Do You Remember Georgia?

NO!  The country not the state!  If you will recall there was some incident where Russia attacked some area know as South Ossetia.  Well, there seems to be a new twist in the situation, as reported in the NY Times.

Newly available accounts by independent military observers of the beginning of the war between Georgia and Russia this summer call into question the longstanding Georgian assertion that it was acting defensively against separatist and Russian aggression.

Instead, the accounts suggest that Georgia’s inexperienced military attacked the isolated separatist capital of Tskhinvali on Aug. 7 with indiscriminate artillery and rocket fire, exposing civilians, Russian peacekeepers and unarmed monitors to harm.

The accounts are neither fully conclusive nor broad enough to settle the many lingering disputes over blame in a war that hardened relations between the Kremlin and the West. But they raise questions about the accuracy and honesty of Georgia’s insistence that its shelling of Tskhinvali, the capital of the breakaway region of South Ossetia, was a precise operation. Georgia has variously defended the shelling as necessary to stop heavy Ossetian shelling of Georgian villages, bring order to the region or counter a Russian invasion.

President Mikheil Saakashvili of Georgia has characterized the attack as a precise and defensive act. But according to observations of the monitors, documented Aug. 7 and Aug. 8, Georgian artillery rounds and rockets were falling throughout the city at intervals of 15 to 20 seconds between explosions, and within the first hour of the bombardment at least 48 rounds landed in a civilian area. The monitors have also said they were unable to verify that ethnic Georgian villages were under heavy bombardment that evening, calling to question one of Mr. Saakashvili’s main justifications for the attack.

Neither Georgia nor its Western allies have as yet provided conclusive evidence that Russia was invading the country or that the situation for Georgians in the Ossetian zone was so dire that a large-scale military attack was necessary, as Mr. Saakashvili insists.

With a paucity of reliable and unbiased information available, the O.S.C.E. observations put the United States in a potentially difficult position. The United States, Mr. Saakashvili’s principal source of international support, has for years accepted the organization’s conclusions and praised its professionalism. Mr. Bryza refrained from passing judgment on the conflicting accounts.

But wait!  Was the Russian invasion yet another lie?  Looks like it.

Today In Labor History

07 November

Some 1,300 building trades workers in eastern Massachusetts participated in a general strike on all military work in the area to protest the use of open-shop (a worksite in which union membership is not required as a condition of employment) builders. The strike persisted for a week in the face of threats from the U.S. War Department – 1917

President Eisenhower’s use of the Taft-Hartley Act is upheld by the Supreme Court, breaking a 116-day steel strike – 1959

What Now For The GOP?

First of all, looks like the Reagan era is over!  The next great conservative movement will be back to the future type of government, more Goldwater-esque.  Smaller government, less spending, government out of private lives, etc….but the question will be…who will lead the new GOP?

I look for the likes of Romney, Giuliani, Jeb Bush and Palin fighting it out for control of the Party.  I feel that Romney and Jeb Bush wioll come out of the battle with the control.  Palin will be marginalized, but a heavy hitter.  She will most likely become the Huckabee of the next election.

After this past election, take a long hard look at the map, the red states in particular, The GOP has become the party of white rural America and a party of the South.  To play in the rest of the US it has to find a new direction.  This coming battle for control could become the political story of the next 4 years.

The GOP has to find a new message that will appeal to Americans, a new direction and a new face.  They may deny it, but the GOP voting was along racial lines, to discount this is to deny the obvious.

The Republicans have a number of problems.

Younger voters favoured Mr Obama by a big margin. So too did Latinos. Both groups represent major parts of the electorate in the coming years.

The executive editor of the Weekly Standard, Fred Barnes, argues that two things have gone wrong.

“The first is the party’s image, which has suffered because of an unpopular Republican president, scandals in Congress, and a party the media claims is too conservative.

“The other is the sour political mood in the country caused by a weak economy, the financial meltdown, and the feeling the nation is headed in the wrong direction.”

A possible Republican response to its problems, Mr Barnes suggests, “might be to elevate moderates to positions of leadership”.

It is a huge umbrella group of social-conservatives – whose primary policy goal is the protection of the unborn; fiscal-conservatives who wish the party instead would focus on tax rates; neo-conservatives who advocate military pre-emption abroad; anti-immigration hawks who helped turn off the Latino vote.

The battle, some believe, will be between economic conservatives and culture warriors.

Ms Palin may lead the cultural conservative faction’s efforts to control the party in 2012 in a battle with Republicans seeking a more centrist approach.

“Is the Republican Party finished? No, and even though it will go through the typical agonizing post-train-wreck re-appraisals, the party’s remedy might be far simpler than it now appears. The Republicans are just one compelling leader away from being back in the game.'”  Now the question that needs to be asked is:  Who will that leader be?

Treasury The Most Important Position

At least for the time, president-elected will be judged by who he will put into the leadership role of the Treasury.
Now, as President-elect Obama considers his choice for Treasury secretary, Summers’ name is again front and center. But this time, the decision is not so clear. Obama faces conflicting advice from his close advisors, from Capitol Hill and from important Democratic constituencies.

Others warn that Summers’ sharp elbows and his penchant for controversy could make him a damaging distraction at a time when the nation and the new president can least afford it. And they worry that Summers’ wide-ranging knowledge, expansive personality and combative impulses could clash with the president’s desire to have the White House deeply involved in the biggest problems facing the new administration.

These voices argue that a more reassuring pick might be the venerable former Federal Reserve Chairman Paul A. Volcker, perhaps teamed with New York Federal Reserve Bank President Timothy F. Geithner.

Obama’s choice will have huge symbolic importance, offering voters an early chance to assess his judgment and decision-making process. Regardless of who is chosen, the Treasury secretary will play a central role in the administration’s economic team — influencing the substance of policy and how effectively it is pursued

THe choice that most are going with, at least in this guessing stage is Summers.
From the outset, Summers’ career has been marked by soaring achievement and recurring controversy.

He seemingly was born to be an economist. Both his parents were economists and two uncles — Paul Samuelson and Kenneth Arrow — won the Nobel Prize for their work in the field. Summers was named an assistant professor at MIT even before finishing his doctorate, and was one of the youngest faculty members to be granted tenure at Harvard.

But as chief economist of the World Bank in the early 1990s, he drew fire after approving a subordinate’s research paper that suggested poor African nations might make money by taking in the trash of developed nations.

He survived the African trash send-up to join the Clinton Treasury Department, working his way from one senior position to another until he became Robert E. Rubin’s deputy and successor as secretary. He became Harvard president at age 46.

I think they will not go with a Wall Street insider, it would be more prudent to pick someone from academia.

World Economic Growth

The International Monetary Fund (IMF) has become even gloomier about the prospects for the world’s economies.

It is predicting that developed economies as a whole will shrink by 0.3% next year, having predicted growth of 0.5% less than a month ago.

It would be the first time there has been an overall contraction in developed economies since World War II.

Worst hit will be the UK, shrinking 1.3%, followed by Germany at 0.8% and the US and Spain contracting by 0.7%.

Emerging economies have also been downgraded, with the forecast of Chinese growth down from 9.3% to 8.5%, India down from 6.9% to 6.3% and Russia down from 5.5% to 3.5% growth.

The IMF is still expecting the overall global economy to grow in 2009, but it has cut its growth forecast to 2.2% from the previous estimate of 3%

“Prospects for global growth have deteriorated over the past month, as financial sector deleveraging has continued and producer and consumer confidence have fallen,” the IMF said in its report.

Not looking good for the world in the coming year.  It will be interesting to see where the Obama team wioll take the US and eventually the world.

The New Chief Of Staff

U.S. Rep. Rahm Emanuel will bring a “tough-minded” and “pragmatic” approach to the White House when he becomes President-elect Barack Obama’s chief of staff, according to people who know the Chicago, Illinois, native.

Emanuel, a former top aide to President Clinton, has accepted the position in the new administration, Obama confirmed in a statement Thursday.

“I announce this appointment first because the chief of staff is central to the ability of a president and administration to accomplish an agenda,” Obama said. “And no one I know is better at getting things done than Rahm Emanuel.”

In the job, Emanuel would oversee the White House staff. The chief of staff is usually involved in all the major decisions that the president makes and is responsible for making sure the administration carries out the president’s wishes.

Not everyone was so thrilled with the choice.

Republican minority leader Boner, damn, sorry, that should be Boehner said of Obama’s choice, “it is ironic, this from a man that wanted to change Washington.”  Sounds like the partisanship has already started, at least from the far right of the party.  How long will he retain the leadership of the House?  If there is to be bi-partisanship I think he will be challenged.

Is It Sour Grapes?

Or is the truth coming out?

Now that the 2008 election is over, reporters are spilling all the juciest, and previously off the record, gossip from the campaign trail. Much of it is about the infighting between Palin and McCain’s staff, as Newsweek‘s treasure trove of post-election gossip reveals.

However, perhaps one of the most astounding and previously unknown tidbits about Sarah Palin has to do with her already dubious grasp of geography. According to Fox News Chief Political Correspondent Carl Cameron, there was great concern within the McCain campaign that Palin lacked “a degree of knowledgeability necessary to be a running mate, a vice president, a heartbeat away from the presidency,” in part because she didn’t know which countries were in NAFTA, and she “didn’t understand that Africa was a continent, rather than a series, a country just in itself.”

Palin was apparently a nightmare for her campaign staff to deal with. She refused preparation help for her interview with Katie Couric and then blamed her staff, specifically Nicole Wallace, when the interview was panned as a disaster. After the Couric interview, Fox News reported, Palin turned nasty with her staff and began to accuse them of mishandling her. Palin would view press clippings of herself in the morning and throw “tantrums” over the negative coverage. There were times when she would be so nasty and angry that her staff was reduced to tears.

Is this just throwing her under the bus or is this an attempt to try and keep her in Alaska?