January 20, 2009
Today is technically inauguration day. Though it’s just after midnight and our new president will be sworn in in just over 8 hours in a tremendous celebration of hope and history.
I know that I, for one, am eager to see what will happen to our nation. I’m optimistic. I’m also worried. There’s talk of another stimulus payment, which did so much last time. Can we really keep borrowing from tomorrow to pay for today? It doesn’t seem to have historically worked out so well.
So I enter the next four years cautiously, hoping the political pendulum doesn’t swing too far the other way. We’ll see, won’t we?
December 3, 2008
Today, President-elect Barack Obama announced that he’d filled several positions in his cabinet. The two most interesting thus far are Hillary Clinton for Secretary of State and Robert Gates for Secretary of Defense.
Soon-to-be-President Obama outlined early on his plans for a “team of rivals“, a modern-day interpretation of Lincoln’s attempt to fill his cabinet with his political rivals.
I’ve read several commentaries about his picks, but I can say that I like that he’s surrounding himself with competing ideas. Several reports show that the Bush Administration has fallen victim to “groupthink” several times (most notably in the decision to invade Iraq); this seems unlikely to happen in a cabinet filled with such vastly different people and competing viewpoints. It seems like ideas will be more challenged in this administration, and perhaps better plans will emerge.
Of course, I believe all these positions require Senate confirmation. I don’t think that would be much of an issue, however, as the Democrats now have 59 seats in the Senate; enough to do almost anything except the most objectionable. (They can’t kill a filibuster, thank goodness.) With 59 seats of the President’s party, Senate confirmations should be a breeze.
I’ll be interested in seeing the direction this takes. Some worry that it could be disastrous to have a cabinet filled with such competing interests; the worry is that the President will be undermined by his rivals’ politics. I think – for the first couple years, at least – he’ll be fine. We’ll see.
November 10, 2008
I heard on NPR this morning about Obama and Dubya’s very first meeting on the White House grounds regarding the impending transition. The men, according to NPR’s usually stellar reporters, were going to camp out in the Oval Office and talk about Very Important Things™ while Laura (Bush) gave Michelle (Obama) a tour of the “living quarters”.
I’ve been very enthused thus far regarding Michelle Obama’s demeanor and actions. She’s strong-willed yet supportive, upstanding yet not abrasive, and as we’ve been reminded of countless times, the first African-American First Lady. I’m ready to see a President be directly supported by a life partner, not just supplemented.
Yet here we are back again, the men smoking cigars and the women tending the house on a national scale. But at least it’s nice to know that the parties are making happy, right?
How cute...they match.
November 9, 2008
One result of our recent election is the passage of Oregon Measure 56, which repealed the double-majority law.
As it stood before this last election, any tax increase on the ballot (except for those in general elections in even-numbered years) required a majority of registered voters to participate and a majority of those voters to vote “yes” for it to pass. (An exception was made for general elections, probably because they usually generated enough voter turnout already.)
The upside to this was that an activist minority couldn’t sneak a tax increase through in a less-well-publicized election; a majority of voters had to take an interest one way or another for a tax increase to make it. Of course, this also meant that tax increases sometimes failed if enough attention wasn’t called to a cause. (Some people seemed to think this was a Bad Thing™.)
I’m hugely disappointed that Measure 56 passed. I felt that it offered the voters important protections against a tyranny of the minority, and that it worked as it was intended to work. I can only hope that someone will see the light on this issue and realize that the voters made a mistake here.
Side note: I also think that the wording of the measure was designed to confuse. By saying, “Amends Constitution: Provides that May and November property tax elections are decided by majority of voters voting”, and not mentioning the existing system until page 2 or 3, the ballot measure title is deliberately obfuscating the current system, implying that a majority of votes didn’t already make the decisions (which they did.) I’m convinced that this wording was a contributing factor to the success of the ballot.
November 5, 2008
CNN, the New York Times, and, hell, even Fox News have called the race for Barack Obama. Senator John McCain has given a great concession speech, and President-elect Obama has spoken. We, as a nation, have voted, the next four years have been laid out, and it starts in just over two months.
Now let’s see where this takes us…