Archive for: January, 2009

Obama Continues to Hammer on the Greed and Arrogance of Wall St.

Jan 31 2009 Published by under Featured News

President Obama used his radio address to continue to push for passage of his economic stimulus package, and also said that the American people will not excuse the arrogance and greed of those who took bailout money and paid themselves big bonuses.

Here is the video:

Obama had some harsh words for those who federal money, but paid themselves big bonuses, “And adding to this outrage, we learned this week that even as they petitioned for taxpayer assistance, Wall Street firms shamefully paid out nearly $20 billion in bonuses for 2008. While I’m committed to doing what it takes to maintain the flow of credit, the American people will not excuse or tolerate such arrogance and greed. The road to recovery demands that we all act responsibly, from Main Street to Washington to Wall Street.”

What the bonus story confirms is that Wall St. didn’t deserve a bailout. It is outrageous that the same people who ran their companies into the ground, and came hat in hand to the government, showed such little respect to the American people. While thousands are still losing their jobs and homes, these clowns are paying themselves big bonuses. It is wrong and irresponsible, and the government should either pull their funding, or ask for our money back.

The flip side of the coin is that this kind of thing will happen when a piece of legislation is rushed through the Congress. There was a lot of talk during the initial debate last fall about protecting the American taxpayer, but Congress neglected to provide the most common sense protections to prevent taxpayer money from being spent on this like jets, office remodeling, and bonuses. Obama inherited a fine mess, and some may criticism him for trying to shame these crooks, I think he ought to turn up the heat even higher.

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Republicans Put a Black Face on a White Party

Jan 30 2009 Published by under Featured News

Members of the RNC elected Michael Steele on their fifth ballot today. Steele who isn’t an RNC member but is African America is the Republican Party’s attempt at racial diversity.

Steele said all the right things in his acceptance speech. The Republicans are going to adopt a 50 state strategy. They are going to take their message all over the country. They are going to be more diverse. The American people are looking for something different. It is probable though that Steele would not have been elected RNC chair if he was white. What was fascinating to watch was that another African American candidate, former Ohio Sec. of State, Ken Blackwell helped put Steele over the top by withdrawing from the race and endorsing Steele.

Steele also warned those who want to obstruct that they had better be prepared to be run over. I wonder if he was talking to Democrats or Republicans in the House who seem intent on practicing nothing but obstruction. There would appear to be some disconnect between the mentality of the Republican Party and election of Steele, who is a moderate fiscally conservative Republican, while the base is still largely made up of evangelical and social conservatives.

I was watching the election on C-Span and what jumped out at me was that although there were two African American candidates, the 168 people doing the voting were very, very white. Let’s be honest, Republicans elected Steele because they wanted to say, “Look we can make history too. We aren’t a racist party.” Steele won because the RNC wanted their own Obama.

The RNC could elect all minority leadership, but it won’t matter if they keep ignoring minority issues. The problem is that the Republican Party lost Latinos because of their stance on illegal immigration, and they have not talked about issues that matter to other minorities for decades. The Republicans are still completely out of step with minorities, and putting a different colored face on the same positions doesn’t change anything.

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McCain: Obama Made a Mistake by Taking on Limbaugh

Jan 30 2009 Published by under Featured News

Senator John McCain was on Fox News’s Fox and Friends today. McCain said that he thought Obama was doing well, but the new president made a mistake by taking on Rush Limbaugh. However, many are applauding Obama for being a Democrat who is not afraid of anyone.

“I don’t know why he would do that. Mr. Limbaugh is the voice of a significant portion of the Conservative movement in America. He [Limbaugh] has a very wide viewing audience. He [Limbaugh] is entitled to his views. People listen very carefully to him. I don’t know why the President would take him on. He’s [Limbaugh] part of the political landscape and he plays a role,” McCain said. I think McCain is way off base here.

Republicans might shake in their boots at Rush’s bellowing, but Limbaugh has very little influence politically. 128.5 million votes were cast in the last election, and Limbaugh has around 20 million listeners, virtually all like minded Republicans. His audience is made up of the hardcore Obama hater. These are people who voted for McCain, and would not support Obama under any circumstances. If Obama was a Republican, it would be a mistake to mention Limbaugh by name, but the president actually has a lot to gain by using Rush as an example of old politics.

Obama gained points with Independents and Democrats who are turned off by Limbaugh’s rhetoric. Rush is the polar opposite of Obama. He sees politics as a black or white, zero sum game. Rush Limbaugh is the biggest symbol of the old politics and partisan gridlock out there right now. His popularity is built on conflict. If both parties would start getting along, he would have nothing to talk about. It was a mistake for Obama to mention Rush in the sense that he gave him material for his show.

President Obama has nothing to fear from Rush Limbaugh. What is Rush going to do? Is he going to mobilize his already anti-Obama Republican listenership to vote against him? Rush’s power exists in his own mind. The president should be above invoking specific host names, and I dispute McCain’s description of Obama taking on Limbaugh. He did no such thing. He only mentioned him by name. It is Limbaugh who has been trying to fuel a feud. The fact that Republicans are afraid of a talk show host says more about the state of their party, than it does about the power of Limbaugh.

McCain Quotes

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Biden: More Tax Cuts Could Be Coming to Stimulus Package

Jan 29 2009 Published by under Featured News

In an interview with CNBC that airs tonight Vice President Joe Biden said that more possible changes to the economic stimulus bill going through Congress right now could include more infrastructure spending and tax cuts.

Biden promised that there would be changes to the bill, “Well, my guess is you’re going to see maybe some additional infrastructure spending, you may see some changes in some of the things that have been put forward by the House in terms of spending, and maybe even some changes in the tax side. But look…” Harwood asked about more tax cuts, and Biden continued, “Well, I–that may occur. But here’s where we are. You have, as–for a city that did not function for eight years in terms of any kind of bipartisan consensus, any kind of real coordination, here we are, God willing, with less than, you know, 20 days in the first session, passing the most significant stimulus package in the history of the United States of America.”

If you read between the lines a bit, you can see that the White House isn’t exactly happy about some of the spending the House Democrats added to the bill, “Did it spend out every way we want to? I mean, for example, you have a circumstance where you want to make sure you don’t create, as they say, a tail. You don’t want to start a spending program that locks you into long, long-term spending. And the other side of it is you’d also like to be able to–if you could write it as, you know, there was no Congress, you just write it yourself, you could–you would like to have significant reforms built into this as well.”

I think adding a few more tax cuts, and cutting some of the fat out of this bill would be good enough to garner some conservative Democratic and Republican votes for final passage. The White House appears to almost be counting on the Senate to reshape the bill more to their liking. As I have suggested before, I think this bill should be focused on only economic stimulus. There will time later to consider other unrelated programs. The bill can’t be all spending, or all tax cuts. It has to be a balance of both, or it won’t work.

Full Transcript of the Biden CNBC Interview

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Obama is rooting for the Steelers in the Super Bowl

Jan 29 2009 Published by under Featured News

After lambasting Wall Street bankers for giving themselves $18 billion in bonuses while taking federal bailout money, Obama was asked Cards or Steelers in the Super Bowl? The president wished Arizona well, but said that he is a Steelers fan.

“I have to say, you know, I wish the Cardinals the best. Kurt Warner is a great story and he’s closer to my age than anybody else on the field, but I am a long-time Steelers fan. Mr. Rooney, the owner, was just an extraordinary supporter during the course of the campaign. Franco Harris was campaigning for me in Pittsburgh. So –.”

Biden then reminded Obama that Steelers Coach Mike Tomlin also supported him. Obama continued, “Right, Coach Tomlin was a supporter. So I — you know, I wish the best to the Cardinals. They’ve been long-suffering; it’s a great Cinderella story. But other than the Bears, the Steelers are probably the team that’s closest to my heart.”

With this announcement President Obama will never have to worry about winning another vote in Western Pennsylvania again. He will have no trouble here ever again. Obama did get a ton of public support from Steelers owner Dan Rooney. This was newsworthy because Mr. Rooney has never been very public about his usually conservative views. However, Rooney has long been a progressive voice of equality in the NFL, so it wasn’t a surprise that Obama would strike an emotional chord with him.

As a Bears fan, it makes sense for Obama to like the Steelers. The Steelers and Bears play the same tough blue collar style of football. The differences between the two franchises are that the Steelers have Big Ben and defensive coordinator Dick LeBeau, while the Bears can’t seem to find or keep a quarterback healthy. I must say that it is nice to have a full blown sports fan in the White House.

Obama Remarks on the Steelers

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McConnell Warns Republicans about Becoming a Regional Party

Jan 29 2009 Published by under Featured News

Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell delivered a strong political message to his fellow Republicans today in a speech where he warned them that they are becoming a regional party.

According to the WSJ Washington Wire blog, McConnell warned that many groups have stopped paying attention to the GOP, “We’re all concerned about the fact that the very wealthy and the very poor, the most and least educated, and a majority of minority voters, seem to have more or less stopped paying attention to us. And we should be concerned that, as a result of all this, the Republican Party seems to be slipping into a position of being more of a regional party than a national one.”

He said that the party needs to reexamine itself, “In politics, there’s a name for a regional party: it’s called a minority party. And I didn’t sign up to be a member of a regional party. I know no one in this room did either. As Republicans, we know that commonsense conservative principles aren’t regional. But I think we have to admit that our sales job has been. And in my view, that needs to change. Every so often, there comes a time when a political party has to reexamine itself. For Republicans, now is such a time.”

McConnell said that his party needs to be more open to diverse viewpoints, “We need to show … that our policies are developed with a human being in view, not just an abstract principle. As we do this, we should avoid the false choice of being a party of moderates or conservatives. America is diverse. The two major parties should be too. But this doesn’t mean turning our backs on commonsense conservatism, or tailoring our positions to suit particular groups. Our principles are universal. They apply to everyone.”

For almost two decades the Republican Party has been becoming more regionalized. The problem for the GOP is that their region of influence has been consistently shrinking over the last 5 years. McConnell seems to grasp the fact that Republicans also have a fresh start right now. They should not agree with Obama on everything, but becoming the party of no is the sure way to regionalize the GOP.

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GOP: Creative People Are Useless

Jan 29 2009 Published by under Featured News

The conservative consensus is creative people can’t change shit. Big Business however, now that’s where its at.

It was reported this afternoon that Republicans believe President Obama’s stimulus bill contains wasteful spending. The National Endowment for the Arts was named, as their 50 billion dollar funding from this stimulus bill is considered, by conservatives, wasteful. The NEA is arguably the leading organization for the arts and arts education.

I made a promise to myself not to quote a bunch of numbers and stats. That tends to get boring. So I will keep it to the next paragraph only.

Most (if not all) NEA groups presented with funds are non-profit organizations. Not mentioned, or perhaps even known, by Republicans is that grants awarded by the NEA will generate 600-700 million dollars, and match federal support ten to one.* Not only that, but NEA programs like The Big Read help reduce illiteracy rates by introducing reading for enlightenment and pleasure to parents, who in turn make reading more of a priority in their household.

But check this out: The NEA also gives a hand to both domestic and international artists, with domestic artists having first acknowledgement. Additionally, using a grant from the NEA, a healthcare database for artists and people working in the entertainment industry was created by the Actors’ Fund of America. And since then has expanded to include resources for the self-employed, low-income, under insured, and uninsured. Plus, they have awarded at least one grant to EVERY congressional district in the United States. That’s pretty impressive.

From these grants a community develops and over the years reflects our economic climate. Many non-profit publications using their platform to spread the creative word have ceased production. Considering that other publications, nonprofits, colleges, and self-employed individuals advertise in their pages, producing revenue for all involved, the realization of what’s occurring hurts even more. This is somewhat common in the publishing world, yes, but the number of publications ceasing has risen, and with speed.

The majority of individuals receiving grants are either studying to become teachers, or are teachers themselves. This becomes a double pronged attack on our failing school systems, because these individuals also tend to run non-profit organizations—like 826LA, a drop-in writing and tutoring center with satellite locations in San Francisco and Seattle, to name a few cities. These organizations provide a much needed supplemental backbone for our educational sectors.

Now, I mention all of this so that an understanding of the Republican stance comes clear: the arts are not truly important. It could be debated that a bigger allowance of artists’ grants pales in the face of our economy—we need more focus and money going to big business; going to the people in higher positions who can stimulate what needs stimulating.

Hmm… If a fractured building is causing the ground to crumble, then you not only reinforce the structure itself, but also the foundation. Meaning, to fix our problem you don’t just begin at the top trying to fix problems, you bring in a whole crew to work on the overall site.

Art, in all its forms, has always been for the people. It can be done by anyone, anywhere, and needs not a thing except the passion to create. But it appears (as it always was, but is just now becoming perfectly clear), that politicians in Washington (and locally) are aligning themselves with the views of an old Secretary of Treasury, Alexander Hamilton. He believed “that government must ally itself with the richest elements of society to make itself strong”.*

Sound familiar?

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1: Gioia, Dana. “Chairman’s Statement”. National Endowment of the Arts. 28 January 2009

2: Zinn, Howard. A People’s History of the United States 1492-Present. First Perennial Classics edition. New York: HarperCollins Publishers, 2001.

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Obama Praises While Republicans Bash House Passage of Stimulus Bill

Jan 28 2009 Published by under Featured News

President Obama put out a statement tonight praising the House of Representatives for passing an $819 billion economic stimulus bill, but Republicans still oppose anything but more tax cuts.

Not a single House Republican voted for the bill, but that didn’t stop Obama from maintaining his bipartisan tone, “That is why I am grateful to the House of Representatives for moving the American Recovery and Reinvestment plan forward today. There are many numbers in this plan. It will double our capacity to generate renewable energy. It will lower the cost of health care by billions and improve its quality. It will modernize thousands of classrooms and send more kids to college. And it will put billions of dollars in immediate tax relief into the pockets of working families. But out of all these numbers, there is one that matters most to me: this recovery plan will save or create more than three million new jobs over the next few years.”

However, Republicans are pushing for less spending and more tax cuts. Rep. Mike Pence (R-IN), who has been all over the cable news networks opposing the bill for the past few days said, “The Democrat bill won’t stimulate anything but more government and more debt. The slow and wasteful spending in the House Democrat bill is a disservice to millions of Americans who want to see this Congress take immediate action to get this economy moving again. House Republicans have a better solution. By enacting the Republican plan for fast-acting tax relief for working families and small businesses the American people will see immediate results that will put our nation on the road to recovery.”

“Unnecessary government spending and increased debt are simply not the answer to our economic woes. If that were the case, then the current national deficit would be enough to ensure our economic strength for decades to come,” Blunt said. “The best way to stimulate the economy is to get the government out of your wallet by providing immediate tax relief. The government wildly spending a trillion dollars won’t create new jobs and only hurts our economy in the long run.”

Now the bill heads to the Senate where it is a certainty that it will be reshaped, and some of the fat that House Democrats added will be cut out. If House Republicans want to keep living the fantasy that tax cuts can cure everything that is their problem. By the time the final bill comes out of the conference committee, it will look much different than what was passed today. Government can’t limit their options to either spending or tax cuts, but a combination of both just might work.

Rep. Blunt Statement

Rep. Pence Statement

Obama Statement

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Endangered: Republicans Only Have an Advantage in 5 States

Jan 28 2009 Published by under Featured News

A new Gallup analysis of their 2008 polling data has found that not only has the electoral map shifted towards the Democratic Party, but also that states with a Republican advantage are becoming an endangered species. Only Utah, Wyoming, Alaska, Idaho, and Nebraska have more registered Republicans than Democrats.

Today’s results were the first in a four part series to be released on Gallup.com. Democrats now hold a voter registration advantage in 35 states, 10 states are considered up for grabs, and Republicans only have an advantage in the five abovementioned states. Four of the strongest of the Democratic states are not surprisingly, in New England (Rhode Island, Vermont, Connecticut, and Massachusetts). The rest are predictable Democratic strongholds (Illinois, New York, Delaware, Maryland, Hawaii, and the District of Columbia).

Twenty nine states were found to have a Democratic advantage of 10 or more points. What has to be troubling for the Republican Party is the possibility that the South is trending away from them. North Carolina, Arkansas, and Kentucky all have double digit Democratic voter affiliation advantages. However, John McCain won two of these three states in 2008, along with West Virginia which has a 19 point Democratic advantage.

It can be argued that in states like West Virginia and Kentucky race played a role in pushing white voters towards McCain. Believe it or not, by these numbers, McCain did well to win 22 states. Barack Obama deserves the credit for pushing this movement of voters towards the Democrats into hyper speed, but voters have been trending away from the Republican Party since 2004. Democrats traditionally have had an advantage in terms of party affiliation. Republicans were able to close the gap with a superior voter turnout operation. This changed in 2008 as the Obama machine turned out Democrats in massive numbers.

The lesson here for Republicans should be that can’t choose presidential nominees who appeal strictly to the party base. The base is not large enough for them to win a presidential election. Republicans need candidates that appeal to Independents and conservative Democrats. The problem is that the base that controls the nominating process favors evangelical hardliners like Sarah Palin and Mike Huckabee. Until Republicans move back to the middle, Democrats are going to continue winning elections.

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Stimulate THIS

Jan 28 2009 Published by under U.S. Supreme Court, White House

In regards to President Obama’s new stimulus package, Ohio Republican House Minority Leader John Boehner “appeared before reporters Tuesday morning [and] applauded Obama’s planned meeting with congressional Republicans, but reiterated his belief that the bill, as currently drafted, would significantly add to the debt while failing to spark sufficient job creation.”*1

Boehner’s fellow Republican and member of the House GOP leadership Mike Pence added, “The current version of the bill “won’t stimulate anything except more government and more debt.”*2

Hmm… for the first time since 1977, unemployment is up in all 50 states. Did the Bailout package stimulate the economy? Didn’t CitiGroup just attempt to buy a 45 million dollar luxury jet? Didn’t AIG Executives spend 440,000 dollars on a retreat? Aren’t the same gentlemen who captained our economic ship into the breakwater still at the helm? When the elites are receiving the money, it is approved in two weeks. When there is talk of the people receiving these funds, there is a stigma attached—somehow they are not trusted to spend money wisely. One of the Republican plans to stimulate the economy is opening the doors for more federal loans by lowering the qualifiers which screen out borrowers who have no business borrowing, making these loans more enticing.

Same ol’ system that got us here in the first place.

Loans are problematic. An example is when “bankers [give] themselves large salaries and generous bonuses, at the same time they are lending millions of dollars on what … [are] essentially parcels of bare dirt with little potential of big income.”*3

The American institution of debt, of spending debt, ‘liquid money’ at work.

“Silver State and others loaned money on the promise of Las Vegas’ commercial real estate boom … Records show that land and houses were being “flipped” or resold over and over at huge profits.”*4

The Obama Administration’s stimulus plan deconstructs to these semi-basic points: money goes to the states to help reduce their debt, to help reinvest in their infrastructure. Money goes to business to promote growth and hiring. Money goes to Food Stamps, WIC, Medicaid and unemployment benefits.

Some of the debates referencing unemployment benefits and Food Stamps not stimulating the economy are debated from an impatient standpoint. The point of these programs is to ensure people are capable of becoming stable. This leads to a stimulated economy. Beyond the capitalist ideas that funds should be funneled to those in the position to produce pure growth, it’s apt for Republicans to remember money often wasted on pet projects and padded pockets, can serve as support for struggling citizens. It would be wise to not forget the core of America are its people, and a people beaten down into complacency is not the sort of complacency the elites want, as it is likely to breed resentment laden revolutionary ideas, where the government’s current incarnation doesn’t remain intact. Think they’re ready that?

by Michael James Martin

1 & 2: Brianna Keillar, Ed Henry, Dana Bash, Deirdre Walsh, Catherine Clifford. “Obama tells GOP no compromise on tax rebates.” CNNpolitics.com 1 January 28 2009/POLITICS/01/27/obama.meetings/index.html>

3 & 4: Drew Griffin and David Fitzpatrick. “Small bank’s meteoric rise eclipsed by collapse.” CNN.com 1 January 27

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