Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Tuesday Coffee Stops

My conservative friends say, "Obama has the most liberal voting record in the Senate." Maybe. Depending on who's doing the counting and whether Fixed News is your only source of "information" (read 'propaganda'). Only take a look at what liberals are saying:

Firedoglake: The Lieberman-Obama Pony Plan, Ian Welsh

Obama's going to do a lot of good things. He's going to repeal a lot of Bush's worst executive orders, he's going to close down Guantanamo (though how he'll deal with the inhabitants remains up in the air and is more important than where they're stored); he's going to overturn a lot of the worst orders on the environment, and so on. He'll probably pull out of Iraq, though he may double down in Afghanistan.

But things like giving in to Joe Lieberman; making sure there are no real consequences for Joe, are what Obama's about. Obama keeps telling people who he is. He's postpartisan. He thinks Reagan was fundamentally right about liberalism. He voted for FISA. He hired Rahm as his first hire. He thinks Joe sticking a shiv in his back is no big deal. He not just voted for the bailout bill, but whipped for it. His healthcare plan is not universal.

As Glenn Greenwald notes, its understandable that everyone's euphoric the age of Bush is over and wants to think that Obama is going to be the ultimate liberal pony provider. But there's very little evidence that Obama is liberal in most important respects and if liberals decide that they can take a vacation for the next 4 months, like they did when Dems took Congress, and give him the "benefit of the doubt" I fear the results are going to be the same as they were for the Congress of 07 and 08.

Washington Post: Keep the BlackBerry, Ruth Marcus

PH2008111803158 Obama is unique in his warp-speed transformation from obscure state senator to 44th president in just four years. The obvious downside is his lack of experience, but the potential advantage is his unusual proximity to normality. In the isolation chamber of the White House, it can be useful not only to know real people but to have been one yourself in the not-so-distant past.

"I actually think that we are as close to what normal folks go through, and what their lives are like, as just about anybody who's been elected president recently," Obama told Kroft. "Hanging on to that is something that's important."

...In "The Audacity of Hope," he described watching Bush hold forth before a mostly fawning group of senators. "I was reminded of the dangerous isolation that power can bring."

'd argue that Obama should cling to his e-mail as a 21st-century way to pierce the White House bubble. After all, Gore did it as vice president, BlackBerry included.

The arguments to the contrary will pile up like so many unread messages.

The lawyers will wring their hands over the prospect of disclosure down the road, if not sooner, invoking the specter of congressional investigators poring over presidential e-mails. So what? Everyone who uses e-mail should think twice before writing something embarrassing.

Jonathan Alter agrees:

Newsweek: Keep the Blackberry, Jonathan Alter

Before Obama gets to "Yes, We Can," he has to start with "Yes, I Can." And the only way he can be successful in the presidency is if he can stay connected to the world beyond the "splendid isolation" of the presidency. To succeed, he must be constantly exposed to a wide variety of opinions—not just from advisers, experts, pundits and polls, but from his friends.

Obama's hero, Abraham Lincoln, called it "a public opinion bath." He got it corresponding with ordinary people and by flinging open the doors of the White House to anyone who wanted to come by for a visit. These "baths," Lincoln knew, were critical to his success.

Lincoln's approach doesn't work any more. The world's too big. But technology now offers a way to circumvent the stifling chain of command and help a president get at least a little closer to the truth.

One question a lot of Texans ask these days is, "What happened to the George W. Bush we used to know?" The answer, in part, is that Bush foolishly listened to the security people who made him give up his email account in 2001. The result was that old friends suddenly found they had no way to get through to the president. More than a few watched in horror as he drove the country over the cliff.

Now I'm not arguing that email would have necessarily saved Bush from disaster. It's not as if Bush would have read a message from, say, Brent Scowcroft when the former adviser to Bush "41" was arguing in vain against the Iraq War. But maybe Scowcroft would not have had to infuriate Bush by going public in the Wall Street Journal if he had been able to get through to the president by email. (Scowcroft's efforts to see the president personally were blocked by White House aides).

The Blackberry decision is symbolic of so many calls Obama will have to make. Some official will always be telling him why something cannot be done for this reason or that. His response should be to press them hard on why things cannot be done differently.

Mr. President-elect, hanging onto your Blackberry would free you a bit from the gilded prison of the White House. It would help you keep it real amid the stifling air of unreality that will soon envelop you.

And if you think giving up smoking is hard, wait until you go cold turkey on the Blackberry. You'll be bumming handhelds from your aides all day long. Might as well keep your own.

An interesting thought from:

AlterNet: How to Stop the Looming Depression Without Lining Fat-Cat CEOs' Pockets, Mike Davis

We are now at a crash site, and our priority should be to save the victims, not change the tires or repair the fender, much less build a new car. In the triage situation that now confronts the president-elect, keeping local schools and hospitals open should be the first concern, rebuilding bridges and expanding ports would come next, and rescuing bank shareholders at the very end of the line.

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