THE GROFF/ELLISON POLITICAL REPORT

Obama’s Team of Rivals

Posted in Uncategorized by groffellison on November 30, 2008

It looks like President Elect Barack Obama will name presidential rival and Senate colleague Hillary Clinton as Secretary of State tomorrow in Chicago. 

If that is true and Obama names New Mexico Governor Bill Richardson to Commerce the President Elect could well be on his way to creating his own team of rivals.  It is well known that Obama is taken by President Abraham Lincoln and smitten by Doris Kearns Goodwin’s take on Lincoln in her recent tome named “Team of Rivals.”

Kearns Goodwin lays out in that work how Lincoln cobbled together a cabinet of his former presidential rivals who didn’t particularly care for him or for each other but the first President from Illinois pulled together his former opponents and the made the cabinet work in arguably the most difficult time in American history. 

This may not be the most difficult time in American history but it is hard nonetheless and the second President from Illinois seems to be gathering opponents and advisers to opponents to create an interesting White House staff and cabinet and a modern day team of rivals.  

The Lincolnesque path says more about Obama and the next presidency then it does about Vice President Elect Joe Biden, Richardson, Clinton or Clintonites.  If Obama can put what Clinton and her and the former President’s minions said and did behind him to name the best and brightest to his effort to turn America around maybe he should have been the candidate who ran with the motto “country first.”

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GUEST BLOG: Webster Brooks on “Obama’s Central Asian Crisis”

Posted in Uncategorized by groffellison on November 25, 2008
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Eliminating al Queda’s stronghold in Pakistan and defeating the Taliban in Afghanistan has moved to the top of President-elect Barak Obama’s foreign policy agenda. Circumstances on the ground in Central Asia have grown increasingly grave as a resurgent al Queda has pivoted toward a new strategy in Central Asia; destabilizing the nuclear armed government of Pakistan. In Afghanistan the Taliban’s offensive has rendered key provinces ungovernable and pushed President Hamid Karzai’s government to the abyss of collapse. Al Queda and the Taliban are stretching the global battlefield and redefining Central Asia’s geo-political map. For Barak Obama, the stakes are enormous. Developments in Central Asia will test the full measure of American hard and soft power and Europe’s resolve to forge a durable global security arrangement.  

The emerging Central Asian crisis poses daunting challenges for the incoming Obama administration. President Karzai of Afghanistan and President Zardari of Pakistan are weak leaders of faltering governments that cannot be sustained without unpopular U.S. intervention. Since al Queda and the Taliban launched their ground offensive in May 2006 they now occupy military space in four Southeastern Afghanistan provinces, Baluchistan Province in Pakistan, the Federally Administered Tribal Areas (F.A.T.A.) and growing swaths of the North West Frontier Provinces (NWFP). A virtual failed state of Pashtunistan now exists in the majority Pashtun ethnic seam on both sides of the Afghanistan-Pakistan border. While Obama promises to insert 10,000 additional troops in Afghanistan, most NATO countries in-theater refuse to allow their troops to engage the Taliban-leaving the brunt of the fighting to U.S. armed forces. Finally, Iran, Russia, India, China and Pakistan all have strategic designs on Afghanistan backed by armed proxies on the ground; few of which comport with U.S. interests.

The Obama administration’s national security goals in Central Asia have yet to be articulated, but preventing Afghanistan or Pakistan from becoming failed states is foremost on the agenda. The collapse of either government will unleash Al Queda, the Taliban and other extremists to expand their influence across Central Asia, particularly in Uzbekistan and Tajikistan. Should Pakistan slide into chaos the prospects of loose nuclear technology floating on the black market has ominous implications. The global nerve center of terrorism has relocated to Pashtunistan where terrorist attacks on London, Madrid and Bali were all hatched, and where al Queda makes it new home. Therefore Obama must unite his European allies around a central strategy to bring Pakistan on side, dislodge Al Queda and the Taliban from Pashtunistan (FATA and the NWFP) and reach consensus on a long range plan to rebuild Afghanistan.

Al Queda’s long-term strategy is to draw the U.S. military into the Middle East, spread its forces thin and bleed the U.S. until it withdraws from the region. Weakened regimes  left behind would have to fend for themselves against a radicalized Muslim street and potent non-state actors, as is feared in Iraq today. Thus, a sustained al Queda offensive in Pakistan could warrent U.S. intervention in its third Muslim country the past seven years. The alternative would be to risk Pakistan lapsing into a failed state. Aided by the Bush administration’s ill conceived and mismanaged war of choice in Iraq, Al Queda and anti-U.S. forces in the Persian Gulf and Central Asia have seized the initiative. They are selecting the time and place of battle and determining the choice of weapons. Given the magnitude and complexity of the challenges surfacing in Central Asia, how will President Barak Obama’s respond? 

While stabilizing Afghanistan will require patience, perseverance and a renewed commitment by NATO, the situation in Pakistan has imparted a great sense of urgency and volatility to the Central Asian equation. The surprising strength of Al Queda’s resurgence in Pakistan and its alliance with the new Pakistani Taliban (Tehrik-e-Taliban) poses an immediate threat to Pakistan. Pakistan’s economy is in a tailspin, which could fuel more discord among the Pakistani body-politic. Going forward Obama’s biggest problem may not be al Queda as much as the Pakistani Army and the Inter Services Intelligence Agency (ISA) whose loyalties remain divided between the Zardari government on the one hand and extremist Taliban and Kashmiri elements on the other. The Army and the ISI sponsored A.Q. Khan’s acquisition of nuclear technology to build Pakistan’s “Islamic” bomb, and provided cover for Khan’s black market sales bazaar of nuclear technology to Iran, North Korea and Libya. All this was done as a matter of state policy. Along with hosting and financing global terrorists since the beginning of Afghanistan’s resistance to the Soviets in 1979, the Army and ISI has done more to advance the cause of global terrorism than any other nation or non-state actor. 

Having enjoyed sanctuary in Pakistan’s Northwest Frontier Territories since 2003, al Queda continues to receive aid and comfort from key sectors of the Army and the Inter Services Intelligence Agency (ISI). Now al Queda has turned on the Pakistani government with a vengeance. Their sponsorship of Muslim extremists that provoked the Red Mosque massacres in Islamabad in 2007 marked a crucial turning point in Pakistan that re-energized the extremist Muslim movement. After the mosque massacre angry volunteers and madrassa students streamed into FATA and the NWFP. In November 2007, al Queda launched its biggest operation ever in Pakistan’s Swat Valley where thousands of Taliban, Chechens, Uzbeks and Arab jihadists joined AQ to blowup police stations, drive out local administrators, burned down girls schools, forced thousands to flee the fighting and shut down the Valley’s tourist economy. The Swat Valley offensive was followed by a wave of suicide bombings and assassination attempts against the military and leading Pakistani officials from Karachi to Rawalpindi to the assassination of Benazir Bhutto. The scale of the offensive and the damage done to Pakistan’s tottering economy has unsettled Pakistan’s government and illuminated the red lights in the Pentagon’s Situation Room.

Fully aware of the implications of Al Queda’s offensive, in October Obama said “We have to make the case that the biggest threat to Pakistan is not India which has been the historical enemy. It is actually militants within their borders. If we get them to refocus on that, that’s going to be critical for our success, not just in stabilizing Pakistan but also in finishing the job in Afghanistan.” Obama’s message to Pakistani Prime Minister Galani and President Zardari was clear; the days of diverting billions in U.S. aid to fund Pakistan’s military operations against India and supporting Kashmir extremists are over. If Pakistan wants the proposed new $15 billion aid package, it must start rooting out Taliban and al Queda forces within its borders and scale back support for Kashmiri terrorists. To undermine al Queda and the army’s support for Kashmiri adventurism, Obama is thinking seriously about appointing a special envoy to finally broker a border settlement between Pakistan and India over Kashmir.

Despite his critics in the U.S. and Pakistan, Obama has refused to backtrack on his statement that if Pakistan doesn’t move on “actionable intelligence” to strike al Queda inside its borders, the United States will. In truth, Drone missile and U.S. helicopter gunship attacks on al Queda positions are increasing as the Bush presidency draws to a close. Should Pakistan’s Army and ISI continue to drag their feet on going after AQ and the Pakistani Taliban, Obama may be confronted with a game changing decision; whether to commit U.S. special forces in Pakistan. Even if bin Ladin is killed, al Queda is not going away. Committing ground forces with coordinated lethal air power may be the only option available to strike a decisive blow to al Queda and the Taliban. It could also ignite a wave of anti-U.S. outrage that threatens the political legitimacy of the Zardari-Galani government. While there are few good options in Pakistan, Al Queda’s operation in Pashtunistan must be shut down. 

On the other side of the border Obama’s first move will be carrying through on his campaign pledge to redeploy two U.S. brigades from Iraq to Afghanistan. His objective will be expelling Mullah Omar’s Taliban forces from Kandahar and the poppy rich Helmund Province in Southern Afghanistan that provides millions in narco-trafficking revenue to the insurgency. Obama and his new CENTCOM Commander General David Petraeus are both leaning toward a military “surge first” policy that creates conditions for negotiations to bring “moderate Taliban” elements into the government. In October, Obama said “I think that after talking to our commanders on the ground and based on sound intelligence, if we can peel off some support from the hardcore militants that are aligned with Al Qaeda that will be beneficial.”

To make this strategy work, the U.S. must hit the Taliban hard enough militarily to separate the Taliban and Pashtun tribes that truly want to enter a coalition government with Karzai, from diehard Taliban forces determined to undermine the government. The Taliban’s strategy is not to militarily topple the Karzai regime, but to undermine it while extending their influence. By destroying infrastructure, burning down schools, attacking NGO’s and targeting Aghan police officers they seek to make it impossible for Karzai to govern. 

Increasing U.S. troop strength to 43,000 soldiers on the ground along with 30,000 NATO forces will allow the U.S/NATO corps to replicate the Iraq strategy of clearing territory; holding ground and building stable protected areas with the support of Afghan people. Implementing the “clear, hold and build” strategy will be far more difficult than it was in Iraq. Afghanistan’s land mass is considerably more vast and the Taliban much stronger and better organized than Iraq’s fractured political forces. Karzai’s government only controls one-third of the country, with warlords, Northern Alliance forces, and Iran wielding tremendous influence in Herat and Western Afghanistan.

The deployment of more U.S. troops and the “surge first” strategy will also send a strong message to Pakistan and others that the U.S. is making a long-term commitment to Afghanistan’s beleaguered government; a commitment the U.S. never made since its 2002 invasion. Karzai needs time and space to reign in the provincial warlords he’s allowed to run roughshod over the country. New estimates for rebuilding a credible the Afghan National Army and the Afghan Police Force has jumped from 65,000 to 200,000. And there are still the challenges of restoring basic services starting with water, electricity, schools and medical services. 

Karzai has been widely discredited among Afghans as ineffective against tyrannical warlords, and an enabler of Afghanistan’s massive corruption. Karzai’s own brother has linked to drug trafficking. Obama could have Karzai on a short leash. Presidential elections are coming in 2009 and Karzai may not survive if an attractive Pashtun leader emerges to challenge for office. 

The road forward in Afghanistan will be a long and difficult one that likely spans President Obama’s presidential term, even if re-elected. Afghanistan is one of the poorest countries in the world, divided by many ethnic groups, warlords and foreign powers. The economic commitment necessary to overcome the effects of three decades of civil war is so large that U.S. and European leaders have yet to live up to their pledges made in of 2002. In the midst of the current global economic crisis, European largesse seems even less likely. The failure to defeat or co-opt the Taliban in Afghanistan will be a devastating blow to the effectiveness of NATO and the European Union, and would have serious repercussions for the future of global security.

General Petreaus, who is conducting a top-down review of CENTCOM operations in Iraq, Iran, Afghanistan and Pakistan, said last month that “The effort in Afghanistan is going to be the longest campaign of the long war.” Obama will do well to remember that. After all, he seeks to accomplish what Alexander the Great, Genghis Khan, the British Raj and the Soviets could not; subdue Afghanistan’s insurgency with foreign troops and impose a proxy government on Kabul.

NY: Paterson Playing Position Well …

Posted in Uncategorized by groffellison on November 20, 2008

The latest from Political Wire reports on NY Gov. David Paterson’s (D) solid polling lead over NY AG Andrew Cuomo in a possible Democratic primary:

If Sen. Hillary Clinton moves on to become Secretary of State in the Obama administration, the buzz in New York has Attorney General Andrew Cuomo (D) a likely candidate to fill her seat.

That might be a good thing for Cuomo since a new Siena Research Institute poll finds Gov. David Paterson (D) beating Cuomo handily in a Democratic primary for governor, 53% to 25%.

In general election match ups, Paterson beats Rudy Giuliani (R), 49% to 43%, while Giuliani bests Cuomo, 46% to 44%.

Shades of Obama?  More so a sign of the times and growing Black political clout, particularly in large states.  Obama’s win, however, opens symbolic doors making it easier for African Americans to run and win statewide.  Would Paterson appoint himself as Sen. Hillary Clinton’s (D) replacement should she take on the offer for Secretary of State?  Highly doubtful. It appears Cuomo is being groomed for this, although there are reports of NY Congressman and CBC Member Gregory Meeks (D) wanting to take a stab at it.   Still, Paterson is definitely on a nice political trajectory at the moment.  Let’s see how he performs in a tightening economic climate.

Elements for a New Economy

Posted in Uncategorized by groffellison on November 20, 2008

Perhaps the shadiest aspect of this unfolding “bailout” saga is the clarity of its existence juxtaposed against the vagueness of any direct benefit to the common good. Notice the convenient lull of an election — now transition soap opera — interruption which temporarily stuffs it behind campaign cholic, giving it just enough time to simmer. We’re now in the normalcy-of-crisis mode. We didn’t forget about it, but it dropped a few notches on the priority totem pole since we’ve been a bit entranced by the election of firsts, curled into the sleep that is pop culture and our daily grind.

Still, with it rearing its unforgivably ugly head — a jobless claims rise with volatile fluctuations in the market — the euphoria of the election is cooling a bit, the expectations mounting on the new president to deliver something, even if he’s still in transition.

Thing is, our mad cool-elect (confidently strutting like modern Shaft aside the lame-duck during his recent White House tour) doesn’t want to claim this mess just yet, preferring to let the current “decider” ride out the full length of his legacy. Refusing to attend the G20 summit “send off,” he opts for the incessant speculation and sprung leak distractions of possible cabinet picks, taking the transition in calm stride. He’ll have enough to worry about on January 20th.

Of great concern is the way in which the bailout seems designed to avoid any focus on what we always thought were the economic fundamentals — or at least what they force fed some of us during college indoctrination. But, check how it fakes any acknowledgment of mass consumerism, small business and manufacturing as core support systems. “The banks can do it, slick,” is the resounding mood of the current Administration, their version of “socialism” soaked with laissez faire and hook-up. “Bailout” seems such a played and trite term — much like “flip flop” is or any of those other pop 10 favorite news sound bites that never give you the full context of what’s up. Cats are getting hooked up, fam … in a fairly big and ostentatious way. Translated: we’re getting played.

One can easily bristle and shoot back with “Well — do you have any other ideas?” That’s the rock and a hard place question. And we can probably talk till we’re purple over the traditional friction — as old as the country itself — between banking and old fashioned manufacturing. And while the banking and insurance institutions appear to hoard taxpayer cash for the long haul of low confidence, core industries such as auto are on the brink of going belly-up, risking the fate of 3 million plus gigs.

But, if you bailout… (cough) excuse me — hook up — the “Big 3” autos (who could never seem to catch up with competitors), where does it stop?

Not professing any kind of expertise on economics, friend, but we can (at least) agree on the basics: that we’ve been sucked into a sucker’s conundrum whereby three quarters of the economy is driven by consumer spending. Simply put: we can’t stop buying. Our survival depends on it. The lack of spending will only continue to show in the worst way.

So, let’s admit, a reasonable “big idea” alternative to the “bailout” plan is in short supply. Our imagination these days only goes so far as what fixes we can buy ourselves out of. In desperate times we reach only for the most desperate of measures: more money. Should that mean we lose all sense of common sense?

This might be a ripe time to recalibrate our collective social construct on the subject. The time for a balance. In reaching this point of instant gratification with no investment, we’ve seriously compromised our ability to innovate and build. What else explains the rationale that saving the banks first is the key? Forget any ambitious plan to revise research and development or a mission to completely resuscitate American education.

On the real: why not? Crises, historically, also bring out the best and brightest in the human collective, and there is a hidden, yet gem of an opportunity to bring back the ingenuity that has defined the best moments in American history. Perhaps we pull back on this now embedded reliance on accumulated credit and debt, and instead focus on a fresh age of vocation mixed with intellectual, technological and manufacturing enlightenment. Even as the economy sputters, there is also this Science-channel inspired, HGTV-backed “DIY” or “do-it-yourself” movement on parallel resurgence. Simply, more of us appear inclined to do the “dirty work” by either making it or repairing it ourselves. Why this is a fad rather than the norm it once was escapes some.

Beyond that, it’s also a key to renewed interest in and hope for reviving national education. Or, perhaps transforming it into something other than a mad rush to comply with standardized testing requirements. The president-elect already expresses distaste for the television viewing habits of our youth and we stare back as if stupid to what that means. What it could mean is a renewed focus on putting our national minds and hands back to work, re-crafting public education with a focus on vocational education and specialized sector schools designed for students with specific interests and talents. Throw in small-to-large business sponsorships and internships for high school kids, and perhaps a long-term funding stream for health care drawn from sales of product. Why not take those school woodshop classes to the next level? What’s stopping high schools from creating early architecture, engineering or environmental science incubators and using those as platforms for core industries? Here we might find the foundation for a new economy, professionalizing our youth in preparation for tomorrow’s economic and environmental challenges. Mixed in with compulsory financial literacy and civics K through 12, it may not be so much of a “New Deal” as it would be a sense of national commitment and community service. And we might actually save quite a few cities along the way.

Is He Immune?

Posted in Uncategorized by groffellison on November 12, 2008

Every four years African Americans ask the same question of the new or returning president, how diverse is your cabinet going to be?  In other words how many black folks will be sitting around the table?

The question this quadrennial takes on special spin since the President-Elect is an African American but is Barack Obama immune from this question and if not what happens if he doesn’t appoint any or one African American what should be said and who will say it?

An article in Politico touches on these questions and calls it “…a potentially dicey decision. Obama campaigned around the notion that old divisions should be consigned to the past, a belief his election underscores. But he also won withoverwhelming support from black Americans and is the very embodiment of the hopes and dreams of that community. To surround himself with a mostly white coterie of top advisers could turn off African-Americans.”

There are numerous and major policy issues that Obama will face on January 20th but there are also countless nuances that the first black President will have deal with that his previous 43 predecessors didn’t dream of or even think about.

New School Paradigm, Center Block Governing

Posted in Uncategorized by groffellison on November 11, 2008

The euphoria of this moment will soon be lost in the mix of politics to come. This is a cornerstone moment and the symbolism of it is sharp. At very important intersections of American history – those times when we are re-defined by massive social, political or economic upheaval – we find a central role always played by the African American. From an infant frontier which built its economy on the backs of African slaves to a modern nation seeking the counsel of a Black man to help save it. Certainly, there is both crisp irony and spiritual poetry in this. We will certainly have plenty of time to mull the magnitude of what just happened and its meaning.

There is nothing wrong with swimming in it for a minute. But, the jubilation of America turning a fresh chapter will subdue itself in short order. Tears will stop flowing over the excitement of a moment many thought would never arrive – at least, not in their lifetimes. The public anxiety and cynicism reached deafening volumes, a bizarre contradiction between not believing it could happen and, all the time, voting for the first Black president.

The beauty of that contradiction, through all the hogwash speculation about “Bradley Effects,” is a sort of quiet repudiation of the notion of “a Black president.” It realizes the ascension of African American politicians to the mountaintop of American politics. Black politicians can no longer be just “Black” politicians. They are, for all intensive purposes, simply “elected officials” and public servants offering their skilled ability to enhance the common good.

This is where the 21st century split with 20th century habits and dogma occurs. There is a transformative and watershed moment taking place, a critical moment signifying the gradual dawning of a new era as the old one is laid to rest. Much of that reflects a generational shift more so than a cultural or race-based shift. It’s a natural evolution when the old is replaced by the new. Hence, Barack Obama’s win represents a somewhat official closing of the Civil Rights Era. And no: it does not mean the end of racism or our prejudiced legacy – it merely suggests that the means by which we ultimately diminish the ugly footprint of race are much different. It is the gateway to an age of Constructive Empowerment, the model of powerful Black men and women who dominate rather than ask. These are the children born after 1960, kids who recall blurred images of marches, protests and raised fists, events leaving indelible marks on the conscience. This is the generation that recognized the high stakes period in which they were raised and the seriousness of their people’s condition. Obama is cut from that perspective, breaking with old traditions to make room for the new.

Even more impressive is that he does so from pure obscurity. He is not descended from a political family or a dynasty of financial barons.
In breaking with the Civil Rights paradigm, Barack Obama and other members of the Black political establishment are compelled to conduct the business at hand. The expectations are tremendous. The hill he now climbs is steep and unbelievably treacherous; there are problems that appear unfixable.

His background, however, offers him an advantage over past Presidents. Emphasis on the post-partisan is, perhaps, rooted in the desperation of a bi-racial boy watching a struggling single-mother survive on food stamps. Politicians battling over egos, line-items and rank are really trivial compared to the stark poverty of Chicago’s South Side.
That perspective can keep him grounded in the months ahead, pre-inauguration and through the first 100 days. It is very easy to think that Obama can claim comfortable legislative wins after dramatically altering the electoral map in a way we haven’t seen since Ronald Reagan in 1980. And, many may be fooled into anticipating an assembly line of Democratic victories with the party firmly controlling both House and Senate.

But, the political environment before us is as dangerous and fraught with drama as the specter of gridlock. Although President-elect Obama rides in on a wave of Democratic dominance, the unpredictable nature of any major domestic or international event could completely set things off course. Democrats like House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) may be eager to shape policy from the left, while Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) may be unable to curtail the impulsive. President Obama will have to subdue those urges and govern from the center, reaching out to both sides of the political and ideological aisle to craft responsible, inclusive public policy. He will need to govern through maintained balance and the perseverance of signature cool. If he fails to do so, he could lose both this Congressional majority and his Presidency.

GUEST POST: Garland Nixon on Republican Woes

Posted in Uncategorized by groffellison on November 11, 2008

The Republican Party is suffering from a classic problem, climbing the ladder of success only to find that it is leaning against the wrong wall. The Party worked for many years to create a base of supporters who would accept a rigid right wing ideology as part of their culture. The strategy has been very successful in the Southern States and has taken hold to some extent in many other parts of the Country. This Republican base amounts to the last 22% of Americans who still support President Bush. Unfazed by the dramatic economic and political consequences of the last eight years, they also make up the lions share of the 64% of all Republicans who want ultra-conservative Sarah Palin as their 2012 Presidential nominee, a desire that is likely shared by 100% of all Democrats. The GOP has successfully convinced them that the political center is really the left, and that this imaginary left is the enemy of God and social order. That being the case, any policies supported by the “left” would be immoral by default.

Having been soundly rejected by the electorate, the Republican Party is left to dress its wounds and develop strategies for 2012. During this election cycle the voters sent a clear signal that political moderation is in order. As a result some GOP pragmatists are signalling a willingness to accept some level of bipartisanship and move somewhat reluctantly towards the center. The problem they will soon encounter is that they have so effectively trained their base to be extremist that they will reject any move towards ideological moderation. Southern Republicans in Congress may face losing to more conservative challengers in the next primaries should they move towards the center, the only likely salvation for the party as a whole.

The Grand Old Party is in a “catch 22” situation. If they moderate their ideological positions it will get them some desperately needed mainstream support but it will infuriate their base. If they double down on their conservative positions they solidify their base but move farther from the new political mainstream, particularly the youth vote. I suspect we will hear the Party leaders invoke the name of Ronald Reagan and proclaim that they intend to return to the conservatives values of his era. As the Country moves forward, their fateful strategy will be to move forward by going backwards 25 years. Their effectiveness in creating an extremist base is proving to be a bittersweet success.

Garland Nixon is a Host on WPFW-FM in Washington, D.C.

Thoughts on how he did it …

Posted in Uncategorized by groffellison on November 11, 2008

President-elect Obama won by piggy-backing on Howard Dean’s 50-state strategy and, literally, changed the electoral map. He found strength in the suburbs and ex-urbs. He was very strong among women voters and he maintain a strong competitive edge with men. Obama also reduced McCain’s strength in rural counties. This election was also won by employing a very aggressive and clever hybrid approach of old school technique and new school tools. Essentially, Obama applied the grassroots canvassing tactics learned from his days as a community organizer (Republicans are biting their tongues on that) then mixing it with a near perfect use of online-based social networking and constituent relationship management applications which put voters in the driver’s seat. The Obama campaign gave the feel of “change” or “bloodless revolution” by offering a certain amount of control to the voter.

Over the next few months, Obama will have to create the most qualified staff and cabinet imaginable. These are serious times requiring dramatic and very intelligent measures. He will also have to reach across the aisle in a very sincere way. His first issue: the economy. Even if the current lame duck Congress doesn’t want to touch it until 2009, he should start coming out in front of it, pushing specific plans for a comprehensive stimulus package.  He could still apply some of his campaign style to management of the transition. Obama will need to move with lightning speed while maintaining the signature cool he’s known for. He can do this depending on the team he puts together. Our assessment is that his biggest challenge will be expectations: how can he diminish the very huge expectations of an electorate that wants stuff done now?

GUEST BLOG: Princella Smith on GOP’s Troubles

Posted in Uncategorized by groffellison on November 6, 2008

The results of the 2008 election caused me to wonder if McCain ever really had a chance in the first place. Truthfully, about mid September, I realized that if there was indeed a shot for a Republican to win the Presidential race, it was lost. (Mid-September was the start of the HORRENDOUS financial bailout.)

Tuesday night, when I was on the air at the Christian Broadcasting Network, I didn’t bash President Bush, but I did point out that there were some failed policies that have ultimately led to the political blood bath that Republicans suffered last night. The American people are responding in anger and disgust for what has happened over the past 3-4 years. It’s not entirely Bush’s fault. Some things could not be helped, but a leader is not judged by what happens but on how he/she responds to what happens.

I believe Bush is a sincere person whose actions were based on what he felt was the right thing to do, but he was loyal to a fault to some people who advised him and/or served in his administration, and it has unfortunately ruined his legacy. Even yesterday an Obama supporter told me that he believes that Bush was sincere, but that the people around him ruined him. While this isn’t true for all Bush advisers, it is unfortunately true for many of them.

The reason why Republicans got kicked this cycle is because they have all been thrown under the bus with President Bush. There is a reason why so many incumbents were sent home. The GOP held Congress from 1994-2006, and then they broke the Contract with America (look it up on Google if you don’t know what it is). They did NOT govern with a right of center approach but as tax and spend liberals, and President Bush didn’t even use his veto power until his 7th year in office.

What’s crazy is that people say that they are upset with the “conservative way”, but actually, they are upset with the “liberal way”. These self-professed conservatives in Congress along with President Bush governed as tax-and-spend liberals–not as fiscally responsible leaders. THAT is what the public is rebelling against, but since self-professed conservatives were the ones doing it, they are thinking: “The conservative way is the wrong way. If this is what that meant, then I don’t want it!”

Ironically enough, McCain was one of the people who fought against pork barrel spending, but he too has fallen at the hand of this mass act to throw Republicans under the bus.

There will be many in the GOP who point fingers to determine “whose fault this is”, and I’m not going to get into the pettiness of that. It is a waste of time. The GOP has to get to the root of its issues in a constructive way…HOWEVER, I am quick to defend McCain against people who want to blame him for this. Some people were angry that he had to distance himself from President Bush and blamed his loss on that, but I think that argument is WAY off base. You could not expect McCain to run side by side with President Bush when Bush’s approval rating is 28%. McCain was not the first choice of many in the GOP, but it is extremely unfair to fault him for distancing himself from Bush. And, the GOP, pundits, analysts, and critics most certainly should NOT blame this on Gov. Sarah Palin who was thrust into the spotlight at the last minute. She was one heck of a grassroots campaigner and a good sport despite the unfair ribbing she took in a bulk of the media who were–yes—“in the tank” for Obama.

The far left has raised their voice loud and clear. There is a gaping hole to be filled: leadership wanted for the center-right majority. Tuesday night, a GOP state leader e-mailed me the question: “What now?” Here is my answer; fill the gaping hole!!

  1. The GOP quits whining. If you didn’t see this coming, you were delusional.
  2. GOP gets to the root of the problem without finger-pointing.
  3. GOP picks a strong national leader and develops the “up and comers”
  4. GOP tells people of age that they either get with the new, forward-looking party or retire.
  5. “Forward-looking” is defined as new, innovative ideas to enact a right of center plan of action and an effective way to communicate these views—not a change in the definition of conservatism itself.
  6. GOP actively recruits, young people, women, and minorities, for positions of authority in the party without making them look like tokens.
  7. American Solutions becomes a voice for the center-right majority and “checks” Obama, Pelosi, Reid, Dodd, Frank when they are too far to the left and out of line as well as praise them when they are in step with what the majority of the American people want: a center-right plan of action. This can all be found in American Solutions’ Platform of the American People.
  8. GOP draws up a new charter pledging to return to fiscal responsibility and holds each other accountable to it.
  9. GOP pushes for a COMPREHENSIVE energy plan that makes sense. (This includes drilling.)
  10. GOP makes it clear that figureheads who used divisive politics and fear tactics do NOT speak for the GOP, and diffuses the effects of Election night 2008.

The GOP is in somewhat of an identity crisis, so they should weed out those who aren’t adhering to the fundamental ideals of a center-right majority for true American Solutions, and THAT’S the bottom line.

Princella Smith is a frequent guest on BlackPolicy.org’s XM Satellite radio program.

What does this Mean?

Posted in Uncategorized by groffellison on November 5, 2008

Of course, we are hit with the question of infinite dollar amount: what does this all mean?

At the moment, nothing wrong with rolling in it. Jump around in it. Splash up and down in it – do backstrokes, hand-stands and float real nice in it. Nothing wrong with shedding about 400 years of tears. Nothing wrong with the wait to exhale now over – now exhale. We can all revel in this historic moment. African Americans can now claim the mountaintop. Struggles have come full circle. The fruits of much labor, blood, real sweat and real grief are now born. The country can now officially cleanse itself and turn into a new chapter.

This wasn’t just about the economy. There was something more to it. Something beyond our collective comprehension.

It’s also time to get on the bus. Time to hit the ground running tomorrow, fam. Real business begins tomorrow. Let it out tonight, slim. Peace on that. We understand.

One cannot shake the feeling that we are now in a new universe. A parallel dimension. Another planet. It’s better than all the TV shows and sci-fi spoofs and thrillers. It’s more than better – it’s real. No more is it the embedded fantasy of a Hollywood writer’s imagination. Nor is it a dispossessed demographic offering up the mantle of “first Black President” to an Arkansas Caucasian. This one’s on us.

But, eerily, due to the high stakes of the moment, the grave geo-political situation before us, the time to celebrate and wax poetic will be limited. It will probably end very abruptly on January 21, 2009, when President Barack Obama commences his grand plan to fix what, at the moment, appears unfixable. Grandparents who thought they’d never live to see this will have to wipe tears quick; mothers and fathers who thought such a moment was mere figment of pipe dreams will have to mute the jubilation. John McCain’s concession speech contained the memo (while failing to address main man as “President-elect”): so, you won. now what? for starters – no more excuses. show us what you people got. We observe the “boos” and consternation of a very non-diverse crowd in Phoenix, their world turned completely upside down, their uni-cultural tunnel vision shattered. In order to cope, they must first accept the inevitability of what America will become – on the real: what it already is.

There is a message, underscored by the tone of the crowd that fears catching up. It implicitly states the obvious. Let’s not get ahead of ourselves. Keep a cool head at all times. The real business begins. It’s a whole new universe. Full of possibilities, but full of dangerous twists and turns. The real work begins.

We must now all get on the bus … or some may get left behind. And, we must collectively counsel those who arrive on this bus but have trouble accepting the magnitude of what it represents. The symbolism of Spike Lee’s indy take on the Million Man March resonates on this night. Chris Rock’s recent verbal hit on Flava Flav is loud and clear. The paradigm is shifting … and shifting rather dramatically. Word on the street is young brothers who now “want to be like Barack” as they watch this much more sophisticated, intelligent, hyper-academic and cool-pose professional persona unfold. Yes: it will be somewhat difficult to lament the social, political and economic hurdles before us with the image of a very literate and intellectual Black man as President. In a very sudden way – almost overnight – “smart” will be cool. The idiocracy may have, very well, been put on permanent hiatus. And: “Tyrone” has been officially “Deconstructed.” There is a new kind of brother in town. A new kind of man symbolizing a new way of being.

Through this very national and emotional discharge, we can no longer deny how we feel. We must now accept being our brother and/or sister’s keeper. The nation finds serious definition in this moment. It witnesses its rebirth. Our ancestors work overtime.