Economic Egress

The next time someone tries to tell you that Obama is destroying the country, or that his administration will be the ruin of us all, please point them at this handy chart. The Democrats should have this printed on t-shirts, bumper stickers and anywhere else they possibly can. It speaks volumes, especially about the economic policies of so-called “fiscal conservatives”. It’s simply the best chart I’ve seen in years.

Radio Host Mancow Waterboarded

Even though right-wing TV personality Sean Hannity is too afraid to follow through on his promise to be water boarded on air, others aren’t. Witness this incredible display by conservative shock-jock Erich “Mancow” Muller having himself water boarded. After lasting only 6-7 seconds he reverses his opinion on the subject and declares without a doubt that the procedure is indeed torture. Are you listening Mr. Cheney?

Sean Hannity will never allow himself to be water boarded on television or on his radio show. If he were, he would be be forced to admit that his position on the treatment is wrong and that water boarding is, in fact, torture. Hannity is a transparent coward who has no right to speak on the subject until he submits to the same treatment that Erich Muller does here. Time to step up Sean.

[hat tip to Andrew Sullivan for this post]

Perspective

There’s a chart of job losses in the current economic downturn that has been making its way around the internet. While the data the chart shows is pretty scary, like most statistics it represents only a small slice of how we arrived where we are. I’ve been hearing of conservatives who are up-in-arms over Obama’s spending and how the economy is tanking because of his so-called “socialistic programs”, so I decided to add a bit of data to the chart to help gain some useful perspective. Adding the lens of history to the chart, we see (click to enlarge):

The country has been shedding jobs at a historic rate for over a year but during all that time, what did Bush do to stop the bleeding? He cut taxes for the wealthiest 2% of Americans. And when that didn’t stem the tide, he didn’t change course, he instead sought to make those tax cuts permanent. Now those very same tax cut & borrow Republicans have the indignant gaul to berate a President who has been in office less than a single financial quarter? I didn’t hear conservatives throwing “tea-parties” when the Congress was asked to appropriate billions of dollars over and over again for a war of choice in a foreign land. Those funds went down a massive black hole that will never be seen again and yet when Obama asks conservative Americans to do their part and pitch in for the good of ALL of Americans here at home, suddenly they have a problem.

Nate Silver worked out that even with the current state of the stock market and declining retirement accounts, the majority of Americans are willing to give the President 12-18 months before they consider the economy “his”. That means Obama has several months to turn things around, not six weeks as some would like us to believe. A little perspective, every now and then, is a good thing. Try and remember that.

UPDATE: More perspective courtesy of Crooks & Liars who link to a graph of the Dow from all of last year. They note that the stock market lost more than HALF of its value from May of 2008 to November, all under George W. Bush. All this and yet conservatives are convinced that Obama’s newly implemented policies are what’s scaring the pants off investors. I suppose once Obama turns the economy around, that’ll be Bush’s doing too.

O-Day +1

So after yesterday’s celebration, today Barack Obama got down to business. Not wanting to waste any time, Obama took off his coat, sat down in the Oval Office and started doing good things immediately. In case you missed it, here’s some of the awesome stuff President Obama got accomplished on day one:

• In order to set a good example for the country during this time of economic crisis, Obama froze the pay for many members of his administration making over $100,000 a year. Unlike the previous administration, evidently the buck stops here.

• Obama introduced sweeping new ethics reform for how lobbyists can function in his administration. The new rules Obama laid out seem pretty obvious now, but for some reason were never put into practice by previous administrations.

• Put the wheels in motion to get Gitmo closed within a year. Given how poorly the military tribunals there have been received by world governments, human rights groups and Americans at large, restoring captive’s rights toward a fair trial is critical to regaining the moral high ground.

• He pissed off Rush Limbaugh by issuing a Presidential memo restoring transparency to any and all White House records. Obama made it a point of distinction that his administration would function under the notion of more openness, not less. Secrecy, while important, should only be invoked in matters of national security or high sensitivity. Rush said on his radio show today that he’s worried the new openness will make it easier for people to dig up Bush misdeeds. You don’t say Rush, really?

• Obama re-took the oath of office late today after the botched job by Justice Roberts during the inauguration. Although he most likely didn’t have to, he none-the-less did and thereby corked any possible dispute that might have arisen from the incorrect oath he took yesterday. Obama’s willingness to correct a small error like this speaks volumes about how different he is from George W. Bush.

Five positive steps in one day. Not bad Mr. President, not bad. If you keep this up, you just may live up to all the hype. Color me impressed.

Our Long, National Nightmare Is Over

He entered office in a storm of controversy, taking the White House thanks to the Supreme Court’s willingness to stop counting votes. He inherited one of the largest budget surpluses of any President in history and somehow managed to squander it away. He and his administration ignored the danger signs Bin Laden and Al qaeda were sending for almost a year, until it was far too late.

From that fateful day in Sepetember of 2001, the Bush Administration took only a single seed, terror, and used it to twist and pervert much of what has made this country great. It suddenly became “dangerous” to criticize the government, be it on public streets, in blogs or in the media. As false intelligence was laid at the feet of the UN and the American people by people like Dick Cheney and Colin Powell, Bush and his administration seized the moment. They launched a war based solely on what they, in their own minds, willed into existence. Five years later over 4,500 brave men and women have paid the ultimate price as the result.

Back at home, the man from Texas used fear of the war, in combination with cowardly and like-minded individuals to plant more seeds of doubt. Those seeds grew and choked an American patriot named John Kerry to help Bush win re-election in 2004. But Bush’s new found “political capitol” quickly turned rancid in scandal after scandal – Hurricane Katrina, Valarie Plame, Harriet Miers, Abu Ghraib, the Dubai Ports deal, no-bid contracts, the War on Science, Pat Tillman & Jessica Lynch, rendition, waterboarding, wiretapping, Walter Reed, the US Attorney scandal, the suspension of Habeas Corpus, unprecedented secrecy, “free speech” zones, $12 billion lost in Iraq, Bin Laden never captured or killed and many, many more.

Bush continually traded his folksy southern charm for intelligence. He had difficulty stringing together coherent sentences, relied on a “turd blossom” to continually confirm his world view and once proudly insisted that he didn’t bother to “read newspapers”. He surrounded himself with lackeys and yes-men who never questioned his judgment or response to any crisis. The media, which had rolled-over for him during the Iraq war, suddenly seized every opportunity to make up for their previous failures and began to grow a pair. As his approval ratings plummeted to depths not seen since Nixon, Bush went about his business, people lost their privacy, their jobs, their homes and their rights.

Defiant to the end, Bush set out to enact laws in his final days in office designed to make Obama’s job difficult and perpetuate his policy long after he leaves. In his final press conference Bush even stubbornly insisted that the federal response to the Katrina disaster wasn’t as bad as everyone thought. This despite the fact that even to this day, New Orleans struggles to survive and will never return to the thriving city it once was.

As he leaves office this Tuesday, January 20th, 2009 and the nation’s attitude towards him begins to be blurred by the soft focus of the past, never forget what he has done. Someone once said that those who forget history are doomed to repeat it. I can say unequivocally, I have no interest what-so-ever in repeating the last eight years. Thankfully, the seeds Bush planted so many years ago have finally begun to wither and die and we as a nation are far better for it. To George W. Bush I respectfully say goodbye, farewell and amen.

UPDATE: Leave it to Keith Olbermann to sum up the timeline of the worst President of the United States like no one else can. Bush’s 8 years in 8 minutes is positively damning in so many ways it’s hard to describe. If you voted for Bush, or are among the 23% of American’s who still support what he did in office, swallow your prideful arrogance and go watch it. You need to get a clue.

Cavuto & Stein Are Fools

Found this stinging video via Andrew Sullivan and just had to share. GOP and FOX News pundants like to promote the myth that no one could have predicted the current disastrous state of the economy. Well, evidently economist Peter Schiff did, a full 2 years ago. Check out this assortment of clips from his various appearances on FOX News and how the organization treated him and his realistic assessment of the bleak future of our economy. It’s a bit long, so if you want the best bit, start at the 4:00 mark to see Ben Stein & Neil Cavuto totally underestimate the scope and depth of the problem. It’s damning:

FOX, like George W. Bush has a habit of surrounding itself with lackeys and “yes men” and stuff like this is the result. Hopefully the new President-Elect knows there is value in taking off the rose colored glasses and telling the American people how it is. We’re in it deep now and with hard work and sacrifice we’ll find a way out sooner rather than later. Unfortunately, people like Cavuto, Stein & others were part of the problem, not the preventative solution we needed.

Is It January 20th, 2009 Yet?

Word today from the Washington Post that the new President-elect has had a team of advisors scouring the record for actions and executive orders that Obama could act quickly to undo once he’s sworn in:

“Transition advisers to President-elect Barack Obama have compiled a list of about 200 Bush administration actions and executive orders that could be swiftly undone to reverse the president on climate change, stem cell research, reproductive rights and other issues, according to congressional Democrats, campaign aides and experts working with the transition team.

A team of four dozen advisers, working for months in virtual solitude, set out to identify regulatory and policy changes Obama could implement soon after his inauguration. The team is now consulting with liberal advocacy groups, Capitol Hill staffers and potential agency chiefs to prioritize those they regard as the most onerous or ideologically offensive, said a top transition official who was not permitted to speak on the record about the inner workings of the transition.”

Something tells me Barack Obama is going to be an effective leader. I’ll be keeping tabs on him in the weeks, months and years ahead, but this bit of news is encouraging. Bush’s war on science, civil liberties and the environment all need to be met head on and reversed where ever possible. It appears Obama is taking his first steps to undo the gigantic mess George W. Bush plunged this country into. As far as I’m concerned, the inauguration can’t come soon enough.

True Change

This seriously has to be the best video of the entire campaign season. This is so funny I nearly wet my pants. Like most comedy it’s funny because it’s true.

Why Palin Lost

The much anticipated Vice Presidential debate is now past us and I have to say I’m relieved. Relieved because quite frankly Sarah Palin has been an unknown quantity up to this point, but no longer. Last night she proved to me, and millions of Americans, that she really isn’t ready to be VP.

I give her major props for actually putting in a credible performance in last night’s debate. Stylistically she was friendly, approachable and down to earth. Unlike McCain with Obama, Palin looked Biden in the eye, and gave him credit for his positions on several occasions. But as the debate wore on, it was clear Palin was speaking from wrote. She didn’t answer the questions put to her, she mispronounced critical names and couldn’t keep up with Biden on important topics like nuclear proliferation and the economy.

The people this morning that are telling you Sarah won the debate are the same ones who went into the event white knuckled. They were scared beyond belief that the “Katie Couric” Palin would show up. You know, the one that couldn’t form complete thoughts, couldn’t name one periodical she’s read and didn’t know any Supreme Court decisions beyond Roe v Wade. So expectations were sufficiently lowered that supporters now feel confident saying Palin “mopped the floor” with Biden. It simply isn’t so, and in fact, just the opposite happened.

Here are just some reasons why Palin lost last night’s debate:

• Calling Afghanistan’s commander McKiernan “General McClellan” repeatedly and then lying about what he said on how an Iraqi surge “won’t work” in Afghanistan.

• Wanting to give the Vice President even “more power” in the US Senate. Biden killed her on this particular question. Palin’s surrogates disagreed with her take. The answer Biden gave was frank and reassuring. Palin’s reinforced the Bush policy of the Unitary Executive.

Misunderstanding and then glossing over questions about a nuclear Iran to get to prepared answers to her own questions on a completely different subject.

• Over-use of “maverick”. She said it like 5 times in the last 15 minutes, until Biden had simply enough.

• Her rambling, incoherent answer on climate change. She clearly doesn’t understand or won’t admit the problem.

• It’s “blunders” Sarah, not “blenders”.

• “I’ve only been at this what, five weeks?” That admission was a huge mistake. It will be played in TV and radio ads just like Obama’s multiple “McCain was right” lines. Yes, she has only been at this five weeks and it shows.

• She decries the media “filter” and wants to answer more of American’s questions directly but won’t agree to a general press conference. What’s up with that?

If the first and only Vice Presidential debate had been purely about style over substance then yes, Palin might have won. Americans however, were looking for cues to reassure them that Palin deserves the position that John McCain awarded her. They were not simply watching to see Wasilla Sarah’s folksy mannerism, “gosh darn-its” and winks to the camera. They came to learn if Palin had the stuff to take over as leader of the free world should something happen to a 72 year old man with a history of health problems. They didn’t get what they wanted.

Dumb & Dumber

What a week it’s been. Threats of America turning back to the economic equivalent of the stone age. A main course of showboating with a side of grandstanding from McCain and an interview so embarrassing from Palin that even conservative columnists are afraid to turn their TV’s sound on. All this, and it’s only Friday. First, this lovely bit from the New York Times about McCain’s last minute stunt to push election momentum in his favor:

“Instead he [McCain] found himself in the midst of a remarkable partisan showdown, lacking a clear public message for how to bring it to an end.

At the bipartisan White House meeting that Mr. McCain had called for a day earlier, he sat silently for more than 40 minutes, more observer than leader, and then offered only a vague sense of where he stood, said people in the meeting.

Still, by nightfall, the day provided the younger and less experienced Mr. Obama an opportunity to, in effect, shift roles with Mr. McCain. For a moment, at least, it was Mr. Obama presenting himself as the old hand at consensus building, and as the real face of bipartisan politics.”

Let’s be clear about this. McCain didn’t “suspend” his so-called campaign so that he could “get things done”. He grandstanded and used the crisis this week to inject himself directly into a situation for the sole purpose of taking wind out of Obama’s sails. His last minute break-up of the about-to-be-signed bill is proof of that. He says he puts country first, but his actions at the White House yesterday prove this to be a lie of the highest order. He’s quite literally risking all our livelihoods on a grab for power and it disgusts me.

Then there is his sad excuse for a running mate, Sarah Palin. First she didn’t know what the Bush Doctrine was, then she sat down for a glass of warm milk and cookies interview with Sean Hannity, and now she makes a fool of herself with Katie Couric. Republican columnist Kathleen Parker tells the truth that dare not speak its name:

“Palin’s recent interviews with Charles Gibson, Sean Hannity and now Katie Couric have all revealed an attractive, earnest, confident candidate. Who Is Clearly Out Of Her League.

No one hates saying that more than I do. Like so many women, I’ve been pulling for Palin, wishing her the best, hoping she will perform brilliantly. I’ve also noticed that I watch her interviews with the held breath of an anxious parent, my finger poised over the mute button in case it gets too painful. Unfortunately, it often does. My cringe reflex is exhausted.

Only Palin can save McCain, her party and the country she loves. She can bow out for personal reasons, perhaps because she wants to spend more time with her newborn. No one would criticize a mother who puts her family first.

Do it for your country.”

Ouch. Something tells me things are going to get a hell of a lot worse for McCain / Palin before they get better.