So today in LA it’s light rain in the 50’s. About as miserable as it gets here.
I went to lunch today with my boss and another colluegue. Upon getting to the side walk, they were alarmed by the weather. “Better run for it!” they exclaimed and off they went (see picture).
What’s up with rain? Especially light rain? What’s the matter with getting a little wet? For long-time LA residents, plenty apparently.
Strange how we get conditioned to phenomena.
I was very encouraged by Obama’s press conference last night.
For a while I’ve been concerned by Obama’s seeming retreat from bi-partisanship. Given the magnitude of our problems—in the economy ,the environment, abroad—there’s no way we can make progress with partisan politics-as-usual in DC. We need somethign profoundly different, something akin to what he’d described on the campaign trail.
But last night he gave a good explanation of why he’s doing what he’s doing. He said:
You know, when I made a series of overtures to the Republicans, going over to meet with both Republican caucuses, you know, putting three Republicans in my cabinet — something that is unprecedented — making sure that they were invited here to the White House to talk about the economic recovery plan, all those were not designed simply to get some short-term votes. They were designed to try to build up some trust over time.
And I think that, as I continue to make these overtures, over time, hopefully that will be reciprocated.
But understand the bottom line that I’ve got right now, which is what’s happening to the people of Elkhart and what’s happening across the country. I can’t afford to see Congress play the usual political games. What we have to do right now is deliver for the American people.
So my bottom line when it comes to the recovery package is: Send me a bill that creates or saves 4 million jobs. Because everybody has to be possessed with a sense of urgency about putting people back to work, making sure that folks are staying in their homes, that they can send their kids to college.
That doesn’t negate the continuing efforts that I’m going to make to listen and engage with my Republican colleagues. And hopefully the tone that I’ve taken, which has been consistently civil and respectful, will pay some dividends over the long term. There are going to be areas where we disagree, and there are going to be areas where we agree.
In other words: I value bipartisanship, I’ve been working at it, and I will continue to do so. But there’s big urgency he to save 4MM jobs as soon as possible.
He went on to respond to some criticisms:
But what I’ve — what I’ve been concerned about is some of the language that’s been used suggesting that this is full of pork and this is wasteful government spending, so on and so forth.
First of all, when I hear that from folks who presided over a doubling of the national debt, then, you know, I just want them to not engage in some revisionist history. I inherited the deficit that we have right now and the economic crisis that we have right now.
People in glass houses shouldn’t throw stones. Undeniable.
He then says:
Number two is that, although there are some programs in there that I think are good policy, some of them aren’t job-creators. I think it’s perfectly legitimate to say that those programs should be out of this particular recovery package and we can deal with them later.
This I think is an overture to fiscal conservatism and a signal of what he hopes will come out of the Senate-House reconciliation process.
But when they start characterizing this as pork, without acknowledging that there are no earmarks in this package — something, again, that was pretty rare over the last eight years — then you get a feeling that maybe we’re playing politics instead of actually trying to solve problems for the American people.
So I’m going to keep on engaging. I hope that, as we get the Senate and the House bills together, that everybody is willing to give a little bit. I suspect that the package that emerges is not going to be 100 percent of what I want.
But my bottom line is, are we creating 4 million jobs? And are we laying the foundation for long-term economic growth?
Again, explaining that urgency is paramount now.
This is another concern that I’ve had in some of the arguments that I’m hearing. When people suggest that, “What a waste of money to make federal buildings more energy-efficient.” Why would that be a waste of money?
This is so true. How GOP critics can point to this program as being a bad idea is ludicrous and is indicative of politics-as-usual going on.
We’re creating jobs immediately by retrofitting these buildings or weatherizing 2 million Americans’ homes, as was called for in the package, so that right there creates economic stimulus.
And we are saving taxpayers when it comes to federal buildings potentially $2 billion. In the case of homeowners, they will see more money in their pockets. And we’re reducing our dependence on foreign oil in the Middle East. [And we’re stimulating the energy efficiency industry which is critical to saving our country and our planet]. Why wouldn’t we want to make that kind of investment?
So things have been getting away from the President. Pelosi surely hasn’t helped. But I think last night got him back on the right track.
Yes we can.
I’ve been writing a lot about the changing landscape of the media industry. In particular my focus has been on the NY Times and on how news media companies need to either offer differentiated primary reporting or targeted editorial filtering. Two stories today in the NYT highlight two different paths being taken.
The first is about the NYT itself. It recognizes that the media world is changing, that not every media outlet is going to be able to cover every story. But while others change their models and adapt or fold, it is going to stick to its guns and stay and fight. In what it calls its “last-man-standing” strategy, it sees opportunities in the decay of other outlets:
As other newspapers cut back on international and national coverage, or cease operations, we believe there will be opportunities for The Times to fill that void
Seems risky to me. Doing primary reporting within your core compotency still will work, but trying to define that compotency as everything seems too ambitious.
On the other extreme is Newsweek, who, as it continues to lose money, recognizes that it is time to bail on the old model and change dramatically:
There’s a phrase in the culture, ‘we need to take note of,’ ‘we need to weigh in on.’ That’s going away. If we don’t have something original to say, we won’t. The drill of chasing the week’s news to add a couple of hard-fought new details is not sustainable
Instead of doing the primary reporting, Newsweek is going to focus on adding context to the news. Seems like the smarter move to me.
My mom is here and on Sat. she took all of the kids. Kita and I were out of the house at 3pm.
First we went hiking in Franklin Canyon Park.
Then we went to the Caioti Pizza Cafe on Tujunga. The place is great: super mellow, great ambiance, great salads, great pizzas:
and it’s BYOB:
Then we went and saw the Wrestler:
(Mickey Rourke, the star of the film, winning best actor at the British Film Academy last night).
Movie was good: great concept, great acting, so-so execution in terms of script, direction.
Anyhow, the best part of it was the many consecutive hours of freedom. It provides a faint glimpse of the freedom we used to have pre-kids, like in Ecuador where we just cruised around the country doing whatever we wanted to.
Alas, it’s sad to just have a faint glimpse, but I’m still super glad to have it. Thanks Mom!
UPDATE: I’ve got poison ivy all over fromt the hike. Next time I’ll stay on the path.
I’ve been impressed with Obama’s character in the first few weeks of his presidency—his decency, his honesty.
But governing is different than campaigning, and so far things are going so-so. Obama had a lot of idealistic rhetoric on the campaign trail, and that set the bar very high for him now that he’s in power.
So when Congressional Democrats put together a bill that has a lot of ridiculous, Washington-as-usual spending in it, it was lame of him to stand by it. He’s talked about supporting not what’s liberal nor what’s conservative but rather what makes sense. Now’s the time to do it.
I’ve written about encouraging signs from Blue Dog Democrats and from Obama opposing some of the more traditional foolishness from the House leadership. Today David Brooks writes about the bipartisan moderate coalition in the Senate that is trying operate not in knee-jerk partisan conflict but cooperatively to put together a sensible compromise. Brooks points out that Obama “spent two years campaigning on postpartisan politics” and then asks:
Does he embrace the [moderate’s compromise] and try to use it to create a new style of politics? Or does he remain an orthodox Democrat, deferring to the Old Bulls on legislation, enforcing party discipline and trying to pick off a Republican or two here and there to pass laws? … We’ll see if he seizes this opportunity, or whether it’s just business as usual.
Last night wasn’t encouraging. He was down at a partisan Democratic meeting in Williamsburg and Politico reports:
Gone was the conciliatory rhetoric and gentle wooing of the GOP. Instead appeared a president sounding like the candidate he was a few months ago, passionately and unmistakably chastising Republicans and reminding Americans of the policies they so soundly rejected on Election Day.
The presures of the presidency are rough. Frustrations can drive people to foolish antagonism.
Stay cool Barack. Remember your plan for a new era. Yes we can.
The Huffington Post reports that the GOP opposes Obama’s limitation on Wall St. compensation.
Sen. Mel Martinez (R-FL) says:
What executives have done is troubling, but it’s equally troubling to have government telling shareholders how much they can pay the executives
The federal government IS a shareholder now in these banks! And anytime an investor chooses to make an investment or a loan in a company, it does indeed impose conditions, particularly on compensation.
I’m a Scrooge / Grinch / Buzz-kill about Christmas, at least the gift-giving part. It’s not that I don’t care much for posessions, it’s that I think that they have large negative practical, psychological, spiritual and environmental impacts. So why then do we celebrate our most revered holiday with a bunch of impractical gifts? And—worst of all—what does this tell our kids?
So my wife buys all of the gifts we give. I don’t get any for anyone, except for Kita, but I keep it a service instead of a durable good. This year I got her a massage and she loved it.
But I just figured out what we’re going to get everyone on our list next year—smart strips. All of our modern home electronic devices continue to use a lot of electricity even when they’re off. A smart strip stops that; it:
Saves up to 72% of the energy your systems use, eliminates 640 lbs. of CO2 per year
The thing pays for itself in a few weeks.
This is the most intelligent gift I can think of. It’s something that people would surely appreciate once they have it but they don’t necessarily go out and get it. I’m getting it for everyone, and that’s it.
Kita: you with me?
They know it’s a messy bill and they wanted a clean bill. Now, I got in terrible trouble with our leadership because they don’t care what’s in the bill, they just want it pass and they want it to be unanimous. They don’t mind the partisan fighting cause that’s what they are used to. In fact, they’re really good at it. And they’re a little bit worried about what a post-partisan future might look like. If members actually had to read the bills and figure out whether they are any good or not. We’re just told how to vote. We’re treated like mushrooms most of the time.
The article also notes that Cooper “said House leaders had “pinned” Obama down by jamming pork into the bill, and expressed hope the Senate would radically revise the package.”
There’s a lot going on in DC right now, but to me this is the real story. Obama is looking to transform politics in DC and has an urgent need to do so given our country’s crisis. Pelosi is lost in the partisanship of the past and can’t look past her battles with the other party and see the greater national good.
Obama and our country’s success I think depends much upon to what extent either Obama can overcome Pelosi or she and her type keep us lost in the past.
Cheers to Cooper for speaking his mind.
It’s incredible to have not just a politican but a President talk to us with such honesty and integrity.