FLASH from friend and fellow memo reader: In spirit of bipartisanship, the Obama Administration announced today they will be honoring the 43rd President of the United States by naming the tectonic plates beneath Haiti after him. The area will now officially be referred to as "Bush's Fault".
Evan Bayh, from all indications, is a decent man, the kind of Senator Sam Nunn was and Bayh seems to be leaving the Senate for the same reason - no more fun because of partisan bickering. Though both Bayh and Nunn faced serious opposition at the end of their careers both lost their willingness to continue being involved in an institution they loved because of frustration notwithstanding, their likelihood of winning.
Bayh was a Liberal but he was also rational and lacked the guile that drives so many Senators.
When the Bayh's and Nunn's leave and the Reid's remain that is a sad commentary about what has happened to the Democrat Party and the Senate.
It also is a loss for the nation.
Finally, it is a sour reflection on Obama who campaigned on healing, ending the bickering and being transparent. As long as Obama continues to follow the dictates of Axelrod, Emanuel and persists in his own petty partisan back room leadership I would not expect much by way of improvement in the political atmosphere.
In the final analysis maybe Bayh is shrewdly laying the foundation for eventually challenging Obama. (See 1, 1a and 1b )
Samuelson thinks there are those who have seriously miscalculated our relationship with China. (See 2 below.)
A little church announcement humor. (See 3 below.)
When the Census Taker comes by you have the Constitutional Right to tell them the number of people living in your home and then you can hand them a copy of The Constitution - I keep one handy - and ask them to show you where they are granted lawful authority to seek other information.
You tube has an excellent presentation entitled: YouTube - The Census Is Getting Personal
I have no doubt the generals in charge of the 'Afghan Surge' know what they are doing. However, I was taught never give up the element of surprise which is what these military strategists chose to do by announcing a month in advance they were going to attack. This gave the Taliban time to lay mines, set booby traps etc. and thus slow our troops. Maybe I am missing something.
Also stray missiles resulting in civilian casualties undercuts what we are attempting to do - gain the trust and confidence of the locals. (See 4 below.)
When what you have been doing does not work because it reveals who you really are 'change' becomes the next strategy. It is known as perfecting spin-meistering! (See 5 below.)
Is big government our salvation or our ruination. You decide- Stossel already has.(See 6 below.)
As I noted earlier I am reading David Halberstam's excellent book: "The Fifties." The book is a series of chapters depicting stories about individuals and their connection to and with events in a chronological order moving the reader through the Fifties.
I just finished reading several chapters about Foster and Alan Dulles and the various covert CIA operations in Iran and Guatemala born out of their concern of Communism's spread.
What I find fascinating is that as their apocalyptic fear of Communism grew the CIA began to function as a separate government with the blessing of The State Department in which normal rules of fair play did not register. 'America transited from an isolationist nation to an international super power - from Jeffersonian democracy to an imperial colossus.'
Move the clock forward to today and the escalating difficulty presented by the war on terrorism reveals we simply have ratcheted our response, ie. we have sacrificed even further some of our freedoms and moral anchorage.
I have repeatedly reminded memo readers of these words attributed to Hitler - "to defeat me you will become ever more like me.'
We have come full circle and this brings us to GW and Obama and Cheney and Biden.
In protecting ourselves against an illusive and dangerous enemy bent on our economic and social destruction we have been forced to sacrifice some of the very freedoms we seek to defend.
This effort was not initiated by GW. It began under Eisenhower and his State Department in cahoots with the CIA run respectively by the Dulles brothers and their respective operatives from WW 2.
Is Obama opposed to foreign activities that are ex parte yet when it comes to domestic policy initiatives Obama is willing to disregard constitutional constraints? Obama's lust for power seems more local and isolationist it would appear. Is this, in part, because of Obama's Muslim background, his association with out of mainstream Far Leftists and association with those convinced of past American acts of injustice? Has Obama become so ingrained with their views that he believes only the awesome power of expanded government can right these past wrongs through wealth transfers and restrictions on personal choice?
Is it conceivable Obama can become a believable centrist? I for one sincerely doubt it. You decide!
1) Evan Bayh will not seek re-election
By Mary Beth Schneider
Sen. Evan Bayh will not run for re-election, a decision that will shock Democrats and Republicans alike in Indiana.
In prepared remarks, Bayh, 54, cited excessive partisanship that makes progress on public policy difficult to achieve as the motivation for his decision.
“After all these years, my passion for service to my fellow citizens is undiminished, but my desire to do so in Congress has waned,” he said.
“My decision was not motivated by political concern,” he added. “Even in the current challenging environment, I am confident in my prospects for re-election.”
Bayh had never lost an election, from his first win in 1986 as secretary of state, his wins for governor in 1988 and 1992 and his election to the U.S. Senate in 1998 and 2004.
“But running for the sake of winning an election, just to remain in public office, is not good enough,” Bayh said. “And it has never been what motivates me. At this time I simply believe I can best contribute to society in another way: creating jobs by helping grow a business, helping guide an institution of higher learning or helping run a worthy charitable endeavor.”
Only days ago, Bayh’s staff, close associates and Indiana Democratic Party Chairman Dan Parker, who was manager of Bayh’s re-election campaign, had assured an Indianapolis Star reporter that he would definitely seek a third term in the U.S. Senate. And Democrats recently released a poll showing Bayh easily ahead of both former Sen. Dan Coats and former U.S. Rep. John Hostettler, two of the four Republicans seeking the GOP nomination.
But in his statement, Bayh cited recent stalemates in Congress.
“Two weeks ago, the Senate voted down a bipartisan commission to deal with one of the greatest threats facing our nation: our exploding deficits and debt. The measure would have passed, but seven members who had endorsed the idea instead voted ‘no’ for short-term political reasons,” he said.
“Just last week, a major piece of legislation to create jobs — the public’s top priority — fell apart amid complaints from both the left and right. All of this and much more has led me to believe that there are better ways to serve my fellow citizens, my beloved state and our nation than continued service in Congress.”
The decision ends one of the brightest political careers by Indiana Democrat, at least for now.
Bayh, the son of former U.S. Sen. Birch Bayh, had been the nation’s youngest governor when he first won Indiana’s chief executive job at age 33 in 1988, and was frequently mentioned as a possibility for vice president, and was on President Barack Obama’s list of only three finalists before Obama settled on former Sen. Joe Biden.
Bayh also considered running for president himself, launching an exploratory effort in 2006 for the 2008 Democratic Party nomination before dropping the effort only a couple weeks later.
He was born in Shirkieville, near Terre Haute, to Birch and Marvella Bayh; he graduated from Indiana University in 1978 and received a law degree from the University of Virginia in 1981. He and his wife Susan have 14-year-old twin sons, Nick and Beau.
Bayh is expected to discuss his decision at a 2 p.m. news conference today at the IUPUI University Place Conference Center and Hotel, 850 W. Michigan Street.
1a)Evan Bayh won't seek re-election, Senate majority in play?
Indiana Sen. Evan Bayh will not seek re-election this year, he announced Monday, a decision that hands Republicans a prime pickup opportunity in the middle of the country.
"After all these years, my passion for service to my fellow citizens is undiminished, but my desire to do so by serving in Congress has waned," Bayh said at a press conference in Indianapolis.
Bayh cited the lack of bipartisan comity as one of the main reasons for the decision. "There is too much partisanship and not enough progress -- too much narrow ideology and not enough practical problem-solving," he said. "Even at a time of enormous challenge, the peoples' business is not being done." He specifically cited the recent vote that killed the creation of a debt commission as evidence of the partisan gridlock.
Bayh was first elected to the Senate in 1998 and was re-elected easily in 2004. National Republicans had recruited former Sen. Dan Coats to challenge Bayh in 2010 although polling suggested Bayh began the race with a 20-point edge. He also had $13 million in the bank at the end of the year.
"My decision was not motivated by political concern," Bayh said. "Even in the current challenging environment, I am confident in my prospects for re-election."
Prior to being in the Senate, Bayh served two terms as governor of the Hoosier State. He also served briefly as Secretary of State.
His retirement is a blow for Senate Democrats who now must legitimately worry about the possibility -- although it remains a longshot today -- that they will lose control of the Senate in the fall.
The Cook Political Report, one of the nation's leading handicappers of congressional elections, now carries 10 Democratic-held seats in its most competitive categories --meaning that if Republicans sweep those races (and lose none of their own vulnerable seats), they will have a 51-seat majority. Cook, incidentally, moved Indiana from a lean Democratic seat to a lean Republican seat in the wake of the Bayh news.
Bayh's universal name recognition and popularity -- not to mention his massive campaign war chest -- made him a favorite in the fall despite the Republican tilt of the state and the increased focus of national GOP strategists on the contest.
Without Bayh, Democrats may look to their congressional delegation where Reps. Baron Hill, Brad Ellsworth and Joe Donnelly are likely to take a look at running.
Because signatures to qualify for the ballot are due Tuesday, no Democrat will formally file -- leaving the seat vacant and allowing the state party apparatus to choose the candidate.
National Republicans had rallied around Coats in recent days and given the logistical hurdles with the rapidly approaching filing deadline are likely to stick to that plan. "I will continue to run just as hard and take nothing for granted," Coats said in a statement. "I am running so the views and interests of Hoosiers are represented in Washington."
Republican Rep. Mike Pence, who briefly considered running for the seat before deciding against it late last month, removed himself from consideration again today. "Congressman Pence believes that Republicans will retake the House in 2010 and he counts it a privilege to be a part of the House Republican leadership during this historic election," said Matt Lloyd, a spokesman for Pence. "Mr. Pence has filed for re-election to the 6th Congressional District of Indiana and will continue serve his constituents and help lead the effort to retake the House of Representatives."
No matter how the two fields shake out, holding the Indiana seat just got much harder for Democrats. Although President Barack Obama won the Hoosier State narrowly in 2008, it is generally regarded by strategists of both parties as swing territory with a slight edge for Republicans. The national playing field's tilt toward Republicans makes the seat all the tougher for Democrats to hold.
Bayh is the fifth Democratic Senator not seeking re-election. He joins Sens. Chris Dodd (Conn.), Byron Dorgan (N.D.), Ted Kaufman (Del.) and Roland Burris (Ill.) on the sidelines. Six Republicans are retiring: Sens. Kit Bond (Mo.), George Lemieux (Fla.), Judd Gregg (N.H.), George Voinovich (Ohio), Sam Brownback (Kans.) and Jim Bunning (Ky.)
1b)Bayh to Obama: take this job and shove it
Millions of Americans long to tell their bosses “take this job and shove it.” Hardly any have the power and money to do so, especially in these recessionary times. Sen. Evan Bayh (D) of Indiana, however, is the exception. His stunning retirement from the Senate is essentially a loud and emphatic “screw you” to President Obama and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid. For months now, Bayh has been screaming at the top of his voice that the party needs to reorient toward a more popular, centrist agenda -- one that emphasizes jobs and fiscal responsibility over health care and cap and trade. Neither the White House nor the Senate leadership has given him the response he wanted. Their bungling of what should have been a routine bipartisan jobs bill last week seems to have been the last straw.
I don’t doubt that Bayh could have won re-election -- though he probably did not relish the prospect of a very nasty campaign revolving around GOP attacks on his wife’s business activities. Let it never be forgotten that Bayh is a perennial Democratic golden boy, the keynote speaker at the party’s 1996 convention, scion of a political dynasty, proven vote-getter in a red state and, in his own mind, prime presidential timber. For him, then, the question was: even if I win, who needs six more years of dealing with these people, after which I might be 60 years old and trying to pick up the pieces of a damaged political party brand?
And don’t get him started on the Republicans! I think we have to take Bayh at his word when he quite justifiably expressed disgust not only with the jobs bill fiasco, but also when he lashed out at the Senate Republicans who opportunistically voted down a bipartisan budget-balancing commission they had previously endorsed.
Quitting the Senate was a no-lose move for the presidentially ambitious Bayh, since he can now crawl away from the political wreckage for a couple of years, plausibly alleging that he tried to steer the party in a different direction -- and then be perfectly positioned to mount a centrist primary challenge to Obama in 2012, depending on circumstances.
There will be those Democrats who bid good riddance to Bayh and his coal-burning-state apostasy about cap and trade, etc. If so, they won’t need a very big tent to contain the celebration. On a more pragmatic view, Bayh’s dramatic vote of no-confidence in his own party’s leadership looks like another Massachusetts-sized political earthquake for the Democrats. Not only does it imperil the president’s short-term hopes of passing health care and other major legislation this year. It also makes it much more likely that the Republicans can pick up Bayh’s Senate seat in normally red Indiana and, with it, control of the Senate itself. If present trends continue, November could turn into a Republican rout.
2)The China Miscalculation
By Robert Samuelson
It's become apparent from recent events that America's political, business and scholarly elites have fundamentally misjudged China. Conflicts with China have multiplied. Consider: the undervalued renminbi and its effect on trade; the breakdown of global warming negotiations in Copenhagen; China's weak support of efforts to prevent Iran from acquiring nuclear weapons; its similarly poor record in pushing North Korea to relinquish its tiny atomic arsenal; the sale of U.S. weapons to Taiwan; and Google's threat to leave China rather than condone continued censorship.
The United States and China view the world in starkly different terms. The lesson of the Great Depression and World War II for Americans was that isolationism was self-defeating. Tried after World War I, it failed. The United States had to engage abroad to protect its economy and physical security. These core ideas remain the bedrock justifications for overseas military commitments and the promotion of an open world economy. The quest is for stability, not empire.
China, too, covets stability. But its history and perspective are different, as Martin Jacques shows in his masterful "When China Rules the World." Starting with the first Opium War (1839-42) -- when England insisted on importing opium from India -- China suffered a string of military defeats and humiliating treaties that gave England, France and other nations trading and political privileges. In the 20th century, China was balkanized by civil war and Japanese invasion. Not until the communists' 1949 triumph in the civil war was there again a unified national government. These experiences left legacies: fear of disorder and memory of foreign exploitation.
Since 1978, China's economy has increased roughly 10-fold. The prevailing American assumption was that as China became richer, its interests and values would converge with those of the United States. China would depend increasingly on a thriving global economy. Freer domestic markets would loosen the stranglehold of the Communist Party. The United States and China would not always agree, but disputes would be manageable.
It isn't turning out that way. A wealthier China has become more assertive, notes Jacques. American prestige has further suffered from the financial crisis originating in the United States. But the fissure goes deeper: China does not accept the legitimacy and desirability of the post-World War II global order, which involves collective responsibility among great powers (led by the United States) for world economic stability and peace.
China's policies reflect a different notion: China First.
Unlike the isolationist America First movement of the 1930s, China First does not mean global disengagement. It does mean engagement on China's terms. China accepts and supports the existing order when that serves its needs, as when it joined the World Trade Organization in 2001. Otherwise, it plays by its own rules and norms.
Trade policy is explicitly discriminatory to address two crucial problems: surplus labor and scarce commodities. The undervalued renminbi aims to help create 20 million or more jobs that Jacques cites as needed annually. China is scouring the globe to make investments in secure raw materials, particularly fuel. The object of "economic reform," Jacques writes, was "never Westernization" but "a desire to restore the (Communist) Party's legitimacy."
Most American-Chinese disputes reflect China's unwillingness to endanger domestic goals for international ends. It won't commit to binding greenhouse gas cuts because these could reduce economic growth and (again) jobs. On Iran, it values its oil investments more than it fears Iranian nukes. Likewise, it worries that unrest in North Korea could send refugees spilling across the border. Because Taiwan is regarded as part of China, U.S. arms sales there become domestic interference. And censorship is needed to maintain one-party control.
China's worldview threatens America's geopolitical and economic interests. Just recently, 19 U.S. trade associations wrote the Obama administration warning that new Chinese rules for "indigenous innovation" could "exclude a wide array of U.S. firms" from the Chinese market -- or force them to turn over advanced technology. (British firms are so incensed by "overwhelming protectionism" that some may quit China, reports the Telegraph newspaper.)
It would be a tragedy if these two superpowers began regarding each other as adversaries. But that's the drift. Heirs to a 2,000-year cultural tradition -- and citizens of the world's largest country -- the Chinese have an innate sense of superiority, Jacques writes. Americans, too, have a sense of superiority, thinking that our values -- the belief in freedom, individualism and democracy -- reflect universal aspirations.
Greater conflicts and a collision of national egos seem inevitable. No longer should we sit passively while China's trade and currency policies jeopardize jobs here and elsewhere. Political differences between the countries are increasingly hard to ignore. But given China's growing power -- and the world economy's fragile state -- a showdown may do no one any good. Miscalculation is leading us down dark alleys.
3)The Fasting and Prayer Conference includes meals.
The sermon this morning: 'Jesus Walks on the Water.' The sermon tonight: 'Searching for Jesus.'
Ladies, don't forget the rummage sale. It's a chance to get rid of those things not worth keeping around the house. Bring your husbands.
Don't let worry kill you off - let the Church help.
Miss Charlene Mason sang 'I will not pass this way again,' giving obvious pleasure to the congregation.
For those of you who have children and don't know it, we have a nursery downstairs.
Next Thursday there will be tryouts for the choir. They need all the help they can get.
Irving Benson and Jessie Carter were married on October 24 in the church. So ends a friendship that began in their school days.
At the evening service tonight, the sermon topic will be 'What Is Hell?' Come early and listen to our choir practice ..
Eight new choir robes are currently needed due to the addition of several new members and to the deterioration of some older ones.
Scouts are saving aluminum cans, bottles and other items to be recycled. Proceeds will be used to cripple children.
Please place your donation in the envelope along with the deceased person you want remembered.
The church will host an evening of fine dining, super entertainment and gracious hostility.
Potluck supper Sunday at 5:00 PM - prayer and medication to follow.
The ladies of the Church have cast off clothing of every kind. They may be seen in the basement on Friday afternoon.
This evening at 7 PM there will be a hymn singing in the park across from the Church. Bring a blanket and come prepared to sin.
Ladies Bible Study will be held Thursday morning at 10 AM. All ladies are invited to lunch in the Fellowship Hall after the B. S. is done
4)Taliban step up attacks in besieged Afghan town
By ALFRED de MONTESQUIOU,
MARJAH, Afghanistan – Taliban fighters stepped up counterattacks Monday against Marines and Afghan soldiers in the militant stronghold of Marjah, slowing the allied advance to a crawl despite Afghan government claims that the insurgents are broken and on the run.
Taliban fighters appeared to be slipping under cover of darkness into compounds already deemed free of weapons and explosives, then opening fire on the Marines from behind U.S. lines.
Also Monday, NATO said five civilians were accidentally killed and two wounded by an airstrike when they were mistakenly believed to have been planting roadside bombs in Kandahar province, east of the Marjah offensive.
The airstrike happened one day after 12 people, half of them children, were killed by two U.S. missiles that struck a house on the outskirts of Marjah. Afghan officials said Monday that three Taliban fighters were in the house at the time of the attack.
On the third day of the main attack on Marjah, Afghan commanders spoke optimistically about progress in the town of about 80,000 people, the linchpin of the Taliban logistical and opium poppy smuggling network in the militant-influenced south.
Brig. Gen. Sher Mohammad Zazai, commander of Afghan troops in the south, told reporters in nearby Lashkar Gah that there had been "low resistance" in the town, adding "soon we will have Marjah cleared of enemies."
Interior Minister Hanif Atmar said many insurgent fighters had already fled Marjah, possibly heading for Pakistan.
In Marjah, however, there was little sign the Taliban were broken. Instead, small, mobile teams of insurgents repeatedly attacked U.S. and Afghan troops with rocket, rifle and rocket-propelled grenade fire. Insurgents moved close enough to the main road to fire repeatedly at columns of mine-clearing vehicles.
At midday at least six large gunbattles were raging across the town, and helicopter gunships couldn't cover all the different fighting locations.
Allied officials have reported only two coalition deaths so far — one American and one Briton killed Saturday. There have been no reports of wounded. Afghan officials said at least 27 insurgents have been killed so far in the offensive.
Nonetheless, the harassment tactics and the huge number of roadside bombs, mines and booby traps planted throughout Marjah have succeeded in slowing the movement of allied forces through the town. After daylong skirmishes, some Marine units had barely advanced at all by sundown.
As long as the town remains unstable, NATO officials cannot move to the second phase — restoring Afghan government control and rushing in aid and public services to win over inhabitants who have been living under Taliban rule for years.
Afghan President Hamid Karzai approved the assault on Marjah only after instructing NATO and Afghan commanders to be careful about harming civilians. "This operation has been done with that in mind," the top NATO commander, U.S. Gen. Stanley McChrystal, said Monday.
Despite those instructions, NATO said two U.S. rockets veered off target by up to 600yards and slammed into a home Sunday outside Marjah, killing 12 people. Six children were among the dead, a NATO military official confirmed Monday, speaking on condition of anonymity because the information had not been formally released.
In London, Britain's top military officer, Air Chief Marshal Sir Jock Stirrup, called the missile strike a "very serious setback" to efforts to win the support of local communities, who are from the same Pashtun ethnic group as the Taliban.
"This operation ... is not about battling the Taliban. It is about protecting the local population, and you don't protect them when you kill them," he said in an interview with the British Broadcasting Corp.
NATO said the Kandahar airstrike was ordered Monday after a joint NATO-Afghan patrol saw people digging along a path "and believed that the individuals" were planting a roadside bomb. When they realized their mistake, troops flew the wounded to a NATO hospital, the statement said.
"We regret this tragic accident and offer our sympathies to the families of those killed and injured," said Maj. Gen. Michael Regner, the NATO command's deputy chief of staff for joint operations. "Our combined forces take every precaution to minimize civilian casualties, and we will investigate this incident to determine how this happened."
About 15,000 U.S., Afghan and British troops are taking part in the massive offensive around Marjah area — the largest southern town under Taliban control. The offensive is the biggest joint operation since the 2001 U.S.-led invasion of Afghanistan.
The main attack began before dawn Saturday when dozens of helicopters dropped hundreds of Marines and Afghan soldiers into the heart of the city. Ground troops began moving just before sunrise, using makeshift bridges to cross the irrigation canals ringing the town because the main bridge was so heavily mined.
Although there was only scattered resistance on the first day, Taliban fighters seem to have regrouped, using hit-and-run tactics to try to prevent the Americans and their Afghan allies from gaining full control of the area.
The Taliban snipers appeared highly skilled at concealing themselves.
"I haven't seen anything, not one person, not a muzzle flash," said Richard Knie, of Hudson, Iowa, a former Marine and retired police officer embedded with the Marines as a law enforcement professional. "And I've been looking a lot."
Troops complained that strict rules to protect civilians made it difficult to use enough firepower to stop the attacks.
"I understand the reason behind it, but it's so hard to fight a war like this," said Lance Corp. Travis Anderson, 20, from Altoona, Iowa. "They're using our rules of engagement against us," he said, adding that his platoon had repeatedly seen men dropping their guns into ditches before walking away to melt among civilians
5)White House revamps communications strategy
By Michael D. Shear
White House officials are retooling the administration's communications strategy to produce faster responses to political adversaries, a more disciplined focus on President Obama's call for "change" in Washington and an increasingly selective use of the president's time.
The messaging adjustments are the result of an end-of-the-year analysis in which White House advisers said the president's communications team had not taken the initiative often enough and had allowed drawn-out debates in Congress, and relentless criticism by Republicans, to drown out his message.
"It was clear that too often we didn't have the ball -- Congress had the ball in terms of driving the message," communications director Dan Pfeiffer said. "In 2010, the president will constantly be doing high-profile things to be the person driving the narrative."
Senior White House aides described the changes as an aggressive response, aimed at producing fresh momentum for the president's faltering agenda and regaining the advantage ahead of the congressional midterm elections in November.
Vice President Biden's appearances on two Sunday morning talk shows were part of the new response -- in this case, to rebut former vice president Richard B. Cheney's accusations that the administration is weak on terrorism. Biden, who taped one of the shows in advance, said his predecessor was attempting to "rewrite history."
Obama's surprise news conference last week -- his first in nearly seven months -- is another example. After a bipartisan meeting with congressional leaders, Obama faced the media to declare his willingness to work with Republicans. But he warned: "I also won't hesitate to condemn what I consider to be obstinacy that's rooted not in substantive disagreements but in political expedience."
The plan to deploy Obama after the meeting with lawmakers was a departure from the practice of issuing one- or two-sentence "readouts" after presidential meetings. Aides said they are unwilling to let others frame the president's private discussions.
The proposal to televise a Feb. 25 health-care summit with Republicans grew out of a conclusion by top White House advisers that Obama had bested House GOP leaders during a 90-minute televised discussion in Baltimore last month. In a Washington Post-ABC News poll, 45 percent of those surveyed said Obama was doing "the right amount" to compromise with Republicans. Thirty percent said the same of the GOP.
"One thing for sure that people want is for us to have honest, open debate," said senior adviser David Axelrod. "The question is whether we can overcome the obstacles of hyperpartisanship and the excessive influence of special interests here. We are going to communicate that."
Stephen J. Farnsworth, an assistant professor of communication at George Mason University and author of "Spinner in Chief: How Presidents Sell Their Policies and Themselves," said: "A diffident Obama PR strategy in the first year gave the Republicans an opening they have exploited." Farnsworth added of White House officials, "They simply have to play offense to try to win back the public support that they enjoyed during the campaign."
Obama's aides say their communications efforts last year helped produce some of his successes, including passage of the Recovery Act. But they acknowledged, as Axelrod said, that "it's easy to lose the forest for the trees -- there was some of that, yes." Obama has publicly expressed frustration recently that his broader message, especially on health-care reform and the economy, has not been received.
Press secretary Robert Gibbs said the White House team struggled in 2009 to adapt to a political environment that demanded daily communication battles. "We have to adjust in many ways to the fact that in the campaign we always took the long view," he said. "This is an environment that calls for sharper communication
Gibbs and others at the White House described four major changes that have been put in place since Democrats lost their supermajority in the Senate with the election of Republican Scott P. Brown in Massachusetts and the health-care effort stalled in Congress.
First, they said, is a return to the disciplined messaging that was a hallmark of the 2008 campaign, in which unhelpful themes were filtered out in favor of topics that advanced the candidate's goals. In the White House, they said, that will mean a tighter focus on Obama's commitment to the economy and jobs for average Americans. "The threshold for things he will go out and talk about is higher," one senior aide said.
Second, White House advisers promise a quicker, more aggressive response to GOP attacks on the president and his policies. They noted that Obama and his top White House advisers have pushed back hard against Republican accusations that the FBI mishandled the interrogation of the man accused of trying to bomb an airliner on Christmas Day -- and as Biden did on Sunday.
Gibbs argued the administration's case in a Feb. 3 e-mail to reporters with the subject line "Just to be clear . . ." The e-mail was the first of what he says will be a regular outreach to the media. Over the weekend, Gibbs began using the online service Twitter.
Pfeiffer, who took over as communications director in December, said he has directed more resources toward rapid response, especially online. When Bloomberg News ran a headline suggesting that Obama was indifferent to the issue of bonuses for bankers, aides immediately posted a rebuttal on the White House blog. They e-mailed online news sites to change the headline and asked progressive bloggers to convey their interpretation of the president's remarks.
A third change is a return to the backdrops for Obama that aides considered so effective during the presidential bid. The image of Obama standing in the Diplomatic Room surrounded by men in dark suits will be replaced, as often as possible, by scenes of a more relaxed president in crowds. The goal is to have Obama travel outside of Washington -- what they call "the bubble" -- at least once a week, advisers said.
Finally, aides said it was recognized inside the West Wing that Obama has strayed from his most successful message of the campaign: that he would be a change agent in Washington.
"Belatedly," Farnsworth said, "the Obama administration is starting to recognize their advantage."
Big Government Not A Solution
This month’s Atlantic cover story makes dire predictions about the impact of the recession:
It will likely change the life course and character of a generation of young adults... It could cripple marriage as an institution in many communities. It may already be plunging many inner cities into a despair not seen for decades. Ultimately, it is likely to warp our politics, our culture, and the character of our society for years to come.
The dreary article quotes nearly every liberal economist and concludes that because we are in “such a deep hole,” “solutions—like more-aggressive support for the unemployed, and employer tax credits or other subsidies ...—are straightforward and obvious...
Gee, paying people who don’t work, and complicated tax credits are the obvious solution. Who knew?
The economically clueless, from Malthus to the Peak Oil crowd to liberal media, constantly predict doom.
Despite its remarkable length, the article never mentions that unemployment was worse in 1982 (10.8%.) I didn’t notice that our "life course and character" was markedly changed by that. Few of us even remember that recession.
A National Bureau of Economics study looked at data from 1982 to 1999 and found that students graduating during a recession initially get paid less than those who graduate in good times. But within a decade, they found, the gap disappears entirely.
The Atlantic writer carefully selects years to note that:
Median household income in 2008 was the lowest since 1997, adjusting for inflation.
But here’s the long-term chart:
Of course income is down lately, but it’s up sharply over the long run. The chart actually understates the gains because it doesn't count benefits from new technology. A Kindle may replace a hundred books, but such gains aren’t visible in the government’s data.
As economist Don Boudreaux points out: "the government’s data also underestimates the middle-class’s increasing prosperity, for it ignores the shrinking size of households. In 1967, the average household contained 3.14 persons; in 2006 it contained 2.57 persons. This fact means that the real income for each member of the average household grew."
The biggest threat to our future is the growth of the state. And its debt. Yet somehow, increasing both is the “solution” proposed in the Atlantic:
Concerns over deficits are understandable, but in these times, our bias should be toward doing too much rather than doing too little. That implies some small risk to the government’s ability to continue borrowing in the future; and it implies somewhat higher taxes in the future too. But that seems a trade worth making... We have a civic—and indeed a moral—responsibility to do everything in our power to stop it now, before it gets even worse.
Give me a break. During the Great Depression, Franklin Roosevelt made similar demands:
"This nation asks for action, and action now. Our greatest primary task is to put people to work... I shall ask the Congress for the one remaining instrument to meet the crisis -- broad executive power to wage a war against the emergency..."
That was in 1933. Roosevelt got the big government programs he wanted — but activist government chilled the private sector. Seven years later, unemployment was still at nearly 15 percent.
Let's not try that again