Friday, February 13, 2009

Bipartisan Stimulus - Not So Much

With the votes in the House drawn exactly down party lines and the slap in the new president's face of Republican Senator Judd Greg passing up on the Secretary of Commerce post that seemed so perfect for a Republican to hold, the Republicans have signaled they want no part of bipartisanship, they're willing to take the fall if the Stimulus Plan works, and betting against it from the get go.

The beauty of American politics is that, as much as we might want them to, the losing party doesn't have to go home. They get to hang around and complain, even when without much power. The losers are never really out of the game, they continue, playing whatever cards they have and betting on the come. At this point, the GOP is so anguished they are willing to go against the only hope we have of getting out of this mess they have left us with.

It is a horrifying amount of money to be borrowing. It may well come back and bite us in the butt somewhere around 2030 or so. Or it may save the economy, actually create a foreign-energy independent country, with great roads and an infrastructure that is less crumbling, with schools that teach well from pre-K through college, businesses that flourish, and HEALTHCARE for everyone. Although the last isn't really part of the bill.

Here are the spendings as from the House bill.

Here are the Tax Changes as from the House bill.

The GOP, who handed the banks their checks months ago and will continue to fight for them, who created this economic mess through malfeasance, ineptitude and greed, is against this bill in it's entirety.

Senator Greg is a curious addendum to the situation, almost the poster boy for the Republican campaign to disrupt progress by any means. A man of his stature, a Senator darnit, accepting such a lofty position and then walking away from it saying, "It just became clear to me that it would be very difficult, day in and day out, to serve in this Cabinet, or any Cabinet, for that matter, and be part of the team and not be able to be 100% with the team, 110% with the team."

Well, dear Senator Greg, if you ain't on our team then you are the enemy and a part of the team sulking away from the scene of the crime, unwilling or unable to accept your teams losses, consider the fight done, and move on to a battle much greater than any one team. In our lifetime, this is one time the politicians should walk away from partisanship. It really is a war against financial disaster, to avert another depression, and the GOP wants to posture in preparation for the next election.

I am embarrassed by their behavior.

Perhaps the real reason Senator Greg wanted the post was to control the census of 2010. There is HUGE political gain to be had in controlling the upcoming legislative/voting boundaries and that was a part of the Commerce Department. President Obama wisely pulled that off of their docket and handed it to his Chief of Staff, Rahm Emanuel who is about as fiercely political an animal as their is. This is politics after all. But shouldn't a Republican be the face of business in Washington, wouldn't it be proper for their spokesperson to be representative of their personal majority?

Apparently not if it means having a Democratic Party boss.

I grew up in a very politically conservative household. Dad was a Goldwater man. Barry Goldwater wouldn't have let us get into this mess in the first place and he would be smart enough to see past his party's own needs to the needs of the country, the people and yes, businesses. Barry Goldwater not only would have voted for this bill but with the state of the GOP today, he'd be a Democrat.

The GOP doesn't want a nation. They want a corporation.

But we, my friends, are going to have a wonderful country. I am stunned as I look at the numbers and where they go. Too much to list here, the links are above, but WOW that is a big chunka cash getting spent.

Paying the bill on the flip side isn't going to be easy by any means. We as a nation will be saddled with the payments on that debt for decades to come. What won't we be able to do then because of what we had to do now?

We need to get there to find out. There are darned few economists that think we'd get there without the tax cuts and spending plans in the bill.

So let's do it, let's get to work.

Don't hope harder than you work. Hope and pray hard, work harder.

Saturday, February 07, 2009

How to be President

You'll find the C-Span link here for President Obama's speech to the House Democratic Caucus and will want to drag the timeline up to about minute 9:11 when Nancy Pelosi is done introducing.

Much of this speech is missing from the record, edited from 21 minutes down to 7 even on the Democratic Party web site. It's worth watching the entirety for the manner in which Obama patiently approaches the purpose of the speech as much as his ability to go off teleprompter, engage the crowd, and be a person as well as our president.

I hope he uses these same points in his weekly address, and speaks them as completely.

Thursday, February 05, 2009

Obama @ National Prayer Breakfast

For any that doubted the faith of Barack Obama - here is his faith story. Part 1 reads as my own mind, part 2, where the faith story of it comes in after he says, "This is my hope, this is my prayer," breathes of truth. I found this while searching for his speech to the Democratic Caucus this evening, which when found will be posted, it's that good, too, but purely the business of office. This is something special here:

For those of you that would rather read, here is the text:

Remarks of President Barack Obama
National Prayer Breakfast
Thursday, February 5th, 2009
Washington, DC

Good morning. I want to thank the Co-Chairs of this breakfast, Representatives Heath Shuler and Vernon Ehlers. I’d also like to thank Tony Blair for coming today, as well as our Vice President, Joe Biden, members of my Cabinet, members of Congress, clergy, friends, and dignitaries from across the world.

Michelle and I are honored to join you in prayer this morning. I know this breakfast has a long history in Washington, and faith has always been a guiding force in our family’s life, so we feel very much at home and look forward to keeping this tradition alive during our time here.

It’s a tradition that I’m told actually began many years ago in the city of Seattle. It was the height of the Great Depression, and most people found themselves out of work. Many fell into poverty. Some lost everything.

The leaders of the community did all that they could for those who were suffering in their midst. And then they decided to do something more: they prayed. It didn’t matter what party or religious affiliation to which they belonged. They simply gathered one morning as brothers and sisters to share a meal and talk with God.

These breakfasts soon sprouted up throughout Seattle, and quickly spread to cities and towns across America, eventually making their way to Washington. A short time after President Eisenhower asked a group of Senators if he could join their prayer breakfast, it became a national event. And today, as I see presidents and dignitaries here from every corner of the globe, it strikes me that this is one of the rare occasions that still brings much of the world together in a moment of peace and goodwill.

I raise this history because far too often, we have seen faith wielded as a tool to divide us from one another – as an excuse for prejudice and intolerance. Wars have been waged. Innocents have been slaughtered. For centuries, entire religions have been persecuted, all in the name of perceived righteousness.

There is no doubt that the very nature of faith means that some of our beliefs will never be the same. We read from different texts. We follow different edicts. We subscribe to different accounts of how we came to be here and where we’re going next – and some subscribe to no faith at all.

But no matter what we choose to believe, let us remember that there is no religion whose central tenet is hate. There is no God who condones taking the life of an innocent human being. This much we know.

We know too that whatever our differences, there is one law that binds all great religions together. Jesus told us to "love thy neighbor as thyself." The Torah commands, "That which is hateful to you, do not do to your fellow." In Islam, there is a hadith that reads "None of you truly believes until he wishes for his brother what he wishes for himself." And the same is true for Buddhists and Hindus; for followers of Confucius and for humanists. It is, of course, the Golden Rule – the call to love one another; to understand one another; to treat with dignity and respect those with whom we share a brief moment on this Earth.

It is an ancient rule; a simple rule; but also one of the most challenging. For it asks each of us to take some measure of responsibility for the well-being of people we may not know or worship with or agree with on every issue. Sometimes, it asks us to reconcile with bitter enemies or resolve ancient hatreds. And that requires a living, breathing, active faith. It requires us not only to believe, but to do – to give something of ourselves for the benefit of others and the betterment of our world.

In this way, the particular faith that motivates each of us can promote a greater good for all of us. Instead of driving us apart, our varied beliefs can bring us together to feed the hungry and comfort the afflicted; to make peace where there is strife and rebuild what has broken; to lift up those who have fallen on hard times. This is not only our call as people of faith, but our duty as citizens of America, and it will be the purpose of the White House Office of Faith-Based and Neighborhood Partnerships that I’m announcing later today.

The goal of this office will not be to favor one religious group over another – or even religious groups over secular groups. It will simply be to work on behalf of those organizations that want to work on behalf of our communities, and to do so without blurring the line that our founders wisely drew between church and state. This work is important, because whether it’s a secular group advising families facing foreclosure or faith-based groups providing job-training to those who need work, few are closer to what’s happening on our streets and in our neighborhoods than these organizations. People trust them. Communities rely on them. And we will help them.

We will also reach out to leaders and scholars around the world to foster a more productive and peaceful dialogue on faith. I don’t expect divisions to disappear overnight, nor do I believe that long-held views and conflicts will suddenly vanish. But I do believe that if we can talk to one another openly and honestly, then perhaps old rifts will start to mend and new partnerships will begin to emerge. In a world that grows smaller by the day, perhaps we can begin to crowd out the destructive forces of zealotry and make room for the healing power of understanding.

This is my hope. This is my prayer.

I believe this good is possible because my faith teaches me that all is possible, but I also believe because of what I have seen and what I have lived.

I was not raised in a particularly religious household. I had a father who was born a Muslim but became an atheist, grandparents who were non-practicing Methodists and Baptists, and a mother who was skeptical of organized religion, even as she was the kindest, most spiritual person I’ve ever known. She was the one who taught me as a child to love, and to understand, and to do unto others as I would want done.

I didn’t become a Christian until many years later, when I moved to the South Side of Chicago after college. It happened not because of indoctrination or a sudden revelation, but because I spent month after month working with church folks who simply wanted to help neighbors who were down on their luck – no matter what they looked like, or where they came from, or who they prayed to. It was on those streets, in those neighborhoods, that I first heard God’s spirit beckon me. It was there that I felt called to a higher purpose – His purpose.

In different ways and different forms, it is that spirit and sense of purpose that drew friends and neighbors to that first prayer breakfast in Seattle all those years ago, during another trying time for our nation. It is what led friends and neighbors from so many faiths and nations here today. We come to break bread and give thanks and seek guidance, but also to rededicate ourselves to the mission of love and service that lies at the heart of all humanity. As St. Augustine once said, "Pray as though everything depended on God. Work as though everything depended on you."

So let us pray together on this February morning, but let us also work together in all the days and months ahead. For it is only through common struggle and common effort, as brothers and sisters, that we fulfill our highest purpose as beloved children of God. I ask you to join me in that effort, and I also ask that you pray for me, for my family, and for the continued perfection of our union. Thank you.

Sunday, February 01, 2009

President Obama's 2nd Weekly Address

This post is as much about finding if I can skinny-up that HD wide feed from youtube. It's cramping my template and switching that is way more of a hassle than it should be, but anyway:

I hope America is seeing these weekly addresses from Obama, but I suspect they aren't. His pragmatic statements may be falling on non-listening ears.

I am glad to hear Obama call against the bonuses on Wall Street - reportedly one firm gave $100 mil in bonuses split among 18 people - a hedge fund group that lost $36 billion. This is wrong.

The Stimulus Plan is well dissected in this L.A.Times article.