watch it: the 1/30/10 weekly address from President Barack Obama

I don’t see how we can possibly rein in federal spending without even looking at the moeny we throw at the military. That would be change to believe in.

It’s rich hearing Obama out down politicians who are only looking toward the next election, when it certainly seems as if that’s what’s behind his total fail on health care, the closing of Guantanamo Bay, and the repeal of Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell. If he’s not simply worried about how Republicans will spin real action on those fronts, I cannot possibly see what else is going on…

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Sun, Jan 31, 2010 11:00pm

Obama says the economy is getting better. Well, just came across this:

Investment bankers in the U.S. have begun using equity derivatives to convert restricted shares paid as bonuses into cash, side-stepping new guidelines on remuneration which were designed to prevent bankers cashing out for at least three years, according to a headhunter.

The bankers are using over-the-counter equity derivatives strategies such as call options, put options and collars to monetise their shares now, albeit at a discount to what they would receive if they waited for the restrictions to lift.

It means two things: One, the bankers are finding ways around the rules meant to promote economic stability once again. More importantly, it means they’re so scared of things falling apart soon, they are willing to take a significant loss (as opposed to waiting just three years to get the full amount) to get the money now. If the people on the inside of the banking community don’t believe the economy is getting better, why should we?

Mon, Feb 01, 2010 4:50am

Maybe they just run their personal lives with the same short sighted recklessness that they run our economy with. The payments on a $20 million home must be a …

Mon, Feb 01, 2010 2:50pm

If you want to bet your future on that, good luck. People don’t get to where they make gobs of money by being stupid. Self-centered and unscrupulous, yes, idiotic, no.

A fool and his money being easily separated meme is true. What most people don’t realize is that the modern “fools” these days are the common person needing a mortgage or some other type of loan. All this fancy financial innovation is really meant to do just that. Same thing happened back in the Roaring 20s. The past decade has just been a reboot of that decade. Same overleveraging and speculative gaming with housing and such. We have a greater amount of outstanding debt to GDP (what is actually produced in this country) than the height preceding the dive down into the Great Depression.

The reason for all the improvement the President is talking about is do to all the money our government is borrowing (China among others) and handing out. Try living off loans and credit cards while your hours are being cut back and see how long that lasts, or how favorable the outcome will ultimately be (ie bankruptcy). Our governments plan is this writ large, and calling it “economic growth.” For those who think any goverment can give out unlimited amounts of money indefinitely, they can’t.

You know what Santayana said about not learning from history? Apparently, we haven’t. I only understand this much because I’ve spent the last year endeavoring to raise my understanding of economics (not my favorite subject) and our current situation. I encourage others to do the same. We may not be able to stop the coming storm, but to be aware of it does improve our chances of weathering it. To remain ignorant is begging to be deluged.

Mon, Feb 01, 2010 3:41pm

BTW, I’m not affiliated with any party. The whole notion of “us against them” that seems to infest both parties gives me the creeps. I’m interested in people, not politics. Letting ourselves be divided makes it easier to be conquered and abused by those who have the desire to do so.

I’m not interested in class warfare either. People with money are valuable to the economy (the money to start companies has to come from somewhere). I am against people taking advantage of others for their own gain. There is plenty of money to be made legitimately. When fraud is allowed to stand, the guilty will only accelerate their activities causing more good people to suffer. I see nothing wrong with making money as long as it’s not through deception (which is the real mechanism behind all the special investment vehicles, derivatives and credit default swaps). The more people are involved with any deal, the less it’s worth (everyone takes a cut), so a true representation of risk would make them unmarketable. The people who are out to screw the average citizen will only get away with it as long as We The People let them.

As for my vote, I did vote for Obama. I figured there was a slim chance that we could see positive change from the Bush era, but certainly a better chance than with McCain. Personally, I think neither party is much different from the other these days. They are really just the “in” party or the “out” party. Members are more interested in their pet projects than being representatives of the people. Both parties certainly like to spend money (which really only comes from taxes).

How’s that for transparency!

Mon, Feb 01, 2010 5:15pm

I figured there was a slim chance that we could see positive change from the Bush era, but certainly a better chance than with McCain. Personally, I think neither party is much different from the other these days. They are really just the “in” party or the “out” party.

Funny… When Obama went to that Republican retreat a few days ago, and called out the Repubs for their hypocrisy in refusing to support initiatives that were in line with their supposed philosophy, he said something like “we agree on policies more often than we lead our constituents to think.” He was trying to meet them on common ground to get things done, but maybe he didn’t realize that some people might react to that statement negatively! :-)

I’m sure it’s true that the Dems and Repubs are in alignment on certain policies more than they like to admit. But on other issues, they’re just not. People who think Obama is just like Bush need to look at his accomplishments–here’s one list–and honestly ask themselves if Bush or McCain would have done the same. Strengthening the EPA to regulate greenhouse gases? Making California’s car emission and mileage rules the national standard? Signing the Lily Ledbetter Fair Pay Act? Restoring funding to overseas family planning organizations? Expanding hate crimes protection to gays and lesbians? Reversing the ban on stem cell research? Nominating Sotomayor to the Supreme Court (and possibly more liberal justices before he leaves office)? Changing the tone of international relations? These aren’t just cosmetic changes, and I doubt that a Republican administration would have done the same.

Not to mention that the people the Republicans seem to be in thrall to these days–Limbaugh, Beck, Palin and their supporters–really add a nice layer of intolerance/ignorance icing on the policy cake. Do you really want the birthers and death panelists in charge?

No, the Democrats aren’t doing everything right, and I’m sure there’ll be plenty of comments here on what they’re doing wrong. And no, we shouldn’t stop pushing them to get it right on health care, financial reform, Afghanistan and all other such critical issues. All I’m saying is, for all that the two parties have in common, I still think the Democrats are the better alternative. And I think we shouldn’t lose sight of that.

If the Republicans take over Congress this year, watch as a lot of good things go up in smoke, that you didn’t even know were there. And watch as they spend all their time trying to investigate and impeach the President.

Mon, Feb 01, 2010 6:34pm

Bluejay, you miss my point. You write a very nice Democrats are better than Republicans speech. However, this is the very thing that allows those who don’t care about you or I (only how much money they can make off us for their own benefit) to take advantage of us both. They want each side to argue with anyone who doesn’t share their point of view. Keeps our attention off their loot and plunder the masses operations. They want us to be ignorant of how things work in the economy and politics. They also want each side to blame the other when things don’t work out. If you pick a party and don’t question “your side” you make it that much easier for those who only see you as a pawn in their game.

Both parties have done things to screw us citizens, still are, and are planning worse. Just because someone says something you don’t agree with doesn’t make them wrong.

All I’m advocating here is for people be aware, ask questions and think for themselves. Is that too much to ask?

Mon, Feb 01, 2010 10:05pm

Keith, I don’t disagree with you. I understand there’s a lot of corruption in the system and that people are getting screwed over by both parties. I don’t think the Democrats are perfect, and I don’t follow them unquestioningly.

Having said that, I do think there are real philosophical differences between the parties. I honestly think it’s a mistake to say the Dems and Repubs are exact equivalents, and it matters not a whit which party is in power. Do you discount all the accomplishments I mentioned above? Do you really think that if Gore had been president for eight years, we would be in the exact situation we are now with regards to Iraq and Afghanistan and the damage those wars have done to our economy? Or that Gore would have appointed Roberts and Alito to the Supreme Court and caused its rightward swing on many important cases? Do you think a President McCain would even have attempted to put health care reform on the table? I know these aren’t the exact issues you addressed in your previous posts, but they are still issues that matter.

As bad as our politics are, I think we have to engage in them to, at the very least, try to make sure that we get the lesser of two evils. If a viable third party ever arises that truly has the interests of the people at heart, and can effectively pursue those interests, I’d be all for it. But until then, I think I prefer the party that’s less in danger of going off the deep end.

What’s your preferred course of action? (I’m asking sincerely, not sarcastically.) If you think neither party is any good, and voting or taking sides makes no difference, how do we reform the system? You’ve said: “The people who are out to screw the average citizen will only get away with it as long as We The People let them.” I agree. So how do we not let them?