Sunday, November 30, 2008

Obama Ignores Hispanics in Cabinet Picks

President-elect Obama has not chosen any Hispanics is top cabinet post picks, including snubbing Governor Bill Richardson. Latino voters were instrumental in the new President's election. Not to mention that Richardson supported Obama during the primaries and was called a traitor for doing so. He proved his loyalty, not Hillary. Why is he ignoring them?

If there is one message President-elect Barack Obama’s transition team has broadcast about Cabinet picks, it is that ethnicity and gender will not be the first considerations when filling the slots.

Credentials over tokenism, after all, was a fundamental principle of Obama’s presidential campaign that highlighted his ideas and community values over his African-American background. Still, if all goes as planned, Cabinet members with hefty résumés will present a picture of diversity.

Hispanic political leaders agree. Their expectations for seats at the president’s top policy table are not about meeting quotas but about advancing the reality that within this fastest-growing ethnic group are seasoned policy experts who understand the economic, foreign and domestic policy concerns shared by everyone.

Obama promised hope and change, and Hispanics hoped for the usual two Latinos in the Cabinet. And heck, why not three or four? Now that would be a change.

But at this early stage in the appointments process, there is a trickle of disappointment running through the Latino community.

First, the most prominent Hispanic leader, New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson, lost the plum secretary of state assignment to New York Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton. Last spring, Richardson angered the Clintonistas by backing Obama over Clinton during the heated Democratic Primary contest, only to now see her being offered the top diplomatic post.

“There’s nobody more prepared and experienced” for the job than Richardson, said Arturo Vargas, executive director of the National Association of Latino Elected and Appointed Officials. Richardson was energy secretary and ambassador to the United Nations during the Clinton administration, and he helped free hostages in North Korea, Iraq and Cuba.

Bush had more hispanic-Americans in his cabinet than Obama. How could the multi-cultural, inclusive Obama be less diverse than the Republican Bush?
If the president-elect fails to deliver, he and his Latino surrogates will be held accountable. If Obama doesn't at least match President Bush's good record of Latino appointments, they will have "problemas" explaining it to their own constituents.

Yet as more and more people are appointed -- or reported to be shoo-ins for various nominations -- the cards being drawn have only black and white faces. The brown-faced cards are not coming up.

In fact, the main card Latinos have in this game -- bearing the face of New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson -- has been switched.

Instead of secretary of state, which is the job Richardson is most qualified to fill and the high-level appointment Latinos expected from Obama, it looks as if Richardson will be relegated to commerce secretary.

Ironically, Sen. Hillary Clinton, the presidential candidate who enjoyed the most Hispanic support during the primaries, is now the leading candidate for the high-level job that could have gone to a Latino. Richardson, a former Cabinet member under President Clinton, was called a traitor for supporting Obama over Clinton during the Democratic primaries. Now it is Clinton who is getting the secretary of state position, the job Richardson wanted, and it is Latinos who still are waiting for the appointments they feel they earned on Election Day.

To do better than recent presidents, Obama would have to name a significant number of Latinos not only to his inner circle of White House advisers and his Cabinet but also throughout his administration. According to a Brookings Institution study, in 1993, 6 percent of President Clinton's initial round of appointments went to Latinos. In 2001, Latinos got 8 percent of President Bush's appointments.

In 2009 will Obama do better? He should! More Latinos voted for him than for any other president.

Of course, Obama himself helped to raise Latinos' expectations. "When I'm president, I'll be asking many of you to serve at every level of government," Obama said during a speech to the Congressional Hispanic Caucus Institute in September.

Meet The Press Transcript (11-30-08)

First lady Laura Bush and Ted Turner appeared on Meet the Press this week. Read the complete transcript (11-30-08).

MS. BUSH: Life under the Taliban is so hard and repressive, even small displays of joy are outlawed--children aren't allowed to fly kites; their mothers face beatings for laughing out loud. Women cannot work outside the home, or even leave their homes by themselves. ... Only the terrorists and the Taliban forbid education to women. Only the terrorists and the Taliban threaten to pull out women's fingernails for wearing nail polish. The plight of women and children in Afghanistan is a matter of deliberate human cruelty, carried out by those who seek to intimidate and control. ... In America, next week brings Thanksgiving. After the events of the last few months, we'll be holding our families even closer. And we will be especially thankful for all the blessings of American life. I hope Americans will join our family in working to insure that dignity and opportunity will be secured for all the women and children of Afghanistan.

(End audiotape)

MR. BROKAW: Not too long after that, great progress was made in Afghanistan.

MS. BUSH: That's right.

MR. BROKAW: Women became involved in politics, they're members of the parliament. They've taken a much more active role in that country. But as we all know, the Taliban have come back into Afghanistan in larger numbers, and now there were 15 schoolgirls that were attacked...

MS. BUSH: That's right.

MR. BROKAW: ...with acid in Kandahar just recently. Some arrests have been made...

MS. BUSH: Mm-hmm.

MR. BROKAW: ...but that's pretty discouraging, isn't it?

MS. BUSH: It is discouraging. But on the other hand, there has been lots of progress. Are there steps back? Yes. And they're terrible, brutal happenings like the girls who were just walking to school and were targeted just because they were going to school, and disfigured with acid. The really good news is these--the people who did it have been arrested. There is an Afghan police force now and an Afghan army that are building up to be able to protect the people of Afghanistan internally like the--like we want them to. We all want them to. And there are many, many signs of progress. When I was in Bamiyan this year I met with a governor, female governor, I met with female police officers. Are there--are women afraid to step out and have some of these roles? Sure, to some extent they are. But these sort of happenings are more isolated than they sound when we read about them in the newspaper, because they are so horrific when we read about it.

MR. BROKAW: And it's much worse in the south and in the rural areas...

MS. BUSH: That's right.

MR. BROKAW: ...than it is in the north.

MS. BUSH: That's--and Kabul is in much better shape, I think, than it has been. Violence is down there in the city. But in certain parts of Afghanistan, because there are still so many very conservative people, women themselves are afraid. I met with a group of women, parliamentarians, members of parliament, who were in the United States recently, and they said, "This is our chance, and if we don't take this chance, if we don't succeed now then when will we ever be able to?" And I think the main thing that that says to me is that we need to stay with them, we have to continue to support them.

Recently when there was a terrorist bombing in Afghanistan, a group of people--1,000 protesters actually came out to protest. Most people in Afghanistan want to be able to build their country, live a decent life, not be afraid of a terrorist attack, and the fact is we just need to keep working with them so they can do it.

Friday, November 28, 2008

Food Prices on The Rise

Why are food/grocery prices on the rise when the price for everything else are going down?

Watch CBS Videos Online

President-elect Obama News Conference (11-26-08)

Obama held his 4th press/news conference as President elect on Wednesday (11-26-08). Read the complete transcript.

PRESIDENT-ELECT OBAMA: It has been increasingly clear in recent months -- and we saw some additional reports this morning -- that we're facing an economic crisis of historic proportions. And at this defining moment in our nation's history, the old ways of thinking and the old ways of acting just won't do. We're called to seek fresh thinking and bold new ideas from the leading minds across America. And as we chart a course to economic recovery, we must ensure that our government -- your government -- is held accountable for delivering results.

Today, I'm pleased to announce the formation of a new institution to help our economic team accomplish these goals: the President's Economic Recovery Advisory Board. This board is modeled on the President's Foreign Intelligence Advisory Board created by President Eisenhower to provide rigorous analysis and vigorous oversight to our intelligence community by individuals outside of government -- individuals who would be candid and unsparing in their assessment. This new board will perform a similar function for my administration as we formulate our economic policy.

The board will be composed of distinguished individuals from diverse backgrounds outside of government -- from business, labor, academia and other areas -- who will bring to bear their wisdom and expertise on the formulation, implementation and evaluation of my administration's economic recovery plan. The board will report regularly to me, Vice President-Elect Biden and our economic team as we seek to jump-start economic growth, create jobs, raise wages, address our housing crisis, and stabilize our financial markets.

Let me speak to why I think this is necessary. The reality is is that sometimes policymaking in Washington can become a little bit too ingrown, a little bit too insular. The walls of the echo chamber can sometimes keep out fresh voices and new ways of thinking. You start engaging in groupthink. And those who serve in Washington don't always have a ground-level sense of which programs and policies are working for people and businesses, and which aren't.

This board will provide that fresh perspective to me and my administration with an infusion of ideas from across the country and from all sectors of our economy, input that will be informed by members' firsthand observations of how our efforts are impacting the daily lives of our families.

I'm pleased to announce that this board will be chaired by one of the world's foremost economic policy experts, a former chairman of the Federal Reserve and one of my most trusted advisors, Paul Volcker. Paul has been by my side throughout this campaign, providing a deep understanding of financial markets, extensive experience managing economic crises, and keen insight into the global nature of this particular crisis. Paul has served under both Republicans and Democrats, and is held in the highest esteem for his sound and independent judgment. He pulls no punches. He seems to be fairly opinionated. (Laughter.) He has a long and distinguished record of service to our nation, and I am pleased that he's answered the call to serve once again.

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Laid-off Workers Riot in China: Video

Protests by Chinese workers is a rare site, especially when it becomes a riot. In this case it was laid-off workers from a toy factory. Video below:

Mumbai Terror Attacks Targeted Americans: Video

The terror attacks in the Indian city of Mumbai targeting Europeans and Americans is likely the work of al Qaeda or sympathizers. So far 125 have died in the attacks in involving Western catering luxuary hotels, Oberoi and Taj Mahal and a cafe. See the video below:

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

FBI Warns of Terror Plot Against NYC Subways During Holidays

The FBI is warning law enforcement authorities of a possible terror plot by al Qaeda directed against the New York City subways (which I ride every day) during the Christmas Holiday season. You can't dismiss this as another Bush scaremongering. The election is over and the Republicans lost. So maybe we should be concerned. And the administration wouldn't want to frighten shoppers during the holiday season. It could be just an al Qaeda scare tactic to hurt an already damaged economy. Then again we had plenty of warnings prior to 9-11. They just weren't made public or taken seriously. Bin Laden's organization would like to make itself relevant at a time when they are on the defensive.

Federal authorities are warning law enforcement personnel of a possible terror plot against the New York City subway system during the holiday season.

An internal memo obtained by The Associated Press says the FBI has received a "plausible but unsubstantiated" report that al-Qaida terrorists in late September may have discussed attacking the subway system.

Anti-terror agencies say they have no specific details to confirm the plot has moved "beyond aspirational planning," but are issuing the alert out of concern that an attack could come during the holiday season," warns the memo, which is dated Tuesday.

While federal agencies often issue all sorts of advisory warnings, the language of this one is particularly forceful.

President Obama Press Conference Transcript (11-25-08)

This was President elect Barack Obama's third press conference (11-25-08). Read the complete transcript.

PRESIDENT-ELECT OBAMA: Please be seated. Good morning, everybody.

Yesterday, we talked about the need to jumpstart our economy. I speak to you today mindful that we meet at a moment of great challenge for America, as our credit markets are stressed and our families are struggling.

But as difficult as these times are, I'm confident that we're going to rise to meet this challenge, if we're willing to band together and recognize that Wall Street cannot thrive so long as Main Street is struggling, if we're willing to summon a new spirit of ingenuity and determination and if Americans of great intellect, broad experience and good character are willing to serve in our government at its hour of need.

Yesterday, I announced four such Americans to help lead the economic team that will advise me as we seek to climb out of this crisis. Today, I'm pleased to announce two other key members of our team: Peter Orszag as director and Robert Nabors as deputy director of the Office of Management and Budget.

Now, before I explain why I selected these outstanding public servants, let me say a few words about the work that I'm asking them to undertake. As I said yesterday, the economic crisis we face demands that we invest immediately in a series of measures that will help save or create 2.5 million jobs and put tax cuts in the pockets of the hard-pressed middle class.

Many of those new jobs will come in areas -- such as energy independence, technology and health care modernization -- that will strengthen our economy over the long term. But if we are going to make the investments we need, we also have to be willing to shed the spending that we don't need.

In these challenging times, when we are facing both rising deficits and a sinking economy, budget reform is not an option. It's a necessity. We can't sustain a system that bleeds billions of taxpayer dollars, on programs that have outlived their usefulness or exist solely because of the power of politicians, lobbyists or interest groups. We simply can't afford it.

This isn't about big government or small government. It's about building a smarter government that focuses on what works. And that's why I will ask my team to think anew and act anew to meet our new challenges.

We are going to go through our federal budget, as I promised during the campaign, page by page, line by line, eliminating those programs we don't need and insisting that those that we do need operate in a sensible, cost-effective way.

Let me just give you one example of what I'm talking about. There's a report today that from 2003 to 2006, millionaire farmers received $49 million in crop subsidies even though they were earning more than the $2.5 million cutoff for such subsidies. If this is true -- and this was just a report this morning, but if it's true, it is a prime example of the kind of waste that I intend to end as president.

We're also going to focus on one of the biggest long-run challenges that our budget faces -- namely, the rising cost of health care in both the public and private sectors. This is not just a challenge, but also an opportunity to improve the health care that Americans rely on and to bring down the costs that taxpayers, businesses and families have to pay.

Now, that's what the Office of Management and Budget will do in my administration. It will not only help design a budget and manage its implementation, but it's also going to make sure that our government -- your government -- is more efficient and more effective at serving the American people.

There's no better person to help lead this effort as director of the OMB than my friend Peter Orszag. Peter's been one of our nation's leading voices on budgetary issues. It's said that a nation's budget reflects its values and its priorities. I believe that's true. And I know that Peter will bring to his work at the OMB a set of priorities that I and the American people share.

Throughout his career, he's made significant contributions in our understanding of all the major economic challenges that we're now confronting -- from reducing medical costs, to saving Social Security, to fighting global climate change, to helping put the dream of a college degree within the reach of more students.

As director of the Congressional Budget Office, he reenergized and reinvigorated the agency, while shifting its focus to confront the health care crisis that is not only a cause of so much suffering for so many families, but a rapidly growing portion of our budget and a drag on our entire economy.

U.S. Food Banks Can't Keep up with Demand

With stories that U.S. food banks can't keep up with the increase in people whom are going hungry, it's starting to look a lot like the Great Depression. And it will only get worse if something isn't done soon. Maybe some of those hundreds of billions could go towards feeding the needy. How about the wealthy chipping in? After all, many of the rich are responsible for the economic mess we're currently in.

Donations to many of the USA's food banks are not keeping pace with growing demand as the sour economy forces more people to seek help, charitable organizations say.

"We have seen a 100% increase in demand in the last year … and food donations have dropped precipitously," says Dana Wilkie, CEO of the Community Food Bank in Fresno, Calif.

The group, which distributes food to 200 food pantries and feeding centers, is supplying cheaper chickens instead of turkeys for Thanksgiving, she says.

Nationally, donations are up about 18%, but demand has grown 25%-40%, says Vicki Escarra of Feeding America, the USA's largest hunger-relief charity. Feeding America, formerly America's Second Harvest, has a network of 206 food banks.

About 70% of new clients are making their first visit to a food bank, Escarra says.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Federal Budget Deficit Could hit $1 Trillion this Year

The federal budget deficit could hit $1 trillion this year with more tax dollars going to bail out failed financial institutions. Very little of that money is going to help the average American. Those tax dollars should be reinvested into the economy to stimulate growth. In particular, the government (including local and state) should spend on rebuilding our dilapidated infrastructure which would increase employment thus stimulating the economy. Also more of those funds should go to help homeowners late paying their mortgages due to no fault of their own. As for Wall St. and the banks, they should get loans with strings attached. No bailouts. The goal must be economic growth. You can't get the economy going by creating more unemployment. Any government program/bailout should be for the purpose of stimulating economic growth not saving individual corporations or financial institutions.

The federal government's ledger has gone from a surplus just seven years ago to facing a prospect of a $1 trillion deficit next year.

Given those dire financial straits, President-elect Barack Obama said at a news conference Tuesday, "Budget reform is not an option. It's a necessity."

But unlike his predecessor President George W. Bush, who in better economic times talked about returning to surpluses by 2012, "balanced budgets" were not in Obama's vocabulary.

The government's first obligation, he said, was to spark an economic recovery and put people back to work. To do that, the Democratic-led Congress is expected to have a new stimulus package, costing in the $500 billion range, ready to go when Obama takes office in January.

That's on top of the hundreds of billions already spent or committed by Treasury and the Federal Reserve to revive the moribund financial markets. On Tuesday the government announced two new programs providing $800 billion to help unfreeze the market for consumer debt and to make mortgage loans cheaper and more available.

All that, in the short term, will send the deficit into the stratosphere.

Budget hawks were stunned when the federal deficit hit a record $455 billion in fiscal 2008, which ended Sept. 30, more than double the previous year's deficit. But now, even the fiscally conservative say another doubling, to $1 trillion or more, may be inevitable if the economy is to be rescued.

James Horney, director for federal fiscal policy at the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, said it was "pretty likely" that this year's deficit will approach $1 trillion. Big deficits can't be helped in bad times, he said, as the government is required to spend more to help the needy and stimulate the economy even as tax revenues decline.

"The question, of course, is what's the alternative?" Horney said. If the government doesn't move to stimulate the economy, "the outcome could be much worse."

Obama made clear Tuesday that he will take a hard look at the budget once the economic ship is righted.

"We can't sustain a system that bleeds billions of taxpayer dollars on programs that have outlived their usefulness or exist solely because of the power of politicians, lobbyists or interest groups. We simply can't afford it.

"This isn't about big government or small government. It's about building a smarter government that focuses on what works," he said.

Federal Reserve to Buy $600 billion in Mortgage Related Assets

The government, Federal Reserve should be bailing out homeowners not the mortgage companies and banks that made those predatory real estate loans in the first place. It was the collapse of the housing bubble that caused the current financial crisis. It is the consumer whom should get the greatest relief.

The Federal Reserve said Tuesday it will buy up to $600 billion in mortgage-backed assets in another attempt to deal with the financial crisis.

The Fed said it will purchase up to $100 billion in direct obligations from mortgage giants Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac as well as the Federal Home Loan Banks. It also will purchase another $500 billion in mortgage-backed securities, pools of mortgages that are bundled together and sold to investors.

The $600 billion effort on mortgages came as the Fed also unveiled a new program to help unfreeze the market that backs consumer debt such as credit cards, auto loans and student loans.

The program on consumer debt will lend up to $200 billion to the holders of securities backed by various types of consumer loans. Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson had said recently that the government was working on the new program, which will be supported by $20 billion of credit protection provided by the $700 billion bailout fund.

Meanwhile the horrible economic news gets worse:
The US economy contracted at a 0.5 percent pace in the third quarter, the government said Tuesday, revising down its earlier estimate for gross domestic product (GDP).

Last month, the Commerce Department in its first estimate had pegged the downturn at 0.3 percent.

The latest revision was in line with forecasts by private economists and reflected weaker consumer spending, exports and government expenditures.

The report reflected an abrupt turn from growth of 2.8 percent in the second quarter, although analysts said that figure was skewed by a surge in exports and consumer spending boosted by one-time tax rebates.

Many economists say the downturn in the fourth quarter could be much worse, reflecting a credit crunch and ongoing woes in housing and manufacturing.

The collapse continues:
Prices of single-family homes in September plunged a record 17.4 percent from a year earlier, according to the Standard & Poor's/Case-Shiller Home Price Indices issued on Tuesday.

The composite index of 20 metropolitan areas fell 1.8 percent in September from August, S&P said in a statement.

S&P said its composite index of 10 metropolitan areas declined 1.9 percent in September from August for a 18.6 percent year-over-year drop, also a record.

The rate of home price declines has accelerated on a quarterly basis too.

In the third quarter, the decline in the S&P/Case-Shiller U.S. National Home Price Index -- which covers all nine U.S. census divisions -- remained in double digits, posting a record 16.6 percent decline versus the third quarter of 2007. This has worsened from the annual declines of 15.1 percent and 14.0 percent, reported for the second and first quarters of the year, respectively.

Does Obama have a clue?:
President-elect Barack Obama wants to project fiscal restraint even as his economic team assembles a massive recovery package that could cost several hundred billion dollars.

A day after introducing the captains of his economic team and promoting a giant jobs plan, Obama on Tuesday was to lay out his budget belt-tightening vision. The dual images — big spender and disciplined budget watcher — were designed to give both political and economic assurances to the public, the Congress and the financial markets.

Obama also was expected to introduce Peter Orszag as his new director of the Office of Management and Budget, the White House office that serves as a funnel for federal agency budget requests. Orszag is the current director of the Congressional Budget Office.

Obama's economic team embodies what at first glance seem to be mutually exclusive goals. Timothy Geithner, Obama's choice for treasury secretary; Lawrence Summers, who will head the National Economic Council; and Orszag all have links to Robert Rubin, who as President Clinton's treasury secretary pushed for a balanced budget.

But all three will also be part of an administration that will drive deficits to new heights with an economic plan designed to save or create 2.5 million jobs and redirect the economy over the next two years. Economists from across the political spectrum, including some who have served as informal advisers to Obama, have put the size of an economic recovery package as high as $700 billion over two years.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Face The Nation Transcript (11-23-08)

Obama Economic Adviser Austan Goolsbee and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi appeared on Face The Nation. Read the complete transcript (11-23-08).

SCHIEFFER: Yes, well, let’s talk a little bit about this program that he outlined yesterday. He’s talking about tax cuts, building roads and bridges.

Some people are saying it may have to be something in the neighborhood -- I think Senator Schumer, this morning, said it may be in the neighborhood of five, six, seven hundred billion dollars.

Is that the sort of thing; is that the scope we’re talking, here?

GOOLSBEE: Look, the problem is very, very serious. This is as big of an economic crisis as we’ve faced in 75 years. And we’ve got to do something that’s up to the task of confronting that.

I don’t know what the exact number is, but it’s going to be a big number. It has to be. The point is to, kind of, get people back on track and startle the thing into submission.

I mean, we’ve got well over a million people who already who lost their jobs. Most of the private-sector forecasts say we could lose a million more, plus. The unemployment rate could reach levels we haven’t seen in decades.

And so the thing is, we’ve had a period, under this administration, where they resisted the idea of economic recovery. The approach has been, let’s, sort of, look the other way and things will get better.

We’ve tried not having a stimulus. We’ve tried not having a housing plan. We’ve tried not giving tax cuts to ordinary Americans. And it hasn’t worked. I mean, look out the window. That’s where it is. And so that’s -- kind of, that era of dithering is going to end. Starting January 20, Obama’s coming in. We’re out with the dithering. We’re in with a bang. That’s what it’s got to be.

SCHIEFFER: But you’re talking about something in this neighborhood, in this ballpark, though?

GOOLSBEE: It -- it has to be big. In the campaign, he was looking at stimulus that was in the $175 billion range, and the economy has gotten substantially worse since then.

So, I mean, as I say, it’s going to be a number big enough that, when they spell it out, it looks like, ooh -- you know, with that many zeros on it.

SCHIEFFER: This really sounds like a major thing. When can you get these people back to work?

Because, generally, when you talk about these public works programs like this -- and certainly, the nation’s infrastructure needs some serious repair and some serious rebuilding. But how long is it before the jobs start?

GOOLSBEE: Well, the goal -- the task that the president-elect has given to his economic team to come up with this package is to come up with things that will be immediately applicable.

So, as you say, infrastructure -- roads, bridges and investing in the country is important, but that the goal of this is an economic recovery package that will be taking place in the first two years.

GOOLSBEE: So there are a lot of infrastructure maintenance, rebuilding schools, things, places we can invest in health care, in broadband, in smart energy as well as the tax cuts, that the goal is to get things moving within that two-year period. That’s exactly the goal of the economic recovery.

SCHIEFFER: And what about tax cuts here? You’re going to have some immediate tax cuts for the middle- and lower-income people.

GOOLSBEE: Absolutely. Look, this economic recovery package that he’s describing is every bit in keeping with exactly the philosophy he outlined throughout the campaign for pretty much two years. And that is, we’ve got to make investments in the future of this country and we’ve got to provide relief to ordinary Americans, to 95 percent of workers. And that will be in effect.

Traitor Joe Lieberman on Meet the Press: Transcript (11-23-08)

Turncoat Senator Joe Lieberman refused to apologize to President elect Barack Obama for supporting John McCain during the presidential election while appearing on Meet The Press. Read the complete Transcript (11-23-08).

MR. BROKAW: You've always, as a public servant, held other people accountable. You were the only one to speak out on the floor, for example, against Bill Clinton during the time of the impeachment. Holding yourself accountable, looking back over the last six weeks, two months or so, what are the statements that you most regret?

SEN. LIEBERMAN: Well, I don't want to go into the details. Let me just say this, I don't regret having supported John McCain because I sincerely believed in his experience and his extraordinary record of working across party lines to get things done. But I do regret, as I said to the caucus and, and afterward publicly, there were some things I said in the heat of a campaign that I wish I had said more clearly. There are other things, frankly, I wish I hadn't said at all. That happens to all of us in the heat of a campaign. But, nonetheless, I regret it and I want to move forward. And I was very grateful that my caucus, in the resolution they passed, did not disapprove of my support of Senator McCain, because they respected that I did is as an Independent Democrat for somebody I had worked with very closely. They expressed their disapproval of some of the things I said. I accept that. That was the spirit of reconciliation. And now we move on together to get the nation's business done.

MR. BROKAW: Have...


MR. BROKAW: Have you picked up the phone and talked to Barack Obama about just that?

SEN. LIEBERMAN: I, I called Senator Obama, President-elect Obama, after the campaign. He's busy. I heard back from Joe Biden and Rahm Emanuel. I'm sure, in time, Senator Obama and I, who, who, who have developed a good friendship and working relationship over the years he's been in the Senate, will, will talk. In some sense he talked to me through Harry Reid and his spokespeople, and I appreciate very much the spirit of reconciliation that he evoked. We don't have the luxury of looking backward to the campaign. He's the winner. He's the president-elect. We've all got to work together with him to make him successful, and that's what I'm committed to doing.

MR. BROKAW: I hear the word regret but not the word apology.

SEN. LIEBERMAN: Well, I do, I regret it. I mean, I don't, I, I, you know, I'm going forward. You can take from the word regret what you, what you, will. I wish I had not said some of the things I've said. But, again, we all do it. There was a lot of stuff said in this campaign about both candidates that I think a lot of people regret. I'm happy to step forward and say that I regret some of the things I've said. But somebody once said to me, God put our eyes in front of our head so we would always be naturally looking forward. And that's what, at this time of peril for our country, we've all got to be doing.

Why is Lieberman a traitor, you ask? This is an individual who betrayed his party simply because he is more loyal to Israel than to the United States of America, to whom he has sworn loyalty.

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Politicians Flunk Test on American History

This is astonishing. American politicians did worse than the general public on a test measuring knowledge of American history and the workings of the government. It's like a doctor failing a test on medicine.

US elected officials scored abysmally on a test measuring their civic knowledge, with an average grade of just 44 percent, the group that organized the exam said Thursday.

Ordinary citizens did not fare much better, scoring just 49 percent correct on the 33 exam questions compiled by the Intercollegiate Studies Institute (ISI).

"It is disturbing enough that the general public failed ISI's civic literacy test, but when you consider the even more dismal scores of elected officials, you have to be concerned," said Josiah Bunting, chairman of the National Civic Literacy Board at ISI.

"How can political leaders make informed decisions if they don't understand the American experience?" he added.

The exam questions covered American history, the workings of the US government and economics.

Among the questions asked of some 2,500 people who were randomly selected to take the test, including "self-identified elected officials," was one which asked respondents to "name two countries that were our enemies during World War II."

Sixty-nine percent of respondents correctly identified Germany and Japan. Among the incorrect answers were Britain, China, Russia, Canada, Mexico and Spain.

Forty percent of respondents, meanwhile, incorrectly believed that the US president has the power to declare war, while 54 percent correctly answered that that power rests with Congress.

President Obama Job Creation Video Address (11-21-08)

President Barack Obama made a brief video address on a job creation plan for bolstering the economy. His goal is to create 2.5 million jobs over 2 years.

Bloomberg on Obama's radio address:

President-elect Barack Obama said he aims to create 2.5 million new U.S. jobs in a two-year plan to simulate an economy facing a “crisis of historic proportions.”

Obama, in his weekly radio address, today said that “financial markets faced more turmoil,” potentially leading to a “deflationary spiral” that may plunge the nation further into debt and cost millions more jobs. New home purchases in October were the lowest in half a century and 540,000 more jobless claims were filed last week, the highest in 18 years, he said today.

Job losses in the U.S. have totaled 1.2 million this year as the economy entered a slowdown exacerbated by the worst credit crisis in seven decades. More firings will weigh on the economy and consumer spending, putting pressure on Obama and Congress to agree on legislation that will stimulate growth.

“I have already directed my economic team to come up with an economic recovery plan that will mean 2.5 million more jobs by January of 2011 -- a plan big enough to meet the challenges we face that I intend to sign soon after taking office” on Jan. 20, Obama said. “We have now lost 1.2 million jobs this year, and if we don’t act swiftly and boldly, most experts now believe that we could lose millions of jobs next year.”

Friday, November 21, 2008

Florida Teen Commits Suicide Seen Over Internet, Chatters Urge him On

How sick. While a Florida teenager commits suicide by overdosing seen from a webcam over the internet, chatters cheer lead the tragic act.

With his webcam trained on him, a Florida teenager died in his bed of a drug overdose while others watched over the Internet, officials said Friday.

Some of those watching urged him to take more drugs while others debated whether he had taken enough to kill himself. Hours passed before someone finally notified authorities that he appeared lifeless, officials said.

The teenager was pronounced dead Wednesday afternoon in Pembroke Pines, Florida, said Wendy Crane, investigator for the Broward County Medical Examiner's Office.

The cause of death was found to be an overdose of benzodiazepine, an antidepressant, as well as other opiate drugs used to treat depression, Crane said. CNN is not reporting the teenager's name. Video Watch CNN's John Zarrella detail the webcam suicide »

The youth's body was found in his apartment behind a locked door, which police broke down. Police turned off the webcam and computer, Crane said.

She said he did not take anything on camera, according to footage she reviewed, but he blogged between 3 and 4 a.m. Wednesday that he had taken an overdose of drugs. He also posted a suicide note.

He was seen lying on his bed on the streaming video, posted on the Web site On the site, a person can stream video from a Web camera while "viewers" chat with each other in a box next to the video, Crane said. The comments and video have since been removed from the Web site.

Crane read the comments posted during the 10 hours the youth could be seen lying on his bed.

As the teenager was lying on his bed, she said, people were typing things like, "Oh, that's not enough to kill you." Others, she said, were egging him on, saying things like "Go ahead and do it." Still others thought it wasn't real, Crane said.

NIC: America on Decline as Superpower, China on the Rise

Expect America to decline as a superpower in the years ahead, while China and India become more powerful. Who says so? The U.S. National Intelligence Council (NIC); America's intelligence community. They make this assessment in the The Global Trends 2005 report.

The world is shifting towards a multi-polar system with a less dominant US and a more powerful China and India, and a "historic" transfer of wealth from west to east, according to a new US intelligence report.

The Global Trends 2005 report, released by the director of national intelligence yesterday, says that while the US will remain the most powerful country in 2025, the rise of emerging powers and regional blocs will constrain its ability to "call the shots" across the world.

The National Intelligence Council analysis concluded the US would be ever more constricted by scientific advances in other countries, the expansion of irregular warfare by state and non-state actors, the proliferation of long-range precision weapons and the growing frequency of cyber warfare. "The multiplicity of influential actors and distrust of vast power means less room for the US to call the shots without the support of strong partnerships."

The report said the international system prevailing since the second world war would be "unrecognisable by 2025 owing to the rise of emerging powers, a globalising economy, a historic transfer of relative wealth and economic power from west to east, and the growing influence of non-state actors".

The NIC analysis warned such multi-polar systems have historically been more unstable than bipolar or unipolar ones. It added that while there were likely to be strategic rivalries over trade, investment, technological innovation and acquisition, it could not "rule out a 19th century-like scenario of arms races, territorial expansion and military rivalries".

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Palin Turkey Pardon Press Conference Shows Bird Being Killed

While Sarah Palin holds a press conference for the traditional pardoning of a Turkey, we see (video below) in the background a bird being killed while the Alaska Governor speaks.

Bush Declares War on Endangered Species

His final act of destruction, the President wants to throw out the rules that protect endangered species. Bush, like Hitler, is pursuing a scorched earth policy in his final days of power. He destroyed the economy, our armed forces, and now the environment.

Animals and plants in danger of becoming extinct could lose the protection of government experts who make sure that dams, highways and other projects don't pose a threat, under regulations the Bush administration is set to put in place before President-elect Obama can reverse them.

The rules must be published Friday to take effect before Obama is sworn in Jan. 20. Otherwise, he can undo them with the stroke of a pen.

The Interior Department rushed to complete the rules in three months over the objections of lawmakers and environmentalists who argued that they would weaken how a landmark conservation law is applied.

A Nov. 12 version of the final rules obtained by the Associated Press has changed little from the original proposal, despite the more than 250,000 comments received since it was first proposed in August.

The rules eliminate the input of federal wildlife scientists in some endangered species cases, allowing the federal agency in charge of building, authorizing or funding a project to determine for itself if it is likely to harm endangered wildlife and plants.

Jobless Claims Jump Unexpectedly to 16-year High

This is more catastrophic news. Claims for unemployment benefits is a leading a indicator for the economy. With it falling to the highest levels in 16 years (1992), we are seeing a crisis getting even worse. The greatest indication of a collapsing economy is a climbing unemployment rate. The government must do everything possible to stop the bleeding in employment. People must keep their jobs or descend deeper. Where is Obama in all this? This nonsense about there being only "one president at a time" must thrown out the window. Get out there and start leading. If you wait until January it could be too late.

New claims for unemployment benefits jumped last week to a 16-year high, the Labor Department said Thursday, providing more evidence of a rapidly weakening job market expected to get even worse next year.

The government said new applications for jobless benefits rose to a seasonally adjusted 542,000 from a downwardly revised figure of 515,000 in the previous week. That's much higher than Wall Street economists' expectations of 505,000, according to a survey by Thomson Reuters.

That is also the highest level of claims since July 1992, the department said, when the U.S. economy was coming out of a recession.

The four-week average of claims, which smooths out fluctuations, was even worse: it rose to 506,500, the highest in more than 25 years.

In addition, the number of people continuing to claim unemployment insurance rose sharply for the third straight week to more than 4 million, the highest since December 1982, when the economy was in a painful recession.

Suit forces eHarmony to offer Gay Dating Service

Let's see, it is not legal to get married if you are of the same sex but it is required that homosexuals be treated equally in a all segments of society. This is getting frightening. What next--will they require that we keep company with gays and lesbians a be accused of discrimination? Or how about a polygamist suing eHarmony for not having a service for them as well? We are obviously headed for a cultural war in America.

Online dating service eHarmony has agreed to create a new website for gays and lesbians as part of a settlement with a gay man in New Jersey, the New Jersey Office of the Attorney General said on Wednesday.

The website will provide a dating service with "male seeking a male" or "female seeking a female" options, the Attorney General's office said in a statement.

eHarmony said it will launch the new same-sex dating site, named "Compatible Partners," by March 31.

The settlement was the result of a discrimination complaint filed by Eric McKinley against eHarmony in 2005, which will be dismissed under the settlement agreement.

eHarmony was founded in 2000 by evangelical Christian Dr. Neil Clark Warren and had ties with the influential religious conservative group Focus on the Family.

VP Cheney, Gonzales Indicted in Texas

It is a shocker: Vice President Dick Cheney and former U.S. Attorney General, Alberto Gonzales, are being indicted. Finally Whether they get convicted and go to jail is another question. The irony is that it is happening in Texas. The criminal-in-chief, George W., will pardon the 2 long before there was any chance the charges would stick. It would happen on January 19th.

A Texas judge has set a Friday arraignment for Vice President Dick Cheney, former U.S. Attorney General Alberto Gonzales and others named in indictments accusing them of responsibility for prisoner abuse in a federal detention center.

Cheney, Gonzales and the others will not be arrested, and do not need to appear in person at the arraignment, Presiding Judge Manuel Banales said.

In the latest bizarre development in the case, the lame-duck prosecutor who won the indictments was a no-show in court Wednesday. The judge ordered Texas Rangers to go to Willacy County District Attorney Juan Guerra's house, check on his well-being and order him to court on Friday.

Half of the eight high-profile indictments returned Monday by a Willacy County grand jury are tied to privately run federal detention centers in the sparsely populated South Texas county. The other half target judges and special prosecutors who played a role in an earlier investigation of Guerra.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

al Qaeda No. 2 Insults Obama with a Racial Epithet

Bin Laden's deputy, Ayman al-Zawahri, (video and transcript below) is not only a murderer but a racist. He also doesn't know much about American history. He attacks Barack Obama, who has had his name mispronounced deliberately on many occasions to read Osama, and defends Malcolm X. Wasn't Malcolm X murdered by a Muslim?

Al-Qaida's No. 2 leader used a racial epithet to insult Barack Obama in a message posted Wednesday, describing the president-elect in demeaning terms that imply he does the bidding of whites.

The message appeared chiefly aimed at persuading Muslims and Arabs that Obama does not represent a change in U.S. policies. Ayman al-Zawahri said in the message, which appeared on militant Web sites, that Obama is "the direct opposite of honorable black Americans" like Malcolm X, the 1960s African-American rights leader.

In al-Qaida's first response to Obama's victory, al-Zawahri also called the president-elect — along with secretaries of state Colin Powell and Condoleezza Rice — "house negroes."

Speaking in Arabic, al-Zawahri uses the term "abeed al-beit," which literally translates as "house slaves." But al-Qaida supplied English subtitles of his speech that included the translation as "house negroes."

The message also includes old footage of speeches by Malcolm X in which he explains the term, saying black slaves who worked in their white masters' house were more servile than those who worked in the fields. Malcolm X used the term to criticize black leaders he accused of not standing up to whites.

In Washington, State Department spokesman Sean McCormack said the latest message was just "more despicable comments from a terrorist."

The 11-minute 23-second video features the audio message by al-Zawahri, who appears only in a still image, along with other images, including one of Obama wearing a Jewish skullcap as he meets with Jewish leaders. In his speech, al-Zawahri refers to a Nov. 5 U.S. airstrike attack in Afghanistan, meaning the video was made after that date.

Al-Zawahri said Obama's election has not changed American policies he said are aimed at oppressing Muslims and others.

Here is complete transcript of Zawahri diatribe.
Muslim brothers everywhere: Peace be upon you and the Mercy of Allah and His blessings. As for what comes after:

Barack Obama has won the presidency of the United States of America, and on this occasion, I would like to send several messages.

First, a message of congratulations to the Muslim Ummah on the American people's admission of defeat in Iraq. Although the evidence of America's defeat in Iraq appeared years ago, Bush and his administration continued to be stubborn and deny the brilliant midday sun. If Bush has achieved anything, it is in his transfer of America's disaster and predicament to his successor. But the American people, by electing Obama, declared its anxiety and apprehension about the future towards which the policy of the likes of Bush is leading it, and so it decided to support someone calling for withdrawal from Iraq.

The second of these messages is to the new president of the United States. I tell him: you have reached the position of president, and a heavy legacy of failure and crimes awaits you. A failure in Iraq to which you have admitted, and a failure in Afghanistan to which the commanders of your army have admitted. The other thing to which I want to bring your attention is that what you've announced about how you're going to reach an understanding with Iran and pull your troops out of Iraq to send them to Afghanistan is a policy which was destined for failure before it was born. It appears that you don't know anything about the Muslim Ummah and its history, and the fate of the traitors who cooperated with the invaders against it, and don't know anything about the history of Afghanistan and its free and defiant Muslim people. And if you still want to be stubborn about America's failure in Afghanistan, then remember the fate of Bush and Pervez Musharraf, and the fate of the Soviets and British before them. And be aware that the dogs of Afghanistan have found the flesh of your soldiers to be delicious, so send thousands after thousands to them.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Depression Watch: October Wholesale Prices Plunge Record 2.8 Percent

This is catastrophic news. We're sinking. And it's clear the politicians are clueless as to what to do. Barack Obama is busy picking his cabinet when he should speaking to the American people and telling them what he will do. This "there is only one President" nonsense sounds good but does nothing to solve the crisis. He needs to act NOW. He needs to give his "you have nothing to fear but fear itself" now, not wait until his inauguration.

As for the media, it needs to give us nonstop reporting on the disaster on our hands. As I speak the news is about what the Democrats will be doing about Senator Lieberman. Who cares? We have a 9-11 type tragedy here. Why aren't we acting accordingly.

Wholesale prices drop is the worst since records began being kept!!

Wholesale prices plunged a record amount in October as energy prices fell by the largest amount in 22 years.

The Labor Department says wholesale prices dropped by 2.8 percent in October, the biggest one-month decline on records that go back more than 60 years. The previous record holder was a 1.6 percent fall in October 2001, the month after the terrorist attacks.

The overall decline in the department's Producer Price Index was bigger than the 1.8 percent drop analysts had expected. However, core inflation, which excludes energy and food, was not as well-behaved, rising by a bigger-than-expected 0.4 percent.

You say this is not such bad news since it means primarily a drop in energy prices. Then look at production.

U.S. industrial production rose more than forecast in October as refineries and oil rigs restarted operations in the Gulf of Mexico following shutdowns caused by Hurricanes Gustav and Ike.

The 1.3 percent increase in production at factories, mines and utilities followed a revised 3.7 percent drop in September that was the biggest since 1946, the Federal Reserve said today. Excluding the effect of the storms and a strike at Boeing Co., output would have shrunk about 0.7 percent in October and September, the Fed said.

The deepening credit crisis coupled with weakening global demand is forcing companies to cut back on investments for heavy machinery and manufactured goods. Today's report showed output of automobiles, computers, furniture and metals all dropped.

``Manufacturing is going south in a very big way,'' said Joshua Shapiro, chief U.S. economist at Maria Fiorini Ramirez Inc. in New York. ``Export demand is falling apart, and domestic demand has already fallen apart.''

The reality is that the economy is collapsing on all fronts. Such massive drops are not good for the economy. It creates more fear and less incentive to invest by the private sector.

The greatest victims of the greed of big business, and the failure of government to curb their abuses, are the people:
USDA reported today that 36.2 million Americans, including 12.4 million children, are food insecure. The Study paints a stark picture of the pervasiveness of hunger in our nation. But Feeding America, the nation's leading hunger-relief organization, warns that the actual number of Americans forced to skip meals and survive without adequate nutrition is even greater today, prompting a national appeal for help in feeding hungry men, women and children.

"It is important to note that the USDA numbers released today are 2007 figures and do not take into account the unprecedented economic crisis that our country is currently facing," said Vicki Escarra, president and CEO of Feeding America. "While the numbers reported are tragic, our network typically experiences trends as direct service providers before they are officially reported. We believe that this is just the beginning of a downward trend and we expect things to get worse before they get better."

Monday, November 17, 2008

Why Obama will Regret Picking Hillary Secretary of State

It seems that the selection of Hillary Clinton Secretary of State is a fait accompli. But at least the new President can't claim that he wasn't warned. You'll regret it. This will probably be Barack Obama's first and possibly worst mistake as President.

This from Ken Silverstein of Harper's Magazine:

1. Hillary Clinton will have her own agenda (as will her husband). She’s not a team player and will bring in a crew of cronies whose chief aim will be to promote the boss, not the administration. Obama may wake up one day and discover that Hillary has decreed a new “Clinton Doctrine” of foreign policy.

2. It would be impossible, politically, to fire Hillary. No matter what she says or does, or how insubordinate, Obama will be stuck with her as long as she wants to stay.

3. Her husband is a walking conflict of interest. Bill helps a Canadian businessman land a uranium contract in Kazakhstan, and soon afterwards the businessman contributes to the Clinton Foundation. Bill’s personal and business dealings are embarrassing enough without Hillary heading the State Department.

4. The Clinton style of management–for example, pitting one faction of staff against another–would be a disaster at the State Department. Just look at how well it worked on the campaign trail.

This from the controversial British intellectual, Christopher Hitchens, who doesn't pull punches or attacks the left and right:

Listen to Dick Morris--he knows the Clintons. And he is a FOX News analyst. Why would he be ridiculing the choice:
Hopefully, it's just a rumor started by the Clintonistas, but is Barack Obama seriously considering appointing Hillary Clinton as his secretary of state? If he pulls the trigger on that appointment, he will deserve what he gets.

[...]So when Clinton faced a Democratic Congress on taking office, he could not count on their support. Neither can Obama. So Clinton had to toe the liberal line in order to round up the votes he needed to pass his programs in the Congress that was nominally under his control. So will Obama. Ultimately, Clinton became the hostage of the Democratic majority in Congress, and they became his jailer. He was forced so far to the left that he told me, in 1994 (after losing the congressional elections), "I was so far to the left I didn't recognize myself." Neither will Obama.

Why would a top Republican support the idea if it didn't benefit his party. They support the idea for the same reason Republicans wanted Hillary to be the Democratic party's presidential candidate: she is a polarizing figure, and the Clintons are easy targets:
"It seems to me she's got the experience. She's got the temperament for it. I think she would be well received around the world," said Sen. Jon Kyl, R-Ariz. "So my own initial reaction is it would be a very good selection."

Here's another Conservatives take on the idea:
Far from becoming a loyal soldier in Obama's ranks, ready to do his will even at the risk of her own popularity, she would be absolutely bound to view every action she took as his secretary of state in the light of her own perceived necessities as a future presidential candidate.

What's more, her own large group of political supporters and managers will remain in existence, ready and eager to promote her interests, even at the risk of damaging Obama's. The media would be awash with anonymous stories describing her differences with the president, and recounting her allegedly desperate efforts to prevent or rectify his "mistakes." Clinton herself would not be the source of these stories, and might even sincerely deplore them; but they would emerge from her huge coterie of supporters and be designed to make her look good -- certainly better than Obama.

U.S. Recession will Last 14 Months: Fed Survey


Private-sector economists believe the U.S. economy fell into recession last spring and now expect a sharp contraction in the fourth quarter of this year after slashing their forecasts for gross domestic product, a Federal Reserve Bank of Philadelphia survey said on Monday.

More very bad news:
Citigroup Inc. is cutting approximately 53,000 more jobs in the coming quarters as the banking giant struggles to steady itself after suffering massive losses from deteriorating debt.

The plans, posted on the company's Web site, are being discussed by CEO Vikram Pandit at the company's town hall meeting in New York Monday with employees.

The company said total headcount is being reduced by 20 percent from its peak of 375,000 at the end of 2007; the company had already announced in October that it was eliminating about 22,000 jobs from those levels. The total workforce reductions include thousands of jobs that will be lost when Citigroup completes the sale of Citi Global Services and its German retail banking business.

The New York-based bank has posted four straight quarterly losses, including a loss of $2.8 billion during the third quarter. The company said that in addition to job cuts, it plans to lower expenses by about 20 percent, and that is has reduced its assets by more than 20 percent since the first quarter of the year.

Citi shares fell 42 cents, or 4.4 percent, to $9.10 in morning trading. The company's shares have been trading at 13-year lows.

And now it is impacting State governments. Which means the cutting essential services like police, education, roads, bridges, transportation, etc., etc.
Two short months ago lawmakers in California struggled to close a $15 billion hole in the state budget. It was among the biggest deficits in state history. Now the state faces an additional $11 billion shortfall and may be unable to pay its bills this spring.

The astonishing decline in revenues is without modern precedent here, but California is hardly alone. A majority of states — many with budgets already full of deep cuts and dependent on raiding rainy-day funds or tax increases — are scrambling to find ways to get through the rest of the year without hacking apart vital services or raising taxes.

Some governors, including Arnold Schwarzenegger in California and David A. Paterson in New York, have called special legislative sessions to deal with the crisis.

Others are demanding hiring freezes and across-the-board cuts. A few states are finding their unemployment insurance funds running dry, just as the ranks of out-of-work residents spike.

The plunging revenues — the result of an unusual assemblage of personal, sales, capital gains and corporate taxes falling significantly — have poked holes in budgets that are just weeks and months old and that came about only after difficult legislative sessions.

“The fiscal landscape,” said H. D. Palmer, a spokesman for the California Department of Finance, “is fundamentally altered from where it was six weeks ago.”

In Michigan, to reduce overtime costs, fewer streets will be salted this winter. In Ohio, where the unemployment rate is above 7 percent, the state may need a federal loan for the first time in 26 years to cover unemployment costs. In Nevada, which is almost totally dependent on sales taxes and gambling revenues, a health administrator said the state may be unable to pay claims in a few months.

Hollywood Out Of Step With American Morals: Poll

Huffington Post:

A majority of Americans say Hollywood doesn't share their moral values, according to a poll commissioned by the Anti-Defamation League, a group that fights anti-Semitism.

Sixty-one percent of those surveyed said that religious values in America are "under attack," and 59% agreed that "the people who run the TV networks and the major movie studios do not share the religious and moral values of most Americans."

Sunday, November 16, 2008

President Obama on 60 Minutes: Transcript (11-16-08)

Read the complete transcript.

Kroft: Has this been easier than the campaign trail?

Mr. Obama: Well, it's different. I think that during the campaign it is just a constant frenetic, forward momentum. Here, I'm stationary. But the issues come to you. And we've got a lot of work to do. We've got a lot of problems, a lot of big challenges.

Kroft: Have there been moments when you've said, 'What did I get myself into?'

Mr. Obama: Surprisingly enough, I feel right now that I'm doing what I should be doing. That gives me a certain sense of calm. I will say that the challenges that we're confronting are enormous. And they're multiple. And so there are times during the course of a given a day where you think, 'Where do I start?'

Kroft: What have you been concentrating on this week?

Mr. Obama: Couple of things. Number one, I think it's important to get a national security team in place because transition periods are potentially times of vulnerability to a terrorist attack. We wanna make sure that there is as seamless a transition on national security as possible. Obviously the economy. Talking to top economic advisors about how we're gonna create jobs, how we get the economy back on track and what do we do in terms of some long-term issues like energy and healthcare. And how do we sequence those things in a way that we can actually get things through Congress?

Kroft: Are you in sync with Secretary Paulson in terms of how the $700 billion is being used?

Mr. Obama: Well, look, Hank Paulson has worked tirelessly under some very difficult circumstances. We've got an unprecedented crisis, or at least something that we have not seen since the Great Depression. And I think Hank would be the first one to acknowledge that probably not everything that's been done has worked the way he had hoped it would work. But I'm less interested in looking backwards than I am in looking forwards.

Kroft: The government has spent almost $300 billion out of the TARP program.

Mr. Obama: Right.

Kroft: Money that was set aside to help the financial industry. And nothing much has changed if you look at it. Nothing much has changed. It’s $300 billion. Why is that?

Mr. Obama: I think the part of the way to think about it is things could be worse. I mean, we could have seen a lot more bank failures over the last several months. We could have seen an even more rapid deterioration of the economy, even a bigger drop in the stock market. So part of what we have to measure against is what didn't happen and not just what has happened.

Having said that, there's no doubt that we have not been able yet to reset the confidence in the financial markets and in the consumer markets and among businesses that allow the economy to move forward in a strong way. And my job as president is gonna be to make sure that we restore that confidence.

(CBS) Kroft: Once you become president, are there things that you'll change?

Mr. Obama: Well, you know I think we still have to see how this thing unfolds over the next couple of months. One area that I'm concerned about, and I've said this publicly, is we have not focused on foreclosures and what's happening to homeowners as much as I would like. We have the tools to do it. We've gotta set up a negotiation between banks and borrowers so that people can stay in their homes. That is gonna have an impact on the economy as a whole. And, you know, one thing I'm determined is that if we don't have a clear focused program for homeowners by the time I take office, we will after I take office.

Kroft: Are you being consulted by Secretary Paulson?
Is he telling you what's going on?

Mr. Obama: You know what we've done is we've assigned somebody on my transition team who interacts with him on a daily basis. And, you know, we are getting the information that's required to and we're making suggestions in some circumstances about how we think they might approach some of these problems.

Republican Governor Jindal: Something Is Wrong With The GOP

Duuuuh! Jindal appearing on Face The Nation (read the complete transcript):

JINDAL: Bob, well, thank you for having me this morning. Clearly, first of all, we need to congratulate President-elect Obama. I think Senator McCain was very gracious on election night. As Republicans, we need to do three things to get back on track. Number one, we have got to stop defending the kind of spending and out-of- control spending that we would never tolerate in the other side. You know, when voters tell us that they trust Democrats more to cut their taxes, control spending, that tells you something is wrong with the Republican Party. We’ve got to match our actions with our rhetoric.

Number two, we’ve got to stop defending the kinds of corruption we would rightfully criticize in the other party. The week before the election, our most senior senator is convicted on federal charges. And that’s only the latest example.

Number three, we have got to be the party that offers real solutions to the problems that American voters, American families are worried about. We don’t need to abandon our conservative principles. We can’t just be the party of no. We need to offer real solutions on making health care more affordable, on the economic challenges facing families, on the international threats.

I think we’re going to have a debate in this country. I’m opposed to a single-payer, government-run health care system. But that’s not enough. We need to also show the American people that we’re for tax credits, we’re for using technology to emphasize preventative primary care, electronic patient records, so every American has access to affordable private coverage.

Jindal gets it. But I don't think Gingrich does:
GINGRICH: No, you know what the number one issue was this fall?

The number one issue this fall was that the Bush administration had failed, OK, and that the Republicans in the House and Senate had failed.

GINGRICH: This was a performance election. You are a 20-, 25-, 30-year-old person and you look at this mess and you say, gosh, do I like this attractive, new, articulate candidate named Obama who is for change we can depend on, or do I want to vote for the party that’s just been failing?

Now, I think we have temporarily a big problem. I think if President-elect Obama is brilliant and committed and lucky, he might well consolidate that vote.

On the other hand, if they watch what you just said in the first half of this show and you end up with Congress bailing out billions to failing companies, and those 20-year-olds and 30-year-olds start to figure out they’re going to pay the taxes, they’re not getting the billions, I think you might find a lot of dissatisfaction by next summer.

Then again, what's wrong with the Democrats. They can't even deal with one of their own who tried to destroy the Democratic nominee, Barack Obama, during the just finished election. This from 'FOX News Sunday'(read the complete transcript):
Senator Dorgan, you have to deal — you and the Senate Democrats have to deal on Tuesday at your House — rather, Senate Democratic Caucus about what to do about Joe Lieberman and whether or not you are going to strip him of his chairmanship of the Homeland Security Committee.

Back in September, you said that Democrats were, quote, "profoundly disappointed" with what he had done and his strong support for McCain over Obama in the election, the fact that he made a tough speech at the Republican convention.

Are you going to vote to strip him of his chairmanship?

DORGAN: Well, I'm not going to discuss — and the — our caucus won't discuss that on television programs. What I think will happen on Tuesday is Senator Lieberman will, I think, make a presentation to the caucus, and the caucus will by secret ballot decide what we might want to do.

And you know, look. Joe is a friend of mine. Joe sits next to me in the Senate. He sits at the desk to my right. He's a good American.

Meet The Press Debate on the Auto Industry Bailout Plan

Should the government "bailout" the auto industry? That's biggest debate going on in Washington. Did the car companies in Michigan bring upon themselves the current crisis, or are they just victims of the downturn like in every other sector of the economy?

Some politicians like Senator Shelby have opposed most of the bailouts:

I haven't seen them yet, Tom. I would--first of all, I think that we would have to see conditions that would fundamentally change the way Detroit does business. They're not building the right products. They did at one time. They've got good workers. But I don't believe they've got good management. They don't innovate. They're a dinosaur, in a sense, and I hate to see this because I would like to see them become lean and, and hungry and innovative. And if they did and put out the right product, they could survive. But I don't believe the $25 billion they're talking about will, will make them survive. It's just postponing the inevitable.

The Senator from Alabama is a bit of hypocrite. How does a member of Congress, that is running historic deficit, talk about "lean"? There are others whom have been pawns of the auto industry, like Senator Carl Levin of Michigan:
Well, this is a national problem, first of all, without any question. We've got at least three million jobs dependent upon this industry surviving. We've got--this is a Main Street problem. We've got 10,000 or more dealers. They, they cover the country in every town of this country. The auto industry touches millions and millions of lives. One out of 10 jobs in this country are auto related. Twenty percent of our retail sales are auto related or automobiles. So this is a national problem.

Secondly, there is, unlike some of the statements that you read, there is bipartisan support for support for this industry to get them through a very difficult problem, including Senator Voinovich of Ohio who is co-chairman of the task force that you made reference to. Other countries are supporting their industries through this difficult period. The European automakers are requesting $56 billion in temporary support, and we expect that they'll be getting it from the European community. This is not a Big Three problem alone. This current crisis is a crisis in the economy where there is no credit available to purchase and where people are not buying cars because they are afraid. They are delaying the major purchases that they need to make because of the uncertainly in the economy. So this is a...

Brokaw nails Levin:
Senator Levin, let me just read to you something that Tom Friedman wrote in The New York Times last week. "The blame for this travesty not only belongs to the auto executives, but must be shared with the entire Michigan delegation in the House and Senate, virtually all of them, year after year, voted however Detroit automakers and unions instructed them to vote. That shielded GM, Ford and Chrysler from environmental concerns, mileage concerns and the full impact of global competition that could have forced Detroit to adapt a long time ago."

At a time when Toyota was producing the Prius and Honda, much more gas-friendly cars, GM, in fact, was turning out the Cadillac Escalade, the Hummers and other big SUVs that were eating a lot of gasoline when a lot of people were raising flags.

Shelby makes a good point on bailing out the inefficient auto industry:
[...]if we let the money go to General Motors, for example, with the same management, the same ideas, it's money wasted. Mark it down and watch it, and it'll be more money. This is just the beginning of, of corporate welfare in a big, big way.

But it's been done before:
SEN. LEVIN: It's not the beginning, Tom. We've done this before. We--we've--we supported Chrysler when it was in this kind of difficulty. People said, "Oh my God, that's corporate welfare." We made money, actually, by supporting Chrysler. We did it with the airline industries in, in 2001. The airline industry was in real trouble. The government came to its support. We've done this in a number of industries; this is not unprecedented. The issue's whether we're going to have manufacturing in America or whether we're going to see the continuation of the loss of millions of jobs overseas.

But allowing them to go into bankruptcy is no solution either:
MR. BROKAW: Let me just ask you both about bankruptcy. Here's from The New York Times, Michelle Maynard writing on Thursday. "A bankruptcy filing by a single Detroit car company could cost the economy $175 billion in the first year of the legal case in lost employee income and tax revenue, the Center for Automotive Research estimated this week. Given the complexity, a GM bankruptcy case could last three years or more.

And, Senator Shelby, 80 percent of car buyers who were questioned said they would not buy a car from a company in bankruptcy because it's a long-term investment, it's not like an airline, it's something that they would have to depend on to get parts and service.

- Read the complete Meet The Press transcript

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Choosing Clinton for Secretary of State Would be a Mistake?

President Obama is obviously trying to appease the whining Hillary Clinton supporters by seriously considering her for Secretary of State? He might also be trying to prevent a potential adversary in 2012. Either way it is a serious mistake. The Clintons cannot be trusted. They are crooked to the core. It was they whom used race and anti-Muslim rhetoric to try and defeat Obama is the primaries. What will be Bill's role in all this? The primaries showed that the former president is all about himself. He will most certainly say things in the next 4 years that will embarrass the administration, if not compromise it. Bill Clinton's dirty business dealings will eventually come to light and cause a major scandal. It will also give Republicans an easy target. The Clintons are a favor of the right wing. There will be all kinds of conspiracy theories about the deals made by Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton. President Obama will disappoint many of his supporters who believed he would be break from the corrupt past.

He are some other perspectives:

NY Times take:

Still, the fact that Mr. Obama and Mrs. Clinton had even met to discuss such a possibility left even some of their closest advisers and allies talking about the pros and cons of so close a partnership, and about how it would be complicated by a third wheel: Mrs. Clinton’s globe-trotting husband, former President Bill Clinton.

[...]That said, there are clear dangers for Mr. Obama as well, not least of them any lingering rivalry between the two of them after an often-contentious primary campaign. The drama-averse president-elect would also inevitably be sharing the stage with both Clintons, with all of the attention and baggage that accompany them wherever they go. And her appointment could undercut his argument that he is bringing true change to Washington.

It is not clear what room Mrs. Clinton’s presence as the nation’s top diplomat would leave for Vice President-elect Joseph R. Biden Jr. to be an influential player in his specialty of foreign policy. And now that his consideration of Mrs. Clinton has become so public, he faces another danger: the risk of reopening old wounds in the party and among Democratic women in particular if he does not appoint her to a top job.

[...]One potential downside for Mrs. Clinton taking a top job in the cabinet: she would presumably have to disclose much more about Mr. Clinton’s earnings, especially from foreign sources, and donors to his presidential library than they have been willing to disclose so far.

The Provocateur:
First of all, Hillary Clinton, unfortunately, comes as a package deal with her husband and ex President, Bill Clinton. If the new President wants to assure a dysfunctional Presidency allow the ex President to have a seat at the table of advisors. More than that, the ex President has been an awfully naughty boy since leaving the White House. This is an entirely different sort of naughty than his exploits in the White House. He has befriended all sorts of wily characters throughout the Middle East and even in China since leaving the White House. We still have no idea who exactly donated to the Clinton Library.

If, after all the lurid details of Bill's post Presidential life come out, Hillary is actually confirmed, then we will be spending the next four years or so analyzing whether or not each and every move she makes as Secretary of State was a payback to some befriended Middle East Shiek. Does President Obama really want his foreign policy to be viewed as some sort of a lackey for the UAE? If that is his goal, a good way to accomplish that is to pick Hillary Clinton as his Secretary of State.

Also, President Elect Obama, fooling the folks into thinking you are experienced doesn't actually mean you are. Hillary Clinton spent Bill's years having tea and cake with the wives of dignitaries. Her foreign policy experience is slightly more "impressive" than yours. During a campaign, you might be able to fool the folks, but once you govern, reality sets in. Hillary Clinton is no foreign policy heavyweight, she's a foreign policy lightweight in sheep's clothing. On top of this, she derided your entire foreign policy platform. She called your idea of meeting unconditionally with foreign dictators "naive". Are you really willing to cede your political opponents fodder with uncomfortable press conferences as your Secretary of State is forced to defend you against her own words?

Friday, November 14, 2008

Senators Question Bankers About Hoarding Taxpayer Dollars

Are the banks using the government bailout money to pay bonuses to executives, hoarding it, rather than making loans to homeowners, which is what was expected when the tax dollars were distributed?

Some of the nation's largest banks sharing in the $700 billion government bailout of the financial industry tried to assure lawmakers Thursday they are using the money to make more loans and help financially strapped homeowners avoid foreclosure.

Barry L. Zubrow, chief risk officer with JP Morgan Chase & Co., told the Senate Banking Committee that a portion of the $25 billion capital infusion it received from the Treasury Department was being deployed to "expand the flow of credit" and to assist with rewriting residential mortgages for up to 400,000 families.

Zubrow and executives with Goldman Sachs Group Inc., Bank of America Corp. and Wells Fargo & Co. told the committee that none of the $75 billion they have received collectively from the government is being used to pay salaries or bonuses.

"The committee has asked whether (bailout) funds would be spent on executive compensation," said Jon Campbell, regional banking president for Wells Fargo & Co. in his testimony. "The answer is no. Wells Fargo doesn't need the government investment to pay for bonuses or compensation."

Some of the executives said bonuses this year will be lower because of the economic downturn.

"Employee compensation will be dramatically affected by changes in the overall economic and financial environment and our performance for the full year, but it certainly will not increase as a result of receiving TARP (Troubled Asset Relief Program) funds," said Gregory Palm, general counsel for Goldman Sachs.

Bank of America's board has decided that this year's bonus compensation pool will be reduced by more than 50 percent, Anne Finucane, a marketing and corporate affairs executive, told the committee.

Where is the money going?
The US government has staged a U-turn on its plans for bailing out the country's financial system, saying that it no longer intends to buy the toxic mortgage assets at the heart of the credit crisis.

The announcement came less than six weeks after the Treasury won a gruelling battle with Congress for the authority to conduct the purchases. Hank Paulson, Treasury secretary, said that the remainder of the $700bn bail-out fund will instead be used to buy more direct stakes in banks and other financial firms.

As he spoke, the Federal Reserve and other banking regulators made an unprecedented joint statement urging banks to use money already received from the government to issue new loans, rather than hoarding the cash to pay dividends and staff bonuses.

The change of plan reflected the speed with which the credit crisis has overwhelmed government efforts to restore order to debt markets. They continue to be gummed up in a way that is starving businesses and consumers of loans and are throttling the US economy.

Mr Paulson's new statement did little to reassure markets, which remain confused over the scope and ultimate effectiveness of government intervention. "I will never apologise for changing an approach or a strategy when the facts change," he said. "During the two weeks that Congress considered the legislation, market conditions worsened considerably. It was clear to me by the time the bill was signed on 3 October that we needed to act quickly and forcefully, and that purchasing troubled assets – our initial focus – would take time to implement and would not be sufficient given the severity of the problem."

The Treasury's original plan was based on the assumption that removing toxic mortgage assets from banks' balance sheets would finally establish how much they were worth, thereby restoring confidence and enabling companies to raise private money. But Mr Paulson said the Treasury would spend an initial $250bn buying direct stakes in banks before it turned to the mortgage purchases. Economists had argued that directly recapitalising the banks was more efficient, because institutions could leverage the new money to make many times that amount in new loans.

Finucane said Bank of America originated more than $50 billion in mortgage loans in the third quarter of 2008 but acknowledged that "we are lending less than we were a year ago."

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Palin on the Larry King Show: Transcript (11-12-08)

Sarah Palin was interviewed on the 'Larry King Live' show yesterday(11-12-08). Read the complete transcript.

KING: All right. Our new CNN Opinion Research Corporation poll shows that 49 per cent of adult Americans have a favorable feeling about you, 43 percent an unfavorable. In retrospect, do you think you might have hurt the ticket?

PALIN: If I hurt the ticket at all, and cost John McCain even one vote, I am sorry about it because John McCain is a true American hero, he's got great solutions in terms of the challenges that are facing America right now with national security and needing to get our economy back on the right track. John McCain has solutions. I look forward to seeing him as a leader in the Senate, reaching out to Barack Obama and the new administration, being able to work together with the solutions that he has. Again, sorry if I cost him any votes, if I did.

KING: But you, you don't have an opinion as to whether you did or didn't?

PALIN: I personally don't think that I, Sarah Palin from Alaska, the VP pick, I don't believe that I caused the outcome to be what it was. I think the economy tanking a couple of months ago had a lot more to do with it than the VP pick. But I think too not winning the Hispanic vote and being outspent so tremendously in this campaign, John McCain had fulfilled his promise in just keeping with the public financing of the campaign and Barack Obama went on to accept the private donations and contributions that allowed us to be very, very greatly outspent.

There were a lot of contributing factors. I'm not going to point the finger right back at me and say that I was the cause of the outcome, but there were a lot of contributing factors. But again, if I caused even one person to shy away from electing an American hero, John McCain, to the presidency, than I apologize.

KING: Do you -- what role do you think you have in the party? You're at the Governors Association Convention, the Republican governors. How do you see yourself down the road?

PALIN: Every Republican governor has a tremendous role to play in making sure that Americans understand that -- what it is that we do out there on the front lines, balancing multibillion dollar budgets and dealing with tens of thousands of employees in our organizations. The executive experience that we all have as governors needs to be put to good use in helping in the new administration, reaching out to Barack Obama, in order to progress this nation and find solutions to the many challenges that we face. Every Republican governor has much to contribute.

KING: But your own role --

PALIN: Well, I'm one of them. I am one of them, desiring to reach out and assist the new administration that has recently been elected. What I can do specifically in helping our nation become energy independent, of course, comes from my experience as an oil and gas regulator in a huge energy-producing state. And now as governor of that state, we know that we have the domestic solutions and the domestic supplies of energy. And we have the American ingenuity and we have the American workers ready to be put to use to allow our nation to become less dependent on foreign sources of energy, volatile foreign regimes that control too much of our energy supply and use energy as a weapon.

We need to get away from that and domestic solutions that are at our fingertips. I want to help lead in that area. Also, what I can do as a Republican governor is do all that I can in my state and hopefully in the nation also in helping our families who have children with special needs.

It's an issue near and dear to my heart. It resonated well throughout the campaign also, Americans recognizing that this is time that our families who have children and adults with special needs, that America shows its good heart to them also. And we start cherishing every life, I want to help in that arena also.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Bush Expresses Regrets in CNN Interview: Transcript (11-11-08)

The outgoing President talks about his regrets in interview with CNN. Read the complete Transcript. Excerpt below:

President Bush: Being the commander in chief is as high an honor as you can possibly imagine and I have given it my all to support our military and to support our veterans. What does that mean? It means going to Congress and saying let's make sure our military families have good housing, health care, educational benefits. It means helping to work with the Congress to get money for our veterans, but it really means saying to our troops, "I will make decisions based on what is best for our country, not what is best for me politically." I don't want your troops thinking that the decisions I have made were about politics or about my standing. The decisions were made how to secure this country, how to protect ourselves from the long run. And that was important for those troops to know that their commander in chief not only supported them but stood with them in their mission

CNN: As you stand with them in their mission there are two months left of your presidency. How will that feel to leave office in the middle of two wars? Video Watch Bush discuss his regrets »

Bush: I'm trying to figure it out because there's a lot going on. We've got an economic situation, the campaign just ended, we still have troops in harm's way. I'll be meeting with families of the fallen today. This job will end on January 20 and so this is a better question answered on the 21st. I'm not sure what to tell you because I know I'm going to go from 100 mph to near zero overnight. I'm not sure what to expect. I know I'll miss certain things about the presidency. I also know I'm looking forward to getting home, so I've got mixed emotions.

CNN: What will you tell -- and maybe you talked about this yesterday with President-elect Obama -- about taking care of America's veterans and active servicemen and women?

Bush: To the extent that he asked my advice -- and he may want to ask it again -- and the best way to make sure he feels comfortable asking it again is for me not to tell you in the first place on what I advised him. We had a very private conversation. It was relaxed. It was interesting to watch someone that is getting ready to assume the office of the president. It will be a fantastic experience for he and his family. He didn't need my advice about supporting the military. He knows he must do that. We had a good conversation. I was very pleased. Remember the conversation I had with my predecessor Bill Clinton, as a matter of fact called him yesterday and said, Bill, I'm getting ready to meet with the new president and I remember how gracious you were to me. I hope I can be as gracious to President-elect Obama as you were to me. It was interesting yesterday. One of the things President-elect Obama was interested in, after we had our policy discussions, was his little girls, how would they like the White House. It was interesting to watch him go upstairs. He wanted to see where his little girls were going to sleep. Clearly this guy is going to bring a sense of family to the White House and I hope Laura and I did the same thing, but I believe he will and I know his girls are on his mind and he wants to make sure that first and foremost he is a good dad. And I think that's going to be an important part of his presidency.