Friday, November 28, 2008


Obama sans Blinders

My friend Doug Bandow puts the president-elect under the right-leaning anti-war lens -- and finds Obama coming up short:

We can't say we weren't warned. The foreign policy pronouncements of candidate Obama were notable for their barely muted hawkishness. Thus, the fight against promiscuous military intervention by Washington must continue, only now against the incoming Democratic administration.

President-elect Barack Obama has declared that with his appointments he hopes to "combine experience and fresh thinking." On the national security side, at least, the experience is obvious. But the fresh thinking is entirely absent.

That, of course, explains why hawkish conservatives such as Max Boot are, so far, quite pleased with Obama's national security picks.

But will liberals notice? And when will they begin to care.

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Wednesday, November 26, 2008


Happy Thanksgiving

Safe travels and blessings to all Ragged Thots readers. Have wonderful holiday, be thankful for friends and family and save a prayer for those less fortunate.


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Obama Begins Winning Over Bushies

Peter Wehner, who departed the White House a year ago following a lengthy stint as Bush's key strategic policy adviser, delivers a healthy dose of praise on Obama's appointments. Given that Wehner was a big Iraq War supporter, that he's very pleased with Obama's keeping Robert Gates at Defense isn't a surprise.

But Wehner goes beyond that in his Commentary Contentions blog:
Friends of mine who are lifelong Republicans voted for Obama because they were impressed with the quality of his mind, his manner and approach, and the discipline of his campaign. They believed that if he were elected President, he would act in a prudent, responsible, non-radical way. But they readily admitted they weren’t sure what we would get; Obama, more than any other presidential candidate in recent memory, was an unknown quantity and something of a mystery in terms of how he would govern. I found myself going back and forth on Obama, sometimes in the course of a single day.

It’s far too early to make any kind of firm judgment on President-elect Obama; he has not even taken the oath of office. People who are viewed as strong picks at the outset of an administration can, in retrospect, look bad. Managing a team is harder than selecting one. And the acid test for Obama, as for all public officials, will be the policies he pursues and the actions he takes while in office. For example, my suspicion is that Obama will, in the areas of the courts, culture of life, and health care, take actions that conservatives will view as quite problematic. And I would prefer a stimulus package which reduces tax rates on individuals and businesses, which is the best way to increase productivity and wealth.

But for now, those who did not vote for Mr. Obama have reasons to be somewhat hopeful about the direction in which he appears to be heading. His actions to date are not those of an ideologue. If this trajectory continues - and it cannot be said often enough that we are only at the dawn of the Obama era - America’s new President may pleasantly surprise conservatives and agitate the Left. He just might turn out to be more like John Kennedy than George McGovern. It remains an open question; but right now, that possibility is reason enough to be grateful.

As one of those "Obamacons," I would go further. A colleague shared his irritation with Obama's "Office of the President-Elect" sign in front of the podium whenever he gives his press conferences. My colleague thought it looked tacky and presumptuous.

I had a different thought: Somewhere, Ronald Reagan's image guru Michael Deaver is smiling. Deaver and Reagan were the masters of using image to project confidence and authority. As much as the "adult" nature of Obama's appointments are reassuring , his presentation and daily press conferences to update the public on the shape of his administration are even more so.

Yes, they are "photo-ops," but they are EXACTLY what's needed during a period where every day brings awful news -- job losses, bailouts, more billion-dollar outlays. Without any formal ability to execute policy (and watching as Henry Paulson guarantees ANOTHER $800 billion to...something...), the most important thing Obama can do in this crisis is to suggest to the public that he has a more-than-capable team that knows what it has to do. This is a psychological lift that both the markets and the general public needs. The only thing that can give this holiday season even a modicum of success -- with consumers holding back on spending -- is belief that new guy on the horizon has the tools to turn this situation around.

Ironically, this extraordinary situation will prove the adage, "no good deed goes unpunished." Obama will have almost no "honeymoon" when he takes office. He is essentially doing now the ceremonial "getting to know the new guy" stuff that traditionally happens in the firs three weeks or month of an administratioin. He is not "Acting President." But circumstances force him to "act" as president.

He's doing an exceptional job so far -- but that just means when he is actually sworn in on January 20th, it will seem like he's been president for so long, the public will start getting restless pretty quick on how long it's taking for things to turn around.

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Barack Obama -- A Black Republican's BFF?

So, Hillary Clinton first gives rise to Sarah Palin and now this. Political diversity fever -- catch it!!

A few of my homies talk about being an African American Republican in a Barack Obama world (A measure of how pathetically persistently lonely can be the "professional black Republican" existence: Of the four people quoted in this article, I personally know/met three of them -- and I haven't worked for the party in nearly a decade).

Don Scoggins sings a similar lyrics
as yours truly:
Scoggins, 63,...says his support for Obama wasn't just out of a sense of racial pride. But he was moved by Obama's forceful speech last June on personal responsibility, particularly among black men. "In the black community," Scoggins says, "the biggest problem is the deterioration of the black family. McCain wasn't interested in that — and I don't think he could ever have been the person to articulate it." Scoggins has faced criticism in some conservative circles for supporting Obama. But, he says, "Sometimes you have to lose in order to win. The Republican Party losing [is] forcing it to re-create itself into a party for the 21st century."
Former Maryland state party chairman, lieutant governor and 2006 U.S. Senate candidate, Michael Steele has already thrown his hat in for national party chairman (the election is in January):
Michael Steele does not diminish the power of the Obama victory. "As a black man, of course I am very proud of his accomplishment," Steele says. "It is at once uplifting — of not only a people but a nation — and sobering in light of the work that remains to be done to address the systemic erosion of black wealth, health and opportunity." But Steele predicts that Obama as President will find it difficult to appease his more liberal supporters as he is forced to moderate views on the economy and the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, among other issues.

Steele says if he is selected as the RNC's chairman in January, he will move swiftly to temper the party's tone, using the model of Ronald Reagan, who, he says, "made it cool to be a conservative." But one of Steele's more daunting mandates will to be to broaden the GOP's base of black voters. "I'll tell local chairmen, 'If you want to be chairman under my leadership, don't think this is a country-club atmosphere where we sit around drinking wine and eating cheese and talking amongst ourselves. If you don't want to drill down and build coalitions in minority communities, then you have to give that seat to someone who does."

That will be a particularly difficult challenge during an Obama presidency. But Steele says that people have to be reminded of the origins of the things over which they take issue with the GOP. Many blacks, he says, "look at the party as this bastion of racism, which it isn't. Democrats have to keep defining us as racists because that's how they stay in power. But just look at the inner-city school systems and the poverty levels that have been high for years. It's systemic, and you can't blame Republicans for that. I haven't heard Barack Obama talk about the recidivism rate among youth in the prison system, or drug addiction. I don't know what he's going to do. But I know we're going to be developing strategies that put us in places where we need to talk about entrepreneurship. We're going to offer something more."
And yet, Mike Memoli, Marc Ambinder's assistant, shares this nugget about a possible, ahem, "dark horse" in the committee race:
The Hotline reporting [Monday] morning:
After receiving calls from RNC members asking him to run for RNC chair, ex-OH Sec/State Ken Blackwell is now considering a bid (Wake-Up Call!
Blackwell was soundly defeated in his Ohio gov bid in '06, after a
controversial stint as the secretary of state there. He's since been writing at
Town Hall and heading up the Coalition for a Conservative Majority....

As candidates in 2006, Blackwell mostly held to his strict conservative views on abortion, taxes and gun rights, while Steele presented a more moderate face in the deeper blue Free State.
There are already several other -- Caucasian -- names in the mix for the RNC chair, but an energetic battle between two black candidates could get the party far more attention than the usual party leadership races get when the party is out of power. And suddenly, the traditionally completely marginalized black Republicans find not one, but two of their own having prominent roles in the future of the party. Talk about change we might believe in!

Gee, thanks, Barack. Couldn't have done it without you.

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Fox's "Powers" That Be?

As most people have heard, Alan Colmes, long-time jousting partner to Fox News Channel's Sean Hannity announced this week that he's leaving Hannity & Colmes after 12 years. Well then, the question arises, who should be Hannity's new partner in crime? TV Newser lists the most likely candidates (feel free to vote if you like -- or care).

My money is on Kirsten Powers (full disclosure: I've known Kirsten for a few years and she writes a semi-regular column for the New York Post). Kirsten is attractive and blonde (two important qualities for Fox -- though Hannity is, obviously, not blond), a smart Democrat (Clinton administration vet), but not a hardcore party-liner (a fact that might turn off some liberals). She leaned toward Hillary during the primaries and often took the media to task for, in her view, sexist coverage (of both HRC and Sarah Palin). The handful of times I've seen her filling in for Colmes, I've thought she puts up a good verbal jousting with Hannity.

Anyway, between Brit Hume retiring and Colmes leaving H&C, it's obvious that Barack Obama is not the only change coming to the political world.

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Tuesday, November 25, 2008


Welcome To Mr. Rangel's Good Nabors-hood

The New York Times busts the House Ways & Means Chairman -- and dean of the New York congressional delegation -- on his relationship with a contributor to his school for public service -- who also benefited from an on off-shore tax break.

Does Barack Obama really want this guy steering his tax bills through Congress for the next few years

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Monday, November 24, 2008


Obama's Sells Out The Liberals...

Before election day!!!

Glenn Greenwald is stunned by the outrage on the left at some of Obama's picks. Kirsten PowersSenate Democratic conference. Not even sworn into office yet and Obama seems to be throwing his left-wing overboard.

My gut tells me that it is far too early to make a true judgment about that -- though it is telling that it is the left more troubled by Obama's picks than the centrist Democratic Leadership Council

Of course, the fact that his economic team appears about as centrist as his prospective foreign policy squad, is undoubtedly likely to cause even more agita in the progressive communities.

Obama appears to be focusing on "named quality" in assembling his administration. This is, arguably, a "best and the brightest" group that he has put together. My only concern might be that that was -- on paper -- the perception of George W. Bush's Cabinet when first named: Dick Cheney, Colin Powell, Don Rumsfeld, etc., were initially seen as an All-Star squad of foreign policy adults that would keep the ship of state sailing in a calm direction under the untested George W. Bush.

Obviously, things didn't quite work out that way.
expands further on Obama's apparent decision to govern as a moderate -- including keeping Joe Lieberman around in the

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