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Sen. Arlen Specter (R-Pa.) to become a Democrat

Arlen Specter, member of the United States Sen...
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Senator Arlen Specter, a longtime Republican Senator announced today that he was switching parties.  He stated that he will be running for his seat in 2010 as a Democrat. 

Here’s part of Specter’s release, excerpted from the Wall Street Journal:

I have been a Republican since 1966. I have been working extremely hard for the Party, for its candidates and for the ideals of a Republican Party whose tent is big enough to welcome diverse points of view. While I have been comfortable being a Republican, my Party has not defined who I am. I have taken each issue one at a time and have exercised independent judgment to do what I thought was best for Pennsylvania and the nation.

Since my election in 1980, as part of the Reagan Big Tent, the Republican Party has moved far to the right. Last year, more than 200,000 Republicans in Pennsylvania changed their registration to become Democrats. I now find my political philosophy more in line with Democrats than Republicans. (WSJ)

While this is a major boon to the Democrats in the Senate, giving them a filibuster-proof 60-seat majority (if Al Franken ever gets sworn in), we rank-and-file Democrats will do well to remember Specter’s actual voting record and how that rarely matches the speeches and statements he has made. Too many times in the past has Sen. Specter step outside party lines to make announcements that he’s unhappy with the Republican goal, how he doesn’t think the people he represent would like him to adhere to party lines. Yet, when it was time to vote, Specter more than ofter, voted along party lines. Sen. Specter has crafter faux-outrage into an art form.

More from his annoucement:


My change in party affiliation does not mean that I will be a party-line voter any more for the Democrats that I have been for the Republicans. Unlike Senator Jeffords’ switch which changed party control, I will not be an automatic 60th vote for cloture. For example, my position on Employees Free Choice (Card Check) will not change.

Whatever my party affiliation, I will continue to be guided by President Kennedy’s statement that sometimes Party asks too much. When it does, I will continue my independent voting and follow my conscience on what I think is best for Pennsylvania and America.

Admirable on the surface, but we already have more than enough Blue Dogs in the Senate.  I’m not going to get excited over this, but I will be watching Specter more closely. The last last 14 or so years, I’ve taken everything he says with a grain of salt. This change of party affliation will be no different.



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A mortgage plan…of sorts

Half million dollar house in Salinas, Californ...

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Aren’t they precious?

That’s the only think I can think of when I read about Congress’ plan to help homeowners.

The House is expected to pass the legislation today, and supporters are optimistic that the Senate will follow next month.

For existing mortgages only, the measure would remove an oddity in bankruptcy law: Judges can reduce, or cramdown, the principal on a vacation home, car or boat, but they cannot do it to a mortgage for a primary residence.(LAT)

Well, thank goodness for that, because it’s pretty obvious that only those with boats or 2nd homes are the only ones being impacted negatively during this financial crisis. Baby steps. Their hearts were in the right place. And at least the President understands:

“I just want everybody to understand, that’s the rule for investors who own two, three and four homes,” [Obama] said. “So it should be the rule for folks who just own one home as an alternative to foreclosure.”

The legislation would limit the new bankruptcy rules to existing mortgages. Homeowners would have to seek a voluntary modification from their mortgage holder at least 15 days before filing for bankruptcy. And the bill would require the homeowner to share the profit from a home sale with the lender if it takes place within four years of the bankruptcy. The bank would get 80% of the profit in the first year, 60% in the second, 40% in the third and 20% in the fourth. (from the above linked article)

Sounds interesting, but as the article notes, there’s concern it would push people to declare bankruptcy. Bankruptcy declarations stay on your credit report for 7 years.  Considering the draconian changes the Republican Congress made to the bankruptcy laws a few years ago, I doubt that even if there was a rush, that many would prevail in filing.

Like so much lately, it’s best to adopt a wait-and-see attitude toward this. No one wants to file for bankruptcy and adding on more hurdles will likely turn off others.

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Obama’s been Tupac’d

We went to the California African-American museum yesterday for the Martin Luther King Jr. celebrations.  I expected vendors, but nothing prepared me for what I am calling the Tupacification of Barack Obama.

This first photo is a rhinestone shirt. The caption of the photo is what it says on the shirt.

All Eyes on Me

All Eyes on Me

This vendor had a ton of photos of the Obamas, but this one caught my eye for obvious reasons.

Obama transformed to FDR

Obama transformed to FDR

Buttons! My kids were drawn to them and I walked over to check them out.  That one in the middle…Wow.



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Hope for my children

CHICAGO - FEBRUARY 11:  Michelle Obama, the wi...

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Last year, about a month before my daughter turned for she asked who the “pretty man” on TV was. “Obama” I replied.  When I went to YearlyKos in Chicago, I told her about how the Democratic presidential candidates would be there and she’s asked if “President Obama” would attend. I explained to her that he wasn’t president and I doubted he would be.

She bugged me all summer and fall of 2007 to vote for Obama, but he wasn’t my choice. I wasn’t interested.  She told me on my birthday last year, “If you don’t vote for Obama, maybe a bad guy will win and you’ll be sad.”  Manipulative little…

Super Tuesday

Super Tuesday

When we voted in the primaries, I was definitely going to vote for Obama.  She was at my side, as usual, making sure I voted the right way. “Is he president now?”, she’d asked.  Not yet, but at that point, I was sure he would be.

Throughout the primaries, her face would light up with she saw Obama on TV.  She’d asked if he was president yet and I’d tell her not yet.  She loved Obama.  When she finally figured out he had two daughters, she asked me to call him to see if they could have a playdate.  On Super Bowl Sunday, I had taken her to see Michelle Obama speak (the day, I firmly became an Obama fan, incidentally).  My daughter recognized that she was seeing a woman who looked like her mom, though admittedly more beautiful.  She thought Michelle Obama was a queen.

Once the general election kicked in, she was very much against McCain. “Why is that man so mean?”, “Why does he tell lies? Lying’s bad.”, “I think his mom should give him a timeout.” were questions she asked over and over again.  By mid-September, she was done with politics and thought the mean guy should just let Obama be president already.  I agreed, but gave her an age-appropriate lesson in democracy. (more…)

Change.gov goes live

The President Elect arrives for making his Vic...

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President-Elect Obama’s new site, Change.gov went live today. Right now, the site is taking a pretty big hit, and is slow.  The page links are interesting and shore up President-Elect Obama’s promise to make his administration more transparent than previous ones.  Check out the Ethics link:

Barack Obama and Joe Biden’s Plan

Shine the Light on Washington Lobbying

  • Centralize Ethics and Lobbying Information for Voters: Obama and Biden will create a centralized Internet database of lobbying reports, ethics records, and campaign finance filings in a searchable, sortable and downloadable format.
  • Require Independent Monitoring of Lobbying Laws and Ethics Rules: Obama and Biden will use the power of the presidency to fight for an independent watchdog agency to oversee the investigation of congressional ethics violations so that the public can be assured that ethics complaints will be investigated.

There’s even a box on the page, so you can make suggestions.

Mirroring the key issues and interests that were on Sen. Obama’s candidate sites, the website expands those policy positions into actionable items.  There is a blog, a listing of upcoming events beginning with the inauguration and a link to apply for non-career jobs with the Obama Administration. You can share your own story of your experience of living in this moment in American history on the site too.

Throughout his campaign, Sen. Obama was persistent and consistent in stating that the American citizen should be ready to work for America.  That students who wanted help with their college education would have to do community service.  Sticking to that pledge is a link that helps you to find a suitable place for you to work for your country.

When the site isn’t so bogged down, take a look around.

Musings on last night’s election

the 44th President of the United States...Bara...

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am not going to try to write a long intellectual entry on what happened last night. I can only post snapshots on we witnessed.  My feelings are still too raw.  I woke up this morning, like in 2000 and 2004, with a knot in my stomach; expecting a different outcome.  I rushed to grab my morning paper to make sure it was all real.  That today wasn’t Election Day and I just dreamt that Sen. Obama had won over 330 Electoral Votes.

It was real.

It did happen.

Senator Barack Obama is our President-Elect.

My 5 year old, who has been an Obama fan since last Spring, kept asking me this morning, “Did Obama really win?”  Through tears, I said “Yes. Yes he did.”


I spoke to some of my older family members last night.  The constant refrain was, “That young man did it.  He ran a great campaign and didn’t let anyone tear him down.  I never thought I’d live to see this day.” They reminisced on growing up in segregated towns in the South and Midwest.  One 92 year old cousin, in Arkansas wept as he talked about he had to keep his head down, just so he would stay out of trouble, “Today, I hold my head high, like Obama did throughout his campaign.”  I cried.


Sen. McCain’s concession speech, was the most classy concession speech I think I’ve ever witnessed.  Even though from July on he ran the exact same campaign Sen. Clinton did, his concession speech was exactly the one she should have given in June.


The first black President won this election without the Self-Appointed Godfathers of Blackness.  We didn’t have to see Rev. Jesse Jackson or Rev. Al Sharpton pontificating on our TVs last night for the first time in my lifetime. Rev. Jackson was shown, tears streaming down his face, as he stood with thousands in Grant Park.


Scholars will study the Obama campaign forever.  Not just political scholars, but in business classes, PR majors, technological studies.  Every tool out there was used, even abused if my text messages and emails are any indication. The branding was simple and consistent, from slogan to font, to color.  The business acumen of where and how to raise and spend money, would make many major corporations jealous.


Social media came into its own this election cycle. Twitter broke most stories before even blogs had a chance to write up something.  This election cycle belonged to black bloggers.  It seemed that they alone were taking advantage of social media tools, not just to announce new posts, but to organize GOTV and appearnces.  It was a simple way for them to stay in contact with their readers outside the blog and get more on-the-ground reporting from around the country.


I still haven’t received my shirts from the Obama-Biden campaign. I’m sad.


The ground campaign of Obama’s was probably the best of any campaign ever.  Speaking to friends who worked for the campaign and speaking to people who volunteered from the campaign, they all said the same thing, “This is the first election where people from DC who had never stepped foot in my town, didn’t come in to tell us how it is. They gave us ownership and listened.”


A few weeks ago, Republicans started whining about how Democrats shouldn’t have a majority because that would be dangerous for the country.  All of a sudden they despise the idea of one party controll the Administrative and Legislative branches of government.  I’m still trying to find where they were so distraught about this in 2000 and 2004.  It’s a disengenious arguement and insulting to my intelligence.  Republicans need not fear. Democrats do not govern to abuse power.  A Democratic majority will have it’s hands full rolling back and repairing the damage of the last 8 years.


Best quote of the night, after the election was called for Sen. Obama: “Meanwhile, in D.C., two guys named George and Dick have placed the single largest order for industrial strength paper shredders that Office Depot has ever had to fulfill.”


When I had heard that Fox News (!) had called Ohio for Sen. Obama, I thought I was going to faint.  When I saw that he had also won Florida, I had to sit down.  Thank you to both states.


I can only hope that we never have to hear or see the hatefulness that is Gov. Sarah Palin.


And finally, we’ll never learn what Republican voters liked about Sen. McCain.  It’s a testament to spin, that when asked the most intelligent offering was the tired, “Obama’s a socialist/radical/communist/Muslim”.  That never explained McCain’s appeal.

President Obama

I don’t have words.  I just wanted to type that.  I’m in tears right now.  I’m shocked.  Yes.  I fully expected to be disappointed tonight.  I expected a long night and a lot of shenanigans.  This is a new day for America.  Finally, we are no longer under a horrible Republican leadership.  The tireless work so many people did to get to this point…Wow.

Thank you, America.

Tonight you did well.

Thoughts on the first Presidential debate

I watched the debate last night, quickly pulled what transcripts I could and perused those.  I watched clips again last night and this morning.  Last night, I was struck at how meandering McCain was in this debate focused on his alleged strong points.  This morning, after some rehashing, I’m just embarrassed by him.  His answers and tone made him sound like he had taken debate lessons from Governor Palin.  Very few times did answer, let alone address the question asked.  That made for some headache-inducing responses.

Obama could have been less agreeable with McCain.  Last night, I got exasperated, “Stop agreeing with him!” and the blogosphere came to the same conclusion.  Yet, in a live situation, it’s easy to get so wound up, that you miss the rest of the answer and that’s exactly what happened.  After Obama would say, “I agree with you John…” everything else got lost.  In looking back and listening, there was always a qualifier, and then Obama would cooly and smartly lay out the differences in ideology between the two Senators.

Last night’s debate was McCain’s to lose and he did.  In a big way.  This debate was to speak to McCain’s strength in foreign policy and the face he presented to Americans should give them pause as to how he’d deal with foreign heads of  state.  The warmongering bluster was bad enough, but in refusing to address, let alone look at Obama, McCain came off as a condescending, petulant child.  We’ve already had 8 years of a president who played the bully on the world stage, do we need or want another 4 or 8 years of the same?

Obama shared with us a simple truth: Our current economy has a huge impact on our foreign policy abilities.  McCain’s responses showed us a man who was a throwback to the 50s, strongly believing that America can and should buy her way out of any mess.  Sadly, we lack the funds and our debt is ridiculously high.

In an effort to show his vast experience, McCain decided to share with us old stories.  Generally speaking, stories have a way to humanize a politician and allow him or her to connect with voters.  McCain’s speaking style and lack of focus to his answers failed to connect.  Instead they made him come off as avoiding the issue, sounding more like that relative you let go on and on out of deference over any real interest in what he’s saying.  The other unfortunate circumstance of McCain’s stories is that it only served to remind you that he voted and stood with the party who brought us to our current situation at home and abroad.

The partisans will be quick to conclude that their candidate won the debate, but this debate wasn’t about nailing down the base.  With our current economic and foreign policies in disarray, this debate was about independents and undecideds.  McCain needed to show undecideds that he understood the way the world worked.  Obama needed to convince them that he wasn’t ignorant on world matters.  What we saw was that Obama has a much firmer grasp on our situation today, whereas McCain is stuck in a 40 year time loop that started in 1943 and ends in 1983. Polls taken of independents and undecideds right after the debate showed that they overwhelmingly thought that Obama has won the debate.  With a months worth of bad press and diving poll numbers, McCain couldn’t afford to lose this debate.  But he did.

John McCain: Wool puller

I refreshed my FriendFeed pages and found a lot of posts expressing shock over McCain wanting to delay the debates. Completely confused, I hit my news spots to find that yes, McCain who claimed just last week that “the fundamentals of our economy are strong and will always be strong”, is now convinced that the fundamentals of our economy are not strong enough for his campaign to continue, let along the debate scheduled for this Friday.

NEW YORK (CNN) — Republican presidential candidate John McCain announced Wednesday that he is suspending his campaign to return to Washington and focus on the “historic” crisis facing the U.S. economy.

McCain said it was time for both parties to come together to solve economic crisis.

The Arizona senator called on his Democratic rival, Barack Obama, to do the same.

The Obama campaign announced that Obama would make a statement shortly.

He also urged organizers of Friday’s presidential debate at the University of Mississippi to postpone the event.

A cynical person would look at yesterday’s polls which had Obama leading in double-digits on the response, “Who would do best in strengthening our economy?”,  and assume that this is yet another ploy of hte McCain campaign to do damage control (we’ll have to ignore the fact that campaign manager Rick Davis said yesterday that the polls don’t count).  A Pollyanna will have to ignore a lot of facts and think that McCain is actually putting “Country First”.  A little fact like, neither Sen. McCain or Sen. Obama are involved with any committee meeting on this bailout issue.

It’s all well that Sen. McCain’s campaign would like to control the narrative in this regard, it’s expected, but when once again, they take leaps of logic over inconvenient truths, it makes them look more inept and bumbling.  We expect our leaders to be able to handle more than one item at a time.  We want a president who will be able to give every item that pops up his attention.  At the same time.  For 8 years, we’ve had a president who can’t hold more than ‘war’ and ‘oil’ in his head.  Is it leadership when you stop your campaign to dash across the country to, only to sit in a room where you’re not needed and have no responsibilities?  We can expect a lot of floor speeches from McCain but no actual leadership, since he isn’t on the committees involved in this decision-making, but what does that have to do with the debates this Friday?

This move doesn’t make one assume McCain cares about America, it makes him look he’s not ready to lead the country.

UPDATE:  From TPM: Sen. Harry Reid released a statement:

“It would not be helpful at this time to have them come back during these negotiations and risk injecting presidential politics into this process or distract important talks about the future of our nation’s economy. If that changes, we will call upon them. We need leadership; not a campaign photo op.

“If there were ever a time for both candidates to hold a debate before the American people about this serious challenge, it is now.”

Uppity Obamas

The Black Snob shares with us that it’s official, the Obamas are ‘uppity’.

Rep. Lynn Westmoreland, R-Ga., was chewing the fat with reporters in the U.S. Capitol and was asked to compare Sarah Palin and Michelle Obama.

“Just from what little I’ve seen of her and Mr. Obama, Senator Obama, they’re a member of an elitist-class individual that thinks they’re uppity.”

“Asked to clarify that he used the word ‘uppity,’ Westmoreland said, ‘Uppity, yeah,’ ” the newspaper The Hill reported.

-Seattle Post-Intelligencer

They even trying to hide it any more. Shocker? Nope.  Par for the course in the GOP.

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