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No Republican Left Behind



Well, I don’t know about you, but I am simply THRILLED with the liberal slant of Barack Obama’s economic policy. As you know, I’ve been a tad…put off, shall we say, by some of his nods in the conservative direction. You know, what with anti-choice CDS sufferer Tom Daschle being put in charge of things like HHS and health care reform, and that Rick Warren invocation brouhaha, and the whole Sanjay Gupta “I Lie About Our Health Care System On The Teevee” Surgeon General thing,  and elevating anti-choice/anti-gay marriage Tim Kaine to the head of the DNC, and staying the course with Robert Gates…and that’s just in the past few weeks! I’ve hardly had time to freak out about the Middle East, Russia, Caroline Kennedy or the coming Depression, what with all this tsuris!

So, our President-Elect is on the socially conservative side, and well, he might not “end the war in Iraq” after all. But who cares? As we know, those issues are quite unimportant when you consider that Obama really knows how to fix the economy. I am sure he will seize this unique opportunity to shore up the ravaged institutions of FDR’s New Deal and begin to rebuild a strong middle class and fill in the Reaganite holes in the social safety net. After all, that’s what Democrats do!

Ahhhh, who the fuck am I kidding?

Did you read what he said today? Did you? I swear to the Giant Green Lizard, my liberal eyeballs were bleeding by the time I was finished. Misery loves company, so let’s take a closer look. We’ll skip all the Orwellian nonsense at the beginning about changing and believing, yada yada yada (wonder if the Groper, Jon Favreau, wrote it?).

Here’s what he says about health care reform:

To improve the quality of our health care while lowering its cost, we will make the immediate investments necessary to ensure that within five years all of America’s medical records are computerized. This will cut waste, eliminate red tape, and reduce the need to repeat expensive medical tests. But it just won’t save billions of dollars and thousands of jobs, it will save lives by reducing the deadly but preventable medical errors that pervade our health care system.

Um, huh? Is that it? Modernizing computer records? I’m sorry, but could he think ANY SMALLER? Do we really need to discuss the massive problems our health care system faces? And how will this cover the 47 million without health care now? Besides…is it me, or is this idea kind of, um, unoriginal?

In 2003, President Bush said he wanted most Americans’ medical records to be computerized within 10 years. The savings from moving away from paper could rise into the hundreds of millions a year, the president said. And electronic records can reduce medical errors, proponents said.

Could it get any worse? Oh, Yes, it can! The words of our Glorious Leader on education:

To give our children the chance to live out their dreams in a world that’s never been more competitive, we will equip tens of thousands of schools, community colleges and public universities with 21st-century classrooms, labs and libraries. We’ll provide new computers, new technology, and new training for teachers so that students in Chicago and Boston can compete with kids in Beijing for the high-tech, high-wage jobs of the future.

Chicago and Boston, huh? Gosh, wonder why he picked those areas out as examples. I’ll tell you something, the inner city schools in many other ares of the country need help too…but then again, Obama needs to keep his patrons in his home city and Uncle Teddy’s home city fat and happy!

Anywho, that stuff about new technology and the jobs of the future sounds kinda familiar. Where have I heard it before?

For Immediate Release
Office of the Press Secretary
January 21, 2004

Fact Sheet: Jobs for the 21st Century

Presidential Action:

In his State of the Union Address, President Bush announced Jobs for the 21st Century — a comprehensive plan to better prepare workers for jobs in the new millennium by strengthening post-secondary education and job training and improving high school education. This plan includes over $500 million in new funding for education and job training programs.


Improving High School Education: The President’s plan will also improve the quality of education at our Nation’s high schools and better prepare students for success in higher education and the job market — including $100 million to help striving readers and $120 million to improve math education.

Continue reading

Bair Under Fire

Sheila Bair, head of the FDIC

Sheila Bair, head of the FDIC

You know, I never thought I would be saying this but I think that Republicans might actually be more respectful of women than Democrats.  I’m probably going to burn in Hell now, if I believed in it.  Maybe it’s just a matter of perception and perspective but I just can’t wrap my brain around how Hillary, Sarah and now Sheila Bair have been treated by the Democrats.  Oh, and let’s not forget Diane Feinstein who wasn’t given a courtesy call about Leon Panetta’s proposed appointment to the CIA.  I don’t care if you love or despise DiFi, she was deliberately cut out of the loop and the call went to a more junior member of the Senate Intelligence Committee, Ron Wyden.  No matter how you slice it, it just looks bad.

As Clay Risen writes today in The New Republic in Bair Market, Sheila Bair is one of those remarkable Republicans we don’t find too often- a long term thinker.

Bair is one of a dwindling species in Washington: a pragmatic conservative who recognizes that fiscal discipline and small government aren’t always the answer–and who sometimes sounds downright populist as a result. “A lot of people out there are losing their houses,” she told me last month. “I think people draw false choices between bailing out financial institutions and helping homeowners. Well, maybe we need to spend on both.” Indeed, Bair’s views on the current crisis may actually be more liberal than those of Obama’s generally centrist appointees, and already there have been signs of strain between Bair and the incoming administration. Who could have guessed that the high-ranking government official most likely to attack Obama’s economic policies from the left would be–of all things–a Republican?

The rest, of course, is history. Few listened to Bair, and, when the housing bubble burst in late 2007, foreclosures began to pile up. In December 2007, Bair told Congress that some 1.3 million mortgage loans would reset over the next year, which “could result in hundreds of thousands of additional mortgage foreclosures over the next two years.” A few months later, she was pushing a comprehensive mortgage relief program, hardly the bailiwick of past FDIC chairs. Her plan, which drew praise from Capitol Hill liberals and consumer advocates but the ire of Henry Paulson and the White House, would require banks to renegotiate interest rates for troubled mortgages, with the government promising to cover most of the losses if they went into foreclosure later.

Opponents accused her of wanting to bailout negligent homeowners–and thereby violate conservative economic values. But Bair argued repeatedly, with impeccable data, that many of the homeowners had been duped, and that in any case the potential social cost of millions of unoccupied houses outweighed the risk. For Bair, this wasn’t a sign that she’d given up her Republican credentials. Rather, it was a pragmatic solution to an unprecedented problem–a problem that Bush has yet to tackle, a year later. Without action now, “the housing market will continue to deteriorate,” she tells me, adding, “I don’t understand why we can give out billions to the financial sector, but when we talk about the [individual borrower] level, we get out the fine-toothed comb.”

She seems to be able to put country and principles before party {{gasp!}}. No wonder the Obama economic team despises her.  She’s so not like them. Bair has used her clout at the FDIC to rescue some shaky banks while at the same time, and in some respects, succeeding,  holding some of those bankers accountable for their actions.  Elizabeth Warren, the Harvard prof who specializes in consumer credit and debt and who is now chairing a Congressional Oversight Committee of the Paulsen Bailout Bill, can’t say enough good things about Bair.  She’s smart, assertive, not afraid to challenge her superiors AND she is absolutely loathed by both the outgoing and *incoming* Treasury Secretaries:

By December, an anti-Bair whisper campaign was making the rounds. The Wall Street Journal reported that Geithner had criticized Bair for protecting the FDIC over the broader interests of the economic recovery efforts, while a December 4 Bloomberg account had anonymous sources saying that Geithner didn’t think Bair was a “team player” and that Obama had decided to isolate her, if not ask her to step down as FDIC chair. “They’re just criticizing me for doing my job,” Bair tells me defensively.

Ahhh, yes, the “You’re not a team player, you’re hard to work with” defense.  It is the stock phrase used ’round the world when a woman gets in the way.  There’s nothing worse for a woman in business than to be told she isn’t cooperative.  It’s a code phrase for “bitch” but saying that would contribute to a hostile work environment.  But in this case, it is reminiscent of being called a racist during the primary when any comparison of Obama to his opponents made him look bad.  It doesn’t take much to be called a troublemaker at work.  You just have to be warm, breathing and expressing your best judgment.  Happens all of the time.  Sheila’s not going with the $600,000,000 campaign flow, therefore we will isolate her and not invite her to meetings until she gives up and resigns.  I know!  Let’s say she’s not a team player.

Tim Geithner has decided to cut Bair out of the loop during the transition period and has only brought her in for  perfunctory meetings.  This is a bad sign of things to come and unacceptable in an economic crisis of this magnitude, especially when the person left out is a responsible, competent key player.  Geithner and Summers strike me as the cocky elite types who are so full of themselves that they don’t need to listen to anyone else.  While the country is teetering on the brink of a Depression, we really don’t need that s%^t.  But not to worry, so far, Bair says she’s staying put, which she has the right to do because she still has 2.5 years left in her term.  However, there is something deeply unsavory going on in the treatment of Bair and I don’t think it is limited to the alpha males refusing to get along with her:

Bair, while paying lip service to presidential prerogative–“I assume if they want change, they’ll let me know,” she says–has no incentive to leave and every reason to stay, particularly if she believes that Geithner will continue Paulson’s Wall Street-friendly bailout strategy. And she’ll have her hands full: The number of banks at risk of collapse is growing–171 by the end of September, the latest number and the highest in 13 years–while the foreclosure crisis, once limited to homeowners who had borrowed more than they could pay, is now spreading to homeowners hit by unemployment. By some estimates, at least one million homes will enter foreclosure next year, on top of some 880,000 this year, leaving in their wake gutted neighborhoods, fragile families, and battered local economies. Meanwhile, so far, Obama seems to be putting off homeowner assistance in favor of infrastructure stimulus and industry-specific bailouts.

Like some of Bair’s critics in the Bush administration, the Obama team is right to be wary of the FDIC chair’s sharp elbows. Not only will she continue the very public push for her foreclosure-assistance plan, but–as she did during Bush’s rescue of Citigroup–she is likely to demand that the FDIC once again be awarded a large chunk of assets when its money is used in future bailouts. “She has no interest in going along to get along,” says Tom O’Brien, former dean at the UMass business school and a close friend of Bair.

But it’s not just a question of which direction, tent-wise, Bair should be spitting. When it comes to the nuts and bolts of bank rescues and mortgage relief, no one in Washington knows more than Bair. And while she readily admits that her plan isn’t a panacea–“there are no silver bullets, no perfect solutions,” she says–her agency has been doing loan modifications for decades, using them to clean up the assets of shuttered banks it takes over. “She absolutely knows how the various institutions work, what kind of strategies and proposals have not worked, and what are the immediate steps that need to occur,” says Taylor. “She can hit the ground running. If she had support from a White House that cared about these things, we would have a rapid improvement.”

It’s becoming more and more clear why Obama was in such a hurry to pass the Paulsen Bailout Bill that didn’t provide for enough oversight. Plus ςa change…

Fashion Model Sues Google to Learn Identity of Cyberstalker

modelslasherbig Samir Dervisevic, a doorman at the Hudson Hotel in New York City, smashed this woman, Liskula Cohen, a Canadian-born fashion model, across the face with a bottle of vodka in January of 2007. Now I know our many lurking trolls are thinking, “the b**ch was probably asking for it.” Well, I guess it depends on your point of view. Here’s what happened. Cohen, who has appeared on the covers of Vogue, Harper’s Bazaar and Elle as well as modeling for Versace and Giorgio Armani, was sitting with friends at Ultra, when Dervisevic and his friend walked by. Dervisevic’s friend grabbed a bottle of vodka off Cohen’s table and poured himself a drink. When Cohen objected,

…she said Dervisevic – a doorman at an Upper East Side building who was born in New York to immigrants from the former Yugoslavia – exploded and threw a drink in her face.

“He called me the c-word and he started yelling at me, and then the bouncer told him to go away. He didn’t,” Cohen said. She then threw her drink on him, and he grabbed the bottle.

“He hit me with a bottle on my left cheek. The glass smashed. I went into shock,” she said.

Bouncers ushered Dervisevic away, and Cohen saw her white knit Ralph Lauren minidress was covered in blood. Continue reading

Are you popular?

Watch the following educational film to find the answer to that question:

I think the film above is full of some good advice, like, never wait til the last minute to ask someone out, ‘cos they may have scheduled a night of heavy blogging.  Don’t hang around with girls who snog in parked cars, ‘cos she probably doesn’t have health insurance if she doesn’t have her own apartment.  And finally, ask another couple to join you for a bite to eat at her house when the date is over because a foursome is always a lot of fun.  But popularity isn’t everything if it means you lose your soul.

Po-poo-lar.  I think that was in the first chapter of El Camino Real, along with directions to the Biblioteca.

Watch this and Learn!

Betty Jean Kling asked that people watch this as her daughter lay in a hospital losing her fight for life. Some monster, named George Hartwig, shot her in the face. George Hartwig, the man who smashed his wife’s head in with a hammer, released from jail after three months, decided to shoot his wife’s sister in the face.

Here is a longer version

I know we here at The Confluence know these lessons, but if the spam filter is any indication, there are many who need a lesson.

Thursday: Matthews not running for PA Senate seat :-(

Tweety has decided not to run for senate in PA.  He will stick with Hairball for now.  Damn!  There was so much material to work with in that campaign.  I could have crossed over to PA on the weekends to help monkeywrench his whole operation.  I had visions of Pennsylvania Guerrilla Women and Tweety cartoons carried by little old ladies.

But it is not to be.  What a waste.

In other news, check out BostonBoomer’s post below on Obama’s plans to overhaul Medicare and Social Security.  Now that my 401K is worth 40% less and my pensions are skimpy, I’m really looking forward to austerity measures.  Oh, I’ve only been paying into the system my entire working life and retirement is still decades away for me, but there’s no time like the present for some financial planning.  Plus fear really helps me lose weight, so, it’s all good.

Have you voted yet today for Best Liberal Blog at the 2008 Weblog Awards site?  You can do it once every 24 hours from one computer.  Doing it more than that would be cheating.  Like we would never recommend that you follow the instructions that DancesWithPUMAs found in the comment section of one of the other sites. (In the spirit of R&D, we checked it out and it works.)  You can vote multiple times from the same computer every 7 minutes but we do not want you to do this, because it would be cheating and that would make the award worthless.  But if you were curious as to how a blog no one you know ever goes to anymore is blowing out the competition, well, it isn’t because they’re popular.  Or maybe they’re popular because they cheat?  It’s a chicken-egg thing.  What they *aren’t* is honest, so approach everything you read on “the-site-who-must-not-be-named” with a high degree of skepticism.  No, no, we won’t print the instructions on the front page so don’t even ask.  You will have to contact Dances if you want to know Memzilla’s nefarious cookie cleaning secret.

For the honest ones among us, here are our recommendations:

For Best Liberal Blog, vote for The Confluence here

For Best New Blog, vote for Uppity Woman here

For Best Small Blog, vote for Nice Deb here

For Best Hidden Gem, vote for Deadenders here

For Best Food Blog, vote for Cake Wrecks here

For Best Pet Blog, vote for F**k You, Penguin here

For Best Podcast, vote for This American Life or NPR’s Planet Money here.

Don’t Say We Didn’t Warn You


Today’s New York Times reports it, but we tried to tell the Cheeto gang back in January ’08.

WASHINGTON — President-elect Barack Obama said Wednesday that overhauling Social Security and Medicare would be “a central part” of his administration’s efforts to contain federal spending, signaling for the first time that he would wade into the thorny politics of entitlement programs.

You know those “entitlement” programs we’ve all been paying into since forever? The ones that keep old people and fatherless children from wandering the streets homeless and starving? The President-elect is planning to mess around with them. Continue reading

Why I’m PUMA

melanistic_panthera_onca4I am a PUMA today for the exact same reason I went looking to become something that didn’t yet exist on May 31, 2008; I object to the manner in which Barack Obama became my president.  And nothing I’ve seen before or since has mitigated that essential truth in the slightest, in fact, the more I see of the way he operates, the more upset I get.  Barack Obama offends my sense of fair play.  From what I’ve been able to determine through my research of him, he has pushed the against “da roolz” envelope in every contested election he’s won.  Though he cannot be accused of outright cheating, he has built his entire pseudo-impressive career out of finding obscure loopholes to screw to his orgasm, thereby raping the process to his pleasure and advantage.

As has been extensively chronicled, in 1996, Obama won his first election to the Illinois Senate by contesting the voting petition signatures gathered for all of his challengers, getting them all disqualified, and running unopposed.   Before he could complete his second term of office, after winning re-election in 1998 over African American Republican Yesse Yehudah (whose name later emerged in Obama bribery allegations) he mounted a disastrous 2000 campaign for sitting Congressman Bobby Rush‘s seat, who beat the pants off him like he was a red-headed stepchild, by playing his “my black card on the table trumps the Uppity Magic Negro card up your sleeve.”   It worked, and Obama never let that happen again.

Given Illinois’ convoluted system regarding Senate terms…

Every Senate district elects its members to serve two four-year terms and one two-year term per decade.

…and Obama’s predilection for reticence, the details regarding his Illinois Senate runs are rather sketchy.  However, considering that his opponent in  1998, Yehuda, won approx. 10% of the vote, and that in 2002 he ran unopposed, its safe to assume that, for some reason, Obama’s re-elections were basically a rubber-stamp formality.  Curiously, Wikipedia mentions that Obama was re-elected to the Illinois senate in 2002, presumably in November, yet numerous sources report that he had already begun preparing for a run at the U.S. Senate by June of that year.  From the Boston Globe:

In mid-2002, Obama began to focus on the upcoming US Senate race. The incumbent, Republican Peter Fitzgerald, seemed beatable, and it was not clear Carol Moseley Braun, who had held the seat before Fitzgerald, would try to reclaim it. Obama and his wife made a deal: This would be, as his wife puts it now, “the last hurrah.”

And, from a Chicago Maroon piece written July 12, 2002:

Democratic State Senator and University Law School Senior Lecturer Barack Obama has begun assessing his chances in the 2004 US senate race. Obama has commissioned a statewide poll by the Colorado firm Harstad Strategic Research, and he has filed for federal permission to begin fundraising. Obama will have to win the democratic primary in order to face incumbent Republican Senator Peter Fitzgerald in ’04.

Note the article from 2002 refers to Obama as a “Senior Lecturer” not “professor,” as he has claimed to be; a claim which was backed up, but “nuanced” (their word, not mine)  by Fact Check.org via the University of Chicago.  Another example of Obama’s fondness for “nuance”regards his now, much bally-hooed, then, largely ignored, unfilmed, 2002 Iraq war speech:

“My objections to the war in Iraq were not simply a speech,” Obama said. “I was in the midst of a U.S. Senate campaign. It was a high-stakes campaign. I was one of the most vocal opponents of the war.” (Obama delivered the speech in October 2002; he did not officially declare his candidacy for the U.S. Senate until January).

Even in this era of YouTube and camera phones, a recording of Obama’s speech is all but impossible to find. The Obama campaign has gone so far as to re-create portions of the speech for a television ad, with the candidate re-reading the text, with audience sound effects.

So, according to the above article from NPR, this cornerstone and centerpiece of Obama’s presidential campaign was actually an insignificant speech delivered to about 1,000 people by a little known guy running unopposed for the state Senate, at somebody else’s (Jesse Jackson) rally.    Even Obama’s campaign manager, David Axelrod, has admitted as much.   Quoted in the New York Times Caucus blog lamenting the lack of recorded Iraq war speech material:

“I would kill for that,” he was quoted as saying. “No one realized at the time that it would be a historic thing.”

Similar “nuance” marks the man’s entire biography, yet he has somehow managed to create the illusion of transparency.  When David Axelrod joined (became) Obama’s team in 2004, the elements of Obama’s new, “I am, too, black enough, but not too black, just short of under-handed envelope pushing” political philosophy began to successfully knit themselves  together.  On his AKP&D Message and Media website, “the Axe” takes his full share of credit:

In 2004, Axelrod helped State Senator Barack Obama score a landslide win in his U.S. Senate campaign, developing a message and media strategy that enabled Obama to defeat six opponents in the Democratic primary with an astounding 53% of the vote. He is currently serving as media advisor to Obama’s presidential campaign.

Continue reading