Friday, June 5, 2009

Honestly, I'm Just As Qualified As Liz Cheney

As Steve Benen points out, I'm apparently just as qualified as Liz Cheney to discuss national policy issues on TV.
Liz Cheney made four television appearances yesterday, showing up on all three major cable networks. She's made seven national appearances since Monday. Media Matters updated its comprehensive list, and found that Liz Cheney has been on national television 22 times in the last 24 days.

Mind you, Liz Cheney is not a journalist or a media professional. She's not a celebrity or a candidate for public office. She doesn't work for a news outlet, government agency, party, think tank, or activist organization. She isn't known for saying anything especially provocative, amusing, counter-intuitive, or thought-provoking.

Liz Cheney is given a media platform, over and over again, to defend her father, attack the president, and repeat transparently ridiculous Republican talking points. None of the networks that has featured her on-air "analysis" seem to find it at all strange that they're seeking political commentary on Dick Cheney's national security efforts from his own daughter.

Hey, I meet those requirements too! I should be on TV. So should you for that matter...

Jim Inhofe Finally Jumps The Shark

Oklahoma Republican Sen. Jim Inhofe has finally lost it. Obama's speech drove him so crazy, he's now openly questioning the President's patriotism.
Reacting to President Obama’s outreach to the Muslim world yesterday, Sen. James Inhofe (R-OK) decried the president’s speech as “un-American” and even suggested Obama might be on the side of terrorists:

Sen. Jim Inhofe said today that President Barack Obama’s speech in Cairo was “un-American” because he referred to the war in Iraq as “a war of choice” and didn’t criticize Iran for developing a nuclear program.

Inhofe, R-Tulsa, also criticized the president for suggesting that torture was conducted at the military prison in Guantanamo, saying, “There has never been a documented case of torture at Guantanamo.”

“I just don’t know whose side he’s on,” Inhofe said of the president.

Unsurprisingly, actual Iraqis and Iranians — a couple of the key audiences for Obama’s speech — viewed it far more favorably than Inhofe. Iraqi government spokesman Ali al-Dabbagh said the speech reflected greater understanding of Mideast culture and “reduces the chance of growth of extremist ideas that are trying to tarnish the image of Islam in the world.” “Obama’s speech was extraordinary. I loved it,” said 24-year old Iranian Morteza Sinaie. “I wish every Iranian would hear it. I think it would dramatically change their opinion about Obama and the United States.”

At what point does Oklahoma get rid of this national embarassment? Honestly? A sitting member of the Senate acting like this? There's no excuse.

Questioning The Worst-Kept Secret

People are beginning to ask questions about how the banks are magically fine after needing a trillion dollars earlier this year.
Big banks in the U.S. say they’re on the mend. The five largest were profitable in the first quarter, rebounding from record losses for the industry in the fourth quarter. Share prices have jumped, with the KBW Bank Index doubling since March 6.

Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner, after “stress testing” 19 banks on their ability to withstand a worsening economy, declared in early May that Americans can be confident in the banks’ stability and resilience. Wells Fargo & Co. and Morgan Stanley were among banks raising $43 billion in new capital since then through share sales.

“With our capital and assets, stressed as they have been, we can go back to focusing all our attention on managing our business and restoring value,” Citigroup Inc. Chief Executive Officer Vikram Pandit said after Geithner’s examinations were completed.

The revival may be short-lived. Analysts who have examined the quarterly profits and government tests say that accounting rule changes and rosy assumptions are making the institutions look healthier than they are.

The government probably wants to win time for the banks, keeping them alive as they struggle to earn their way out of the mess, says economist Joseph Stiglitz of Columbia University in New York. The danger is that weak banks will remain reluctant to lend, hobbling President Barack Obama’s efforts to pull the economy out of recession.

‘Bogus’ Profit

Citigroup’s $1.6 billion in first-quarter profit would vanish if accounting were more stringent, says Martin Weiss of Weiss Research Inc. in Jupiter, Florida. “The big banks’ profits were totally bogus,” says Weiss, whose 38-year-old firm rates financial companies. “The new accounting rules, the stress tests: They’re all part of a major effort to put lipstick on a pig.”

Further deterioration of loans will eventually force banks to recognize losses that their bookkeeping lets them ignore for now, says David Sherman, an accounting professor at Northeastern University in Boston. Janet Tavakoli, president of Tavakoli Structured Finance Inc. in Chicago, says the government stress scenarios underestimate how bad the economy may get.

The accounting rule changes that matter most for the banks came on April 2, when the Financial Accounting Standards Board gave companies greater latitude in how they establish the fair value of assets. Lawmakers, including Representative Paul Kanjorski, a member of the House Financial Services Committee, had complained that existing mark-to-market standards worsened the financial crisis.

But hey, pretending we're alright is fun! The Dow's up 40% since March 2 and we're in a bull market and everything's great!

Until this bubble too pops.


Good news, everyone! We only lost 345,000 jobs in May! Of course, that puts the unemployment rate at a revised 9.4%, and the U-6 at a lovely 16.4%.

One in six workers is out of a job or only working part-time. It's still bad, but not as bad as it could be.

Reactions And Overreactions To Obama's Cairo Speech

After 24 hours, the reactions to Obama's speech at Cairo University were mostly positive...unless you were a conservative pro-Israeli pundit, apparently. Then it was the worst speech ever given.

Ira Stoll @ Commentary:
During the campaign I had actually defended Obama against those who felt he would be a disaster for Israel. This speech makes me think that may have been a mistake. The only chance now is that this speech will be mere rhetoric, like so much in the Middle East, intended only for public consumption. But if Obama really means it, it is bad news for the Jews in Israel and America, not to mention for American national security.
Michael Rubin @ National Review:
Obama studiously avoids the word democracy. Instead, he declared, "That does not lessen my commitment, however, to governments that reflect the will of the people." Dictators of the world, relax: Stage a spontaneous demonstration to demonstrate popular adulation; don't worry about those pesky votes.
Stephen Hayes @ Weekly Standard:
What's so vexing about Obama's gleeful rejection of American exceptionalism (again) in the context of American power is that he embraces it in other ways. The United States, he frequently argues, must lead by example. Americans must close Guantanamo and end torture, he says, because "we must never alter our principles" or "act contrary to our ideals." And those principles and ideals make America something worth emulating -- they make it exceptional.
Caroline Glick @ National Review:
From an Israeli perspective, Pres. Barack Obama’s speech today in Cairo was deeply disturbing. Both rhetorically and programmatically, Obama’s speech was a renunciation of America’s strategic alliance with Israel.
If you're taking all this from a speech Obama gave, you're trying to dislike him too hard, guys. But as honest as their disagreement with the President is, it's tame compared to some opinions of Obama's speech in Cairo.

Let's not forget how some Israelis and American Jews on the street in Jerusalem feel about our President, either (language warning, NSFW.)

The battle is just beginning. Obama will no longer give Israel a blank check, and the backlash will only get worse. That video is pretty shocking and as always, stuff like that is supposed to supply badly needed perspective and exposure.

Seeing educated American kids like that throw around such brutal hate is eye-opening...but not surprising. I've been warning about this for months now. There are people who so hate Barack Obama they will never listen to him, and never allow him to press for peace in the Middle East.


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