Saturday, February 13, 2010

The Fireside chat for February 13, 2010 (VIDEO)

The President, having just signed the "Pay As You Go" law, discusses the importance of this fundamental rule to getting budget deficits in check. Ensuring that new spending and tax cuts are offset was a important factor in creating the budget surplus of the late 1990’s.

Friday, February 12, 2010

This is why I stopped reading Huffington Post, Part 347

It was crap like this:

Michael Brenner: Obama vs. Obama

We have in Obama a president who is what we used to call a moderate Republican before the species became extinct. That means suspicions of government programs, a strong belief that we should always give private interests the benefit of the doubt, an assumption that the rich deserve their riches, and an insensitivity to the plight of salaried Americans. Abroad, Obama is ready to deploy military might in dubious causes defined by the country's hawkish defense establishment. Far-fetched? Let's take a clear eyed look at what President Obama actually has done and said.

"Marcia, Marcia, Marcia..." (VIDEO)

Jonathan Chait really hammered the House today. I'm really not happy about it, because I genuinely like the House. I prefer it infinitely over the Senate.

And the same time, I'm really happy about it, because the House's dysfunction in the Health Care Reform mess is really their doing:

Unfortunately, [The House membrship] seem not to understand who to be upset with. The White House has devoted more attention to the Senate's needs because the Senate has imposed a 60 vote supermajority requirement upon itself and the House hasn't. The administration agreed to make cuts to the stimulus package because that's what Senate Republicans demanded, or else they would filibuster the measure. The administration lavished attention on moderate Democrats and a handful of Senate Republicans because that's what needed to pass health care reform. The House could just let 40 some moderate members vote no. The Senate can't do that.

This displaced resentment seems to result from the House's failure to understand the basic structure of the American government, and where the corresponding legislative bottlenecks lie. Can't the administration find a couple political scientists to explain this stuff at a House retreat?

The House remains just where it was at the beginning of the new year; at the moment Scott Brown was elected. They remain one vote away from passing Health Care Reform, and they're too bitched off at the Senate to do it.

The House really needs to get its act together. They're starting to sound like Janet Brady. (Just replace the words "Marcia" with "Senate", and you'll get the idea.

Ezra...what the hell are you talking about??!?

Ezra has a post, where he basically says the Administration gave away the store in getting 29 of its 150 Appointments through the Senate with the threat of Recess Appointments.

At this point in his presidency, George W. Bush had made 10 recess appointments. Over the course of his presidency, he would make almost 200. Bill Clinton made about 150. In describing recess appointments as "a rare but not unprecedented step," Obama made it harder to actually make any, because he's defined the procedure -- which, unlike the hold, is a defined constitutional power of the president rather than a courtesy observed in the Senate -- as an extraordinary last-resort. He also promised, later in the statement, that he wouldn't make any appointments this recess.

I honest to God, don't know what the hell Ezra is talking about because in the President's released statements from last night, he said:

While this is a good first step, there are still dozens of nominees on hold who deserve a similar vote, and I will be looking for action from the Senate when it returns from recess. If they do not act, I reserve the right to use my recess appointment authority in the future.

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Science! (VIDEO)

A series of educational videos for your benefit:

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The Daily Show With Jon StewartMon - Thurs 11p / 10c
Unusually Large Snowstorm
Daily Show
Full Episodes
Political HumorHealth Care Crisis


The Colbert ReportMon - Thurs 11:30pm / 10:30c
We're Off to See the Blizzard
Colbert Report Full EpisodesPolitical HumorSkate Expectations

The enemy isn't the Opposition, it's not the's Max freakin' Baucus.

Max Baucus (almost) does it again. Reaching out to his best-buddy Chuck Grassley almost derailed Health Care Reform, and it almost diluted the Jobs Bill to near worthlessness. But this time, his screw up looks to have been caught by Harry Reid, and should be fixed this time.

Honestly. We need jobs! I know, Max Baucus says, let's cut the Estate Tax and the Gift Tax.

But we need Republican votes, don't we?

No, Max. That's not necessarily the plan.

Baucus is making a good argument for another change that needs to happen in the Senate: the elimination of the Seniority rules.

Nailed it.

Ezra on the new "Blame Rahmbo" meme sweeping the nation:

It's a bit weird to see so much blame accruing to Rahm Emanuel for the administration's woes. Emanuel wasn't part of the campaign team. He was brought in to help govern. In that capacity, his primary job was shepherding the administration's agenda through the legislative process. Ugly as that process was, Emanuel -- and more to the point, Harry Reid and Nancy Pelosi -- did a fairly masterful job at it. In the Senate, Democrats got all 60 of their members to sign onto the same large, controversial bill. That's a legislative achievement unheralded in modern times. Bill Clinton didn't manage it on any bills of this size and scope, and neither did George W. Bush.

Then the game changed, and unexpectedly. Ted Kennedy's death wasn't unpredictable, but the loss of his seat was certainly a surprise. It wasn't, however, a surprise that's easy to track back to Emanuel.

If the administration has failed at anything, it's been holding public support for its bills. But that's not really Emanuel's job. That's where David Axelrod and the rest of the political team come into play. But it's not obvious that much can be done on this front. The best thing that could've happened to health-care reform was that Congress stuck to the timetable that Emanuel and the White House originally set. Once they decided not to do that -- and no Jedi mind tricks from the White House chief of staff were going to dissuade them -- the ugly and endless process was certain to erode support for the bill.

In Performance At The White House (VIDEO)

There still isn't a single video containing the whole of the concert, which I still want to post (I'm a fan of the Blind Boys of Alabama, who provided the theme for the first season of "The Wire"), and Lord knows this isn't everything of concert, but you do the best with what you have.

BTW, TPM totally did this first. But I'm doing this again because TPM put the tiny, tiny video up. If tiny video is more your speed, click on the link above, they have the same footage...

Bob Dylan "The Times, They are a Changin":

The Howard University Choir "Lord, I Don' Done":

Natalie Cole "I Wish I Knew How It Would Feel to be Free":

Yolanda Adams "A Change is Gonna Come":

Joan Baez - "We Shall Overcome":

Jennifer Hudson and Smokey Robinson "People Get Ready":

"Neil de Grasse Tyson has betrayed us, yet again..." (VIDEO)

No, it's got nothing to do with the usual business of this blog, but just seeing the anchors just rip into Dr. Tyson (tongue firmly planted in cheek, mind you) was just hysterical.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

"Trashed the Stimulus. Voted No, and then..." (VIDEO)

Rachel highlighting Republican Hypocrisy on the Stimulus.

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Obama...sings?? (VIDEO)

This is the AP's cut-up/mash-up of the concert (which I'm still searching for embedded video for...or are they going to make me buy it?)...notice the guest crooner who joins the stage at the end of the video.

Andrew Leonard also backs me up...

...with something I said earlier in the day. Andrew was talking about how Simon Johnson and Paul Krugman were the first to go apeshit at the President's remarks this morning, but:

It might be worth noting that both Johnson and Krugman dismissed Obama's words that day [when he called Big Bank Bonuses obscene] as politically motivated. Obama is in a tight spot. When he addresses the nation directly and explicitly acknowledges "public anger" he is dismissed, and accused of not meaning what he says. But when sound bites of an interview are selectively reported, they are taken immediately at face value and interpreted as negatively as possible.

It's a modern American political tragedy. We've got a guy in the White House capable of more nuance than anyone in recent memory, and a political culture that can't deal with any nuance at all.

Greg Sargent backs me up...

Greg Sargent what the President said, as did Andrew Leonard at Salon. If Greg had a problem with anything, it was messaging. Then again, Greg always has a problem with Obama's messaging.

For my money, no one's mentioning the stuff in bold.

QUESTION: Let’s talk bonuses for a minute: Lloyd Blankfein, $9 million; Jamie Dimon, $17 million. Now, granted, those were in stock and less than what some had expected. But are those numbers okay?

THE PRESIDENT: Well, look, first of all, I know both those guys. They’re very savvy businessmen. And I, like most of the American people, don’t begrudge people success or wealth. That’s part of the free market system. I do think that the compensation packages that we’ve seen over the last decade at least have not matched up always to performance. I think that shareholders oftentimes have not had any significant say in the pay structures for CEOs.

QUESTION: Seventeen million dollars is a lot for Main Street to stomach.

THE PRESIDENT: Listen, $17 million is an extraordinary amount of money. Of course, there are some baseball players who are making more than that who don’t get to the World Series either. So I’m shocked by that as well. I guess the main principle we want to promote is a simple principle of “say on pay,” that shareholders have a chance to actually scrutinize what CEOs are getting paid. And I think that serves as a restraint and helps align performance with pay.

The other thing we do think is the more that pay comes in the form of stock that requires proven performance over a certain period of time as opposed to quarterly earnings is a fairer way of measuring CEOs’ success and ultimately will make the performance of American businesses better.

The President's remarks before the White House Performance, celebrating the music of the Civil Rights Movement (VIDEO)

I only got to watch a little of it, but this was a good concert. If I can find it, I'll post it.

The President didn't say what you think he said...

Krugman (among others) is kicking the crap out of the President for saying that he doesn’t “begrudge” the Bankers their bonuses. And if the President had said this, it would be well deserved.

Notice I said "if".

He didn't say what people are claiming that he said. There is no quote saying with him “begrudging” anything. There's only a lead in paragraph summarizing what Bloomberg feels the President said.

The money quote (apparently) was:

“I know both those guys; they are very savvy businessmen,” Obama said in the interview yesterday in the Oval Office with Bloomberg BusinessWeek, which will appear on newsstands Friday. “I, like most of the American people, don’t begrudge people success or wealth. That is part of the free-market system.”

That's the closest the President comes to saying he doesn't "begrudge" anywhat. The whole context boils down to this: Holy shit, this is a lot of money. I don't want to crack on what people earn. This is a free-market economy, but damn.

It's a great system we've got set up. Obama criticizes Bankers, he's a Socialist. Obama defends the free market, he's clueless.

The Washington Independent has more.

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Surprise! (VIDEO)

The President kicks off the White House Daily Briefing. (The Video is from MSNBC. I'll post the stuff from the White House should I ever get it.)

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Update: 10:44pm Pacific: The White House Video is now up. You can see clearly why I prefer it.

Monday, February 8, 2010

The President's Super Bowl Interview with Katie Couric of Feb. 8, 2010 (VIDEO)

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"The Consulting Paradox..."

Ahh, Nate Silver:

There's something which, if you've ever been in the business of trying to sell consulting services, you've probably grown accustomed to. It's what I call the "consulting paradox". Namely, it's the idea that the people who are most in need of help are often the least aware of it. Indeed, the range of potential clients who (i) aren't smart enough to solve all their own problems and (ii) are smart enough to know it ... is generally very narrow.

Sarah Palin needs help. So does almost every politician -- but Palin needs it more than most. She is young. She is inexperienced. She's not especially well connected. She's strong-willed and a little impulsive. And call me a hater, but the woman just ain't that bright.

Is it a big deal that Palin wrote some notes on her hand? No, not really. Lots of politicians carry notes with them (if not, as in Palin's case, literally on them). If this were Mitt Romney, it wouldn't have been a particularly big story. Nevertheless, politics is inherently contextual, and this was something that was bound to play into every negative caricature of Mrs. Palin. Somebody needed to take Palin aside and tell her: Honey, this is going to make you look ridiculous. Can't you write on a notecard instead?

Somebody needed to tell Palin that, you know what, it's OK to criticize Rush Limbaugh once in a while. Voters like moments that make candidates look big, mature, above the fray -- Palin took what could have been such a moment and instead backtracked and made herself look petty and hypocritical.

Somebody needed to tell Palin that, if she were hellbent on quitting as Alaska's governor, she at least needed to take the time to develop a competent exit strategy and a coherent farewell speech.

Somebody needed to tell Palin that it wasn't going to do any good to get into a he-said, she-said with an attention-starved 19-year-old who was getting ready to pose nude for Playgirl.

Somebody needed to sit down with Palin and consider whether, for a candidate who gets significant leverage out of the sense that she's been persecuted by the mainstream media, becoming a correspondent for one of the mainstream media networks was going to be helpful to her in the long run.

Somebody needed to make sure that Sarah Palin was ready for the Katie Couric interview, or needed to find some excuse to cancel it.

Somebody needed to tell Palin that using the term "death panels" was probably not going to help her personally at a time when she was trying to demonstrate to her critics that she could be credible about policy.