Why The President Is Probably Going To Lose

by lestro

Once again, President Obama is pulling a 180 on Candidate Obama’s promises. In this case, he promised that he would punish  those responsible for intentionally tanking the economy in 2008. Now, it seems, the president is doing everything he can to make sure everything works out in Wall Street’s favor while the good folks on Main Street who got totally and completely fucked will be left to pick up scraps and continue to slave away for our corporate overlords.

On the one side is Eric Schneiderman, the New York Attorney General, who is conducting his own investigation into the era of securitizations – the practice of chopping up assets like mortgages and converting them into saleable securities – that led up to the financial crisis of 2007-2008.

On the other side is the Obama administration, all the banks, and, now, apparently, all the other state attorneys general.  [...]

This deal will also submarine efforts by both defrauded investors in MBS and unfairly foreclosed-upon homeowners and borrowers to obtain any kind of relief in the civil court system. The AGs initially talked about $20 billion as a settlement number, money that would “toward loan modifications and possibly counseling for homeowners,” as Gretchen Morgenson reported the other day.

The banks, however, apparently “balked” at paying that sum, and no doubt it will end up being a lesser amount when the deal is finally done.

To give you an indication of how absurdly small a number even $20 billion is relative to the sums of money the banks made unloading worthless crap subprime assets on foreigners, pension funds and other unsuspecting suckers around the world, consider this: in 2008 alone, the state pension fund of Florida, all by itself, lost more than three times that amount ($62 billion) thanks in significant part to investments in these deadly MBS.

So this deal being cooked up is the ultimate Papal indulgence. By the time that $20 billion (if it even ends up being that high) gets divvied up between all the major players, the broadest and most destructive fraud scheme in American history, one that makes the S&L crisis look like a cheap liquor store holdup , will be safely reduced to a single painful but eminently survivable one-time line item for all the major perpetrators.

I love the line “the ultimate papal indulgence.”  That’s genius.

This is the essential problem facing Obama next year: the failure to even TRY to deliver on the promises he made as a candidate.

I’ve been wracking my brain; what part of his platform has he succeeded in passing?

Healthcare? nope.  He buckled and we got Hillary’s plan instead of the public option we voted for.

Closing Gitmo? nope.

Out of Iraq? not quite.

Afghanistan? still there, though we did get Bin Laden and Obama should be commended for that.

Certainly we haven’t seen the ‘change’ we were promised and frankly, I am yet to see him even try.  I expect the youth vote to stay home, once again convinced that their vote don’t mean shit, and when you remove those votes, shift the independents around and factor in a fired-up right wing, you get a mix that spells doom for the president in a race where turnout is going to be the key component…

Mark my words, this is turning into the theme song of the 2012 election:

How to beat a recession

by lestro

As the rest of the country struggles with high unemployment and stagnant job creation, Texas has surged ahead.  Rick Perry has found a way to beat the system.  He has figured it out.  How’d he do it?

Simple: Rick Perry created more government jobs.

With a young and fast-growing population, a large and expanding military presence and an influx of federal stimulus money, the number of government jobs in Texas has grown at more than double the rate of private-sector employment during Perry’s tenure.

The disparity has grown sharper since the national recession hit. Between December 2007 and last June, private-sector employment in Texas declined by 0.6 percent while public-sector jobs increased by 6.4 percent, according to the federal Bureau of Labor Statistics. Overall, government employees account for about one-sixth of the workforce in Texas.

Which of course, stands in direct contrast to exactly what he says on the stump, in speeches that tout his ability to create jobs.

“The fact is, government doesn’t create jobs, otherwise the last 21 / years of stimulus would have worked,” Perry said this month in a speech to the National Conference of State Legislatures. “Government can only create the environment that allows the private sector to create jobs. The single most important contributor to our jobs-friendly climate here in Texas is our low tax burden, because we know dollars do far more to create jobs and prosperity in the people’s hands than they do in the government’s.”

Given that we know that the Republicans need to perpetuate a recession in order to have something to hang on Obama and have therefore been literally doing everything they can think of to keep us in this rut (including laying off large enough numbers of government workers to counteract any positive response the president’s attempts at stimulus might have made), this is something the right better hope the general electorate never, ever learns.

Thankfully, no one in the Obama administration will even attempt to point this out. Because they don’t want to be associated with government jobs either.

Go team.

How to perpetuate a recession

by lestro

Let’s say you are a political party interested not in, you know, fixing the problems in the country, but instead states its goal as “the single most important thing we want to achieve is for President Obama to be a one-term president.”

Now, let’s say the recession in which you’ve mired the country might be starting to recede before the next election, so the main negative you were going to try and saddle the president with was diminishing, meaning you’d actually have to come up with an idea or two on which to run instead of the trotting out the same bankrupt ideology that got us into this mess.

Let’s say things are starting to turn around on the employment front and considering your campaign is going to be about how the president hasn’t yet fixed the economy you destroyed.

What do you do in order to make the president look ineffective?

Well, first, you do everything you can to block any and all economic recovery efforts that are not the same policies that killed it in the first place, demanding instead that in order to get out of this, we have to KEEP DIGGING.

Then, to ensure that the numbers stay bad, you purposefully and willfully lay off thousands and thousands of workers across the country by slashing government spending and forcing them to shed jobs, meaning all of those people who were productive contributors to the economy are now all on the public dole and therefore only making the deficits bigger by demanding the service you just cut.

Voila! instant continuing recession! even if private sector hiring is up 1.7 percent in the past year..

I have been thinking about this for a month or so now, but today, there were numbers that absolutely prove I was right.

Dig this graph:

That’s a tough hole to dig out of.

And if I were president, especially one running for re-election at a time when the top concern is jobs, I would be goddamn sure to point these things out.

Unless, of course, I didn’t want to win anyway.

turnabout is fair play

by lestro

In a column about “The folly of Palin’s high-priced populism” in today’s WaPo, there’s this bit from Senator John Cornyn about how Wall Street is now donating money to Republicans instead of Democrats because they don’t like the way the president is talking about them anymore.

Which, by the way, if I was the president I would be crowing about: “Look at this! I got more money from Wall Street than any other industry, yet I am not beholden to them and do what is best for the American people, not Wall Street, and they’ve noticed, so now they are donating money to the Republicans in an attempt to stop me from getting YOUR money back and creating regulations to prevent them from destroying the economy AGAIN in the future…”

But I digress.  Back to the quote, which I think is the exact question the Republicans should be asking themselves:

Meanwhile, John Cornyn, the head of the committee in charge of raising dough for Republican Senate candidates, has been making regular trips to New York. “I just don’t know how long you can expect people to contribute money to a political party whose main plank of their platform is to punish you,” Cornyn told the New York Times.

Meanwhile, Republicans wonder why they don’t ever get the middle class vote, the gay vote, the black vote, the hispanic vote or the labor vote and have to rely on the rich and the gullible (including the exceedingly religious, who believe that two people who had two sons somehow populated the entire planet) to fill out the party ranks…

I mean come on, you idiots.  Not only is sucking up to Wall Street to get their money not exactly a smart maneuver in today’s political climate, but at least listen to your own advice when it comes to your party…

This Memorial Day, why don’t we honor the Nazi dead while we’re at it?

by lestro

UPDATED! SEE BELOW!

There’s a column in Sunday’s Washington Post about something I am afraid to admit I did not know existed.

Apparently, somewhere in Arlington National Cemetery, there is a monument honoring the dead of the Confederate States of America. The monument was dedicated in 1914 by President Woodrow Wilson and according to the article, presidents  have since honored the Confederacy’s dead along with those of the United States by sending a wreath on Memorial Day.

The question in the column is whether President Barack Obama, the nation’s first black president, will and should continue the tradition honoring a nation whose very founding was based on keeping blacks as subservient slaves.

Although it is tough to tell exactly where the author stands on the main issue of honoring Confederates, he expects the president to send a wreath because it is tradition:

Many of my colleagues in academia are urging President Obama to pull the plug on this tradition. I doubt that he will, for the simple reason that the men buried around the Confederate memorial sacrificed, suffered and died just as the black and white soldiers of the Union did. Most of the descendants of those Confederates, whatever their political stripe today, would be loath to deny their ancestors a simple gesture of recognition.

The author goes on to say that the president should send a wreath to the memorial as well as one to the African American Civil War Memorial as a sort of reconciliation.

But I disagree. The president should under no circumstances feel pressure to honor the dead of the enemies of the United States on the holiday designed to honor those who gave their lives for this great nation.

It is also important to note that this is NOT a tradition that goes all the way back. According to the Arlington Cemetery Web site,  (warning: music will play when the page opens. the player is all the way at the bottom of the page) the first President Bush ended said tradition in 1990 and it was not re-instated until the second President Bush started sending wreaths again.

Therefore, President Obama should feel no pressure in having to honor these traitors. It is shameful that President Bush restarted this tradition in the first place.

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Eight years wasted

by lestro

Today, the president announced plans to change the mileage standards on American cars, increasing them 30 percent in the next eight years.

Which, I admit, is a lot.  It’s going to take some serious work.  But it will be worth it on many fronts.

Here’s what the pres said today:

And that’s why, in the next five years, we’re seeking to raise fuel-economy standards to an industry average of 35.5 miles per gallon in 2016, an increase of more than eight miles per gallon per vehicle.  That’s an unprecedented change, exceeding the demands of Congress and meeting the most stringent requirements sought by many of the environmental advocates represented here today.

As a result, we will save 1.8 billion barrels of oil over the lifetime of the vehicles sold in the next five years.  Just to give you a sense of magnitude, that’s more oil than we imported last year from Saudi Arabia, Venezuela, Libya, and Nigeria combined.  (Applause.)  Here’s another way of looking at it:  This is the projected equivalent of taking 58 million cars off the road for an entire year.

That got me to thinking: that’s a whole lot of foreign oil we would no longer be dependent on. And the sooner we start, the more we save. And it’s not only as individual consumers when our cars go further on the same amount of gas (for you American car owners, ask a foreign car owner what that’s like…), but also as a nation when we reduce our dependency on foreign oil, and maybe we can stop wasting so much blood and treasure fighting over sand dunes that happen to have oil deposits below them.

It got me to thinking about how this administration actually doing something about it. That’s a tremendous change from any prior administration since Jimmy Carter, who was laughed at for telling us to conserve energy (and wearing the sweater) and invested heavily in alternate energy until Reagan and his oil money knocked the whole thing down, setting us back about 28 years.

Within 130 days of taking office, Obama actually set new standards, which will work to reduce our dependence on foreign oil.

Bush never did that, despite talking about it until his fool head nearly fell off.

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Making up for lost ground

by lestro

Don’t get me wrong, I am supportive of raising the mpg standards in this country.  It’s something we should have done a long time ago.

Who knows, American cars might have even been competitive if we had.

But no matter, President Obama is on it and like everything else his administration has had to do, boy howdy is he making up for lost time by going big.

WASHINGTON – New cars and trucks will have to get 30 percent better mileage starting in 2016 under an Obama administration move to curb emissions tied to smog and global warming, sources said Monday…

While the 30 percent increase would be an average for both cars and light trucks, the percentage increase in cars would be much greater, according to the New York Times, rising from the current 27.5 mpg standard to 42 mpg starting in 2016. The average for light trucks would rise from 24 mpg to 26.2 mpg.

Wow. Like I said, I am all for increasing the standards, but that’s a HUGE jump is a relatively short time.

Good thing the entire American auto industry is in the shitter and needs to be rebuilt from the ground up because this is a serious redesign.

Unless it’s not and they’ve been able to do this all along.  Then fuck them, jack it up to 60.

According to the NYT, however, the industry is not expected to complain:

The auto industry is not expected to challenge the rule, which provides two things they have long asked for: certainty on a timetable and a single national standard.

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There’s got to be a better way

by lestro

From the Seattle PI on May 14, 2009:

The nation’s new drug czar looks like he has no interest in being the commanding general of a war on drugs.

Gil Kerlikowske, Seattle’s former police chief, says in an interview with The Wall Street Journal that he wants to end using the phrase “war on drugs.”

“Regardless of how you try to explain to people it’s a ‘war on drugs’ or a ‘war on a product,’ people see a war as a war on them,” Kerlikowske said in his first interview since being confirmed for the federal post. “We’re not at war with people in this country.”

Damn right.

We are never going to “defeat” drugs and Kerlikowske is right about it being a war on the American people. We should change our language to reflect that we are trying to reduce abuse and help those locked in a cycle of addiction.

I don’t know what that word is, but I am 100 percent sure it is NOT “war”…

Make Trek, Not Wars

by lestro

I love this:

Inside the White House, a tight circle of advisers has already been selected and office space has been set aside in the Eisenhower Executive Office Building. But aides said their surroundings would purposely not be called a “war room,” because of the combative image that the term suggests.

“We would like to put the confirmation wars of the past behind us,” one White House official said, speaking on condition of anonymity because of the confidentiality of the selection process, “and have signaled that with our consensus-oriented, non-confrontational approach to appellate court nominations.”

LOVE it.

I absolutely hate all of the war metaphors we use in this country.  Everything is a war: war on drugs, war on terror, war on poverty, etc.

This creates an adversarial tone and belittles what an actual war is.  Besides, the government is losing the war on drugs and the war on poverty.  Which means stoners and the starving are winning!

That’s bad.

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This week in hypocritical bullshit

by lestro

The Republican Party and the Republican leadership is full of shit and every day they find new ways to highlight their own hypocrisy and bullshit.

Today, it was over the announcement that the president and his budget team had scrubbed an additional $17 billion from the federal budget as part of the line-by-line examination Candidate Obama promised last year.

The savings for the budget year starting Oct. 1 represent the sum of Mr. Obama’s promised “line by line” scrubbing of the federal budget, and the the proposed cuts amount to about 1.4 percent of the $1.2 trillion deficit that is projected for the fiscal year 2010…

The $17 billion would be saved by ending or reducing 121 federal programs.

True, it’s not a big percentage, but it is something.

Republicans, on the other hand, were snippy and snide about the whole thing:

“While we appreciate the newfound attention to saving taxpayer dollars from this administration, we respectfully suggested that we should do far more,” said Representative John A. Boehner of Ohio, the House Republican leader.

Considering they had eight years to do something, forgive me if I can’t possibly take Boehner seriously in the least.

Sure, the president’s budget is HUUUUUUGE, and we can talk about that, but it sure seems hypocritical for Republicans to be complaining that the president isn’t cutting enough out of a government that their ex-hero, George W. Bush grew at levels we haven’t seen since Reagan and left a giant, bloated useless pile of money-sucking crap.

Where were you last year Johnny, you piece of shit? Where were your small government ways back then when you were holding the purse strings?

No wonder no one takes you seriously.

did I mention “suck it?”

by lestro

It’s a little early to be truly celebrating, I realize, but so far everything the Haters warned about has failed to materialize and just like with their economic programs, the economy has gone in exactly the opposite direction as they predicted.  Funny how that works out.

so, uh, SUCK IT YOU REPUBLICAN FUCKS!

The Standard & Poor’s 500-stock index, a key gauge of the broader market and the benchmark for many investors’ index funds, erased all its 2009 losses just before the close.

Stocks catapulted higher following reports that government stress tests of major banks would offer more cause for cheer than fear about the health of the financial system. Investors also gleaned some hope from signs of improvement in the housing market and the construction industry. And jitters about a swine-flu pandemic seemed to be easing.

The S.&P. 500 jumped 29.72 points, or 3.4 percent, to close at 907.24 points on Monday. This jump finally gave the index a 2009 gain of 0.44 percent after a grinding start to the year.

In contrast, the Nasdaq composite index is up 11.8 percent since the beginning of January, buoyed by gains in technology companies. On Monday, the Nasdaq rose 44.36 points, or 2.6 percent, to 1,763.56.

The Dow Jones industrial average gained 214.33 points, or 2.6 percent, to 8,426.74. Still, the Dow remains down nearly 4 percent for the year to date.

Also, this week in my paycheck I noticed my Obama Tax Cut – that’s right, a TAX CUT TO THE MIDDLE CLASS YOU TEA PARTYING MORONS – an extra $15 A WEEK thanks to the fact that I make less than $200,000 per year.

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But the Republicans, of course, disagree.

by lestro

He talked about it during the campaign, but who knew he’d actually do  it?

President Barack Obama will flesh out a proposal included in his February budget blueprint seeking to curb the practice of parking foreign earnings in offshore tax havens indefinitely.  By some estimates, $700 billion or more in U.S. corporate earnings have accumulated in overseas accounts in recent years.

The plan to be announced Monday will go further. It aims to change the legal treatment of offshore subsidiaries and structures that companies have used to avoid not only U.S. taxes, but taxes in other developed countries as well. In addition, the administration will strive to tighten rules that have encouraged thousands of Americans to open offshore bank accounts in an effort to duck U.S. taxes.

The plan would increase information reporting and tax withholding as well as penalties, and make it harder for foreign account-holders to win cases in court. The administration promised new enforcement tools to crack down on tax-haven abuse.

For too long companies claiming to be “American” have avoided paying taxes and that has to stop.

But the Republicans, of course, disagree.

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We are America! We do not fucking torture!

by twit

With thanks to the Daily What, and by way of FOX News:

it’s about thirty seconds in…

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The high-level White House

by twit

According to Newsweek on April 21, 2009:

The report, an advanced copy of which was provided to several news organizations, draws on newly declassified documents that Levin says bolsters his principal message: That the abuses at Iraq’s Abu Ghraib prison and Guantanamo were not caused by “a few bad apples,” as Bush administration officials repeatedly asserted.

Instead, Levin said in a statement Tuesday, it was the product of high-level White House decisions to utilize a controversial series of “enhanced” and coercive interrogation techniques despite vociferous warnings by U.S. military lawyers and FBI officials that they could subject U.S. officials to prosecutions for torture and war crimes.

High-level White House decisions?  Whatever could that mean?

According to Fox News on April 20, 2009:

The former vice president says the biggest task he had was to protect the nation’s security following 9/11 and to ensure such devastation would never happen again.  He says many of the policies he set up are currently being dismantled by the Obama administration.

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They’re kidding, right?

by lestro

So apparently, the Republicans today released their budget proposal, which is very funny.

Almost as funny as this:

“Two nights ago, the president said we haven’t seen a budget yet of the Republicans,” said House Minority Leader Rep. John Boehner (R-Ohio). “Well, it’s not true, because here it is Mr. President.” He waved a thin document called “The Republican Road to Recovery” that describes the GOP proposal.

That’s funny because Boehner is trying to do a bit of a Ha-Ha on the pres, making it out as though the president is out of touch and didn’t know the Republicans had a proposal, when the truth is, THEY DIDN’T WHEN HE SAID IT.

How dumb do these guys think we are? oh, right:

Republican lawmakers refused to offer details of how much their alternative budget proposal would cost or how much it would increase the deficit, saying they would release overall numbers next week. Instead, they provided a general outline of proposals that included cutting overall government spending except for defense, banning any additional spending for bailouts of financial companies and a huge income tax cut that would make the maximum tax rate 25% instead of 36% as under current law.

They’re joking, right?

First of all, to complain about the president’s budget and then provide no specifics in what you are touting as the Republican counter-proposal is just fucking dumb.

But beyond that, at a time when government revenues are dropping and spending is increasing to fix the fucking messes created over the past eight years by Boehner and his buddies (who had no problem running up huge deficits and borrowing, borrowing, borrowing when Bush (who never once saw a spending bill he didn’t like) was in office), their plan is to cut taxes for the wealthy AGAIN, putting even more of the tax burden on the backs of the middle class?

Even Michael “Humpty” Steele is more together and sane than this.

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Hey Paul Krugman, where the hell are you man?

by twit

Krugman recently wrote for the New York Times that “the zombie ideas have won,” which is unsettling, to say the least, considering he is talking about the Obama Administration’s plan to stabilize our economy.

Which brings us to the delightful way that our internets can manage to push the issue:

currently at #16 on the viral video chart

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because they’ve done such a good job

by twit

and they are “worried that the proposals distracting employees

Citigroup Inc., Bank of America Corp. and JPMorgan Chase & Co., recipients of more than $100 billion in U.S. rescue funds, criticized congressional proposals to tax Wall Street bonuses.

Bank of America Chief Executive Officer Kenneth Lewis called the tax “unfair” in a memo to employees today, while Citigroup’s Vikram Pandit said his bank is “working in every appropriate way with policymakers.” JPMorgan’s Jamie Dimon held a conference call with about 200 executives, saying the firm is concerned about retention and is working with lawmakers.

what are they going to do, move to a private island somewhere and live in a rich-people-only colony?

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Sarah Palin’s campaign against special needs children

by twit

So Sarah Palin is turning down a large chunk of the federal stimulus money for Alaska:

The biggest single chunk of money that Palin is turning down is about $170 million for education, including money that would go for programs to help economically disadvantaged and special needs students.

But this is Sarah Palin, who will always impress with her capacity to turn her particular brand of heartless politics into an immediately hypocritical statement:

Obama, who made the joke Thursday night on “The Tonight Show with Jay Leno,” apologized. But the remark caused an immediate stir.

Republican Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin said she was “shocked to learn” about Obama’s comment.

“This was a degrading remark about our world’s most precious and unique people, coming from the most powerful position in the world,” Palin said, whose son, Trig, was born with Down syndrome last year. “These athletes overcome more challenges, discrimination and adversity than most of us ever will.

and she should know!  since she is leading the fight to add more challenge and adversity to the lives of special needs children in Alaska…

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The Bracketologist-In-Chief

by lestro

The greatest American sporting event of the year tips off this week as the NCAA 64-team, anything-can-happen-and-often-does-happen men’s college basketball tournament gets underway.

For the next few weeks, every idiot in the country – including me – gets to be a basketball expert and brackets will be studied and analyzed everyday, costing the American economy billions of dollars in lost productivity as everyone ponies up their $5 to get into their office pool and then spends a few days huddled around a radio or television hoping to win their money back and hoard over winning brackets over their co-workers.

It’s also the time of year in which uninterested girlfriends or quiet, mousy officemate nerds tend to piss off sports fans by out-picking us based on the color of the teams’ uniforms or strength of the cities’ symphonies (shout out to “Cheers!”). There really is nothing more annoying than losing the office pool to someone who happily admits to not knowing shit about shit while picking up their winnings.

But that’s part of the fun: Damn near everyone gets involved this time of year. Including the president, whose brackets were officially released today by the White House.

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The page finally starts to turn

by lestro

from a Fox News poll:

fox poll q14 3.4.09

Reagan, as a reminder, is the Republican Godhead of the Trickle Down Theory, which stated that cutting taxes on the rich would then trickle down to create more jobs for the not-as-rich.

It didn’t work.  At all.

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Rush Limbaugh is a corpulent dickbag liar

by lestro

I finally got around to watching Rush Limbaugh’s speech from the CPAC conference and I think it demonstrates almost exactly why people do not trust Republicans: We get to actually watch him lie and then fuck up the very thing he claims to “love and revere.”

And they applaud him for it. They actually applaud his ignorance and distortions. Ridiculous.

From Rush Limbaugh’s speech to CPAC on February 28, 2009:

Also, for those of you in the Drive-By Media watching, I have not needed a teleprompter for anything I’ve said. [Cheers and Applause ] And nor do any of us need a teleprompter, because our beliefs are not the result of calculations and contrivances. Our beliefs are not the result of a deranged psychology. Our beliefs are our core. Our beliefs are our hearts. We don’t have to make notes about what we believe. We don’t have to write down, oh do I believe it do I believe that we can tell people what we believe off the top of our heads and we can do it with passion and we can do it with clarity, and we can do it persuasively. Some of us just haven’t had the inspiration or motivation to do so in a number of years, but that’s about to change. [Cheers and Applause]

In the C-Span video, you can see that he, uh, has notes. There is no doubt he is doing a lot of riffing, but then again, his job is to bloviate every day for five hours (the guy can talk), but the fact is he brought out notes.

And he should have used them because he says that “conservatives” are people who “love and revere” our founding documents, and then he says “conservatives” believe that the preamble to the Constitution contains the inarguable truth that we are all endowed by our creator with certain unalienable rights.

But it does not.  Not at all.  The Declaration does, because it is a statement of philosophy, but the preamble to the Constitution – the document designed to build a government to protect said rights – most assuredly does NOT contain that inarguable truth.  I don’t care what he and the conservatives believe.

Rush:

We want every American to be the best he or she chooses to be. We recognize that we are all individuals. We love and revere our founding documents, the Constitution and the Declaration of Independence. [Applause] We believe that the preamble to the Constitution contains an inarguable truth that we are all endowed by our creator with certain inalienable rights, among them life. [Applause] Liberty, Freedom. [Applause] And the pursuit of happiness. [Applause] Those of you watching at home may wonder why this is being applauded. We conservatives think all three are under assault. [Applause] Thank you. Thank you.

Preamble:

We the People of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defence, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America.

I’m just saying, maybe the reason people think Rush and the “conservatives” are full of shit is because he says he loves and reveres our founding documents, but hasn’t even studied them enough to tell them apart?

come fucking on.

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“we’re not talking about some strange nut screaming on a street corner

by twit

… this is all coming from an elected member of Congress.”

via Wonkette, Rep. Michelle Bachmann goes to crazytown on the radio:

Bachmann “explained” to the host and Minnesota audience:

* ACORN is “under federal indictment for voter fraud,” but the stimulus bill nevertheless gives ACORN “$5 billion.” (In reality, ACORN is not under federal indictment and isn’t mentioned in the stimulus bill at all.)

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It’s a turn-around jump shot

by twit

It’s everybody jump start

The Obama administration reversed years of U.S. policy Monday by calling for a treaty to cut mercury pollution, which it described as the world’s gravest chemical problem.

It’s every generation throws a hero up the pop charts

The statement represented a “180-degree turnaround” from policy under the Bush administration, said Michael Bender, co-coordinator of the Zero Mercury Working Group, a global coalition of 75 environmental organizations working to reduce mercury exposure.

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The President fumbles again

by lestro

This commerce secretary position is proving to be a challenging one for President Obama.

First, Bill Richardson had to pull out because of a federal investigation and now the second choice is pulling out because of “irresolvable conflicts” between his views and the administration.

Which I suppose isn’t surprising considering he’s a Republican and the president is not, and commerce is one of those great yawning chasms between the two parties.

But I have to say, I am very impressed with this statement and the decision by Sen. Judd Gregg to withdraw. I think it shows a level of maturity and understanding that one can’t help but think has been long-missing from our politics.

“It has become apparent during this process that this will not work for me as I have found that on issues such as the stimulus package and the Census, there are irresolvable conflicts for me,” Mr. Gregg said in a statement. “Prior to accepting this post, we had discussed these and other potential differences, but unfortunately we did not adequately focus on these concerns. We are functioning from a different set of views on many critical items of policy.” [...]

“Obviously the President requires a team that is fully supportive of all his initiatives,” Mr. Gregg said in a statement. “I greatly admire President Obama and know our country will benefit from his leadership, but at this time I must withdraw my name from consideration for this position.”

That’s incredible, to give up a cabinet seat because he realizes his views don’t jibe with what the president wants to do. I would think a member of opposite party might want to use such a position to affect policy, but for this dude to simply back off and go back to the senate is somewhat remarkable in my mind.

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Let them filibuster

by lestro

Tonight, President Obama will take to the airwaves for his first “primetime” press conference as president. He will speak from Elk Hart, Ind., a particularly hard-hit area of a state that’s been particularly hard-hit by the ongoing economic crisis/recession.

The president will, presumably, make the case as to why the massive stimulus package, currently being held up in Congress by a bankrupt minority with no ideas, should be passed.

Here’s hoping the president dares the Republicans, whose only idea to stimulate the economy is the same bullshit battle cry of tax cuts they have been pushing for decades (despite no indication that tax cuts have EVER spurred the economy or created jobs), to filibuster the bill.  I hope he makes those bastards stand up there and explain themselves before a nation that everyday sees news reports about continuing job losses, underwhelming earnings reports and giant corporate bailouts.

Let the Republicans in the Senate explain how tax cuts create jobs, despite never having worked before; or how Obama’s tax cuts aren’t big enough despite the fact that are technically larger than anything Bush did; or how they oppose giving money to the states to prevent the states from having to cut back on essential services and jobs; or why they are opposed to spending, even though the spending creates jobs by rebuilding the country’s crumbling infrastructure.

Let them explain why their 42-person  minority thinks it is speaking for America, especially since the presidents approval rating hovers above 60 percent while theirs, well, doesn’t.

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Andy Card: still a tool

by lestro

In an interview Wednesday, former White House chief of staff Andy Card had something to say about the less formal approach to things the new president is taking at his old place of employment:

In an interview scheduled to run Wednesday night, Andrew H. Card Jr. told the syndicated news show Inside Edition that “there should be a dress code of respect” in the White House and that he wished Mr. Obama “would wear a suit coat and tie.”

But wait, there’s more!

According to Inside Edition’s Web site, Mr. Card also said:

“The Oval Office symbolizes…the Constitution, the hopes and dreams, and I’m going to say democracy. And when you have a dress code in the Supreme Court and a dress code on the floor of the Senate, floor of the House, I think it’s appropriate to have an expectation that there will be a dress code that respects the office of the President.”

Once again, Card touches on the great fallacy of the Bush years: The president spent so much time asking himself “what would a president do?” that he forgot to do the business of the country.

Bush didn’t know what he was doing as president, so he was just trying to do what he thought the president would do.  Obama realizes he is the president.  Therefore, what he does is what the president would do:

Mr. Obama has also brought a more relaxed sensibility to his public appearances. David Gergen, an adviser to both Republican and Democratic presidents, said Mr. Obama seemed to exude an “Aloha Zen,” a kind of comfortable calm that, Mr. Gergen said, reflects a man who “seems easygoing, not so full of himself.”

America, traditionally, is a meritocracy. You get ahead by earning it, by rolling up your sleeves and doing the hard work.

Which, ironically, is what President Obama was doing when all this hoopla started.  George W. Bush, meanwhile, failed up his entire career, running business after business after baseball team into the ground before using his famous last name to vault him into an office he didn’t understand and couldn’t handle. But he sure looked the part, didn’t he?

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America: Leading the way again

by lestro

Seems like for so long now, the rest of the world has looked down its nose and disregarded the US.

It’s probably been only about five or six years, but it feels longer.

Anyway, today we get another sign that the rest of the world may again start taking its cues from the US.

Just one day after President Obama attacked Wall Street for giving out huge bonuses to the people who drove their companies into the ground after taking bailout money from the government and then he set caps on the salaries (still more than 10 times the national average salary) for people in firms getting our money, other world leaders are jumping on the bandwagon as well:

President Nicolas Sarkozy blistered financial traders and ruled out bonuses for managers of banks bailed out by state funds as he sought Thursday to reassure a nation still jittery following nationwide strikes sparked by the global economic crisis….

Sarkozy sternly announced that there would be no bonuses in 2009 at banks that had received state aid. He also said he would consider a cap on salaries for top managers of companies that received public funds but was skeptical about making it a hard-fast rule.

Why did he do it?

He called on a joint European response to the crisis, which he said he had discussed in a recent telephone conversation with President Barack Obama.

”I told him that I feel an ally of the United States, but one country cannot lead the world.”

I’ll admit it: it’s nice to be the Top Dog again.

The President said it

by lestro

and I hope they hold him to it.

Yesterday in his interview with Matt Lauer (which was actually quite an enjoyable pre-Super Bowl interview, with questions ranging from domestic and foreign policy to the game to family and back again; though still no word on the dog…), President Obama made a point of saying the stimulus package must be, well, a stimulus package and nothing more:

But Obama acknowledged Republicans’ concerns and said he was eager to incorporate their suggestions “because they had some good ideas,” adding “we’re going to be trimming out things that are not relevant to putting people back to work right now.”

A few pork-ish items have already been pulled from the House bill, though that didn’t stop every single Republican from refusing bipartisanship (which has been the Republican way for about a decade now) and casting a lockstep ideological vote that only emphasizes the hypocrisy they now face, considering their last eight years.

More remains to be pulled from the bill, which is currently approaching $900 billion. But not one Republican? 

That’s not to say that the items the Dems are trying to stuff in aren’t important, just that they should be discussed elsewhere than in this particular piece of legislation.

Democrats need to be grown-ups and make this bill about the economy.

Republicans just need to grow up and learn to compromise and to back off ideas that have done nothing but fail for 30 years (i.e., tax cuts and obstructionism)…

When liberals are conservatives and other reality checks

by lestro

Once again, the New York Times seems to have forgotten what “liberal” and “conservative” mean.

This time, it comes in an article about the make-up of the Supreme Court in which the writer looks at the possibility of President Obama replacing a handful of “liberal” justices who are approaching the end of their terms (read: death).

But the problem is not in its portrayal of the court, per se, but the fact that they are confusing liberalism and conservatism with right and left ideological party positions.

For example:

“It is fair to say that the Supreme Court both now and historically has been to the left of the American public,” said Nathaniel Persily, a law professor at Columbia and an editor of “Public Opinion and Constitutional Controversy” (Oxford, 2008).

“On school prayer, for instance, the Supreme Court is far to the left of the American public,” Professor Persily said, referring to decisions saying that officials may not organize, lead or endorse prayer or devotional Bible reading in the public schools.

“On racial issues, it’s pretty clear from the Michigan cases that the Supreme Court is out of step with the American public,” Professor Persily said of the pair of 2003 decisions allowing public universities to consider race in admissions decisions. (In a 2007 decision, the Roberts court leaned the other way, forbidding public school systems from explicitly taking race into account to achieve or maintain integration.)

Other areas in which the court is to the left of popular opinion, Professor Persily said, are criminal procedure and free speech. Decisions protecting flag burning under the First Amendment, for instance, were quite unpopular.

The fact is that the decisions reached by the court on most of, if not all of those issues, may have pleased the party of liberals and people who consider themselves liberals, but the decisions themselves were actually quite conservative.

At their base form the words “liberal” and “conservative” in this context mean looser and stricter views on government power, not on social mores or issues. “Liberal” means open to wide interpretation while “conservative” means strict constructionist, letter and spirit of the document.

So therefore, a “conservative” reading of the Constitution is one that limits the powers of the government to those specifically listed in the document, while a “liberal” one grants more leeway.

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Inauguration Day!

by twit

the text of President Obama’s Inaugural address:

My fellow citizens:

I stand here today humbled by the task before us, grateful for the trust you have bestowed, mindful of the sacrifices borne by our ancestors. I thank President Bush for his service to our nation, as well as the generosity and cooperation he has shown throughout this transition.

Forty-four Americans have now taken the presidential oath. The words have been spoken during rising tides of prosperity and the still waters of peace. Yet, every so often the oath is taken amidst gathering clouds and raging storms. At these moments, America has carried on not simply because of the skill or vision of those in high office, but because We the People have remained faithful to the ideals of our forbearers, and true to our founding documents.

So it has been. So it must be with this generation of Americans.

That we are in the midst of crisis is now well understood. Our nation is at war, against a far-reaching network of violence and hatred. Our economy is badly weakened, a consequence of greed and irresponsibility on the part of some, but also our collective failure to make hard choices and prepare the nation for a new age. Homes have been lost; jobs shed; businesses shuttered. Our health care is too costly; our schools fail too many; and each day brings further evidence that the ways we use energy strengthen our adversaries and threaten our planet.

These are the indicators of crisis, subject to data and statistics. Less measurable but no less profound is a sapping of confidence across our land – a nagging fear that America’s decline is inevitable, and that the next generation must lower its sights.

Today I say to you that the challenges we face are real. They are serious and they are many. They will not be met easily or in a short span of time. But know this, America – they will be met.

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“in a move without modern precedent”

by twit

feel that?

With its benchmark lending rate effectively at zero, Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke on Tuesday, in a move without modern precedent, publicly laid out an aggressive agenda for the nation’s otherwise secretive central bank and suggested that he’s hardly out of ammunition to fight the global financial crisis.

that’s a new era being born…

In a lengthy speech to the London School of Economics, Bernanke also gave explicit support to efforts by Congress and President-elect Barack Obama to create the largest short-term economic stimulus plan the nation’s ever seen.

Barack Obama, the battered wife

by twit

Obama recently responded to the outrage over Rick Warren with the statement that “what we have to do is to be able to create an atmosphere where we can disagree without being disagreeable.”   This reminds me of the millions of abused spouses and children who try to do this, with the hope that if they are just nicer to their abusive family member, maybe the abuse will stop.

This is why it hurts so badly for Obama to have chosen Rick Warren for the inaugural invocation.  We know it won’t stop the abuse.  We know that it will only empower and enable the abusers.

A commentary at CNN describes some of the positions held by Rick Warren:

He adamantly opposes a woman’s legal right to abortion and dismisses common-ground efforts to reduce the need for abortion by comparing them to accommodating the Holocaust. He is disrespectful of progressive people of faith, suggesting that they are tools of the Democratic Party or more Marxist than Christian.

… Warren, in an interview with Beliefnet.com, has since equated allowing loving same-sex couples to get married with redefining marriage to permit incest and pedophilia.

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No, you cannot grope Hillary Clinton

by twit

even if she is a cardboard cut-out…


Incoming Obama administration director of speechwriting Jon Favreau (L) and a friend pose with a cardboard cutout of incoming Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton at a party.

(Obtained by The Washington Post)

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a last hurrah for the cowboy mafia

by twit

as if we didn’t see it coming

Who wanted to hear from dismal economists warning that the whole thing was, in effect, a giant Ponzi scheme?

so do we really have to give away $100 billion to the folks sitting at the top of the pyramid?

The federal government theoretically will be repaid what it’s loaned except for $100 billion in losses incurred from buying some assets above market value.

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The First Priority: Rebranding America

by lestro

The new administration faces a daunting task. President-Elect Obama inherits a country in crisis on almost every front. While the economic crisis dominates, it is a piece of a much larger puzzle, all intertwined and all completely fucked up by the Bush administration.

As talk turns to priorities for the first 100 days, the true scope of the mess we have to clean up really comes into focus. The economy, health care, education, energy, climate, a growing debt and deficit and, oh yeah, two wars.

So what we all want to know is, what will they attempt to take on first? What should they take on first?

Some will say the economy, some will say energy, some will say defense.

But the real first priority for the new administration needs to be a catchy slogan. They need an overriding theme and message to encompass the full shift and shuffle of government that needs to occur.

Like FDR’s New Deal. Or Kennedy’s New Frontier. Or LBJ’s Great Society. Even Bubba’s New Covenant.

All of those were coherent packages ranging over multiple issues and linking them under a single, simple brand name. Each was a collection of legislative proposals encompassing a wide range of agencies and interconnected issues that when taken as a whole represent the full scope of change.

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