2011 first mishmash

Hello and happy new year!

Few things from the past couple of days.

1. Remember the president’s reaction when it was announced that he won the Nobel Peace Prize for 2009? He was as surprised as anyone, as humble as one can be, and promised that he’ll accept the prize as a “call for action”.

 One year later, US combat troops are out of Iraq, there’s a new START treaty between the US and Russia – and the president’s most ambitious and noble vision – A world free from the threat of nuclear holocaust – is actually in practical motion.

Back in April, president Obama was able to convince Ukraine president, Victor Yanukovich, to give up his country’s highly enriched uranium, which can be use to build TWO atomic bombs. And over the holidays – it happened.

The initial scoop belongs to Rachel Maddow, who had a terrific segment on it. DO NOT MISS THIS. IT’S FANTASTIC.

President Obama released this statement:

“I congratulate President Yanukovych on the recent shipment of highly enriched uranium from Ukraine for secure disposal in Russia, which advances a top priority for my administration and for global security. This action brings us all one step closer to securing all vulnerable nuclear materials, as President Yanukovych and I and 45 other world leaders pledged to do this April at the Nuclear Security Summit. The low enriched uranium and nuclear safety equipment provided to Ukraine in connection with this shipment will support Ukraine’s development of safe and secure nuclear energy. These actions represent continued Ukrainian leadership in making sure that nuclear weapons never fall into the hands of a terrorist, and working toward a world without nuclear weapons.”

Sometimes I wish he wasn’t so noble to think that celebrating national security achievements is undignified. I mean, can you imagine what the Bush PR machine would have done with this?  Steve Benen – one of my favorites – agrees.


2. Two Major Health Care Reforms Take Effect TODAY.

A)  The first will dramatically clamp down on insurance industry waste, abuse, and excesses. Starting on New Year’s Day, insurance companies will have to spend at least 80 percent of the revenues they receive from premiums on actual health care. Not on salaries or overhead.

B) Seniors who reach the donut hole will now receive a 50 percent discount on brand-name drugs, the first step in a 10 year plan to fill the hole completely. Seniors will also now receive free annual checkups, screenings and other preventive care.


3. Everybody read Frank Schaeffer’s  latest, right? Just making sure.


4. No one would suggest that Tim Kaine is objective, but boy, he is right.

On Nov. 5, 2008, the day after Election Day, the big story was Barack Obama’s history-making win. Today, the big story is the many historic changes that he has enacted during his first two years in office. At the halfway point of this term, the president’s list of achievements already dwarfs that of many presidents.


…While the political chattering class is consumed with who is up and who is down, the president’s accomplishments transcend such short-term political calculations. They are historic in their own right and likely to have a lasting impact on the well-being of all Americans.

Taken together, these accomplishments represent the most progressive and productive period of U.S. governance since the New Deal. The president has set a new direction, restoring our country to its true path — one that leads to a better, brighter and more prosperous future for ourselves, our children and our nation.

// much more reality-based read


5. The media in India will say what the MSM here won’t:


…. Many of them, such as the Senate Minority whip John Kyl, who voted against the treaty, had been manifestly disingenuous, participating in a lengthy series of discussions and then announcing that it was too late in the Congressional term to debate New Start fully. They have been exposed for their unthinking, reactionary antipathy to anything that has to do with Mr. Obama.

 President Obama, for his part, will now be better prepared to handle more Republican hostility and obstructionism in the next Senate, which will start its term with a much smaller Democrat majority than the present one. He emerges from this episode greatly strengthened as a shrewd, tough political negotiator — and as an international statesman.


6. Ten Democratic Accomplishments You May Not Have Known About


7. Here’s another Rachel Maddow segment, from the day the president signed the repeal of DADT. “The president was freaking elated to sign the repeal of DADT”. 🙂


8. Finally, the president’s weekly address (obviously taped a little while back…;)

The Mishmash

1. Dude, look at this:

Unemployment benefit applications dropped 388,000, the fewest since July 2008

2. And this:

Pending Sales of U.S. Existing Homes Rose 3.5% in November

3. And how about this?

Business Activity in U.S. Grows at Fastest Pace in Two Decades


4. When the president is back from Hawaii on Tuesday, he’ll have quite a list of bills to sign – which means ceremonies and photos and all that fun. 😉 Some of the bills: 

–  The 9/11 first  responders health care bill.

– The defense authorization bill.

– The food safety reform act.

–  The National Alzheimer’s Project Act.

 – The America COMPETES Act. (bill aimed at increasing U.S. competitiveness in science and technology fields).



5. Yesterday, in Hawaii, the president was busy:

President Obama Makes Six Recess Appointments & Signs 4 Laws In Hawaii




6. You just know that this is the president’s top 10, right? 😉


7. I know that everyone probably saw this already, but this quote from Merle Haggard should be repeated:


It was also nice to meet Obama and find him very different from the media makeout. It’s really almost criminal what they do with our President. There seems to be no shame or anything. They call him all kinds of names all day long, saying he’s doing certain things that he’s not. It’s just a big old political game that I don’t want to be part of. There are people spending their lives putting him down. I’m sure some of it’s true and some of it’s not. I was very surprised to find the man very humble and he had a nice handshake. His wife was very cordial to the guests and especially me. They made a special effort to make me feel welcome. It was not at all the way the media described him to be.

He’s not conceited. He’s very humble about being the President of the United States, especially in comparison to some presidents we’ve had who come across like they don’t need anybody’s help…..



8. See? this is what I mean. Look at this great link I just got in the mail. This is the sort of stuff we need to chase and publish. There’s a whole world of progress that no one knows of. (I’m not sure if the senders wants me to credit them, but if you do – please let me know). 

EPA details ‘historical’ bay plan

RICHMOND — The Environmental Protection Agency outlined a plan Wednesday to restore the Chesapeake Bay, calling the 64,000-square-mile water pollution control project the largest ever undertaken in the United States.

The restoration plan involves individual agreements with six states and the District of Columbia to sharply reduce the flow of pollutants and sediments that have choked the bay and crippled it environmentally. The states and the district are part of the bay’s watershed, which includes 17 million people.

The goals are to be achieved by 2025.

With the backing of President Barack Obama, the EPA is shepherding the restoration plan because of the lack of progress throughout the years by the individual states to protect or restore the bay

// much more



9. Better late than ever, credit where credit due: Thank you, evonnc, for finding this wonderful video I posted yesterday:

Marty Nesbitt’ best friend



10. Check out this excellent post from TiMT:

Poverty, Health Care, Corporatism, Class, Pragmatism & HOPE!



11. I still remember Mike Bloomberg criticizing president Obama’s respond to the BP oil spill. Yea, Karma is a bitch.

Krugman: Bloomberg’s Katrina



Tuesday morning mishmash

1. NYT: retails sales beats even the most optimistic forecasts:

Americans are splurging as though it’s 2007 again.
Shoppers spent more money this holiday season than even before the recession, according to preliminary retail data released on Monday.
After a 6 percent free fall in 2008 and a 4 percent uptick last year, retail spending rose 5.5 percent in the 50 days before Christmas, exceeding even the more optimistic forecasts, according to MasterCard Advisors SpendingPulse, which tracks retail spending.

The rise was seen in just about every retail category. Apparel led the way, with an increase of 11.2 percent. Jewelry was up 8.4 percent, and luxury goods like handbags and expensive department-store clothes increased 6.7 percent. There was even a slight increase in purchases of home furniture, which had four consecutive years of declining sales. The figures include in-store and online sales, and exclude autos.

“For the past year or two, when I’ve seen growth in one area, it seems to come at the expense of another,” said Michael McNamara, vice president for research and analysis at SpendingPulse. “Here, things are actually all moving in the right direction.”

// more


2. Good read from Ezra:

Scoring the Obama administration’s record on inequality


3. Remember the Left meltdown over Sonya Sotomayor’s “centrism” and yelling at the president for not nominating a “True Liberal”? Well, not for the first time, nor the last – they were full of crap.

NYT: Sotomayor Guides Court’s Liberal Wing


We are now three months into Justice Sotomayor’s second term on the court. That is awfully early in a justice’s career to draw any general conclusions. But some things are becoming tolerably clear.

Justice Sotomayor has completely dispelled the fear on the left that her background as a prosecutor would align her with the court’s more conservative members on criminal justice issues. And she has displayed a quality — call it what you will — that is alert to the humanity of the people whose cases make their way to the Supreme Court…

// more



4. Remember the Left meltdown over Elena Kagan’s “centrism” and yelling at the president for not nominating a “true Liberal”? Well, not for the first time, nor the last – they were full of crap.

LA Times: Sotomayor, Kagan shift Supreme Court debates to the left

The liberal wing is no longer drowned out by Scalia and his fellow conservatives during oral arguments.

For most of the last two decades, Supreme Court conservatives led by Justice Antonin Scalia dominated the debates during oral arguments. They greeted advocates for liberal causes with sharp and sometimes caustic questions, putting them on the defensive from the opening minute.

But the tenor of the debate has changed in recent months, now that President Obama’s two appointees to the court, Sonia Sotomayor and Elena Kagan, have joined the fray and reenergized the liberal wing.Gone are the mismatches where the Scalia wing overshadowed reserved and soft-spoken liberals like now-retired Justices David H. Souter and John Paul Stevens. Instead, the liberals often take the lead and press attorneys defending the states or corporations.

“They’re clearly on a roll,” said Washington attorney Lisa S. Blatt, who has argued regularly before the high court. “They are engaged and really active. It just feels like a different place.”// more***********************************************************************************************



Christmas Mishmash

Hi everyone

Here’s a collection of this and that from the last few days. First, did you all see this excellent OFA tool? Spread this like a virus:

Progress in your community 


1. It gets better (part 1)

Holiday 2010: The year shoppers came back

2. It gets better (2)

NYT: Experts Citing Rising Hopes for Recovery

3. It gets better (3)

Job Offers Rising as Economy Warms Up

4. It gets better (4)

The US Economy Is Now Everyone’s “Surprise” Pick To Surge In 2011 


5. I guess it’s easier in Russia, but you still should call your DUMA-MAN and tell them to vote for the treaty…:)

New START treaty easily passes first test in Russian parliament

6. I still remember how world’s leaders talked this way about Bush:

Medvedev: “President Obama is a man who knows how to hear and to listen, a man not trapped by stereotypes, a man who lives up to this standard — he keeps his word”


7. Dear new Just-Say-No-Congress, meet Barack Obama, the man with the pen: 

What’s wilderness? Bush-era curbs are repealed


8.  Yea, that awful, awful health care reform:

Medicare agency unveils massive plan to comply with healthcare reform law


9. Very true.

Take a bow, Nancy and Harry


10. And my favorite item:

NYT letters to the editor

President Obama is a realist who gets things done: he makes his case, counts votes, makes his best deal and the country moves forward. That’s progress. He doesn’t gloat or count enemies but moves to the next task.In contrast, others hold to principle and accomplish nothing. Purists for health care reform, for example, insisted on the best solution in 1993 and came away with nothing. Mr. Obama took the best he could get and came away with sweeping improvements to the health care system.


Mr. Obama promised change we can believe in, the politics of the real — not the remotely possible, or the “should have been.” He has delivered on his promise. The chattering classes, from the right and left — especially the left — should amend their critique, admit that their shallow, hasty analysis was wrong and apologize to the president.In these difficult, complex times, we are fortunate to have Mr. Obama in the White House.

John E. Colbert, Chicago, Dec. 23, 2010


….President Obama, at his news conference on Wednesday, again showed how masterful he can be in communicating the justification for his agenda. His command of subject matter and his heartfelt joy in presiding over the enacting of historic legislation were a welcome coda to the achievements of the departing Congress.

Let us hope that the president does not allow the political narrative to slip away between now and the 2012 elections.

Domenick Morda
Sarasota, Fla., Dec. 23, 2010


Your editorial about the Senate’s accomplishments reflects, beyond anything else, Barack Obama’s courage. History will judge this president well for his willingness to compromise on several fronts. His vision to rid the world of nuclear weaponry by gaining ratification of the New Start treaty will be noteworthy for generations to come.

Nearly 60 years ago, my father witnessed 26 nuclear tests in the Nevada desert. He died of acute leukemia 16 years after being exposed to the ionizing radiation from the mushroom clouds. He was just 40 years old.

I have no doubt that the deaths of people like my father played a part in Mr. Obama’s advance of this treaty.

Mark Joseph Williams
Mendham, N.J., Dec. 23, 2010





The Mishmash

1. Yea, Booman! Go with it. 🙂

At this point in his presidency I think it is fair to say that Obama is already in the conversation as best president since Abraham Lincoln. His only real competition is FDR and LBJ, and I think it’s a safe bet that Obama will neither beat the Nazis nor start an unwinnable war in Vietnam. In other words, he’s in a battle with FDR to be the best president since the Civil War.

Maybe some of you think that I am joking. I am not. Maybe some of you think I am damning with faint praise. Maybe I am. But that doesn’t mean that I am wrong. I am not wrong.


2. It gets better:

Economy brightens as consumers spend, layoffs slow


3. Yea, go with it!!

Economy appears to show signs of life; some expect 2011 to be best year in more than a decade


4. He told you he was persistent.

President Obama to  renominate Nobel-Prize winner Peter Diamond to Fed


5. With a stroke of a pen:

EPA Agrees to Limit Emissions From Power Plants, Refineries


6. That terrible health care bill, I tell you…

Obama orders breastfeeding policy for federal workplace


7. Gallup: Look who is at 49% today.

The Mishmash


1. President Obama will sign DADT repeal into law tomorrow at 9:15 am. I’m sure he’s doing it so early in the morning because he hate the gays.

2. Check out this Deaniac’ post.

3. “I was spectacularly, over and over again, wrong”. Yes, you were, Rachel, but you’re probably the only one from the professional left who deserve to be forgiven.


4. In the name of trying to live up to president Obama’s example, i will not use any of the words i have for those who called this president “homophobic” and other crap – and just post this incredibly moving video, for those who have yet to see it:


5. More great news for John McCain?

NYT: Senate Support Builds for Pact on Arms Control


6. Yesterday the president signed the reauthorization of the Child Abuse Prevention and Treatment Act (CAPTA) which includes the Family Violence Prevention and Services Act (FVPSA.) 

More here.


7. So many of the this president’s actions won’t be rightly appreciated until long after he’s out of office.

U.S. demand for gas declining



Eugene Robinson:

Obama Scores a Victory, Along With Some Vindication

President Obama must be tempted to respond to his progressive critics with a quote from the old-school rapper Kool Moe Dee: “How ya like me now?”

Repeal of the military’s bigoted and anachronistic “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy on gays in the military—a campaign promise that seemed to be slipping out of reach—doesn’t fully mend the relationship between Obama and the Democratic Party’s liberal wing. But it’s a pretty terrific start.Progressives needed a clear, unambiguous victory to ease the sting of those extended tax cuts for the rich. They got one Saturday with the Senate’s historic vote to end “don’t ask, don’t tell”—and Obama won vindication for the slow, patient, step-by-step approach that drove gay and lesbian activists crazy but ultimately produced a stunning result.


…For President Obama and the left, this is an important milestone—a reminder that even in dysfunctional Washington, what Sarah Palin derided as “that hopey-changey stuff” can still produce real hope and change.

The Mishmash

1. Check one more for the good side (just don’t read the comments. Not even one sane person left in the world…):

In Sunday-evening surprise, Senate unanimously passes food safety bill


2. More selling out of progressives priorities:

Senate passes community radio bill: Low power FM to be expanded nationwide


3. And even more under the radar change we can believe in:

US now a net exporter of Solar

As reports that China has already won the race for global domination in the clean energy sector dominate the news, a new study suggests that early reports of the demise of the U.S. solar industry may be greatly exaggerated.

The report, published this week by GTM Research, found U.S. net exports totaled $723 million in 2009 with U.S. solar installations creating $2.6 billion in direct value to support the U.S. economy. And as compared to the U.S. overall economy, the report shows that U.S. trade in the solar industry is more balanced than in the overall economy, which had a trade deficit of $374 billion in 2009.

“The U.S. imports and exports product from every continent. But in addition to being a major net exporter of solar energy products, the industry is creating significant wealth in the United States and jobs in all 50 states,” said Rhone Resch, President and CEO of Solar Energy Industry Association, the largest solar industry trade association in the U.S.

// more

Thanks to The Obama Diary.


4. Thank you very much, MSM, really…

LA Times: Two down – Obama ends first half of term with big victories

 WASHINGTON — President Obama is ending the first half of his term the same way he began it — with a storm of activity of impressive, even historic, dimensions. Year-end victories on taxes, economic stimulus and landmark cultural change are reshaping the image of a president who seemed isolated and out of touch only a month ago in the wake of an enormous midterm election defeat.


Obama is “a progressive leader who, in fact, understands that politics is all about the art of the possible,” Vice President Joe Biden said Sunday on NBC.

// more


5. Sometimes I think that this guy is the only pundit that actually gets president Obama:

Andrew Sullivan:

I think of Frank Rich and Paul Krugman as brilliant men, but profoundly resistant to the core rationale of the Obama presidency (and the underlying dynamic of its accumulating success). That rationale is an attempt to move past the paradigms of the boomer years to a pragmatic, liberal reformism that takes America as it is, while trying to make it more of what it can be.


This is particularly important since so many of his opponents are white and disproportionately affected by this long recession. Trying to get them to see him accurately through the haze of Fox propaganda and cultural panic is not easy. But he seems to understand that persistence and steadiness are better tools in this than grand statements, sudden moves or grandstanding attempts to please his own base. He really is trying to be what he promised: president of the red states as well as the blue states. And a president who gets shit done.

The results after two years: universal health insurance, the rescue of Detroit, the avoidance of a Second Great Depression, big gains in private sector growth and productivity, three stimulus packages (if you count QE2), big public investments in transport and green infrastructure, the near-complete isolation of Iran, the very public exposure of Israeli intransigence and extremism, a reset with Russia (plus a new START), big drops in illegal immigration and major gains in enforcement, a South Korea free trade pact, the end of torture, and a debt commission that has put fiscal reform squarely back on the national agenda. Oh, and of yesterday, the signature civil rights achievement of ending the military’s ban on openly gay servicemembers.


From the perspective of this Christmas, after the many bewildering twists and turns of the last two years, Obama is looking good because he kept his nerve and retained his restraint. That’s a tough combo: nerve and restraint. It takes a cold-bloodedness to pull this off, and there are times when ice seems to run through the man’s veins.

I occasionally used to day-dream about a ‘one-nation’ Tory U.S. president, a second Eisenhower of a sort. Little did I know he would be a black man with a funny name.



So, who is the real Democrat here?

The president who was willing to suffer politically and swallow a bitter pill in order to defend the middle class, the unemployed, students and small businesses – or those in Congress who had no problem blocking funds to close Guantanamo, but were ready to throw the middle class, the unemployed, students and small businesses under the “principles” bus, just so they can settle the score with 2% of the country and get some TV appearances?



Big Saturday tomorrow. Keep making those calls, people:

Senate plans vote this weekend on ‘don’t ask, don’t tell’


More bad news for the economy:

Strong week raises optimism for 2011

Shopping surge spurs brighter outlook

First-time jobless aid at ’08 level


Charles Krauthammer can stop crying. How fun. 

If Barack Obama wins re-election in 2012, as is now more likely than not, historians will mark his comeback as beginning on Dec. 6, the day of the Great Tax Cut Deal of 2010.

Obama had a bad November. Self-confessedly shellacked in the midterm election, he fled the scene to Asia and various unsuccessful meetings, only to return to a sad-sack lame-duck Congress with ghostly dozens of defeated Democrats wandering the halls.

Now, with his stunning tax deal, Obama is back. Holding no high cards, he nonetheless managed to resurface suddenly not just as a player but as orchestrator, dealmaker and central actor in a high $1 trillion drama.


Despite this, some on the right are gloating that Obama had been maneuvered into forfeiting his liberal base. Nonsense. He will never lose his base. Where do they go? Liberals will never have a president as ideologically kindred – and they know it. For the left, Obama is as good as it gets in a country that is barely 20 percent liberal.


And Obama pulled this off at his lowest political ebb. After the shambles of the election and with no bargaining power – the Republicans could have gotten everything they wanted on the Bush tax cuts retroactively in January without fear of an Obama veto – he walks away with what even Paul Ryan admits was $313 billion in superfluous spending.



 Swagger-less president put Congress in its place:



It’s amazing how many things happened this week, that even WE didn’t know about:


One Who Helps People Throughout the Land

Hi guys

A long mishmash ahead:


First, do yourself a favor and watch president Obama’s speech at the White House Tribal Nations Conference, including the awesome introduction, and the reaction to his announcement of the US decision to back the U.N. Indigenous Rights Declaration.


President Obama’s statement regarding the war in Afghanistan:


Ron Kirk is really one of the president’s best appointments:


Slowwwwwly, but moving: 

U.S. Weekly Jobless Claims Show Modest Decrease


If you build it….

Home construction up after 2 months of declines


They won’t come….

Number of homes taken back by lenders tumbles


If this is true, then the votes are actually there!

Scott Brown And Lisa Murkowski Back Standalone DADT Repeal Bill


Let the sun shine:

W.H. aims to fast-track solar power


President Obama speaking at the White House Tribal Nations Conference. (FYI: If I post a photo without explaining what it is – chances are the description is on it. Just mouse-over the picture).


There was some excitement around those “coat” photos from yesterday, and I’m here at your service, of course, so I got a few more. But if you’ll tell anyone that I seduce you to drool over the president of the United States, I will quit and join the professional left!

Drool quietly. 🙂


More people are waking up

Bob Cesca: Are Progressives Losing Touch With Reality?

This afternoon, Markos Moulitsas wrote an offhanded comment on Daily Kos that seems completely in line with the recent upswing in progressive apoplexy. Referencing a post by Duncan Black about the president’s tax cut deal, Markos wrote, “Tax cuts don’t create jobs. It’s really obnoxious hearing Democrats like Obama trying to make that argument.”

Right off the bat, and not to go all Aaron Sorkin nitpicky on Markos, but it’s President Obama. Come on. Is it seriously that difficult to type the word “president?” And while I agree with the first part, I’m not sure what Markos is talking about in the second part. The president has never once suggested that tax cuts create jobs.

// snip

There’s a larger and growing crisis within the progressive movement. I’m worried that certain factions of the movement are losing touch with reality.

// snip

First of all, the progressive movement is hardly the president’s base. Most progressive leaders supported John Edwards during the primaries, and many were ambivalent about the president once he was nominated. The president’s base is made up of mostly non-political Americans — many of whom desperately need their unemployment benefits to continue until the jobs return.

Second, stop whining and wise up, progressives. The president isn’t going to pass every last thing on your personal wish list. Just because he compromised on something that you’ve been frantically tweeting about doesn’t mean it’s time to pitch a tantrum and hurl the board game across the room — storming off in a snit.

The volume of progressive crabbery and moping lately has been staggering — otherwise sane progressives vowing to not vote in 2012, or to somehow conjure up a viable primary challenger to run against the president. Suffice to say, both ideas are ridiculous and ultimately self-defeating. Fun to bitch about as a way to blow off steam, but also a great way to elect Awful Republican President X.

Good gravy, are we really this fragile? The president accurately criticizes progressives for not understanding the political climate on the Hill, and we stomp and flail like a gaggle of infants? Pathetic.


But mainly, enough with the pouting. We have to stop mistaking petulance for “principle” and get something done.




And I want to highlight a comment Corrine made in an earlier thread:

I just think that press conference was a turning point. I caught a glimpse of the man who gave the red state/blue state speech, as well as the speech on race. There was a hard truth to his words that hit home. And I think some progressives were just hurt to see the return of that eloquence and biting truth but have it directed towards them! lol Many feel so defeated and have been yearning for someone to fight for them.

What they need to understand is, his ability to turn from a “shellacking” and in a blink of an eye, be able to swim with sharks, speaks well help the Dems as a whole in the long run. If he did a press conference where he talked of nothing but bipartisanship and rainbows, well, that would be troubling. But that press conference was reality-based in the coldest possible terms. He showed he knows EXACTLY who he is dealing with on both sides. And just because he’s of the left doesn’t mean he thinks the left is above reproach. Also, he knows the GOP and what motivates them (their “Holy Grail”).

And he is now in a position to govern, to be seen as a voice of reason, etc. He may very well turn into the “Red state/Blue state” Obama and figure of change that many in the middle hoped he be. Of all the campaign promises he’s kept, the goal of “changing how Washington works” and “changing the tone” are areas that were not within reach because of the GOP’s demonization and obstruction. This tax deal affords him a new look.


The president will deliver a statment to the press (11:45 ET)  on the Afghanistan-Pakistan annual review. According to MSNBC, the review concludes that al-Qaida and the Taliban power weakened, and that American forces can begin withdrawing on schedule in July.


Can you believe it, We may actually have 60 votes to repeal DADT.

Snowe and Murkowski will support the standalone bill