Daily Flog: Obama installs Rahm to boot up Congress


Obama‘s got his Luca Brasi, so what’s the problem?

The president-elect’s choice of Rahm Emanuel as his chief of staff sparked criticism of “partisanship.”

As we slide deeper into a recession, Emanuel had better be partisan if he wants to get anything done as Obama’s hit man. Emanuel is a shrewd — though entirely predictable — choice for Obama.

Though I hate to quote party flacks, Paul Begala has the best description. As the New York Post says this morning, Begala has described Emanuel as “cross between a hemorrhoid and a toothache”:

Over the last 15 years, the hot-tempered Chicago congressman has been one of the Democratic Party’s most formidable brawlers, a political force of nature known for tabletop tirades and unabashed fund-raising.

At least Emanuel’s not a direct-mail, ideological dirty trickster like George W. Bush’s deputy chief of staff Karl Rove.

And unlike Bush’s putative chiefs of staff (Andy Card and Josh Bolten), Emanuel comes to the job as an experienced and powerful congressman. Think of a Luca Brasi who’s also a smart bagman. Think of a hemorrhoid that can also twist your arms.

The criticism from Republicans doesn’t mean anything; they’re merely the disloyal opposition. Partisanship? It’s the Democrats in Congress who have more to fear as Emanuel works to keep them in line with Obama’s agenda.

OK, so Don Corleone‘s Luca Brasi wound up sleeping with the fishes pretty early on. Expect Obama’s enforcer to last longer and to produce plenty of sleepless nights among Capitol Hill’s Democrats.

Just be glad that you’re not cowering in your office dreading that next phone call from Rahm Emanuel. Obama may be as cool as the other side of the pillow, but Emanuel is no comforter.

Assuming the new chief of staff doesn’t have your number, you can relax and click . . .


N.Y. Daily News: ‘Yanks caught stealin’ from taxpayers again’ (Juan Gonzalez)


New York: ‘Can The Daily Show Survive the Barack Obama Presidency?’

“It’s no secret that plenty of satirical outlets — Saturday Night Live, the Onion, late-night talk shows — have had trouble finding good Obama jokes. But we’re not forecasting their doom. The Daily Show is unique, though, in its audience and in its comedic approach, and we’re very worried that an Obama presidency might send Jon Stewart‘s show speedily on the road to obsolescence. . . .

“If President Obama’s administration is the love-in that progressives hope it will be, we think it’s awfully unlikely Stewart’s heart will be in Obama-bashing. The guy teared up at eleven on Election Night! Not that we didn’t, but still. . . .

“That the real highlight of Election Night was Stephen Colbert‘s begging a cockatoo to slit his throat suggests that the balance of power on the Stewart-Colbert axis might have shifted. We can see a future in which The Colbert Report becomes Comedy Central’s late-night star, mixing Dadaist whimsy with legitimate critique of the Obama administration.”

Register (U.K.): ‘US Air Force online ad theme: “Horror Meets Comedy” ‘

“In a move which you simply couldn’t make up, the US Air Force has announced that it will partner with Microsoft to advertise itself on the Xbox under the banner ‘Horror Meets Comedy.’ The deal will see the USAF sponsoring a series of short films for viewing on the Xbox Live online portal.”

Register (U.K.): ‘US admiral wants “pain-ray” guns for Gulf fleet’

“A US admiral has called for American warships operating in the Middle East to be equipped with microwave ‘pain ray’ cannons to avoid using overwhelming lethal force.”

Register (U.K.): ‘Palin didn’t know Africa is a continent, McCain aides say — Needed work on North America too’

Sarah Palin raised a few eyebrows within the John McCain campaign because she didn’t realize that Africa is a continent, according to aides whispering with a shamelessly right-wing news outlet.

“McCain aides told Fox News chief political correspondent Carl Cameron there was “great concern” within the campaign that Palin ‘lacked a degree of knowledgeability necessary to be a running mate, a vice president, and a heartbeat away from the presidency.’

“Yes, knowledgeability.”

Washington Post: ‘Emanuel to Be Chief of Staff’

“The selection of the fellow Illinois Democrat, a close Obama friend who embraces a sharp-edged approach to politics, could signal a rapid succession of appointments. Obama is expected to announce in the coming days that he will place two senior campaign aides, David Axelrod and Robert Gibbs, in key roles.

“Those early staffing decisions, coupled with reports that a number of prominent and established people are under consideration for Cabinet roles, suggests that Obama is focused more on projecting a reassuring image of continuity and competence than of quickly bringing wholesale change to a nation facing two wars and a severe economic downturn.”

Washington Post: ‘Iraqis Demand Withdrawal Date’

“Officials insist on departure time for U.S. forces, demand troops be subject to Iraq legal jurisdiction.”

N.Y. Times: ‘Retailers Report a Sales Collapse’

Market Watch: ‘Europe stocks blasted on day of steep rate cuts’

Wall Street Journal: ‘Hedge Fund Selling Puts New Stress on Market’

New Yorker: ‘Melting into Air: Before the financial system went bust, it went postmodern’

“The story of David Einhorn and Allied Capital is an example of a moneyman who believed, with absolute certainty, that he was in the right, who said so, and who then watched the world fail to react to his inarguable demonstration of his own rightness . . .”


N.Y. Times: ‘Tolerance Over Race Can Spread, Studies Find’

N.Y. Times: ‘On Concerns Over Gun Control, Gun Sales Are Up’

N.Y. Times: ‘Obama Victory Alters the Tenor of Iraqi Politics’

N.Y. Times: ‘Georgia Claims on Russia War Called Into Question’

“TBILISI, Georgia — 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.”

Register (U.K.): ‘North Korea photoshops stroke from Kim Jong Il: Pixelated communist chief in shadow snafu’

“North Korea has released a new pic of chairman Kim Jong Il, hoping to show the world that the communist despot/self-professed internet expert is alive and well and healthy enough to actually appear in public. But this may be a case of communist photoshopaganda.”