Friday, November 14, 2008

Transit Wins At The Polls (Mostly)


Still very upset about all the anti-gay ballot measures that passed on election day. But all the anti-choice measures on ballots around the country got defeated, so progressives won on that front.

And on the transportation measures, the citizens of this country have shown that they want quality public transportation, despite all the claims that this is a "center-right" country.

A little roundup of some of the good news on the transit front in America:

Prop 1 in the Seattle metro area passed. Voters in the three-county region agreed to raise their sales tax by half a cent to fund a roughly fifteen-year transit plan that will greatly expand the light rail network that will (FINALLY) open its first line next year, which will include extending it across Lake Washington. Something sorely needed about 30 years ago. Shorter-term benefits of the plan will see added capacity to the commuter rail lines (by a huge two-thirds to Tacoma) and express-bus service, among other improvements.

This one is a little personal to me. I was living in Seattle in the mid-90s when we passed the first big transit plan that created the new agency of Sound Transit to build light rail, commuter rail and create regional express-bus service. Unfortunately, Sound Transit may very well be the model of the absolute worst way to run a transit agency. They have not been able to do anything on time (light rail was supposed to open over two years ago originally) or on budget.

But kudos to the voters there for wanting more. Granted, a lot of this plan has stuff in it that was voted down in the 1995 before the more stripped-down plan as finally passed the following year (hence the one light rail line). But gas was only like a buck back then. Amazing what a difference three dollars can make.

I loved so many things about living in Seattle back then. What I didn't like was blowing through half-a-pack of smokes waiting for the fucking bus.

Rail transit may finally be coming to Hawaii! Voters in Honolulu voted to tell the city to move forward with a $4.28 billion commuter rail project. It was a non-binding vote, and the opposition is fierce (they want another fucking highway), but the voters made their desire known.

New Mexico citizens voted in a one-eighth-cent gross-receipts tax (not really sure what that means) for the operation of the new Rail Runner commuter line, which will expand to Santa Fe next month, and to expand bus service in the northern part of the state.

In San Francisco, measure B has still not been decided. This would expand BART, the region's high-speed commuter network, another 16 miles to Santa Clara, among other improvements, through a one-eighth-cent sales tax increase. The measure needs a silly 66.67% of the vote to pass and it now sits at 66.61% with about 17,000 provisional ballots, which have been running heavy on the yes side, still to be counted. Cross your fingers.

Los Angeles, the land of the automobile, voted themselves a sales tax increase to help fund their transit system, including a planned line to Santa Monica.

Sacramento voted themselves a streetcar that local leaders are saying can be up and running in three years because they are not looking to get any federal funds for it.

The only real losses that seemed to happen (pending the BART expansion outcome) were in Missouri. Kansas City voted down a three-eighths-cent sales tax increase to build a starter light rail line and St. Louis rejected a half-cent increase to help shore-up their local transit agency, despite the fact that it could mean their light rail system will now stop at 8:00pm and the end of extra service for Rams and Cardinals games. I guess they want to be the "show me how to sit in bumper-to-bumper traffic state."

And one of the biggest of them all, California passed a bond measure for a high-speed rail line between Los Angeles and San Francisco. It still has a long way to go before it becomes reality, but it is an encouraging result. This gives the state the authority to raise actual funds to start planning this thing. Supporters hope for a train that can travel 220 m.p.h. and make the trip between L.A. and San Fran in 2-1/2 hours. Not only could this ease traffic congestion along the I-5 corridor, but it could put an end to flights between these two cities.

One of the goals of high-speed rail is to make flights of less than 500 or 600 miles obsolete, which would really help reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

I am certainly one of those that believes that most of these measures are too little and very, very late (especially Seattle). But it's not too late, it's never too late.

I had the opportunity to go to Taiwan recently for work. A country that has been behind for years when it came to public transit. About twenty years ago they decided enough was enough. The very first subway line in Taipei opened just twelve years ago and they are now up to over 50 miles and 67 stations with major expansions under construction. In just over a decade.

In early 2007 they opened a high-speed rail line between Taipei and Kaohsiung, which turned a 4-1/2 hour trip into a less than two-hour one. There were also massive improvements in other rail lines, making them much faster if not completely "high-speed." And Kaohsiung opened their own 25-mile starter subway this summer.

That's the kind of things that can be accomplished in a short amount of time. We just need leaders who want to do it.

We've now proven we have voters who want it and are willing to pay for it.

Interview With Weekend America's John Moe - p.3

SEI: Do you have another book in the works?

JM: Right now I’m talking with a publisher about another book, but that’s not in place...I’ll just say that something is in the pipelines, but nothing is ready to be announced yet. If I get it, I hope to write a funnier and easier book than the first one.

SEI: Yeah?

JM: I did a ton of research for Conservatize Me. Next time, more jokes. Less research. That’s the plan.

SEI: As a recent transplant to the Twin Cities from Seattle, how does the fact that Seattle has had the worst sports year in history impact you?

JM: Being a Seattle sports fan is like getting the lime flavored candy. Nobody wants the lime flavored candy. I’m working on a story right now for Weekend America, about my becoming a free agent NBA fan. I’m putting my loyalty on the market, and see what teams have to offer. So far, I got some feelers from the Timberwolves, the Grizzlies, a couple of other teams.

SEI: They’re starting to talk about bringing another NBA team here.

JM: Jesus, if Seattle gets another team, they will be doing the same thing that was done to them to other NBA fans. That'll suck for those people, just like it did for Seattle.

Then when Oklahoma City Thunder fails, and it will, they will move to Las Vegas, and that will suck for those fans.

And the Mariners, dear God...

SEI: Over $100 million on contracts, over 100 losses.

JM: Then the bottom falls out on the Seahawks this year, Holmgren’s last as their head coach.

I’d say it’s been weird moving out of Seattle, and then having their teams suck so bad. As a sports fan, I feel like the prime example of sports impotency.

I know there’s someone out there right now going “what about the Storm [WNBA's Seattle franchise]? They’re good! They've won a championship!”

SEI: Actually, the Seattle Sounders have been creating a lot of buzz these days.

JM: Oh, right, the Seattle Sounders FC.

SEI: Yeah, the ownership has been doing a good job growing the fan base.

JM: Huh.

SEI: Is there a movie you’d recommend for the current circumstances?

JM: Something to get your mind off of our tempestuous times? Yeah, I just saw this the other day, Stepbrothers.

SEI: Stepbrothers?

JM: Looking at it, you'd think it wouldn't be good. It looks like another Will-Ferrell-acting-dumb movie, but it works really well. It's about the joy of seeing two good comic improvisers, Will Ferrell and John C. Reilly, who have great chemistry with each other. It's a very very funny movie.

You get the sense that not much thought was put into putting its elements together, but still, Stepbrothers deserves a shot.

Give it a Netflix.

READ: Conservatize Me: How I Tried To Become A Righty With The Help Of Richard Nixon, Sean Hannity, Toby Keith & Beef Jerky, by John Moe; Harper Collins

LISTEN: American Public Radio’s Weekend America

Interview With Weekend America's John Moe - p.2

SEI: You spent a few days in Rexburg, Idaho for your book, Conservatize Me. [Rexburg is the seat of Madison County in Idaho, which in 2004 voted for Bush at a rate of 92%, the highest in the nation. In 2005, Moe spent the July 4th holiday there, to see if something in the atmosphere could make him more conservative. In 2008, Madison County tied for first in Idaho, with 85% of the vote going for McCain.- TBO] Have you kept track of what’s been happening there?

JM: I kept in touch with the mayor for a while there, we traded emails. I don’t think the book was read all that much in Rexburg, so he’s not in any major kind of trouble.

[Two days after the interview, Moe sends an email with this link to a recent Rexburg news item, regarding an incident on a school bus where kids were chanting "Assassinate Obama." He notes: “I’m equal parts ‘Rexburg Is Crazy’ and ‘Kids Are Idiots’ on this one.” - TBO]

SEI: Obama ended up running on lower taxes, and keeping/creating jobs at home, two concepts known to appeal to conservatives in general. Do you think, should Obama be effective as president, they could grow to, if not like, then respect Obama?

JM: That depends on how things progress...I don’t know.

I think it’s interesting that the Republicans ended up nominating McCain, who was most Democrats' favorite Republican. He’s funny, he’s self-effacing. He was the first Republican to say that Guantanamo needed to be closed down. He was the first Republican to admit that global warming was real. Instead, they oversimplify his brand as a “maverick,” by repeating that word over and over.

That brand started falling apart when he softened his stance on torture. After being tortured himself, after fighting against and denouncing the use of torture, to then have him say that some torture is all right; at that point, he stopped being a maverick and became just another politician seeking approval.

Obama ran as a social-liberal, but economically conservative. Once the Republicans abandoned fiscal prudence, the ball was the Democrats’ for the taking.

Obama ran on essential tax cuts for the populace, and gained the middle of the ground on a conservative philosophy. For example, he also said he was opposed to dumb wars, which, as rhetoric, is at the heart of conservative philosophy...

How all of that stacks up to the obstacles coming his way is up in the air. There’s still plenty of room for Fox News or the Limbaughs of the world to have an effect.

What he has going for him is that he is a skilled communicator. Between him and McCain, Obama was the more reasoned, he promises to bring less of a gut level approach to governance. And we saw that, we saw Obama weather the storms that were the primary and election processes, and we saw him keep to his message all the way through the campaign.

So, yeah, who knows?

The main thing you need to know in order to understand Obama is that he lists The Wire as his favorite show, which is pretty telling. He plays basketball really well, he makes Jay-Z references during his speeches, and his favorite show is The Wire.

Obama had this bit on Wait Wait, Don’t Tell Me ...This young reporter had called in to the show and told them that Obama had ruined a romantic possibility for him; he was trying to impress this woman, and Obama, not knowing what was going on, made a joke and the reporter never saw her again. Obama ended up calling the reporter and apologized by saying "I didn't mean to mess up your game."

Not just the fact that he would call, we now have a president who can say “I didn’t mean to mess up your game” and actually mean it. I guess change has come to America.

[This story can be found here, approximately 11m50s in. - TBO]

Next: Book Deals, A Movie Recommendation and Sports Impotency

Grasping At Straws

Glenn Greenwald is finding all sorts of silver lining in the cloudy murk that is the Bush legacy.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

We come a long way, baby.
And we've got a long way to go.

I was already done with the Bradley Effect, convinced as I was that the Bradley election after which it was named was victim to as much poor polling as it was racism. Then, yesterday, I catch wind of a hypothesized Huxtable Effect, in which Bill Cosby's TV family of respectable black folks gets credit for Obama's win by "presenting an appealing black family."

My response to all of this was to wonder whether Obama would have won were he the same in every way except his skin color. Did we elect him because he's black? And had he lost, would that have also been because he was black? Really? His policies had nothing to do with it? His cool, focused campaign had nothing to do with it?

I was angry. Angry that evidence was stacking up that we would never see past his color, that he would be not our president, but our black president. And I asked aloud if we weren't past this, if this talk was really necessary in today's world.

Then Lindsay Lohan opened her mouth. And I had to respond, "Oh. Right."

Followed by a deep, depressed sigh.

Journalism 101: Sources of Misinformation

From Billy Wilder's Ace in the Hole to the final season of HBO's The Wire (with the chillingly prophetic Network in between), there has been a large number of narratives spelling out the numerous dangers that can occur when members of the free press lose sight of the discipline their vocation requires and start playing havoc with the rules. Think about this, the journalists' role as laymen who speak truth to power and the populace is so vaunted that they have become an archetype that could be used in cautionary tales.

Given that, how did we come to this?

For the click-averse, the link leads you to Richard Pérez-Peña's NYT article about the, admittedly brilliant, hoaxters Eitan Gorlin and Dan Mirvish, who have created a conservative mouthpiece (serving several roles in the movement, from simple Giuliani supporter, to McCain advisor) out of whole cloth. With this simple, yet elaborate, ruse, they managed to snooker a surprising number of political publications and legitimate news sources; this list includes MSNBC, The New Republic, the LA Times, and Mother Jones.

What's alarming about all of this is that the tenet being ignored here is one of the most basic in the world of journalism: Verify Your Sources. Here's a question: If this essential step is being played fast and loose with, what else is going by the way side?

Obviously, there are many factors at play here. The institutional desire not to miss out on a hot story, and the 24 hour news cycle's dependence on said hot story in order to remain relevant play a large part in the problem. So does the Atwater/Rove/Cheney/Schmidt school of manipulating the media; and it's doubtful that we would be this far gone without the existence of Rush Limbaugh, G. Gordon Liddy, Ollie North and FOXNews.

However, the real problem here is that it's been around for so long that we have become somewhat inured to it. This problem first reared its head when Rush and Newt's army caused a stir with Vince Foster's suicide and other Whitewater insinuations; they took a situation that looked somewhat hinky and turned it into Something Very Shady. The media bought in not long thereafter by colluding with the right wing and creating the hugely overblown Lewinski scandal (no pun intended), where an intern's stain on a dress almost got a president impeached. The French still chortle about this one.

From there it was a mere hop, skip and a jump to having Rove and Cheney feed items like "flip-flopper," "invented the internet," "president you could have a beer with," "Hussein supports Al Quaida," "yellow cake," "mission accomplished," Valerie Plame, "Swiftboat Vets," et. al. directly onto the front page.

You'd think with this track record, in addition to the enormous embarrassments that were Jayson Blair, Stephen Glass and Jeff Gannon (along with the recent bit of Bush White House chicanery, the placing of Pentagon mouthpieces in positions to spout right wing propaganda directly to news organizations), that responsible journalists in the media would've learned their lesson. Alas, as Salon's Glenn Greenwald often points out, there are no repercussions for these failings.

What used to be grounds for dismissal is now dismissed with a shrug and a handy platitude for an excuse; either "we should've done our job better" or "we only report this because it's what people want to know," depending on the situation. Then it's only a matter of coasting along until the next kerfuffle pops up.

Seems like all of that fun had at Sarah Palin's expense for not verifying they were speaking to Sarkozy was a bit premature, eh, guys?

Then again, if offenders were forced to adhere to a month of Limbaugh's diet, we wouldn't have to worry about the problem for too long. (See what I did there?)

Update - For the record, Gorlin and Mirvish did not fabricate the "Sara Palin did not know Africa was a continent" story. Apparently, that is still all too real. - TBO

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

From The Grave: Lee Atwater

I watched Tuesday night, fueled by a couple of thimblefuls of Courvoisier, the delineation of Lee Atwater’s Machiavellian short life on PBS’ “Frontline.” The film was helmed by Emmy-nominated director Stephan Forbes, known for his documentary “One More Dead Fish,” about renegade anglers in Nova Scotia struggling to survive globalization.

I was quite familiar with Mr. Atwater’s controversial, sometimes racially-charged political tactics that helped elect H.W. Bush and inspired protégés like Karl Rove and Robert Edgeworth. Atwater’s fierce methods transformed politics into ultra blood sport, and his blueprint was perfectly, albeit unsuccessfully, carried on by the McCain/Palin campaign just recently. What I didn’t realize, after having been exposed to twenty-plus years of unfair and dirty Republican vitriol toward progressive adversaries, was the absolute, almost perfect Dickensian tragic flow to Mr. Atwater’s life. In fact, before last night I wasn’t even sure he had died. Shame on me, I know.

Disgusted by Atwater’s tactics, I truly believe I relegated him to the cellars of my political and social consciousness, refusing to follow any subject related to him or his life. But something odd happened to me. During the ninety minutes that outlined his meteoric rise and deplorable demise, I went from visibly flashing the middle finger to the screen, several times calling him a despicable parasite and a first-class dick, to a deliberate pause and reflection on the always personal tragedy that is one’s life. There is no doubt he was a complicated man---as most successful political operatives are---and I realized that banishing him to a one-dimensional monster would only confirm a personal blind allegiance and heavy bias.

In his last days, pumped and swollen to an unrecognizable cyclopean appearance by steroids and chemicals used to treat a malignant brain tumor, Lee Atwater renounced his aggressive, mud-slinging tactics, and sought repentance. Some (like me, initially) will say this request for providence may have come too late. In fact, mercy from above via men and women of cloth is almost always sought on deathbeds, but more reflection upon an individual life is needed in order to pass final judgment. Personally, the single most eye-opening realization came when Ed Rollins, former Reagan campaign director and long time Republican political advisor, described how a dying Mr. Atwater asked for a copy of the Bible---to the surprise of all who knew him. But how, in the hours following his death, gathering up his personal belongings and items, they found the holy book untouched, still wrapped in sealed plastic. In the end, Lee Atwater was true to his religious beliefs (or lack thereof).

I felt the same strange, forgiving sensibility watching the execution of Saddam Hussein, as well as the demise of Nicolae and Elena Ceausescu before the firing squad in December of 1989. Without argument these three were despicable human beings who ruthlessly murdered hundreds of thousands---if not millions, yet I somehow felt melancholic and sullen watching their final moments of life taken by perhaps equally-flawed judge penitents. I suppose a fundamental sadness and sorrow for humanity’s fierceness either way will always be present within me. I suppose in a strange way I should rejoice at that---it proves I still have a heart. And hope for an advanced civilization.

"Lee Atwater made himself a figure of demonology to psych out his opponents and anesthetize people to his tactics. And the sad part -- some people would say the justified part -- was that the role that he made for himself literally ended up imprisoning him."
--Howard Fineman, Senior Editor, Newsweek.

Monday, November 10, 2008 For Sale

After years of muddy-window transparency from the Bush administration, I welcome with open arms the notion that Obama will use as many channels of communication as possible to reach out and dialogue with the nation. I don't suppose the younger and more wired of us, meaning anyone younger than Wolf Blitzer and more adept at explaining the internet than The Alaskan Felon, were really astonished by Obama's online tactics, but I have to admit I hadn't really considered how it might carry over into the communication policies of the new administration.

So, I dove into the Washington Post article, prepared to be hopeful and energized by a new dawn of real transparency, or at least a bold step towards it, or, hell, after the last eight years, a stumbling totter in the right direction. And I was brought up short, a full-on "eh, what now?", by this passage early on (emphasis mine):

"The nucleus of that effort is an e-mail database of more than 10 million supporters. The list is considered so valuable that the Obama camp briefly offered it as collateral during a cash-flow crunch late in the campaign, though it wound up never needing the loan, senior aides said. "

Now, were these lists to be considered really private, they'd have no value, as they could never be used. The very fact that they have value, enough to be used as collateral, implies that they are able to be used for other purposes. Is that what you thought when you signed up?

I understand well that the cause was a noble one, but this feels a little like scooping the pennies from the fountain. The people that joined his movement online had dreams, and I imagine none of them were to be collateral priced out for its marketing value.

Yet this was just an unaddressed aside in the article.

Maybe I'm making too big a deal of this, and it certainly doesn't make me believe less in this man or the potential of his administration. But, I also feel as though he should be called on it, not because it is so damning, but in order for it to become another point of dialogue.

Because the online access to the administration is exciting, but it had better be done well, and carefully, because the nigh-unregulated online mediaspace can be dangerous and privacy issues are of primary importance.

Washington Post: Under Obama, Web Would Be the Way -
Unprecedented Online Outreach Expected


UPDATE: Can I really call it an update if it is a link to an article older than the original one I cited?

Anyway, The New York Times had an article about Obama's use of social networking as a way to create a political brand, and what changes it might signal to the political landscape. This is worth thought and discussion. It is exciting, especially the prospect that this might undermine party-rule, but I have this nagging suspicion there are some devils lurking in the details.

New York Times: How Obama Tapped Into Social Networks’ Power

The Gift That Keeps On Giving


You know what I love about Sarah Palin? Well really, nothing. But I do love that she gets in front of the TV cameras and says stuff like this in response to the unnamed sources from the McCain campaign talking about how she didn't know what countries were in NAFTA and that Africa was a continent, not a country (emphases mine):

“Those were taken out of context and that’s cruel. It’s mean-spirited. It’s immature. It’s unprofessional and those guys are jerks if they came away with it, taking things out of context, and then tried to spread something on national news.”

Oh please, please, please sweet merciful Sarah Palin's Imaginary God, please make her the face of the Republican Party for the next generation.

Her and that crazy Mitt fellow.

Even Murdoch Gets The Blues

Interestingly absent from Obama's presser on Friday was the gravitas (averted gaze) of Fox News. They weren't physically AWOL, mind you, they just didn't get called upon. It's a detail that for the most part flew under the radar, but it's fairly piercing. It will be intriguing to see how the conservative network will adjust to a Democratic Party holding the White House and a majority of Congress. In the immediate days after the election, the likes of Major Garrett, Britt Hume, and Chris Wallace backpedaled and miraculously softened their stance on Obama, praising him with accolades and various marks of acknowledgment for everything from his campaign, to his community-organizing past (gasp, Rudy!), to his power of uniting and inspiring people at the national and international levels.

Michael Wolff, a Vanity Fair columnist who is writing an authorized biography on Rupert Murdoch's career and family, claims that even Murdoch is embarrassed by Fox News. In spite of objections from Mr. Murdoch (naturally, one must save face publicly), Wolff describes great strain in the relations between Mr. Murdoch and two of his top executives---CEO Roger Ailes and Peter Chernin, president of News Corporation. Wolff fired back at Murdoch's camp---which had obtained an early draft of the book, despite much hush-hush on the manuscript: "I’m obviously annoyed that they’re looking at an early version of the book, and a purloined one at that. In essence News Corp. is holding stolen goods.”

The story from the New York Times continues: "The objections raised on behalf of Mr. Murdoch came after an article on Mr. Murdoch and the book was published in Vanity Fair in the October issue in which Mr. Wolff wrote that Mr. Murdoch was making friends with liberals and that he had soured on Fox News and Mr. Ailes.

“For a long time, he was in love with the Fox chief, Roger Ailes, because he was even more Murdoch than Murdoch,” Mr. Wolff wrote in the October Vanity Fair piece. “And yet now the embarrassment can’t be missed — he mumbles even more than usual when called on to justify it; he barely pretends to hide the way he feels about Bill O’Reilly.”

The question that has many in the media scratching their heads is why Mr. Murdoch agreed to give such open access to himself and his family. “It’s a big question,” said David Drake, the book’s publicist at Doubleday. “It will always remain a mystery.”

But while we may rejoice at the metaphorical wheels coming off Fox News' wagon, let us not forget what Mr. Murdoch truly is: a risk-taking entrepreneur, media mogul, and---in effect---a corporation. He understands that on 5 November, 2008 the environment changed and the rules were re-written. If he wants to continue to rake in the profits, his coverage needs to change. If he keeps Fox on its current track, the network will become marginalized and its shareholders will lose money. It's quite simple and analogous to the T. Boone Pickens endorsement of green energy. Men like these know very well the power of "green." In the end, it is truly the only thing that interests them.

Sunday, November 9, 2008

The Green Buildup

One of my great hopes for the upcoming Obama presidency, coupled with the Democratic majority in both house of Congress, is a final turn away from the concept of "trickle-down" economics. Even Alan Greenspan admitted that he had underestimated the greed inherent in our economic system, a greed that has for decades prevented funds pumped into the top from actually reaching the bottom.

My in-laws are convinced that such a change in economic policy philosophy will mean the bankruptcy of their business, which has been in the family for 60+ years. Yet they provided to my mind the quintessential example of why trickle-down doesn't work the day they were showing us the photos and plans of a second house they were building on the sunny, dry side of our state while, without hint of irony, explaining to us how they had just cut the hours of all of their employees so as to avoid paying for health care benefits.

Anyway, the plan that turns away from trickle-down economics and make the most sense to me is the Green Buildup, a generic term I'm applying to the calls by Thomas Friedman and Al Gore among others for the government to dump massive cash into developing new clean-energy technology and infrastructure, and retro-fitting exitsting systems to mitigate current energy usage.

This just makes sense to me. It puts people to work, which can only help the economy as those people spend their earnings back into the system, creates opportunities for businesses, and works to solve our energy problems in a way that both addresses environmental concerns and strengthens our security position by decreasing dependence on a finite resource largely concentrated in some of the most politically unstable regions in the world.

What's the downside? That isn't a rhetorical question - I actually want to know what potential downsides or stumbling blocks could undermine this plan. Because, in absence of serious concerns, I'd put this on the agenda for day one of the Obama administration.

apres le honeymoon, le deluge

I honestly want to keep hope alive, be the change I wish to see, and all those platitudes. Really I do. I cannot pretend, though, to feel confident knowing that the constitutional law professor I helped get elected might just be more of the same, perhaps cloaked in blue as opposed to red. (Interesting to find this on the AP on the same day my Sunday New York Times magazine features a cover story on whether or not Obama will roll back Dubya's executive power-plays.)

I guarantee someone will argue that without executive orders we wouldn't have the Emancipation Proclamation or the WPA. (We also wouldn't have had those pesky internment camps during World War II, but who's really counting?) My issue? There is no real constitutional basis for executive orders. Call me crazy (or call me Ron Paul), but I thought the Constitution was, like, the law of our land; a document which organizes our branches of government and specifically states the scope (and limitations) of all three branches. I also thought that if we the people (including the President) felt hemmed-in by the law of the land, we have a means to amend our Constitution. I don't like the idea of one person having sweeping, broad power over the government, even if I agree with him on most things. I was hoping for change, remember?

(For shits and giggles: the Wikipedia page on U.S. executive orders. Please note the length of Dubya's list in relation to the entire list.)