Sunday, November 30, 2008

SOS Clinton Will Anchor National Security Team

Gen. James Jones, Sen. Hillary Clinton, and Secy. of Defense Robert Gates, photo credits: Huffington Post

Update from the NY Daily News: "WASHINGTON - Hillary Clinton passed on becoming boss of the superpowerful Senate Appropriations Committee to pursue the more prestigious secretary of state job with President-elect Barack Obama, the Daily News has learned."

Peter Baker at the NY Times writes: “At a time when the country remains engaged in two wars and still faces the threat of international terrorism, Mrs. Clinton will anchor a national security team with more of a centrist character than some of Mr. Obama’s liberal supporters once hoped to see. In addition to her, Democrats said, Mr. Obama plans to announce that he is keeping Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates, who has run the Pentagon for the last two years, and will appoint Gen. James L. Jones, a retired Marine commandant, as national security adviser.

“Rounding out his national security team, Mr. Obama will name former Deputy Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr. as his choice for attorney general and Governor Janet Napolitano of Arizona as secretary of homeland security, the Democrats said. Mr. Obama also will nominate Susan E. Rice, his foreign policy adviser and a former assistant secretary of state, as ambassador to the United Nations, a job that will be given cabinet rank, as it had under President Bill Clinton.”

Read more:

Neophyte Obama’s Top Down Power Over More Experienced Appointees

To calm skittish Americans facing financial difficulties, President-elect Obama, lacking experience in every major policy area, has appeared onstage recently surrounded by seasoned economists.

To reassure those concerned about national security in the midst of two wars, Obama has asked Bob Gates to stay on as secretary of defense and chosen retired Marine General James Jones as national security adviser.

And according to the wire services, Obama is set to name Hillary Clinton as secretary of state on Monday. Clinton brings in-depth experience in both economic policy and foreign affairs to the top diplomatic post in the Obama Administration.

A NY Times op-ed this morning confirms Clinton’s qualifications for serving at state by effectively linking current economic woes to security and foreign policy goals.

Robert Hormats and David M. Kennedy write:

“A crucial test of governing awaits the Obama administration. It must pursue economic recovery at home and around the globe and the reinvigoration of multilateral coordination abroad. Failure to revive the sagging domestic economy will make broader security and foreign policy goals more difficult to accomplish, as Americans seek refuge in economic nationalism and foreigners lose confidence in Washington’s leadership. The political and economic cooperation needed to resolve the current crisis is as essential to America’s domestic well-being as it is to the successful pursuit of our worldwide strategic interests.”

In response to criticism from his left-wing base for staffing his administration with experienced operatives from the Clinton era, Obama has let it be known that despite all the star power he and his transition team have assembled, he will – like his predecessor - be the decider.

We are asked to believe the judgment of the neophyte Obama will bring the much-heralded change we can believe in?

Despite Obama’s confidence in his innate wisdom, not everyone is convinced. On the PBS News Hour the other night, David Brooks confirmed that for the most part conservatives were well pleased with Obama’s picks, but Brooks expressed a little nervousness. What if, he asked, Paul Volker tells Obama one thing regarding the economy, and Larry Summers tells him the exact opposite? How will a clueless Obama decide what’s best in the midst of a global financial crisis?

Here’s another cause for worry: I’ve recently come across several blatantly chauvinistic opinion pieces regarding Clinton’s appointment at state. For example, Clive Crooks and Christopher Hitchens are essentially demanding that as the Obama Administration’s top diplomat, the more experienced Clinton acquiesce to Obama’s every whim; in other words, she should adopt the model of the voiceless subservient wife in fulfilling her duties around the globe.

In describing the quandary that President-elect Obama poses for not only his followers, but for all Americans, David Sirota at Salon writes:

‘“This is the mythic ‘independence’ we're supposed to crave -- a czar who doesn't owe anyone. It is the foreseeable result of the Dear Leader-ism prevalent in foreign autocracies but never paramount in America until now -- and it will have its benefits and drawbacks.

‘“…The point is that Obama alone gets to choose -- that for all the talk of ‘bottom-up’ politics, his movement's structure grants him a top-down power that no previous president had.

“For better or worse, that leaves us relying more than ever on our Dear Leader's impulses. Sure, we should be thankful when Dear Leader's whims serve the people -- but also unsurprised when they don't.”

Clinton to be Named Secretary of State on Monday

You can hear the weeping and wailing of Obama’s left-wing online supporters across the blogosphere as they watch the air escape from their punctured celebratory balloons. How could the darling of the extreme left, who bravely opposed the Iraq War in his role as an Illinois State legislator, so soon and so callously betray his most fervent supporters by appointing Hillary Clinton to the top diplomatic post in his administration? Does - does - does this mean that knowledge, experience, and wisdom count?

The AP’s Beth Fouhy reports:

“President-elect Barack Obama planned to nominate Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton as his secretary of state on Monday, transforming a once-bitter political rivalry into a high-level strategic and diplomatic partnership.

“Obama will name the New York senator to his national security team at a news conference in Chicago, Democratic officials said Saturday. They requested anonymity because they were not authorized to speak publicly for the transition team.”

Read more.

Saturday, November 29, 2008

Has Sarah Palin Reached the Status of Permanent Celebrity?

photo credits: Politico

Sarah Palin’s continued celebrity status must be giving the misogynous wing - that would be the extreme lefties - of the Democratic Party hissy fits. You can get a hint of the Far Left’s distress just by reading Doonesbury. The strip’s author, Gary Trudeau, has been making fun of the Alaska governor and former GOP VP candidate every day for the past six days. In yesterday’s strip, Boopsie says to B.D., “I thought you disapproved of celebrity candidates.” Evidently not: in today’s strip, B.D. is pleased to hear Palin reassure TV viewers that if God opens the door for her in 2012, she won’t blink.

In the meantime, Politico is headlining Palin as “A Digital Superstar.” Here’s the evidence as presented by Charles Mahtesian:

“Three weeks after the Republican ticket suffered a sweeping defeat at the polls, Sarah Palin continues to dominate search engine queries, cable news and online video sites.

“The only American politician who generates comparable interest is President-elect Barack Obama. No one else is close.

“Palin was the most popular Lycos search from the week she joined the ticket continuously through last Sunday, some two weeks after the election, when she was dethroned by Paris Hilton, the celebutante whom John McCain famously compared to Barack Obama.

“The Alaska governor now ranks fourth, just one spot below Obama, on the weekly Lycos 50 list.

‘“People are still searching for her in record numbers,’ said Kathy O’Reilly, a spokeswoman for Lycos. ‘How bizarre is that? Obama is the president-elect after the most historic election of all time and you’d think he would be dominating search activity and he only now is going ahead of her.’

‘“Palin has been the subject of intense online fascination since her introduction as the Republican nominee on Aug. 29. In September, the Anchorage Daily News reported a 928 percent spike in traffic, according to Nielsen Online. Her mid-October ‘Saturday Night Live’ appearance drove the show’s highest rating in 14 years, and her Oct. 2 debate with Joe Biden was the most watched vice presidential debate ever — drawing more viewers than any of the three presidential debates between McCain and Obama.”

There’s a lot more. And hey, don't forget to leave a comment!

Hanukkah, Christmas, Kwanzaa, New Year’s: Honoring Light in a Dark Season

Photo credits: Ceile Hartleib

In the midst of decorating my home for Christmas this weekend, I easily empathized with those described in Jan Hoffman’s NY Times article, The Holidays Downsized: No Job and Fewer Gifts. As I mentioned in an earlier post, my family and friends have not been untouched by the global financial crisis.

Several among my acquaintances have lost their jobs in recent months, even before the nation’s leaders acknowledged we’d slipped into a recession. Others have had their hours cut or pensions reduced due to the plummeting stock market.

Hoffman’s article in the Times begins:

“SUSAN McCABE liked to go all out for Christmas. Presents for friends and 17 relatives: high-end cameras for adults, Nintendo Wii for the children. On Christmas Eve, she proudly treated the immediate family to dinner at romantic white tablecloth restaurants in Manhattan. Sticker shock? Ms. McCabe, who sold eco-friendly technology, wouldn’t blink twice.

“But in September, the start-up company she worked for went belly up. “A restaurant dinner? All those presents?

‘“Out of the question,” said Ms. McCabe, who is scrambling to make the rent on her Manhattan apartment. “And that really bothers me.”’

As dire as the above sounds, Hoffman interweaves an uplifting spiritual motif throughout the stories she tells of how people like the McCabes are coping with adversity this holiday season. The spiritual shines through in a family’s decision to return to the customs of a previous generation or simply refocusing on the deeper meaning of symbols related to Hanukkah, Christmas, Kwanzaa, or the celebration of New Year’s, all of which, as Hoffman points out, “honor light in a dark season.”

As I mentioned in an earlier post, I’m finding my own spiritual nourishment lately through a revised early morning routine at my kitchen table that includes journaling, reading a chapter or two of Thich Nhat Hanh’s Going Home: Jesus and Buddha Are Brothers, and meditating for a few minutes.

Thich Nhat Hanh is A Vietnamese Buddhist who practices meditation in Plum Village, a retreat center in southwestern France. Here’s an excerpt from today’s reading:

“This evening, December twenty-fourth, we shall practice sitting meditation together. The sitting today is very special because after fifteen minutes we will begin to hear the sound of the church bells in northern Russia. We will sit very silently and we will listen to the bells of an Orthodox Church in northern Russia for about twenty minutes. We shall be sitting together silently, solidly like a mountain and free like the air. We will allow the sound of the church bell to touch the seeds of solidity and joy within us. If you do well, the seeds of joy, of love, and peace will begin to bloom like flowers in the fields of your hearts. You may have a chance to discover the true nature of the bell."

Thich Nhat Hanh continues:

“The sound of the bell in the Buddhist temple, the sound of the bell in an Orthodox Church, in a Catholic Church, and in a Protestant Church, their nature is the same.”

Peace be with you this evening, my friends, wherever you are and whatever your circumstances.
If you'd like to share how you and your family are coping with adversity this holiday season, please leave a comment below.

Katalusis Readers from Around the World Bring Hope for Peace

photo credits: (click to enlarge)

In my Thanksgiving greeting to Katalusis readers last Thursday I mentioned that regular visitors to this web site come from all over the United States and around the world, including Canada, Mexico, the UK, Germany, India, and Australia.

Sitting here at my computer in the Twin Cities, it’s been a joy to check out visits to Katalusis from foreign countries and to welcome aboard those of you who have become regular visitors.

Since Thanksgiving, visitors from several countries not mentioned above have shown up to make my day. These include: Romania, Taiwan, Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Singapore, Iran, France, Turkey, Spain, Netherlands, Portugal, Italy, and China.

Each of you affirms the miracle of modern day communication and renews my hope that as we get to know one another better, we will some day experience world peace.

I hope you’ll all stop by Katalusis again soon and don’t forget to leave a comment!

Friday, November 28, 2008

Watch Out, Hillary! Samantha Power to Review State Department per Obama Transition Team

During the Democratic primary Samantha Power resigned as a senior Obama adviser after publicly calling Hillary Clinton a monster. Getty Images.

The Politico staff puts it this way:

“Samantha Power, the foreign-policy scholar who was banished from the Obama campaign for a careless comment about Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton (D-N.Y.) during the Democratic primaries, is working on President-elect Barack Obama’s transition team studying State Department personnel, operations and policy.

“That’s potentially a little awkward because Clinton is scheduled to be designated Obama’s secretary of state early next week.

‘“When Power resigned March 7 as a senior foreign policy adviser to the campaign, she said in a statement: ‘I made inexcusable remarks that are at marked variance from my oft-stated admiration for Senator Clinton and from the spirit, tenor, and purpose of the Obama campaign.’

One of Power’s “inexcusable remarks” involved labeling Sen. Clinton a “monster.” As I recall demented readers at Huffpo piled on in the comments section proclaiming their agreement with the catty Power.

We’ve noticed here at Katalusis that President-elect Obama’s imminent appointment of Hillary Clinton as Secretary of State has resulted in yet another outbreak of hate-mongering from the extreme left, led by the likes of Arianna Huffington, Maureen Dowd, and Christopher Hitchens. And this is the crew who claims it's Hillary who creates the drama?

I suspect the usual Hillary-haters, including Obama’s thousands of online shock troops, yanked Obama’s leash sufficiently to get Power a slot on the transition team to review the state department. It figures. I’m thinking Hillary Clinton had better review the situation carefully before signing on to what might potentially become a nest of vipers.

Wal-Mart Death Prompts an Amateur's Recommendation for Solving the Financial Crisis

Family members and I were grateful this Thanksgiving for the good food produced by a seamless team effort and the opportunity to spend a pleasant relaxing day together.

Today on Black Friday we’ve got sunshine and cloudless blue skies in the Twin Cities with an expected high of 40. Nevertheless, I’ve had no inclination to join the throngs at the nearby Mall of America or step out at the local Wal-Mart where I run the risk of being trampled to death by frenzied shoppers.

The NY Times reports:

“A Wal-Mart employee in suburban New York died after being trampled by a crush of shoppers who tore down the front doors and thronged into the store early Friday morning, turning the annual rite of post-Thanksgiving bargain hunting into a frenzy.”

It’s come to this: on Thanksgiving Day we Americans give thanks for our many blessings and early the next morning we go on a rampage for more material goods. God help anyone who stands in our way.

Amidst the continuous societal upheaval caused by the global financial crisis, I’ve thought more than once that an economic system driven primarily by consumer spending is insane to begin with. And surely I’m not the only one who shudders while listening to national leaders present remedies for our ailing economy meant to encourage consumers to buy more stuff whether we need it or not and in many cases, to resume living way beyond our means.

Don’t get me wrong. Like most Americans, my family members and I are feeling the effects of a worsening recession - as are many of our friends; we’re all hurting this time around. I’ve personally revamped my own budget, and there aren’t many more places where I can cut expenses.

Still, I’m hoping that as we work through this global crisis, we’ll somehow restructure the economy in a way that preserves safety nets for the have nots, promotes charitable giving by the haves, and encourages for the common good the radical notion of frugality over spending by all parties.
In the process we’ll hopefully remember that time spent with loved ones during the holiday season is a far greater gift than anything we can purchase at mega stores like Wal-Mart. And we don't have to risk our lives.

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Happy Thanksgiving to Katalusis Readers

Alums of United Theological Seminary in the Twin Cities received the above poem in a Thanksgiving greeting yesterday from Interim President Kita McVay. I graduated from United in 1990. (click to enlarge image.)

Regular visitors to Katalusis come from all over the United States and throughout the world, including Canada, Mexico, the UK, Germany, India, and Australia. Some of you have stopped by almost daily since I first launched the site in late August 2007. Others have only recently discovered Katalusis.

On this Thanksgiving Day, I’m grateful for your membership in this online community, and I send each of you best wishes.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Sending Thoughts of Healing and Goodwill to Mumbai and Elsewhere

Photo by Virginia Bergman

Taking a break this afternoon from Thanksgiving preparations – the bread stuffing is ready, the rutabaga is chopped, and the turkey is thawed – I scanned the online news. The glow I’ve experienced all day in anticipation of having dinner with loved ones tomorrow quickly faded into despair.

The NY Times headline reads Dozens Reported Dead in India Attacks:

“NEW DELHI — Coordinated terror attacks struck the heart of Mumbai, India’s commercial capital, Wednesday night, killing dozens in machine-gun and grenade assaults on at least two five-star hotels, the city’s largest commuter train station, a historic movie theater and a hospital. There were unconfirmed reports of hostages having been taken at one of the hotels.

“Mumbai police control room said at least 75 people had died and 240 injured, according to preliminary reports.”

And I’m reminded once again: there’s way too much hatred in the world.

So I pause in preparation for tomorrow’s feast, an annual occasion for giving thanks, to meditate on behalf of suffering people in Mumbai and elsewhere, hoping thoughts of healing and goodwill will reach their destination and somehow touch the hearts of both oppressors and their victims.

Vice President-Elect Biden’s Endorsement of Hillary Clinton as Secretary of State

Photo credits: Huffington Post file photo

Barack Obama reportedly selected Joe Biden as his vice-presidential running mate for his expertise in foreign affairs; Biden’s most recent senate post was chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.

In the run up to the expected announcement of Hillary Clinton’s appointment as Secretary of State in the Obama Administration, Helene Cooper reports at the NY Times that Biden has privately told people he recognizes he will not be the point man on foreign policy.

According to Cooper, ‘“Mr. Obama’s aides say Mr. Biden has backed the decision to appoint Mrs. Clinton secretary of state. ‘If he had made an argument against it, it would have carried a lot of weight,’ a senior aide to the transition said. ‘He was totally in support of it.’”

After all their raucus cheering in support of Joe Biden as VP, you’d think his endorsement of Clinton for the position at state would hold some significance for Arianna Huffington and other leaders of Obama’s online shock troops. But so far no signs of rationality have appeared in the latest eruption of pathological Hillary-hatred from the extreme left wing of the blogosphere.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

The Media’s Good Old Boys + Arianna and Maureen: Let the Hillary-Bashing Continue

"Media Guru" Arianna Huffington

Watching a video of Arianna Huffington, along with George Will, David Brooks, and Robert Kuttner, on ABC’s This Week triggered an “aha” moment for me. Arianna was at the Round Table moderated by George Stephanopoulus, and she was obviously enjoying her status as the only woman present. You could almost feel the bonhomie emanating from the TV screen as Arianna seized yet another opportunity to trash Hillary Clinton.

At today’s Huffington Post, Arianna repeated her line of attack against Sen. Clinton, warning of the dire consequences Clinton’s appointment at state will hold for the Obama Administration. (Keep in mind, the Huffington Post has been a leading mouthpiece for Barack Obama since he first announced his candidacy for the presidency.)

Arianna writes:

“Hillary + Obama = High Drama. It's too early to tell what changes Hillary Clinton will bring to Barack Obama's foreign policy, but she's already had an enormous effect on his brand. Her addition to his team has turned "No Drama Obama" into "Mo' Drama Obama." Hillary's appointment isn't even official, but the Obama/Clinton narrative has already left the realm of politics. Its twists, turns, shadings, and complex emotions are the stuff of literature. But who would be the best writer to do this saga justice? Henry James (Portrait of a Lady Secretary of State)? Shakespeare (Clinton II)? Or is the Obama/Clinton relationship more like a Nora Ephron romantic comedy? When Hillary Met Barack. Sleepless in Chappaqua. You've Got Fundraising Email.”

As Georgetown University law professor Heidi Li Feldman noted at her blog today the accusation that Hillary Clinton will add drama to the Obama Administration is “another latently sexist turn of phrase: women create drama; men bring charisma.”

But back to that “aha” moment that I mentioned above. I’ve been repeatedly stunned and puzzled by the attacks of women like Arianna and Maureen Dowd on Hillary Clinton. I just didn’t get it. Watching ABC’s This Week video finally did it for me, and it’s pretty simple. By beating up on any woman who appears to be destined for a national leadership role, Arianna and Maureen win acceptance in the media’s good old boys club.

As a result Arianna is known as a “media guru” – despite the tabloid journalism practiced at Huffpo - and she gets to hobnob with the likes of Brooks, Will, and Kuttner.

The minimally talented – except in the area of hate-mongering - Maureen Dowd is one of two women columnists at the NY Times and one of a very few women columnists featured on the opinion pages of newspapers nationwide.

I’m going to give Arianna and Maureen the benefit of the doubt by suggesting their reprehensible behavior is unconscious stuff. God knows it must be terribly threatening to have to report on the achievements of a power house like Hillary Clinton. Unlike either Arianna or Maureen, Hillary has succeeded both personally and professionally. She has kept her family together over the years and maintained many close friends, while simultaneously earning worldwide respect in the political arena.

In sum, putting Clinton down appears to be a pathological defense mechanism for the obvious inadequacies of Arianna and Modo and as mentioned earlier, they get the benefit of hanging out with the good old boys.

Arianna has suggested that Hillary Clinton brings the stuff of literature with her, and I would agree that Hillary’s life story would be a most compelling read. On the other hand, the petty lives of Arianna and Maureen wouldn’t even make the comic books.

Have Summers and Geithner Learned from their Mistakes?

For the most part, the media has continued its Obama swoon, praising the appointments he’s made thus far to advise him in leading the nation. This week, the president-elect, who has no background whatsoever in economics – or in any other major policy area for that matter - has introduced the team that will inherit the worst financial crisis in a century.

Remarkably, a NY Times editorial today actually questions the records of Lawrence Summers, the new director of the National Economic Council, and Timothy Geithner, the new secretary of the treasury. The editorial is fairly balanced asking only whether or not Summers and Geithner have learned from their more troublesome mistakes. That’s a question we should ask of anyone poised to take a national leadership position.

Oh, but we didn’t ask Obama about any of his mistakes during the campaign because No. 1, any appearance of criticizing him was off limits, and No. 2, his handlers argued that since he had no relevant experience for the presidency, he had made no mistakes.

Plus, I’m told, his temperament is admirably suited for the presidency – getting his nicotine fix from chewing Nicorette gum has probably helped him there.

By the way, I’m aware that Obama is drawing heavily on the Clinton Administration for his appointments – Summers and Geithner included – still I’d feel much more secure if Hillary Clinton, easily the best qualified of all those who ran for the presidency in 2008, were taking the reins of our government in January.


The NY Times editorial referenced above doesn’t mention that Summers was recently fired as president of Harvard for his expressed belief that women have a lower aptitude for math and science than men.

Rebutting Christopher Hitchens’ Latest Vilification of Hillary and Bill Clinton

Responding to Christopher Hitchens’ attack on Hillary Clinton is an unwelcome distraction this morning from preparations for Thanksgiving dinner.

I’ve managed to ignore Hitchens over the years and actually had to review his background to remind myself where such a depraved distortion of Sen. Clinton’s character and qualifications for the position of secretary of state was coming from. A quick glance at his Wiki entry was all it took.

In his post at Slate, Hitchens writes:

“In matters of foreign policy, it has been proved time and again, the Clintons are devoted to no interest other than their own. A president absolutely has to know of his chief foreign-policy executive that he or she has no other agenda than the one he has set. Who can say with a straight face that this is true of a woman whose personal ambition is without limit; whose second loyalty is to an impeached and disbarred and discredited former president; and who is ready at any moment, and on government time, to take a wheedling call from either of her bulbous brothers? This is also the unscrupulous female who until recently was willing to play the race card on President-elect Obama and (in spite of her own complete want of any foreign-policy qualifications) to ridicule him for lacking what she only knew about by way of sordid backstairs dealing. What may look like wound-healing and magnanimity to some looks like foolhardiness and masochism to me.”

Where to begin?

1. “The Clintons are devoted to no interest other than their own.”

Both Bill and Hillary Clinton are known throughout the world for their lifetime efforts on behalf of human rights.

Over the past eight years as a U.S. senator, Hillary Clinton has earned a reputation for her in-depth knowledge of the important issues facing our government, her dedication, her compassion for those in need, and for her ability to work across the aisle.

As for Bill, today the William Jefferson Clinton Foundation addresses climate change, HIV/Aids and Malaria, childhood obesity, sustainable development in Africa, and economic opportunity for all.

2. “A president absolutely has to know of his chief foreign-policy executive that he or she has no other agenda than the one he has set.”

Here again, we have a male chauvinist commentator assuming from the get-go that as secretary of state, Hillary Clinton will be assuming the role of a subservient, dutiful wife constrained from expressing her honest opinions and best judgment in fulfilling the responsibilities of her position.

3. “a woman whose personal ambition is without limit”

Why must we repeatedly remind chauvinists like Hitchens that only women continue to be criticized for being ambitious.

4. “This is also the unscrupulous female who until recently was willing to play the race card on President-elect Obama and (in spite of her own complete want of any foreign-policy qualifications) to ridicule him for lacking what she only knew about by way of sordid backstairs dealing.

Note how perniciously, Hitchens uses the word “female” to describe Sen. Clinton. Would he have pointed out the gender of a man he was attacking, as in “this is also the unscrupulous male?” I think not.

And just who was playing the race card, Mr. Hitchens? I recommend that Mr. Hitchens view the video of Obama’s national co-chair Jesse Jackson, Jr.’ s tirade against Sen. Clinton the day after she won the New Hampshire primary.

Time after time Princeton historian Sean Wilentz debunked the Obama camp’s egregious attempts to smear both Bill and Hillary Clinton as racists. In an op-ed in the Philadelphia Inquirer, Wilentz wrote:

‘“Obama's backers, including members of his official campaign staff, then played what might be called ‘the race-baiter card.’ Hillary Clinton, in crediting both Lyndon Johnson as well as the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. for the Civil Rights Act in 1964, had supposedly denigrated King, and by extension Obama. Allegedly, Bill Clinton had dismissed Obama's victory in South Carolina by comparing it to those of the Rev. Jesse Jackson in the 1980s. (In fact, their electoral totals were comparable — and in the interview at issue, Clinton complimented Obama on his performance ‘everywhere’ — a line the media usually omitted.)”’

When pinned down during the Las Vegas debate, Obama made clear – after most of the damage had been done – that along with the rest of the world, he was well aware the Clintons were not racists.

5. “What may look like wound-healing and magnanimity to some looks like foolhardiness and masochism to me.”

That could be due to your jaundiced, bigoted view of reality, Mr. Hitchens. As one who essentially hates women from the misogynous depths of your soulless being, you could not be expected to be aware of the fact that Hillary Clinton is already widely respected among the majority of world leaders.

Incidentally, it occurred to me in passing the other day to imagine the roles were reversed and President-elect Clinton were attempting to find an appropriate slot in her administration for Barack Obama. With Obama’s thin resume, we have to immediately rule out the vice-presidency; an apprenticeship in the Chicago Daley machine and experience as a community organizer just doesn’t cut it. He has no background whatsoever in health care, economics, or any other domestic policy area. And as far as foreign policy goes, he went on a road trip abroad last summer to meet world leaders for the first time.

In response to Obama’s repeated attempts to justify his dearth of experience by identifying with Abraham Lincoln, a little reminder might be appropriate: the world is a lot more complex than when Honest Abe was president.

Neophyte Obama will indeed be fortunate to have the experienced Hillary Clinton on board as secretary of state.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Sidelined with a Knee Injury, a Few Reflections the Sunday before Thanksgiving

Photo credits: Photo by Virginia Bergman

A knee injury prompted me to skip church this morning and after my daily ritual of journaling, reading Vietnamese Buddhist Thich Nhat Hanh, and meditating for a few minutes, I gladly went back to bed and dozed for an additional two or three hours.

Since getting up the second time, I’ve been mostly just lounging around and taking it easy. Sometimes doing nothing is the wiser choice, resting both the body and the spirit.

Today is an island of repose between the rewards and the demands of the previous week and preparing the family Thanksgiving dinner on Thursday. I’ve already got all the important supplies on hand, including a turkey, cranberry sauce, and watermelon pickles. The watermelon pickles have been essential to our Thanksgiving dinner menu for several decades.

I once had a tendency on these occasions to get myself unnecessarily stressed out. Not in recent years, though. The readings of John Kabat Zinn, Thich Nhat Hanh, and other meditation gurus have instructed me in the art of mindfulness meditation – a practice that encourages concentration on one thing at a time and an appreciation for the present moment.

That’s great, you might think, for more fully experiencing the joys of the holiday season and family get-togethers, but what does mindfulness meditation have to do with hosting a political opinion blog?

I’m not sure yet. But I’ve been thinking about how to integrate my meditation practice with my blogging, and I gained a few insights from this morning’s review of the Five Mindfulness Trainings as presented in Thich Nhat Hanh’s book, Going Home: Jesus and Buddha as Brothers.

The Fourth Mindfulness Training, which deals with mindful speaking and listening, hit home:

"Aware of the suffering caused by unmindful speech and the inability to listen to others, I am committed to cultivating loving speech and deep listening in order to bring joy and happiness to others and relieve others of their suffering. Knowing that words can create happiness or suffering, I am committed to learn to speak truthfully with words that inspire self-confidence, joy and hope. I am determined not to spread news that I do not know to be certain and not to criticize or condemn things of which I am not sure. I will refrain from uttering words that can cause division or discord or that can cause the family or the community to split apart. I will make every effort to reconcile all conflicts however small."

In speaking of the Fourth Mindfulness Training, Thich Nhat Hanh suggests that we take up this practice and encourage its use in the family, in the city, and in the nation. How about if we add the blogosphere to the list?


My knee feels a lot better this evening.

Saturday, November 22, 2008

SOS Hillary Clinton: a Natural on the Global Stage

Photo credits: Courtesy of the NY Times

Barack Obama has described himself as a Rorschach test in whom people see what they want to see. And in today’s NY Times, Jodi Kantor offers a somewhat similar metaphor for Hillary Clinton, Obama’s one-time opponent expected soon to become secretary of state in his administration.

Kantor writes:

Hillary Rodham Clinton, a first lady turned senator turned almost-president, is now transforming herself again, this time into the nation’s top diplomat. But she is also back to a role she cannot seem to shake: a canvas for women’s highest hopes and deepest fears about the workplace."

Kantor quotes several Clinton friends and associates, including feminist icon Gloria Steinem and long-time supporter and friend Susie Tompkins Buell to illustrate her point. Some of those cited expect great things of Hillary as SOS, and others regret her decision to take a position in which – as the saying goes - she will serve at the president’s pleasure.

‘“On the positive side, Tomkins Buell said: ‘And in terms of sheer impact, the imprint she leaves on the world and on history, the State Department would offer a more global platform than the Senate. ‘I always come back to what Hillary wants, which is to do the most important work she can do, the biggest work.’"

Kantor reports that Marie C. Wilson, president of the White House Project, a women’s leadership organization, said she would like to have seen Mrs. Clinton as Senate majority leader, a situation she now knows will never happen.

And Kantor can’t resist pointing out:

“The fledgling Obama administration is a mostly male club, with figures like Rahm Emanuel, Eric H. Holder Jr. and Timothy F. Geithner filling or expected to fill top positions, and in recent days, some speculated that Mrs. Clinton was selected, at least in some small part, because she was a woman.”

Considering the rampant sexism in the 2008 race, Ms. Kantor, we could also say that Barack Obama was elected to the presidency, at least in some small part, because he was a man. In the Democratic primary, Obama most certainly did benefit from the trashing of Hillary Clinton and in the general election, he benefited from similar treatment of Sarah Palin.

Christine C. Quinn, the first female speaker of the New York City Council and a longtime political friend of Ms. Clinton summed up well all of the conjecture about Clinton’s appointment to the secretary of state position:

'“If she was a guy going to work for a guy, nobody would ask if it was a diminution of her voice.”

'“Our country has been shunned by our allies, been rejected off of the world stage,' she continued. 'The president, who has a job that you have the deepest respect for, says ‘You are our gal, put our country back on the world stage.’ Unless you are blind with ambition, how can you walk away from it? It’s a calling too great for somebody who has a deep sense of patriotism and duty.”

As outraged as I’ve been since the Democratic primary, I’m becoming convinced that with Hillary Clinton’s record on human rights and other issues of international concern, she was destined all along for a global stage; the oval office would have been too confining for her.
You go, Hillary!

Depravity: David Letterman Announces He’s Aroused by Sarah Palin

Thanks in part to the failure of Howard Dean and other Democratic and Republican party leaders during the 2008 presidential race, our culture continues to give tacit permission for depraved minds in the media to freely attack women who run for office. Just yesterday, I received this email message (shown in red below) from Team Sarah, a Web site that supports Sarah Palin:

Such hypocrites!

Two nights ago, David Letterman, in interviewing Katie Couric, described Gov. Palin as "the first vice presidential candidate that I found myself being aroused about."

It is ghastly that this kind of discourteous, indecent talk should pass for conversational fodder - even on late night TV.

This violates CBS's own "Program Practices," {which} specifically states that:
"The Program Practices editors review material for excessive or gratuitous violence, sexuality, nudity and inappropriate language. They ensure that character portrayals are sensitive to current ethnic, religious, sexual and other significant social concerns."

A violation? What do *you* think?

Well, don't just think it! Make your voice heard.

Email the Federal Communications Commission!

Email, tell them your name, where you are from, and EXACTLY how you feel about Letterman taking indecent liberties with a dignified lady, mom, and governor on his show!

-- Emily

As a long-time progressive in the tradition of the late U.S. Senator Paul Wellstone (D. Minn.), I disagree with Gov. Palin on many issues, but I stand with her against the sexist treatment she continues to receive.

As for Howard Dean and company, he recently appeared on a panel of six men where he loudly protested the sexism against Hillary Clinton in 2008 (see video). Howard's gesture was obviously too little too late, and we can only hope that he’s finally gotten the message. Wonder of wonders, he even noticed that Sarah Palin has been verbally assaulted, too. Howard said:

"This is the most underwritten story of this campaign… by the press… by the media. . Nobody understood the agony that women, particularly of my generation, were undergoing about this…issue…and to this day, it has been swept under the rug and been forgotten because she didn’t win. . We did not examine the fact that we didn’t get, we haven’t gotten nearly as far ahead as we thought we were about equality between the sexes. And that ought to be revisited as a result of what happened, and it happened to Sarah Palin too."

If nothing else, the 2008 campaign made clear that the left is just as sexist as the right, and it’s way past time for women across the political spectrum to unite in our efforts to drain the cesspool of sexism and misogyny in our culture fed daily by the pathological mind set of the national media.

Friday, November 21, 2008

Should SoS Clinton Play a Subservient Role in the Obama Adminstration?

Photo credits: Getty

The trouble with blogging is that sometimes you’re compelled to respond to a post at another web site so defamatory of a respected leader you cannot overlook it, yet you hesitate to link to it and give it any more play. I’m conflicted to say the least about responding to Clive Crook’s sexist post today in the Financial Times, UK.

The near certainty that Hillary Clinton will soon assume the mantle of Secretary of State in the Obama Administration has stirred up the good old boys’ network in the media both here and abroad, and Mr. Crook represents very well his partners in the criminal activity of tabloid journalism.

Crook begins on a suspiciously conciliatory note by asserting that Bill Clinton should not be viewed as an obstacle to Hillary’s appointment to the top cabinet position in the Obama Administration.

In the next paragraph, however, the apparently omniscient Crook assumes the stature to judge Sen. Clinton’s competence in foreign affairs inadequate. The great man would then lead us to believe that he is also clairvoyant and therefore capable of assessing her motives and predicting where her ambitions might lead her.

After dismissing Clinton’s qualifications for the position at State and questioning her integrity, Crook poses a series of blatantly sexist questions: “Could Hillary defer to Obama, and carry out his instructions to the best of her ability? I doubt it. And it would not help that everyone would be watching for the first sign of friction or insubordination. The soap-opera dimension would be highly counter-productive.”

Note how Crook emphasizes that Hillary, like a dutiful spouse, should rightfully expect to fill a purely subservient role at State, obediently saying yes to Obama’s every wish and command instead of engaging in a mutually respectful relationship in which she is empowered to share her honest opinions and best judgment in any given situation.

In one respect, I might agree with Crook: If Obama wants a cabinet of yes men, he should not appoint as secretary of state a strong, intelligent, well-qualified woman who will not hesitate to speak truth to power.

NY Times: Clinton Accepts Secretary of State Position

Photo credits: AP/Susan Walsh

Peter Baker at the NY Times reports:

“WASHINGTON — Hillary Rodham Clinton has decided to give up her Senate seat and accept the position of secretary of state, making her the public face around the world for the administration of the man who beat her for the Democratic presidential nomination, two confidants said Friday.

“The apparent accord between perhaps the two leading figures in the Democratic Party climaxed a week-long drama that riveted the nation’s capital.

“Mrs. Clinton came to her decision after additional discussion with President-elect Barack Obama about the nature of her role and his plans for foreign policy, said one of the confidants, who insisted on anonymity to discuss the situation.

‘“Mr. Obama’s office told reporters on Thursday that the nomination is ‘on track’ but this is the first word from the Clinton camp that she has decided.

‘“She’s ready,’ the confidant said, adding that Mrs. Clinton was reassured after talking again with Mr. Obama because their first meeting in Chicago last week ‘was so general.’ The purpose of the follow-up talk, he noted, was not to extract particular concessions but ‘just getting comfortable’ with the idea of working together.

“A second Clinton associate confirmed that her camp believes they have a done deal. Senior Obama advisers said Friday morning that the offer had not been formally accepted and no announcement would be made until after Thanksgiving. But they said they were convinced that the nascent alliance was ready to be sealed.”
Read more.

Senior Obama Aides: HRC as Secretary of State; It’s a Done Deal

On the front page, big red headline at Huffington Post this morning: CLINTON "ON TRACK" TO BE NAMED SECRETARY OF STATE. And get this: so far, 15, 138 readers’ comments on Huffpo’s continuously updated status of the potential HRC appointment.

Huffpo reports:

“Update 11/20 at 11:00PM EST: Politico is reporting that it's a done deal:

“President-elect Obama plans to name Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton (D-N.Y.) as his secretary of State shortly after Thanksgiving, two senior Obama aides said.

“The officials said they expect her to accept. Clinton aides had no comment.

“The choice unites the two rivals in the most protracted presidential primary in American history, giving Obama the "Team of Rivals" Cabinet he had promised.

“Former President Bill Clinton authorized unprecedented disclosures about his finances to Obama's vetting team, and transition lawyers are satisfied, officials said.”

Abou those 15, 138 readers’ comments: HRC as SoS has given obsessive Obama supporters (See the Onion video) something to do post-election while hovering around the Huffington Post, Daily Kos, etc.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Obama’s Base Complains About Getting “Absolutely Nothing”

Posting at The Progressive, Matt Rothschild registers a complaint with Barack Obama. Rothschild wants to know:

When is Obama going to appoint someone who reflects the progressive base that brought him to the White House?

A more accurate question would be: When is Obama going to appoint someone who reflects the faux progressive base that brought him to the White House?

Most semi-conscious members of the electorate are aware by this time that Obama’s extreme left base - misogynous to its core - mirrored exactly the fascist tactics of the extreme right in taking down Hillary Clinton in the Democratic primary and trashing Sarah Palin in the general election.

Nevertheless, Rothschild details his litany of grievances against President-elect Obama - complete with the usual faux progressive smears against Hillary Clinton and former officials in the Clinton Administration:

“He {Obama} won the crucial Iowa caucuses on the strength of his anti-Iraq War stance, and many progressive peace and justice activists worked hard for him against John McCain.

“So why in the world is he choosing Hillary Clinton to be Secretary of State when she was one of the loudest hawks on Iraq and threatened to obliterate 75 million Iranians?”

I’ll interject a couple of facts here:

Sen. Clinton explained at the time she voted for the Iraq resolution that she did so primarily to give the inspectors time to complete their work. Obama, on the other hand, has repeatedly misled Americans into believing that he actually voted against the resolution when he was not even a member of the US Senate at the time.

Regarding Iran, Sen. Clinton was asked how the U.S. should respond if Iran launched a nuclear attack again Israel, which would conceivably put the entire world at risk. Her tough response would most likely have served as a deterrent.

Alternatively, Clinton could have suggested entering into dialog with the Iranians while Israel perished, and radioactive fallout spread over the Middle East.

One has to wonder how Obama’s base would have responded to that question.

But Rothschild is on a roll here, resentfully listing the Clintonites already recruited by the faithless Obama team:

“And it’s not just Hillary.

“Obama’s OMB pick, Peter Orzag, is a Clintonite disciple of Robert Rubin.

“Obama’s AG pick, Eric Holder, is a Clintonite who represented Chiquita Bananas.

“And Larry Summers’s name is still being bandied about for Treasury, even though Summers, while Clinton’s Treasury Secretary, forced the deregulation of our financial markets and imposed disaster capitalism on Russia.

“Worse still, heading Obama’s transition team on intelligence matters are two former deputies to George Tenet, of all people. (See Amy Goodman’s great story about this on Democracy Now!)

“Look, there are a lot of talented progressives who could be in an Obama cabinet.

“Joseph Stiglitz is a Nobel Prize-winner in economics and a critic of corporate globalization. He should be Treasury Secretary.

“Senator Russ Feingold is a champion of civil liberties. He should be Attorney General.

“Robert Greenstein is head of Center on Budget and Policy Priorities. He would make a much better OMB director.

“Arlene Holt Baker, executive vice president of the AFL-CIO, would be a tremendous Secretary of Labor.

“And if Obama really wanted change, if he really wanted to honor progressives who backed him early on and then did the grunt work against McCain, he’d nominate Dennis Kucinich as Secretary of State.

“That sure would indicate a welcome departure from empire as usual.”

Rothschild concludes:

“But at this point, progressives are getting absolutely nothing from Obama.”

You have to feel sorry for Obama’s base. I mean they were out there 24/7 using every means at their disposal to undermine anyone they perceived as the enemy. While their idol preached enlightenment, his minions spewed venom and look what it’s gotten them – “absolutely nothing.”

America’s Treatment of Women Encourages Atrocities in Other Nations: See Public Stoning of 13-year-old Somali Girl

The media is at it again – both the old and the new. A cursory glance across the online MSM and the blogosphere is all it takes for anyone who followed the primary and the general election to get the picture. From David Corn at Mother Jones to an editorial at the Chicago Tribune, the possibility of HRC at State has unleashed the good old boys’ pathological Hillary-hatred full force.

Marie Cocco’s sober assessment of women’s progress in 2008 cuts through the latest outbreak of Clinton Derangement Syndrome that has dominated news coverage the past several days. Cocco begins:

“WASHINGTON -- It is time to stop kidding ourselves. This wasn't a breakthrough year for American women in politics. It was a brutal one.”

Cocco concludes by suggesting that in its treatment of women, the American culture is not that different from the cultures found in developing nations.

I’m with Cocco: I’ve noted in previous posts that as the supposed leader of the western world, America has set a horrid example to other nations in the widespread trashing of Hillary Clinton and Sarah Palin.

Cocco reminds us:

“The glass ceiling remains firmly in place -- not cracked, as Hillary Clinton insisted as she tried to claim rhetorical victory after her defeat in the Democratic nominating contest. It wasn't even scratched with the candidacy of Sarah Palin as the Republican vice presidential nominee -- unless you consider becoming an object of national ridicule to be a symbol of advancement. As divergent as these two women are ideologically and temperamentally, as different as are their resumes, they both banged their heads -- hard -- against the ceiling. Both were bruised. So was the goal of advancing women in political leadership.”

Cocco continues:

“Even if President-elect Barack Obama chooses Clinton as secretary of state, no ground will be broken. Clinton would be the third woman to hold the post. And there is no longer anything extraordinary in a president naming women to his Cabinet. Franklin D. Roosevelt did it first, when he appointed Frances Perkins as labor secretary in 1933. Since then, every president but Harry Truman and John F. Kennedy has named women to the Cabinet or to Cabinet-level posts, according to the Center for American Women and Politics at Rutgers University. Bill Clinton holds the record: He appointed 16 women overall, and at one point about half of those serving in Clinton's Cabinet were female.”

Cocco cites some international statistics on women in politics:

“Including incumbents and newcomers, a record number of women will be serving in Congress, but still only 17 percent of its members will be female. This is where that record places us: on a par with the legislative representation women have achieved in sub-Saharan Africa, Latin America and the Caribbean. The United Nations, which tracks women's global political advancement, says that at this rate, it will take women in the developing world 40 years to reach parity with men.

“How long will it take us? We already are well into the fourth decade since the contemporary women's movement of the 1970s spawned a generation that sought to claim an equal place in the halls of power.”

Here’s the deal: as Gloria Steinem pointed out, now that we’ve elected the first male African-American president, the first woman president will have to wait in line until after we’ve elected the first male Hispanic, the first male Asian-American, the first Jewish male, etc., etc.

Cocco continues:

‘“Those who watched the media's sexist hazing of both Clinton and Palin often rationalize this treatment as the result of these two candidates' particular personalities and the legitimacy -- or presumed illegitimacy -- of their campaigns. But Barbara Lee, whose Boston-based family foundation has conducted extensive research of gubernatorial races involving women, routinely identifies the same undercurrents in state campaigns. Voters demand more experience of a woman candidate, and judge her competence separately from whether she is sufficiently ‘likable.’ Male candidates typically must clear only the competence bar to be judged -- as Obama indelicately put it during a primary debate – ‘likable enough.’

‘“We heard that over and over again -- that no woman is ever right,’ Lee says of her focus groups. ‘They like the concept of it but when it comes to a real, live, breathing candidate, they don't.”’

Cocco notes;

“Yet American women are a majority of the population and a majority of the electorate. They earn more than half the bachelor's and master's degrees, a level of educational achievement far exceeding that of women in developing countries. There must be some reason we don't do any better than women in impoverished, rural regions of the world where cultural norms oppress women.

“Maybe it is because our culture isn't so different after all.”

One might well argue the treatment of Hillary Clinton and Sarah Palin on the national political scene this year gave tacit permission to the people of Somalia to commit an unspeakable crime against an innocent 13-year-old girl who was brutally raped by three men. The child sought help from the authorities and was charged with adultery. As punishment, she was then publicly stoned to death.
I wonder how America’s Hillary-haters would feel about taking credit for that?

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Obama’s Online Constituency: “Political Neophytes with an Emotional Age of about 6”

Whenever anything about Hillary or Bill Clinton is published at the Huffington Post, I automatically scan the first page of the inevitable hundreds, if not thousands, of readers’ comments. Following Beth Fouhy’s article (AP) Clinton Lawyers Vetting Her for Secretary of State, this exchange between readers ballewb and bluestateman caught my eye:

Ballewb: “Why, on a liberal site, is there so much hate for President and Senator Clinton?”


“Half of the hate is from poorly disguised neocons... 1/4 is from disillusioned Libertarians...1/8 have legitimate gripes but don't know how to express them... & 1/8 is from political neophytes with an emotional age of about 6.”

I don’t disagree with BlueStateMan’s categories of commenters, just the percentage that he’s assigned them. I’d say he’s way underrepresented Obama’s online constituency – those “political neophytes with an emotional age of about 6.”

I’d also like to point out that the Huffington Post and the Daily Kos, along with kindred left-wing blogs, and the so-called liberal MSM have revealed themselves in 2008 to be liberal in most respects except when it comes to gender equality. Most appalling, both the old and the new media appear to be oblivious to the depravity in their attitudes toward women.

Monday, November 17, 2008

HRC as SoS Lures Hillary-Haters Out from Under Their Rocks

Taylor Marsh was a strong supporter of Hillary Clinton throughout the Democratic primary. After Clinton’s concession speech, Marsh followed the New York senator’s lead and jumped on the Obama bandwagon.

Marsh has been an Obama loyalist ever since; she even stooped to taking sexist shots at Sarah Palin, referring to her as a Barbie doll in one of her blog posts. In contrast, Clinton had the dignity and grace to disagree with Palin on the issues without attempting to destroy another female candidate for national office.

In today’s post titled The Clinton Foundation, and HRC as SoS, Marsh lets us know she’s not totally unconscious from overdosing on the faux progressive Kool-Aid that’s still being handed out by giddy Democrats spiked with the boosterism of our pathetic Obama-intoxicated media.

Marsh has noticed that since word leaked out that HRC was under consideration for secretary of state in the Obama Administration, Hillary-haters have been hastily crawling out from under their rocks across the land to spew their venom once again at all things Clinton.

Marsh writes:

“They're getting nervous now. The Hillary haters are frantic, going back, digging up links about WJC from a year ago, wondering how in the world she could possibly go to State since her former president husband has a foundation that aids the world. It pops up that maybe they could use Hillary's president husband as the last impediment to getting what she deserves on the world stage. However, it's not just about vetting. It's about conflict of interest if Hillary is chosen from secretary of state. That work being quite different from WJC's foundation, which cannot be linked. It's about crafting a way to get it done transparently, while separating their roles.

‘“Republicans, respect them or not, are talking about the possibility more sanely than certain males, those so called ‘leading’ progressives.

‘“The possibility of Mrs. Clinton’s nomination generated positive response on Sunday, even from across the aisle. ‘She is a lady of great intelligence, demonstrated enormous determination and would be an outstanding appointment,’ former Secretary of State Henry A. Kissinger told a forum in New Delhi, according to news services.

“This is the point where I get emails on Clinton being the anti-Christ. Additionally, many wanting HRC to stay in the Senate. Some worried this is another close, but not quite moment, wherein Hillary falls short because of judgments beyond her own merits to do the job.”

Read more.

Boosterism: the Media and President-elect Obama

After detailing a few over the top media products featuring Barack Obama, the Washington Post’s Howard Kurtz asks:

“Are the media capable of merchandizing the moment, packaging a president-elect for profit?”

Mr. Kurtz then answers his own question:

“Yes, they are.

“What's troubling here goes beyond the clanging of cash registers,” Kurtz writes. “Media outlets have always tried to make a few bucks off the next big thing. The endless campaign is over, and there's nothing wrong with the country pulling together, however briefly, behind its new leader. But we seem to have crossed a cultural line into mythmaking.”

Now it’s my turn to ask a question: Has Howard Kurtz been unaware that the media has been engaged in mythmaking since Barack Obama announced his candidacy, or maybe we should say the media has aided and abetted Obama in his own cleverly managed mythmaking. Here’s how ABC News reported Obama’s announcement in Feb. 2007:

“Standing outside the Historic Old State Capitol building where Abraham Lincoln gave a famous speech condemning slavery and calling for the United States to unite, Sen. Barack Obama, D-Ill., a 45-year-old with two years of federal legislative experience under his belt, today announced that he will claim the mantle of Lincoln and as president heal a divided nation.”

It was probably not a coincidence that on 60 Minutes last night the new president-elect mentioned he’d been reading Lincoln.

In his conclusion, Kurtz reaches further back than Lincoln to remind us the myth of Obama has included more than a few attributes of Christ.

“Obama's days of walking on water won't last indefinitely. His chroniclers will need a new story line. And sometime after Jan. 20, they will wade back into reality.”

Footnote: I believe it was Christ who urged his followers to worship God, not him. And whatever one's faith tradition, a warning against idolatry - especially in reference to another human being - seems appropriate.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Erik Ose Smears Nobama Democrats: Ferraro, Pro-Hillary Deadenders, PUMA, Just Say No Deal, etc.

Where else but at the Huffington Post would PUMA have made a list of “ten chumps who helped elect Barack Obama?” In compiling his list, Erik Ose manages to smear Geraldine Ferraro and a good many other devoted Clinton supporters:

‘“Geraldine Ferraro - The most prominent member of the Nobama Democrats, she gave credibility to the divisive, time-wasting efforts of pro-Hillary deadenders who clung to PUMA, Just Say No Deal, and other faux-grassroots groups after Obama clinched the nomination. Ferraro was forced to step down from her official role with the Clinton campaign in March after claiming, ‘If Obama was a white man, he would not be in this position,’ similar to comments she made in 1988 about an earlier black presidential contender (‘If Jesse Jackson were not black, he wouldn't be in the race’). She reared her head again in May, quoted by the New York Times as saying she might not vote for Obama in the fall, because ‘I think Obama was terribly sexist.’

“Yet by refusing to cede her role as a Hillary surrogate, and tirelessly fanning the fames of party disunity, she helped keep media attention on the myth that there were legions of disaffected Hillary voters whose allegiance was available for harvest by any candidate in a pantsuit. Without Ferraro's efforts to keep the gender pot stirring, Sarah Palin might not have presented such a tempting opportunity for Team McCain to make a play for women voters.”

Read more:

Contact Erik Ose at

Kissinger Backs Hillary Clinton as Secretary of State

Thomas and Goldman at Bloomberg reported today:

'“Nov. 16 (Bloomberg) -- Henry Kissinger said Hillary Clinton, frontrunner to be the next U.S. Secretary of State, would be an 'outstanding' appointment to the post.

“New York Senator Hillary Clinton appears to be President- elect Barack Obama's leading choice for secretary of state, according to a Democrat familiar with the matter.

‘“She is a lady of great intelligence, demonstrated enormous determination and would be an outstanding appointment,' Kissinger, who served as secretary of state from 1973 to 1977 under presidents Richard Nixon and Gerald Ford, told the World Economic Forum's India Economic Summit in New Delhi today.”’

Read more.

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Politico Readers Choose Hillary for Secretary of State by Wide Margin

And the Winner is: Hillary Clinton for Secretary of State with 42% of 4,330 votes cast at Politico. Bill Richardson came in second with 26% as shown below.

Hillary Rodham Clinton 42 %
Richard Holbrooke 4 %
John Kerry 9 %
Colin Powell 13 %
Bill Richardson 26 %
Other 7 %

Results are based off 4330 votes
Reference Story

Will Hillary Clinton Be Obama’s Secretary of State?

I’ve had my differences with NY Times op-ed columnist Gail Collins this election year, and I was holding my breath as I read today’s column expecting the usual slap at Hillary Clinton. It never happened. Collins is totally onboard with the Clinton for Secretary of State movement.

“On Friday, a speaker at the City University of New York Women’s Leadership Conference mentioned the story about Hillary’s possible appointment and several hundred women burst into applause. All around the country, the news reminded old Hillary supporters of a nagging pang of disappointment, the feeling that the great election bandwagon had left something behind.

“Good luck telling them that it’s actually going to be John Kerry.

“While there are many excellent arguments for offering Clinton the job, one of the best is that until now, Senator Kerry was supposed to be the front-runner for State. Does that sound right, people? When one is out searching for the nation’s top diplomat, does it make sense to pick a guy who gets low scores in sociability? Although Kerry has many excellent qualities and his children appear to be very fond of him, if there was a contest for Senator You Would Least Want to Have a Cup of Coffee With, he would be a good bet for top 10. Politicians often brag that they never forget a name, but Kerry is one of those guys who can’t even remember a face.

“Clinton is the exact opposite. Plunk her down anywhere and she’ll catch sight of somebody who she met at the Conference of Concerned Problem-Solvers and engage them in a spirited dialogue on what’s going on with that muskrat preservation project in East Engorvia. And she can do that abroad, too, since — as was mentioned a time or two during her campaign — she has already visited 82 countries.

“True, there’s 112 countries to go before she runs the table. All the more incentive for her to make sure Obama gets a second term. And on a slightly more elevated level, there’s the fact that the rest of the world would be thrilled with her appointment. She would give our diplomatic outreach a power and gravitas that it hasn’t had for years.”

You owe it to yourself to read the entire column, which you’ll find right here.

Men May Dominate Obama Administration: This is Change You Can Believe in?

In response to all the thoughtless comments by giddy Obama supporters such as Rep. Clyburn that now all children in America can believe in the possibility of fulfilling their potential, I’ve said repeatedly: “Only male children in America have received that assurance; female children will have to wait.”

At first glance, it appears that President-elect Obama won’t contribute much to gender equality on behalf of all those little girls in America, including his own daughters.

Politico’s Lisa Lerer reports:

“The early teams released by the Obama administration have tended to be male-dominated. On Wednesday, four women and eight men were named to Obama’s transition advisory board. His agency review team is headed by seven women and thirteen men. And last week, Obama met with his key economic advisers — four women and 13 men.

“So far, Obama has named four members of his top White House staff. Three are men – chief of staff Rahm Emanuel, press secretary Robert Gibbs and chief congressional liaison Phil Schiliro. And one is a woman – senior adviser Valerie Jarrett.

“Additionally, Vice President-elect Joe Biden has named Ron Klain as his chief of staff.

“The senior staff assisting with the transition is more evenly divided, with Jarrett, a mentor and close friend one of the three top aides overseeing it.

“While Obama has not made any Cabinet appointments, the names that are circulating have worried some in the women’s rights community.

‘“I have been struck by how few women have been mentioned for high-level positions,’ said former Vermont Gov. Madeleine Kunin, who worked on the Clinton transition. ‘It’s still very early, so I don’t want to reach conclusions yet. But the rumors are a flashing yellow light.’

“The mention of Clinton Treasury Secretary Lawrence Summers is seen as particularly problematic. As president of Harvard University, Summers said that innate differences between men and women might be one reason fewer women succeed in science and math careers. The controversial comment led to his ousting as president.”

Read Lerer’s post in its entirety here.

Friday, November 14, 2008

It’s True: Obama Offered Clinton Secretary of State Position

According to Nico Pitney at the Huffington Post:

“President-elect Barack Obama offered Sen. Hillary Clinton the position of Secretary of State during their meeting Thursday in Chicago, according to two senior Democratic officials. She requested time to consider the offer, the officials said.”

Pitney quotes a “long-time Clinton aide” on the NY senator’s qualifications for the job at State:

‘“She is a beloved figure around the world. She has visited over 80 countries, as first lady and senator together, the aide told the Huffington Post. Noting the fact that Clinton learned as first lady how to be effective as a ‘backdoor diplomat,’ the former White House assistant said Clinton mastered ‘a lot of the intricacies of these issues before ever joining the Senate's Armed Services committee. She's tough; she had meetings with some Prime Ministers and Presidents where she had to deliver some blunt messages for us.”’

Obama Gets the Picture: It Takes Experience to Make Change Happen

Update: The rumor of Hillary Clinton’s possible appointment as Secretary of State is still out there; her meeting with Obama to discuss her role in his administration has been confirmed.

Politico’s Ben Smith and Carrie Budoff Brown report this morning the Obama transition looks increasingly like the former Clinton Administration:

“Thirty-one of the 47 people so far named to transition or staff posts have ties to the Clinton Administration, including all but one of the members of his 12-person Transition Advisory Board and both of his White House staff choices.

“Most of those appointees weren't West Wing heavy-hitters, but lower-profile policy hands such as former Deputy Secretary of Defense John White and former State Department official Wendy Sherman. They include former deputies to National Security Adviser Sandy Berger, Treasury Secretary Robert Rubin, Defense Secretary William Perry, and Secretary of State Madeleine Albright, and some currently work at consultancies run by those Clinton administration principals.

“Others are old Obama allies who also have Clinton ties, like Michael Froman, a transition adviser who was Obama's classmate at Harvard Law School and served as Robert Rubin's chief of staff at the Clinton Treasury Department, and Christopher Edley, who taught Obama at Harvard and also served Clinton, and who is married to a former Clinton deputy chief of staff.

‘“This is a good way to try to be helpful without giving up my new life at Berkeley,’ said Edley, who is now dean of the law school at the University of California at Berkeley, in an email.

“The highest-ranking member of the group with deep ties to both Clinton and Obama is Emanuel, a Chicagoan who is very close to Obama and his chief strategist, David Axelrod.

“Though the transition is still young, former Clintonites say they feel a change in the atmosphere.

“‘It's heartening to see that that was just primary rhetoric,’ said a former Clinton aide of Obama's criticism of Clinton's administration.”’

One might also ask if Obama’s praise of the Reagan Administration was just campaign rhetoric.

Read more.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Women Win: Lawrence Summers Off the Short List

At Politico, Lisa Lerer and Victoria McGrane report:

“Intense backlash from women’s groups may have pushed former Clinton Treasury Secretary Larry Summers off the short-list to lead Treasury for President-elect Barack Obama, according to widespread reports circulating in Democratic circles.

“The women’s opposition to a possible Summers’ appointment was the explanation some Democratic sources are hearing for why the Obama transition team has crossed Summers off their list. The Obama team doesn’t want to kick off its administration with a controversy nor go head-to-head with an important constituency when there are other qualified candidates, political operatives speculate.

“Reports that Summers is no longer in the running are widespread, but not everyone agrees that his problems with women have sealed his fate.

“Kim Gandy, president of the National Organization of Women, said there are other reasons to oppose Summers, citing his involvement in Clinton-era policies that many say contributed to the current economic woes.

‘“There are a lot of reasons that people oppose Larry Summers,’ she said. NOW has not lobbied the Obama transition to scuttle Summers, she said, but instead put forward names of qualified women for the slot.”’

Read more.

Rumor Persists that Obama was Born in a Manger: Debunking the Messiah Myth

At the Al Smith Dinner in New York back in October, Barack Obama joked: “Contrary to the rumours you have heard, I was not born in a manger.” Nevertheless, the rumor has persisted that Obama is the messiah. I even heard it during “Joys and Concerns” at my church last Sunday as an exuberant white member celebrated her candidate’s win and told us how he would be a positive influence in the lives of all those wayward black kids in the nation who will now pull up their pants and hit the books.

Ta-Nehisi Coates at Time Magazine offers a different take on “The Messiah Myth” suggesting that the expectations some are putting forward for Obama are more than a little condescending toward the African-American community.

Coates writes:

‘“Since Barack Obama's victory celebration in Grant Park, the chattering class has been atwitter wondering what, exactly, his election will mean for African Americans. On Meet the Press, Tom Brokaw asked about the ‘impact ... on the black community and in those neighborhoods where there are dysfunctional families.’ To many pundits, both black and white, Obama's election to the White House signals the end of black America's unchallenged status as sore losers and complaint-mongers. ‘African Americans have just entered the no-excuses zone,’ Jonetta Rose Barras wrote in the Washington Post. Obama ‘won't tolerate ... the long-standing narrative of victimhood that has defined black America to itself and to the mainstream for more than a century.’ The writer John McWhorter, in New York magazine, went so far as to suggest that Obama will finally end the bullying of the black nerd: ‘Whenever a black nerd gets teased for thinking he's white, all he has to say is four words: ‘Is Barack Obama white?’

“That's terrible advice for a kid. But it's in line with those who think of Obama as a messiah who can give black people some manners, a God-child descending from the heavens to teacheth benighted African Americans the virtues of books and proper English and the evils of Pacman Jones and blaming the white man. It pains me to deliver this sobering news to those who think Obama will wave his hand and erase whole ghettos: Barack Obama is a black President, not black Jesus.

“In fact, the very idea that Obama should transform African Americans into the black Waltons is flawed. It rests on the notion that the black community, more than other communities, is characterized by a bunch of hapless layabouts who spend their days ticking off reparations demands and shaking their fist at the white man.

“The truth is that the dominant conversation in the black community today is not about racism or victimization but about self-improvement. In a 2007 Pew survey of black America, Bill Cosby was rated second among public figures believed to have the best influence on African Americans; Oprah, not exactly a doyenne of black complaint, ranked first. That same year, a study of young people by the University of Chicago found that while black kids consumed more rap videos than their white counterparts, about 60% of them thought the portrayals of black women were offensive.”

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Latest Rumor: Sen. Clinton as Secretary of State

Wow! I just posted an item about the Obama Administration’s ties to the former Clinton White House and this afternoon brings the possibility of Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.

Wapo’s Kamen and Rucker provide this nugget:

“There's increasing chatter in political circles that the Obama camp is not overly happy with the usual suspects for Secretary of State these days and that the field may be expanding somewhat beyond Sen. John Kerry (D-Mass.), Gov. Bill Richardson (D-N.M.), Sen. Chuck Hagel (R-Neb.) and maybe former Democratic senator Sam Nunn of Georgia.

“There's talk, indeed, that Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton (D-N.Y.) may now be under consideration for the post. Her office referred any questions to the Obama transition; Obama spokesman Tommy Vietor declined to comment.”

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The Obama Administration’s Ties to the Clinton Era Multiply

The NY Times’ Peter Baker wasn’t kidding the other day when he suggested the Obama Administration was looking like a third term for Bill Clinton.

In today’s Washington Post, staffwriters Kornblut and Abramowitz listed the officials the Obama Administration picked to guide the transition process. Using the “Find” feature on my browser, I quickly counted at least ten appearances of the word “Clinton.”

The Post article reports that former Clinton officials will lead the departments of Treasury, State, and Defense.

Joshua Gottbaum and Michael J. Warren, both from the Clinton White House will oversee the Treasury Department transition.

The State Department transition team will be headed by Thomas E. Donilon and Wendy R. Sherman, also from the former Clinton Administration.

Former Clinton officials John P. White and Michèle A. Flournoy will lead the Defense Department transition team.

The Post article also lists the Obama transition team’s co-chairs and working group members that include several additional former Clinton officials.

For a guy who had nothing good to say about the Clinton Administration in his soaring campaign rhetoric, Obama is certainly drawing heavily on former Clinton officials.

For more detail, go here.

Whatever It Took to Knife Sarah Palin

It should surprise no one that even big-time blogs like the Huffington Post fell for the clever hoax perpetrated against Sarah Palin after the election, adding insult to injury to the abuse the Alaska governor had already experienced from the left-wing blogosphere.

But let’s give credit to where it’s due. The hoax in which an anonymous McCain advisor accused Palin of not knowing that Africa is a continent apparently got its start at Fox News and was later amplified by David Shuster at MSNBC, where else?

Mr. Shuster eagerly reported: “Turns out it was Martin Eisenstadt, a McCain policy adviser, who has come forward today to identify himself as the source of the leaks.”

The NY Times’ Richard Perez-Pena sets the record straight.

“Trouble is, Martin Eisenstadt doesn’t exist. His blog does, but it’s a put-on. The think tank where he is a senior fellow — the Harding Institute for Freedom and Democracy — is just a Web site. The TV clips of him on YouTube are fakes.

“And the claim of credit for the Africa anecdote is just the latest ruse by Eisenstadt, who turns out to be a very elaborate hoax that has been going on for months. MSNBC, which quickly corrected the mistake, has plenty of company in being taken in by an Eisenstadt hoax, including The New Republic and The Los Angeles Times.”

It also turns out that Sarah Palin’s description of those pajama-wearing bloggers posting in their parents’ basements was dead on. According to Perez-Pena, irresponsible, uninformed bloggers were a prime force in spreading the false rumors about Palin:

“But most of Eisenstadt’s victims have been bloggers, a reflection of the sloppy speed at which any tidbit, no matter how specious, can bounce around the Internet. And they fell for the fake material despite ample warnings online about Eisenstadt, including the work of one blogger who spent months chasing the illusion around cyberspace, trying to debunk it.”

Read more here.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Axelrod’s Role in the Obama Administration: the New Karl Rove?

Politico’s Kenneth Vogel starts the vetting process early for David Axelrod in case the Chicago operative who steered the Obama campaign to victory is asked to play Karl Rove’s role in the new administration.

What was I just saying about Obama possibly following in Dubya’s shoes by not knowing the difference between campaigning and governing?

Vogel tells us, “The portfolios of Axelrod’s firms already include some work that could be awkward for Obama.”

Here’s a sampling of potential problem areas highlighted by Vogel:

“In 2004, a George Soros-funded outside group called the Media Fund, which spent tens of millions of dollars in support of Democrat John Kerry’s presidential campaign, paid nearly $240,000 to the AKP&D’s predecessors to produce ads. Obama has decried the influence of such outside groups, and the Media Fund last year paid a $580,000 fine to settle Federal Election Commission charges accusing the group of illegally spending $53 million, mostly on ads boosting Kerry.

“In 2006, Michelle Obama, the first-lady-to-be, urged the University of Chicago’s hospital, where she served as an executive, to hire ASK to drum up community support for a controversial urban health initiative, an August Washington Post story revealed.

“In early 2007, ASK was hired to rally public support for a new facility for the Chicago Children's Museum, which was supported by Mayor Richard Daley, whose campaign since 1999 has paid $950,000 to the predecessor to AKP&D. Months after the museum hired ASK, Obama announced that he had requested a $1 million earmark for the project.”

Go here to read the article in its entirety.