Great reading for your weekend enlightenment!

These are among the most interesting articles published this week!  These are all about the candidates, the election, and the new Administration.

  1. Better Question: Who Isn’t a Lawyer on Obama’s Transition Team?“, ABA Journal, 5 November 2008 — Back to the future.  Like the Clinton Administration, this will be government by lawyers.
  2. This is success on the Internet (perhaps beyond the reach of the FM blog):  “Michelle Obana’s Election Night Dress“, posed at A-line Celebrity Style, 5 November 2008 — 940 thousand votes cast on this vital issue; 34 thousand comments posted!
  3. Some trenchant insights by a conservative observer of social and political trends, Mark Steyn, at National Review Online:  “How the GOP Got Here“,
  4. A look backwards to Bush’s first inaugural speech: “Our Long National Nightmare Of Peace And Prosperity Is Finally Over
  5. Looking ahead, our President-elect had some words of hope to give a crowd of unemployed, uninsured, and debt-ridden supporters.  Excerpt below (source).

ALso — as the 2008 campaign fades away, here are videos of 2 great moments in that long march:

Excerpts

(1)  “Better Question: Who Isn’t a Lawyer on Obama’s Transition Team?“, ABA Journal, 5 November 2008 — Back to the future.  Like the Clinton Administration, this will be government by lawyers.

President-elect Barack Obama and his VP-elect Joe Biden wasted no time assembling their transition team, which features a number of attorneys. (Graduates of Harvard Law School, Obama’s alma mater, also proliferate.)

Among the lawyers on the list, Valerie Jarrett, described by the New York Times as a once-unhappy attorney who found her niche in Chicago municipal government and is now the president and CEO of Habitat Co., will be one of the triumvirate overseeing Obama’s new team, reports the Swamp.

The two other members of the top trio are John Podesta, a former Senate staff counsel and chief of staff for President Bill Clinton, and Pete Rouse, Obama’s chief of staff in the Senate, according to the article in the Chicago Tribune political blog. Podesta, the New York Times notes in a biography today, is president of the Center for American Progress and a graduate of Georgetown University Law Center.

Other attorneys on the senior staff team include the president-elect’s new executive director, Chris Lu; general counsel, Cassandra Butts; and director of public liaison and intergovernmental affairs, Michael Strautman.

Janet Napolitano, the Democratic governor of Arizona and the state’s former U.S. attorney, will serve on an advisory board, as will Michael Froman, another Harvard Law grad who now works at Citigroupand formerly worked for the Treasury Department. Other attorneys in the advisory group include but are not limited to Federico Peña, a University of Texas School of Law graduate who served as the secretary of transportation under President Bill Clinton.

… The full list is being widely reported as follows:

(2)  This is success on the Internet (perhaps beyond the reach of the FM blog):  “Michelle Obana’s Election Night Dress“, posed at A-line Celebrity Style, 5 November 2008 — 940 thousand votes cast on this vital issue; 34 thousand comments posted!  Excerpt:

While Obama’s eloquent victory speech moved me to tears, unfortunately so did Michelle’s dress. Barack looked sharp as can be in a dark navy suit, which was custom made by Hart Schaffner Marx, but I just wasn’t feeling Michelle’s splotchy red and black Narciso Rodriguez frock.

It might seem a little shallow to be discussing fashion the day after such a big moment in America’s history, but I’m not the only one buzzing about Mrs. Obama’s election night attire. Yahoo! users are searching like crazy for info on her dress, while critics are weighing in on whether it was a hit or miss.

(3)  Two trenchant insights by a conservative observer of social and political trends, Mark Steyn

(a)  “How the GOP Got Here“, Mark Steyn, National Review Online, 5 November 2008:

I congratulate Senator Obama on a remarkable and decisive victory. It was in many ways the final battle in a war the Republican Party didn’t even bother fighting – the “long march through the institutions.” … He emerged rather from all the cultural turf the GOP largely abandoned during its 30-year winning streak at the ballot box, and his victory demonstrates the folly of assuming that folks will continue to pull the lever for guys with an R after their name every other November even as all the other institutions in society become de facto liberal one-party states.

Bill Bennett asked me on the air the other day why voters were so hot for this hope’n’change mush, and I suggested that it’s the dominant vernacular of the age. Go into almost any American grade-school and stroll the corridors: you’ll find the walls lined with Sharpie-bright supersized touchy-feely abstractions: “RESPECT,” “DREAM,” “TOGETHER,” “DIVERSITY.”

By contrast, Mister Maverick talked of “reaching across the aisle” and ending “earmarks,” which may sound heroic in Washington but ring shriveled and reductive to anyone who’s not obsessed with legislative process. This dead language embodied the narrow sliver of turf on which he was fighting, while Obama was bestriding the broader cultural space. Republicans need to start their own long march back through all the institutions they ceded. Otherwise, the default mode of this society will be liberal, and what’s left of the Republican party will be reduced (as in other parts of the west) to begging the electorate for the occasional opportunity to prove it can run the liberal state just as well as liberals can.

(b)  “His Majesty’s Loyal Opposition“, Mark Steyn, National Review Online, 4 November 2008 — Excerpt:

As for us losers, there’s no point going down the right-wing version of Bush Derangement Syndrome. Any shrill vicious ad hominem invective would be much better directed at each other. The Republicans lost this election. I disagree with Lisa. I think we are near a point at which America joins the rest of the west as a center-left society – that’s to say, a society whose assumptions about the role of government and the size of the state are far closer to Continental social democracies than to the Founding Fathers.

In a grim media-cultural environment, the temptation for American conservatism is to be seduced into becoming one of those ever so mildly right-of-left-of-right-of-left-of-center parties they have in Europe. We should have the fight about conservatism’s future vigorously and openly – perhaps at Bud’s Roadhouse out on Route 137 in lieu of All-Girl Mud-Wrestling Night.

(4)  A look backwards to Bush’s first inaugural speech: “Our Long National Nightmare Of Peace And Prosperity Is Finally Over” — Excerpt:

Mere days from assuming the presidency and closing the door on eight years of Bill Clinton, president-elect George W. Bush assured the nation in a televised address Tuesday that “our long national nightmare of peace and prosperity is finally over.”

“My fellow Americans,” Bush said, “at long last, we have reached the end of the dark period in American history that will come to be known as the Clinton Era, eight long years characterized by unprecedented economic expansion, a sharp decrease in crime, and sustained peace overseas. The time has come to put all of that behind us.”

Bush swore to do “everything in [his] power” to undo the damage wrought by Clinton’s two terms in office, including selling off the national parks to developers, going into massive debt to develop expensive and impractical weapons technologies, and passing sweeping budget cuts that drive the mentally ill out of hospitals and onto the street.

During the 40-minute speech, Bush also promised to bring an end to the severe war drought that plagued the nation under Clinton, assuring citizens that the U.S. will engage in at least one Gulf War-level armed conflict in the next four years. “You better believe we’re going to mix it up with somebody at some point during my administration,” said Bush, who plans a 250 percent boost in military spending. “Unlike my predecessor, I am fully committed to putting soldiers in battle situations. Otherwise, what is the point of even having a military?”

(5)  Looking ahead, our President-elect had these words of hope to give a crowd of unemployed, uninsured, and debt-ridden supporters (source):

Today the American people have made their voices heard, and they have said, “Things are finally as terrible as we’re willing to tolerate. ” To elect a black man, in this country, and at this time-these last eight years must have really broken you. It’s a great day for our nation.  

… “The election of our first African-American president truly shows how far we’ve come as a nation,” said NBC Nightly News anchor Brian Williams. “Just eight years ago, this moment would have been unthinkable. But finally we, as a country, have joined together, realized we’ve reached rock bottom, and for the first time voted for a candidate based on his policies rather than the color of his skin.”

“Today Americans have grudgingly taken a giant leap forward,” Williams continued. “And all it took was severe economic downturn, a bloody and unjust war, terrorist attacks on lower Manhattan, nearly 2,000 deaths in New Orleans, and more than three centuries of frequently violent racial turmoil.  The American people should be commended for their long-overdue courage.”

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4 thoughts on “Great reading for your weekend enlightenment!

  1. I liked your off-beat stories this weekend but you really should mention that your last two stories were drawn from the Onion otherwise some gullible person is going to take the stories at face value and start another urban myth.
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    Fabius Maximus replies: That would be wonderful; everyone should leave some mark upon the world.

  2. I think you’ve been shown the way Fabius. You need to take pictures of yourself wearing a dress to increase the traffic to your site.

  3. Update: another Bush Administration stealth action shows their true colors

    Sec Tsy Paulson (former and perhaps future Goldman executive) takes care of his best buds.

    A Quiet Windfall For U.S. Banks“, Washington Post, 10 November 2008 — “With Attention on Bailout Debate, Treasury Made Change to Tax Policy” Excerpt:

    The financial world was fixated on Capitol Hill as Congress battled over the Bush administration’s request for a $700 billion bailout of the banking industry. In the midst of this late-September drama, the Treasury Department issued a five-sentence notice that attracted almost no public attention.

    But corporate tax lawyers quickly realized the enormous implications of the document: Administration officials had just given American banks a windfall of as much as $140 billion.

    The sweeping change to two decades of tax policy escaped the notice of lawmakers for several days, as they remained consumed with the controversial bailout bill. When they found out, some legislators were furious. Some congressional staff members have privately concluded that the notice was illegal. But they have worried that saying so publicly could unravel several recent bank mergers made possible by the change and send the economy into an even deeper tailspin.

    “Did the Treasury Department have the authority to do this? I think almost every tax expert would agree that the answer is no,” said George K. Yin, the former chief of staff of the Joint Committee on Taxation, the nonpartisan congressional authority on taxes. “They basically repealed a 22-year-old law that Congress passed as a backdoor way of providing aid to banks.”

  4. Update to story #1 about the Obama Admistration

    Obama Assembles an Ivy-Tinged League“, Washington Post, 7 December 2008 — Excerpt:

    While Obama’s picks have been lauded for their ethnic and ideological mix, they lack diversity in one regard: They are almost exclusively products of the nation’s elite institutions and generally share a more intellectual outlook than is often the norm in government. Their erudition has already begun to set a new tone in the capital, cheering Obama’s supporters and serving as a clarion call to other academics. Yale law professor Dan Kahan said several of his colleagues are for the first time considering leaving their perches for Washington.

    “You know how Obama always said, ‘This is our moment; this is our time?’ ” Kahan said. “Well, academics and smart people think, ‘Hey, when he says this is our time, he’s talking about us.’ ”

    … His inner circle is rife with Harvard Law classmates: Christopher Lu, who will be his Cabinet liaison; Cassandra Butts, who was a campaign policy adviser and is general counsel for the transition; and other transition officials including Julius Genachowski, his campaign’s top technology adviser, Michael Froman, a managing director at Citigroup, and Thomas Perrelli, a Washington lawyer.

    … Historians agree that the first president to self-consciously reach for expertise was Franklin D. Roosevelt, who in 1932 assembled a “brain trust” of Columbia professors to help him take on the Depression: Raymond Moley, a political scientist, Adolf Berle, an authority on the modern corporation, and Rex Tugwell, an agricultural economist. At first, they were the talk of Washington. But Moley broke with Roosevelt, saying the New Deal had gone too far, while Tugwell left amid criticism that his views were too socialistic.

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