Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Good One!

Best line of last night's press conference:

The president, expressing his "anger" over bonuses paid to executives whose company received billions of dollars in federal bailout funds, was asked why it took him a few days to voice that anger. "It took us a couple of days," he replied tersely, "because I like to know what I'm talking about before I speak."

Ohhh, snap! Of course the "liberal" press has to protect their own, so the answer is being characterized as "cranky". But I think it was a perfect response to Ed Henry's attempt at a stupid "gotcha" question. Someone needs to tell these so-called "journalists" that they're polling at about the level of used-car salesmen in terms of credibility.

When asked a serious question, Obama had his facts and figures and arguments at the ready, and delivered them in a clear. comprehensible way, like this question on cutting the deduction for charitable contributions:

Now, if it's really a charitable contribution, I'm assuming that that shouldn't be the determining factor as to whether you're giving that $100 to the homeless shelter down the street.

And so this provision would affect about 1 percent of the American people. They would still get deductions. It's just that they wouldn't be able to write off 39 percent.

In that sense, what it would do is it would equalize. When I give $100, I'd get the same amount of deduction as when some, a bus driver who's making $50,000 a year, or $40,000 a year, gives that same $100. Right now, he gets 28 percent, he gets to write off 28 percent. I get to write off 39 percent. I don't think that's fair.

But when asked a "gotcha" question, he delivered the smackdown it deserved.

Of course idiots like Matt Drudge and Bill O'Reilly sniff that the press conference was "boring." Here's a news flash: The President of the United States is not there for your entertainment. We have a grownup in the office now, not some overgrown frat boy who cracks jokes about not finding WMD's and gives reporters stupid nicknames.

One thing Barack Obama has been consistently good at doing is staying on message and not letting himself get derailed by celebrity "journalists" trying to provoke a "gaffe" to make themselves look good. Mike Allen at Politico has a revealing article (hat tip to Balloon Juice):

The unspoken contest playing out under the East Room lights: The president wants to deliver a message – in this case, reassurance on the economy and a plug for his budget – and not get tripped up by issues he considers extraneous, or that might overshadow what he wants to say.

Reporters have the opposite incentive:
They want to “make news” by getting the president to say something he hasn’t said before, or wasn’t prepared to say – which, by definition, is not his message.

Barack Obama wouldn't play the game. He wouldn't let the reporters "make news." And they're steamed.


Dana King said...

I missed the press conference last night, but I heard about the reply to Ed Henry. Finally, a president who gets it. (I just wish he'd thought about it a while longer and keptquiet. Now he has to calm everyone else down about those bonuses before they do something stupid.)

I also applaud the charitable contribution comment. Not only is the tax rate an issue, but those with higher incomes have a greater marginal disposible income.

Let's say two families each spend 60% of their income on fixed expenses--housing, food, utilities, etc--and 28% - 36% on taxes. (A gross simplication, but the point will stand.)

A family making $50,000 and paying 28% taxes has $11,000 left over for discretionary spending, including charitable contributions. A family making $200,000 will have $22,000 left over, even though their base standard of living is four times greater (50% of 200,000 = 100,000, as opposed to 25,000 for the other family.)

Maybe I'm a class warrior, but the tax codes are slanted in favor of those who have more in ways most people don't even think about.

(My verification word is "bidem." A misspelling, perhaps?)

Terrie Farley Moran said...

You got it. This is not a reality show. It's reality.


Anonymous said...

"It took us a couple of days," he replied tersely, "because I like to know what I'm talking about before I speak."

Just for the record, JD, Donald Rumsfeld used to say the same thing ... he liked to think before he spoke, too.

If he's calmed your nerves, then his messiah routine must be working (for you).

Over here (NY) law firms are awaiting another "black Monday through Friday") pick your day as layoffs continue to rock our world.

It'll help me sleep nights knowing the job they take from me to give to somebody in Chennai (so Citibank, et al, can be more competitive--too bad that hasn't worked so far or why'd they need all that extra gelt) will be me doing my part to save the US economy.

I'm just wondering if the chosen one ever thought about putting in a few conditions before giving away all those hundreds of billions of dollars to the guys who screwed up ... like, hey, we'll give you taxpayer dollars but you can't layoff those same taxpayers to put foreigners to work. I mean, fair is fair, right?

JD Rhoades said...

Charlie, I don't recall Rumsfeld ever being questioned that closely, except by a National Guard soldier wondering why they hadn't gotten proper equipment, after which said soldier was pilloried by the wingnuts as a "plant."

And I have a challenge for you: see if you can go one comment thread, just one, without the "Messiah" crack. You write some of the best crime novels I've ever read, so I know you're up to it.

Anonymous said...

JD, JD, JD … when you defend the guy’s press conferences (forget his recycled Bush economic policy), I have to wonder if you’re not just a bit overtaken by our president. I understand your angst with the old president (the “overgrown frat boy who cracks jokes about not finding WMD's and gives reporters stupid nicknames”) and his party … but I’m having trouble understanding how this new president (aside from the polish) is acting any differently for the suckers (all of us who put him in office).

He’s against gay marriage (I don’t believe that for a second, but he is, after all, a politician and he does what politicians do (yet another common thread to his predecessor)) … he’s still fighting war(s) that should’ve been over a few years ago (I don’t get the point of Afghanistan now that we’ve figured out it was ALL one big mistake) … and (according to Paul Krugman) he's recycling the Bush policy as regards the bailouts.

So, while I understand the angst aimed at Bush and his party, I’m not understanding all the joy in Mudville … except to say it’s a (I tried not to but my fingers just won’t listen) Messiah complex/syndrome.

No doubt Obama’s smart and polished and has charisma up the ying-yang … and I’d really like for the guy to pull it off and save the country … but his actions to date (specifically, having legislation rammed home without DEMANDING his own party read the stuff before they sign it … without DEMANDING stipulations to protect those who have to live with the consequences (the workers he’s taking the money from) … I just don’t see the big difference between him and the last guy. Not yet, anyway.

And it’s never meant as a crack, JD … sometimes your praise of this guy is super hyper … or maybe it’s your disdain for the other guy/side. Either way, it’s misplaced. While the county can use a cheerleader, it’s inhabitants need protection. Giving Wall Street the sweetheart deal to end all sweetheart deals (and the fact it’s a recycled Bush deal), makes it hard to get excited. I figure between Jay Leno, Letterman, the View, ESPN and maybe the NBA Finals, Obama retains his messiah (that’s twice—please forgive me) persona … but come the world series, say, if unemployment figures continue to rise and this Bush-Obama bailout scheme fails, a political crucifixion may be in order.

JD Rhoades said...

You're right, Charlie. The Obama Administration is a miserable failure. After all, he's had two whole months and he hasn't ended the Iraqi and Afghan wars, turned the economy around, completely reformed the financial system, banned excessive bonuses, ended outsourcing, and brought us all into the Land of Milk and Honey.


Actually, Charlie, YOU sound like the one who's disappointed that Obama didn't turn out to be a miracle-working Messiah. I never thought any of this was going to get straightened out in the first two months.

The biggest difference I see between Obama and Dubbya is that Obama is looking at big, longstanding problems and recognizing that they're going to take big, long-term solutions to not only alleviate them in the short term, but to make it less likely that they'll happen again in the long term. And he's not only recognizing that it's going to take time and effort, he's treating we, the people, like adults and letting us know that. And I like that. If this be hero-worship, let us make the most of it.

Anonymous said...

JD, JD, JD ... You might think he's talking to us like adults. I'm thinking he's talking to us like we're fools.

I don't know how to make you get this ... but he just extended the Bush economic doctrine to the detriment of the same people screwed over the last 8 years (the working class suckers).

And I guess you can look at it one of two ways ...1) he's in office two months ... or 2) he's extended Bush another 2 months.

Whichever you prefer is fine with me. While some of what you listed (with sarcasm added) will take some time ... that bit about outsourcing and excessive bonuses falls right in his lap and it sure could've been straightened out instantly ... just like it's done everywhere else. "You want our money, here are OUR terms."

He chose to follow Bush's lead.

Therefore, after two months, even though you like the way he talks to you , he's pretty much picked up the ball from W and ran with it (which makes me wonder about the value of talk) ... into the same ditch he made fun of during the campaign.

But, like my ancestors say ... sausiche his own ...

FerfeLaBat said...

Read this please?

And then explain what the author did that warranted Services International to hire and ACORN "Rent a Mob" and bus them to AIG employee homes calling the media to come film it? Obama singled out these people. Congress has broken Ex Post Facto limitations to use the tax code to target specific individuals retroactively - punitively. Wall Street has declaird civil war with DC.

And this makes you happy? Geithner wrote the deal with AIG, not once but several times and then lied about knowing anything about it. Dodd. Same lie. And you are OK with this?

I'll tell you what. Republican Senator Grassley needs to be impeached for calling on AIG employees to commit suicide, but you - you are A-ok with what's happening with DC throwing people to a fricking MOB, endangering their lives and then saying of a man who's working for a dollar a year who had nothing whatsoever to do with the failures - to rip apart his entire world.

Well. Let me just say that my grandmother described bahavior exactly like this in Europe and Half my family died in camps in Europe because of crap like this. And it started like this - by a man who simply did not give a rat's ass about who he scapegoated as long as he fanned the populist rage.

Does't want to talk about something until he knows what he's talking about? Are you kidding me? He knows exactly what he's doing and he knows what he's talking about and if you don't get your head out from under Obama's ass and put a stop to this crap right now then you are as guilty as they were in Germany for allowing it to spark and then fanning the flames.

I have been reading your blog for awhile and you are a decent man, but this crowing about Obama's destruction of lives is unconscionable and sickening.

Perhaps his policies are great, it's possible he's got the answer to everything. But you need to open your eyes and hold his feet to the fire when he goes after individuals the way he has been doing because we are being manipulated and good people are being villified with the bad. And that is not my country.

You definitely should not be praising him for anything he and congress have done regarding AIG.

JD Rhoades said...

Ferfe, have you even been READING this blog?

JD Rhoades said...

Ferfe, let me help you out. Read this:

And then ask me if I'm okay with what Congress has done about the bonuses.

Then read THIS:

and see if you still think Obama is happy about what Congress has done about the bonuses (which legislation by the way, has yet to pass the Senate OR be signed into law).

And then you can fucking well apologize to me for comparing me to the fucking Nazis.

Phoebe Fay said...

Trying to ignore the comments debate and focus on your post.

Love your response to those who cry "boring." Good governance IS boring. It's hard, steady work. It does not create instant flashy results. It makes changes that work in the long run.

Any reporter who fusses about boring should give up what they're doing and try to get a job with entertainment news or something.

FerfeLaBat said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
JD Rhoades said...

Okay, Ferfe. You're gone. The rest of you want to know what it takes to get banned here, that's it: compare me to a Nazi.

Anonymous said...

I was so thrilled with his responses to reporters last night--and so glad that you point out here that it is a journalist's job to *report* the news rather than *make* it.

It's nice to have someone in the White House who actually knows the difference between dealing with the press and pandering to it's more prurient impulses.

He never ceases to amaze and delight and surprise--it's been a long time coming.

Anonymous said...

Why is it the only people I hear calling President Obama the "messiah" or the "chosen one" are conservative Republicans? I have yet to hear any of his supporters put forth the idea that he's going to somehow magically fix everything. I guess I just hang out with a smarter crowd.

And Charlie? Moving jobs overseas? That's a favorite position of the free-market bunch who are, in my experience, overwhelmingly conservative Republicans.

Anonymous said...

PaulR ... my man, I'm a socialist before I'm a capitalist ... I'm left of left on pretty much everything but defense (and especially when it comes to workers) but you convince yourself whatever you want... the fact remains he just supported Bush's bailouts (except maybe more so).

The Dems are no different than the Reps, my friend ... and you're kidding yourself to think otherwise.

You want change (now that Obama/the Messiah/the Chosen One has morphed it to "recycled" Bush economics), next presidential election vote for Ralph Nader (or really throw a monkey wrench in the Democratic Party and vote for the guy they keep laughing off the primary stages--Dennis Kucinich).

JD Rhoades said...

For those of you fascinated by trainwrecks, Ferfe "AIG Execs are like Jews in the Holocuast" Labatt is in the middle of a rather entertaining little meltdown at her blog. My favorite moment is when she snivels about being "ganged up on" by two commenters.

Anonymous said...

I can't get the clicky to work!

Can we get a URL please and thank you?

JD Rhoades said...

Anonymous said...

I've sat on the sidelines so far in this one. Interesting discourse.

I didn't see or hear the press conference either. But I have to say that Obama is a different president. He is the most visible president I can remember. He is engaged at all levels, meets problems head-on, isn't afraid to make mistakes or admit to them,not afraid to call someone out on something, and speaks intelligently. He stays on task. He isn't afraid to use the tools available to him, including TELEPROMPTERS, the Internet, cell phones, and more. And when he does something like appear on the Tonight Show or ESPN charting his NCAA brackets? That shows me he's a person in control of what he does to the point that he can still enjoy his life. Overall I think he's one helluva president and will only improve with time. The Messiah? Not my name for him, because he's already done some things I don't agree with. But I never expected him to be perfect. I only hoped he would be effective. I think he's doing that.

LongHairedWeirdo said...

Charlie, here's what's wrong with that whole "messiah" pile of crap.

You're telling Dusty how *he* is supposed to feel based upon *your* logic.

But you're not Dusty. You don't know what he's seeing, what he's hearing, what he's lauding and what he's hating. Saying he's supposed to dislike Obama for X-reason is ridiculous.

You want to bust on Obama? Go ahead; I've got my problems with him too. But the way you're talking, it comes across - to me, at least - like you want to bust on anyone who doesn't agree with you about Obama. Not just Dusty in particular, but it does include him.

And I'd rather see you criticize Obama, than the people who disagree with you about him.

Charlie Stella said...

Long hair ... I just reread your post ...

Let me know what you're smoking, brother ... I gotta try it.

LongHairedWeirdo said...


From your comments, one could decide that you think Dusty's a fool for not seeing Obama the way you do.

If he's calmed your nerves, then his messiah routine must be working (for you).

Now, it's not my place to stick up for Dusty in his own "home". (And he sure doesn't need a defender in any case.) Still, to me, you come across as saying "if you don't agree with me, there's something wrong with you." And I don't like that.

You want to bust on Obama? Hey, cool.

Hell... you want to bust on Dusty, or me? Cool... insofar as I can't stop you anyway.

But do you realize how you come across when you do that? When you keep acting like someone is broken because they don't agree with you?

Think about how you come across. Or, don't... make a joke about what I'm smoking if you'd rather. (Better yet, go for drinking. I don't smoke.)