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Category Archives: barack obama

Taking a Good Look at Obama’s "Evil" Stimulus Plan

First, I want you to know right up front that I did not vote for you. I did not vote for your opponent(s) either. I proudly withheld my vote because there was no presidential candidate on the ballot in my state whom I believed represented my best interests as a citizen of this country or the best interests of the nation as a whole. My vote is a valuable commodity. I wasn’t about to waste it by casting it against someone or for a “lesser of two evils”. Evil is evil. I won’t vote for it.

–from a wise Amsat Contributor

First, I want you to know that people who honestly thought that there was no discernible difference behind Obama and get off your lawn guy and his dimwitted vice presidential pick are deeply delusional. Obama is no saint but he’s going to do some good for the country. I very seldom say that when the GOP controls the presidency.

But let’s take a look at the “evil” shall we?

ITEM: I turn to Open Left again where I find two pretty good summing ups. Here’s Mike Lux who puts it in pretty good perspective:

Sometimes lost in all the anger and irritation over the things that we don’t like about this Economic Recovery Act, and over some bad decisions that seem to be being made on the banking bailout, is the fact that some really big things are going on right now for the good. We had to make some really irritating compromises to get the recovery bill passed, and it’s too small, and we sure didn’t message it well at times. But wow: almost $800 billion dollars going mostly into great investments into the economy for the poor and middle class, and tax cuts targeted vastly more towards middle income people than rich people. The size, the scope, the kinds of investments- health care, state/local fiscal relief, universal broad band, school construction, infrastructure, health care, green jobs, poor people’s income support- it really is historic. Let’s get this thing passed.

And let’s stop for a minute after this gets passed, and take some satisfaction: The Lily Ledbetter is law. S-CHIP, including children of immigrants, is law. About a dozen outstanding executive orders on civil liberties, labor, reproductive choice, regulatory issues are signed and in place. And now an $800 billion jobs bill, targeted mostly to progressive things, hopefully is about to become law.

Geithner and Summers are still pissing me off. We have a long way to go on a whole lot of issues. But even so: wow.

ITEM: The environmental goodies alone make my vote for Obama a worthwhile one. From Treehugger:

Everyone from the Sierra Club to the National Resource Defense Council to environmental bloggers and journalists have been downright jubilant about all the green initiatives included in the bill. But just how green will the bill actually be?

The short answer is: Very.

An impressive $60 billion dollars of the $790 billion will be spent on alternative and clean energy, scientific research, and various environmental projects.

Upon reviewing the bill, the NRDC was prompted to release an uncharacteristically celebratory statement: Congress Gets it Right: Recovery Deal to Spur Clean Energy Economy. A post from Mother Jones’ environmental blog Blue Marble leads with this tag line: “The $789 billion recovery package wasn’t all enviros hoped for. In some cases, it was more.”

The Stimulus Green by the Numbers: Where the Money Will Go
And here’s what’s got everyone so excited: (from NRDC)

• $6 billion for clean and safe water, creating more than 200,000 jobs
• $4.5 billion for greening federal buildings
• State energy grants, issued through the Treasury Department, that will fund renewable energy projects that are eligible for the available tax credits
• Funding for the state energy program, which includes important utility reforms and building code conditions
• $2.5 billion for energy efficiency and renewable energy Research and Development
• $5 billion for the Weatherization Assistance Program, creating approximately 90,000 jobs
• A multi-year extension of the renewable production tax credit
• A more effective tax credit for home efficiency upgrades
• $6 billion in loan guarantees for renewables, transmission and leading edge biofuels
• $2 billion for advanced batteries
• $9.3 billion for intercity rail, including high-speed rail
• $27.5 billion for highways (this large pot of money is not exclusively for highways, and states and cities must use this flexibility to invest in fuel-efficient public transportation)
• $8.4 billion for transit
• $1.5 billion in competitive grants for transportation investments (which could be used for public transportation)

Even some of the smaller numbers are encouraging: (from previous TreeHugger post)

* $125 million to restore trails and abandoned mines
* $146 million for trail maintenance at National Park Service sites
* $140 million for volcano monitoring systems
* $600 million for the Environmental Protection Agency Superfund environmental cleanup program
* $200 million to clean up leaking underground storage tanks
* $500 million for forest health and wildfire prevention

More Green News: Tax Credits for Wind Energy
More good news—a three year extension for tax credits for wind energy. Before the bill, wind energy advocates had to lobby every year to get the credits extended. Now, the tax credit is safe for at least three years—an encouraging message to wind energy proprietors.

What Got Left Out
With perhaps the biggest investment in stimulating a green economy in history, it seems silly to make gripes like ‘it could have been better.’ But it could have been better. The $12 billion initially proposed for public transit fell to $8.4 billion, seemingly out of proportion to the $27.5 billion allocated to highway renovation.

Even though some unfortunate cuts were made through amendments—no new public swimming pools, for example—some fortunate ones were made as well: 50 billion dollar subsidies for nuclear power and clean coal were thankfully scrapped.

ITEM: More proof of lesser of two evils stuff. Yes, I’m certain that McCain would have set aside a billion for Head Start, even though he voted against this bill.

Tree Hugger – Eleven pools were built in New York City alone by the Works Progress Administration. But America will stay dry thanks to the final wording of the Coburn Amendment. The original wording, which prohibited spending on parks and the arts, has been revised to read:

“None of the funds appropriated or otherwise made available in this Act may be used by any State or local government, or any private entity for any casino or other gambling establishment, aquarium, zoo, golf course, or swimming pool.”

So the arts, parks, museums and highway beautification are back on the menu. Other items approved that are driving the “free minds and free markets” types crazy:

– $24 million for United States Department of Agriculture buildings and rent
– $176 million for renovating Agricultural Research Service buildings
– $290 million for flood prevention
– $50 million for watershed rehabilitation
– $1.4 billion for wastewater disposal programs
– $295 million for administrative expenses associated with food stamp programs
– $1 billion for the 2010 Census
– $200 million for public computer centers at community colleges and libraries
– $650 million for the digital TV converter box coupon program
– $2 billion for Byrne Justice Assistance Grant program
– $10 million to combat Mexican gunrunners
– $125 million for rural communities to combat drug crimes
– $1 billion for the Community Oriented Policing Services program
– $1 billion for NASA
– $300 million to purchase scientific instruments for colleges and museums
– $400 million for equipment and facilities at the National Science Foundation
– $3.7 billion to conduct “green” renovations on military bases
– $375 million for Mississippi River projects
– $10 million for urban canals
– $5 billion for weatherizing buildings
– $2 billion to develop advanced batteries for hybrid cars
– $3.4 billion for fossil energy research
– $5.1 billion for environmental cleanup around military bases
– $5.5 billion for “green” federal buildings
– $300 million for “green” cars for federal employees
– $20 million for IT upgrades at the Small Business Administration
– $200 million to design and furnish Department of Homeland Security headquarters
– $98 million earmarked for a polar icebreaker
– $210 million for State and local fire stations
– $125 million to restore trails and abandoned mines
– $146 million for trail maintenance at National Park Service sites
– $140 million for volcano monitoring systems
– $600 million for the Environmental Protection Agency Superfund environmental cleanup program
– $200 million to clean up leaking underground storage tanks
– $500 million for forest health and wildfire prevention
– $25 million for the Smithsonian Institution
– $50 million for the National Endowment for the Arts
– $1.2 billion for “youth activities” (for “youth” up to 24 years old)
– $500 million earmarked for National Institute of Health facilities
– $1 billion for Head Start Program
– $32 million for home-delivered nutrition services
– $160 million for volunteer programs at the Corporation for National and Community Service
– $500 million earmarked for the SSA National Computer Center in Maryland
– $220 million for the International Boundary and Water Commission, U.S. and Mexico
– $8 billion for high-speed railways
– $1.3 billion for Amtrak

Breaking First Day: Barack Husein Obama Apparently Not A Jackbooted Nazi No Matter What Uncle Scam/Django Say

I mean, it is the first day. I’m sure he’ll start sending people to the camps soon. But he’s very clever so far in that he appears to be a decent man who wouldn’t do something like that. We’ll remain vigilant certainly.

Item (takes too long for my finger pointer):

What Skippy said:


Tomorrow George W. Bush will cease to be President of the United States. It seems almost like a miracle that the worst president of my lifetime and possibly of all time will finally be gone. I cannot express what an enormous sense of relief and hope I am feeling right now, but I expect a lot of people are feeling it too, so there is less a need to express it precisely than to share it.

Tomorrow, when my wife gets home from work and before we go to one of our weekly poker games, I’ll pull the cork on the ’85 porto I brought back from Portugal in 2003 and we’ll drink a toast to the end of the horrible nightmare of George Bush and his co-conspirators, thieves, liars, and murderers all. I look forward to an Obama administration. It can’t be any worse than the hell we all just went through.

Tomorrow George W. Bush will cease to be President of the United States. Wow. I love that sentence.

Item: Krugman says the bailout should go deeper.

Rescuing The Economy

The last president to face a similar mess was Franklin Delano Roosevelt, and you can learn a lot from his example. That doesn’t mean, however, that you should do everything FDR did. On the contrary, you have to take care to emulate his successes, but avoid repeating his mistakes.

About those successes: The way FDR dealt with his own era’s financial mess offers a very good model. Then, as now, the government had to deploy taxpayer money in order to rescue the financial system. In particular, the Reconstruction Finance Corporation initially played a role similar to that of the Bush administration’s Troubled Assets Relief Program (the $700 billion program everyone knows about). Like the TARP, the RFC bulked up the cash position of troubled banks by using public funds to buy up stock in those banks.

There was, however, a big difference between FDR’s approach to taxpayer-subsidized financial rescue and that of the Bush administration: Namely, FDR wasn’t shy about demanding that the public’s money be used to serve the public good. By 1935 the U.S. government owned about a third of the banking system, and the Roosevelt administration used that ownership stake to insist that banks actually help the economy, pressuring them to lend out the money they were getting from Washington. Beyond that, the New Deal went out and lent a lot of money directly to businesses, to home buyers and to people who already owned homes, helping them restructure their mortgages so they could stay in their houses.

Can you do anything like that today? Yes, you can. The Bush administration may have refused to attach any strings to the aid it has provided to financial firms, but you can change all that. If banks need federal funds to survive, provide them — but demand that the banks do their part by lending those funds out to the rest of the economy. Provide more help to homeowners. Use Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, the home-lending agencies, to pass the government’s low borrowing costs on to qualified home buyers. (Fannie and Freddie were seized by federal regulators in September, but the Bush administration, bizarrely, has kept their borrowing costs high by refusing to declare that their bonds are backed by the full faith and credit of the taxpayer.)

Conservatives will accuse you of nationalizing the financial system, and some will call you a Marxist. (It happens to me all the time.) And the truth is that you will, in a way, be engaging in temporary nationalization. But that’s OK: In the long run we don’t want the government running financial institutions, but for now we need to do whatever it takes to get credit flowing again.

Breaking: I wrote the above yesterday. Here’s a rundown of what Obama has done his first day. Again, it doesn’t appear to look much like fascism–as most fascists do not extend FOIA powers– but what do I know.

So let’s feel the fascism:

The Orders and Memoranda state that:

  • … he will freeze his White House senior staff pay at current levels to the full extent allowed by law … The President and his staff recognize that in these austere times, everyone must do more with less, and the White House is no exception.
  • In the Executive Order on Ethics Commitments by Executive Branch Personnel, the President, first, prohibits executive branch employees from accepting gifts from lobbyists. Second, he closes the revolving door that allows government officials to move to and from private sector jobs in ways that give that sector undue influence over government. Third, he requires that government hiring be based upon qualifications, competence and experience, not political connections.
  • … the President instructs all members of his administration to operate under principles of openness, transparency and of engaging citizens with their government. To implement these principles and make them concrete, the Memorandum on Transparency instructs three senior officials to produce an Open Government Directive within 120 days directing specific actions to implement the principles in the Memorandum. And the Memorandum on FOIA instructs the Attorney General to in that same time period issue new guidelines to the government implementing those same principles of openness and transparency in the FOIA context.
  • … This order ends the practice of having others besides the President assert executive privilege for records after an administration ends. Now, only the President will have that power, limiting its potential for abuse. And the order also requires the Attorney General and the White House Counsel to review claims of executive privilege about covered records to make sure those claims are fully warranted by the Constitution.

Update by SusanG: Tim Dickinson over at Rolling Stone observes:

Obama has just rescinded the rule that would have let Bush’s heirs continue to claim executive privilege over his papers.

Johnny Brainwash: Obama haters redux

I don’t really believe in “The People”, only people. My view of the polity owes as much to taoism and discordianism as it does to marxism, anarchism or whatever.

When I talk about mobilization, I don’t mean some nebulous mass of people. I mean finding the people who are inclined in the same general direction I want to go and forming them into a cohesive interest group. Even in periods of high mobilization, except maybe during peaks of revolutionary activity, most people are still on the sidelines. Decisions aren’t made by masses- they’re made by organized parties or factions that are able to exert political influence.

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