Friday, November 21, 2008

The Obama Administration

One thing we pride ourselves on at WAYLA is how we give you the information you need in one place - so you don't always have to scurry around the internet to find what you want to know.

One thing you may have been looking for is updates on the make-up of the up-coming Obama Administration. So who are we looking at?

Secretary of State

There were many in the running, but reports today that Sen. Hillary Clinton is almost certain to get the job. Two Obama aides have confirmed that the President-Elect is "on track" to nominating her, and she is likely to accept. Thomas Friedman wrote an interesting editorial about a Secretary Clinton in the New York Times on Tuesday.

Secretary of Defense

So far there has been little word about a successor to current Secretary Robert Gates. As a result, he is still considered likely to stay on for some time after Obama moves into the White House. The AP also lists former Navy Secretary Richard Danzig, Sen. Chuck Hagel (R-NE) and Sen. Jack Reed (D-RI).

What we find interesting here is the absence of former Presidential candidate Gen. Wesley Clark. He was blasted by the press for questioning the impressiveness of John McCain's service - but he was considered a shoe-in for the job a year ago by many Democrats.

Secretary of Treasury

For a position that is being watched more closely than it normally would, the Secretary of Treasury has garnered only a few speculations, including New York Fed Chair Timothy Geithner, and two former Fed chairs. Rep. Charlie Rangel (D-NY) - the Chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee who is undoubtedly aging fast these days - weighs in.

Attorney General

It is almost sure to be Eric Holder, a former Judge nominated by Reagan and former deputy attorney general in the Clinton Administration. His prosecution of individuals within the government gives him unmatched credibility to run a department which is heavily criticized by Congress for being protective of Republicans.

Secretary of DHS

The press is reporting Gov. Janet Napolitano (D-AZ) has already been chosen (albeit, not yet formally) for leading the troubled Department of Homeland Security. Her leadership in a conservative border state will give her credibility for cleaning up the organization which handles terrorism prevention, natural disaster relief, and immigration control.

Secretary of HHS

Former Senate Minority Leader Tom Daschle (D-SD) appears to have been chosen to lead the Department of Health and Human Services. He is a close advisor of Obama's, and was considered to be on the short-list for White House Chief of Staff.

Secretary of Energy

On the short-list is Dan Reichner, the energy and global warming director at Google, President of Resources for the Future and former Rep. Philip Sharp (D-IN), and Gov. Kathleen Sebelius (D-KS).

Secretary of Commerce

Penny Pritzker, a businesswoman and important Obama fundraiser, has said she would not take the job of Commerce Secretary. She cites business deals in the past that would not go over well in confirmation hearings. The other name on the short-list is Laura D'Andrea Tyson, a top economic advisor to President Clinton.

Secretary of Labor

At the top of the list is Ed McElroy, the former President of the American Federation of Teachers. His name stands out because Obama will want a union-friendly leader when the NLRB implements the Employee Free Choice Act.

Others on the list include former Rep. Dick Gephardt (D-MO), former AFL-CIO President Linda-Chavez Thompson, and former Rep. David Bonier (D-MI).

Rep. George Miller (D-CA) has indicated he will not get the job - but then again, Joe Biden said the same thing about the Vice-Presidency. Miller is currently the Chair of House Education and Labor Committee.

Secretary of Transportation

Obama has indicated his desire to rebuild American infrastructure in order to support carbon reduction, fix outdated transportation systems, and pump money into the economy.

On the short-list is Jane Garvey (former head of the FAA), House Transportation Committee Chairman Jim Oberstar (D-MN), Mortimer Downey, and Rep. Peter DeFrazio (D-OR)

Secretary of Agriculture

Former Gov. Tom Vilsack (D-IA) is the top name for the job. Tom Buis of the National Farmers Union is another possibility. Believe it or not, many Washington insiders will pay close attention to the running for USDA due to friction over Farm Bill reform.

Secretary of the Interior

Unless Obama says he plans to implement a new CCC for a new New Deal, don't count on the media reporting on this position short of a national park-bench-naming crisis. But the short list includes former Gov. John Kitzhaber (D-OR), former Gov. Tony Knowles (D-AK), and Sen. Ken Salazar (D-CO).

Secretary of Education

Believe it or not, Colin Powell is considered a contender for this job. More likely candidates include New York schools chief Joel Klein, Arne Duncan (CEO of Chicago Public Schools), and Inez Tenenbaum (former state superintendent of South Carolina).

Secretary of HUD

The only name on the short-list was Majority Whip Jim Clyburn (D-SC). However, Clyburn said he has "no interest in leaving Congress" in a telephone interview. The Department of Housing and Urban Development will be a particularly important cabinet post as the government tries to relieve the ailing housing market.


Sources say that former Marine General James L. Jones is likely to be Obama's National Security Advisor.

As the smoke around the Obama Administration clears, we will provide further analysis of the new cabinet and their role in Change.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Know Your Third Parties: Part 2 - the Libertarian Party

The self-proclaimed "Party of Principle" credits itself with being the fastest-growing political party in the United States. Between their laissez-faire market and small-government fiscal views and their liberal social and foreign policy views, it is understandable that the Libertarian Party is attractive to many Americans.

Membership: 115,401 (April 2004)

NOTE: Since the Libertarian Party was founded in 1971, they have maintained a "signature member" program, in which dues are not required. In fact, the issue of dues is very controversial within the party, as many members believe they shouldn't exist at all. The website,, encourages paying for membership by not really mentioning signature membership.

But it forces us to beg the question "is it really that difficult to be the fastest growing party in the country when you don't require members to pay?"

Members Holding Office: 439 (get full list here)

Although the Libertarians have successfully been elected to State Legislature positions since the 1970s, there are currently no members holding a partisan position. The list is made up of mayors, sheriffs, council members, etc.


The Libertarian Party was created in 1971 by the Committee to Form a Libertarian Party. This was, in part, a result of Richard Nixon ending the Gold Standard - an action that has been criticized by the Libertarians to this day.

The first Presidential candidate for the party ran the following year. Although the ticket of John Hospers and Theodora Nathan earned less than 3,000 votes, they did receive an electoral vote from an Elector pledged for Nixon.

By 1980, the Libertarian Party ticket was on the ballot in all fifty states - a seldom achieved victory for a Third Party. However, they were setback by inter-party riffs over the role of government (those who felt government was problematic versus those who thought government should be abolished). Since then, the Libertarian Party has always struggled with the question of pragmatism.

In 1983, several prominent members of the Libertarian Party abruptly resigned (including the first Executive Director, Ed Crane, and David Koch of the Cato Institute) because of the plurality of purists elected to the Libertarian National Committee.

In the mid-1990s, a similar debate came up when the Committee for a Libertarian Majority was formed to bring the party into the mainstream. The counter committee, PLEDGE, held them off. In 2004, another inter-party conflict started as the Libertarian Reform Caucus formed to make the party more pragmatic. In response, the Radical Caucus organized a majority of Libertarian activists to keep it "the Party of Principle".

Throughout the 1990s and current decade, the Libertarian Party continued to grow at a steady rate. This year, former Congressman Bob Barr ran as the Libertarian candidate and appeared on 46 state ballots.

On the Issues:

For the most part, the Libertarian Party is economically conservative and socially liberal - although there is a debate in the party over abortion. They tend to believe that government should completely stay out of the free-market, while supporting civil liberties and individual rights. They are also non-interventionist - even after September 11, they stood against intervention in Afghanistan.

The basic principle of the Libertarian Party is that "politics [should be] based on the moral principle of self-ownership. Each individual has the right to control his or her own body, action, speech, and property. Government's only role is to help individuals defend themselves from force and fraud." You can read the platform here.

Final Thoughts:

If any Third Party could come into the mainstream and achieve regular electoral victory, it is the Libertarian Party. However, the ideological dogma that prevails with the Radical Caucus continues to set back the party.

A party that supports neo-conservative economics can be successful - a party that supports strictly laissez-faire governance cannot. A party that supports civil liberties can be successful - a party that supports the right to shout "Fire!" in a crowded theater cannot. A party that opposes the Iraq War can be successful - a party that opposes combating terrorism cannot.

Libertarian Party members would do well for themselves to support the goals of the Reform Caucus and make the party moderate. They would be able to pick up support from both Democrats that feel their own party is moving too far left as well as free-market Republicans that are disillusioned with the power of Evangelicals in their own party. After all, Freedom is a very powerful idea in American politics, and no party is more supportive of all-around Freedom than the Libertarians.

But until then, don't expect the "fastest-growing party" to grow into anything significant.

Coming Monday - the Constitution Party.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Decision 2008: Still Not Over

It's been over two weeks since Election Day. Here are the latest developments in the Battle for Congress.


In Alaska, Mark Begich, the Democratic Mayor of Anchorage, topped incumbent Republican Senator Ted Stevens. With just about all of the ballots counted, Begich leads Stevens by just over 3,000 votes. However, Stevens might call for a recount.

The Democrats appear to be one seat closer to having a filibuster-proof majority of 60 for the 111th Congress due to the current corruption scandal surrounding Stevens. The Alaska lawmaker, who was recently convicted on corruption charges, says he will not ask for a pardon from President Bush. Of course, that may be because he still claims innocence.


The Minnesota race between GOP incumbent Senator Norm Coleman and Democrat Al Franken will be decided by a recount that started today. The state Canvassing Board has decided to do a statewide hand recount of 2.9 million ballots. The status of previously rejected absentee ballots is still unknown - the Canvassing Board said they needed more time to consider the arguments, but will have a decision within the week.

Under Minnesota law, the voter's intent is what determines how they voted when recounting ballots. Because intent is sometimes debatable, both campaigns have already been challenging ballots today to try to throw out votes against them. Overall, Coleman has between 107 and 155 lawyers on top of the recount, Franken has about 250.


Although Democrat Tom Perriello has been the declared winner of the race for the 5th Congressional District for some time now, incumbent Rep. Virgil Goode has not conceded. He explains why in a telephone interview.

Goode won't concede because one precinct (which he won't identify) just didn't have the results he expected. He has still not ruled out a recount.

As mentioned in the video, Perriello was in Washington for freshmen orientation this week, despite GOP uncertainty about the race. But what if the state of Virginia had not declared a winner yet? Better yet, what if they hadn't declared a winner AND Goode would have been a freshman?


Because those are the exact circumstances in California's 4th Congressional District where the race between Republican Tom McClintock and Democrat Charlie Brown is so close, there is still no clear winner.

As a result, they both went to freshman orientation.

As of yesterday, McClintock leads by 562 votes, but both campaigns are confident that they will come out victorious after thousands of ballots are finished being counted in the more Brown-leaning counties.

As always, WAYLA will keep you up-to-speed with the latest developments in the undecided House and Senate races.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

A Runoff Can Only Mean One Thing: Bad Allusions

It's Tuesday, November 18, 2008. Here is what we are looking at:

With the runoff election for US Senate between incumbent Saxby Chambliss (R-GA) and Democrat Jim Martin, pundits are coming up with mind-numbing allusions about Georgia. proclaims "AFL has Georgia on its mind" referring to a mailer sent out to Georgia union workers from the AFL-CIO.

The Daily Show explains how a runoff works with a parody of "The Devil Went Down to Georgia."

You can expect the next surrogate stumping for either campaign to be described as taking a Midnight Train to Georgia.

Monday, November 17, 2008

Know Your Third Parties: Part 1 - The Green Party

The Green Party is part of a worldwide movement that intends to raise environmental awareness. The Global Greens have established political parties across the planet to elect environmentalists to office.

But as is the case with many single-issue parties, the environmental concerns of the Greens have been picked up by the more progressive of the two major parties. Now the Green Party preaches a broader leftist message. Although they continue to decline in electoral success on the national ticket, they have succeeded in electing their members to local offices across the country.

Membership: 304,796 (as of May 2005)

Members Holding Office: 220 (get full list here)

Most Greens hold office in local governments including City Councils, School Boards, and other small entities. They do, however, claim a few State Legislature seats as well.


The Green movement made its way to the United States in 1984, with the establishment of the Greens/Green Party USA. The Association of State Green Parties made Ralph Nader the candidate of its first national ticket in 1996. The ASGP then split from Green Party USA to become the Green Party of the United States. The Greens/Green Party USA remains a political organization today, but is separate from the political party.

Nader was the Green Party nominee again in 2000, though it would be his last time seeking the nomination. Nevertheless, Green Party delegates have supported him in the last two election cycles. The success of Nader split-off several voters that Al Gore could have picked up in order to win the election. As a result, most Democrats have had a negative view towards Nader and the Greens alike.

In 2004 the Green Party nominated David Cobb as its Presidential candidate, but failed to appear on 16 of the 44 state ballots that it managed in 2000. Without the prominent Nader name, the party saw a decrease in support.

In 2006 the Greens led several campaigns for candidates that received 10% - 20% of the vote in Gubernatorial and Congressional races. They also led an effort to put Iraq Withdrawal referenda on many state and local ballots, including a majority of localities in Wisconsin and 11 in Illinois.

In 2008 the party nominated former Democratic Congresswoman Cynthia McKinney of Georgia and managed to appear on 32 state ballots, but still only garnered a small number of votes.

On the Issues:

The Green Party supports leftist positions on social and economic issues including healthcare, gay rights, civil liberties, and of course the environment. You can read the Green Party Platform here.

The Green Party also stresses their 10 Key Values:

  1. Grassroots Democracy
  2. Social Justice
  3. Ecological Wisdom
  4. Non-Violence
  5. Decentralization
  6. Community-Based Economics
  7. Feminism and Gender Equality
  8. Respect for Diversity
  9. Personal and Global Responsibility
  10. Future Focus and Sustainability

Final Thoughts

For what it is worth, the liberal views of the Green Party have made the Democrats stick closer to their base in recent years so as to not lose voters to a splinter party. As of very recently, both of the major parties have responded more urgently to the concerns of global warming - concerns the Green Party has been pushing now for decades.

Despite the election they cost Gore in 2000, the Green Party has been successful for a Third Party's purpose - namely forcing the major party it splinters from to re-examine itself.

Coming Thursday - the Libertarian Party

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Know Your Third Parties – A Series

Now that the 2008 Elections are over and the news media is winding down their political coverage, we felt it was a good opportunity to take an in-depth look at the seldom talked about political forces of the United States.

The first that comes to mind are America's Third Parties. There are a countless number of them, and sadly we will be unable to cover them all. But we will take a look at the most prominent and most interesting.

Among the topics we will cover for each is membership, history, viewpoints, and number of elected officials.

Unfortunately, we will limit the discussion to current Third Parties only, meaning we will not be able to cover the short-lived Unity08 or the hilarious Natural Law Party. We will also decline from covering independent candidates such as Ralph Nader.

The prominent Third Parties we'll look at include the "Big Three" (Green, Libertarian, and Constitution) as well as the Reform and Independence Parties.

Other interesting parties will include the American Nazi Party, the Prohibition Party, as well as the many socialist and communist parties.

We will devote a day to each party we cover. We hope you will find this series to be an informative and humorous exploration into some of America's smaller, more obscure, and often more absurd political organizations.

Coming tomorrow – the Green Party.