The evening mishmash

1. I’m Grateful is updated.

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2. Jon Stewart ripping the media like he knows. I really hope that he’ll go back to do that, and give PBO a break. Time for the “Liberal” media to recall who’s the good guy here, who is on our side, who is more or less our only hope – And who is on the OTHER side.

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3. Recovery: U.S. Retail Sales Climbed in December for Sixth Straight Month

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4. The payroll tax, important part of the tax deal compromise, kicked in, and the benefits are enormous:

  • $695: Average expected benefit per worker.
  • $110 Billion: Total tax relief expected to go to working Americans.
  • 159 Million: Working Americans expected to receive larger paychecks this year than they would otherwise.

To get a sense of how this will affect individual working people, the Treasury Department also put together a few hypothetical examples:

  • $1,362: The amount a married couple living in Detroit, Michigan – an automotive mechanic earning $38,300 and a preschool teacher earning $29,800 – would receive from the payroll tax cut.
  • $1,050: The amount another married couple, say this one lives in Wilmington, Ohio, would get if one of them earns $28,000 as a delivery truck driver earning and the other earns $24,500 as a nursing aide.
  • $490: The amount a single mother in Florida working as a hairdresser earning $24,500 would get.

That money is already starting to show up in a lot of people’s paychecks just like them – not only can it help them make ends meet as the economy continues to recover, but as they spend it on things they need that will pump fuel directly into America’s larger economic engine.

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5. Andrew Sullivan likes president Obama so much. :)

I’m inclined to see that speech as a potential pivot in our politics and culture, but it’s obviously too soon to know. Today, I have been trying to find fault in it, and can’t.

And then he posted one email that he received from a reader:

But if you look at the speech as a whole, it’s truly remarkable what an illusion Obama pulled off.  Even as I was listening to it, I was somewhat perturbed by Obama’s theme on “rather than pointing fingers or assigning blame”–a tacit rebuke of Democrats’ criticism of Sarah Palin, despite the fact that no Democrat of any consequence has actually assigned the blame on anyone but Loughner; if we cannot scream at the top of our lungs at someone who is, for whatever reason or intention, whatever effect or consequence, indicating that people be “targeted” by the masquerade of a gun-sight, then what sort of healing can be expected when the eliminative harm-mongers can scream at the heal-mongers all they want? 

Yet as Obama’s speech unfolded, realize what he did: he led, by example.  His speech was about community, brotherhood, love, understanding, listening, caring, healing, and yes, hope–all the things that are anathema to the world-view the Palinites are trying to espouse.  Obama effectively took the rug out from under them, baring to the American people the soul of this Stalin, this Hitler, this death-panelist, and showing us that he is none of those things.  You want to call Barack Obama Hitler?  Then show me Hitler’s Tucson. 

So while Obama’s words were more condemning of the Democratic discourse of the past few days, the speech itself was a ringing rebuke of all the Republican delusions, the delusions that the Democratic government is evil, that it’s full of Manchurian candidates and sleeper agents and gran’ma-smotherers, that it’s on the verge of turning America into the Union of the Third Reich of Kenyanistan.  In one fell swoop, Obama pulled his entire party away from the brink of confrontation with a weaponized political lunacy and stood, alone on a stage, staring all the hordes down, like Wyatt Earp at the OK Corral, daring them to draw their guns and aim their sights and try to take him down, that no cross-hair or brandished gun can stop the power of love and hope, that no bullet can defeat the strength of the human spirit to open its eyes, and that there is no hate that cannot be washed away by rainpuddles.

I am glad that this man is our President.

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6. I read this comment by a poster named David Zephyr somewhere on the net, and I’m going to just copy it for your pleasure:

President Barack Obama clearly found his footing in 2010 after a rough start. The hell-fire of two wars, staggering unemployment, a housing crisis unparalleled since the 1930’s and the collapse of Western capitalism that greeted him upon inauguration tested this man and his leadership skills — all simultaneously — in ways that no President since Franklin Roosevelt experienced.

I do know a thing or two about the American People and I can confidently tell you this: For two years now, Americans have watched and studied this remarkable young President, his First Lady and his two children as our First Family and I can tell without hesitation, and they are warming to President Barack Obama.

His quiet, deliberative manner proved that “No Drama Obama” was more than just a campaign slogan. It’s really how the man is engineered and wired. And that “nice side” that so many of us on the Left sometimes are prone to consider as weakness, well, that really is how he is. President Obama is a gentleman…and there’s nothing weak about him at all.

Our last President apparently believed that showing strength was more important than demonstrating strength. Our country had to endure eight very long years of the former President’s non-stop bellicose talk, fear-mongering, and conceited swaggering posture. It was the only card in his deck. Someone forgot to tell George W. Bush that although Ronald Reagan — who Bush clearly attempted to imitate — really did live on an actual ranch (not a former pig farm) and that he rode real horses, and unlike Bush, could actually be a gentleman and a statesman at times. Thankfully, the quarter’s worth of time on George’s pony ride in front of the supermarket finally expired and someone took his little rifle away from him.

I can’t help but feel nothing less than relief to know that a dangerous fool was replaced by a grownup man, who does more than he talks about doing. He accomplishes, sometimes slowly, what others have only pretended to or have only promised to do.

President Obama has overseen the creation of more jobs already than those created during the Bush Administration. That “bikini curve” is simply staggering to look at, and yet, the President is keenly aware that there’s a lot more to be done. But, for pete’s sake, let’s give this man some credit. It’s bad enough that Republicans will never give this man one word of credit, but it’s even worse when many of us on the Left (I point my finger at myself first) can not or will not give him credit either.

As a gay man, let me say just this: this President has done more for my persecuted community than any living President in American history. And, of course, he didn’t do it alone, but he did keep his word in ending Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell. He signed a federal bill including my community into the national hate crimes law. He’s delivered. He’s earned my respect and my gratitude.

As a life-long Democrat and activist, I will tell you that I was disappointed on many levels with the President during his first year, but that’s ancient history to me because I see the makings of a historic, and yes, transformative President in Barack Obama. He’s beginning to deliver the goods, he’s keeping his promises, and he’s putting this country back on the right track again.

There will be no credible political challenge to this President from the Democratic Party in 2012, and anyone that the Republicans choose to nominate will not have a prayer of defeating this good man that resides at the White House. And moreover, Obama will have coat tails in 2012 and we might just wind up with control of the House of Representatives again. Why? Because the American People know a good thing when they see it. And they are figuring out that we actually do have a very good thing with Barack Obama in the White House. A very good thing indeed.

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This is Sudan:

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President Obama at the memorial service for Richard Holbrooke:

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7. Finally, thanks PatsyT for the tip. This is a great video:

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Friday morning mishmash

Hi guys,

1. President Obama will attend the funeral service for Richard Holbrooke this afternoon (3pm EST) and deliver remarks. Poor baby, not a very happy week.

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2. One of the points some of us were trying to make, back when we still posted in, ah, “other places”, was that on things the president can control without having to deal with congress – He is going as far to the left as any president in history. We always brought up the EPA as the best example. Needless to say, it didn’t work. Oh well. Here’s another huge step the EPA is taking on behalf of the environment:

Obama administration cracks down on mountaintop mining

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3. The new “Obama found his empathy” BS memo is such, well, BS, i can’t even bring myself to deal with it. Thankfully, Chipstick over at The Obama Diary is much better than me.

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4. Yea! Bully Pulpit!!!! ;)

Obama gets 31 million TV viewers in Tucson tribute

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5.  I love the West Wing Week, even their trailers are awesome, and I can’t wait for this specific movie:

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6. Few more very good reads, following the Tucson speech:

NYT: Girl’s Death Hits Home for Obama

WASHINGTON — President Obama is not known for showing a surplus of emotion in public, but toward the end of his speech at the University of Arizona, he paused for 51 seconds and appeared to gather himself.

The audience was on its feet. Mr. Obama had just laid down a stark and powerful gauntlet challenging the country to live up to the expectations of 9-year-old Christina-Taylor Green, whose death on Saturday was an emotional punch to the gut for so many people across the country. Among them, apparently, is the president himself, whose younger daughter, Sasha, was born three months before Christina.

“I want our democracy to be as good as Christina imagined it,” Mr. Obama had just said. “All of us — we should do everything we can to make sure this country lives up to our children’s expectations.”

And then he stopped. After 10 seconds, he looked to his right. After 20 seconds, he took a deep breath. After 30 seconds, he started blinking. Then his jaw tightened. Finally, after 51 seconds of silence, he began to speak again, describing a book published after Sept. 11, 2001 — the day Christina was born — that included her picture and included simple wishes for a child’s life, including one inscription that read “I hope you jump in rain puddles.”

It was a stark moment for Mr. Obama, both as a president and as a father. This is a man who introduced himself to the nation with a memoir that explored how he was shaped by the absence of his own father, and it has been clear that he takes his role as a parent seriously.

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The president, friends said, was initially hesitant about calling Christina’s parents, Roxanna and John Green, after the shootings, saying that if it had happened to his daughters, he would not be capable of talking to anyone. He eventually did call the Greens, who buried their daughter on Thursday, and then met with them before his speech.

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Slate: How Obama’s Tucson Speech Elevated the Political Debate

The president memorialized the dead and celebrated the heroes. He could have stopped there. He could have decided not to tarnish their memory with politics. He made another decision, using just enough politics and the power of his office to build a memorial to their lives by calling the rest of us to live up to their example. That they are deserving of our good example. That was the message. He used that expression when talking about our children but it was his request of the country. “What, beyond prayers and expressions of concern, is required of us going forward? How can we honor the fallen? How can we be true to their memory?”

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More than eloquence, the president also offered an argument, one he has been making for years. Aides say Obama stayed up all night working on the speech. We know that’s his way. But the speech wasn’t just the product of an all-nighter. It came from someone who thinks about children and the obligations of being a parent, who knows how it feels to be startled by your desperate love for a spouse whom you might have taken for granted in the rush of the day.
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more

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Obama and Palin, a Tale of Two Speeches

Wednesday was bookended by two remarkable — and remarkably different — political performances that demonstrated the vast expanse of America’s political landscape.

The day began at 5 a.m. when Sarah Palin osted a 7½- minute video statement that captured with precision the bubbling anger and resentment that is an undercurrent of the national conversation about our public discourse.

It ended with President Obama, whose plea for civility, love and compassion — for us to all be not just better citizens but better people — exposed for the first time the emotions of a leader who has spent two years staying cool and controlled for a nation beset by difficult times.

Where Ms. Palin was direct and forceful, Mr. Obama was soft and restrained. Where Ms. Palin was accusatory, Mr. Obama appeared to go out of his way to avoid pointing fingers or assigning blame. Where she stressed the importance of fighting for our different beliefs, he emphasized our need for unity, referring to the “American family — 300 million strong.”

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