S/SW blog philosophy -

I credit favorite writers and public opinion makers.

A lifelong Democrat, my comments on Congress, the judiciary and the presidency are regular features.

My observations and commentary are on people and events in politics that affect the USA or the rest of the world, and stand for the interests of peace, security and justice.

Friday, January 16, 2009

Transition soon to end --

Obama transition time is now less than a week. There is considerable Inaugural hope, but America is still in shock#. But everyone is moving forward and looks to be mostly on track. For example, Bob Cesca's Awesome Blog posts "The Official Photo*" (1/14/09), noting,

The official presidential photograph of Barack Obama has been released. It's the first ever presidential portrait shot with a digital camera.

It's the Economy, stupid -- In his economic speech on January 8, President-elect Obama admits that there is so much work to be done. The nation is fearful that we are fighting off economic depression#. At the very least, as McClatchy headlines, "Recession calls up sacrifice* (1/6/09). As the first part of the new strategy, the Senate voted Thursday, 52-42 to release the second $350 billion of the TARP funds.

Confirmation votes have already begun. To track those nominations and confirmation fights, see "References" below. The Senate Foreign Relations Committee voted positively Thursday for Secretary of State designate, Hillary Clinton, with only one Republican dissenting, Senator Vitter. There was an interesting related article in The New Republic - The Plank: "They Are All Hillary's Women Now*" (1/14/09). To quote Michelle Cottle's conclusion:

Both the history and the temperament of the incoming Secretary of State suggest that she will prove a strong champion of women . . . in such straits. To be sure, Hil will have a lot on her plate. But she has always taken pains to remind us (not to mention an annoyed Chinese government) that women's rights are human rights.

Confirmation hearings continue -- La Vida Locavore headlined, regarding Governor Vilsack's nomination to be Secretary of Agriculture and his ties to agriculture and biotechnology, "Department of odd omissions*" (1/12/09). Eric Holder's nomination as Attorney General had much potential for fireworks until this news came through. We learned what Holder said from Yahoo! News: "Holder: Waterboarding is torture#." There was no equivocation, no mincing words, no shading of his important legal opinion. Pundits were of the opinion that that declaration will seal his successful nomination. CQ Politics says that, "Holder Signals New Era at Justice Department, Vows Independence as Attorney General" (1/15/09). To quote further:

Attorney General-designate Eric H. Holder Jr. outlined positions on detainee treatment and presidential authority that differ starkly from those of the Bush administration during his Senate Judiciary Committee confirmation hearing Thursday.

. . . “I agree with you, Mr. Chairman, waterboarding is torture,” Holder said. The statement was an unequivocal departure from the stance of Attorney General Michael B. Mukasey , who refused to make such a statement at his own 2007 confirmation hearing.

The statement has potentially significant implications for government agents who waterboarded suspected terrorists since 2001. And it is symptomatic of the new approach Obama is expected to take to the detention and treatment of suspects in the war on terrorism.

How will the new President govern? McClatchy puts it this way (1/7/09): "Move over, boomer presidents: A new generation takes charge*". Politico says that there will be "late nights, long hours in Obama White House" (1/14/09). There is also an interesting question posed by Secrecy News (11/6/08): "The Presidential Transition and Secrecy." The Democratic Strategist takes "Two new looks at Obama" on (1/12/09). To quote:

One, by Mike Tomasky in The Guardian, coins an interesting new phrase for Obama's approach to the stimulus package: "indirect direction:"

. . . Meanwhile, over at New York magazine, John Heilemann takes everything ever said about Obama's unique political appeal and ramps it up many notches in a piece that suggests he's the first "Independent" president.

Running three governments at the same time -- is what Politico calls right now, "Obama's speed and balancing act" (1/14/09). To quote:

First is Obama’s own administration, still being assembled and facing a few rough patches a week before his Inauguration. Next is his ambitious economic recovery bill, approaching $850 billion and fast becoming a second government in its own right. Third is the leftover business of the outgoing Bush White House: what to do with the last $350 billion in a financial markets rescue fund approved a month before Obama’s election.

Finally, maintaining a Democratic Congress could prove to be a big advantage in President-elect Obama's first full term. If President-elect Obama maintains his bipartisan, pragmatic style of trying to fix problems and get things done, he should be able to avoid a mid-term defeat at the hands of the now mostly discredited Republicans.

Additional References:

Hat Tip Key
: Regular contributors of links to leads are "betmo*" and Jon#.

View my current slide show about the Bush years -- "Millennium" -- at the bottom of this column.

(Cross-posted at The Reaction.)

My “creativity and dreaming” post today is at Making Good Mondays.

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