Sunday, December 14, 2008

Interregnum 8: What "Hope" and "Change" Mean

I'm confident that President-elect Obama will stick to his principles upon formally entering the White House. On Inauguration Day, January 20, 2009, there will be millions of people on the National Mall in Washington, D.C. to get a glimpse of history being made. After eight years of the Bush fiasco, we have been waiting for a day when we can once again have a president that we believe in again. The world's been waiting for this day too, because they also want America to succeed.
“Hope” and “Change” were campaign buzz words that Barack Obama used to great effect when he ran for president, but he needs to fulfill that promise. Those two words were used in a rather ambiguous way – I was left wondering what he meant by hope and change. Obama said that he will open up the White House to the people, but I don't know what that means. Maybe he'll curate the White House tours from time to time. Maybe transparency in government is what he really wants to bring to the White House. I'm not sure.
But I still have faith in Barack Obama. I have faith that he will lead us through these tough times for our country. Obama will call on the entire nation to make America great again. Americans need to hope for change, because we all want to believe in the promise of America again - an America that's not bogged down in two wars, not mired in a financial crisis, and unchained from the practice of politicians making a decision without thinking twice.

Interregnum 7: Blago the Putz

Rod Blagojevich is one of the biggest putzes in American politics. He's the Democratic Illinois Governor, if you don't know, and he is a thorn in Barack Obama's side. For real. The controversy that's currently in the news is that Blago has been "allegedly" trying to sell Obama's vacant Senate seat – a fucking travesty. How immoral is this guy that he thinks he can sell an elected office that actually belongs to the Illinois voters to the highest bidder? A new low, Rod.
There is so much speculation in the media about whether or not the Obama camp has had any involvement with the governor's Senate-seat-for-sale scheme. Just what Obama's transition needs, a pebble in its shoe. Blago's been governor of Illinois since 2003 and I'm surprised that he's been there for that long. Rasmussen Reports, the opinion polling center, recently named him as “America's Least Popular Governor.” Alas, his approval rating was only about 13% right before this current controversy hit. Yes, that's lower than Bush's approval rating.
He isn't the first Illionois politician to be extremely corrupt – there have been a handful of their governors who have been to jail before. The previous Illinois Gov. George Ryan is currently in jail. U.S. attorney Patrick Fitzgerald (you may know him for prosecuting Scooter Libby) is investigating Blago, so he's basically fucked. Before Blago was Illionois Gov. he held Illinois's 5th district seat for six years, the seat that Obama's Chief of Staff-desginate Rahm Emanuel has held. But I hope that Blago just gets kicked out of office so he doesn't appoint Obama's replacement in the Senate.

Interregnum 6: What to Do With Joe?

Indeed, what shall happen to Joe Biden, the Vice-President-elect and resigning Senior Delaware Senator? Technically, he did run for his Senate seat while he ran on the Obama-Biden ticket, but the Senate seat was a shoe-in win for him – it's not important to know who his Senate election opponent was. Some person, I guess. Since Biden is resigning his seat, he has anointed his Senate Chief of Staff, Edward Kaufman to replace him in the Senate. Funnily enough, Kaufman stated his intention to not run again, not in the 2010 Special Election to fill Biden's seat. So Kaufman will be an intermediary until 2010 – so maybe Biden's son Beau can run for the seat after his tour in Iraq. How convenient.
And while Joe Biden is Veep, what kind of mark will he leave in the White House? Will he be a Dick Cheney? God, let's hope not. No one is really sure what the Vice President does – I guess he'll just wait for Obama to get the flu for a week. Fun times. And it seemed at first like Biden would be the go-to person in foreign policy, but Hillary Clinton is Secretary of State. I don't think Joe wants to step on her toes. Joe Biden's probably the whitest guy in Obama's administration, which is full of enough white dudes. Nonetheless, I'm glad that Obama has Joe Biden as his right hand man. There are few people in Washington who can match his political experience – Biden is one of the lions in the Senate. I think that Biden will love being Veep, he's part of the big decision-making but all the pressure isn't thrust upon him.

Interregnum 5: Just A Single Lady Taking Care of Homeland Security

Democratic Pennsylvania Governor Ed Rendell seems to think that Janet Napolitano has “no life.” Napolitano is the Democratic governor of Arizona and is the Homeland Security secretary-designate of the upcoming Obama administration. It was one of those “hot mic” moments in which seasoned politicians have forgotten that microphones might still be turned on even after they're done making a policy speech. What Rendell literally said was this: “Janet’s perfect for that job. Because for that job, you have to have no life. Janet has no family. Perfect. She can devote, literally, 19, 20 hours a day to it.”
Yes, Janet Napolitano is a governor of a border state and a very intelligent politician, but the only qualification that Rendell seems to be impressed with is the fact that she's a single lady. I realize that I'm being unfair to Ed Rendell, but it must be noted that it was a putzy statement to make. Yes, Rendell has cleared up his statements and explained them in a more articulate fashion later on but I felt like highlighting the stupidity of experienced career politicians.
Other than the fact that she's an old maid (kidding!), Napolitno is an authority on illegal immigration, being that the state that she is governor of borders Mexico. Both houses of her state's legislature have been filled with anti-immigration zealots but she has been successful in vetoing every xenophobic bill that these idiots tried to pass, like one trying to proclaim that American-born children of undocumented immigrants are not to be considered citizens. And Arizona is the homeland of the Minutemen, those heavily anti-immigrant vigilantes who all probably bear a resemblance to Yosemite Sam.
But Ms. Napolitano might have even more authority as homeland security secretary: she might be able to reign in corrupt local law enforcement in Arizona that is flagrantly anti-immigrant. And, oh yeah, she's got no life.

Interregnum 4: The Clintonian Invasion

The Clinton Soap Opera meets No Drama Obama. Not all of Obama's Cabinet positions and White House staff have been announced, but there are a lot of Clintonites in Obama's upcoming administration. The biggest and most conspicuous Clintonite is HRC, Hillary Rodham Clinton, the wife of the Big Dog himself, former President Bill Clinton. Clinton basher and New York Times Columnist Maureen Dowd has so much more material all of the sudden.
Tim Geithner worked as Under Secretary of the Treasury for Internal Affairs during Bill's presidency and is now Obama's nominee for Secretary of the Treasury. Larry Summers, a Secretary of the Treasury during Bill's administration, is now the designated director of the National Econmic Council. Bill Richardson is the designated Secretary of Commerce and he's served in the Clinton White House as U.N. Ambassador and Secretary of Energy. Susan Rice, Obama's designated U.N. Ambassador, served on former President Clinton's National Security Council and filled the position of Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs during the Clinton years. Eric Holder, a former Deputy Attorney General for Janet Reno, is another former Clinton staffer, and was actually involved with Bill's controversial Presidential pardons just when the Clintons left the White House.
Even Obama's Chief of Staff, Illinois Representative Rahm Emanuel, was a senior advisor to the Clintons in the '90s. There are a lot of people who are apprehensive about the number of former Clinton staffers and advisors are in Obama's White House, but he had to get people on his team who are experienced, and former Clinton staffers definitely are. What people keep forgetting is that there was a twelve-year gap in between Democratic Presidencies – from Jimmy Carter at the start of 1981 to Bill at the start of 1993; so, it makes sense that Obama fills the Executive Branch with former Clinton staffers. It's better than having a large contingency of former Reagan, Bush 41, or (shrug) Bush 43. Let's hope that Bob Gates as the continuing Defense Secretary and Jim Jones as the designated National Security Advisor is all the Dubya that Obama can stomach.

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Interregnum 3: HRC Around the World

Hillary Rodham Clinton, a.k.a. HRC, wasn't picked as Obama's Vice-President like so many of her supporters wanted. That role went to Senator Joe Biden of Delaware, a gaffe machine if there ever was one; but HRC's supporters love the fact that she is Obama's choice as Secretary of State. Bill loved it, of course, even going as far as to release the names of the persons who funded his Presidential library and the Clinton Global Initiative, which does great work in Africa by the way.
I was unexcited about the pick, at first, I thought that Senator John Kerry of Massachusetts would have been a great Secretary of State. Nevertheless, the pick started to make sense considering her travels around the world, which Obama, during the heat of the Democratic Primaries, called First Lady “tea times.” But the hatchets are buried and HRC does bring a lot of credibility to the job, considering that she visited around 80 foreign nations as First Lady (more than any other - suck it, Betty Ford). It seems like Obama is following Abe Lincoln's “Team of Rivals” approach, a term which Doris Kearns Goodwin made popular with her book of the same name.
It seems like everyone in the Senate is leaving to work for the Obama White House. Are they all getting tired of using the same gym as the other people in Congress? Does Harry Reid really use up that many towels? And then there's a guessing game throughout New York about who will fill her soon-to-be vacant Senate seat. I don't care, just get a reliable Democratic vote down to Washington. Another interesting point: if HRC is confirmed by the Senate as the Secretary of State, she will be the fourth consecutive person to fill that position that's not a white male: Madeline Albright, Colin Powell, Condi Rice, and HRC. Sorry, white guys.

Interregnum 2: Geithner As New Finance Wiz

Tim Geithner seems to be a wise choice as a nominee to succeed Henry Paulson as Secretary of the Treasury. He was Under Secretary of the Treasury for Internal Affairs in Bil Clinton's administration and a, I guess, flack of Robert Rubin and Lawrence Summers, who both served as Secretaries of the Treasury at different points in the Clinton years. Geithner is considered to be a protege of Robert Rubin and is currently the President of the Federal Reserve Bank of New York.
The Federal Reserve Bank of New York is the largest known treasury in the world because it holds 25% of the gold bullion in the world. You may remember the Federal Bank of New York as the place that Jeremy Irons robbed in the third Die Hard, so it's a pretty big deal. It's one of twelve Federal Reserve Banks in this country, and Geithner is known as a prudent overseer and manager. I recently read in the New York Times that Iraqi oil profits are held in the Federal Reserve Bank of New York.
President-elect Obama announced him as his Treasury Secretary nominee and he is sure to be confirmed by the next Congress. He has a good reputation, he has experience in managing a big organization, and he's been in the Treasury Department before. He's as experienced as they get. He has been criticized for letting Leyman Brothers fail but he has a great reputation overall. It's funny that President-elect Obama chose him as the Treasury Secretary nominee instead of his former Clinton era mentor Larry Summers, the disgraced former President of Harvard who has said controversial statements about the math and science skills of women. I wonder if Summers will stick his nose in whatever Geithner's doing.
Tim Geithner is 47 years old, the same age as Obama, and I think he's a sensible pick as Treasury Secretary.

Friday, December 12, 2008

Interregnum: Part 1

With the recent election of Barack Obama, the White House is in full transition phase. I can't stop thinking about the word “interregnum” - which in my Webster's New World Dictionary is defined as “an interval between two successive reigns, when the country has no sovereign.” Of course, the United States government is not a monarchy, so the definition is somewhat ill-fitting. We didn't elect Obama as the King of America, he's just the President – which is a cool enough job.
And Obama will be inaugurated on January 20, 2009, he's only “President-elect” right now. There is only one president at a time and we still have to live with George W. Bush as Prez. Fuck. But it won't be too long until we get another White House and a chance to reverse the direction of this country. Yeah, there isn't exactly a vacant seat at the White House – just a vacant President. I kid, I love Dubya. What a guy, huh?
Archetypically, the word “interregnum” is know for the transition of power between monarchs. There is an old English saying, “The king is dead, long live the King!” This phrase was to emphasize the importance of continuity in government. The American Prez ain't dead, just a lame duck. Yes, that's right, no dead kings but just a White House on life support.