Saturday, January 17, 2009

The Next Step...(VIDEO)

"As President, I will need the help of all Americans to meet the challenges that lie ahead. That's why I'm asking people like you who fought for change during the campaign to continue fighting for change in your communities. Since the election hundreds of thousands of you have shared your ideas about how this movement should move forward..."

It is time to bring our Army to Washington, and demand the change we voted for.

The Fireside chat for January 17, 2009

Sullivan: Taibbi vs. Friedman...

This originally comes from Andrew Sullivan.  It's Matt Taibbi being Matt Taibbi, but since's absolutely obliterating Thomas Friedman, it's all so especially enjoyable:

To review quickly, the “Long Bomb” Iraq war plan [Tom] Friedman supported as a means of transforming the Middle East blew up in his and everyone else’s face; the “Electronic Herd” of highly volatile international capital markets he once touted as an economic cure-all not only didn’t pan out, but led the world into a terrifying chasm of seemingly irreversible economic catastrophe; his beloved “Golden Straitjacket” of American-style global development (forced on the world by the “hidden fist” of American military power) turned out to be the vehicle for the very energy/ecological crisis Friedman himself warns about in his new book; and, most humorously, the “Flat World” consumer economics Friedman marveled at so voluminously turned out to be grounded in such total unreality that even his wife’s once-mighty shopping mall empire, General Growth Properties, has lost 99 percent of its value in this year alone. So, yes, Friedman is suddenly an environmentalist of sorts.

What the fuck else is he going to be?

And, according to Sullivan, that was one of the nicer paragraphs.

Friday, January 16, 2009

FiveThirtyEight: Is Nate becoming the Anti-Sirota??

Sirota blasts Obama.  I'd rip him, but since I didn't bother to read his piece, that'd be unfair.  Instead, I'll just ignore him.

Still, Nate Silver steps up.  He doesn't blast Sirota, but he does refute him, and the knee-jerk anti-Bailout mania that seems to be sweeping the country...

The reason, of course, that Coburn and the other 18 senators changed their stance on the bailout is not because of any underlying change in philosophy but because of political opportunism. The Obama administration has now inherited the burden of the bailout package from the Bush administration; as such, it is easier for Republicans to oppose it. Likewise, it is harder for Democrats like Jeff Merkely and the Udall Cousins, who railed against the bailout on the campaign trail, to vote to oppose it.

The bailout, undoubtedly, is highly unpopular. Getting to run a commercial that accuses your opponent of having voted for "a $700 billion giveaway to Wall Street" is the sort of stuff that can win you an election.

But does the fact that the optics of the bailout are poor mean that it is poor policy? Does it mean, moreover, that opposing the bailout is the right "progressive" policy stance?

On the contrary, the fact that the Republican and Democratic positions on the bailout appear to be so fluid would seem to indicate that it not an issue particularly well described by traditional ideological frameworks like liberal versus conservative. Either the bailout is a necessary evil to get the economy moving again -- a goal that benefits progressives and conservatives alike -- or it isn't. This is largely an empirical question rather than an ideological one.

Thursday, January 15, 2009

WaPo: Spare me the sanctimony...

I love hearing such moral certainty out of blank Newspaper Editorial pages: "The attorney general nominee must explain his role," the Washington Post demands.

Must, explain his role.

So...people should be held accountable for the crap they've committed in the past?

People like...the Washington Post Editorial Board who cheerleaded us into the Iraq War.

Courtesy Think Progress:

After Secretary of State Colin L. Powell’s presentation to the United Nations Security Council yesterday, it is hard to imagine how anyone could doubt that Iraq possesses weapons of mass destruction. [2/6/03]

The Perils of Passivity [2/13/03]

But the United States cannot again join the Security Council in backing down from a confrontation with the Iraqi dictator, as it did repeatedly during the 1990s, also under pressure from France and Russia. [2/16/03]

In the case of Iraq, the functioning of American democracy has been pretty straightforward. President Bush has been respectful of opponents, at least at home, as he should be on such a momentous issue. [2/23/03]

Raw Story: That's NOT what he said...

The Raw Story headline says it up front: "Obama: Killing bin Laden may not be essential".

Problem, that's not what he said.

You be the judge.

The quote-misquote is taken from a leaked CBS Interview. Here's what the President-Elect said.

"I think that we have to so weaken his infrastructure that, whether he is technically alive or not, he is so pinned down that he cannot function," Obama said.

"My preference obviously would be to capture or kill him. But if we have so tightened the noose that he's in a cave somewhere and can't even communicate with his operatives, then we will meet our goal of protecting America."

When you lead with a headline that says Killing bin Laden may not be essential, A) you've made it sound like that's a direct quote, when it's not. B) It further makes it sound like Obama's taking the Bush cue of "I don't think about him very much." It suggests a lackadaiscial attitude toward pursuing Bin Laden.

Was there anything lackadaiscial in that statement?

I'm sorry, but what part of "my preference obviously would be to capture or kill him" didn't Raw Story understand??

The word "essential" appears once in the Raw Story the headline, odds are written by someone else.

UPDATE (12:02pm): To clarify, a far more accurate, and simpler, take on what Obama said, is "We don't have to kill him to neutralize him as a threat."

But by saying what they said, how they said it, they're making it sound like Obama said "Killing Osama? We can take it or leave it". It's a subtle change, but it changes the meaning of the quote.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Obama at Harvard. Obama Now.

The story of the President-Elect's rise to become the first African-American to be the Editor of the Harvard Law Review is pretty well known.

But consider the parallels of those heady days, and compare them to now:

Ideological battles raged at the law school. Students clashed over faculty diversity and political correctness. Some even booed and hissed one another in class.

Obama, though liberal, was elected with help from conservatives. He prompted criticism from more liberal classmates by putting conservatives in key editorial positions. Some of his toughest critics were black students who complained that he didn't appoint more African Americans to top posts.

That was the first time I had to deal with something that I suspect I'll have to deal with in the future, which is balancing a broader constituency with the specific expectations of being an African American in a position of influence,” he would later tell biographer David Mendell. “As for the criticism, I'm not sure there was anything all that surprising about that.”

The controversy mirrors the backlash from liberals today who fault some of his early appointments as well as his choice of evangelical pastor Rick Warren to deliver the inaugural invocation.

“He struck me as moderate in the context of campus politics,” says classmate Adam Charnes, a Republican who would work in the Bush Justice Department and now practices in Winston-Salem. “His cabinet appointments are consistent with the Barack that I knew, someone who doesn't take a hard and fast ideological position on things.

But as an editorial point, remember this story for future days...

[Sarah] Higgins [one of the lead interview subjects of the McClatchy Story] recalls Obama walking in during another argument.

He summoned one editor to a meeting and began climbing the stairs to his cramped second-floor office. The editor made no move to follow and kept arguing. Obama paused.

“Upstairs, now,” he said firmly. He kept walking. The editor sheepishly followed.

When he's ready to strike, he will strike.

Obama to America: Stay Home!! (VIDEO)

Okay, just kidding. He doesn't say that...


Obama's given an pre-Inaugural Video about what he expects (crowds, difficulty getting around) and what events are out there (plenty), and what he'd like us all to do on MLK Day.

TPM: Even Josh is starting to annoy me...

First it was, Obama's not being aggressive enough to beat Hillary in the Primary. Then, it's he's not doing enough in the General to take down McCain. Now, he's not being ambitious enough in pursuit of the stimulus.

I'm sorry, but when is Josh going to get it through his head that Obama moves at a different clip than he's used to. Josh has been massively wrong about Obama in the past, and frankly I could give a rat's ass if he's got a problem with the pace Obama's moving at. He's smarter than you are. Get used to it, or don't. I could care less one way or the other.

He pulls back. He plans. He strikes. That's pretty much the basic Obama modus-operandi.

Last I checked, we're in planning mode for another 5 days.

January 20th, 12:00pm Eastern Standard Time, I think we'll see some action.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

A Call To Renewal (VIDEO)

A little piece of then-Senator Obama from 2006...

Making the headline bigger doesn't make the news bigger...

Now, I love big, macho headlines as much as the next guy, but c'mon Huffington Post. "Obama Issues First Veto Threat"??


Through the Bush Administration, the President-Elect's made a request for the second half of the TARP (Troubled Assets Relief Program). This would be part of the $700 Billion Dollars Congress allocated to know...stop the Western world from imploding.

Our outgoing Treasury Secretary Andrew Mell--eerrr, sorry. I'm thinking of Herbert Hoover's waste of space Treasury Secretary. I should be thinking of Bush's waste of space Henry Paulson (every bit as dim as the Wikipedia picture implies), who at first promised to spend the first part of the $350 Billion dollars on helping homeowners stay in their homes...

...but then he saw that a bunch of his Wall Street buddies (remember, Paulson was working at Goldman Sachs before being pinched by the Bushies) need--...err, sorry wanted money, he went back on his word to Congress, gave the money to his pals, figuring that once Wall Street had money to lend, the homeowners would be just fine.

Two months later. Wall Street has its money. We don't know who got what because Paulson ain't saying, at least not to us. Homeowners are still going broke, and nobody's lendin' nothin'...

Needless to say, Congress is feeling a wee-bit burned by the experience.

So the President-Elect wants to use the second half of this $700 Million Appropriation for (hopefully) the purpose for which it was intended. Congress wants strict oversight of the disbursment of these monies, unlike last time.

Now, the trick is the GOP is already thumping their chest, saying that they'll stop the bill.

Having lost still more seats in both Houses in the last election, good luck with that.

The odds of this bill passing are distant and remote. There's a stimulus train comin' down the tracks, and only a few want to get in its way.

I expect a small number of Democrats to defect and vote with the GOP, but probably in similiar numbers to the amount of Republicans who will vote for the second half, especially if the words "helps Homeowners" and "Oversight" are used.

So, if by some miracle Eric Cantor (not worth linking, but expect to see his name a lot in the next four years) and the other House and Senate Republicans pass this bill to stop Obama from getting the second half, Obama has threatened to...gasp, shock and horror...veto the legislation.

To me the bigger story would come in the GOP actually making it that far.

Memo to Huffington Post, Charles Foster Kane was wrong. Making the headline bigger doesn't make the news bigger...

UPDATE (3:35 Pacific): CNN now has the story, thus raising the temperature a little bit. But the fundamentals haven't changed.

Pollster: Obama's Favorability...

In case you were wondering...

WSJ: Is Timothy Geithner in trouble??

Facing the most severe economic catastrophe in...literally...decades, what are we going to talk about? Another Nanny of suspect immigration status.

You have got to be freakin' kidding me...

But apparently, scumbag Senator Chuck Grassley (R-IA) brought the subject up today, and now Max Baucus (D-MO), according to Politico (no link because it's on the Politico 44 site), has called committee members to his office this afternoon to discuss the issue ahead of Geithner’s confirmation hearing.

Again, you have got to be freakin' kidding me...

We're doing this?? We're going there???

Why is it that the most landbound, border-locked states always getting their knickers in a twist about the immigration status of...well, whoever??

I hold the Senator from Iowa, right now, beneath contempt. If this is the kind of crap he wants to pull, then the sooner he retires the better.

Oh, and the Wall Street Journal has it too. (I thought they'd championed Geithner's appointment like a month ago??).

A reading of the article in Murdoch seems to tamp down some of the smoke coming from the headlines at TPM and Politico:

According to people familiar with the matter, Mr. Geithner employed a housekeeper whose immigration papers expired during her tenure with Mr. Geithner, currently president of the Federal Reserve Bank of New York. The woman went on to get a green card to work legally in the country and federal immigration authorities didn't press charges against her, these people said.

The second issue involved taxes due while Mr. Geithner worked for the International Monetary Fund between 2001 and 2004. As an employee, Mr. Geithner was technically considered self-employed and was required to pay Social Security and Medicare taxes for himself as both an employer and an employee.

He apparently failed to do so, resulting in Internal Revenue Service audits his last two years at the IMF. As soon as the IRS brought the issue to his attention, he paid the taxes with interest, these people said.

It's unclear how much of an impediment these issues will be to Mr. Geithner's nomination. On its merits, his ascension has been widely praised. Mr. Geithner spent most of his career managing government responses to financial crises, from the 1990s bailouts of Mexico, Indonesia and Korea, to the market meltdown that has brought Wall Street to its knees.

But wait, Murdoch continues:

Obama aides said they didn't believe these issues would present a problem, given the minor nature of the infractions and the gravity of the role he has been nominated to take.

On the tax front, Mr. Geithner's oversight is not uncommon. The IRS has mandated loose rules for U.S.-born IMF employees unaware of their obligations to pay payroll taxes.

Sen. Baucus nonetheless decided to hold a closed-door meeting to allow the two matters to be aired before Mr. Geithner's public confirmation hearing.

"It's important that I talk to senators, which I'm going to be doing," Sen. Baucus said as he went into the meeting.

Democratic senators plan to defend Mr. Geithner, saying that the nature of the complaints pale in comparison to the gravity of the crises he has been asked to face, a severe economic recession, turmoil in the financial markets and the collapse of the U.S. auto industry.

Monday, January 12, 2009

Does Art. 1, Sec. 5 mean anything??

I still think this is a bad idea...

The Left starts pushing back...

Just watching the blogs tick by on Huffington Post, you see the following headlines:

Maybe, Going Forward, We Should Just Let Bernie Madoff Off?

I understand it's smart for Obama to hold his cards close on torture and war crimes prosecutions, but the reason that's being given for not pursuing them makes little sense.

Jane Hamsher bleating on again. Here's my question, let's say there was an ethically challenged Administration leaving office, with a lot of questions that opposing party wanted answered (perhaps even legitimately), and a hardcore base demanded prosecutions.

Now shift the year to 2001.

Now what do you say to the idea of prosecuting the last administration?

Obama on Torture: Don't Stop Thinking About Tomorrow

This answer tracks the language of many torture apologists (and advocates) in Washington, who posit a choice between protecting the country today and second-guessing the past.

Two Questions

Two questions we should demand Congress ask of Eric Holder before confirming him. The same two questions Mukasey refused to answer.

This last one is from John Cusack, star of stage and screen. While he asks a question I'd like to see answered myself, what if the answer doesn't meet with his approval? Does he suggest dumping the first black Attorney General? He doesn't seem to have an answer for this one.

But the good news is that I'm finally seeing some pushback from my fellow lefties against my fellow lefties...

Who Needs the Right When the Left Has Itself?

This is the nub of it for me with the Lefties: they do not truly understand who they are, nor what they are motivated by. The slightest bump in the road leads to anarchy or dissent.

Barack Obama and Ernie Shore

Barack Obama is like a relief pitcher who was brought in to pitch with his team down by about ten runs and is somehow expected to lead them to victory.

Why Aren't Democrats Supporting Obama?

This is nuts. No doubt Democrats have a tradition of tearing down their own presidents, but usually it takes a few years. Not now. The GOP must be chortling.