Saturday, February 28, 2009

The Fireside chat for February 28, 2009

Uhhh, bring it on??

I realize that passing this budget won’t be easy. Because it represents real and dramatic change, it also represents a threat to the status quo in Washington. I know that the insurance industry won’t like the idea that they’ll have to bid competitively to continue offering Medicare coverage, but that’s how we’ll help preserve and protect Medicare and lower health care costs for American families. I know that banks and big student lenders won’t like the idea that we’re ending their huge taxpayer subsidies, but that’s how we’ll save taxpayers nearly $50 billion and make college more affordable. I know that oil and gas companies won’t like us ending nearly $30 billion in tax breaks, but that’s how we’ll help fund a renewable energy economy that will create new jobs and new industries. In other words, I know these steps won’t sit well with the special interests and lobbyists who are invested in the old way of doing business, and I know they’re gearing up for a fight as we speak. My message to them is this:

So am I.

Friday, February 27, 2009

NYT: Krugman's Happy Again...

In fact, he's overjoyed.  This is the closest I've seen him...actually, read him dancing in the streets.

From this morning's New York Times:

Elections have consequences. President Obama’s new budget represents a huge break, not just with the policies of the past eight years, but with policy trends over the past 30 years. If he can get anything like the plan he announced on Thursday through Congress, he will set America on a fundamentally new course.

The budget will, among other things, come as a huge relief to Democrats who were starting to feel a bit of postpartisan depression. The stimulus bill that Congress passed may have been too weak and too focused on tax cuts. The administration’s refusal to get tough on the banks may be deeply disappointing. But fears that Mr. Obama would sacrifice progressive priorities in his budget plans, and satisfy himself with fiddling around the edges of the tax system, have now been banished.

And about the deficit?

Many will ask whether Mr. Obama can actually pull off the deficit reduction he promises. Can he actually reduce the red ink from $1.75 trillion this year to less than a third as much in 2013? Yes, he can.

Right now the deficit is huge thanks to temporary factors (at least we hope they’re temporary): a severe economic slump is depressing revenues and large sums have to be allocated both to fiscal stimulus and to financial rescues.

But if and when the crisis passes, the budget picture should improve dramatically. Bear in mind that from 2005 to 2007, that is, in the three years before the crisis, the federal deficit averaged only $243 billion a year. Now, during those years, revenues were inflated, to some degree, by the housing bubble. But it’s also true that we were spending more than $100 billion a year in Iraq.

So if Mr. Obama gets us out of Iraq (without bogging us down in an equally expensive Afghan quagmire) and manages to engineer a solid economic recovery — two big ifs, to be sure — getting the deficit down to around $500 billion by 2013 shouldn’t be at all difficult.

Thursday, February 26, 2009

NYT: Nationalizing my Credit Card...

The Wall Street Journal said it first.  Now, the New York Times now confirms.  The U.S. Government is taking over 30-40% of Citigroup.  The CEO can stay.  The Board has to go.

It all depends on what your definition of "Residual Force" is...

So, it's finally going to happen.

As I am typing this, on (Thursday evening, February 26, 2009) President Barack Obama is preparing to give an address at Camp Lejune, North Carolina where he will announce the end of the Iraq War.

Praise be Jesus!

Now, the plan has had a few changes. Instead of the 16 month withdrawal plan he campaigned on, he is now talking a 19 month withdrawal plan.

As much as I want the War over with (and over with yesterday), I can live with 90 extra days. I'm not certain some soldiers can, but if this is what he's gotta do...

Even Republicans are on board with this plan, including gasp, shock and horror, one John Sidney McCain.

And that's where the world goes all topsy-turvy. Because, while Republicans are signaling "thumbs up" for the plan, Democrats are signaling a definite thumbs-down.

"I'm happy to listen to the secretary of defense and the president, but when they talk about 50,000, that's a little higher number than I had anticipated," Senator Harry Reid (D-NV) said.

Sen. Charles E. Schumer (D-N.Y.) said the pullout "has to be done responsibly, we all agree. But 50,000 is more than I would have thought, and we await the justification."

Sen. Patty Murray (D-Wash.) echoed his worries, saying: "I do think we have to look carefully at the numbers that are there and do it as quickly as we can." Sen. Russell Feingold (D-Wis.) issued a statement saying he is "concerned" about the level of troops that would remain in Iraq.

Nancy Pelosi's was on with Rachel Maddow, and said it flat out, she's not cool with the idea of leaving 50,000 troops in Iraq.

So, what are we talking here?  Nancy and the Senators all seem to be objecting to the size of the force.  They also seem a little put-off by the notion of a residual force in the first place.

You're kidding me, right?

I have to ask a question.  Back in 2008, when the candidate was speaking, was anybody freakin' listening?!?

From a July 14, 2008 Op-Editorial, written by one...Barack Obama (which is basically his standard stump speech on Iraq in newspaper form):

As I’ve said many times, we must be as careful getting out of Iraq as we were careless getting in. We can safely redeploy our combat brigades at a pace that would remove them in 16 months. That would be the summer of 2010 — two years from now, and more than seven years after the war began. After this redeployment, a residual force in Iraq would perform limited missions: going after any remnants of Al Qaeda in Mesopotamia, protecting American service members and, so long as the Iraqis make political progress, training Iraqi security forces. That would not be a precipitous withdrawal.

In carrying out this strategy, we would inevitably need to make tactical adjustments. As I have often said, I would consult with commanders on the ground and the Iraqi government to ensure that our troops were redeployed safely, and our interests protected. We would move them from secure areas first and volatile areas later. We would pursue a diplomatic offensive with every nation in the region on behalf of Iraq’s stability, and commit $2 billion to a new international effort to support Iraq’s refugees.

So, what did everyone miss?

I guess I get annoyed with the idea of a candidate actually saying something, and his fellow politicians (along with a heapin' helpin' of voters) all getting together and saying "Yeah, he said that, but he's really not going to do that, is he??"

Well, yeah.  Apparently so.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

"Madame Speaker, The President of the United States" (VIDEO)

Monday, February 23, 2009

Rahmbo puts it best...

The White House Chief of Staff backed something I said up...

Granted, he doesn't know me, know (or read) this blog, or even care what this blog has to say, but still...

That's not the point, the point is he said something I said, but said it far, far better...

"Now, my view is that Krugman as an economist is not wrong. But in the art of the possible, of the deal, he is wrong. He couldn't get his legislation."

Very reasonable. He just said it flat out, what Krugman is saying about the size of the Stimulus Package is bang on the money, but we still couldn't get it through the Congress. Despite how some (maybe even me) are making it out to be confrontational, I don't think it is.

There's been some pitter-patter from the small group of Liberals I don't like. Andrew Leonard over at Salon continues.

If Obama had asked for a $1.2 trillion or greater stimulus package, it's just as possible that he would have scared off some of the more conservative Democratic senators and made passing his bill even tougher. Who better to make that calculation that Rahm Emanuel, a veteran of both the White House and Congress?

Sunday, February 22, 2009

Trailblazer is Toast IV: Weak tea...

It's been a busy Trailblazer watch...

Still toast, mind you.

On Friday, Burris' Chief of Staff, admittedly on loan from Harry Reid, the Senate Majority Leader, decided to quit, and return to his old job on Friday. I'd say this was rats deserting a sinking ship, but...this guy isn't part of this drama, and he's no rat.

Needless to say, the ship is sinking.

Also on Friday, Robert Gibbs, speaking for the Administration advised Senator Burris to think long and hard about his future over the coming weekend.

In other words, we're giving a big speech Tuesday, we'd rather not see you there (or worse, have cameras focus on you at all).

And, of course, like all things Burris...things have gotten worse...



Didn't I say he can't do that??

According to the Chicago Sun Times:

Federal authorities questioned Sen. Roland Burris on Saturday — a long-awaited interview involving his Senate seat appointment — the Chicago Sun-Times-NBC/5 team has learned.

Burris is not accused of wrongdoing, but he was questioned in the case that centers on ousted Gov. Rod Blagojevich and his alleged attempts to sell President Obama’s former seat.

Authorities interviewed Burris at his lawyer’s office, ostensibly to keep the exchange out of the limelight Burris has recently found himself in.

The questioning, first reported online Saturday by the Sun-Times and NBC/5, went on for several hours. It likely dealt in part with conversations between Burris and Robert Blagojevich. At least one of those conversations was caught on tape.

Burris admitted last week that his lawyers were in contact with the FBI about sitting for an interview, but denied that the contact was his motivation for controversially amending sworn testimony before a House impeachment panel.

And after the interview, Burris’ lawyer, Timothy Wright, said, “I know for a fact that he’s not a target of any investigation.’’

Okay, let's parse some of the wording here.

I have to be honest, from a straight news standpoint, this story is weak tea, as much as I wish it were otherwise. This seems to be a normal part of the investigation into Blagojevich, and given the recent revelations about his contacts with the former Governor and his no-good Brother, I think it's only natural that the FBI had some questions.

From an appearances standpoint, this story couldn't have come at a worse time. At first, when I'm reading it, I'm thinking "AGAIN?!?" And what's damaging to Burris is that a lot of people aren't going to read past the headline, and jump to a mistaken conclusion.

That being said, he should pull the trigger, do us all a favor and pack his bags.

Timothy Wright's statement: “I know for a fact that he’s not a target of any investigation" isn't entirely true. Rather, I should say it's been clipped. He's about to come under scrutiny of the State Senate of Illinois. He is also under investigation by the Senate Ethics Committee. True, they're as slow as molasses on a cold day, and about as effective as...

...actually, I can't think of anything more ineffective than the Senate Ethics Committee, so that metaphor will have to wait.

What Wright meant to say is that he isn't under Federal Investigation.

But with the Governor, the Washington Post, Los Angeles Times, several major Newspapers, the Chicago Ministers, Senator Dick Durbin, and the President of the United States all either calling for your resignation, or hinting at it strongly, it's past time to go. At this point, I want to know what's in the Chicago drinking water that makes Politicians forgo their dignity.