Saturday, April 16, 2011

The Fireside Chat for April 16th, 2011 (VIDEO)

The President discusses his plan for our fiscal future, a comprehensive and balanced approach to achieve $4 trillion in deficit reduction over twelve years.

Friday, April 15, 2011

No offense, Jon, but... (VIDEO)

This wasn't a bad segment...

The Daily Show With Jon StewartMon - Thurs 11p / 10c
Slashdance - Democratic Deficit Reduction Plan
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...but, just so you know, Jon:

In December, I agreed to extend the tax cuts for the wealthiest Americans because it was the only way I could prevent a tax hike on middle-class Americans. But we cannot afford $1 trillion worth of tax cuts for every millionaire and billionaire in our society. We can’t afford it. And I refuse to renew them again.

I'm sorry, but this kinda sounds like he's raising taxes to me.

Randi Rhodes Interview with David Cay Johnston (VIDEO)

Because we talk Economics at this blog:

Please Keith Ellison! Don't Hurt 'em! (VIDEO)

And yes, that was an M.C. Hammer reference:

President Obama's Open Mic Moment (AUDIO)

I never know what's up with CBS Feeds. I apologize if it looks weird. However if you click on the far left (hee-hee!) of the image, about in the middle (where it says WS VIDEO) it still plays.

Somehow, I doubt this was as accidental as Huffington AOL is suggesting.

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Oh...and Rick Ungar took a shot at the Professional Left, too...

In case you couldn't tell already, I loved this article by Rick Ungar.

Remember, this man not only writes for Forbes Magazine (not exactly a Liberal bastion), lives in SoCal (okay, that is a Liberal Bastion...outside of Orange County and parts of Northridge), but used to run Marvel Entertainment:

It is not the conservative attacks that concern me. I’m far more focused on the progressives who are already expressing their disappointment over Obama’s failure to re-introduce the public option as a way of cutting health care costs or believe the President was just too darn rational in his proposals – thus leaving what they believe to be too little negotiating room for the battles to come.

This from an article entitled “Obama’s Speech Another Meaningless Line In the Sand” by Justin Krebs, co-founder and director of Living Liberally, a progressive non-profit.

We liberals are finally learning what conservatives have said all along: Ignore the President’s pretty speeches and judge him by his actions.

Of course, liberals and conservatives are judging from two very different directions. While criticism from the Right sees him as a socialist-leaning bleeding-heart, we on the Left wish he were what the Tea Party accuses him of. Instead, we see a President that continues to adopt conservative frames, extend Republican wars (and start one of his own), and buy into the advice of a coterie of Wall Street executives. The proud progressive we wanted to elect never put single-payer healthcare on the table, hasn’t fought for meaningful mortgage reform and didn’t draw a line in the sand when it came to allowing the Bush tax cuts to expire.

Well, he did draw a line in the sand… but seems to think of it as his starting line for compromise, which is how the Bush-era give-away to our wealthiest citizens continued while Democrats controlled both houses of Congress and the White House.

What progressives like Mr. Krebs consistently forget is that Obama has another virtue in addition to character – he knows how to add.

The President can manage to work out that, if he is to get anything done, he has to get a vote through the House of Representatives where the vote totals are stacked against him.

So, you ask, why didn’t he get his way when the Democrats controlled both houses in Congress?

Because the President can also add to 60- the number of votes he needs to accomplish anything in the Senate where the filibuster results in minority rule. All it takes is 41 ‘nays’ and the best-laid progressive plans go down the drain.

If you recall, there was a point in time when the President had 58 Democratic votes plus 2 independents in the Senate, giving him the appearance of being ‘filibuster-proof.”

However, he also had a few Blue Dog Democrats who knew that a vote with Obama was a nail in the coffin containing their own political futures. Which do you imagine was always destined to win out? Obama’s progressive plans or a Senator’s career?

The president has only one way to get something done– go directly to the people in the hope that they will have the good sense to support his rational approach and ask them to push their elected representatives to do the same. I think we can all agree that “rational” is not something the President can expect in Congress without outside pressure from the voters.

Yesterday, Barack Obama took his arguments directly to the people. Now, let’s see if the Congressional Republicans and progressives alike care to listen to the result.

By the way, Living Liberally...THANKS FOR SHOWING UP IN NOVEMBER, you really @#$^ing helped.

Not only did the President rip into Paul Ryan...he did it to his face...

From Rick Ungar:

What did it for me in Obama’s plan to get the nation’s finances in order was that the President took his stand against the GOP effort to take away the soul of this nation while staring directly into the eyes of Rep. Paul Ryan- the architect of the document that would remake this country in the mold of third world nations where there are rich people and poor people with nobody in the middle.

Unlike the taunts, personal insults and barbs that Ryan and his companions lob at the president on a daily basis from the safety of a television studio, Obama took the route that requires character.

He did it to Ryan’s face.

The President invited the Wisconsin congressman, and a few of his congressional confederates, to attend the speech, placed them right up front and proceeded to call these people out for the hegemony they would visit on millions of Americans to benefit their wealthy political patrons with a trillion more in tax cuts.


Randi Rhodes: The Paul Ryan Medicare Ad (AUDIO)

Thanks, Duffy! (He's the voice in the ad):

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

"The Country We Believe In..." (VIDEO)

The complete text can be found here.

Jonathan Cohn:

1. That was a clear, unambiguous, morally grounded defense of the welfare state--as strong and stirring as I've seen from this president.

2. Obama made the case for more revenue, which is the biggest political challenge Democrats face when they talk about deficit reduction. And he sounded more determined than before to block extension of Bush tax cuts for the wealthy. That's promising.

3. My two biggest misgivings are on policy: Obama called for more taxes on the wealthy, not the middle class, and wants an imbalanced approach that favors spending reductions over revenue increases. This was my fear about hewing to the guidelines set by the Bowles-Simpson Commission, particularly if this merely the opening bid of a negotiation.

4. The new health care reforms sound very good upon initial inspection--and, particularly when added to cost controls already in the Affordable Care Act, this is far more serious than what Paul Ryan and the Republicans have in mind. And if Obama is more serious about controlling health care costs, then he's more serious about reducing deficits overall.

5. Did I mention how much I liked the rhetoric? At the level of broad principle, this was the speech I wanted to hear.

Jonathan Chait:

In his budget speech today, Obama attempted to square the circle in two ways. First, he nodded at the Bowles-Simpson approach without endorsing it explicitly or in detail. This turns it into an approach whose basic contours he can ultimately support, but not a negotiating position. And second, he beat Ryan and the Republicans to a bloody pulp.

Greg Sargent:

For some time now, a bunch of us have been wondering when — or whether — Obama would step up and make a strong case for an expansive vision of Democratic governance. With Republicans iniatiating what may be the most consequential argument over the proper role of government in decades — a debate over the legacy of the great liberal achievements of the 20th Century — we’ve all been wondering whether Obama would respond with a level of ambition and seriousness of purpose that he’s shown when taking on other big arguments.

By this standard — in rhetorical terms — it’s fair to say Obama delivered. Sure, the speech had flaws, trafficking a bit in the usual positioning between two allegedly equivalent extremes. And speeches are the easy part: Obama’s words jarred against recent actions, and what Obama actually does in the months to come will be what either ratifies today’s promises or renders them meaningless. But Obama did offer perhaps the most ambitious defense he may have ever attempted of American liberalism and of what it means to be a Democrat.

Even Andrew Sullivan:

I'm not sure how major an impact this midday speech will have - simply because it will be highly limited in its audience. But it was classic Obama - a center left approach to a center-right conviction: that the debt is unsustainable; that we all have to make sacrifices; that defense-cutting, reducing the cost of healthcare; and tax reform are integral to this possibility.

And it looks as if he will indeed use the debt ceiling moment to push some version of this through. I didn't get the sense from this speech that he was only planning to do this in his second term. And surely, after the cold shock of the Ryan plan, his less draconian vision for the vulnerable will be popular in the middle. The least persuasive part of the GOP proposal is its refusal to ask anything from the top one percent in this crisis. Obama saw this, and went for it.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Steve Benen to Liberals. Chill the @#$% out until tomorrow...

Steve says it best:

To be sure, if Obama takes the stage tomorrow and embraces Simpson/Bowles as his own, I'll be severely unhappy. I wasn't a fan of the fiscal commission -- which, by the way, never had enough support to actually endorse the Simpson/Bowles plan -- and think this would be a horrible place for Democrats to start talks on long-term debt reduction.

But here's the thing: I rather doubt the Simpson/Bowles plan will be Obama's plan. It seems far more likely to me that the president will present a very different vision, and make it seem as if it's the Simpson/Bowles plan.

Indeed, just this morning, Rep. Chris Van Hollen (D-MD), who has solid progressive credentials, spoke at the Center for American Progress, and slammed Paul Ryan's House GOP plan. Van Hollen added, however, that Simpson/Bowles offers a "basic approach ... which is to look at both sides of the deficit equation, that is revenue and spending" that can serve as "an important starting point."

That intensified the freak-out -- Look! Van Hollen is endorsing Simpson/Bowles, too! -- but it shouldn't have. All the Maryland Democrat was talking about was the "basic approach" of Simpson/Bowles, because it included a combination of spending cuts and tax increases. Van Hollen is endorsing looking at both sides of the ledger, which is the standard Democratic line.

Ezra added this afternoon that his White House sources are saying the president's won't "primarily be an endorsement of Simpson-Bowles," and "this will make more sense tomorrow."

To make a short story long, I'm suggesting we put the apoplexy on hold for 24 hours.

Donald Trump. Addicted to the most addictive substance in the known universe...

From the Murdoch Street Journal. Celebrate good times:

Donald Trump will “probably” run as an independent candidate for U.S. President in 2012 if he does not receive the Republican party’s nomination, he told the Wall Street Journal in a video interview on Monday.

“I hate what’s happening to the country,” said Mr. Trump, a real estate tycoon and host of the NBC show “Celebrity Apprentice.” He will not formally make a decision until June, however, when this season of his television show is over. “I can’t run during the airing of that show,” Mr. Trump said, “I’m not allowed to.” But he said he would make an announcement “by June” and his candidacy looks increasingly likely.

Mr. Trump’s candidacy would complicate matters for the GOP as it looks to front someone who can unite the fractious party and mount a serious challenge to President Obama’s reelection bid. A recent Wall Street Journal/NBC poll recently found Mr. Trump tied for second place with former Arkansas governor Mike Huckabee among likely voters in a GOP primary. Mitt Romney, the former Massachusetts governor who moved a step closer to formally declaring his own candidacy Monday, is still the frontrunner, though not by a wide margin.

“I think the Republicans are very concerned that I [may] run as an independent,” Mr. Trump said. His support is highest among the conservative wing of the party, not least because he is among the so-called “birthers” who doubt that President Obama in fact was born in the U.S. “It’s a very important issue,” Mr. Trump said of demanding that President Obama show his birth certificate, which has separately been reviewed by the media and deemed legitimate. “I’m not ashamed of having raised that issue.”

“I am very conservative,” said Mr. Trump. “The concern is if I don’t win [the GOP primary] will I run as an independent, and I think the answer is probably yes.” Mr. Trump said he thought he “could possibly win as an independent,” adding, “I’m not doing it for any other reason. I like winning.”
Lawrence has been saying for a while that Trump isn't running because all he wants to do is promote his TeeVee show. But, I have long believed that the single most addictive substance in the known Universe isn't Cocaine, it isn't Crack or's Klieg Lights (these are the spotlights used in Film and TV Production), in other words its fame.

What if Lawrence is wrong?  What if Trump started off as a joke candidacy, a way to boost ratings for The Apprentice?  And all of the sudden, he looked at the polling showing him shooting up the ranks, and said to himself: "Wait, I think they [the Base of the GOP] want me to do this.  What if I can do it?"

Of course, do we need to mention the fact that Liberals won't be flocking to Mr. Trump's banner anytime soon.  And Mr. Trump is quite capable of putting on a show of excess and ridiculousness that would put Sarah Palin to shame.  If Romney is the nominee, and Trump runs as an indepenent...and you say complete and utter Electoral Blowout for the President?

Monday, April 11, 2011

The Cos' just about sums up my attitude on Donald Trump...and kicks the crap out of him in the process (VIDEO)

Trump's response (for what its worth) is as follows:

The other day on The Today Show, right after I was interviewed by Meredith Vieira, a terrific person and reporter, I happened to watch Bill Cosby who was on at the end of the show. While I have never been a fan of Cosby’s, I had always assumed he liked or respected me because every time I met him—the last time at the David Letterman show where I preceded him as a guest—he was always so nice, saying “let’s get together”—asking me out to dinner, and being polite to the point of offering to buy me a suit because he has a “great tailor.”

In any event, as I watched the show, the subject of Donald Trump came up. I was surprised to hear him blabber, somewhat incoherently “you run or shut up.” The hatred was pouring out of his eyes when he said this. As I am sure he must know I cannot run until this season of Celebrity Apprentice ends. I know that he has taken a lot of heat over the years in that he seems to be talking down to the people he’s talking to and purportedly trying to help. Actually, based on the way he acted, things are not looking too good for Cosby.

I wish he would be more honest, and if he doesn’t want me to run because he’s obviously an Obama fan, he should state the reasons and not come into my “green room” in front of numerous witnesses and treat me like his best friend, only to denigrate me when I’m not around.

Yeah, maybe the reason Cosby is ripping the @#$% out of you is you're using racism to promote your craptastic TeeVee show, and as a black man, he resents it.

Hell, as a black man, I resent it.  You're a race-baiter Trump.  Deal with it.

Also, I got to ask, why is it whenever Trump says or writes something, he complements the person in such a way as to suggest that the person's only value come from Trump's pronouncement of it?

How the President did the best he could with a bad hand...and how Congress are really like dogs.

At the end of the day, it was probably the best deal we could have come up with, given the circumstances. Liberal Bloggers castigating the deal: Jonathan Chait, Ezra, E.J. Dionne all think this was a shitty deal. They also conveniently leave out the fact that we didn’t show up in November, and thus it was an inevitability that the Conservatives were going to get some things they wanted.

At the end of the day, the poor women of D.C. got screwed. But the thing is, they’re always getting screwed. Once you've lived in the area, you know that's the case.  As long as D.C. Statehood isn’t on the table, some shitkicker from Kentucky is going to be able to do his will on the majority black, soon-to-be-majority Latino/Hispanic city of Washington.

Like with Libya, I want to hear what Liberal Bloggers wanted the President to do instead. Oh yes, I forgot, shutdown.

Granted, the Republicans would have taken the brunt of the blame, and that always gives me joy. Then again... I wasn’t that afraid of a shutdown, because I could afford to be.

I don’t know about you, but the only shutdown I’ve been through has been at a distance.  I’ve never had a job, been told not to report to that job, only to spend my hours and days wondering if I’m going to get back pay for the work I’m not doing.

At the same time, I would remind Liberal Bloggers hailing the deal, and the President as just the smartest guy ever in making such a “brilliant” deal, you are way overstating the case in the other direction. Budget cuts take Goverment Spending out of the Economy, just as we can least afford to have it happen.  Fingers crossed, we survive despite these cuts, never because of them.

Face it, we gave President a bad hand. He may have played the best he could, but it was still a shit sandwich, and he’s only taking a bite because too many of y’all (Democrats, Liberals, Progressives) didn’t show up in November.

The funny thing is these Republicans fervently believe (and here comes yet another in a long line of fallacies of Conservative thinking) that eliminating the funds for a program, eliminates the need for the program. “There, we’ve eliminated Federal funding for Abortions. No one will ever have an Abortion ever again. Problem solved.

Yeah, it doesn’t quite work like that. What’s going to happen to the poor women of D.C. is that they’re going to cross the border into Maryland, and overstress that system and those State and Federal funds. But hey, Boehner gets to go back and tell his constituents he screwed (or in his mind, saved) poor black women in D.C.

The good news seems to be that Americans are happy with the deal, in that they are generally happy when Congress gets something (i.e., anything) done. They are generally disposed to approve when Congress does its job, not in a “Hooray, we love this deal” kind of a way, more of the way a Dog Owner approves of his pet doing his business in the yard instead of the house. “Nice, Congress. Gooood Congress…”

And we only have two more of these fights to go this year alone. Can’t wait.

Ehhhh, I'm not as enthusiastic as Mr. Scott is.

My personal hope is that the President goes the Rock Obama and basically dares the GOP to torpedo the Debt Ceiling Limit.

But the President may feel a personal responsibility to the Greater Economy to not let that happen. At the same time, the GOP, thinking only of their electoral prospects for 2012, may be anxious to risk a total Economic Collapse. After all, what do they care is the shit hits the fan while Obama’s in charge.

Right now, the next Liberal Freak out is going to be over the President’s Plan to control the deficit on Wednesday. Already I’m seeing folk pull their hair out over what he might say, and how its already wrong.

The best overall take came from Conservative Andrew Sullivan. (Since he’s responded favorably to Paul Ryan’s plan, I can no longer take him seriously…thus I will be emphasizing his essential conservatism at every possible chance):

So Obama starts off this critical part of his first term by appearing to be above the fray and yet committed to compromise. Via Biden, he calls the GOP's bluff, draws a line in spending cuts for 2011, and exposes the draconian spending reductions that the GOP's no tax increase pledge requires. He comes back with a bid to tax millionaires, offers spending cuts that would be far more sophisticated and targeted away from investment than the GOP, and pledges to put his own proposals forward as early as this week.

Of course, for a blogger like me, you face a choice. Simply trust the guy and spin for him, or voice skepticism, outrage and disappointment and get played along with the GOP. But, of course, I don't mind getting played. Because I want this president to succeed - and such success requires root-and-branch spending and tax reform.

He seems to be getting there - in that highly unsatisfying but politically shrewd way of his. So now we will have the Ryan plan and the Obama plan. Guess which one independent voters will like more?