Thursday, October 22, 2009

This Is Becoming An Alan Grayson FanBlog

Grayson schools No-Nothing Rethugs trying to defund ACORN. When you claim to be upholding the Constitution, you'd better know a little about the document. Or Alan Grayson will flay you like a deer in the north woods. Watch and enjoy.

Thursday, October 01, 2009

Alan Grayson Cont'd

When Republicans threw a hissy fit after Alan Grayson attacked their lack of a healthcare plan on the House floor, he defended himself! We need more Democrats like this.

This is his appearance on Leslie Blitzer's show on CNN:

Rachel Maddow's show had a good summary of the entire contretemps, including clips from several Republicans making similar claims on the House floor over the last few months.

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

A Real Democrat

Alan Grayson (D-Fl) gives a short, pointed speech on the House floor about healthcarereform:

Now that's how you do it. And Baucus, Conrad, Lincoln, Nelson, Carper, alleged Democrats who voted against the public option yesterday? I look forward to contributing to your liberal primary opponents. People who are willing to represent the Democratic wing of the Democratic Party, not spineless corporate whores. You're on notice.

Friday, September 25, 2009

Looking Forward to "Capitalism"

After watching Michael Moore demolish Wolf/Leslie Blitzer in this segment, I'm looking forward to his film:

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

And Now For Something Different

This artist won the 'Ukraine's Got Talent' show (who knew such a thing existed?) with this sand painting. I've never seen anything quite like it.

Telegraph (uk): Sand artist Kseniya Simonova, winner of Ukraine's Got Talent, becomes internet hit

Sunday, September 20, 2009

The New Father Coughlin

This is a great video showing the true insanity of Glenn Beck. His crazy rants, shown at 2x speed. Half the time, double the crazy:

This is what all your teabagging friends are listening too. This is the person they are telling you is making sense. Whee!

Saturday, September 12, 2009

The 912 Project

Didja watch the crazy march on Washington today? Whackadoodles with signs calling Obama a Communist and for the return of Joe McCarthy? Rachel Maddow deconstructs the teabaggers latest. The stoopid, it burns.

We're #37

Today a lot of stupid people are protesting in DC against healthcare reform. Because they don't want their tax money spent on -- themselves, I guess? Just stupid. Stupid stupid stupid. I know some people who are there and while they are perfectly nice, they're not the sharpest tools in the drawer. If they have their way, we will go DOWN in healthcare ranking around the world. And right now we're number 37. This funny video tells us all the countries with better healthcare rankings than ours. I want to move to the Faroe Islands.

Friday, September 11, 2009

Never Forget

I'll never forget 9/11 or the lessons of 9/11.

The primary lesson, of course, is that who the President is matters. Whether or not the President was a good student or a C student matters. The person I vote for for President needs to be smart. The President needs to read his memos. If the CIA flies all the way to the President's vacation home to deliver an urgent memo, the President needs to take that seriously.

President Obama is annoying me mightily these days by acting as though he skipped negotiations in law school. His "fight" for healthcare seems a lot more like McClellan and a lot less like Grant. (C students, feel free to look up those Civil War generals.) But I know he's smart. And if the CIA goes to him with an urgent matter -- as they may have already -- he's not going to tell the briefer "You've covered your ass now." He won't go fishing afterwards. Obama will go to work on the problem.

So we as a nation have finally learned the lesson of 9/11. But we must never forget that having a stupid person as President can be deadly.

Monday, August 31, 2009

Tell Your Representative to Support Single Payer

Click here to fill out a form to automatically send a letter supporting Rep. Anthony Weiner's single-payer amendment to your U.S. representative.

From Physicians for a National Health Program.

Anthony Weiner Defends the Public Option - On Fox!

And now, representing the Democratic wing of the Democratic Party, wearing the tan suit with a yellow tie, Jon Stewart's former roomate, New York Representative Anthony Weiner! I'll vote for this guy for President. I want someone to fight for what is right. Watch and enjoy.

Saturday, August 29, 2009


Ted Kennedy Jr.'s powerful eulogy for his father:

Part 1:

Part 2:

Boston Globe

But today I'm simply compelled to remember Ted Kennedy as my father and my best friend. When I was 12 years old I was diagnosed with bone cancer and a few months after I lost my leg, there was a heavy snowfall over my childhood home outside of Washington D.C. My father went to the garage to get the old Flexible Flyer and asked me if I wanted to go sledding down the steep driveway. And I was trying to get used to my new artificial leg and the hill was covered with ice and snow and it wasn't easy for me to walk. And the hill was very slick and as I struggled to walk, I slipped and I fell on the ice and I started to cry and I said "I can't do this." I said, "I'll never be able to climb that hill." And he lifted me in his strong, gentle arms and said something I'll never forget. He said "I know you'll do it, there is nothing you can't do. We're going to climb that hill together, even if it takes us all day."

Sure enough, he held me around my waist and we slowly made it to the top, and, you know, at age 12 losing a leg pretty much seems like the end of the world, but as I climbed onto his back and we flew down the hill that day I knew he was right. I knew I was going to be OK. You see, my father taught me that even our most profound losses are survivable and it is what we do with that loss, our ability to transform it into a positive event, that is one of my father's greatest lessons. He taught me that nothing is impossible.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

New Name for The Public Option


An Appropriate Memorial to Ted Kennedy

firedoglake: Name The Public Option, Not the Bill, After Kennedy

Put Kennedy's name on a weakened bill, and you'll likely be able to break the progressive bloc in the House in two seconds flat when "the Kennedy bill" comes out of conference with the individual mandate but no public option, and progressives are faced with having to oppose "the Kennedy bill." As strong as they've been on holding firm in their demands, putting the Kennedy name on a weak bill -- and remember, nothing at all prevents this -- can only drain their resolve.


With the Kennedy Health Care Plan intact in the bill, there's no reason the legislative vehicle that creates it cannot also bear his name. But while there's still a fight ahead about just what will be in this bill, if we're going to lend Ted Kennedy's name to something, let it be done in a way that keeps him in the fight to fulfill his vision right to the last, and which keeps his name on people's lips when they are finally able to take their families to the doctor without fear of financial ruin, saying, "We're covered by the Kennedy Plan."

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Whip The Senate Into Supporting the Public Option

Time to get the pusillanimous Democrats off the fence and lined up to support a robust public option available on day one of the healthcare reform legislation. Please take the time to send a fax to each of these fine recipients of buckets of cash from the healthcare industry. The fax will be sent by Howard Dean's organization "Stand With Dr. Dean".

* Send a fax to Mark Begich, asking him if he supports the public option!
* Send a fax to Tom Carper, asking him if he supports the public option!
* Send a fax to Jon Tester, asking him if he supports the public option!
* Send a fax to Mark Warner, asking him if he supports the public option!
* Send a fax to Ron Wyden, asking him if he supports the public option!

I took great pleasure in faxing all of them. I'm tired of trying to get more Democrats into office. From now on it's only better Democrats. If you're not with us you're against us.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Obama: Stand Up and Fight for the Public Option

The last tough Democratic President

OpenLeft: Public Option or Primary!

Any Democrat who does not vote for a "public option" insurance plan in health care reform must be challenged in a primary. And this includes any President who does not go to the mat and fight 100% for a public option.

I'll camp out in front of Howard Dean's door for a year to get him to run for President if Obama abandons the campaign promises he made to us.

No public option, not one red cent to any Democrat who opposed the public option. It's that simple. And that includes one Barack Obama. I hope he realizes that. If he does not fight for us he is just another in the long line of corporate shills who talk a good game to get our votes then go off and vote with the money guys.

He's either with us or against us. Will the real Barack Obama please stand up?

Saturday, August 15, 2009

Conservatives: Bringing the Crazy Since the 1800s

Rick Perlstein, WaPo: In America, Crazy Is a Preexisting Condition
Birthers, Town Hall Hecklers and the Return of Right-Wing Rage

[Rightwing anger is both crazy, and heartfelt.] If you don't understand that any moment of genuine political change always produces both, you can't understand America, where the crazy tree blooms in every moment of liberal ascendancy, and where elites exploit the crazy for their own narrow interests.

In the early 1950s, Republicans referred to the presidencies of Franklin Roosevelt and Harry Truman as "20 years of treason" and accused the men who led the fight against fascism of deliberately surrendering the free world to communism. Mainline Protestants published a new translation of the Bible in the 1950s that properly rendered the Greek as connoting a more ambiguous theological status for the Virgin Mary; right-wingers attributed that to, yes, the hand of Soviet agents. And Vice President Richard Nixon claimed that the new Republicans arriving in the White House "found in the files a blueprint for socializing America."

When John F. Kennedy entered the White House, his proposals to anchor America's nuclear defense in intercontinental ballistic missiles -- instead of long-range bombers -- and form closer ties with Eastern Bloc outliers such as Yugoslavia were taken as evidence that the young president was secretly disarming the United States. Thousands of delegates from 90 cities packed a National Indignation Convention in Dallas, a 1961 version of today's tea parties; a keynote speaker turned to the master of ceremonies after his introduction and remarked as the audience roared: "Tom Anderson here has turned moderate! All he wants to do is impeach [Supreme Court Chief Justice Earl] Warren. I'm for hanging him!"

Before the "black helicopters" of the 1990s, there were right-wingers claiming access to secret documents from the 1920s proving that the entire concept of a "civil rights movement" had been hatched in the Soviet Union; when the landmark 1964 Civil Rights Act was introduced, one frequently read in the South that it would "enslave" whites. And back before there were Bolsheviks to blame, paranoids didn't lack for subversives -- anti-Catholic conspiracy theorists even had their own powerful political party in the 1840s and '50s.

Read the entire piece.

Lawrence O'Donnell Needs His Own Show on MSNBC

Republican opposing "socialist" healthcare plan handed his hat by O'Donnell. Fun.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

My Nominee for Post of the Year

From Steve M. at No More Mister Nice Blog:


His troops were valiant and he'd had a brilliant plan for taking the capital, but now we can look back to January 20, 2009, and realize that Barack Obama was naive to think major combat operations had ended. He never saw the insurgency coming. He and his people seemed to think that there simply wouldn't be that kind of factional strife after the old regime fell; they believed that, despite years of tension between the factions, it would end in an instant and the citizens of the country would immediately see themselves as united.

As the insurgency grew and began to make the country ungovernable, the Obama team and its allies downplayed it as a ragtag collection of end-timers who'd soon be irrelevant. His troops knew how to wage a traditional campaign, but hadn't given serious thought to the problem of dealing with a chaotic aftermath. When it came to the "postwar" period, Obama never really had a plan.

His forces simply have no training in this kind of warfare. Now they have to learn on the fly, and their learning curve seems to be slow. They appear to believe that the forces they're now fighting are thinking traditionally -- they can't seem to accept the fact that the enemy genuinely wants anarchy and a failed state.

How Obama deals with this insurgency will be the main test of his presidency.

Bipartisanship is a crock. I didn't vote for Charles Grassley for Congress, but Obama seems content to let that rightwing nutjob write the healthcare legislation. Get off the mat and fight Baracky or yours will be a one-term Presidency.

Sunday, August 09, 2009

The Socialist Life of the Fox News Viewer

I am an American Conservative Shithead

This morning I was awoken by my alarm clock powered by electricity generated by the public power monopoly regulated by the U.S. Department of Energy.

I then took a shower in the clean water provided by a municipal water utility.

After that, I turned on the TV to one of the FCC-regulated channels to see what the National Weather Service of the National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration determined the weather was going to be like, using satellites designed, built, and launched by the National Aeronautics and Space Administration.

I watched this while eating my breakfast of U.S. Department of Agriculture-inspected food and taking the drugs which have been determined as safe by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.

At the appropriate time, as regulated by the U.S. Congress and kept accurate by the National Institute of Standards and Technology and the U.S. Naval Observatory, I get into my National Highway Traffic Safety Administration-approved automobile and set out to work on the roads built by the local, state, and federal Departments of Transportation, possibly stopping to purchase additional fuel of a quality level determined by the Environmental Protection Agency, using legal tender issued by the Federal Reserve Bank.

On the way out the door I deposit any mail I have to be sent out via the U.S. Postal Service and drop the kids off at the public school.

After spending another day not being maimed or killed at work thanks to the workplace regulations imposed by the Department of Labor and the Occupational Safety and Health administration, enjoying another two meals which again do not kill me because of the USDA, I drive my NHTSA car back home on the DOT roads, to my house which has not burned down in my absence because of the state and local building codes and Fire Marshal's inspection, and which has not been plundered of all its valuables thanks to the local police department.

And then I log on to the internet -- which was developed by the Defense Advanced Research Projects Administration -- and post on and Fox News forums about how SOCIALISM in medicine is BAD because the government can't do anything right.

This interwebs gem was originally published by Americablog.

Thursday, August 06, 2009

Fight For Healthcare

The millionaires who own the conservative airwaves have whipped the right wing into a frenzy to defeat Obama's healthcare initiative. Mobs of the deranged are descending on the open forums being held by members of Congress. They're intent on disrupting things and shouting down any rational discourse. The left needs to show up the public events and let them know what the public really wants: a healthcare plan with a strong public option.

Here's a list of Congressional events put together by firedoglake. Go to one in your area! Stand up for government working for the people. It's time our government stopped subsidizing health insurers.

Monday, August 03, 2009

Birther Barbie

Orly Taitz -- screeching Birther Barbie -- must be seen to be believed. Claims to be a lawyer, a dentist and a real estate agent. Law degree from an online diploma mill. Admitted in the great state of California. Wow.

Sunday, August 02, 2009


I wish more people would approach their weddings with this kind of joy and freedom:

Friday, June 26, 2009

RIP Michael Jackson

The Jackson 5 on the Ed Sullivan Show, 1970, the way I'll remember Michael Jackson fondly, before his life went off the rails.

Monday, June 08, 2009

Gillibrand in New York Magazine

New York: Kirsten Gillibrand shuttling between meetings in New York in April.
(Photo: David Burnett/Contact Press Images)

New York: The Reintroduction of Kirsten Gillibrand
After a shaky first hundred days, the junior senator from New York is trying to start over.

More of the Tracy Flick nonsense. If Gillibrand were a man, she'd be the Next Big Thing for her smarts, ambition, and savvy.

Friday, June 05, 2009

One Year Ago

Reuters: Presumptive US Democratic presidential nominee Senator Barack Obama (D-IL) holds up a baby as he takes part in a town hall-style meeting in Bristol, Virginia, June 5, 2008.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Torture's Opponent

The best person on TV right now telling the truth about torture is, of all people, Jesse Ventura, former professional wrestler, former governor of Minnesota. Watch him take on torture and the loathesome Sean Hannity:

Monday, May 11, 2009

Big Baby!

The game-winning shot from last night:

The backstory on Glen Davis:

Saturday, May 09, 2009

Libertarian Paradise

Funny and topical as Republicans froth at the mouth and call Obama and Dems socialists. Horrors!

Monday, May 04, 2009

Stand By Me

It's weird to wake up and hear that the New York Times is filing papers with the state today so they can close the Boston Globe and lay off all the employees in 60 days. "Just in case" they don't win the negotiations and win deep concessions and layoffs from the employees. So whatever the result, the Boston Globe will be diminished if not dead. Will my boxes of Boston Globes from championships gone past become collector's items for more than one reason?

Thanks a lot, Grey Lady, for buying our hometown paper with lots of debt. Who could have anticipated that debt financing was a house of cards? Bloggers, that's who, and that's one of the things that's bringing down the newspaper industry. Newspapers didn't see the internet as a threat until way too late and never came up with an effective strategy to compete online.

Where will we be getting our news in 10 years? Change is a coming.

Today I heard a piece on NPR about a musical project called "Stand By Me", one of those great, great songs from the Sixties. Watch the video below of the song, sung by street performers, the filmmakers layering artist upon artist as the song progresses. Something I learned about from public radio. Will public radio still be here in 10 years? I have no answers, just questions and a great video.

Playing for

Friday, May 01, 2009

UConn Women Feted at the White House

There are three other videos embedded above the Hartford Courant article, below; the ceremony, and interviews with Geno Auriemma and Rene Montgomery.

Hartford Courant: UConn Makes White House Visit

WASHINGTON — - Long before he became a candidate, President Barack Obama was a huge basketball fan. Well documented during the presidential campaign, his alter ego is that of a gym rat — a guy with a nice first step, decent jumper and pointy elbows.

And after the ceremony on Monday welcoming the national champion UConn women's basketball team to the White House, Obama decided to prove it. He invited them to the basketball court he had constructed on the White House grounds.

"We played P-I-G, which is a shorter version of H-O-R-S-E," UConn center Tina Charles said. "He beat Maya [Moore], Renee [Montgomery] and myself. He was shooting 17-footers all over the perimeter."

Said Montgomery: "He only missed one shot out of five shots. In 20 years, I'll remember that I could not make one jump shot at the White House. My clothes hindered me. I couldn't extend my arms."


Thursday, April 30, 2009

Impeach Bybee

New ad from

It's Called "Swine" Flu For A Reason

Notice that the government doesn't want you to call it swine flu any more? They're calling it the H1N1 virus. Partly that's because they don't want you to stop buying pork. But also it's to take the heat off our corporate pork producers, and off a U.S. company as the probable origin of the swine flu. A gigantic Smithfield Company factory farm in Mexico is the ground zero of swine flu. Read the Rolling Stone article, below, at your own risk, because you may never eat pork again after you read it. When pigs flu
Swine-flu outbreak could be linked to Smithfield factory farms

Rolling Stone: Boss Hog
America's top pork producer churns out a sea of waste that has destroyed rivers, killed millions of fish and generated one of the largest fines in EPA history. Welcome to the dark side of the other white meat.

Monday, April 27, 2009

GOP Stripped Flu Pandemic Preparedness From Stimulus

Bipartisanship is not so great when you compromise with idiots. The Republicans said pandemics had nothing to do with the economy. Ha. Memo to Democrats: Don't compromise with stupid people.

GOP Stripped Flu Pandemic Preparedness From Stimulus

Europeans told to avoid travel

Europeans have been urged to postpone all non-essential travel to the United States and Mexico by the EU health commissioner, Andorra Vassiliou.

Sunday, April 26, 2009

Miss Otis Regrets

An old song by Nat King Cole. I know the version sung by Ella Fitzgerald. I kept thinking of this song today as I read and re-read this unbelievable article that was on the front page of the Washington Post today:

Amid Outcry on Memo, Signer's Private Regret
Friends Say Judge Wasn't Proud of Outcome

"I've heard [Jay S. Bybee] express regret at the contents of the memo," said a fellow legal scholar and longtime friend, who spoke on the condition of anonymity while offering remarks that might appear as "piling on." "I've heard him express regret that the memo was misused. I've heard him express regret at the lack of context -- of the enormous pressure and the enormous time pressure that he was under. And anyone would have regrets simply because of the notoriety."

Maybe Judge Bybee could express his regret to the family of Alyssa Peterson, the young soldier who killed herself in Iraq in September of 2003 after refusing to torture prisoners.

[I]n the years since the original Bybee memo was made public, his misgivings appeared evident to some in his immediate circle.

"On the primary memo, that legitimated and defined torture, he just felt it got away from him," said the fellow scholar. "What I understand that to mean is, any lawyer, when he or she is writing about something very complicated, very layered, sometimes you can get it all out there and if you're not careful, you end up in a place you never intended to go. I think for someone like Jay, who's a formalist and a textualist, that's a particular danger."

Blah blah blah bullshit bullshit bullshit. You know, I once risked being fired because I refused to file a motion in Superior Court that I felt was unjustified in law. I refused to do that because a) it was unethical, and b) I took an oath as an officer of the court to follow the rules. Apparently Judge Bybee was more interested in getting the federal judgeship he so desired than in upholding his oath to protect and defend the United States Constitution:

Bybee's friends said he never sought the job at the Office of Legal Counsel. The reason he went back to Washington, Guynn said, was to interview with then-White House counsel Alberto R. Gonzales for a slot that would be opening on the 9th Circuit when a judge retired. The opening was not yet there, however, so Gonzales asked, "Would you be willing to take a position at the OLC first?" Guynn said.

Sign the bullshit memo, allow thousands to be tortured, sully the reputation of America around the world, sell your immortal soul for a federal judgeship. That's Republican cronyism at it's finest. Heckuva job, Jay.

Oh yeah, Miss Otis Regrets. Roger Ailes (the good Roger Ailes) had the same thought, and he wrote some new lyrics. Miss Bybee Regrets

Wednesday, April 22, 2009


Let’s say this slowly: the Bush administration wanted to use 9/11 as a pretext to invade Iraq, even though Iraq had nothing to do with 9/11. So it tortured people to make them confess to the nonexistent link.

There’s a word for this: it’s evil.

Paul Krugman


Eff Dick Cheney.

Sunday, April 19, 2009

My Favorite Marathoners

I've seen many elite runners in the Boston Marathon, from Joan Benoit Samuelson to Johnny Kelley, but the greatest and most inspirational marathoners I've ever seen are the Hoyts. They'll be back in the race tomorrow & my friend Nancy and I will make our annual pilgrimage to watch. I remember watching them run the first year, when Dick was much younger and Rick was still at Boston University; now Dick is 68 and his wheelchair-bound son Rick is 47.The Boston Globe has two video clips on the father-son team.

Saturday, April 18, 2009

Torture Lawyer Bybee Deserves This Mocking

This MF Jay S. Bybee, torture facilitator and federal judge, must be impeached. Some well-deserved laughs at his expense:

President Obama's Weekly Web Address


Office of the Press Secretary

WEEKLY ADDRESS: President Obama Discusses Efforts to Reform Spending, Government Waste; Names Chief Performance Officer and Chief Technology Officer

WASHINGTON – In his weekly address, President Barack Obama announced that Jeffrey Zients, a CEO, management consultant and entrepreneur, will join the administration as the Chief Performance Officer, and that Aneesh Chopra, Virginia’s Secretary of Technology, will serve as the Chief Technology Officer. Zients will also serve as Deputy Director for Management of the Office of Management and Budget. He will work to streamline processes, cut costs, and find the best practices throughout the government. As Chief Technology Officer, Chopra will promote technological innovation to help the country meet its goals from job creation, to reducing health care costs, to protecting the homeland. Together with Chief Information Officer Vivek Kundra, they will help give all Americans a government that is effective, efficient, and transparent.

President Obama announced his appointments of the following individuals today:

Jeffrey D. Zients
Zients has twenty years of business experience as a CEO, management consultant and entrepreneur with a deep understanding of business strategy, process reengineering and financial management. He served as CEO and Chairman of the Advisory Board Company and Chairman of the Corporate Executive Board. These firms are leading providers of performance benchmarks and best practices across a wide range of industries. Currently, he is the Founder and Managing Partner of Portfolio Logic, an investment firm focused primarily on business and healthcare service companies.

Aneesh Paul Chopra
Chopra serves as Virginia’s Secretary of Technology. He leads the Commonwealth’s strategy to effectively leverage technology in government reform, to promote Virginia’s innovation agenda, and to foster technology-related economic development. Previously, he worked as Managing Director with the Advisory Board Company, leading the firm’s Financial Leadership Council and the Working Council for Health Plan Executives.

The full audio of the address is HERE. The video can be viewed online at

Remarks of President Barack Obama
Weekly Address
Saturday, April 18, 2009

It’s not news to say that we are living through challenging times: The worst economic downturn since the Great Depression. A credit crisis that has made that downturn worse. And a fiscal disaster that has accumulated over a period of years.

In the year 2000, we had projected budget surpluses in the trillions, and Washington appeared to be on the road to fiscal stability. Eight years later, when I walked in the door, the projected budget deficit for this year alone was $1.3 trillion. And in order to jumpstart our struggling economy, we were forced to make investments that added to that deficit through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act.

But as surely as our future depends on building a new energy economy, controlling health care costs and ensuring that our kids are once again the best educated in the world, it also depends on restoring a sense of responsibility and accountability to our federal budget. Without significant change to steer away from ever-expanding deficits and debt, we are on an unsustainable course.

So today, we simply cannot afford to perpetuate a system in Washington where politicians and bureaucrats make decisions behind closed doors, with little accountability for the consequences; where billions are squandered on programs that have outlived their usefulness, or exist solely because of the power of a lobbyist or interest group; and where outdated technology and information systems undermine efficiency, threaten our security, and fail to serve an engaged citizenry.

If we’re to going to rebuild our economy on a solid foundation, we need to change the way we do business in Washington. We need to restore the American people’s confidence in their government – that it is on their side, spending their money wisely, to meet their families’ needs.

That starts with the painstaking work of examining every program, every entitlement, every dollar of government spending and asking ourselves: Is this program really essential? Are taxpayers getting their money’s worth? Can we accomplish our goals more efficiently or effectively some other way?

It’s a process we have already begun, scouring our budget line by line for programs that don’t work so we can cut them to make room for ones that do. That means ending tax breaks for companies shipping jobs overseas; stopping the fraud and abuse in our Medicare program; and reforming our health care system to cut costs for families and businesses. It means strengthening whisteblower protections for government employees who step forward to report wasteful spending. And it means reinstating the pay-as-you-go rule that we followed during the 1990s – so if we want to spend, we’ll need to find somewhere else to cut.

And this Monday, at my first, full Cabinet meeting, I will ask all of my department and agency heads for specific proposals for cutting their budgets. Already, members of my Cabinet have begun to trim back unnecessary expenditures. Secretary Napolitano, for example, is ending consulting contracts to create new seals and logos that have cost the Department of Homeland Security $3 million since 2003. In the largest Department, Secretary Gates has launched an historic project to reform defense contracting procedures and eliminate hundreds of billions of dollars in wasteful spending and cost overruns. And I commend Senators McCain and Levin – a Republican and a Democrat – who have teamed up to lead this effort in Congress.

Finally, in the coming weeks, I will be announcing the elimination of dozens of government programs shown to be wasteful or ineffective. In this effort, there will be no sacred cows, and no pet projects. All across America, families are making hard choices, and it’s time their government did the same.

That is why I have assembled a team of management, technology, and budget experts to guide us in this work – leaders who will help us revamp government operations from top to bottom and ensure that the federal government is truly working for the American people.

I have named Jeffrey Zients, a leading CEO, management consultant and entrepreneur, to serve as Deputy Director for Management of the Office of Management and Budget and as the first ever Chief Performance Officer. Jeffrey will work to streamline processes, cut costs, and find best practices throughout our government.

Aneesh Chopra, who is currently the Secretary of Technology for Governor Kaine of Virginia, has agreed to serve as America’s Chief Technology Officer. In this role, Aneesh will promote technological innovation to help achieve our most urgent priorities – from creating jobs and reducing health care costs to keeping our nation secure.

Aneesh and Jeffrey will work closely with our Chief Information Officer, Vivek Kundra, who is responsible for setting technology policy across the government, and using technology to improve security, ensure transparency, and lower costs. The goal is to give all Americans a voice in their government and ensure that they know exactly how we’re spending their money – and can hold us accountable for the results.

None of this will be easy. Big change never is. But with the leadership of these individuals, I am confident that we can break our bad habits, put an end to the mismanagement that has plagued our government, and start living within our means again. That is how we will get our deficits under control and move from recovery to prosperity. And that is how we will give the American people the kind of government they expect and deserve – one that is efficient, accountable and fully worthy of their trust.

Thank you.

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Yeah, I've Been Slacking Off

Daily Express

As GW would say (if he were a blogger) blogging is hard work. I've been putting my time and energy into other projects lately; thus the blogging has suffered. 'Cept for today; I'm home with a miserable cold so I've been wandering around the internet for kicks.

So, there will be considerable less posting on this site for the foreseeable future. Other than the blogroll to the right, here are a few other blogs you may enjoy.

Buttered Noodles This woman can really write, and not just about food.

The Consumerist Originally one of the Gawker blogs, it didn't make enough money for Nick Denton and is now part of Consumers Union. They have a post Monday-Friday called "Morning Deals" where they review good deals on consumer products on the web. I got my new TV for a great price with free shipping from one of their posts. Of course, you have to know what you're looking for and scrutinize them carefully. Often the sales are of reconditioned products, which in the real world we call "used".

Hey, It's Free Everyone can use a bargain these days!

I also recommend looking into the Google Reader to follow all the blogs you read. Here's a video tutorial on how to use the Google Reader


No one should ever be forced to call this monster "Your Honor." He is a man without conscience, morals or principles and should be shunned by all good people. He wrote dry legal memos authorizing the most horrible torture of human beings for another monster, George W. Bush.

Read about the torture memos Monster Bybee wrote here. He shouldn't be on the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals; he should be in jail.

Teabagging For Dummies

HuffPo: "The American Taxpayers Are The Jews For Obama's Oven" reads one sign in Chicago--Tony Ramao.

Or as I like to say, This Is Your Brain on Republican - Dope!

Tea parties got lots of coverage yesterday although they were about the size of a brown bag classical concert. Here's a great summary of how stupid these people really are:

Ellis Weiner, HuffPo: Life in These Untied States+

So, to sum up:

1. People who make far less than 250K per year, whose tax rates will be cut, spent yesterday out in public demanding that Obama stop increasing their taxes. They proudly marched and defiantly yelled and etc., etc., insisting with waved signs and shaken fists on their opposition to something that is not the case. They have made it their business to prevent something from happening that was never going to happen in the first place--and they mean it!

2. These same people, whose economic and physical well-being are a matter of supreme indifference to the richest families in America, have been persuaded to insist on policies that will only benefit the richest families in America. There is a term for these people, and it isn't "right-wing" or "conservative" or "patriotic" or even "Republicans." The term is "sucker." These people are suckers. They have been tricked and manipulated into working against their own interests and for the interests of people who could literally not care less about them. Their patron saint isn't Barry Goldwater or Thomas Paine or Ronald Reagan or Jesus H. Christ. It's P.T. Barnum.

3. People who would be forced into bankruptcy by an attack of appendicitis, who have no idea what "socialism" is or how it differs from "communism" or "fascism," were to be seen yesterday out in force, self-righteously pissed off and calling Obama a socialist, a communist, and a fascist, often interchangeably. And what are their ideas about how to deal with the worst economic crisis in eighty years? "Let them go bankrupt!" Ignorance and indignation: it doesn't get any more American than that. Each of them--proud, free, unafraid to speak stupidity to power--is like a homeowner whose house is on fire and yet who refuses to let the fire fighters turn a hose on the flames because "it'll get my stuff all wet." And when the fire chief ventures the suggestion that the fire is a) going to destroy their stuff anyway, and then b) spread to other homes, he gets shut down with such wised-up, common-man arguments as, "I pay your salary!"

Read the rest, it's a hoot.

What A Voice

Susan Boyle sings on Britain's Got Talent and wows the crowd. Ignore the cretin judges and the hokey set up. This woman can really sing.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Who's the Pirate?

The "developed" world is dumping toxic waste in the seas off Somalia -- and stealing their fish. Who's the pirate? Who's the bad guy? Who's the thief?

The winner gets to write history. Right now we are calling the Somalis "pirates". If we were fighting back against the same kind of behavior, we'd be calling ourselves patriots.

Crooks & Liars: What The International Media Isn't Telling You About Somalia Pirates

Saturday, April 11, 2009

President Obama's Weekly Web Address

WEEKLY ADDRESS: President Obama Says Nations Must Unite To Overcome Global Challenges

WASHINGTON – In his weekly address, President Barack Obama extended his best wishes to everyone celebrating this week’s Passover and Easter holidays and called on nations around the world to come together to solve the current trials facing the world. On the heels of his weeklong trip overseas, the President said he believes it is important to acknowledge no single nation can solve global problems like a recession, international terrorism, climate change, or nuclear proliferation. But, working with other nations, the United States can lead the way in overcoming these challenges.


Remarks of President Barack Obama
Weekly Address
Saturday, April 11, 2009

I speak to you today during a time that is holy and filled with meaning for believers around the world. Earlier this week, Jewish people gathered with family and friends to recite the stories of their ancestors’ struggle and ultimate liberation. Tomorrow, Christians of all denominations will come together to rejoice and remember the resurrection of Jesus Christ.

These are two very different holidays with their own very different traditions. But it seems fitting that we mark them both during the same week. For in a larger sense, they are both moments of reflection and renewal. They are both occasions to think more deeply about the obligations we have to ourselves and the obligations we have to one another, no matter who we are, where we come from, or what faith we practice.

This idea – that we are all bound up, as Martin Luther King once said, in "a single garment of destiny"– is a lesson of all the world’s great religions. And never has it been more important for us to reaffirm that lesson than it is today – at a time when we face tests and trials unlike any we have seen in our time. An economic crisis that recognizes no borders. Violent extremism that’s claimed the lives of innocent men, women, and children from Manhattan to Mumbai. An unsustainable dependence on foreign oil and other sources of energy that pollute our air and water and threaten our planet. The proliferation of the world’s most dangerous weapons, the persistence of deadly disease, and the recurrence of age-old conflicts.

These are challenges that no single nation, no matter how powerful, can confront alone. The United States must lead the way. But our best chance to solve these unprecedented problems comes from acting in concert with other nations. That is why I met with leaders of the G-20 nations to ensure that the world’s largest economies take strong and unified action in the face of the global economic crisis. Together, we’ve taken steps to stimulate growth, restore the flow of credit, open markets, and dramatically reform our financial regulatory system to prevent such crises from occurring again – steps that will lead to job creation at home.

It is only by working together that we will finally defeat 21st century security threats like al Qaeda. So it was heartening that our NATO allies united in Strasbourg behind our strategy in Afghanistan and Pakistan, and contributed important resources to support our effort there.

It is only by coordinating with countries around the world that we will stop the spread of the world’s most dangerous weapons. That is why I laid out a strategy in Prague for us to work with Russia and other nations to stop the proliferation of nuclear weapons; to secure nuclear materials from terrorists; and, ultimately, to free the world from the menace of a nuclear nightmare.

And it is only by building a new foundation of mutual trust that we will tackle some of our most entrenched problems. That is why, in Turkey, I spoke to members of Parliament and university students about rising above the barriers of race, region, and religion that too often divide us.

With all that is at stake today, we cannot afford to talk past one another. We can’t afford to allow old differences to prevent us from making progress in areas of common concern. We can’t afford to let walls of mistrust stand. Instead, we have to find – and build on – our mutual interests. For it is only when people come together, and seek common ground, that some of that mistrust can begin to fade. And that is where progress begins.

Make no mistake: we live in a dangerous world, and we must be strong and vigilant in the face of these threats. But let us not allow whatever differences we have with other nations to stop us from coming together around those solutions that are essential to our survival and success.

As we celebrate Passover, Easter, and this time of renewal, let’s find strength in our shared resolve and purpose in our common aspirations. And if we can do that, then not only will we fulfill the sacred meaning of these holy days, but we will fulfill the promise of our country as a leader around the world.

Friday, April 10, 2009

Another Train Station Dance Video

This time it's to Rodgers & Hammerstein's "Do, Re, Mi" from the Sound of Music, in Antwerp, Belgium.

Thursday, April 09, 2009

One Year Ago

AP Photo by Alex Brandon: Democratic presidential hopeful Sen. Barack Obama, holds a baby during a rally at Washington High School in South Bend, Ind., Wednesday, April 9, 2008.

Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Obama Picked a Women's Bracket

Maybe he read my email? The Hartford Courant reports that the President's media team contacted them to let them know that he did pick a women's bracket as well, and that he picked UConn to win it all.

I emailed the Prez on and asked him to fill out a women's bracket. And I gave him some bad advice (don't pick as many upsets when filling out a women's bracket, which is so WRONG this year) and some good advice (pick Connecticut to win it all, because otherwise you will look stupid.) So maybe he took my advice.

Hartford Courant: Obama Picks UConn Women To Win

President Barack Obama's media people contacted The Courant today to let them know he had also filled out a women's NCAA tournament basketball bracket - to go with his more publicized men's bracket. His pick to win? UConn.

"The president believes the University of Connecticut is a fine institution with a wonderful basketball program," Moira Muntz, a spokesman for the president, said. She did not know who Obama's other Final Four picks were.

Muntz told The Courant Tuesday that the president had filled out a women's bracket, in addition to a men's bracket that was done for ESPN, and that No.1 UConn was his choice to win the title.

Monday, March 30, 2009

Let the Booing Begin

Who will measure the decibels? I would wear earplugs if I were going to this game.


ARLINGTON, Texas -- Former President George W. Bush will throw out the ceremonial first pitch on Opening Day for the Texas Rangers.

Friday, March 20, 2009

White House Garden

Excellent news: The Obamas have announced that they will be planting an organic garden at the White House.

Today, first lady Michelle Obama will host a groundbreaking for a White House kitchen garden on the South Lawn. She will be joined by students from Bancroft Elementary in Northwest Washington, , whose participation in the project will continue past today, as they help with planting in the coming weeks and harvesting later this year.

The 1,100-square-foot garden will include 55 kinds of vegetables, including peppers, spinach and, yes, arugula. (The selection is a wish list put together by White House chefs.) There will also be berries, herbs and two hives for honey that will be tended by a White House carpenter who is also a beekeeper. The chefs will use the produce to feed the first family, as well as for state dinners and other official events.

The White House will use organic seedlings, as well as organic fertilizers and organic insect repellents. The garden will be near the tennis courts and be visible to passersby on the street. The whole Obama family will be involved in tending the garden, White House spokeswoman Katie McCormick Lelyveld said.

WaPo: Shovel-Ready Project: A White House Garden

Obama on Leno Last Night



Q The 44th President of the United States, please welcome President Barack Obama. (Applause.)

THE PRESIDENT: Thank you. (Applause.)

Q Good to see you.

THE PRESIDENT: It is good to see you and -- (applause.) Thank you. Let me just say, I think Kevin looks good in a suit. (Laughter.)

Q Thank you, sir.

THE PRESIDENT: He looks a little like Secret Service. (Laughter.)

Q He does, doesn't he? Yes. And you're the only guy who can get him to wear it. (Laughter.)

Now, you know, it's funny, because the last time you were here, you walked in, you had your jacket on your finger and you had the two guys with you.


Q And that was it. Big change?

THE PRESIDENT: You know, I was mentioning earlier, we landed yesterday and then -- this is an example of life in the bubble. We landed at the fairground down in Costa Mesa. And I see the fairground where I think we're having this town hall and I said, well, why don't we walk over there? Secret Service says, no, sir, it's 750 yards. (Laughter.)

So I was trying to calculate -- well, that's like a five-minute walk? "Yes, sir. Sorry." (Laughter.)

Now, they let me walk on the way back. But, you know, the doctor is behind me with the defibrillator. (Laughter.)

Q Wow.

THE PRESIDENT: Michelle jokes about how our motorcade -- you know, we've got the ambulance and then the caboose and then the dog sled. (Laughter.) The submarine. (Laughter.) There's a whole bunch of stuff going on.

Q Now it's only, what, 59 days now, right?

THE PRESIDENT: Yes, 59 days.

Q And so much scrutiny. Is it fair to judge so quickly? I mean --

THE PRESIDENT: Well, look, we are going through a difficult time. I welcome the challenge. You know, I ran for President because I thought we needed big changes. I do think in Washington it's a little bit like "American Idol," except everybody is Simon Cowell. (Laughter.)

Q Wow. Wow. That's rough. (Applause.)

THE PRESIDENT: Everybody's got an opinion. But that's part of what makes for a democracy. You know, it's contentious and people are hitting back.

I do think, though, that the American people are all in a place where they understand it took us a while to get into this mess, it's going to take a while for us to get out of it. And if they have confidence that I'm making steps to deal with issues like health care and energy and education, that matter deeply to their daily lives, then I think they're going to give us some time. (Applause.)

Q Let me ask you about this. I know you are angry -- because, you know, doing what I do, you kind of study body language a little bit. And you looked very angry about these bonuses. Actually, stunned.

THE PRESIDENT: Stunned. "Stunned" is the word.

Q Tell people what happened. I know people have been over it, just --

THE PRESIDENT: Well, look, here's what happened. You've got a company, AIG, which used to be just a regular, old insurance company. Then they insured a whole bunch of stuff and they were very profitable and it was a good, solid company.

Then they decided -- some smart person decided, let's put a hedge fund on top of the insurance company and let's sell these derivative products to banks all around the world -- which are basically guarantees or insurance policies on all these sub-prime mortgages.

And this smart person said, you know, none of these things are going to go bust; this sub-prime thing, it's a great deal, you can make a lot of profit. So they sold a whole bunch of them -- billions and billions of dollars. And what happened is, is that when people started going bust on sub-prime mortgages you had $30 worth of debt on every dollar worth of mortgage -- and the whole house of cards just started falling down.

So the problem with AIG was that it owed so much and was tangled up with so many banks and institutions that if you had allowed it to just liquidate, to go into bankruptcy, it could have brought the whole financial system down. So it was the right thing to do to intervene in AIG.

Now, the question is, who in their right mind, when your company is going bust, decides we're going to be paying a whole bunch of bonuses to people? And that, I think, speaks to a broader culture that existed on Wall Street, where I think people just had this general attitude of entitlement, where, we must be the best and the brightest, we deserve $10 million or $50 million or $100 million dollar payouts --

Q Right.

THE PRESIDENT: And, you know, the immediate bonuses that went to AIG are a problem. But the larger problem is we've got to get back to an attitude where people know enough is enough, and people have a sense of responsibility and they understand that their actions are going to have an impact on everybody. And if we can get back to those values that built America, then I think we're going to be okay. (Applause.)

Q Well, you know, it's interesting, when you said -- it's, like, I had to laugh the other day when the CEO of AIG said, okay, I've asked them to give half the bonuses back. Now, if you rob a bank and you go into court -- (laughter) -- and you go, Your Honor, I'm going to give you half the money back. (Laughter.) And they seem stunned that we're not jumping at this wonderful offer.

THE PRESIDENT: Well, you know, the only place I think that might work is in Hollywood. (Laughter.)

Q Let me ask you this. Now, I heard them say, well, one of the problems is it's contractual and if we don't pay these bonuses, well, they can sue us. All the time people say, so sue me.

THE PRESIDENT: So sue me, right.

Q I mean, the federal government is in debt a trillion dollars. We're broke -- sue us. Sue me. (Laughter and applause.)

THE PRESIDENT: In fairness, I think that part of the calculation they were making was the way the contracts were written said, if you don't pay us immediately, then we can claim three times as much as we were owed under the bonuses. And so they were making a legal calculation, and their legal judgment was not necessarily wrong.

But there's a moral and an ethical aspect to this, as well. And I think that's what has gotten everybody so fired up. The main thing -- we're going to do everything we can to see if we can get these bonuses back. But I think the most important thing that we can do is make sure that we put in a bunch of financial regulatory mechanisms to prevent companies like an AIG holding the rest of us hostage. Because that's -- that's the real problem.

The problem is not just what's happened over the last six months. The problem is what was happening for years, where people were able to take huge, excessive risks with other people's money, putting the entire financial system at risk -- and there were no checks, there were no balances, there was nobody overseeing the process.

And so what we're going to be moving very aggressively on -- even as we try to fix the current mess -- is make sure that before somebody makes a bad bet you say, hold on, you can't do that.

Q Well, here's something that kind of scared me. Today they passed this thing that says we're going to tax 90 percent of these bonuses. And the part that scares me is, I mean, you're a good guy -- if the government decides they don't like a guy, all of a sudden, hey, we're going to tax you and then, boom, and it passes. I mean, that seems a little scary as a taxpayer, they can just decide -- you want to take a break and answer that when we come back? Okay, hold that answer.

THE PRESIDENT: I will. I've got a good answer, too. (Applause.)

* * * * *

Q Welcome back. We are talking with President Barack Obama.

Before the break I mentioned that they had just passed this new bill which will tax them 90 percent -- and I said it was frightening to me as an American that Congress, whoever, could decide, I don't like that group, let's pass a law and tax them at 90 percent.

THE PRESIDENT: Well, look, I understand Congress' frustrations, and they're responding to, I think, everybody's anger. But I think that the best way to handle this is to make sure that you've closed the door before the horse gets out of the barn. And what happened here was the money has already gone out and people are scrambling to try to find ways to get back at them.

The change I'd like to see in terms of tax policy is that we have a system, going back to where we were back in the 1990s, where you and I who are doing pretty well pay a little bit more to pay for health care, to pay for energy, to make sure that kids can go to college who aren't as fortunate as our -- as my kids might be. Those are the kinds of measured steps that we can take. But the important thing over the next several months is making sure that we don't lurch from thing to thing, but we try to make steady progress, build a foundation for long-term economic growth. That's what I think the American people expect. (Applause.)

Q I just read today about Merrill Lynch. They handed out $3.6 billion -- it's not even million anymore, it's billions in bonuses. I know it would make me feel good -- shouldn't somebody go to jail? (Laughter and applause.) I say that because I watch those people in New York, even people who had lost everything -- when Bernard Madoff went to jail, at least they felt they got something.

THE PRESIDENT: Right. They got some satisfaction. Here's the dirty little secret, though. Most of the stuff that got us into trouble was perfectly legal. And that is a sign of how much we've got to change our laws -- right? We were talking earlier about credit cards, and it's legal to charge somebody 30 percent on their credit card, and charge fees and so forth that people don't always know what they're getting into. So the answer is to deal with those laws in a way that gives the average consumer a break.

When you buy a toaster, if it explodes in your face there's a law that says your toasters need to be safe. But when you get a credit card, or you get a mortgage, there's no law on the books that says if that explodes in your face financially, somehow you're going to be protected.

So this is -- the need for getting back to some common sense regulations -- there's nothing wrong with innovation in the financial markets. We want people to be successful; we want people to be able to make a profit. Banks are critical to our economy and we want credit to flow again. But we just want to make sure that there's enough regulatory common sense in place that ordinary Americans aren't taken advantage of, and taxpayers, after the fact, aren't taken advantage of. (Applause.)

Q Yes -- because when I was a kid, we would -- banks or credit cards would lend you money so you would pay it back. Now they lend you money so you can't pay it back. (Laughter.) It's like we were talking before, I mentioned we all saw A Wonderful Life -- Mr. Potter, the meanest man -- remember he owned the whole town? You know what he charged on a mortgage? Two percent. (Laughter.)

THE PRESIDENT: He's like Mother Teresa now. (Laughter.)

Q Like Mother Teresa now. (Laughter.) He makes VISA look like ohhhh --

THE PRESIDENT: Well, and part of what happened over the last 15, 20 years is that so much money was made in finance that about 40 percent, I think, of our overall growth, our overall economic growth was in the financial sector. Well, now what we're finding out is a lot of that growth wasn't real. It was paper money, paper profits on the books, but it could be easily wiped out.

And what we need is steady growth; we need young people, instead of -- a smart kid coming out of school, instead of wanting to be an investment banker, we need them to decide they want to be an engineer, they want to be a scientist, they want to be a doctor or a teacher. And if we're rewarding those kinds of things that actually contribute to making things and making people's lives better, that's going to put our economy on solid footing. We won't have this kind of bubble-and-bust economy that we've gotten so caught up in for the last several years.

Q Now, Treasury Secretary Geithner, he seems to be taking a little bit of heat here. How is he holding up with this? He seems like a smart guy --

THE PRESIDENT: He is a smart guy and he's a calm and steady guy. I don't think people fully appreciate the plate that was handed him. This guy has not just a banking crisis; he's got the worst recession since the Great Depression, he's got an auto industry on -- that has been on the verge of collapse. We've got to figure out how to coordinate with other countries internationally. He's got to deal with me; he's got to deal with Congress. And he's doing it with grace and good humor. And he understands that he's on the hot seat, but I actually think that he is taking the right steps, and we're going to have our economy back on the move.

Q Now, see, I love that it's all his problem. (Laughter.)

THE PRESIDENT: No, no, no --

Q -- I mean, when he came in you probably said, hey, this is not a problem. Now, it's, hey, you got this, you got that, hey, good luck. (Laughter.)

THE PRESIDENT: No, no, but this is the point that I made, I think two days ago, when somebody asked, well, do you have confidence in Tim Geithner. I said, look, I'm the President, so ultimately all this stuff is my responsibility. If I'm not giving him the tools that he needs to make sure that we're moving things forward, then people need to look at me.

On the AIG thing, all these contracts were written well before I took office, but ultimately I'm now the guy who's responsible to fix it. And one of the things that I'm trying to break is a pattern in Washington where everybody is always looking for somebody else to blame. And I think Geithner is doing an outstanding job. I think that we have a big mess on our hands. It's not going to be solved immediately, but it is going to get solved. And the key thing is for everybody just to stay focused on doing the job instead of trying to figure out who you can pass blame on to.

Q Well, when will the money -- this money was given out to the banks. I would have thought by this time it would have sort of trickled down to Main Street, to people wanting to get loans -- I mean, it all went out there months and months ago. Where is it?

THE PRESIDENT: Well, what's happening is a lot of these banks are keeping it in the bank because their balance sheets had gotten so bad that they decided, you know what, for us to stay solvent we need to maintain certain capital ratios; we've got to have a certain amount of capital in the bank -- and they haven't started lending it yet. And that's why what we've got to do -- right now what we're doing is essentially doing a diagnostic test -- trying to use some auto language here so you -- (laughter) -- we're doing a diagnostic on each of the banks, figuring out what are their capital levels? Can they sustain lending? And then I think we're going to separate out -- those banks that are in good shape, we're going to say to them, all right, you're on your own; go start lending again. Those banks that still have problems, we'll do a little more intervention to try to clean some of those toxic assets off their books.

But I actually have confidence that we'll get that done. In the meantime, we're taking a lot of steps to, for example, opening up -- open up separate credit lines outside of banks for small businesses so that they can get credit -- because there are a lot of small businesses out here who are just barely hanging on. Their credit lines are starting to be cut. We're trying to set up a securitized market for student loans and auto loans outside of the banking system. So there are other ways of getting credit flowing again.

But that's why we've got to solve the banking problem and we've got to solve issues like health care, energy, and education that will put us on a pathway for long-term economic growth.

Q We're going to take a break. When we come back I want to ask you what we can do -- (applause) -- all right, we'll take a break. We'll be right back.

* * * * *

Q Welcome back. Talking with President Barack Obama. So I was going to ask you before we went to the break. So you have -- obviously we have a lot of people with a few dollars -- couple of hundred, couple of thousand -- but there's millions of them. Okay, obviously that's a tremendous financial forest. What should they do? Put their money in the bank? Should they be spending money? Should they hide it under their mattress?

THE PRESIDENT: Look, first of all, everybody should have complete confidence in the banks. They're deposits are protected. They shouldn't be putting it in their mattresses. I will leave it up to others to provide individual, personal financial advice.

But I will say this, that if you're working right now, obviously you've got to be prudent and you've got to recognize that the economy has been in a tough way. But, you know, we've still got kids who are going to need a coat for winter or a computer for school. You know, that young family is still going to at some point need to buy a house. And right now cars, for example, we know that typically you need about 14 million cars for this population -- and right now only 9 million are being sold every year. So at some point those inventories are going to run down and people are going to start buying cars again.

So, you know, what people should not do is forget that what has built America has always been a faith and a confidence in the future. And our future is bright if we take some smart steps right now. And that's what we're working on in Washington. And I think if everybody stays focused on getting through these tough times, the future is going to be very bright for all of us.

Q Now, you mentioned cars a minute ago. You went to the electric car, you went to look at some batteries today.

THE PRESIDENT: I did. It's spectacular what is being down now with plug-in hybrids, where not only are you getting the hybrid technology, but now you can plug it in at home in your garage. And potentially we could see cars getting 150 miles to a gallon of gas.

And when you get home you could potentially sell the energy in your car back into the grid, back to your utility and get money.

So we're going to be investing billions of dollars in research and development around these technologies. I know that you were mentioning you've got a hydrogen car --

Q I've got the GM hydrogen car. That's a whole new --

THE PRESIDENT: That's a whole new level of technology. That's what's going to create the auto industry of the future. That's where we're going to win back manufacturing. But right now we're behind. These batteries are being made in Japan -- just like wind power is being made in Europe. We need to bring that here, and that's part of what my budget and part of what our Recovery Act is all about.

Q Let me ask you some personal things. Now, how cool is it to fly in Air Force One? (Laughter.)

THE PRESIDENT: Now, let me tell you, I personally think it's pretty cool. Especially because they give you, you know, the jacket with the seal on it. (Laughter.)

Q Oh, yeah. See, I still get the little wings when I fly.

THE PRESIDENT: So you have the jacket. I will tell you, though, Malia and Sasha, my daughters, they're just not as impressed. The first time we went on Marine One -- right, you've got the Marines in front and they're saluting you. And we go up and we're passing the Washington Monument, circling around on the way to Camp David -- and Sasha looks over and she says, "Are those Starbursts?" (Laughter.) There's, like, the candy in the little canister. (Laughter.) That's -- "Can we have some?" (Laughter.)

So they're splitting up the Starbursts and we're flying over the Lincoln Memorial. So they got a whole 'nother level of cool. (Laughter.)

Q Now, are they going to put a basketball -- I imagine the bowling alley has been just burned and closed down.

THE PRESIDENT: No, no. I have been practicing all -- (laughter.)

Q Really? Really?

THE PRESIDENT: I bowled a 129. (Laughter and applause.)

Q No, that's very good. Yes. That's very good, Mr. President.

THE PRESIDENT: It's like -- it was like Special Olympics, or something. (Laughter.)

Q No, that's very good.

THE PRESIDENT: No, listen, I'm making progress on the bowling, yes.

Q And how about, are you going to put in a basketball court?

THE PRESIDENT: Oh, yes. Yes. Well, we have a basketball court already at Camp David. We just had a little rim that was inadequate -- (laughter) -- at the White House. But there are tennis courts, so we're going to just get those -- you know, those rims that you can roll in and out. And then we'll just put them on either --

Q Let me ask you, when people -- Mr. President, would you like to play? Yes, I would. Do they throw the game? Come on. (Laughter and applause.)

THE PRESIDENT: I don't see why they would throw the game -- except for all those Secret Service guys with guns around. (Laughter.)

Q Yes, exactly.

THE PRESIDENT: I will say that I don't think I get the hard fouls that I used to. Usually I don't --

Q Yes, Reggie goes, ohhh, I missed, ohhh. (Laughter.)

THE PRESIDENT: Reggie doesn't do that. This is Reggie Love, my assistant. He played for Duke, very competitive guy. He doesn't let me win because, as he pointed out, if you lose to Obama you never hear the end of it. (Laughter.)

Q See, there you go. Now, have you picked a final four?


Q Okay. How about your final one, who do you got?

THE PRESIDENT: I got North Carolina Tar Heels. (Applause.)

Q North Carolina.

THE PRESIDENT: I think I got -- I got a hard time from Reggie, because he played at Duke, and you know, Coach K, being competitive, I think was a little -- you know, pushed back a little bit today. And I understand that. That's what you want. You want everybody to be competitive. I think these are all great teams.

Q Like, do you look at the whole picture when you do that? For example, isn't that a swing state? (Laughter and applause.) I'm just saying, are you looking at the whole picture when you pick?

THE PRESIDENT: I mean, the fact that teams from North Carolina, Indiana, Iowa, all seem to do well in my bracket -- (laughter) -- I think is a complete coincidence. Absolutely.

Q All right, one last question. Now, when is the dog coming? I keep hearing about the dog. It seems to me -- when was the dog supposed to be there by? I thought it was, like, as soon as --

THE PRESIDENT: Listen, this is Washington -- (laughter) -- that was a campaign promise. (Laughter.)

Q Oh, wow. Wow. Man. (Laughter and applause.)

THE PRESIDENT: I'm teasing. The dog will be there shortly. (Laughter.)

Q How soon?

THE PRESIDENT: We have actually sort of been laying the groundwork here. We've got a trip, I've got to go to the NATO summit. When we get back, dog will be in place.

Q Wow. And it's, what, a Portuguese water head? (Laughter.) What is it, what kind of dog is it?

THE PRESIDENT: It's not that. (Laughter.)

Q It's not that.

THE PRESIDENT: It's not a "water head." (Laughter.)

Q Whatever they are, I don't know what they are.

THE PRESIDENT: That sounds like a scary dog. (Laughter.) Sort of dripping around the house. (Laughter.)

Q I don't know what it is.

THE PRESIDENT: No, no. We're going to get a dog that is -- that I think the girls will have a great time -- I think I'm going to have a lot of fun with it. You know, they say if you want a friend in Washington, get a dog. (Laughter.)

Q Exactly. Mr. President, I must say, this has been one of the best nights of my life. Thank you very much, sir.

The President of the United States. (Applause.)