Saturday, January 24, 2009
In the mean time, tell me what you're up to this weekend. What's going on?
Friday, January 23, 2009
So did you notice who was standing behind Kirsten Gillibrand and Governor Patterson and clapping away enthusiastically during the announcement of her appointment today? It was former NY Senator D'Amato, the Republican powerhouse who propelled the relatively unknown Pataki to the Governor's house at Albany. As soon as KG's name was announced, D'Amato's protege Republican Congressman Peter King put out a Press release which showed he is taking two steps backwards now from an almost certain Senate run at 2010. So what's going on?
She comes from a politically connected family; her father is a prominent state lobbyist who once had close ties to former Gov. George E. Pataki, a Republican, and her grandmother was prominent in the formidable Albany Democratic machine. Ms. Gillibrand worked as an intern for a Republican senator, Alfonse M. D'Amato, and clerked for a federal judge appointed by President Ronald Reagan.
She actually interned for D'Amato and her dad was very close to Pataki..on the other hand she is very close to Hillary Clinton (having access to the Clinton donor machine), Nancy Pelosi and Chuck Schumer. Her politics is complex and intriguing. She is pro-choice, pro gay marriage, wants to withdraw troops from Iraq, opposes privatization of Social Security, but on the other hand is pro-gun (highly rated by NRA) and opposed the Wall Street bailout...
Her politics, perhaps reflecting her conservative district, cannot be easily charted along a left-right axis. She earned a high rating from the National Rifle Association and opposed efforts to extend state drivers' licenses to illegal immigrants. At the same time, she favors abortion rights, voted to begin withdrawing troops from Iraq and to extend middle-class tax cuts, and she has opposed privatizing Social Security. She raises large sums of money from Wall Street, but voted against the first bailout bill last fall; that vote angered some Democratic leaders in Congress.
Alan Van Capelle, the executive director of the Empire State Pride Agenda, a gay rights group, said that he spoke by phone with Representative Gillibrand on Thursday night and that she spoke in favor of same-sex marriage. This would make her the first United States senator from New York to endorse gay marriage; Charles E. Schumer, the state's senior senator, opposes it.
"She spoke eloquently about the 1,324 rights that are denied to same-sex couples in New York," Mr. Van Capelle said.
An aide to Ms. Gillibrand confirmed that she supports gay marriage.
She was an outspoken supporter of Mrs. Clinton's presidential campaign and has drawn financial support from prominent women's groups in Washington, not least Emily's List.
She has insisted, to the point of annoying Congressional colleagues, on openness in government, posting a "Sunlight Report" on her Congressional Web site listing her meetings with lobbyists as well as the names of individuals seeking government grants known as earmarks.
So what did Paterson's appointment of KG actually do? Surely it neutralized a strong challenge from Republicans (or at least one branch of the Repubs) during 2010 GE. On the other hand, it had angered a branch of the Democratic Party. But I think Paterson made a calculation that Cuomo will remember his failed bid in 2002 primaries against McCall when he angered several Black leaders in NY. So Cuomo may not challenge Paterson as a payback in 2010 Gubernatorial primaries, after all. As for Cuomo challenging KG, consider this, KG worked as a special counsel for Andrew Cuomo during Clinton Administration when he was the HUD Secretary...the only missing card is Guilani...and KG is very enthusiastic, publishes her daily schedule on her webpage, openly list her earmarks (Talk about open Government), and is a phenomenal fundraiser. With Clinton and Schumer supporting KG along with the Governor, I think Cuomo will think twice before challenging KG to a primary.
Well so folks, Paterson's move may not be as politically naive and bumbling as the TV talking heads are making out to be..I would wait and see ....
I didn't realize it the other day, but when Barack Obama provided community service in DC on the last day of his stretch as president-elect, he was painting rooms at Sasha Bruce. Here is some video from that day:
Thursday, January 22, 2009
The President, Vice President, Secretary Clinton, Mitchell, and Holbrooke Today at the State Department
Wednesday, January 21, 2009
I would like to offer an opinion about this little ritual. The Constitution prescribes a specific set of words in a specific order. I think a little fidelity to the Constitution is refreshing. There was never any question that Obama was president. The Constitution mandated his term began on January 20 at noon, and he was president before the oath was sworn the first time. On the other hand, I am not a strict constructionist, so it's just as well that we lay to rest the peculiar obsessions of the demagogic right.
The Senate confirmed President Obama's appointment of Hillary Clinton as Secretary of State. Obama is getting the Team of Rivals for which he pined. The Washington Post reports the vote was 94 to confirm and two to reject. The New York Times reports that Hillary resigned her Senate seat and was sworn in as the Secretary of State at 5:29 PM.
Not a good start as "loyal opposition" for the GOP.
The Asshole of Crawford, now stripped of the presidency, his sole pretense at respectability, leaves Washington. Good-bye and good riddance, Prince Jackass.
CNN reports that Bush Tool Dana Perino said Bush "gave me a kiss on the forehead. It's something I will never forget." I suppose it's because the acid in his saliva burnt 666 into her forehead.
1. A prayer service with his wife at the National Cathedral;
2. An Open House at the White House;
3. A meeting with his economic advisers to discuss next steps to solve the debacle of Bush's economic policies; and
4. A meeting with senior commanders and top national security aides to discuss next steps to resolve Bush's debacles in Iraq and Afghanistan.
Time Magazine observed:
Among the possibilities for the first day was the naming of a Middle East envoy, critical at a time of renewed hostilities between Israelis and the Palestinians; an order closing the U.S. military prison at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, a move that will take considerable time to execute and comes on the heels of a suspension of war crimes trials there pending a review; prohibiting — in most cases — the harsh interrogation techniques for suspected terrorists that have damaged the U.S. image around the globe; overturning the so-called Mexico City policy that forbids U.S. funding for family planning programs that offer abortion; and lifting President George W. Bush's limit on federal funding of embryonic stem cell research.Music to my ears.
Neighborhood Ball (Ballroom D, Washington Convention Center)
Obama Home States Ball (Ballroom E, Washington Convention Center)
Biden Home States Ball (Grand Ballroom, Washington Convention Center)
Mid-Atlantic Ball (Ballroom A, Washington Convention Center)
Midwestern Ball (Ballroom C, Washington Convention Center)
Western Ball (Ballroom B, Washington Convention Center)
Eastern States Ball (Union Station, a couple of blocks from the Capitol)
Southern Ball (D.C. Armory, located at the far end of Capitol Hill from the Capitol)
Youth Ball (Washington Hilton, a few blocks north of Dupont Circle)
Commander in Chief Ball (National Building Museum, close to the Convention Center)
The first ball, the Neighborhood Ball, required just a $25 ticket. The Washington Post reported:
At the first of the balls, the Neighborhood Ball, the new first couple basked in the crowd's euphoric response as "Hail to the Chief" announced their arrival. The president, wearing a tuxedo with a white bow tie, and his wife, in a sequined white dress with one strap over her right shoulder, waved and smiled. They two-stepped while Beyoncé sang Etta James's classic tune "At Last."Here the first couple danced their first dance accompanied by a live performance by Beyonce of "At Last":
"Hello, America!" Obama bellowed. "First of all, how good-looking is my wife?"
The crowd loved it. . . . But Obama, ever the organizer, refused to let the moment pass without a quick speech: "We are going to need you, not just today, not just tomorrow, but this year, for the next four years and who knows after that, because together, we are going to change America."
I hope the Obamas can get some sleep.
Tuesday, January 20, 2009
You will observe that Bush appointee, Chief Justice Roberts, brings to his task the same mixture of incompetence and arrogance which was the signature of the Bush White House. Next time, Mr. Chief Justice, why don't you bring a crib sheet.
I stand here today humbled by the task before us, grateful for the trust you have bestowed, mindful of the sacrifices borne by our ancestors. I thank President Bush for his service to our nation, as well as the generosity and cooperation he has shown throughout this transition.
Forty-four Americans have now taken the presidential oath. The words have been spoken during rising tides of prosperity and the still waters of peace. Yet, every so often the oath is taken amidst gathering clouds and raging storms. At these moments, America has carried on not simply because of the skill or vision of those in high office, but because We the People have remained faithful to the ideals of our forbearers, and true to our founding documents.
So it has been. So it must be with this generation of Americans.
That we are in the midst of crisis is now well understood. Our nation is at war, against a far-reaching network of violence and hatred. Our economy is badly weakened, a consequence of greed and irresponsibility on the part of some, but also our collective failure to make hard choices and prepare the nation for a new age. Homes have been lost; jobs shed; businesses shuttered. Our health care is too costly; our schools fail too many; and each day brings further evidence that the ways we use energy strengthen our adversaries and threaten our planet.
These are the indicators of crisis, subject to data and statistics. Less measurable but no less profound is a sapping of confidence across our land - a nagging fear that America's decline is inevitable, and that the next generation must lower its sights.
Today I say to you that the challenges we face are real. They are serious and they are many. They will not be met easily or in a short span of time. But know this, America - they will be met.
On this day, we gather because we have chosen hope over fear, unity of purpose over conflict and discord.
On this day, we come to proclaim an end to the petty grievances and false promises, the recriminations and worn out dogmas, that for far too long have strangled our politics.
We remain a young nation, but in the words of Scripture, the time has come to set aside childish things. The time has come to reaffirm our enduring spirit; to choose our better history; to carry forward that precious gift, that noble idea, passed on from generation to generation: the God-given promise that all are equal, all are free, and all deserve a chance to pursue their full measure of happiness.
In reaffirming the greatness of our nation, we understand that greatness is never a given. It must be earned. Our journey has never been one of short-cuts or settling for less. It has not been the path for the faint-hearted - for those who prefer leisure over work, or seek only the pleasures of riches and fame. Rather, it has been the risk-takers, the doers, the makers of things - some celebrated but more often men and women obscure in their labor, who have carried us up the long, rugged path towards prosperity and freedom.
For us, they packed up their few worldly possessions and traveled across oceans in search of a new life.
For us, they toiled in sweatshops and settled the West; endured the lash of the whip and plowed the hard earth.
For us, they fought and died, in places like Concord and Gettysburg; Normandy and Khe Sahn.
Time and again these men and women struggled and sacrificed and worked till their hands were raw so that we might live a better life. They saw America as bigger than the sum of our individual ambitions; greater than all the differences of birth or wealth or faction.
This is the journey we continue today. We remain the most prosperous, powerful nation on Earth. Our workers are no less productive than when this crisis began. Our minds are no less inventive, our goods and services no less needed than they were last week or last month or last year. Our capacity remains undiminished. But our time of standing pat, of protecting narrow interests and putting off unpleasant decisions - that time has surely passed. Starting today, we must pick ourselves up, dust ourselves off, and begin again the work of remaking America.
For everywhere we look, there is work to be done. The state of the economy calls for action, bold and swift, and we will act - not only to create new jobs, but to lay a new foundation for growth. We will build the roads and bridges, the electric grids and digital lines that feed our commerce and bind us together. We will restore science to its rightful place, and wield technology's wonders to raise health care's quality and lower its cost. We will harness the sun and the winds and the soil to fuel our cars and run our factories. And we will transform our schools and colleges and universities to meet the demands of a new age. All this we can do. And all this we will do.
Now, there are some who question the scale of our ambitions - who suggest that our system cannot tolerate too many big plans. Their memories are short. For they have forgotten what this country has already done; what free men and women can achieve when imagination is joined to common purpose, and necessity to courage.
What the cynics fail to understand is that the ground has shifted beneath them - that the stale political arguments that have consumed us for so long no longer apply. The question we ask today is not whether our government is too big or too small, but whether it works - whether it helps families find jobs at a decent wage, care they can afford, a retirement that is dignified. Where the answer is yes, we intend to move forward. Where the answer is no, programs will end. And those of us who manage the public's dollars will be held to account - to spend wisely, reform bad habits, and do our business in the light of day - because only then can we restore the vital trust between a people and their government.
Nor is the question before us whether the market is a force for good or ill. Its power to generate wealth and expand freedom is unmatched, but this crisis has reminded us that without a watchful eye, the market can spin out of control - and that a nation cannot prosper long when it favors only the prosperous. The success of our economy has always depended not just on the size of our Gross Domestic Product, but on the reach of our prosperity; on our ability to extend opportunity to every willing heart - not out of charity, but because it is the surest route to our common good.
As for our common defense, we reject as false the choice between our safety and our ideals. Our Founding Fathers, faced with perils we can scarcely imagine, drafted a charter to assure the rule of law and the rights of man, a charter expanded by the blood of generations. Those ideals still light the world, and we will not give them up for expedience's sake. And so to all other peoples and governments who are watching today, from the grandest capitals to the small village where my father was born: know that America is a friend of each nation and every man, woman, and child who seeks a future of peace and dignity, and that we are ready to lead once more.
Recall that earlier generations faced down fascism and communism not just with missiles and tanks, but with sturdy alliances and enduring convictions. They understood that our power alone cannot protect us, nor does it entitle us to do as we please. Instead, they knew that our power grows through its prudent use; our security emanates from the justness of our cause, the force of our example, the tempering qualities of humility and restraint.
We are the keepers of this legacy. Guided by these principles once more, we can meet those new threats that demand even greater effort - even greater cooperation and understanding between nations. We will begin to responsibly leave Iraq to its people, and forge a hard-earned peace in Afghanistan. With old friends and former foes, we will work tirelessly to lessen the nuclear threat, and roll back the specter of a warming planet. We will not apologize for our way of life, nor will we waver in its defense, and for those who seek to advance their aims by inducing terror and slaughtering innocents, we say to you now that our spirit is stronger and cannot be broken; you cannot outlast us, and we will defeat you.
For we know that our patchwork heritage is a strength, not a weakness. We are a nation of Christians and Muslims, Jews and Hindus - and non-believers. We are shaped by every language and culture, drawn from every end of this Earth; and because we have tasted the bitter swill of civil war and segregation, and emerged from that dark chapter stronger and more united, we cannot help but believe that the old hatreds shall someday pass; that the lines of tribe shall soon dissolve; that as the world grows smaller, our common humanity shall reveal itself; and that America must play its role in ushering in a new era of peace.
To the Muslim world, we seek a new way forward, based on mutual interest and mutual respect. To those leaders around the globe who seek to sow conflict, or blame their society's ills on the West - know that your people will judge you on what you can build, not what you destroy. To those who cling to power through corruption and deceit and the silencing of dissent, know that you are on the wrong side of history; but that we will extend a hand if you are willing to unclench your fist.
To the people of poor nations, we pledge to work alongside you to make your farms flourish and let clean waters flow; to nourish starved bodies and feed hungry minds. And to those nations like ours that enjoy relative plenty, we say we can no longer afford indifference to suffering outside our borders; nor can we consume the world's resources without regard to effect. For the world has changed, and we must change with it.
As we consider the road that unfolds before us, we remember with humble gratitude those brave Americans who, at this very hour, patrol far-off deserts and distant mountains. They have something to tell us today, just as the fallen heroes who lie in Arlington whisper through the ages. We honor them not only because they are guardians of our liberty, but because they embody the spirit of service; a willingness to find meaning in something greater than themselves. And yet, at this moment - a moment that will define a generation - it is precisely this spirit that must inhabit us all.
For as much as government can do and must do, it is ultimately the faith and determination of the American people upon which this nation relies. It is the kindness to take in a stranger when the levees break, the selflessness of workers who would rather cut their hours than see a friend lose their job which sees us through our darkest hours. It is the firefighter's courage to storm a stairway filled with smoke, but also a parent's willingness to nurture a child, that finally decides our fate.
Our challenges may be new. The instruments with which we meet them may be new. But those values upon which our success depends - hard work and honesty, courage and fair play, tolerance and curiosity, loyalty and patriotism - these things are old. These things are true. They have been the quiet force of progress throughout our history. What is demanded then is a return to these truths. What is required of us now is a new era of responsibility - a recognition, on the part of every American, that we have duties to ourselves, our nation, and the world, duties that we do not grudgingly accept but rather seize gladly, firm in the knowledge that there is nothing so satisfying to the spirit, so defining of our character, than giving our all to a difficult task.
This is the price and the promise of citizenship.
This is the source of our confidence - the knowledge that God calls on us to shape an uncertain destiny.
This is the meaning of our liberty and our creed - why men and women and children of every race and every faith can join in celebration across this magnificent mall, and why a man whose father less than sixty years ago might not have been served at a local restaurant can now stand before you to take a most sacred oath.
So let us mark this day with remembrance, of who we are and how far we have traveled. In the year of America's birth, in the coldest of months, a small band of patriots huddled by dying campfires on the shores of an icy river. The capital was abandoned. The enemy was advancing. The snow was stained with blood. At a moment when the outcome of our revolution was most in doubt, the father of our nation ordered these words be read to the people:
"Let it be told to the future world...that in the depth of winter, when nothing but hope and virtue could survive...that the city and the country, alarmed at one common danger, came forth to meet [it]."
America. In the face of our common dangers, in this winter of our hardship, let us remember these timeless words. With hope and virtue, let us brave once more the icy currents, and endure what storms may come. Let it be said by our children's children that when we were tested we refused to let this journey end, that we did not turn back nor did we falter; and with eyes fixed on the horizon and God's grace upon us, we carried forth that great gift of freedom and delivered it safely to future generations.
The great day is here. It’s been eight years since George W. Bush stole the presidency to begin his horrifically misguided adventures that opened for us the immense possibility of doing something entirely new and untried. It’s been two years since Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton began their improbable journeys by announcing their candidacies for the presidency of the United States. It’s been seven months since Barack Obama cinched the nomination. It’s been five months since Barack Obama received the nomination of the Democratic Party for president of the United States. It’s been two-and-a-half months since Barack Obama won the election. It’s been a month since the electors from the several states cast their ballots to fulfill their constitutional duties to make Barack Obama president. Today, we rid ourselves of George W. Bush. Today, Barack Obama becomes the 44th President of the United States.
Good on us.
Gene Robinson, the openly gay Episcopal bishop of New Hampshire, delivered the invocation on Sunday for the opening of the inaugural festivities.
Monday, January 19, 2009
(Originally posted at The Liberal OC)
"Marriage isn't a special right. Marriage is a civil right." - Robin Tyler, one of the plaintiffs in the Prop H8 lawsuit currently before the California Supreme Court
Yesterday, something amazing occurred. On a beautiful and sunny Sunday in Southern California, people came to speak up, speak out, come out, and make a difference. And on what was supposed to be a normal Sunday at Saddleback Church, they witnessed today's civil rights movement in full force.
Golly gee whiz, what a mistake it was to tell a concerned citizen that she wasn't allowed to come into church!
Earlier this month, Robin Tyler, her wife, and a few of their friends believed Saddleback Pastor Rick Warren when he said he wanted dialogue with LGBT people. That's why they asked him if they could
come to church this Sunday and show him & his congregation some public service announcements on LGBT civil rights that were produced by gettoknowusfirst.comand allornotatall.org,
their grassroots groups. They figured that since Rick Warren has told the media he was "misunderstood" on Prop H8, that he'd like to clear the air and show his congregation how accepting he and the church really are. But to their surprise, he refused their peace offering and told them he may reconsider some other time.
Even though Warren wears a smile on his face as he says he's not a homophobe, his actions don't match his words. He may have wanted to simply sweep his "gay problem" under the rug in time to bask in the spotlight of being christened as "America's Pastor" at Barack Obama's Presidential Inauguration this Tuesday, but Robin Tyler, her friends from all over California, and a number of us local civil rights activists had something else in mind. Warren didn't want us in his church, so we took our message of equality directly to his parishioners and the surrounding community just outside the church.
Warren may not have wanted to turn this into a spectacle, but he couldn't stop what was happening outside. We held our signs. We took over all four corners of the intersection. Oh yes, and we even talked to people outside the front entrance! And did I mention that the local newspapers and teevee stations came with their cameras and notebooks? Oops.
This is the problem we're currently facing. The forces behind Prop H8 want to hide their bigotry behind a facade of "tolerance". That's how they were able to squeak by with 52.3% of the vote last November.
But you know what? The days of "soft bigotry" are over! We will no longer allow them to get away with H8. Now, we must expose them for what they are as we tell of our own message of love and acceptance.
Most voters in California, including many who attend churches like Saddleback, aren't hateful people. Rather, they haven't learned the truth of how there is no "separate but equal" and how thousands of families all over this state are being hurt by this myth being propped up by Prop H8. And once we work our hardest to share with these voters what marriage equality really means, which is protecting and strengthening all families, they will support our movement for equal rights.
So now, let's get that message out! Let's support the good grassroots groups I mentioned earlier. Let's support organizations like Courage Campaign that are already at work preparing a winning campaign to end H8. Oh yes, and let's start to support the great new local groups that are part of this statewide and nationwide civil rights movement.
This is why I have hope today. The beautiful struggle for equality isn't over just yet. Rather, the best is yet to come. No matter what the forces of H8 try to do to us, love and equality and justice will ultimately prevail.
King's Last Speech:
Our destinies are one: we will get to the promised land. There is still much work we must do, but let us today all take a moment to marvel that the great American prophet Martin Luther King's dream is realized in some immense measure tomorrow at 12:00 noon.
Martin, look down on us today and smile at what you began in us.
This is not a goodbye, because we're all embarking on a new American journey.
With our nation moving in an exciting new direction, you and I and all Americans are going to be a key part of the change that is coming. I couldn't be more hopeful about meeting the challenges and seizing the opportunities that lie ahead.
But I want to take just one moment to look back at the incredible experiences you and I shared over the last two years. From the moment we launched our historic campaign back in January 2007, I was deeply moved by the amount of support you showed me .
We spent 17 months in a hard-fought campaign making sure that every American had a chance to make their voice heard. We made history by putting 18 million cracks in the very highest glass ceiling.
And when that campaign came to an end, we kept working and fighting, putting our hearts into making history again by helping to put Barack Obama and Joe Biden in the White House.
I'm so proud of all we accomplished, but most of all, I'm proud to call you my friend. Your devotion to making our country and our world a better place has been a constant source of inspiration to me.
In our most difficult moments, it was you who kept our efforts moving forward. In our happiest moments, you and I celebrated together. Together we walked this amazing journey one step at a time and I couldn't have done without you.
And as I take the first step on the next path in our journey, I know you'll be right there with me, as always, in my heart and by my side.
Thank you, God bless you, and may God bless America.
Wowzer, you'd think with our economy in shambles and millions of folks out of work, they could have scaled things back a bit this week. But not BHO and his pals, no, no, no... they're on track to spend far more than any other group when it comes to inaugural celebrations.She observes how personal it is for her, because her husband is unemployed, and her family is barely keeping its head above water.
I am not offended by the money, and I also am about to become unemployed. The Bush Economic Disaster has swallowed my small business whole, and after 28 years of existence, the company will close down next month. I wasn't able to find any new funds, and I need to move on and likely become someone else's employee, if I can find work.
I say that to let Alegre know that Obama's expenditures are useful to me. He is spending that money here in our community. I live in DC, and Alegre lives in suburban Maryland. That money is going to purchase goods and services which otherwise would not have been purchased. It is creating jobs. It is sustaining businesses. It is an economic stimulus in our community.
But beyond that, we have elected an African American president. Three hundred and nine years after the first Africans were brought to North America in chains, we have elected a black man to serve as our president. It is a promise of hope and renewal for America. It is something that Hillary and Bill Clinton have embraced.
New things are afoot. Let us make a joyful noise. Alegre, the expense is a good thing for our local economy, and the spectacle is a good thing for the national mood.
Why can't the PUMA crowd, even now, let go of last year and embrace this one?
Sunday, January 18, 2009
It would seem that an element of Barack Obama's presidency will make him the Community Organizer in Chief. Obama is founding, Organizing for America. The blurb on YouTube for the above video notes:
Organizing for America will continue the work of the largest grassroots movement in history. Volunteers, grassroots leaders, and ordinary citizens will drive this organization and help bring about the changes we proposed during the presidential campaign.