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What I’d Like To Hear From President Obama Tonight

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President Barack Obama

Before I get into this, I think it’s important to note that many people who feel as though Obama accomplished nothing during his first term are flat-out wrong. It couldn’t be farther from the truth. Apparently, talking about the good doesn’t generate rating for the media, and the Administration doesn’t want to brag about the good while Americans are suffering. No, seriously. A White House official told MSNBC’s Chuck Todd that. How nice of them.

Luckily, the good folks over at Media Matters have compiled a list of accomplishments Obama, and those who supported his candidacy, should be proud of. Check it out here.

Tonight, President Barack Obama will deliver his first State Of the Union Address of his term. To say it’s highly anticipated would be putting it lightly. For the Obama Administration, and frankly the American people as a whole, 2009 was a long, LONG, year. The elation many of us were enjoying immediately after the inauguration of our country’s first African-American president quickly dissipated thanks to a series of buzz-kills. The weakest economy in several generations, 10% unemployment, a broken health care system, two wars, bubbling relations with Russia and China, etc. The list goes on. And keep in mind that those were collecting dust on his desk in the Oval Office on Day ONE, waiting to be tackled immediately. A tall ask, to say the least.

I think many us are in full recognition that Obama inherited many of the problems he’s evidently having a difficult time fixing to a level they’re comfortable with. A NBC/WSJ poll released on the eve of the SOTU address reflects that. According to the poll, only 27% of participants blamed Obama for not finding solutions to the nation’s problems. Given the narrative laid out by many media outlets, that number strikes me as low. That doesn’t mean we aren’t angry, though. Our anger is simply directed at Washington. 41% of those polled blamed the president’s party for not finding solutions, while 48% blame Republicans.

So, going into this SOTU, Obama clearly still has political capital left. People still like him. People have invested a lot of hope in his presidency, and perhaps aren’t quite ready to give up on him. So, the question now is “what exactly is he going to tell us?” According to NY Times reporting, we can expect him to admit mistakes:

When Mr. Obama presents his first State of the Union address on Wednesday evening, aides said he would accept responsibility, though not necessarily blame, for failing to deliver swiftly on some of the changes he promised a year ago. But he will not, aides said, accede to criticism that his priorities are out of step with the nation’s.

President Obama declining my interview via telephone.

I think this is a good way to level with the American people. The “mistakes” he will concede he’s made are going to especially resonate with progressives. Although many polls show that he enjoys 90% support among his party, many of the people who supported him are concerned that he isn’t carrying the liberal agenda as perhaps he should be. Health care, his, until very recently, kid-gloves approach to Wall Street,his inexplicable decision to freeze spending on many domestic programs (you know, McCain’s idea), etc. Throw in the escalation of the war in Afghanistan, and progressives are left wondering when Obama will be THEIR president.

The middle class will also like this. The Republicans, in typical fashion, have done an excellent job carrying their message that Obama is “out of touch” with the country. They maintain that Obama has wasted valuable time on health care when he should be addressing the economy and job creation. Although the idea that the two are not intimately related has been roundly contested, the complex nature of the issue has made it difficult for everyday people to understand. He clearly needs to articulate how this is so.Speaking of difficulty in articulating, unfortunately, his two biggest accomplishments, saving the economy from another Great Depression, and the positive effects of the the stimulus package that passed, are intangible and thus difficult to articulate and prove their successes. How exactly do you show to that the economy could have been much worse? How do you get people to see that more people could be out of work? Throw that on the list of things he needs to explain.

Tonight, I want to hear from a man who has come to the realization that he has no friends in the Republican party. I’m getting a little irritated with the naïvety surrounding his approach to negotiating with the Right. It happened with the stimulus bill, when he comprised tough language and provisions out of the package in the hopes of bipartisan support. Not a single Republican voted for it. It has also happened with health care. He backed off the public option, an idea that enjoyed majority support from the American people, looking to by one or two Republican votes. The Party of No still refuses to vote for the bill, although I’m sure the appreciate the concessions. I’d truly like to see an end to that. I want him to exude toughness tonight. Explain to the Republicans that will be present in the chamber that they will not stand in the way of the change Americans voted for in November 2008. Convey to the people that he hears our complaints and shares our frustration. But he needs to pledge to follow up the rhetoric with tough, substantive measures. After hearing about his plan to freeze spending, I’m not sure exactly how likely this will be.

Obama is also going to talk about education tonight, a topic that received little attention in his first busy year. I can’t wait. Apparently, he will be discussing a plan to cap the amount each student pays for student loans. This news made me Harlem shake violently. True story. I’m interested, though, to hear how he will introduce a new domestic initiative while freezing new spending in 2011. In other words, what programs will have to walk the plank to make way for this program as well as the others he will mention tonight? I hope he can explain that.

Wall Skreet.

I would like President Obama to explain his administration’s handling of Wall Street. Talk about these record bonuses. I am just as confused as everyone else when it comes to understanding how the billions upon billions of tax payer dollars being loaded in a dump truck and dropped off at the door step of banks benefits the little guy. I want him to get tough on them and he needs to lay out exactly what he plans on backing his talk up with.

Finally, I just want to walk away from the address feeling a renewed sense of confidence in our president and the future he will ultimately lead this country to. Send a charge through your base, Mr. President. Reassure the American people that you are still their champion.

Oh, it would also be nice if he sent a message to Senate Democrats to cut the bullshit it out and stop being enemies of their own agenda. Fingers crossed!

Written by PJ

January 27, 2010 at 6:50 pm

Sarah Palin Delivers Speech In Hong Kong

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Sarah Palin prior to setting out to discover the New World.

Sarah Palin prior to setting out to discover the New World.

After a disastrous roll-out as John McCain’s running-mate during the campaign, this was obviously an important step towards brandishing her credentials. Sarah Palin, who committed gaffe after gaffe after gaffe, was roundly criticized on several aspects of her “qualifications” to be a heart-beat away from the presidency, not the least of which her foreign policy experience. Simply put, then Gov. Palin had never left the country, and clearly had no understanding of the way the world worked. I guess it’s hard to have a world view when your world doesn’t extend past the borders you live in. To her credit, though, she did have her eye on Russia.

After quitting her governorship before the first term ended, Sarah Palin was suddenly afforded all the free-time in the world to correct some of the deficiencies that stood between her and the White House. Today was a pivotal step in that long, impossibly difficult process.

So how did she do on her trip of firsts?:

HONG KONG — Former U.S. vice presidential nominee Sarah Palin, criticized for her lack of foreign policy experience, emerged in Asia on Wednesday to share her views from “Main Street U.S.A.” with a group of high-flying global investors.

In her first trip to the region, the former Alaska governor addressed an annual conference of investors in Hong Kong in what was billed as a wide-ranging talk about governance, economics and U.S. and Asian affairs.

Two US delegates left early, according to AFP, with one saying “it was awful, we couldn’t stand it any longer.” He declined to be identified.

Palin argued that many average Americans are uncomfortable with health care reforms that infringe on private enterprise, Chris Palmer, an American fund manager for Gartmore Investment Ltd., told reporters.

She didn’t refer to President Barack Obama by name, the Wall Street Journal reported, but said she called his campaign promises “nebulous, utopian sounding… Now 10 months later, though, a lot of Americans are asking: more government? Is that the change we want?”

Some attendees were disappointed by her focus on her home state and her attacks on President Obama.

“As fund managers we want to hear about the United States as a whole, not just about Alaska,” one told AFP. “And she criticized Obama a lot but offered no solutions.”

Now, obviously, the talking points Sarah Palin regurgitates will be at odds with President Obama and his “liberal” policies and set of beliefs. Of course. I wasn’t expecting any rhetorical flourishes from her that would praise the current administration. But I did find it interesting that she chose to be overtly critical of her government in front of an international body of investors. Is it appropriate to criticize one’s government and basically throw its leadership under the bus in the name of personal ambition? It seems, at the least, malapropos and possibly even unpatriotic. She is more than free to preach wisdom from the Book of St. Reagan her economic principles, but it would have been better if she left out criticisms of the sitting president.

Two U.S. delegates walked out! It couldn’t have been a very good speech.

I wonder what the blowback for this speech will be here. Obama was criticized for attempting to mend relations with Europe and the Arab world after 8 years of cold and hostile relations with the Bush Administration. He was essentially criticized for making overtures for improved and more meaningful diplomacy. America is too good for our president to go abroad and apologize to the foreigners!

Are people going to criticize Sarah Palin of criticizing her own government at an economic event in China? You know, our economic rivals? Or am I making too much out of this?

Banks To Bail Out FDIC?

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Hilarity:

WASHINGTON — Tired of the government bailing out banks? Get ready for this: officials may soon ask banks to bail out the government.

Senior regulators say they are seriously considering a plan to have the nation’s healthy banks lend billions of dollars to rescue the insurance fund that protects bank depositors. That would enable the fund, which is rapidly running out of money because of a wave of bank failures, to continue to rescue the sickest banks.

The plan, strongly supported by bankers and their lobbyists, would be a major reversal of fortune.

A hallmark of the financial crisis has been the decision by successive administrations over the last year to lend hundreds of billions of taxpayer dollars to large and small banks.

“It’s a nice irony,” said Karen Shaw Petrou, managing partner of Federal Financial Analytics, a consulting company. “Like so much of this crisis, this is an issue that involves the least worst options.”

I don’t know about you, but I’m weary of any plan ‘strongly’ supported by bankers and their lobbyists.

The American people are tired of handouts being given to irresponsible banks with no strings attached. So to spice it up a bit, banks may possibly begin lending money to the government so they can turn around and continue rescuing sick banks…

Wow.

It doesn’t say exactly how the government would pay them back but it’s entirely possible that banks would stand to profit from the plan. After all, it’s one of their profiting staples. They lend and profit off interest.

That this is even a possibility tells you how serious an economic situation this nation has been in for the last couple of years. The government is so waist-deep rescuing the banking industry, they need to borrow from that very industry to finance the continued rescue and guarantee of deposits. It would be laughable if it weren’t so terrifying.

Let’s Hope (™ Barack Obama) the White House pushes for regulations that prevent something like this from happening again.

Written by PJ

September 22, 2009 at 12:15 pm