Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Barack and Julio down by the schoolyard

Best question from Tuesday's Florida town meeting. This is living proof Obama isn't pre-picking questioners. How long before this dude gets his own show? The question was loosely about education, but the delivery is unique!

Huckabee is bat shit-insane today.

Former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee is like Two-Face from Batman: One side laid back nice guy, the other side bat-shit insane.

Well, guess which side came out today when he warned supporters that the $828 billion stimulus package is “anti-religious.”

In an e-mail that was also posted on his blog ahead of the Senate’s passage, Huckabee wrote: “The dust is settling on the ‘bipartisan’ stimulus bill and one thing is clear: It is anti-religious.”

Anti RELIGIOUS?? Are you nuts? What did you want... 50 billion for a giant solar powered cross in downtown Omaha?

Read story at Politico... I can't bear to explain this.

Wall Street drops 400 points when they realize Obama isn't providing an easy out

Paul Krugman gives some possible insight into the new bailout plan announced by Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner:
"So what is the plan? I really don’t know, at least based on what we’ve seen today. But maybe, maybe, it’s a Trojan horse that smuggles the right policy into place."
Obama adds a little more clarity and context, as usual (this is an excerpt from ABC Nightline to air tonight):
TERRY MORAN: So, Treasury Secretary Geithner today has laid out the plan for the banks, and judging by the reaction in the markets Wall Street really doesn't like it.

PRESIDENT OBAMA: [LAUGHS] Well, you know, Wall Street I think is hoping for an easy out on this thing and there is no easy out. Essentially what you've got are a set a banks that have not been as transparent as we need to be in terms of what their books look like.
It's obvious Geithner lacks the charisma of Obama, so the roll out today was awkward. In the coming days it will be clearer. In the meanwhile we just need to have a little faith in the administration. We have to unlearn what we were taught for 8 years.

Obama reminds us what a President sounds like in first presser.

I couldn't have been happier with Obama's first press conference.  In prime-time, with a variety of reporters and questions that ranged from Iraq to A-Rod, he banked, swerved, and every once in awhile tongue lashed the GOPers that are causing so much trouble in Congress.

In an atmosphere where you could collapse just with the gravity of the situation, mixed with multi-state travel and probably little sleep, the college professor taught us all a thing or two about grace under pressure.

After 60 minutes, he gave a quick "Thank you guys", did a back flip followed by a triple-lindy, and then gave the finger to the FOXNews reporter.  And out he went.


Sunday, February 8, 2009

Texas GOP: We need to be more like Taliban

In a recent interview, Rep. Pete Sessions (R-TX) said the Republican party will have to be come an “insurgency” to counter Democratic majorities in the House and Senate, and added that the Taliban can serve as “a model”:

“Insurgency, we understand perhaps a little bit more because of the Taliban. And that is that they went about systematically understanding how to disrupt and change a person’s entire processes. And these Taliban — I’m not trying to say the Republican Party is the Taliban. No, that’s not what we’re saying....”

Sessions made a similar analogy last week, saying that Republicans “need to get over the idea that they’re participating in legislation and ought to start thinking of themselves as ‘an insurgency’ instead.”

You guys are precious... what else are you learning from terrorists? When are you planning suicide bombings?

SOURCE - Think Progress (among others)

Weekly President YouTube


There are a zillion economists, and most of them aren't worth the price of a Radio Shack calculator.  You see most of them on cable news as generic talking heads.  However, there are some good ones.

1) PAUL KRUGMAN is a Nobel Prize winner, author, and critic of Reagan/Bush supply side economics that the GOP continues to romance.  Though liberal, he has been critical of Obama's stimulus plan as too conservative.  He believes a 1.2 trillion plan is the appropriate size.

He is deeply critical of the Senate comprimise bill forged by the Dem and GOP moderates:
"a plan that was already too small and too focused on ineffective tax cuts has been made significantly smaller, and even more focused on tax cuts. My first cut says that the changes to the Senate bill will ensure that we have at least 600,000 fewer Americans employed over the next two years. This is really, really bad."
2) ALAN VIARD, a Bush administration economist, use to think the right size for a government spending bill was "probably zero" and use more Fed cuts to stem the bleeding. Basically what the Bush folks did last fall.  He's altered his view since:
"Viard shares the view that a stimulus package is needed, although he would prefer one limited primarily to tax cuts and direct benefits for victims of the recession, such as increased unemployment benefits. This is a severe recession."
3)  JOSEPH STIGLITZ, a Nobel Prize-winning economist at Columbia University and former chief economist at the World Bank, said that the stimulus package was "probably too little, especially given that it is badly designed [and] we haven't yet fixed the mortgage problem so the financial sector is likely to continue bleeding."

Stiglitz said that most households would save rather than spend the money from tax cuts and that the business tax cuts were not closely enough linked to new investments. He said that while plans for infrastructure spending were flawed, it was "unlikely to be wasted as badly as the private financial market has wasted resources in last five years.

Despite the differences in how to split up the stimulus, here is what is agreed on almost unanimously:




I've been asked to try and summarize what has been going on in regards to the stimulus in Congress for those not addicted to C-SPAN...

As you probably know, the U.S. economy is kind of screwed.  Millions laid off, home values dropping, and lending hard to come by.  Everyone is pretty much in agreement over these issues.  Without getting into the insanity that caused it, the big question is how do you fix it?

The answer is some kind of government fuel stimulus to inject money into the economy.  They intend to spend a lot of money quickly to stimulate growth.

The Stimulus plan now being debated in Congress last week is now taking shape, and it's hasn't been a pretty process. The conflict between the Dems and GOP isn't really about "pork" vs "clean" legislation. It is about two conflicting ideologies that are increasingly impossible to reconcile.

To keep in simple, here is the main difference:
The Democrats are in favor of a large spending bill with moderately small tax breaks but large investments in infrastructure and energy efficiency. About 1+ trillion is what it will take to get their plan together.

The Republicans are looking to spend about half that, overall. While they are for investing in some infrastructure, they are more convinced that tax cuts will provide the appropriate stimulus.
As you can see, there are some big differences in the plans offered by the Dems and the GOP. Last week, the two plans collided. The House Democrats offered a plan broadly outlined by the Obama Administration and filled in by the House Democrats.

Meanwhile, the GOP, beaten up in the 2008 election by Bush's runaway spending and the hackneyed implementation of the TARP plan (the $350 Billion tossed at banks last Fall), have decided to renew their commitment to fiscal responsibility, starting, conveniently, just when the new President Obama needs a major amount of money to implement his plan.

Not a dummy, Obama knows that the success of economy will determine if his head ends up on Mount Rushmore or the end of a pike. 

Meanwhile, the GOP realizes that they need to define themselves by opposing whatever Obama wants.  Because if Obama fails, they may regain power in Congress in 2010. If the country collapses before then, well, casualties are inevitable.

So, this lead up to the House vote on the plan that was totally rejected by the GOP, and a possible compromise plan in the Senate that is under attack by lobbyists and the GOP who have no intention of compromise.

Friday, February 6, 2009

Complete Obami-nation?

In other news, Obama recently said this about GOP Senator Jim DeMint.

The hell with bipartisanship. Let them filibuster.

I get so pissed watching them, but I get madder at the DNC. The minority should be shut down. I say let them filibuster. Then we can show the country how they will hold the country hostage for a power grab.

Thanks to John Kerry for a little fire and brimstone.  To paraphrase a line from one of my favorite movies, I always thought of him as a bit of a Streisand but in this clip he's rockin' the shit.

"So how much bipartisan outreach can you have when 36 out of 41 republican senators take their marching orders from Rush Limbaugh?"

Paul Krugman is an exceptional Nobel Prize winning economist. He slams Obama as much as anyone, and he is telling us what the GOP refuses to hear. Please do not let the GOP in Senate trick you.

As a small business owner and the father of a 6 year old, I have a vested interest in the future, and I am in support of the Obama package. Period.

Obama on attack to prevent swift-boating of recovery plan

Obama took advantage of the Democratic Party speech to add some heat to his argument for the bailout/stimulus/recovery/holyshit package. He gave this speech last night, which was technically meant for the Democratic caucus, but he decided to open it up for the media. It's part of the change in rhetoric Obama has taken to regain control of the conversation about the package, which has been dominated by GOP naysayers while the President spent time reaching out.

It seems like a smart tactic as the GOPs picking out of the bill which can be easily mocked as pork, even if there is some rationale behind it once you understand them. The GOP strategy has been eroding public confidence in Obama's plan, I think particularly with less informed voters who are all ready cynical after 8 years of spin.

Glad to see Obama not taking it on the chin.

WATCH: Congressman RIPS into Bush SEC holdovers about not nabbing Madoff

Rep. Ackerman (D-NY) totally kicks these peoples asses. I'm loving it. It's very funny.

As you'll see, SEC officials refuse to answer the committee's basic questions about the Madoff scandal, and the agency's acting general counsel, Andy Vollmer (a Bush holdover and maxed-out donor to John McCain's presidential campaign) explicitly cites executive privilege as his legal rationale for refusing to provide basic information to federal lawmakers.

Whole story on Crooks and Liars (appropriate!)

Andy Card can shove his suit jacket up his...

Thursday, February 5, 2009

Separating fact and fiction: Is the stimulus full of pork or not?

1) Millions are wasted giving it to Filipino WW2 veterans

U.S Sen. Jon Kyl, the Republican Whip, said the following:
"I mean, there are so many different things that you can make fun of in this bill," Kyl said. "Let me just mention one — millions of dollars to World War II Filipino veterans in the Philippines. Now, that may be a good thing to spend money on, but not in a stimulus bill. It doesn't stimulate anything."
So, is a provision to pay money to Filipino Veterans in there? YES, however NO MONEY actually comes from the stimulus. The money was set aside from another budget.The 900 Billion is not going towards the Filipinos. Just the authorization to send them the money is in there. Odd that it's in there, but this happens all the time.


2) Money is included for anti-smoking programs.

Actually, like many items in the package (more efficient cars and buildings, for example), this is an investment to save money in the future.  The concept is that helping people learn how to quit smoking is a hell of a lot cheaper than paying $110 BILLION for lung cancer therapies.  So, yeah, not putting jobs to work, but in the long run saving money for an already battered healthcare system.

It was in there, but was removed to appease the GOP, though it is still often cited as being in the plan.  



3) Does the stimulus package really include $300,000 for a sculpture garden?

NO.  Republican Eric Cantor is a lying sack of you know what.  He made this 
up simply to give the media something to pick up on and sway opinion.  There IS money for the National Endowment for the Arts.  Despite what people think, artists do work, and need jobs too.  Ever see a museum?  They are the old looking buildings that aren't churches.


4) The plan has millions for fish, off-roaders
True, but it's mischaracterized as wasteful spending.  These are both works projects that would create jobs.
"Preserving our national parks and preserving our wildlife don't seem to be unreasonable goals," said Rob Blumenthal, a Democratic spokesman for the Senate Committee on Appropriations. "These are ready-to-go jobs that will employ American workers."


5) Stimulus package is to give money to ACORN

The dreaded ACORN!  While the debate on ACORN is a whole different story (it is an organization seized upon by the GOP during the election as supposedly committing voter fraud), THERE IS NO MENTION OF ACORN as a recipient of funds.  It appears to be yet another catch phrase the GOP is using to scare low-informed voters.

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Recession humor: Big Box Stores

President Obama on Economic Recovery

Utah is saved! Bush Drilling Leases Scrapped.

Hooray for Obama.  Hooray for us.
Interior Secretary Ken Salazar on Wednesday canceled leases to drill for gas and oil on 77 parcels of public land in Utah.

The leases, which cover more than 100,000 acres, including lands near Arches and Canyonlands National Parks, were auctioned in the last weeks of the Bush administration. They were among 11th-hour actions taken by the Bush Interior Department that have been criticized by environmental groups and are being reviewed by Obama officials.

In a news conference, Mr. Salazar said that after a review of the leases he concluded that the Bush administration had “rushed ahead to sell oil and gas leases at the doorstep of some of our greatest national icons, some of our nation’s most treasured landscapes” without proper scientific review or consultation.

Hey Democrats... you are losing control of the argument.

Why have I been watching C-SPAN all day and seen about 10 Republicans in lock step slamming of the stimulus package, and one 2-3 Democrats respectfully, sweetly, been stating their peace?

Come on Democrats, you outnumber then and have a great President... can you guys get it together?

It's obvious that even on the run the Republican Congressional game is so much stronger than the Democrats, and they have highjacked the media as well.  I am hearing their talking points repeated over and over again, and they now have polling on their side.

Can you people huddle and start getting a bit more aggressive?  WAY MORE AGGRESSIVE?


And by the way, the Republicans have spent the whole day saying that recent polling statesa majority of Americans oppose the stimulus.  That isn't true.  Can you people do a Google search and discredit obvious falsehoods when they come up?  I'll help... here is the link to the actual polling data.

Okay... time to take my medications now.

Why the GOP tax cuts are the wrong answer.

Against my therapist's advice, I've been listening to more C-Span.

Three Republican Senators have just had their say in succession, including Kit Bond. And though each of them were well spoken, I wasn't impressed with their rhetoric. Overall they are pushing for tax cuts, and the deeper the better, and not for the poorest people. They mostly are aligned in small business top-down cuts.

Some want more infrastructure spending (great!), some want more military spending to refresh equipment (fine!), some want to cut stuff that seems superfluous (many of which were all ready cut, they just like to mention them again). One of them wasted time bitching about shutting down Gitmo (talk about superfluous!).

So why not just cut taxes? Couldn't hurt right? I couldn't disagree more.

Cutting taxes for most would mean that cash disappears. I for one would do my best to keep it in a mattress. Only the poorest would be assured to spend it immediately. This is what has happened in the past with Bush's cuts. And they specifically do not want to give the poorest the money, because in their opinion they have all ready have enough of a break by being so poor they aren't taxed.

Most importantly, these cuts undermine the push for some form of universal healthcare, which we desperately need. This is of paramount necessity for the country, as employee supplied health care is going extinct.

Healthcare for all is a Democratic platform item, and something surely not on the GOP's agenda. And that is why we will never see eye-to-eye on this. We are at cross purposes.

So let's get infrastructure spending going, let's supply the military with what is necessary, but please put my taxes to work for good. Just make my dollars count.

Tuesday, February 3, 2009


"I made a mistake. I campaigned on change in Washington, bottom-up politics, and I don't want to send a message to the American people that there are two sets of standards, one for powerful people and one for ordinary folks who are working everyday and paying taxes."

– Barack Obama on the Daschle Problem

A GOOD SIGN: Obama reads to children in classroom... no planes slam into buildings.

Today somewhere in Obamerica.... I think the book is titled "Why Paying Your Taxes Is A Good Thing Becuase You Won't Embarrass Your Goddamn President and Don't You Know How Much Fucking Pressure I Am Under??!?!???"

Daschle Blows It... but what will this mean for Health Care?

Daschle really blew it. Because he didn't tell Obama's people about his tax problems when first approached months ago, he not only set Obama back, but also seriously puts the push for Universal Health Care in question. If he was "The Man" for the job, who can step up? Daschle was a major adviser to Obama during the campaign, so his loss may be a dramatic set back for Obama, who needs all hands on deck to push this critical health care agenda forward.

"I realized I can't pass Health Care if I am too much of a distraction," Daschle says.

I'm paying 1200 a month for some basic family insurance! America can't wait until you people get your acts together.

I'm watching the Senate debate of the stimulus on C-SPAN so you don't have to.

...And because I must secretly hate and want to punish myself. Keep refreshing the page if you want to follow. I'm actually just interested in how this all works (or doesn't work).

Here are some obviously biased impressions...

John Thune (R) — Is very Republicany looking. He blames democrats for all the deficits during the Bush years, and had many snazzy graphs to show you JUTS HOW MUCH a trillion dollars is. It could go around the world 38.9 times... If you stacked it it could go to.... If you started spending a million bauck a day since Jesus was born.... He also invokes the spendings effect on our children and grandchildren. He seems like a dick, but it may just be the hair. It also may be because he IS a dick. I'll go with that.


PUT THIS WOMAN ON THE TV NOW TO PITCH THE STIMULUS: Barbara Boxer (D) — Kicks ass. She calls out Thune on being a dick and makes him back track. She doesn't take much shit, and she's also confronting global warming in another committee. She's a good voice for progressive thinking, in my limited opinion. Listen to the speech above. Awesome.


Tom Coburn (R) – Making some good points about 250 Million in the stimulus for the film industry... no idea what the money is supposed to be for, but he is just making a general case we need to select items carefully. Doesn't strike me as an ideologue.

UPDATE: He's now claiming the plan would be nothing short of a "generational theft bill."  Nice framing.  Prickish, no??


Barbara Milulski (D) – She really seems to care, she just put out an amendment to add incentives related to the car industry. She has a voice not unlike Barney Frank – that mouth of marbles thing – and speaks in a moderate yell that must be hard to listen too for hours on the floor. She seems to have the respect of her peers though, and got her amendment passed easily.


Jon Kyl (R) - First Republican I've heard say tax rebates aren't always working. He kind of used it to be manipulative, but still I'll give it to him for trying to work against his nature. He also appears to be for all the small business tax incentives, which I don't necessarily agree with. He appears to earnestly want to help make the bill stronger without just being a GOP talking points guy. He is the Minority Whip, which means he is also into bondage and S&M, which I think is awesome. So he's okay by me.

UPDATE 2/4: He's up again today, going through a myriad of projects that are arguably NOT stimulative.  A lot of repairs, museum upgrades and smaller projects that could easily be considered "pet" projects.  I can totally agree with what he is saying today.  I don't know about the specifics of the items he's discussing, and none of these projects amount to much overall, but I agree with him that if they aren't critical to stimulus they should be pulled and submitted to the Appropriations Committee as is usually done.  He's sounding quite moderate here and I appreciate his diligence and objectivity.  I think I like him.


Arlen Specter (R) – Sorry, his low, monotone reading of statistics put me to sleep. Seems like a excellent Senator. He seems to be well known for his moderate views. He's big on funding research into disease prevention. Wants to add that in via NIH funding. I bet he's a nice guy. But I'm dozing off again... Zzzzzzzzzzzzzz..........


David Vitter (R) – I don't know what this ass is doing here. Didn't he get caught with hookers? Why yes, he did! But yet here he is. Hey did you know if you send a million dollars a day since Jesus was born, you could get a nifty talking point for the GOP? He's a dick. And knows how to use it.


A few other thoughts:

Jim DeMint (R) - An obvious ideologue.  He also uses fear-speech in his rhetoric.  The Dems are trying to make us Socialists!  You gotta cut taxes, cut cut cut!!!!  That's the "American Option" according to him.  He wants to also make all the Bush tax cuts permanent.  Cause all those rich people will sprinkle gold on our heads.  His plan is courtesy the Heritage Foundation.  I'm not buying it.

Saxby Chambliss (R) - His views are closely aligned with Jim DeMint.  I'm inclined not to like him already because of his dickish campaigning practices.  He wants to cut corporate taxes, cause that will keep factories from outsourcing.  Cut taxes, cut them good, baby.  He does like investing in infrastructure.  He wants to increase defense spending... cause I guess $653 billion a year isn't enough. 

Sheldon Whitehouse (D) - Annoying lisp, dude.  He clarifies that infrastructure is defined by more that "just what the Romans could have built," which was a funny comeback to Reps that want to ditch the broadband spending as superfluous.  He's big on healthcare reform.  I like him.  But did I mention the lisp?

Lindsey Graham (R) - Persuasive, passionate, and thoughtful.  I don't know if his take on the stimulus package is right or wrong, but I thought his views were powerful.  Boxer tossed off his passion as cheap theatrics.  I am tending to agree.  See an interesting exchange here.

John McCain (R) - All of a sudden the man who claimed to know little about the economy knows A LOT.  More than the economists.  He's quickly become one of the most vicious attackers of the stimulus plan.  I guess he read some books.  Wonder if they had words to go with the pretty pictures.

Does Obama have the political balls to nationalize the banks?

During the campaign, Sarah Palin scared legions of low-information voters with red baiting. The ominous words "Experimenting with Socialism" triggers mental images of Soviet style Communism, even in the minds of those who know better.

In reality, we do have some socialist practices right here in the States... Social Security, for example. Unfortunately years of cold-war propaganda programming may be shooting us in the foot. In essence, if John Wayne may have fought in a movie, it is out... WAY OUT. And it may just be required to do this stimulus right.

We have been seeing plenty about the banks lately we don't like. They don't seem to be able to keep themselves out of hot water, and every day it's keeps simmering, presenting the nation more examples of outrageous spending and poor judgement. Many voices, including Paul Krugman in his latest op-ed are screaming for nationalization of the banks for a limited amount of time.

And yet... Obama and his brain trust seems determined to avoid this. But why? Is it because it's the wrong thing to do, or because it's politically risky? Is he afraid the GOP will gain further traction by slamming nationalization as "experimenting with Socialism?"

Perhaps it is politically disasterous, but I agree with blogger Bob Cesca when he states "Nationalizing the banks would be an enormous political risk. However, if it's going to be done anyway, sooner is way, way, way better than later."

In reality, the more this debate goes on, the more the GOP will be able to spin it as socialist or unrestrained spending, and the stimulus will continue to get watered down. I hope Obama will get this under control and push it through soon, and have the political balls to do what he has to. He didn't ask for this when he ran, but the economy may be the make or break for his first year, if not his Presidency.

Is Joe the Plumber helping the GOP with strategy?

If this is true, I hope he helps them A LOT. As in plan EVERYTHING.

Politico reports (without irony):
"When GOP congressional aides gather Tuesday morning for a meeting of the Conservative Working Group, Samuel Joseph Wurzelbacher – more commonly known as Joe the Plumber — will be their featured guest. This group is an organization of conservative Capitol Hill staffers who meet regularly to chart GOP strategy for the week.

Wurzelbacher, who became a household name during the presidential election, will be focusing his talk on the proposed stimulus package. He's apparently not a fan of the economic rescue package, according to members of the group."

Can these jugheads just pay their taxes????

'Cause your kinda distracting. The President is kinda busy, and stuff. So... um....

UPDATE: Another one!
Nancy Killefer: Obama's Chief Performance Officer withdraws over a couple of hundred bucks in back taxes. Maybe it's time to simplify the tax codes for Democrats?

UPDATE: Redonkulous. Daschle out too.

Monday, February 2, 2009

Interesting Obama Interview

This has some light moments, including a fairly accurate prediction of the outcome of the Superbowl, but also has some interesting observations on the economy and the Congressional back and forth on the bailout package. It's also strikingly odd how casual the interview is. He doesn't seem to be taking that "Presidential" posture you'd expect.

Sunday, February 1, 2009

Blockheads you can believe in!

Looking for a super inexpensive way to entertain the whole family? Feeling politically astute AND crafty?

Just DOWNLOAD, print, and cut out this handy patterns and you'll be slot A'ing and slot B'ing your way to a better America. Hell, download The Joker or Kermit the Frog
and have a battle royal.

Lots of other characters available. Check it out! http://www.cubeecraft.com/