Lull (OR Running in Circles)

November 29, 2008

Observant readers will note that I haven’t been writing much of late. I’m sure I could come up with a whole bunch of excuses, but the bottom line is that I really haven’t been moved to write.

Fortunately, and to the great relief of many, Mr. Obama won the election. Since then there has been much fuss and made-up controversy over President-elect Obama’s staff and cabinet selections. I’m certainly not plugged in to the Washinton establishment to really work myself up about who he picks for what post, and why. There seems to be some consternation that the President-elect isn’t creating an ultraliberal cabinet, or even a liberal one.

To me, this feels like, somewhere along the line, people began to believe the propoganda that President-elect Obama is some ultra-liberal politician. I really am surprised that this is causing such a stir. He’s been center-left throughout his career, this profound centrism shouldn’t surprise anyone. Would I prefer he be more liberal? Absolutely. I said as much back in primary season (which feels o’ so long ago). But, he will be the President, and he’s vastly more liberal than the current occupant of that office. That needs to be enough.

Interestingly, while the ultra-liberal meme from the campaign is being disproven, so too is another bizarre assertion from the McCain campaign: that President-elect Obama was not ready to lead. The last few weeks have demonstrated exactly how groundless that assertion was. I obeserved during that campaign that Obama’s leadership was on display in the campaign itself. Now, while lame-duck President Bush and his administration does nothing to attempt to lead the economy out of the dumpster, and actively tries to lead us further in on other topics, President-elect Obama is doing everything he can to get us through the next couple months without allowing our economy to implode.

And what is “everything” he can? Talking, pointing, influencing, and leading. He has no official power to wield, and yet he’s supporting a crumbling economy through force of will, demonstrated in is selection of economic pragmatists as his advisors. When I try to imagine what a President-elect McCain would be doing right now, how he would be trying to fit the square peg of reality into the round hole of his (and his advisors’) ideology, I can only see him fumbling around in much the same way he did during the campaign. That’s not leadership at all.

And so, here we are. Just under 2 months left in the failed presidency of George W. Bush, and all I can do, as I read the news, and watch the fallout, is hope that President-elect Obama can hold things together from his powerless perch, since it’s painfully clear that President Bush couldn’t care less about what happens to this country.

Standards (OR What are we applauding?)

November 18, 2008

Dave ever so nobly attempts to defend his defense of the Bush Administration for acting like grown ups:

At the same time, I do not think that George W. Bush is an evil person.  He is not The Joker, trying to spread chaos and havoc merely because he can’t think of anything better to do.  When he does things that I consider wrong, I believe that he does them for logical reasons, only with a seriously absurd sense of weighting the importance of various factors.


However, at the same time, the Bush Administration has within itself the power to really fuck this country up much worse than it has already – executive powers are broad and deep, even before you get to the point of arguing about Congressional oversight and the question of how far this least-accountable of all administrations is willing to carry its oversteps.  But, at the heart of it, this is a group of people who do not want to destroy the country, and who have acknowledged that the 2008 election was a resounding bitchslap of them and all that they stood for.

What’s interesting here is that I don’t disagree with most of this. What I don’t understand is how President Bush’s decision to act like an adult and assist his successor is to be applauded. Could he have chosen to be more infantile and petty for the last couple months of his term? Absolutely. Still, I’m reasonably sure that he would understand the damage that could do to his all-important legacy. Instead, he’s elected to do the politically expedient thing and act like an adult. And we’re to applaud? Really?

At the same time, as I mentioned before, President Bush has been implementing some midnight regulations. He’s also “burrowing” his political appointees into civil service positions. Matt notes “that for key regulatory positions Bush usually gave his career appointments to folks who were either officially or de facto industry lobbyists. So basically we’ll have the top layer of the civil service filled with industry shills.”

It’s this sort of thing that leads me to disagree with Dave’s contention that the Bush Administration acknowledges that the result of this election was a resounding bitchslap. I would think that if that were true, the least popular President in history would also acknowledge his unpopularity, accept that a vast majority of the country doesn’t agree with his governing philosophy, and sit on his hands for the remainder of his term.

Instead, he’s doing everything he can to benefit his buddies (the same sort of thing that made him so unpopular) and hamstring a President Obama (who just won more votes and electoral votes than he ever did). And all the while, he’s putting on this “I’m a nice helpful guy” facade and getting people like Dave to applaud his behavior.

Tricked (OR Falling for it again)

November 17, 2008

Dave appears to have discovered that he’s partisan. Or, perhaps, that he’s a hack. Amazingly, he thinks the Bush Administration is to be commended for being so gracious during this transition period.

I think he’s forgotten who he’s talking about here. This is an administration that has consistently lied to or obscured truth from the country; that has regularly formed an appealing public image while performing some of the most despicable acts ever committed by a President of this country.

Anyway- while we’re admiring how nice a guy President Push is, and how helpful he’s being to the incoming an Obama Administration, we’re missing stuff like this:

Now, of course, Bush has entered into his own midnight period, and it promises to be a dark time indeed. Among the many new regulations—or, rather, deregulations—the Administration has proposed are rules that would: make it harder for the government to limit workers’ exposure to toxins, eliminate environmental review from decisions affecting fisheries, and ease restrictions on companies that blow up mountains to get at the coal underneath them. Other midnight regulations in the works include rules to allow “factory farms” to ignore the Clean Water Act, rules making it tougher for employees to take family or medical leave, and rules that would effectively gut the Endangered Species Act. Most regulations are subject to public input; such is the sense of urgency that the Administration has brought to the task of despoliation that the Interior Department completed its “review” of two hundred thousand public comments on the endangered-species rules in just four days, a feat that, one congressional aide calculated, required each staff member involved to read through comments at the rate of seven per minute. “So little time, so much damage” is how the Times recently put it.


What distinguishes this Administration in its final days—as in its earlier ones—is the purity of its cynicism. White House officials haven’t even bothered to argue that these new rules are in the public interest. Such a claim would, in any event, be impossible to defend, as just about every midnight regulation being proposed is, evidently, a gift to a favored industry.

Rachel Maddow’s on the case too.

Bottom line: I think it would serve us well to remember who were talking about here.