Saturday, February 14, 2009

President Obama's Weekly Video Address


The President celebrates passage of his Economic Recovery Plan:


Thursday, February 12, 2009

Thoughts On Senator Gregg's Withdrawal and On His Replacement


Honestly Senator Gregg, you can do better than that. Did you seriously realize just earlier this week that you had "irresolvable conflicts" with the Obama administration on very important policy issues? Did you not know that the President is a progressive Democrat? Had you forgotten that you are a very conservative Republican?

Had you not heard about the President's Economic Recovery Plan? Did you not know that you're were seeking to manage a department you had once voted to abolish? When you put yourself forward as a candidate for Secretary of Commerce, didn't it occur to you that President Obama expected you to have reconciled yourself to his agenda... and not the other way round?

No, no, Senator it won't do. A better explanation for your sudden withdrawal as the nominee for Secretary of Commerce is needed.  It is needed not only to preserve some semblance of your own dignity, but also to dispel the notion that your candidacy was nothing more than pure pretense.  Convince us that your sudden change of heart isn't just one more silly deception in the recent series of Republican trickery designed (it seems) to somehow trip up the new President in his very sincere efforts at bi-partisan outreach. 

On a happier note, I'm damned delighted to have you off the national political stage --- maybe for good. It seems you also announced late this evening your intention not to seek re-election in 2010. Wow! Two bits of good news from you in one day. I feel like I got two winning scratch-off lottery tickets at the local convenience store on the same day. It doesn't happen often.

You see, Senator Gregg, the plain truth is I don't much care for you as a politician. When President Obama announced your selection to be Secretary of Commerce, I was very disappointed. Although there are/were a couple of his other Cabinet choices that didn't exactly fire me up, you were always the most disappointing of the lot. I'm just plain happy you're gone.

On an even happier note, your withdrawal creates yet another second chance for President Obama to make the right choice for Secretary of Commerce. My suggestion is for the President to appoint a Tennessean... and a Democrat.  No, I don't mean Governor Bredesen, although a fellow Tennessee blogger suggested that earlier today.

I think the Obama administration and the people of Tennessee will be better served if Governor Bredesen remains at the helm of the Volunteer State until the end of his current term.  Tennessee politics and the various challenges facing our state are a lot trickier than usual right now and Bredesen is the guy to take them on.

No, I'm talking about US Rep. Jim Cooper (D-Nashville). Mr. Cooper has an educational background as an economist, he is a very able and dedicated servant of the people and he has credibility with the business community. He is a leader of the Blue Dogs and is famously a budgetary hawk. He was an early supporter of Barack Obama and has deep connections with important people in the White House. 

Cooper has also served many years in the US House of Representatives and knows how to operate in Washington.  Assuming he votes for the final version of the President's Economic Recovery Plan (which I expect), there is no impediment whatsoever to prevent Jim Cooper from becoming Secretary of Commerce. He would be a fine choice indeed.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Making A Silk Purse Out Of A Sow's Ear

Facing governmental and political challenges greater than any Volunteer State Governor in at least eighty years, Phil Bredesen stepped up to the plate to deliver the annual State of the State address last evening. The environment could hardly been more daunting:

- worst national economic crisis since the Great Depression;

- great uncertainty as to how - or even if - the Federal government would act to kick-start the nation's economy;

- state revenues dwindling every day;

- a State Senate in firm control of the Republicans;

- a State House of Representatives in firm control of.. well, of nobody. After a well-orchestrated coup d’├ętat by House Democrats to select the Republican of their choice as Speaker and the Governor's candidate for Minority Leader having previously lost an intra-party battle, Bredesen faces a House with lots of raw political emotion on both sides of the aisle;

- the Governor's preferred candidate just recently lost his bid to become Chair of the State Democratic Party;

- the extremely popular, and fellow Democrat, President Barack Obama chose the very same evening for his first live, televised prime time press conference; talk about being upstaged!

All in all, Governor Bredesen was expected to give us an honest and non-partisan assessment of Tennessee's current condition, the top priorities for the next year and some broader vision for the state beyond that - all this in about as tough a setting as could be imagined. As I say, a very challenging task indeed. 

To his great credit, Governor Bredesen did just that. In calm, measured tones he aptly described the dire situation we face. There was no evasion and no sugar-coating. "We are living in tough times." 

Bredesen underlined the importance of what he called three basic principles of governance: 

- sound budgetary policy (spending only what you have);
- focusing on the basics (education, creating good jobs and health care); 
- bipartisanship, (he acknowledged the current highly charged partisan atmosphere in Washington and in Nashville and urged lawmakers to move "beyond politics and do the peoples' business").

It was a speech with few specifics and even fewer details, largely due to the uncertainty of the federal Economic Recovery Plan. The Governor did right not to get ahead of himself, though the temptation to do so must have been great. He did emphasize once again the critical importance of education, job creation and health care, in keeping with his earlier remarks.  

Critics - from the Left and the Right - took some of Bredesen's remarks as a not-so-subtle shout out to the President, pushing himself as a possible Secretary of HHS. I don't see it that way. To me it seemed as if Bredesen was leaving that door slightly ajar if President Obama wanted to open it more fully.

In short, Governor, it was certainly a good speech. Under the circumstances, I would say it was a great speech. Well done!


Full text of the Governor's State of the State Address can be seen here.

Monday, February 9, 2009

Quote of the Day


"I am the eternal optimist."

-Barack Obama
President of the United States

.. said near the end of his prime time press conference this evening.  The President's presser can only be described as a tour de force. Covering a wide array of topics, Mr. Obama answered reporters' questions with skill, aplomb, grace and facility.  

What a difference from the contorted, illogical and often contentious press conferences of his predecessor. Now that is change we can see!

Gallup: The American People Strongly Back President Obama In Stimulus Fight


In a poll released just today, Gallup finds that Americans strongly support President Obama's efforts to fix the crumbling economy. Those surveyed were asked if they approve/disapprove of the President's handling of the economic stimulus plan, of the Democrats in Congress or of the Republicans in Congress. Here are the numbers:

President Obama:

- approve 67%
- disapprove 25%
- no opinion

Democrats in Congress:

- approve 48%
- disapprove 42%
- no opinion 10%

Republicans in Congress:

- approve 31%
- disapprove 58%
- no opinion 11%

It could not be any clearer: the American people want President Obama's plan enacted into law... and they want it now.  Republican obstructionists are playing with fire by using mickey-mouse tactics to delay the bill and by lying again and again about the true nature of the legislation.  Have they learned nothing?

Mitch McConnell, John Boehner and Tennessee's two GOP Senators should get out of the way - now!

Sunday, February 8, 2009

In A Cold Gray Winter, Glimmerings of Hope for the TNDP


After years of losing ground across the state, and after suffering a crushing defeat of historic proportions in the November general election, it seemed that the Tennessee Democratic Party (TNDP) was headed for a bitter winter of discontent in January of 2009.  Worse yet, there was no sign of a 'son of York' to brighten the long dark winter ahead.  Then, surprisingly, in the midst of one of the coldest, grayest winters in decades, hope for Tennessee Democrats flickered from at least four different directions in the bleak winter of 2008-2009:

1. In a Byzantine coup d’├ętat, Tennessee House Democrats succeeded in electing a rogue Republican (St. Rep. Kent Williams) to the position of Speaker of the House. This in spite of the fact that Republicans had just won control of the TN House for the first time since Reconstruction and in spite of the fact that the Republicans had settled on their leader, ultra-conservative St. Rep. Jason Mumpower, to become the new Speaker. It was no doubt a back-room political deal of the 19th century kind, but it showed that all 49 House Democrats working with only one off-the-reservation Republican could still wield real political power in Nashville. It was an ice-cold shower for TN Republicans... and it got the TNDP out of the  political intensive  care unit.

2. The defeat, by a large margin, of the English-only amendment to the Nashville city charter. Supported by a wide range of Democratic elected officials, religious organizations, business groups and progressives of all stripes, the anti-English-only campaign crushed the far-right effort to make English the only language used in Music City government. Although credit for this progressive victory truly belongs to many people, the lion's share of the praise goes to Nashville Mayor Karl Dean and - most especially - to long-time Democratic Party organizer, Jim Hester. Many Democrats, and probably most progressives, thought the effort to stop the English-only madness would be nearly impossible. Instead, a broad coalition of Nashville groups, under the masterful leadership of Mr. Hester, made it look easy.

3. The election of Chip Forrester as Chair of the Tennessee Democratic Party. Although he was a long-time member of the Democratic Party establishment, Mr. Forrester's run for Party Chair was accompanied by an acknowledgment of the Party's failures and a sincere effort to reach out to all of the Party's base. He travelled the state to seek support from all elements of the TNDP and made numerous pledges to take the fight into enemy (Republican) territory. Chip's vigorous and inclusive campaign quickly garnered the necessary votes to assure him of election to the the post of Party Chair. Bizarrely, only after he had wrapped up the election, did many elected Democratic officials announce their discomfort with Chip and threw their support to another candidate.  It was totally strange, especially since the reasons offered by establishment Democrats for opposing Forrester were weak at best. Maybe it's one of those Paul Harvey 'page two' kinda of things - you know, 'the rest of the story'. Maybe in time we will find out the true reason(s) for their dislike of Forrester, but no statements yet made in public sufficiently explain the top Dems opposition to Forrester. We hope they'll get over their resistance to the new Party Chair and move on.

4. The announcement by State Senator Andy Berke (D-Chattanooga) that he is considering a run for Governor in 2010. Sen. Berke is one of the most able and appealing elected officials in the state.  A gubernatorial run by him would give the Democratic Party the chance to nominate a candidate for governor who could connect with all segments of the TNDP.  Berke would, in our opinion, stand a very good chance of winning the state house. A potential Berke for Governor campaign could well be the brightest hope Tennessee Democrats have seen in a period where we've already gotten more than our share of good news. Run Andy run!

Saturday, February 7, 2009

A Few Words About Our New Look


As a follow-up to my post yesterday, I wanted to take a couple for minutes to point out several changes in the look of ElectBlue's home page. We have:

- Made modest changes in the top banner, reflecting the numerous Democratic victories in November;

- Changed the Obama campaign direct-link icon to that of the White House website. How sweet, that!

- Removed all direct-link icons to the 2008 campaign websites of the US Senate candidates we supported. All of those contests are long ago decided, with the exception of that of Al Franken in MN. However, we expect Franken will eventually be declared the winner there. He at least has sufficient funds to pay for the remaining required legal efforts;

- Removed the direct-link icon to Nashville For All of Us, following the thrashing of the English-only crowd's effort to amend Music's City's Charter.  Another sweet victory!

- Retained the direct-link icon to the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee (DSCC) and added a direct-link icon to the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee (DCCC). After all,  November 2010 is just around the corner!

- Most importantly, we have added a direct-link icon to the Tennessee Democratic Party (TNDP). We are very encouraged by the recent selection of Chip Forrester as State Democratic Party Chair. He and the TNDP are going to need a lot of funding to bring the party back from the wilderness. Given the inexplicable resistance to Mr. Forrester by some of TN's highest elected Democrats, it's particularly important for progressives to donate as much as they can to the TNDP. This direct-link icon provides an easy and totally secure way to do that.

All previous posts remain easily accessible from the archive, where they are sorted by year and month on the left-hand side of the home page. An index by topic of the entire blogsite can be found in the lower left portion of the home page. Readers wanting to know more about ElectBlue, or wishing to contact us, can always click on the appropriate icon  on the left-hand side of the home page.

President Obama's Weekly Video Address


The President's weekly address to the nation. Excellent as always.

Friday, February 6, 2009

ElectBlue: Refocused and Retooled for the 2009-2010 Election Cycle


After a taking a break (with limited posting) during the Thanksgiving-to-Inauguration period, the ElectBlue team is back in place and focused on the 2009-2010 election cycle. We are geared up for same high level of posting we accomplished in the the 2008 election cycle. Our goals are now slightly different, of course, but they remain simple and straightforward:

1. To support President Obama in the enactment of his progressive legislative agenda;

2. To increase Democratic majorities in both the US House and the US Senate. 

3. To give an increased focus on Tennessee politics, as Tennessee is our home base.

4. To target certain gubernatorial contests in 2009 and 2010,

Over the next several days we will be commenting about and posting on numerous developments that have occurred during our winter break,

Thursday, February 5, 2009

Dear Andy Card: Get A Life.


While the flames of the Bush Recession continue to rage ever higher, Andrew Card is on a rant about how President Obama should be wearing coats and ties more often. Here's an excerpt from an interview Card did with Inside Edition.  You'll love it.
There should be a dress code of respect," Card tells INSIDE EDITION. "I wish that he would wear a suit coat and tie."
Card is the first member of the Bush administration to bash Obama personally, and he's going after him for forgoing a coat and tie.

"The Oval Office symbolizes...the Constitution, the hopes and dreams, and I'm going to say democracy. And when you have a dress code in the Supreme Court and a dress code on the floor of the Senate, floor of the House, I think it's appropriate to have an expectation that there will be a dress
code that respects the office of the President."

Card continued, "I don't criticize Obama for his appearance, I do expect him to send the message that people who are going to be in the Oval Office should treat the office with the respect that it has earned over history."
Respect for the office?  Symbolizes the Constitution?  These Bush guys are still clueless about respect. Maybe it's because they gained so little respect from the American public while they served the country. 

Respect?

Pointing these dandies out will never convince Bushies (all eight or nine of them), but here was the example of respect they showed over the last eight years.  Do we even have to mention the shape of the nation's economy?  How about DOJ chief and Bush hack, Gonzalez, covering up the politically motivated firing of US attorneys?  No respect there.  Preemptive war on Iraq (for the wrong reasons)?  War On Terror?  Osama's Bin Hidin' since Bush left Afghanistan. The fourth amendment? Shredded.  Guantanamo Bay?  American citizens arrested...never detained, never brought to court.  Habeus Corpus?  Warrantless wiretapping?  Zero respect.

As Moody quickly pointed out, "If I were Andy Card, I would find a line of work other than fashion advisor to the Obama administration.  George W. Bush's presidency is the most spectacular failure in American history.  It's sole beneficiaries are the descendants of James Buchannan whom Bush has lifted from dead last amongst the worst Presidents ever."

I agree. 

Get a life Card. 



Sunday, February 1, 2009

President Obama's Weekly Video Address

The President's Weekly Video Address: