Sunday, November 30, 2008

From St. Louis Post-Dispatch: Santa comes to Congress for Relief Claus

11.28.2008 9:05 pm
Horrigan column: Santa comes to Congress for Relief Claus
By: Kevin Horrigan
St. Louis Post-Dispatch

In perhaps the most shocking sign yet of the dire condition of the nation’s economy, Santa Claus today appeared before the House Financial Services Committee pleading for a $25 billion bailout of his North Pole-based toy manufacturing industry.

Lawmakers were shocked at the sudden appearance of the right jolly old elf, who reportedly evaded Capitol Police by entering the hearing room through a chimney boarded up during the Nixon administration. “I guess he had a case of the flue,” joked committee Chairman Barney Frank, D-Mass.

Appearing without counsel, Claus, dressed in his traditional red suit, told the committee that without the cash infusion, “Christmas will be very bleak.”

He said layoffs would be inevitable among his 300,000-elf work force and that “bankruptcy is not out of the picture.”

“I hate to be the one to break the news to you, ladies and gentlemen,” Claus said. “But Santa Claus is not Santa Claus, if you get my drift. For a thousand years, we’ve been hung out to dry with no federal or local tax support. Our labor costs are through the roof. Competition from China is very fierce. Environmental regulations are a huge added cost. And now we find that because of global climate change, we’ve had to retro-fit the entire North Pole manufacturing center on floats and pylons. We need help.”

Rep. Spencer Bachus of Alabama, the committee’s ranking Republican, was sympathetic to Claus’ complaints about the high cost of environmental compliance. “How many of your people have you lost to marauding polar bears?” Bachus asked.

“That’s the good news,” Claus said. “Technically, elves aren’t ‘people,’ so the Bush administration recently reclassified them as a food source for the bears. If there’s one bright spot to the layoffs, it’s that the bears will be eating better, even though it takes two or three elves per bear to make a meal.”

Rep. Maxine Waters, D-Calif., objected, “Mr. Chairman, I find it reprehensible that Mr. Claus is threatening to feed his elves to polar bears unless we bail him out with $25 billion in taxpayer money.”

Claus replied, “Madam, it’s not like feeding elves to polar bears will save us any money. Over the years, the United Toyworkers Union has negotiated generous labor contracts with us. Even when they’re laid off — or God forbid, even when they’re eaten by polar bears — we’re still stuck with the legacy costs of pension and retirement benefits to their families.”

“If I could say a word in the witness’s defense,” said Rep. William Lacy Clay, D-Mo., “it would be that my children have long enjoyed the benefits of Mr. Claus’ work. And it would be a shame — no, an outrage — if this Congress can provide help for the tycoons and bankers on Wall Street and not for the small children of America.”

Clay, noted throughout Congress for his softball questioning of celebrity witnesses such as baseball stars Mark McGwire and Roger Clemens, then presented Claus with a copy of his Christmas wish list — “just in case,” Clay said.

Rep. Peter King, R-N.Y., demanded to know “why the American taxpayer should bear the burden of bailing out Santa Claus” when Christmas is an “international celebration.”

“Is it not true, sir, that you work in many nations under a variety of aliases: Weihnachtsmann, Kris Kringle, Pere Noel, Papa Noel, Sinter Claus, Julemanden among them?” King said. “Are you planning to hit up the governments of Denmark and France, too?”

Claus replied, “First of all, let me say that I object to the use of the term ‘bailout.’ In fact, all we’re asking for is a loan so we can retool our operations to compete with foreign manufacturers. Secondly, our costs are high because of regulations imposed by this Congress.

“And finally, it was you Americans who started this whole Santa Claus cult with your ‘Night Before Christmas’ and ‘Miracle on 34th Street.’ Before that, I could get by with a few oranges and some candy canes. Now I have to run a full-tilt, 24-7 sweatshop. And everything’s supposed to be free? What kind of business plan is that?”

The hearing had adjourned amid chaos and without a vote when news broke that ABC News had reported that Santa Claus had traveled to Washington by private aircraft.

“I’m outraged,” Chairman Frank said. “How can you ask the suffering taxpayers to bail you out the to tune of $25 billion when you’re flying down here on a private plane?”

“I wish,” Claus replied. “It’s the same raggedy sleigh and eight flying reindeer I’ve been using for centuries. In fact, if you guys ever come up with some bucks, I’m buying a used Gulfstream-IV from a guy in Detroit.”

Sunday, November 16, 2008

From New York Times: It Still Felt Good the Morning After

So many ways and words to describe the Obama victory almost two weeks after. Personally, am still at a loss of words to describe what this means for America. I promise I ll get to it soon. For now, here is one of the best reflective pieces I have come across since. Its from NYT fav Frank Rich.

November 9, 2008
New York Times Op-Ed Columnist
It Still Felt Good the Morning After

ON the morning after a black man won the White House, America’s tears of catharsis gave way to unadulterated joy.

Our nation was still in the same ditch it had been the day before, but the atmosphere was giddy. We felt good not only because we had breached a racial barrier as old as the Republic. Dawn also brought the realization that we were at last emerging from an abusive relationship with our country’s 21st-century leaders. The festive scenes of liberation that Dick Cheney had once imagined for Iraq were finally taking place — in cities all over America.

For eight years, we’ve been told by those in power that we are small, bigoted and stupid — easily divided and easily frightened. This was the toxic catechism of Bush-Rove politics. It was the soiled banner picked up by the sad McCain campaign, and it was often abetted by an amen corner in the dominant news media. We heard this slander of America so often that we all started to believe it, liberals most certainly included. If I had a dollar for every Democrat who told me there was no way that Americans would ever turn against the war in Iraq or definitively reject Bush governance or elect a black man named Barack Hussein Obama president, I could almost start to recoup my 401(k). Few wanted to take yes for an answer.

So let’s be blunt. Almost every assumption about America that was taken as a given by our political culture on Tuesday morning was proved wrong by Tuesday night.

The most conspicuous clichés to fall, of course, were the twin suppositions that a decisive number of white Americans wouldn’t vote for a black presidential candidate — and that they were lying to pollsters about their rampant racism. But the polls were accurate. There was no “Bradley effect.” A higher percentage of white men voted for Obama than any Democrat since Jimmy Carter, Bill Clinton included.

Obama also won all four of those hunting-and-Hillary-loving Rust Belt states that became 2008’s obsession among slumming upper-middle-class white journalists: Pennsylvania and Michigan by double digits, as well as Ohio and even Indiana, which has gone Democratic only once (1964) since 1936. The solid Republican South, led by Virginia and North Carolina, started to turn blue as well. While there are still bigots in America, they are in unambiguous retreat.

And what about all those terrified Jews who reportedly abandoned their progressive heritage to buy into the smears libeling Obama as an Israel-hating terrorist? Obama drew a larger percentage of Jews nationally (78) than Kerry had (74) and — mazel tov, Sarah Silverman! — won Florida.

Let’s defend Hispanic-Americans, too, while we’re at it. In one of the more notorious observations of the campaign year, a Clinton pollster, Sergio Bendixen, told The New Yorker in January that “the Hispanic voter — and I want to say this very carefully — has not shown a lot of willingness or affinity to support black candidates.” Let us say very carefully that a black presidential candidate won Latinos — the fastest-growing demographic in the electorate — 67 percent to 31 (up from Kerry’s 53-to-44 edge and Gore’s 62-to-35).

Young voters also triumphed over the condescension of the experts. “Are they going to show up?” Cokie Roberts of ABC News asked in February. “Probably not. They never have before. By the time November comes, they’ll be tired.” In fact they turned up in larger numbers than in 2004, and their disproportionate Democratic margin made a serious difference, as did their hard work on the ground. They’re not the ones who need Geritol.

The same commentators who dismissed every conceivable American demographic as racist, lazy or both got Sarah Palin wrong too. When she made her debut in St. Paul, the punditocracy was nearly uniform in declaring her selection a brilliant coup. There hadn’t been so much instant over-the-top praise by the press for a cynical political stunt since President Bush “landed” a jet on the U.S.S. Abraham Lincoln in that short-lived triumph “Mission Accomplished.”

The rave reviews for Palin were completely disingenuous. Anyone paying attention (with the possible exception of John McCain) could see she was woefully ill-equipped to serve half-a-heartbeat away from the presidency. The conservatives Peggy Noonan and Mike Murphy said so on MSNBC when they didn’t know their mikes were on. But, hey, she was a dazzling TV presence, the thinking went, so surely doltish Americans would rally around her anyway. “She killed!” cheered Noonan about the vice-presidential debate, revising her opinion upward and marveling at Palin’s gift for talking “over the heads of the media straight to the people.” Many talking heads thought she tied or beat Joe Biden.

The people, however, were reaching a less charitable conclusion and were well ahead of the Beltway curve in fleeing Palin. Only after polls confirmed that she was costing McCain votes did conventional wisdom in Washington finally change, demoting her from Republican savior to scapegoat overnight.

But Palin’s appeal wasn’t overestimated only because of her kitschy “American Idol” star quality. Her fierce embrace of the old Karl Rove wedge politics, the divisive pitting of the “real America” against the secular “other” America, was also regarded as a sure-fire winner. The second most persistent assumption by both pundits and the McCain campaign this year — after the likely triumph of racism — was that the culture war battlegrounds from 2000 and 2004 would remain intact.

This is true in exactly one instance: gay civil rights. Though Rove’s promised “permanent Republican majority” lies in humiliating ruins, his and Bush’s one secure legacy will be their demagogic exploitation of homophobia. The success of the four state initiatives banning either same-sex marriage or same-sex adoptions was the sole retro trend on Tuesday. And Obama, who largely soft-pedaled the issue this year, was little help. In California, where other races split more or less evenly on a same-sex marriage ban, some 70 percent of black voters contributed to its narrow victory.

That lagging indicator aside, nearly every other result on Tuesday suggests that while the right wants to keep fighting the old boomer culture wars, no one else does. Three state initiatives restricting abortion failed. Bill Ayers proved a lame villain, scaring no one. Americans do not want to revisit Vietnam (including in Iraq). For all the attention paid by the news media and McCain-Palin to rancorous remembrances of things past, I sometimes wondered whether most Americans thought the Weather Underground was a reunion band and the Hanoi Hilton a chain hotel. Socialism, the evil empire and even Ronald Reagan may be half-forgotten blurs too.

If there were any doubts the 1960s are over, they were put to rest Tuesday night when our new first family won the hearts of the world as it emerged on that vast blue stage to join the celebration in Chicago’s Grant Park. The bloody skirmishes that took place on that same spot during the Democratic convention 40 years ago — young vs. old, students vs. cops, white vs. black — seemed as remote as the moon. This is another America — hardly a perfect or prejudice-free America, but a union that can change and does, aspiring to perfection even if it can never achieve it.

Still, change may come slowly to the undying myths bequeathed to us by the Bush decade. “Don’t think for a minute that power concedes,” Obama is fond of saying. Neither does groupthink. We now keep hearing, for instance, that America is “a center-right nation” — apparently because the percentages of Americans who call themselves conservative (34), moderate (44) and liberal (22) remain virtually unchanged from four years ago. But if we’ve learned anything this year, surely it’s that labels are overrated. Those same polls find that more and more self-described conservatives no longer consider themselves Republicans. Americans now say they favor government doing more (51 percent), not less (43) — an 11-point swing since 2004 — and they still overwhelmingly reject the Iraq war. That’s a centrist country tilting center-left, and that’s the majority who voted for Obama.

The post-Bush-Rove Republican Party is in the minority because it has driven away women, the young, suburbanites, black Americans, Latino-Americans, Asian-Americans, educated Americans, gay Americans and, increasingly, working-class Americans. Who’s left? The only states where the G.O.P. increased its percentage of the presidential vote relative to the Democrats were West Virginia, Tennessee, Louisiana and Arkansas. Even the North Carolina county where Palin expressed her delight at being in the “real America” went for Obama by more than 18 percentage points.

The actual real America is everywhere. It is the America that has been in shell shock since the aftermath of 9/11, when our government wielded a brutal attack by terrorists as a club to ratchet up our fears, betray our deepest constitutional values and turn Americans against one another in the name of “patriotism.” What we started to remember the morning after Election Day was what we had forgotten over the past eight years, as our abusive relationship with the Bush administration and its press enablers dragged on: That’s not who we are.

So even as we celebrated our first black president, we looked around and rediscovered the nation that had elected him. “We are the ones we’ve been waiting for,” Obama said in February, and indeed millions of such Americans were here all along, waiting for a leader. This was the week that they reclaimed their country.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

From Washington Post: A GOP Bridge to Nowhere

A GOP Bridge to Nowhere
By Eugene Robinson
Washington Post
Tuesday, November 11, 2008; A19

I could make the argument that all is not lost for the Republican Party -- that last Tuesday's across-the-board defeat wasn't an unmitigated disaster. But it would be a pretty dumb argument, and I doubt many readers would take it seriously. The truth is that the Grand Old Party is on a Bridge to Nowhere and may have great difficulty changing course.

The essential problem is that changing course will require turning around and marching, if not sprinting, in the opposite direction. At least initially, this doesn't look like something enough Republicans are willing to do. Continue reading

Sunday, November 9, 2008

From Newsweek - Memo to the President-elect: The World That Awaits

The World That Awaits
Richard N. Haass
From the magazine issue dated Nov 3, 2008


TO: The president-elect
RE: Foreign policy
FROM: Richard N. Haass, President of the Council on Foreign Relations

There are only two and a half months—76 days, to be precise— between Election Day and your Inauguration, and you will need every one of them to get ready for the world you will inherit. This is not the world you've been discussing on the trail for the last year or more: campaigning and governing could hardly be more different. The former is necessarily done in bold strokes and, to be honest, often approaches caricature. All candidates resist specifying priorities or trade-offs lest they forfeit precious support. You won, but at a price, as some of the things you said were better left unsaid. Even more important, the campaign did not prepare the public for the hard times to come.

There will be days when you will wonder why you worked so hard to get this job. What will make it so difficult is not just all that awaits, but the constraints that will limit what you can actually do. When George W. Bush became president nearly eight years ago the world was largely at peace, the U.S. military was largely at rest, oil was $23 a barrel, the economy was growing at more than 3 percent, $1 was worth 116 yen, the national debt was just under $6 trillion and the federal government was running a sizable budgetary surplus. The September 11 attacks, for all they cost us as a nation, increased the world's willingness to cooperate with us. You, by contrast, will inherit wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, tired and stretched armed forces, a global struggle with terrorism, oil that has ranged as high as $150 a barrel, a weaker dollar (now worth 95 yen), substantial anti-American sentiment, a federal budget deficit that could reach $1 trillion in your first year, a ballooning national debt of some $10 trillion and a global economic slowdown that will increase instability in numerous countries.

You will take office two decades after the end of the cold war. What some dubbed the unipolar moment is history. Economic, political and military power is held by many hands, not all of which belong to states, not all of which are benign. This does not mean the United States is weak. To the contrary, this country is still the single most powerful entity in the world. But the United States cannot dominate, much less dictate, and expect that others will follow. There are limits to U.S. resources; at the same time the country has serious vulnerabilities. Enron, Abu Ghraib, Katrina and the financial crisis have taken their toll: America's ability to tell others what to do, or to persuade them through example, is much diminished.

Against this backdrop, you will face specific challenges. Many are to be found in the greater Middle East, the part of the world where every president beginning with Jimmy Carter has stubbed his toe. Consider Iraq, the issue that most dominated the foreign policy of Bush. There will be ample time for historians to sort out the wisdom (or lack thereof) of embarking on this costly war of choice. The priorities now are to gradually reduce U.S. force presence, back the integration of Iraq's Sunni minority into national institutions, persuade Arab states to help the government and resume a dialogue with Iran on Iraq's future. The good news is that many of the arrows in Iraq are finally pointing in the right direction and it will not dominate your presidency. The bad news is that you know you are in for a rough ride when Iraq is the good news.

The arrows are pointing in the opposite direction in Afghanistan. The Taliban is gaining ground; security is deteriorating; drugs and corruption are rampant. More U.S. and NATO troops are needed, but any increase will need to be temporary, given rising Afghan nationalism. The chief priority should be training Afghanistan's Army and police. Regular talks are needed with those with a stake in the country's future, including Iran, Pakistan, India, China, Russia and NATO. The government should be encouraged to meet with Taliban leaders willing to accept a ceasefire. Counterdrug efforts, while essential, should be targeted and low-key, lest an alienated populace grow more so.

It may be better to view Afghanistan and Pakistan as one problem, since Pakistan provides sanctuary for the Taliban. Pakistan's government appears unable or unwilling to control its own territory. The country's return to democracy is at best incomplete and fragile; its economy has slowed. The world's second-most-populous Muslim nation—home to 170 million people, several dozen nuclear weapons and many of the world's terrorists, including Al Qaeda—is failing. Promised assistance should continue to flow; additional economic and military aid should be provided to bolster the government, but only if Islamabad accepts conditions on its use. Military incursions targeting terrorists need to be limited to those instances where there is a high likelihood of accomplishing something truly substantial.

Iran constitutes another challenge where the campaign generated more heat than light. If Tehran continues its current progress in enriching uranium, early on in your presidency you will be presented with the choice of attacking Iran (or greenlighting an Israeli attack) or living with a nuclear Iran. Yogi Berra said that when you approach a fork in the road, take it. I respectfully disagree. Neither option is attractive. A military strike may buy some time, but it won't solve the problem. It will, however, lead to Iranian retaliation against U.S. personnel and interests in Iraq and Afghanistan, and much higher oil prices—the last thing the world needs, given the financial crisis. An Iran with nuclear weapons or the capacity to produce them quickly would place the Middle East on a hair trigger and lead several Arab states to embark on nuclear programs of their own.

I would suggest that we work with the Europeans, Russia and China to cobble together a new diplomatic package to present to the Iranians. Ideally, Iran would be persuaded to give up its independent enrichment capability or, if it refused, to consider accepting clear limits on enrichment and intrusive inspections so that the threat is clearly bounded. We should be prepared to have face-to-face talks with the Iranians, without preconditions. In general, it is wiser to see negotiations not as a reward but as a tool of national security.

It will be important, too, to ratchet up diplomacy vis-à-vis the Israelis and Palestinians. The current impasse threatens Israel's future as a secure, democratic, prosperous and Jewish state. It breeds radicalism among Palestinians and throughout the Arab and Muslim worlds, and is a major source of anti-Americanism. What is more, time is working against us: physical and political developments will only make it harder to achieve a two-state solution.

We cannot solve this problem quickly—those Palestinians who are willing to compromise for peace are too weak, and those who are strong are not willing to compromise—but we can bolster Palestinian moderates who, over time, could be partners for Israel. Sooner rather than later you should be prepared to articulate your vision of a fair and stable peace, press Israel to stop settlement activity and push Arab governments and the European Union to do more to raise Palestinian living standards. Hamas should be told that abiding by a ceasefire is a must if it is to participate in any Palestinian election or diplomatic effort.

A New Strategic Framework
Other challenges are equally urgent: contending with a nuclear North Korea; working to moderate a resentful and resurgent Russia; brokering peace between Israel and Syria; and taking steps to stabilize those African countries beset by civil strife. But at the same time, it's important not to lose sight of the fundamentals. Unlike most previous eras, in which the dominant threat was posed by a great-power rival, ours is the era of globalization, in which flows of just about anything—from people, dollars and drugs to arms, greenhouse gases and viruses—move across borders in great volume and with great velocity. Many of these flows represent real threats. The problem is that global arrangements have not kept pace.

The economic institutions created in the wake of World War II (the IMF in particular) require updating. We similarly lack machinery for dealing with climate change, energy security, the spread of nuclear materials, disease and the threat of terrorism. Dean Acheson, Harry Truman's secretary of state, immodestly but accurately titled his memoir "Present at the Creation." Your goal should be no less ambitious: to design and implement a foreign policy that closes the gap between this era's major challenges and the international architecture and rules meant to manage them.

America cannot do this by itself; the challenges of this era have no single national origin and no national solution. Multilateralism is the only realistic way ahead. The operative term is "integration." We need to bring other major powers into the design and operation of the world—before the century is overwhelmed by the forces globalization has unleashed. This will require sustained consultations followed by sustained negotiations. (This poses no problem, as our diplomats are much less stretched than our soldiers.) It will also require American leadership. There is a real opportunity to make progress: many of today's powers understand that they will either cooperate with one another or pay a steep price.

People Matter
There will be time to do detailed interagency reviews of policies toward these and other challenges. Let me make a few general recommendations. First, people matter. Very little about history is inevitable. You have talked about a bipartisan administration, and should make this happen. The next four years promise to be difficult, and you do not want to try to lead the country with narrow majorities.

One of these people deserves special mention. The vice president should be your counselor, a minister without portfolio, and not a cabinet secretary with a specific set of responsibilities. You need someone with an administration-wide perspective who can tell you what you need to hear, even if it isn't always what you want to hear. The one person around you (other than your spouse) you cannot fire is best placed to do this. That said, you should reduce the size and role of the VP's staff. The interagency process is sufficiently sclerotic without adding yet another national-security bureaucracy to the mix.

Avoid big reorganizations. The last two—Homeland Security and the intelligence community—have been less than total successes. Your inbox is sufficiently daunting without the added strain of reorganization; it is rarely a good idea to remodel the operating room when the patient is on the table. The one exception may be energy policy, which has never received the attention it merits. Energy policy is national-security policy.

Facing Up to Facts
Speaking of energy, the current situation is untenable. We are channeling vast numbers of dollars to some of the world's most unsavory governments, strengthening them while leaving ourselves vulnerable to supply interruptions and price fluctuations.

Prices have come down recently as demand has dropped off, but recession cannot become our energy policy. Substantial research demonstrates that we can reduce consumption without slowing economic growth. Your campaign didn't talk much about conservation or efficiency, but the greatest potential for making a difference over the next four years is just this. I am talking not about carbon taxes but rather the setting of energy standards for what this country produces and does. We can offer tax breaks and subsidies as long as they are linked to greater efficiency and "greenness." We should devote resources to the development of alternatives, although resources will be in short supply and developing alternatives will take time.

Trade is also worth talking about now, even though it was hardly mentioned after the Ohio primary. By the time you take office it will have been 19 months since the president enjoyed trade promotion authority, which gives him the ability to negotiate complex multilateral trade agreements by limiting Congress to a straight up-or-down vote. Several bilateral free-trade agreements are languishing at considerable cost to our economy and to our relationship with friends such as Colombia.

It will be important to resurrect your ability to negotiate and conclude trade pacts. A new global trade agreement offers the best noninflationary, anti-recession tool for the American and global economies. Estimates are that a new global agreement could add as much as 1 percent growth each year to the U.S. and world economies. Trade brings an added benefit: it is an engine of development for poor countries. Access to the American market can provide jobs and wealth. This will be especially important given that we are unlikely to have as much money for foreign aid.

I'd like to think the arguments in favor of open trade would carry the day, because on the merits they do. The most successful sector of our economy right now consists of firms that export. Imports give consumers choice and keep inflation low. Job losses tend to be tied to technological change, not imports or offshoring. But I've learned that facts are only part of the story in politics. The only way you are likely to win a debate on trade is if you do more to cushion individual workers from the vagaries of modern global life. This means tax-deferred retraining and education accounts, and a health-care option not linked to jobs. So if you are going to press for health care, I suggest you link it to trade.

Trade is not the only area where America needs to make sure we stay open for business. We must encourage others to continue to recycle their dollars here—in part by buying and investing in American companies. We require $2 billion a day just to stay afloat. Blocking legitimate investments can also trigger crises in important bilateral relationships. Such protectionism must be resisted at all costs.

You ran hard against Bush in this campaign, and understandably so, given his historically low approval ratings. But you should be wary of distancing yourself too far from his administration. This is especially important because Bush already distanced himself from himself in his second term. Remarkably, he leaves behind a good deal you can build on: programs to combat HIV/AIDS around the world, diplomatic efforts in the Middle East, a strategic breakthrough with India, important consultative arrangements with China and a good relationship with Brazil, increasingly the anchor of a centrist bloc of South American countries.

One area, however, where you would be wise to put some distance between yourself and "43" involves democracy. America does not have the ability to transform the world. Nor do we have the luxury. We need to focus more on what countries do than on what they are. This is not an argument for ignoring human rights or setting aside our interest in promoting democracy. But we should go slow and focus on building its prerequisites—the checks and balances of civil society and constitutionalism—and not rush elections or impose political change through force. Bush was right when he called for a humble foreign policy. You should practice what he preached.

Let me close where I began. This is a sobering moment in American history. You begin with a good deal of popular support, but mandates must be replenished. I suggest you think of the Oval Office as a classroom, and explain to the American people what we need to accomplish and what it will require. Some 21st-century version of the fireside chat is called for. My reading of things is that the American people are ready to be leveled with. Once the campaign is over, let the leveling begin.


Friday, November 7, 2008

From YouTube: Even Barney Is Depressed By The Bush Years!

I guess dogs are really like people. Even Barney can't take 8 years of being in the white house anymore, the stress is too much, he is lashing out at those darn elite liberal media! Last time I heard, Barney was discussing plans to sneak out to Mexico with that Beverly Hills Chihuahua!!!

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Looking Back At The Elections: The Best of Saturday Night Live!

SNL in recent years hasnt lived up to its fame of the past. In fact some Saturday nights, you could get more laughs out of FOX's MAD TV than SNL, but it redeemed itself this year with the election satire starting with Obama and Clinton in the Democratic primaries. I think it is safe to say this has been one of the best seasons of Saturday Night Live. Some would argue that most of the jokes were at the expense of McCain and Palin, but that was only because they gave the cast so much to work with. On a side note, I wonder if comedians will have that much to work with in an Obama adminstration? The guy doesn't give you mcuh to poke fun at. Anyways, here are the top skits from SNL political season. Enjoy!

1. President Bush Endorses McCain
Probably one of the best skits, basically captures the difficulty John McCain had in shaking off the Bush legacy. From the poll results, it seems a lot of voters were thinking of George Bush at the polls when they voted against McCain

2. Amy Poehler Rap (Shoot a Moose!)
Just plain funniest skit ever, especially the part when the moose gets shot!

3. Crazy McCain Lady
This will live to be one of the season's classic!

4. Sarah Palin/Hillary Clinton Open
This is the skit that introduced Sarah Palin, sorry I mean Tina Fey to the world!

5. Sen. McCain and Gov. Palin (Fey) address the Nation on QVC
A preview to the tension between McCain and Palin that would spill over even before the election was over.

6. Sen. Biden and Gov. Palin go head to head in the VP Debate
Queen Latifa nailed an impressive Gwen Ifil impersonation. If you watched the debate, you ll love this spoof!

7. Sen. McCain approves truth-enhanced negative campaign messages
SNL's sharp eyes let nothing pass them this election season, I respect John McCain but some of his ads left me wondering how he could have approved them with a straight face.

8. Gov. Palin and Katie Couric get real and adorable
This is the interview that did in Gov. Sarah Palin, still don't know why the campaign let her do this without adequate preparation. On this one, am not sure which one is funnier, the real interview or this spoof? We might never know. we might never know! "Katie, I'd like to use a life line!"

9. Obama and McCain debate the issues; Featuring Bill Murray and Chris Parnell
Why did McCain keep walking around the stage?!

10. Democratic debate: Obama and Hillary face off in Austin, TX
The press and Obama girl are totally in the tank for Obama. "Senator Clinton, if you ever interrupt Obama girl again, I will personally escort you from this building, do I make my self clear?!

For more videos from the season, visit the Saturday Night Live page at

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

From New York Times: Barack Obama's Victory Speech

Obama: Victory Speech - New York Times

"If there is anyone out there who still doubts that America is a place where all things are possible, who still wonders if the dream of our founders is alive in our time, who still questions the power of our democracy, tonight is your answer."

Watch the full video and transcript at New York Times

John McCain's Concession Speech - New York Times

“This is a historic election, and I recognize the significance it has for African-Americans and for the special pride that must be theirs tonight. We both realize that we have come a long way from the injustices that once stained our nation’s reputation.”

Watch the full video and transcript at New York Times

The American People Have Spoken: Barack Obama is President of the United States!!!

It will take about days to clearly mull how I fell about the election, but there is a feeling that there is something new in Washington, something new in America, something missing in the last eight years - American optimism!

Media Coverage:

Obama Wins Election - New York Times
Barack Hussein Obama was elected the 44th president of the United States on Tuesday, sweeping away the last racial barrier in American politics with ease as the country chose him as its first black chief executive. The election of Mr. Obama amounted to a national catharsis — a repudiation of a historically unpopular Republican president and his economic and foreign policies, and an embrace of Mr. Obama’s call for a change in the direction and the tone of the country.

History happens: Obama wins -
Barack Obama, the son of Kenya and Kansas whose political eloquence and hopeful audacity took the Democratic Party by storm, was elected the nation’s first African-American president Tuesday night — an act Americans would have thought impossible just a generation ago.

Sunday, November 2, 2008

President George W. Bush Endorses Barack Obama For President

Washington DC - In perhaps the most surprising move in what has been an unpredictable campaign season, president George W. Bush called a press conference early Monday to announce that he will be supporting the Democratic nominee Barack Obama for president. President Bush joins a long list of Republicans who have endorsed the Democrat...

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President George W. Bush Endorses Barack Obama For President

Ask Sunday About Politics
November 3, 2008

President George W. Bush Endorses Barack Obama For President
Says He Was Always In The Tank For The Illinois Senator.

Washington DC - In perhaps the most surprising move in what has been an unpredictable campaign season, president George W. Bush called a press conference early Monday to announce that he will be supporting the Democratic nominee Barack Obama for president. President Bush joins a long list of Republicans who have endorsed the Democrat, but his endorsement was probably the least expected. No American president in recent history, if at all, has ever crossed party lines to endorse the candidate of the opposing party to succeed them. As the news reverberated around the country there was initial shock followed by disbelief. Even the Obama campaign at first thought it was a joke before issuing a statement saying they did not appreciate the late Bush endorsement. “This is a last minute ploy by the president to help get his friend John McCain elected,” the campaign said. On the other hand, the McCain campaign was quick to say that “the Bush endorsement shows Senator Obama will continue the disastrous polices of George Bush.”

In a Rose Garden press conference Bush looked relieved, jubilant and even eager to answer questions. Behind him stood a beaming vice president Dick Cheney in what one reporter called “the only documented instance of a smiling Cheney.” Bush opened the press conference by announcing to the world that for a long time the only purpose of his presidency has been to make the election of the first African American president possible. “Let us be all honest, I don’t care what you think about Senator Barack Obama, yeah he is inspirational, gives a good speech and all that, but do you really believe it was going to be that easy to elect him? No way!” Bush said, “I have single handedly done more to make sure Barack Obama becomes President of the United States. It will be an historic moment for our country and I believe that Obama will lead us in better direction than the last eight years has been.” Asked if it was possible that anyone else has done for Obama what he has done, Bush paused for a few minutes and said, “may be the guy upstairs!”

Bush also apologized to the Republican party for not letting them know about his plan. “I appreciate the love and support from the Republican party over the years especially the prayers from many Americans. Those millions of prayers are what kept Laura and I from going crazy with having to keep such a secret over the years,” Bush said before opening the floor to questions.

Historians, while still absorbing the shocking news, said they would have to reassess their judgment of the Bush presidency in light of this new information. Kevin Philips, a former GOP strategist and of late Bush critic said, “All this time we thought he was the worst president ever, the joke might be on us. If what he is saying is true, he will be remembered as one of the best presidents America ever had.” Phillips said. “So few presidents would be so willing to sacrifice their legacy the way Bush has done.” 

But perhaps, Ty Williams, a seventy year old retired auto-industry worker from Detroit said best what was on the minds of many Americans, “This is too much information to digest, I don’t know what to think, if it is true then I guess Bush should be commended, but I am wondering if the price was worth it - the money and lives in Iraq, the destruction of our economy, our standing in the world.” Williams added, “I think Bush should have had more faith in the wisdom of the American people, things did not have to be this bad for America to elect the first minority president, I want to believe we could have still done so without the kind of eight years we have had.”


Transcript of the Press Conference as released by the White House

Question: President Bill Clinton recently said that Hillary Clinton has done more for the Barack Obama campaign than anyone else appearing more than fifty times to campaign for the Democratic candidate?

Bush: No one has done more to help Obama than I have - not even Barack Obama himself. From the first day I got into office, it was to create the conditions that would make it possible to elect anyone - a woman, African American, Hispanic. I mean, we tell our little daughters anyone can grow up to be president. You know what? I wanted to see that reality in my life time. So yes, I have been the biggest supporter of Obama. Everyday I am in office, I am campaigning for Obama!

Question: Why did you feel the need to help Senator Obama? He has ran what most people would call a perfect campaign and shattered all previous fundraising records?

Bush: Look! Not to take anything away from this guy Baracki Obama - he is smart, good looking, clean, articulate and yes I said it, articulate! The point is for all his smarts, there is no way he would be where he is today if I had not done so much to ruin this country the way I have done.

Question: For many years, a lot of people have mocked you for being dumb or incompetent, why did you put up with it?

Bush: Well, you know I have never been a dumb or an incompetable president. No one can be that dumb, all the things I did were strategic decisions to create the environment that would usher in an Obama presidency - Hurricane Katrina, the Iraq war, Terri Schiavo, Alberto Gonzales, the economic downturn, etc. Some of the criticism, the late night jokes, Saturday Night Live skits, I admit really hurt. But at the end of each night, I knew that at end of all these, the country will be better when Obama becomes president.

Question: So was the Iraq war part of your plan too?

Bush: No, absolutely not. I just really thought that Saddam had weapons of Mass Destruction and that he tried to kill my pop. Iraq had no connection to September 11, but it was important that we have a war that costs a lot of money but makes no sense. I mean a lot of people in my cabinet had serious doubts about if we were going too far on the war thing, people like Colin Powell. But now, I think everyone concedes the Iraq war has helped Obama the most. The other day, I even saw the former Secretary of State finally come aboard and support Obama.

Question: When did you know it would be Obama?

Answer: Hey, I could say I was for Obama even before I met him but I think the one moment that we knew it was going to be him was at that July 2004 Democratic campaign, when he gave the keynote speech. I told Cheney, this is going to be our guy! I remember joking that if John Kerry was half as good as Obama we weren’t going to win this thing.

Question: Has Dick Cheney always been in on this?

Bush: From the beginning when I asked him to select my vice president. I told him, ‘Dick, I want someone who can help me run down this country.’ We looked around for a while then one day Cheney told me he thought it was a job he could do well. By all accounts I think we would agree he has been exactly what we needed.

Question: The incident in which the Vice President shot someone, was that part of the plan?
Bush: No that was just Dick being Dick!

Question: What do you think your lasting legacy will be?

Bush: You know Wolf, that is easy! Years from now no one will remember Iraq, Katrina, Gonzales, etc but everyone will always remember me as the guy who single-handedly elected the first African-American president. Another guy named George, you know George Washington would be proud of what I have done for the country. Look, I love America, but I don’t believe conservative philosophy works anymore. In fact some might argue, it has never worked before. The focus on abortion and gay marriage may have gotten me elected twice, but what has that done for the country? You are right, I sucked at the being president thing - the world hates us now, the economy is literally down the toilet, we are fighting two wars that you all know about, but guess what it gives this country a chance to chart a new course. I believe America’s best days are ahead of us. Obama is the best candidate to lead this country in that new direction. When the history books are written, you can’t write about Obama without writing about me and what I did for him.

Question: If you believed America needed a new direction, why didn’t you do it yourself?

Bush: You know Charlie, I could have tried to do that but I don’t think Americans would have appreciated it. Under President Clinton, we had eight years of economic growth and prosperity, heck they left us about $250 billion in surpluses, did the American people appreciate it? No. You can’t really appreciate something until you have lost it or come close to losing it. Americans should cherish the little things we take for granted - our place in the world, our economy, our freedoms and security. After the last eight years, I have a feeling they will.

Question: Was there a time when you thought your plan might not work?

Bush: Yeah, earlier in our administration we were very worried about John McCain. He gave me a tough time in the New Hampshire primaries in 2000 but we thought it was over after that. Instead, he just became a bigger celebrity and darling with the media establishment. He fought against me a lot until the 2004 elections when all of a sudden out of nowhere he became my most enthusiastic supporter. I remember telling Cheney back then this guy has no idea he just screwed up his chances in 2008. But you got to give it to that McCain, he’s a fighter!

Question: Do you think your plan could backfire? What if the nation feels the times are too dangerous and don’t want to elect someone new? The McCain and Palin campaign have been calling Obama a socialist that will raise taxes and distribute the wealth?

Bush: I can see that, but I think it would actually be counterproductive to elect someone who is likely to conitnue the same disastrous policies that we have executed so well. You want to call him a socialist? Well what is more socialist than us spending $1 trillion dollars of taxpayer money to bailout the banks? Obama is going to raise your taxes? Really, after years of giving tax cuts to the very rich, what American believes Republicans are better handling taxes? On national security, the botched war in Iraq remains a masterpiece in my secret plot to elect Obama. You don’t hear about Republicans using the national security argument that much, do you? My main objective coming into this presidency was to make it so hard for the same Republican arguments to stick on Obama. On that, I think it is very safe to say, “Mission Accomplished!”


Repost: The Last Best Reason to Elect John McCain?

The Last Best Reason to Elect John McCain?
No matter what your politcal leanings are, we can all agree on one thing. There has not been a consistent theme to the question, "Why should we elect John McCain to be president of the United State?" Each day seems to bring a different answer depending on the polls. One day McCain is always for less regulation, the next day McCain wants to regulate the heck out of Wall Street. One day he is against Bush tax cuts for the rich, the next day he is for it. One day he is against bailing out AIG and other Wall Street firms, the next day he complains the bail out is not big enough, we should buy out all outstanding mortgages. You get the point by now, I could go on but it would be awaste of time. To parse things down, the only reason you should vote for McCain, according to his direct and indirect campaign is this - You really don't know who Obama is. He pals around with a washed up terrorist, he does not see America the way you and I see it and for other reasons the campaign does not say explicitly but people are supposed to infer, we should be very afraid of an Obama administration.

Unfortunately for the McCain campaign, none of this has worked so far. Each day Obama gets attacked, he pulls away in the polls. So what is the McCain camp to do? Argue on checks and balances!

For the past six of the eight years, Republicans have been in charge of the White House, Senate, House and Supreme Court. At the time most Republicans did not see the need to champion checks and balances. The only good point from the current McCain supporters is that the Republicans did an awful job in Washington. Now with that knowledge, they are trying to save America from the awful event of a Democratic White House and Congress.

So far, I am disappointed the Obama people have not addressed this more forcefully. First, of all Republicans have been mocking Democrats for quote "measuring the drapes before the win." So isn't saying Democrats will win both houses of congress the same thing? We won't really know till election day who wins or not. Secondly and more importantly, Republicans seem to forget one thing - our founding fathers were way smarter than Bush and Cheney. Yes, that is why we have congressional elections EVERY two years in which all the House members and 1/3 of the Senate is up for reelection. If it happens that Democrats win the executive and legislative branches, in less than two years Americans will have a chance to vote again. That is why midterm elections are considered a referendum on the sitting president. Remember what happened in 2006? The cocky Republicans lost their majority overnight! The same could have happened in 2002, but in the immediate aftermath of the 2001 terrorist attacks, Bush and the Republicans were able to ride the patriotic mood of the day to reelection. (Also, scheduling the Iraq War resolution that October a month before election wasn't merely a coincidence).

I am sure there are other reasons why we should elect John McCain, If you ask me, his campaign has so far failed to articulate any. But with our economy facing a possible recession or depression, a broken healthcare system, two wars abroad, our power and influence waning, an image to be repaired, impending supreme court appointments, it is too important to elect a president just because he will guarantee a check on power. The next president, if it is Barack Obama, is going to have so much to fix already thanks to the Bush years. With McCain, it will just be a continuation of the last eight years. By any indication, the risks of having an all Democratic Washington for two years far outweighs the risks of continuing the Bush policies and politics for another four years. Supporters of McCain need to have more faith in our founding fathers and American democracy -our system has a way of self-correction. If Democrats get too cocky, they too will be out of office faster than the Newt Gingrich and Republican takeover in 1996 after Bill Clinton took office.