Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Change and The EPA

From Reuters, via Yahoo News:

President Barack Obama began reversing the climate policies of the Bush administration on Monday, clearing the way for new rules to force auto makers to produce more fuel-efficient and less polluting cars.

The president told the Environmental Protection Agency to reconsider immediately a request by California to impose its own strict limits on vehicle carbon dioxide emissions, blamed for contributing to global warming.

The Democratic Obama took over last Tuesday from former President George W. Bush, whose Republican administration had denied the request, prompting California and other states to sue.

"The federal government must work with, not against, states to reduce greenhouse gas emissions," Obama said at the White House, taking a stab at his predecessor's policies.

I recall watching the torturous testimony of former EPA Administrator Stephen Johnson on this issue, as he went against the recommendations of his own agency staff.

Last Vestiges...

From Talk Left:

The Supreme Court issued opinions and orders today. Among them:

* Ruled that a man wrongly convicted and sent to prison for 24 years cannot sue the former Los Angeles district attorney and his chief deputy for violating his civil rights. The court said unanimously that decisions of supervising prosecutors, like the actions of prosecutors at trial, are shielded from civil lawsuits.

* Ruled that police officers have leeway to frisk a passenger in a car stopped for a traffic violation even if nothing indicates the passenger has committed a crime or is about to do so.

Trying to get as many in as possible before Obama will be able to shift the balance?

Monday, January 26, 2009

Hello Robert

By which we provide friendly advice to Robert Gibbs, who is very capable and well-experienced from the campaign--but who could not enjoy the benefit of a little friendly advice?

Larry Summers is certainly distinguished in many ways. And, in the swirl of internalizing broad swaths of information, managing egos, and getting one's wheels on the ground that is the growing job of Press Secretary, it certainly makes sense to protect that ego--particularly when someone else will (likely) be the Treasury Secretary.

But is it really necessary to refer to him as "Dr. Summers"--and Peter Orszag as "Peter"? Doesn't that establish/signify a bit of a listing coming together of the Cabinet--and suggest initial and future fractures?

A small point perhaps, but one that people notice. Best to keep the pragmatic, no- nonsense tone for all--and show the public that all of you have more important things in mind than ruffled feathers.

Kristol's "Work"

In November, Mr. Kristol told Portfolio.com, “I’m ambivalent” about the prospect of continuing to write the Times column. “It’s been fun,” he said, adding, “It’s a lot of work.”
~The New York Times, in reporting the "mutual" decision to end his column, January 26, 2009.


It's a lot of work.

Thinking about where we should go to war, dreamily touting Vice Presidential candidates.

It's work, I tell you.

And when you work, you're prone to mistakes.

Just look at the New York Times--they have to run corrections, why, most every day.

Fortunately, policy pieces and recommendations aren't followed by corrections.

That makes them--a lot less work.

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Tom Friedman and "Jaws"

If Tom Friedman uses that "we need a bigger boat" metaphor from "Jaws" one more time, I will scream.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

The Celebration is Over–The Work Begins

A talent at campaigning, as is well known, does not a priori equate to a talent for governance. The celebrations–full, moving–are over. Today the work begins.

Obama has indicated a willingness and intention to hit the ground running. He has prepared for this well. The work of preparation has been detailed, based in realities rather than fantasies and vindictive ideology. There is an intention to hew to the needs of this nation, and to use factual indicators rather than long-held spiteful or self-deceptive illusions as a basis.

Now the work of translating those plans, and imposing them upon a moving world begins. Geithner sits now, taking the questions of the mildly impaired Jim Bunning, with the knowledge but also the clear uncertainties before him.

Each cabinet member, each agency head, awoke with the awesome, largely unknown task of the work before them, uniting members and through them the public before plans that, gratefully, have begun to take substantial form before today, but which cannot be fully formed, and which then must be brought to an expectatant public.

Yesterday, during Obama’s inaugural speech, the largest response–although this may have been an artifact of media placement, was to Obama’s line about a father who 60 years ago would have been turned away from a lunch counter. This is both a promising and an auspicious sign for the work ahead.

After we take pride in the first African American president–there is work to do. The recognition of the one does not immediately translate into the commitment and dedication required of the other. This is a difficult turn for the public to make, fed as it has been on easy entertainments and self-satisfactions, which they are all to ready to reach for and then walk away, all to unfamiliar with the task of sacrifice and volunteerism, day upon day, that Obama called for. He tried to make that turn–staying, as he does, within limits. We will see if a nation, gilded with the fragile protections of comforting distractions, will step up in the greyness of each day, to make this turn with him–and whether the Administration, in the face of recalcitrance and need for learning how to shoulder a burden, will stand to the task of consistent inspiration.

We begin.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

7th and D Streets, N.W., 8 A.M.

Crowd awaits at 7th and D to be let into Mall area:

In the building above, police watch:

6. A.M., January 20th

At about 6 A.M., I could hear cheering directly outside of my window. It seemed much too close to be coming from the Capitol, and was clearly a very large crowd--hundreds, perhaps a thousand or more. It was too early for a pre-Inaugural concert, too late for a late-night party, and too large.

I went to the window. Directly below was a gigantic throng, wrapped in overcoats, scarves. They were standing before a gate, that had been set up to channel traffic to the Mall. They were shouting, cheering with excitement, with the desire to get there, to be there. People ran down the street like streaking flares, to join and become part of the crowd. One girl dropped her scarf, and in her excitement, just ran on, then came back to grab it.

The joy was palpable, the excitement of being part of it and wanting to be part of it, of milling before a nation that they felt they could finally belong to. They wanted to run towards it and be free.

I've never seen this kind of enthusiasm about politics in 10 years in this city.
Obama is carrying the enthusiasm of a world today. It is not clear what it will become. But the excitement, the joy in a new and freer world, is extraordinary.

Monday, January 19, 2009

An Inauguration Speech

My Fellow Citizens:

We gather here today as citizens of a great nation. We have arrived from all parts of this country. We arrive awakened to both the necessities and possibilities of freedom. We arrive inspired by the hopes and aware of the challenges of our shared future. And we arrive with a solemn task--yet one that can bring us the greatest joy; the responsibility that can bring the greatest satisfaction to ourselves, our families and communities. To join together with strength of hope, knowledge, determination and unity to rebuild this nation.

In recent years, as we have been buffeted by attack and crisis, many have been imbued with fear, distracted by division and polarization, made distant from the values that in their hearts they knew lay at the core of this nation.

Yet from this darkness, the force of life that we have seen emerge, time and time again, from this great nation has arisen, moving us together, towards the unity and freedom that, from the core of this land, provides a beacon of strength and hope that can light and inspire the world. From the cities and towns across this country, in the face of division and disunion, in the face of foreboding and fear, we found together our unique American capacity for hope--and for a willingness to rise above that fear as one to make that hope a reality.

One nation that is determined to demonstrate its strength by realizing its values. One nation that can face its challenges as reality, not illusion, by fully recognizing and employing the talents, desires, strengths and aspirations of all of its people. One nation that has refused to continue to live under shackles of fear and darkness. And one nation that will join together, black and white, young and old, rich and poor to create, as was said so long ago, a more perfect Union--one strengthened by our knowledge that as each of us is equal, each of us must contribute--and that will face the challenges ahead with the knowledge that the person beside them shares that responsibility and commitment.

The days ahead will be hard. None of us can or ever should claim perfect knowledge. But what we can face and shoulder together, we can and will achieve together--with the joy of contributing to our lives, the lives of our family and community, and to the future of this nation.

Our time, as always, is short. And, with this knowledge, we begin. Within each of us is the recognition that we can share this burden--if we know that each of us is dedicated to the tasks ahead. There will be doubts. Crisis will breed the narrow temptations of cynicism and division. We know: These are but small and momentary distractions from the reality of what each of us, each day can create and contribute. With our hands, with our hearts, with out persistence in the face of division and distraction, with our determination to forge ahead through both the familiar and unknown barriers that lay before us, we will bind together the strength of this nation. With the strength of a citizenry bound by a true patriotic unity--beyond race, beyond Party, together--with the strength and dedication of the fullness of our talents, and freed and full measure of our devotion, we will meet those challenges, and fulfill our promise beyond measure.

Sunday, January 18, 2009


We should all be very proud of what we have done.