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Posts Tagged ‘Debates

It’s Czar Mystery

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I find it interesting that one of the criticisms being leveled against the Obama administration is his appointment of various “Czars”. What evidently started as a birther/’bagger type theoryis now gaining ground in the Republican establishment. And like stories of President Obama’s fictional Kenyan birth certificate, there’s about as much truth to the idea that this is a new concept.

Reading  Kay Bailey Hutchison’s Sunday editorial over a morning bowl of cereal, in which she calls Obama’s appointment of Czars “unprecedented” and strongly implies that no such position has ever existed (no, she doesn’t say it, but absolutely nothing in the op-ed even begins to acknowledge the fact that such posts have existed for 20 years), I was struck by that thought – didn’t this defiance of the Constitution begin during a Republican administration?

The answer is actually more nuanced than I thought. I was thinking of the “Drug Czar,  a position that was created in 1988 (under Ronald Regan) and filled in 1989 (under George H.W. Bush), which was initially a Cabinet level position, and therefore, while still evocative of the Evil Empire, not a direct thread to the sanctity of liberty. Or something like that. Obama has made a change with respect to the Drug Czar, a move that is not entirely inappropriately called “unprecedented”, in that it is a move without direct precedent, of essentially decommissioning the position and removing it from Cabinet status.

But the first actual use of “Czar” as a title evidently goes all the way back to the Nixon administration, who, again, I’m pretty certain was Republican. Or does it go back even farther? Some of our lovely friends at Wikipedia would have us believe that the term has been used for more than 80 years, beginning with FDR. So, maybe it is the Democrats’ fault? Just for the record, this, kids, is why people mock Wiki as a primary source. Three different articles imply three different answers to this burning question.

What is not in question is that for the better part of a century, the White House made do with a handful of Czars. Then look at that jump – the leap not just back into double digits, but into the 30s, takes place not in 2009, as Hutchison would have us believe, but rather, in the 8 years prior. You know what that means, right?

Yet, where were all of these people when George W. Bush was was appointing “czars” right and left? I suppose no one actually thought that the poster boy for unremitting capitalism could ever be labeled a communist.


Written by emandink

September 14, 2009 at 9:30 pm

Where the Schoolhouse Ends.

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Plans to blog the debate last night were derailed – apologies to anyone who stopped by for live action coverage.

There were three things that stood out at me last night.  The first was that while McCain clearly had some massive coaching from his staff on actually trying to show a modicum of respect to Obama, he really didn’t succeed.  It wasn’t a bad performance – he was definitely smoother than he’s been before, but I actually came away from this one feeling strongly not so much that Obama had won, but that McCain had lost.
His “WA WA my feelings are hurt because you didn’t denounce Lewis as a reverse racist for daring to call Sarah and I out on the fact that we are tacitly encouraging racism and xenophobia, even as we pretend we are against it” was laughable.  Seriously Senator – if you have called out everything you thought was inappropriate about your campaign, then you’re fine with your running mate implying Obama is a terrorist. Good to know.

Second, I thought that it was telling that McCain was criticizing Obama for class warfare, when he evidently doesn’t believe that it is possible that a plumber (named Joe or otherwise) could possibly make $250,000 or more a year. McCain kept harping on the idea that this plumber (read, uneducated, blue collar laborer) would have his taxes raised under Obama’s plan – never addressing his actual income, and implying that gee, if a plumber will have his taxes raised, then what might happen to you, nurse, or you teacher, or you tradesman. How fucking offensive that evidently McCain doesn’t believe – and doesn’t want the American people to believe – that a plumber might be able to make as much as a lawyer or a banker or a politician. If a plumber makes more than the east coast liberal elite, then his whole narrative is blown to bits.

My big issue with the debate – the one that really stuck with me and made me both laugh and want to throw things at the tv was McCain’s education proposal.  McCain, the man whose convention was all about “small town values” and small towns being real America and city dwellers being over-educated elitists, used Washington, DC, New York City and New Orleans as his education examples.  He referred repeatedly to wanting to give every American the sort of choice that the Obamas and the McCains have in terms of where to send their suburban dwelling children.  However, having “school choice” presumes that there are multiple schools to choose from.  So, in an urban area with multiple public schools at a given grade level in the same district and a bumper crop of private and perochial schools to choose from, school choice – be it charters, vouchers, open attendance systems can work.

But what about those “real Americans” in medium and small towns and rural areas?   Just because a school is surrounded by corn fields and small town values, it doesn’t mean that property values and taxes are high enough to maintain high quality schools across the board.  What choice is there but to go to an underfunded consolidated school, if the only other options are 30 miles away and not much better?  I sure didn’t have a whole lot of school choice when I was in high school – it was the cash-starved public school, the Catholic school, the Baptist school or the university lab school (which tended to wildly occilate in quality every few years).  And that was a lot of choice compared to elsewhere in farm country. Poor kids, kids with parents who don’t give a shit about their education, kids who graduate without knowing how to read, kids who need ESOL programs are not limited to urban areas. 

Vouchers do jack for these kids; or for the thousands of kids who don’t win the voucher/charter lottery.  Playing checkers with kids’ education and moving them around the board doesn’t change the fact that the board is warped to begin with.

Written by emandink

October 16, 2008 at 4:01 pm

Live from Nashville…POTUS scrum part 2

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Alas, I am on about a 4-5 minute time delay tonight, which is going to make timestamping a little difficult.
First impressions – Obama looks boring and has caved to the flag-pin mafia.  McCain is well served by a podium and needs a tie that looks like it was made in this millennium.

As for the actual debate…

…Wow.  It took McCain all of 5 words to get to energy independence.  Which is somehow going to bail out retirees?  He’s managing to stuff half the republican platform into one answer.

I sort of wish I was watching CNN with its independent Ohio voters.

Gee…McCain is not going to appoint Tom Brokaw to be Treasury Secretary…there’s a newsflash.  But, the head of eBay?  I guess it has Palin’s endorsement.  I’m surprised he didn’t try to attack Warren Buffet – he did take some of Obama’s wind there, I suppose.

And now Tom’s testy.  You will answer questions the way I want you to, gentlemen.

Aw…McCain “suspended” his campaign.
Would reasonably informed people really have never heard of Freddie and Fannie? Really?  Am I just too entrenched in DC?
He is really hitting the buzzwords, eh?

Obama is actually hitting back at the FM attacks.  Finally.

And McCain just totally dodged the question of whether it is going to get worse before it gets better.

I’m wondering whether this fixation on Bush really going to serve Obama as well as he wants it to.
I’m hoping the meme about Obama actually being the most liberal senator falls flat.  And, that’s what planetarium projectors cost, dumbass.

This is all starting to run together.  Please, let McCain disintegrate in some spectacular manner.  PLEASE!!!


“Some of you might remember 9-11″…nice one.  Shopping doesn’t equal leadership?  Damn.  I’ve been doing it wrong.

Wow.  Well, at least McCain is familiar with some Supreme Court jurisprudence…but Obama’s tax cuts like nailing a jellyfish to a wall…not quite porn, sorry.

How the hell does McCain plan to actually pay for all of his platform without raising taxes on anyone at all?  Obama is being rational – if we can’t afford it, we don’t cut.  And the people who can best afford it, pay more.  Why is this so hard to understand?

…the straight talk express lost a wheel.  Good one.  And now we get the real deal from Obama.  If only people will listen…

Oh god, please do not say that we should privatize social security…well, actually, please do.  Damn.  Evidently the solution to social security is to exhume Ronald Reagan?  And to distort our opponent’s record.

Tom, just give it up.  They are never going to follow the rules.

So…McCain is against safe nuclear power?  He wants the regular old unsafe nuclear power?  My brain cannot parse…

Oh snap!  Obama pwns McCain on the congressional energy record.  “Drill baby drill” is not the answer…I wish he’d said that instead of just implying it.

TOM – Give it up.
JOHN – Stop it with the “my friends” crap.  Just stop.
BARAK – The smug amused look cracks me up, but I suspect it is not working on the undecideds.

Ah, healthcare.  Obama says what I expect him to say…he’s going a little more on offense today, but is not blowing me out of the water.

McCain wants online health records to reduce “errors as they call them”…what?  Are the trial attorneys backing him or something.  It’s called malpractice and can be a question of life or death.
I think he is baldface lying about Obama’s supposed fees, but I have to fact check it.
I’m sure Obama will be personally hunting down every U.S. resident with no healthcare.


Woah…was that a little dig at Arizona’s healthcare regulations?  And here’s Tom interrupting Obama again.  And…McCain buts in “But before we leave that, did we hear the size of the fine?”  Wow.  And, Brokaw lets him get away with it.  But, you know that liberal media, skewering the republicans.

America is the greatest force for good in the world…we keep the peace by shedding blood?  Good golly…lets all slit our wrists!  Evidently Obama was wrong about Russia by agreeing with almost every diplomatic leader?

Obama admits that he doesn’t understand…the GOP cuts tape here.  Too bad, because it’s a good overall answer.  At least he hasn’t agreed with him yet.

Ooh, we’re back to Doctrines…thanks to that Palin interview, it’s the new thing.  All the cool kids are doing it.
Can’t Angelina Jolie just take care of Darfur?
I have to admit, I just got totally lost on the Obama Doctrine.
The McCain Doctrine is…Cool Hand Luke?  I’ve heard “peacemaker” too many times and now I have Simon & Garfunkel’s “Benediction” going through my head.  It’s kind of discordant given the circumstance.  And, thus meaning I have no idea about the McCain doctrine either.

So, what is McCain going to say about Obama’s answer…ah, he’s going to harp on that whole being open about attacking Pakistan…which is different from Sarah Palin how?

Uh…what support of the people in Iraq?  It would have been great if we’d actually DONE that, but we’ve not been fighting Saddam for the past how many years?  Who are the insurgents if not “the people”?  Despite his early hopes, not only was the war not quick, but we were not greeted as liberators.  John, no amount of wishful thinking and nasty rhetoric changes the fact that you were wrong.

…”As I have acted responsibly throughout my military career”…what?  What?  Dude, you haven’t been in the military in 30 years and when you were, you FAILED.  FAILED.  Really, it’s not that impressive.

Wow.  He just acknowledged that Obama actually is right about something.  McCain is obsessed with this surge.

And, McCain just trotted out the “looked into Putin’s eyes and saw K.G.B.”  Dude, you said that already.

“Part of the job of the commander in chief is keeping all of you safe” – nice line.  Nice acknowledgement of the fact that the job is about safety and security, not ego.

Does Russia even really qualify as an empire right now?

And, now we move to Israel…and McCain gets touchy feely with the Navy guy. 
“Of course we would not wait for the security counsel.”  What would the Israelis do?  And we’re back to the meeting with Iran thing.
Am I the only one who thinks that while absolutely tragic, the destruction of Israel is not the same as the Nazi holocaust?  (Godwin took a lot longer this time, though.)  Genocide, yes.  So is Darfur.

Obama, however, never seemed to quite answer the question.

“What don’t you know and how might you learn it?”  This would be the Achilles heel question.
I am not sure that talking about the diminishing of the American Dream is really a winner.  I like the “it’s not what you expect, but what you don’t that takes us your time”.

And McCain dodges by not actually talking about himself.  “What I don’t know is what none of us know and what is essentially unknowable.”  But everything else – I know it all.  There is nothing I don’t know.  And he brings it around to the country first slogan.

And the candidates block the teleprompter.  That may be the best part of the whole debate. 

And we have schmooze.  Good night and good luck and all that.

Written by emandink

October 8, 2008 at 1:22 am

Posted in Election 2008, Politics

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Live from suburban St. Louis…it’s the 2008 Vice Presidential debate

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8:58 – I think the last time I was remotely interested in a veep debate as anything other than background was in 1984.  Aside from the obvious, there’s really no comparison.

MSNBC is being weird about their coverage, so for tivo purposes, we’re watching CNN.

9:01 – here we go…

9:03 – CNN ticker is interesting…looks like Palin is taking her facial cues from her running mate

Gee, it took all of 2 seconds for Palin to talk about being a soccer mom.  You betcha.

9:06 – good look to Biden with “People in the senate”…but the attack doesn’t seem to go over well…

9:08 – economy = workforce?  Did she really just wink?  Who the hell sent her out there with her hair in her eyes?

9:09 – go Gwen, but if you really think you are going to keep them on topic, you are in for a loooong night.

Darn right it was the predator lenders…she is doing better than I’d have expected – there is a lot of debate left to be played…

I wonder if her hair is so firmly behind her ears to try to show she couldn’t be wearing a wire?

9:12 – The undecideds don’t like the practical answer from Biden.

9:13 – Interesting use of first name, Sarah. Good press on 400+ tax increase votes, there.  She is obsessed with the taxes.

9:14 – she’s already going after Gwen Ifel.  She may not answer the questions the way that doesn’t fit with her canned soundbite.  She’s going to say the word TAXES as many times as she can. :P

9:15 – Biden on taxes – middle class tax cuts – this is for you, not corporate America.

9:17 – “redistribution of wealth” = socialism for Palin.  She’s middle class?  That house of theirs would be 2.5 million here.  Ooh, free market regulation worked so well with the banking and mortgage industry.  $5000 credit is nothing if you’re buying healthcare on the open market.  Have they looked at a hospital bill recently.

9:20 – the voter reaction ticker is irking me.

9:22 – Not paying taxes is not patriotic?

9:23 – She is starting to fall apart…bless her heart.

9:24 – To be fair, both of them are pretty much ignoring Gwen.

9:26 – I cannot even follow her and we’re what, 27 minutes in?  We have John McCain to thank for what?  A toxic mess on main street is affecting wall street?  Is she really trying to blame average Americans?   I think she means the other way around.

9:29 – Why is she back on energy?  Independent Ohio voters are not happy…but she brought it around to oil drilling – good save.

9:30 – Sooo…as the only Arctic state, climate is changing and I’m not going to think about the causes (because heaven’s forfend we acknowledge human responsibilities)…we need to reduce carbon emissions by increasing oil production?  Maybe patriotic oil has no carbon emissions…kind of like how eating standing up has no calories.

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Written by emandink

October 3, 2008 at 1:02 am

Posted in Election 2008, Politics

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Watch this space…

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I have every intention of blogging the debate tonight.  It might be slightly time-delayed, because of family stuff and I’m guessing that there will also be several instances of “run that back a little, did she really say that?”

In the meantime, fine yourself a good debate drinking game or, if you’d like to avoid a massive hangover, try some bingo.

Written by emandink

October 2, 2008 at 12:49 pm

Posted in Election 2008, Politics

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