Recently in Competence Category

My hat off to Dave Mindeman of mnpACT! He commits an act of journalism that the Legacy Media has not performed in over a decade.

I tried to find a worthwhile excerpt to post here, but damn if the entire post is good. So, I am just going to tell you to click the link.

All I can tell you is that it includes the sighting of an intelligent, thoughtful conservative Republican.

Seriously, click the link.

I Beg To Disagree

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There is quite a bit of discussion on the Obama's Justice Department's appeal of Judge Virginia Phillips's ruling on DADT (did I avoid the massive double negatives that usually occurs with this issue?). I completely understand why the move was done. I would write it again, but let me instead copy and past from one of my comments over at "The Same Rowdy Crowd."

Wish I could agree with you. But one of the responsibilities of the Administration, and the Justice Department, is to uphold the rule of law. We saw what happened to our country when George Bush was in office; much of the damage done was by his failing to uphold laws. Whether or not you agree with a law is immaterial, as President of the United States he does not get to pick and choose which laws to uphold, he is required to uphold them all. His statement that he wants it repealed is not only legitimate, but it is the correct way to go about righting the travesty that is DADT.
The second greatest failure of the Bush Administration was it's failure to uphold the laws of the land. As a result, we have seen our nation's food supply poisoned, witnessed what appears to be one of the greatest systemic frauds (mortgage paperwork? We don't need no stink'n paperwork!) in the history of our country, and have watched as we marched to war, all because of a failure to follow the rule of law.

Bitch all you want about the move to appeal Judge Virginia Phillips's ruling - President Obama is doing his job. Had President George W. Bush also upheld the rule of law, we would never have invaded Iraq.

Note The Difference

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Steve Benen over at The Washington Monthly points out an important difference between the previous administration and the current administration:

Ideally, an administration avoids making dumb mistakes, but it matters how an administration corrects those missteps once they happen. In this case, there's something to be said for the president's team doing the right thing -- acknowledging the mistake quickly, sincerely apologizing, and swiftly trying to put things right.

We had an administration for eight years that never admitted an error, and always found someone else to blame, no matter what. This administration is taking a more mature, responsible approach, and it's a sign of progress.

Now, all things being equal, which administration will manage to get more accomplished? Oh, wait, let me re-phrase that question: Which administration has managed to get more accomplished.

Why BP is Not Katrina

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Kevin Drum does a crack job of explaining the difference between the Katrina disaster and BP's mishandling of the ongoing oil spill.

This conflates two very different things. Katrina was an example of the type of disaster that the federal government is specifically tasked with handling. And for most of the 90s, it was very good at handling them. But when George Bush became president and Joe Allbaugh became director of FEMA, everything changed. Allbaugh neither knew nor cared about disaster preparedness. For ideological reasons, FEMA was downsized and much of its work outsourced. When Allbaugh left after less than two years on the job, he was replaced by the hapless Michael Brown and the agency was downgraded and broken up yet again. By the time Katrina hit, the upper levels of FEMA were populated largely with political appointees with no disaster preparedness experience and the agency was simply not up to the job of dealing with a huge storm anymore.

The Deepwater Horizon explosion is almost the exact opposite. There is no federal expertise in capping oil blowouts. There is no federal agency tasked specifically with repairing broken well pipes. There is no expectation that the federal government should be able to respond instantly to a disaster like this. There never has been. For better or worse, it's simply not something that's ever been considered the responsibility of the federal government.

[snip]

But there is one way in which they're similar. As Levin says, Katrina would have been an immense disaster no matter what. But it was far worse than it had to be because a conservative administration, one that fundamentally disdained the mechanics of government for ideological reasons, decided that FEMA wasn't very important. Likewise, the BP blowout was made more likely because that same administration decided that government regulation of private industry wasn't very important and turned the relevant agency into a joke. If you believe that government is the problem, not the solution, and if you actually run the country that way for eight years, it becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy. But we shouldn't pretend it's inevitable.

In the end, it all boils down to having competent people in government positions, not ideological cronies scratching their balls.

Obama's Timing

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I've not much to add to the debate about Obama's efforts at bipartisanship. Better bloggers than I have made hay over that subject.

However, I do have an opinion. I also go to the bathroom a lot. Anyway, when it comes to Obama's efforts, I am willing to allow him his timing. I figure, at some point, he is going to discontinue the following efforts:

Time

When Barack Obama informed congressional Republicans last month that he would support a controversial parliamentary move to protect health-care reform from a filibuster in the Senate, they were furious. That meant the bill could pass with a simple majority of 51 votes, eliminating the need for any GOP support. Where, they demanded, was the bipartisanship the President had promised? So, right there in the Cabinet Room, the President put a proposal on the table, according to two people who were present. Obama said he was willing to curb malpractice awards, a move long sought by Republicans that is certain to bring strong opposition from the trial lawyers who fund the Democratic Party.

What, he wanted to know, did the Republicans have to offer in return?

Nothing, it turned out. Republicans were unprepared to make any concessions, if they had any to make. But the encounter did make some Democrats wish they could see more of that kind of presidential engagement on the issue that Obama says is his top legislative priority. "I want the White House involved, maybe to be at the table," says Senator Chris Dodd, the second-ranking Democrat on the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee. "It's very important." (See five truths about health care in America.)

Look, Obama has shown good judgment, patience, and an innate sense of timing. It was on display during the election. Now, though, people are reacting to the current political situation as if he's lost that particular set of skills. I suspect he will know when to stop giving the GOP an opportunity to participate in the crafting of bills and just work with the Democratic caucuses in the congress.

I voted for the man because I believed he would be able to do the job as he saw fit, not as I saw fit. So far, he's managed to achieve a semblance of what I see fit. Not a perfect fit, but I'm not one to truly judge. Now, don't get me wrong; I do judge. But I also go to the bathroom a lot.

Hillary On Her First State Trip

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ELMENDORF AIR FORCE BASE, Alaska (CNN) -- Hillary Clinton says her first overseas trip to Asia as U.S. secretary of state is aimed at creating a "network of partners" to tackle problems that no nation can deal with alone, including the global economic crisis.
Good luck Hillary. Hopefully, you'll restore our honor after having had the face of the US be a shoe shopping incompetent.

It's interesting, by the way, that she's going to Asia first, and not the middle east.

Timing Is Everything

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John Amato is upset at Obama's late use of his internet/email list.

I have a question for the Obama staff. Why was the Democratic Party so miserable in trying to explain your stimulus plan to the American people when the mass media finally gave them some air time? Why did you let the messaging get away from you? Why wasn't this LIST immediately implemented to take the lead on the messaging of his economic plan? Don't you think it's a little late to remember that this LIST existed?
Obviously, I don't believe Obama forgot the list. In fact, I am quite sure he knows it's there. But there is such a think as over kill. During a presidential campaign, we all are more than willing to put up with a constant stream of email's requesting donations, enlisting aid, etc., etc., etc. But there is no campaign. This is a different situation, with different expectations. Are people willing to put up with the same level of emails from the President? Will it even work? And if it does, will it work every time he breaks it out?

Now, I don't even begin to believe I have the answers to those questions. But to assume that the power of that list is going to work now that he is in the Oval Office is presumptuous. Of course, I know he's going to use the list. That's a given. But I also understand why he's been hesitant until know. Had he used it earlier, when the debate on the stimulus bill was just starting up, and it failed, what then?

When the use of the internet first occurred with Dean's campaign, the one thing I noticed was it's rapid fire response. The ability to generate donations was instantaneous. What use to take weeks, happened in 24 hours. Also, the response of progressive and moderate blogs to counter the lies and distortions of the Republican talking points was also rapid. This ability to immediately respond makes the net a better defensive tool.

The greatest weakness of the progressive movement has been it's impatience. John Amato is putting that impatience on display. Can we all remember:

chill.jpg 

And Thus It Begins

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Finally, a clear sign of this administration breaking with the past.

Washington Post

GUANTANAMO BAY, Cuba, Jan. 20 -- In one of its first actions, the Obama administration instructed military prosecutors late Tuesday to seek a 120-day suspension of legal proceedings involving detainees at the naval base at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba -- a clear break with the approach of the outgoing Bush administration.

The instruction came in a motion filed with a military court in the case of five defendants accused of organizing the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks on the United States. The motion called for "a continuance of the proceedings" until May 20 so that "the newly inaugurated president and his administration [can] review the military commissions process, generally, and the cases currently pending before military commissions, specifically."

They can't move fast enough to undue the damage of the last 8 years. But at least they are moving.
This, people, is what leadership looks like.

CNN

WASHINGTON (CNN) -- President-elect Barack Obama is already making presidential history by naming -- or at least his transition team is leaking to the press -- his Cabinet picks faster than nearly all of his predecessors.

"If we do not act swiftly and boldly, most experts believe that we could lose millions of jobs next year," Obama said Monday.

With an economic crisis spiraling out of control and a lame duck in the oval office, presidential scholars say the next commander in chief simply had no choice.

"This is really unprecedented. But it's an unprecedented situation," said Larry Sabato, a presidential scholar at the University of Virginia. "Obama is doing what the public and the markets demand be done -- and that is to show that the next president is really in charge before he even takes the oath of office."

Swift, decisive action. Not only that, but with evidence of foresight. From what we are seeing with leaks and announcements, all this activity was long ago planned out and prepared before November 4th. Three weeks, and look at what he's manage to assemble.

In case anyone is wondering, this is competence. Refreshing, ain't it?

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