of all places. I think Oliphant got it right

http://news.yahoo.com/edcartoons/patolipha...ypJSg6QuFsDwLAF

Edited by bendog

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LOL Joe.

I watch Morning Joe for about 30 mins most mornings, and Noonan's on a couple of times a week. That piece was not out of the ordinary for her on Obama, imo.

Were it not for the fact that imo the gop took neoliberalism to an absurd extreme that even Reagan didn't buy, when he bemoaned the existence of medicare, I'd find the McCain loss very dispiriting. But I voted for Obama, an african-american from Lincoln-land of all places. I think Oliphant got it right

http://news.yahoo.com/edcartoons/patolipha...ypJSg6QuFsDwLAF

How cavalier of you to dismiss the fact that Mr. Obama is mainly European-American mixed with Black and Arabic roots; his being European-American doesn't fit your narrow-worldview, does it?`

Edited by Teri Riley

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Actually Teri,

President Elect Barack Obama exactly fits my world view.

He was raised in Hawaii by his "European American" grandparents. Hawaii celebrates ethnicities, and hawaiians enjoy claiming multiple ethnicities per family. They are a true melting pot state. It was the best place for a young man of mixed race to grow up in.

He spent time in Indonesia, where he learned about the Muslim culture from both his step father and the people around him.

He spent time in Chicago's slums where he learned about the "poor" black experience in America.

He's traveled around the world, including a visit to Kenya to get in touch with his father's roots.

He's well read, and well educated and able to see both sides of an issue. He also actively listens when people are speaking to him. Some thing that I'm trying to do as well.

America has done far worse with their presidential choices, but I don't believe that President Elect Barack Obama will disappoint those who voted for him, but he probably will disappoint those who hate him, by not living down to their expectations of his administration, and by simply proving them wrong.

Just my two cents worth.

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I don't know whether Krugman's right, and I doubt Obama intends to follow his prescription. But this kind of talk makes me noyvous....

From the NYT:

November 10, 2008

Op-Ed Columnist

Franklin Delano Obama?

By Paul Krugman

Suddenly, everything old is New Deal again. Reagan is out; F.D.R. is in. Still, how much guidance does the Roosevelt era really offer for today's world?

The answer is, a lot. But Barack Obama should learn from F.D.R.'s failures as well as from his achievements: the truth is that the New Deal wasn't as successful in the short run as it was in the long run. And the reason for F.D.R.'s limited short-run success, which almost undid his whole program, was the fact that his economic policies were too cautious.

About the New Deal's long-run achievements: the institutions F.D.R. built have proved both durable and essential. Indeed, those institutions remain the bedrock of our nation's economic stability. Imagine how much worse the financial crisis would be if the New Deal hadn't insured most bank deposits. Imagine how insecure older Americans would feel right now if Republicans had managed to dismantle Social Security.

Can Mr. Obama achieve something comparable? Rahm Emanuel, Mr. Obama's new chief of staff, has declared that "you don't ever want a crisis to go to waste." Progressives hope that the Obama administration, like the New Deal, will respond to the current economic and financial crisis by creating institutions, especially a universal health care system, that will change the shape of American society for generations to come.

But the new administration should try not to emulate a less successful aspect of the New Deal: its inadequate response to the Great Depression itself.

Now, there's a whole intellectual industry, mainly operating out of right-wing think tanks, devoted to propagating the idea that F.D.R. actually made the Depression worse. So it's important to know that most of what you hear along those lines is based on deliberate misrepresentation of the facts. The New Deal brought real relief to most Americans.

That said, F.D.R. did not, in fact, manage to engineer a full economic recovery during his first two terms. This failure is often cited as evidence against Keynesian economics, which says that increased public spending can get a stalled economy moving. But the definitive study of fiscal policy in the '30s, by the M.I.T. economist E. Cary Brown, reached a very different conclusion: fiscal stimulus was unsuccessful "not because it does not work, but because it was not tried."

This may seem hard to believe. The New Deal famously placed millions of Americans on the public payroll via the Works Progress Administration and the Civilian Conservation Corps. To this day we drive on W.P.A.-built roads and send our children to W.P.A.-built schools. Didn't all these public works amount to a major fiscal stimulus?

Well, it wasn't as major as you might think. The effects of federal public works spending were largely offset by other factors, notably a large tax increase, enacted by Herbert Hoover, whose full effects weren't felt until his successor took office. Also, expansionary policy at the federal level was undercut by spending cuts and tax increases at the state and local level.

And F.D.R. wasn't just reluctant to pursue an all-out fiscal expansion — he was eager to return to conservative budget principles. That eagerness almost destroyed his legacy. After winning a smashing election victory in 1936, the Roosevelt administration cut spending and raised taxes, precipitating an economic relapse that drove the unemployment rate back into double digits and led to a major defeat in the 1938 midterm elections.

What saved the economy, and the New Deal, was the enormous public works project known as World War II, which finally provided a fiscal stimulus adequate to the economy's needs.

This history offers important lessons for the incoming administration.

The political lesson is that economic missteps can quickly undermine an electoral mandate. Democrats won big last week — but they won even bigger in 1936, only to see their gains evaporate after the recession of 1937-38. Americans don't expect instant economic results from the incoming administration, but they do expect results, and Democrats' euphoria will be short-lived if they don't deliver an economic recovery.

The economic lesson is the importance of doing enough. F.D.R. thought he was being prudent by reining in his spending plans; in reality, he was taking big risks with the economy and with his legacy. My advice to the Obama people is to figure out how much help they think the economy needs, then add 50 percent. It's much better, in a depressed economy, to err on the side of too much stimulus than on the side of too little.

In short, Mr. Obama's chances of leading a new New Deal depend largely on whether his short-run economic plans are sufficiently bold. Progressives can only hope that he has the necessary audacity.

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So much for the bullchit about Obama being the candidate of surrender...

From the WaPo

Nuance on the March

By Jim Hoagland

Sunday, November 9, 2008; B07

Blunt and pugnacious will soon give way to supple and below-the-radar. Say goodbye to the Bush era in foreign policy and hello to the Obama moment.

Prepare for bluster about enemies to become nuance about not-yet-friends; for ideology to cede to empirical practice; for co-opting to overtake confronting as a first resort. And prepare to be surprised by things coming together unexpectedly as well as falling apart.

The new ways in which the White House will address the world after Jan. 20 have been forecast by the campaign themes developed for two years by Barack Obama. But more important, the changes are already present in the quiet presidential transition effort that has been underway in earnest for a month.

The president-elect has been given little credit for his back-channeling prowess -- which could show how good he is at it. He prepares carefully, keeps his own counsel to an extraordinary degree and then acts without the impulsiveness of George W. Bush, the post-decision agonizing of Bill Clinton or the consistent vacillation of Jimmy Carter. Examples:

· Late last spring, Obama settled on Joe Biden as his most important counselor on foreign affairs. The two conferred quietly in the shadows of the extended primary campaign, forging the confident relationship that led to Biden becoming vice president-elect and having a major voice in Obama's future foreign policy.

· There has been a greater meeting of minds on Iraq and Afghanistan between Obama and Gen. David Petraeus than either has publicized, and it has been deepened by continuing indirect contacts since they met in Baghdad in July. It came as no surprise to key Obama aides when Pentagon officials said one day after the election that Petraeus had decided to accelerate the withdrawal of a combat brigade from Iraq by six weeks.

· Both the Obama and McCain campaigns have had transition teams working at the Treasury Department for about a month. This is in addition to the involvement in the administration's current decisions by Timothy F. Geithner, president of the Federal Reserve Bank of New York.

(It also may not hurt Geithner's chances of becoming Treasury secretary that he is 47, the same age as the president-elect; Obama's arrival at the White House heralds an implicit generational transformation in politics that has been overshadowed by the publicity about the national transformation in race relations.)

Obama has made no secret that Iraq and Afghanistan form his two most urgent priorities in foreign policy. Iran is third on the list, according to one knowledgeable aide, while climate change and the Middle East peace process rank as important but too difficult or diffuse to address effectively right away.

But Iraq also shows how subtly the president-elect can shift ground. Several times in the past two months -- including in his first debate with John McCain -- Obama spoke of "reducing" combat troops in Iraq rather than "withdrawing" all of them, as he had insisted in the primary season. And in the campaign's closing weeks, he increasingly portrayed the need to wind down the Iraq war as a budgetary and resource issue rather than a moral one.

That shift gives him -- and Petraeus, as head of Central Command -- greater flexibility to tailor withdrawals and move toward making Iraq a garrison staging area for Afghanistan, as circumstances permit. Obama seems to be looking for room to avoid an unrealistically tight 16-month withdrawal schedule.

So while the formal transition process at the Pentagon is not as advanced as it is at Treasury and the White House, important conceptual groundwork is already being laid there. And it helps that the Defense Policy Board, which is developing detailed transition scenarios on five basic issues, is chaired by John Hamre, deputy defense secretary under Clinton and a plausible successor to Bob Gates.

The Great Mentioning game that grips Washington after every presidential election is in full swing, with Jim Steinberg being mentioned repeatedly for national security adviser; John Kerry supposedly having first call on secretary of state; and Richard Danzig, Greg Craig and Susan Rice, among others, sure to land top jobs.

Samantha Power, forced to resign over a campaign gaffe, will be rehabilitated politically. Chuck Hagel and Richard Lugar will be the Republicans in the Cabinet, and in the most uplifting rumor of all, Colin Powell becomes secretary of education.

Given Obama's skill at keeping prying newsies out of his business during the campaign, you should take these reports seriously. After all, it is possible they may even turn out to be true.

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(I didn't know what topic to use for this item. I decided on the "Centrist" thread because this plan is evidently supported by Bush which demonstrates Obama's centrist approach.)

This kind of language makes me want to tear my hair out.

I have some concerns about the program but calling it Nazi?

A Republican congressman from Georgia said Monday he fears that President-elect Obama will establish a Gestapo-like security force to impose a Marxist dictatorship.

"It may sound a bit crazy and off base, [Gee, ya think? - aC] but the thing is, he's the one who proposed this national security force," Rep. Paul Broun said of Obama in an interview Monday with The Associated Press. "I'm just trying to bring attention to the fact that we may — may not, I hope not — but we may have a problem with that type of philosophy of radical socialism or Marxism."

Don't yell at me. I absolve Obama and company of ever wanting this to result from the Civilian Corps idea. That idea is not unique to or even new with Obama. I just have concerns about civilians strapping on arms and looking for bad guys. I understand the intended logistics and infrastructure use of these people but those guns...

Not one of my big worries. My primary point in posting about this was that some people didn't learn from the election results that this kind of inflammatory and divisive language is SO not working anymore.

Read it.

aC

Source: MSNBC - Congressman: Obama wants Gestapo-like force

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From the WaPo. I've highlighted the passages that really starched my socks...

Bold Is Good

What Obama Could Learn From Reagan

By E. J. Dionne Jr.

Monday, November 10, 2008; A17

Just about everyone is giving President-elect Barack Obama advice based on one interpretation or another of what his victory really means. Obama should be wary of any counsel that the advice-givers had in mind before a single vote was counted.

The worst advice will come from his conservative adversaries, the people who called him a socialist a few days before the election and insisted a few days later that he won because he was really a conservative. The older among them declared after the 1980 election that the 51 percent of the vote won by Ronald Reagan represented an ideological revolution, but argue now that Obama's somewhat larger majority has no philosophical implications.

These conservatives are trying to stop Obama from pursuing any of the ideas that he campaigned on -- universal access to health care, a government-led green revolution, redistributive tax policies, a withdrawal of American troops from Iraq, more robust economic regulation.

Their gimmick is to insist that the United States is still a "center-right" country because more Americans call themselves conservative than liberal. What this analysis ignores is that Americans have clearly moved to the left of where they were four, eight or ten years ago.

The public's desire for more government action to heal the economy and guarantee health insurance coverage, along with its new skepticism about the deregulation of business, suggests that we are a moderate country that now leans slightly and warily left.

But that wariness means that progressives should avoid offering advice based on the assumption that an ideological revolution has already been consummated. They should not imitate the triumphalism of Karl Rove and his acolytes, who interpreted President Bush's 50.8 percent victory in 2004 as the prelude to an enduring Republican majority.

Fundamentally, ours is a non-ideological nation. Many who would like the government to act more boldly still need to be persuaded of government's capacity to succeed.

Here again, Obama's situation closely resembles Reagan's. Like our 40th president, Obama has been authorized to move in a new direction. If Reagan had the voters' permission to move away from strategies associated with liberalism, Obama has sanction to move away from conservative policies. Reagan was judged by the results of his choices, and Obama will be, too.

Yet Reagan offers another lesson: His first moves were bold, and Obama should not fear following his example. The president-elect is hearing that his greatest mistake would be something called "overreach." Democrats in Congress, it's implied, are hungry to impose wacky left-wing schemes that Obama must resist.

In fact, timidity is a far greater danger than overreaching, simply because it's quite easy to be cautious. And anyone who thinks House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and her followers are ultra-leftist ideologues has been asleep for the past two years. As Pelosi noted in an interview in her office this week, her moves have been shaped by a Democratic House caucus that includes both staunch liberals and resolute moderates. She knows where election victories come from.

"We have some fairly sophisticated people here who understand that you win seats in the middle," she said, noting that Democrats did not win their majority in 2006 and then expand it this year "by espousing far left views." The priorities of congressional Democrats, she added, are close to those of the new president.

That's true, and it underscores the fact that you don't have to be "far left" to be bold. This is something that Rahm Emanuel, the new White House chief of staff and no ideologue, understands. In interviews yesterday on both ABC and CBS, Emanuel made clear that Obama's overarching priority is to right the economy and that his other objectives fit snugly into that framework.

He sees Obama acting in four areas of concern to a middle class that "is working harder, earning less and paying more." The list: health care, energy, tax reform and education. All are issues on which Obama should not be afraid to be audacious.

The economic crisis, Emanuel said, provides "an opportunity to finally do what Washington has for years postponed." Here, the model is Franklin Roosevelt, who in the 1930s saw the objectives of economic recovery and greater social justice as closely linked.

President-elect Obama can spend most of his time fretting warily about the shortcomings of past presidents and how to avoid their errors. Or he can think hopefully about truly successful presidents and how their daring changed the country. Is there any doubt as to which of these would more usefully engage his imagination?

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Might be a good idea to change the 2nd title line of this item to "challenges facing the President-elect". Why? Because that is where the centrist principles will be very visible.

Here is a NYT editorial about what is needed for our military. I agree with every word of it. (But, then, I also support reinstituting the draft.)

As president, Barack Obama will face the most daunting and complicated national security challenges in more than a generation — and he will inherit a military that is critically ill-equipped for the task.

Troops and equipment are so overtaxed by President Bush’s disastrous Iraq war that the Pentagon does not have enough of either for the fight in Afghanistan, the war on terror’s front line, let alone to confront the next threats.

This is intolerable, especially when the Pentagon’s budget, including spending on the two wars, reached $685 billion in 2008. That is an increase of 85 percent in real dollars since 2000 and nearly equal to all of the rest of the world’s defense budgets combined. It is also the highest level in real dollars since World War II.

To protect the nation, the Obama administration will have to rebuild and significantly reshape the military. We do not minimize the difficulty of this task. Even if money were limitless, planning is extraordinarily difficult in a world with no single enemy and many dangers.

Seem's to me that I heard something similar from Gates recently. Am I misremembering or did any of you hear that too?

aC

Source: NYT - A Military for a Dangerous New World

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Interesting piece in Newsweek by Jonathan Alter, who makes the case for one of the most important things Obama can do to avoid going off a cliff a la Bush - keep his BlackBerry. Or, more to the point, keep connected with his friends, colleagues, etc., with people he can depend on for honest opinions.

As someone who just got her very first BlackBerry a little over a week ago, I can attest to the validity of this statement: "And if you think giving up smoking is hard, wait until you go cold turkey on the Blackberry. You'll be bumming handhelds from your aides all day long. Might as well keep your own."

In all seriousness, Alter argues that one of the biggest "occupational hazard" a president faces is isolation, and that trap may be lessened somewhat by holding on to the handy BlackBerry as a link to the outside world that is not first scanned by his staff. It may help him maintain his focus and prevent certain aides or officials from gaining too much influence.

And all that from a BlackBerry...amazing!

http://www.newsweek.com/id/169636

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And yet, other sources are writing/talking about how he'll have to give up his BlackBerry, because of the Presidential Records Act. Every text and email has to be retained, and they need a handle on how to manage it. Maybe he'll use his wife's email account.

It should also be easier for him to remain grounded because his children, wife, mother-in-law and future dog are there as well. Children have a way of keeping you real.

Just my two cents worth ...

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And yet, other sources are writing/talking about how he'll have to give up his BlackBerry, because of the Presidential Records Act. Every text and email has to be retained, and they need a handle on how to manage it. Maybe he'll use his wife's email account.

It should also be easier for him to remain grounded because his children, wife, mother-in-law and future dog are there as well. Children have a way of keeping you real.

Just my two cents worth ...

Yeah, my son told me about the Presidential Records Act - I'm going to be disappointed - Barack (we were on a first name basis) was emailing me just about every other day! Sure, he was asking for money, but still...

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And yet, other sources are writing/talking about how he'll have to give up his BlackBerry, because of the Presidential Records Act. Every text and email has to be retained, and they need a handle on how to manage it. Maybe he'll use his wife's email account.

It should also be easier for him to remain grounded because his children, wife, mother-in-law and future dog are there as well. Children have a way of keeping you real.

Just my two cents worth ...

The Alter article addresses that, to some extent.

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Interesting piece in Newsweek by Jonathan Alter, who makes the case for one of the most important things Obama can do to avoid going off a cliff a la Bush - keep his BlackBerry. Or, more to the point, keep connected with his friends, colleagues, etc., with people he can depend on for honest opinions.

As someone who just got her very first BlackBerry a little over a week ago, I can attest to the validity of this statement: "And if you think giving up smoking is hard, wait until you go cold turkey on the Blackberry. You'll be bumming handhelds from your aides all day long. Might as well keep your own."

In all seriousness, Alter argues that one of the biggest "occupational hazard" a president faces is isolation, and that trap may be lessened somewhat by holding on to the handy BlackBerry as a link to the outside world that is not first scanned by his staff. It may help him maintain his focus and prevent certain aides or officials from gaining too much influence.

And all that from a BlackBerry...amazing!

http://www.newsweek.com/id/169636

All my friends that have one call it their Crackberry...

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Re the title of the topic, just what really is viewed as "centrist" these days? CW says "right of center".

This WSJ item says the center is shifting using UHC as an example:

... it is also possible that, for once, the public weighed the big issues and gave a clear verdict on the great economic questions of the last few decades. It is likely that we really do want universal health care and some measure of wealth-spreading, and even would like to see it become easier to organize a union in the workplace, however misguided such ideas may seem to the nation's institutions of higher carping.

That was the sense I got when I met last week with officers of the Service Employees International Union (SEIU). Their mood was optimistic -- as well it should be, since labor unions spent some $450 million during the 2008 races, orchestrated massive voter outreach, and saw their candidates triumph.

What is coming, they believe, is not triangulation redux. This was, SEIU President Andy Stern told me, "a clear election not on small things." Mr. Obama "talked about what people wanted to hear about," as opposed to the culture wars. "We've redefined the center," Mr. Stern said. "Universal health care is now centrist."

The item deals primarily with unions and has some frightening statements. The one that made me most uncomfortable was this one where Bernie Marcus, CEO Home Depot, is talking about card-check :

"If a retailer has not gotten involved with this, if he has not spent money on this election, if he has not sent money to Norm Coleman and these other guys," Mr. Marcus said, apparently referring to Republican senators facing tough re-election fights, then those retailers "should be shot; should be thrown out of their goddamn jobs."

Mr. Marcus may snarl, but he doesn't bark. His is the voice of a business class rediscovering its ancestral zeal for combat. Liberals should take heed. If they thought the "Harry and Louise" campaign that sank Hillary Clinton's health-care reform was dirty, they should know they ain't seen nothing yet.

Oh goody. Just what I would want to look forward to.

aC

Source: WSJ - It's Time to Give Voters the Liberalism They Want

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From Slate:

Cheer Up, Republicans

You’re going to have a moderate Republican president for the next four years: Barack Obama.

By William Saletan|Posted Tuesday, Nov. 6, 2012, at 11:27 PM ET

Dear Republicans,

Sorry about the election. I know how much it hurts when your presidential candidate loses. I’ve been there many times. You’re crestfallen. You can’t believe the public voted for that idiot. You fear for your country.

Cheer up. The guy we just re-elected is a moderate Republican.

I know how stupid that sounds. Barack Obama is the head of the Democratic Party. For five years, conservative politicians and media told you he was a raving socialist. In the heat of the campaign, when you’re trying to beat the guy, it’s hard to let go of that image of him, just as it’s hard for Democrats to see past the caricatures of Mitt Romney. But now that the campaign is over and you’re staring at a second Obama term, the falsity of the propaganda may come as a relief. By and large, Obama’s instincts are the instincts of a moderate Republican. His policies are the policies of a moderate Republican. He stands where the GOP used to stand and will someday stand again.

Yes, Obama imposed an individual mandate to buy health insurance. You know who else did that? Romney. You know where the idea came from? The Heritage Foundation. Personal responsibility—insisting that people carry private insurance so we don’t have to bail them out in emergency rooms and hospitals—was a Republican idea. Same with Wall Street reform: There’s nothing conservative about letting financial institutions gamble with other people’s money in ways that would force us to bail them out again. Even Obama’s cap-and-trade proposal echoed the market-based emissions-control policies of the 1990 Bush administration and the 2008 McCain campaign. And last year, when the EPA proposed a new air-pollution limit, Obama ticked off environmentalists by killing it on the grounds that it might jeopardize the recovery.

Remember how Democrats ridiculed George W. Bush’s troop surge in Iraq? Obama copied it in Afghanistan. He escalated the drone program, killing off al-Qaida’s leaders. He sent SEAL Team 6 into Pakistan to get Osama Bin Laden. He teamed up with NATO to take down Muammar Qaddafi. He reneged on his pledge to close Guantanamo Bay. He put together a globally enforced regime of sanctions that is bringing Iran’s economy to its knees. That’s why Romney had nothing to say in last month’s foreign policy debate. No sensible Republican president would have done things differently.

Obama’s no right-winger. You might have serious issues with his Supreme Court justices or his moves on immigration or the Bush tax cuts. But you probably would have had similar issues with Dwight Eisenhower, Richard Nixon, or Gerald Ford. Obama’s in the same mold as those guys. So don’t despair. Your country didn’t vote for a socialist tonight. It voted for the candidate of traditional Republican moderation. What should gall you, haunt you, and goad you to think about the future of your party is that that candidate wasn’t yours.

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From The Democratic Strategist, by James Vega, 3/21/13:

Boy I'm glad Chris Cillizza and Sean Sullivan weren't writing in the early 60's. I tremble to think how they would have covered Martin Luther King.

In a new piece titled provocatively titled, "Obama the Uniter? Not Really", the Washington Post's resident dispensers of inside the beltway common wisdom have once again managed to concede the reality of Republican extremism as the source of political polarization in one sentence and then turn around and lay the responsibility for it on Obama in another.

Just watch how this world Olympic-class "it's not really his fault except it really is" gymnastic logical summersault is performed:

...there's little question that Republicans in Congress have been driven to the ideological right over the past few years due in large part to a series of primary victories by conservative insurgents over incumbents viewed as insufficiently loyal to party principles.

But, Obama is still the president who pledged -- loudly and repeatedly -- to change how Washington works. That has not happened. The economic stimulus bill and the healthcare law passed on party line votes in his first term. The gun bill failed on party lines in his second term. And, with a series of scandals and investigations now mounting, it seems more likely that partisanship will grow rather than shrink in the coming months...

None of that is Obama's fault and there is nothing -- or virtually nothing -- he can do to change it. But, add it all up and you are left with one inescapable conclusion: The president who pledged to change Washington is almost certain to come up short on that promise.

Wow. I sure am glad Cillizza and Sullivan weren't writing in the early 60's. They probably would have evaluated Martin Luther King something like this:
Martin Luther King, Man of Peace? Not Really

...there's little question that segregationists have been driven even further to the ideological right over the past few years due in large part to the growing demands for equality ...But Martin Luther King is still the leader who pledged -- loudly and repeatedly -- to seek civil rights without violence.

That has not happened....A church in Birmingham has been bombed, civil rights workers have been murdered and John Kennedy has been assassinated.

None of that is King's fault and there is nothing -- or virtually nothing -- he can do to change it. But, add it all up and you are left with one inescapable conclusion: The leader who pledged to seek civil rights without violence is almost certain to come up short on that promise.

Does anybody except me think that this is just world class crazy? I sure do hope so.

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