Presidents Day Open Thread

Today is Presidents Day. The Presidents honored are Washington and Lincoln, surely two of our greatest. FDR was born on January 30, close enough I think to add to this day's celebration. Anyway, I think so.

Also, today is the 105th anniversary of the birth of George Kennan.

This is an Open Thread.

< Venezuela Chooses Chavez | Rove's Lawyer Says He Won't Take the Fifth >
  • The Online Magazine with Liberal coverage of crime-related political and injustice news

  • Contribute To TalkLeft

  • Display: Sort:
    Presidents Day - not (5.00 / 1) (#3)
    by Peter G on Mon Feb 16, 2009 at 11:34:36 AM EST
    Today is the national holiday known as Washington's Birthday.  See 5 U.S.C. sec. 6103.  There is no such holiday as "Presidents' Day," a term coined by Richard Nixon -- perhaps with the idea of eventually glorifying himself -- but defeated by Congress when proposed as an official change of name.  The Presidents Day misnomer seems to be preferred by advertisers, however.

    If I recall correctly, (none / 0) (#31)
    by Inspector Gadget on Mon Feb 16, 2009 at 05:35:09 PM EST
    there was a day not that long ago when the holiday alternated between Lincoln's birthday and Washington's. It was combined into one at the same time, or around the time that all holidays that could be changed to a particular Monday and create a 3-day weekend for many workers were revised. This is one that moves around to accommodate the 3-day weekend goal.

    More good news (5.00 / 3) (#4)
    by lentinel on Mon Feb 16, 2009 at 11:35:36 AM EST
    A British nuclear sub armed with nuclear missiles collided with a French nuclear sub armed with nuclear missiles. Both were severely damaged.

    They are so brilliantly designed, apparently, that they don't even have the capacity to see what is directly in front of them.

    Did I mention that they are armed with missiles carrying nuclear warheads?

    This item, combined with the continued killing of civilians in Pakistan by soulless pilotless drone bombers, does not make me feel particularly optimistic.

    I also read that Obama is in a "good mood".

    I'm delighted for him.

    Maybe Obama thinks ... (5.00 / 6) (#6)
    by Robot Porter on Mon Feb 16, 2009 at 11:43:10 AM EST
    the President's Day holiday is for him.



    Maybe? (5.00 / 1) (#32)
    by Inspector Gadget on Mon Feb 16, 2009 at 05:36:05 PM EST
    You question that probability?

    Obama's 'Good Mood' (5.00 / 4) (#14)
    by daring grace on Mon Feb 16, 2009 at 12:19:03 PM EST
    You're really fixated on this, aren't you?

    I had no idea what his mood was until you started mentioning it so I figure you're really paying attention to such things.

    I see you going from thread to thread contrasting the president's supposed 'good mood' with bad news from around the globe.

    Tell me. Are effective leaders in a perpetual state of angst and melancholy because there are always crises somewhere in the world, and as long as that is so it would be irresponsible for them to let their moods lighten?


    Sure (none / 0) (#17)
    by Socraticsilence on Mon Feb 16, 2009 at 12:31:32 PM EST
    that's why Bush was always going on vacay to cheer up and Clinton was always chasing skirts, or wait it could be that the OP is just being a moron.

    Who reports Obama's moods? (5.00 / 1) (#22)
    by BrassTacks on Mon Feb 16, 2009 at 01:43:04 PM EST
    Does Obama do a mood release to the press each day?  

    Does his good mood coincide with being somewhere other than the White House?  


    No one ever said that the French (none / 0) (#24)
    by BrassTacks on Mon Feb 16, 2009 at 01:49:40 PM EST
    Had brilliant military or naval ideas.

    Executive Compensation (5.00 / 1) (#7)
    by jbindc on Mon Feb 16, 2009 at 11:50:15 AM EST
    Seems Obama and his team think the limits placed into the stimulus bill are a little too restrictive

    Mr. Obama, who is scheduled to sign the measure in Denver on Tuesday, will seek changes to the government's approach to executive compensation as spelled out in the measure, senior Obama adviser David Axelrod said.

    "He's announced his own guidelines for how we should restrict that," said Mr. Axelrod on "Fox News Sunday." "In some ways, they're tougher than the ones that the Senate passed."

    Mr. Axelrod said while "we all have the same goal ... we want to do something that's workable, and we'll work with [Congress] to get to that point."

    The administration worries that excessive limits on executive earning will put American companies at a competitive disadvantage, leading to "brain drain," where top financial talent leave for foreign banks. Caps also could cause failing banks to reject bailout money.

    White House press secretary Robert Gibbs warned Sunday that the strict limits on bankers' pay spelled out in the package could be particularly harmful to small and regional banks, credit unions, and saving and loans.

    "We think we can strike the right balance," said Mr. Gibbs on CBS' "Face the Nation." "We look forward to working with Congress as we go forward on all measures of executive compensation, to ensure that there's not any waste or fraud in this."

    If the bank, credit union, etc. (5.00 / 1) (#8)
    by oculus on Mon Feb 16, 2009 at 11:53:34 AM EST
    CEO is running isn't accepting federal $$, go ahead and pay the CEO whatever sum seems appropriate.  But why is the new administration so deferential re CEO compensation where federal $$ are in the mix?

    If they think their half-million is too much, (5.00 / 1) (#25)
    by scribe on Mon Feb 16, 2009 at 02:16:37 PM EST
    they ought to see what the Tories in England have proposed:  limiting executive bonuses (at bailedout banks, anyway) to 2000 pounds, per annum.

    That's right.  Two thousand quid.  Their Conservatives.

    The Americans won't have that "can't keep people" excuse anymore, 'cause the Brits will be flooding NYC and lining up for those cheapo half-million salaries.


    Highly unlikely that the foreign (none / 0) (#33)
    by Inspector Gadget on Mon Feb 16, 2009 at 05:42:50 PM EST
    banks want the guys who ran the US banks into the ground to take their top spots. I also highly doubt the foreign banks don't have equal talent in their own countries.

    The restrictions are only for those companies that took bailout money from everything I read. But, it is likely Obama is none too happy with his own party going for the restrictions they did when they knew they were excessive by Obama standards.

    Speaking of excessive. Stevie Wonder concert? Is this normal? Whitehouse sponsoring concerts now? I didn't read who gets to be invited, but you can be sure they aren't selling tickets.


    JFK hosted many (none / 0) (#37)
    by oculus on Mon Feb 16, 2009 at 07:23:04 PM EST
    performances by well-known musicians in the White House.  

    Oh (none / 0) (#41)
    by Inspector Gadget on Mon Feb 16, 2009 at 09:41:13 PM EST
    Long, long time ago. I forgot the dire economic condition of the country in 1960.

    Doubt the economy had anything (none / 0) (#42)
    by oculus on Mon Feb 16, 2009 at 09:57:08 PM EST
    to do with it.  Jackie O did though.  Yeah.

    This Is Ridiculous (none / 0) (#46)
    by daring grace on Tue Feb 17, 2009 at 09:40:00 AM EST
    if what you're complaining about is the president sponsoring cultural events at the White House in the midst of this economic crisis. What, all honoring of notable Americans and scheduling of entertainment should cease until the economy is declared healthy again?

    In fact, this event with Wonder--which is being recorded for a future episode of the PBS series "In Performance at the White House" precedes Obama giving Wonder a Library of Congress award the next day.

    This PBS series, BTW, has been running for about 30 years so it is nothing new with Obama.


    What do people think of (none / 0) (#1)
    by Faust on Mon Feb 16, 2009 at 11:16:51 AM EST
    Lindsey Graham saying "nationalizing" banks should be on the table? I'm not sure what to make of it. It's like my daughter telling me she would like to consider taking sugar out of her diet.

    Uber wingnut Dan Lungren (CA) was proposing (none / 0) (#2)
    by andgarden on Mon Feb 16, 2009 at 11:31:15 AM EST
    this on the House floor last week, too. If they're serious, they should be taken up.

    I think it is a trap to label Obama as a socialist (none / 0) (#11)
    by magster on Mon Feb 16, 2009 at 11:59:28 AM EST
    if he agrees to it.  I think if anything like nationalization of banks does occur, it will be called something else, like a "receivership".

    It's linked to impending raid on Social Security (5.00 / 2) (#20)
    by FoxholeAtheist on Mon Feb 16, 2009 at 01:14:49 PM EST
    See this article in The Nation, Looting Social Security:
    Governing elites in Washington and Wall Street have devised a fiendishly clever "grand bargain" they want President Obama to embrace in the name of "fiscal responsibility." The government, they argue, having spent billions on bailing out the banks, can recover its costs by looting the Social Security system. They are also targeting Medicare and Medicaid. The pitch sounds preposterous to millions of ordinary working people, but...

    Imo, the GOP is in the process of connecting this agenda with the issue of bank nationalization. To that end, I expect the GOP will frame nationalization as a VERY BAD but NECESSARY thing. They're hoping that by the time they're done the public will be panicked and clamoring against nationalization. At that point, the GOP and the Blue Dog Dems may very well propose that they balance the books and avoid nationalization by 'borrowing' money from the Social Security Trust Fund.

    They're also hoping that they've generated enough generalized anti-Boomer sentiment to make the looting of Social Security seem like an acceptable idea. (The foregoing article discusses the inter-generational rift promulgated during the past couple of years.)


    My thought.... (none / 0) (#12)
    by Samuel on Mon Feb 16, 2009 at 11:59:41 AM EST
    Modern day republicans are not libertarians.  Like democrats, they want to see a shift in economic power towards the state.  The  "debate" is not substantive.  One side wants a huge increase of government in the economy, the other wants a relatively smaller but still huge increase + tax cuts.  These are the diametrically opposed right and left? No, this is a huge farce meant to scare our economy towards socialism.

    Hayek understood the economic mechanisms behind the "boom-bust cycle" decades ago yet we're seeking the advice of neo-classical / keynesian / post-keynesian economists - are we supposed to believe the people who did not predict the crisis hold the keys to remedy the crisis?  We cannot safely assume that they even want to alleviate the crisis as central banking history has seen this story over and over again and it would be ridiculous to think Greenspan and Bernanke were not well aware of the results of their actions when taking them.

    As for the man Keynes - well here's one snapshot (discussing the philosophies of the lifelong society he joined while at Cambridge):
    "In our opinion, one of the greatest advantages of his [Moore's] religion was that it made morals unnecessary....We entirely repudiated a personal liability on us to obey general rules. We claimed the right to judge every individual case on its merits, and the wisdom to do so successfully. This was a very important part of our faith, violently and aggressively held, and for the outer world it was our most obvious and dangerous characteristic. We  repudiated entirely customary morals, conventions and traditional wisdom. We were, that is to say, in the strict sense of the term, immoralists." (Keynes [1951] 1972: 142-43)

    This man viewed any morals as violations of his own "right" to freedom to pursue power by any means...can we stop pretending this is the father of modern economics?  I think it's pretty clear that there are some true students to keynes in the world today - putting forth his flawed economic theories with the reassurance that their right to power supersedes the rights of all others.


    Interesting, but... (5.00 / 1) (#13)
    by Dadler on Mon Feb 16, 2009 at 12:18:48 PM EST
    ...what makes you think what YOU mean by morals is what HE means by morals in this quote.  The "morals" that uptight Britain possesses, and possessed much more tightly half a century ago, tended to be those that worked in support of appearances and formalities rather than justly working for those in need.

    "...We claimed the right to judge every individual case on its merits..." is hardly a bad thing in theory or actual working practice (though it is a practice not generally adhered to).

    Just playing devil's advocate.  Although some people do think I am satan himself.


    Keyne's talking about truth in politics... (none / 0) (#15)
    by Samuel on Mon Feb 16, 2009 at 12:27:33 PM EST
    "A preference for truth or for sincerity as a method may be prejudice based on some aesthetic or personal standard, inconsistent, in politics, with practical good" (Johnson, 1978: 24)

    What I'm saying, is that a man who proposed fraudulent theories profitable to the rich  and that has admitted that the seizure of power is more important than any other moral (you can read the book, he wasn't referring to etiquette)may just be lying.  

    I included the quotations so people can at least entertain the concept of what a true Keynesian economist is - someone entirely comfortable with misleading the public for his own personal gain.  

    Once again, this is the guy behind the development of modern "economic theory" which has been used over and over again to justify government involvement - the seizure of power - in the economy.


    Austrian analysis? Please. (none / 0) (#28)
    by ThatOneVoter on Mon Feb 16, 2009 at 03:04:45 PM EST
    I would say that the main difference in economic policy between the Republicans and the Democrats is that the Republicans want to concentrate the wealth in the upper stratum, as much as possible, while the Democrats  believe in the value of progressive taxation.
    Republicans are not socialists---they are thieves.

    After lackluster business .... (none / 0) (#5)
    by Robot Porter on Mon Feb 16, 2009 at 11:40:44 AM EST
    during the holidays it seems the movie biz is finally proving its worth in hard economic times.

    Domestic box office is estimated to be $193 million this weekend, up nearly 40% on last year's President's Day weekend take.

    Clinton approves of Obama so far (none / 0) (#9)
    by magster on Mon Feb 16, 2009 at 11:56:16 AM EST
    ... I doubt he'd say anything different with Hillary as his SoS, but I believe him anyway.

    Bill Clinton and the derivatives market (none / 0) (#10)
    by Dadler on Mon Feb 16, 2009 at 11:56:26 AM EST
    Clinton admits his administration should've done more to regulate derivatives.  Now, WHY they didn't do more, that's the real question.

    There was a bit duri ng the Simpson's last night (none / 0) (#16)
    by Socraticsilence on Mon Feb 16, 2009 at 12:29:18 PM EST
     on the penalty for murder "Varies from state to state and by Race" that was sadly funny.

    Reaching Out To Iran (none / 0) (#18)
    by squeaky on Mon Feb 16, 2009 at 12:37:46 PM EST
    With an eye to include them in the Afghanistan problem. Nice to see that we no longer need an axis of evil to keep a society of bedwetters in line.

    KABUL, Afghanistan -- President Obama's top envoy to Afghanistan declared Sunday that Iran should play a vital role helping stabilize the war-torn country. It was the latest statement by Obama officials signaling a clear shift away from the Bush administration's policy of avoiding direct engagement with Tehran.

    NYT via War & Piece

    I've been holding off on saying it, but (none / 0) (#19)
    by tigercourse on Mon Feb 16, 2009 at 01:03:59 PM EST
    my governor, Paterson, really is a buffoon. The guy who refuses to consider raising income taxes on the rich (in a state where the middle class is crushed by property taxes) wants to tax internet downloads.

    you've been watching too (none / 0) (#21)
    by cpinva on Mon Feb 16, 2009 at 01:32:13 PM EST
    many science fiction movies.

    They are so brilliantly designed, apparently, that they don't even have the capacity to see what is directly in front of them.

    perhaps in "20,000 leagues under the sea", capt. nemo's nautilus has a lovely viewing window mounted to the fore of the ship, but that was fantasy. it doesn't work that way in real life, since navy subs are ships of war, not pleasure craft.

    turning on the equipment necessary to locate another sub (at the depth they both were at) would, by definition, leave the searching sub open for detection itself. that would more or less defeat the whole purpose of it being out there.

    the amazing thing is that accidents happen so rarely. that said, i see two captains who probably just got dropped off the promotion grid, for flag rank.

    with this one statement, you display your complete, total ignorance of the issue:

    Hayek understood the economic mechanisms behind the "boom-bust cycle" decades ago yet we're seeking the advice of neo-classical / keynesian / post-keynesian economists - are we supposed to believe the people who did not predict the crisis hold the keys to remedy the crisis?

    you seem to be conveniently forgetting one particular economist, a recent nobel prize winner, name of dr. paul krugman. not only did he (and others) predict the current financial debacle, at least a year before it blew up, he also provided a very keynsian solution. one having a history of success.

    after that bit of fraud, nothing else you say merits any consideration.

    I am not pleased with Krugman today (5.00 / 1) (#23)
    by FoxholeAtheist on Mon Feb 16, 2009 at 01:43:40 PM EST
    His column today features some GOP talking points:
    it will take years for families and firms to work off the debt they ran up so blithely...

    Excuse me Paul, I wasn't being blithe when I ran up $20,000 in student loan debt a few years ago. Today, he also says some easily-misconstrued things about WW11 being a "public works project". If I hadn't read him before, I wouldn't readily know how to interpret that.


    Nah...Krugman is right on (5.00 / 0) (#27)
    by oldpro on Mon Feb 16, 2009 at 03:00:19 PM EST
    in my book.

    He wasn't, of course, talking about you personally.  It may be that you are among the rational, careful people who made a plan and went into debt to achieve a larger goal.  That doesn't make you mainstream, debtwise.


    Oldpro, sorry to say I have never been (5.00 / 1) (#34)
    by FoxholeAtheist on Mon Feb 16, 2009 at 05:59:59 PM EST
    more rational nor careful than the average person in the way I've managed my finances.

    It's sad to me that there are a whole bunch of Republicans, and some Democrats, who are promoting the meme that people on Main Street are in debt because they're as careless and greedy as Wall Street bankers when it comes to money.

    Average people are in debt because they can't make a living wage.

    Krugman knows that and he's usually more thoughtful in his choice of words. Today was a rare day, in that Krugman echoed a sentiment that sounds too much like the other side.

    I mean really, he said that "families and firms" have "blithely" run up debt. He's created an equivalence between entities that are not equivalent and he's rendered a moralistic judgment on both.  


    I guess it's just me and (5.00 / 0) (#35)
    by oldpro on Mon Feb 16, 2009 at 06:39:43 PM EST
    Krugman, then.

    I used to know what average meant...and what 'a living wage' meant.  Not any more, evidently, for I do not agree that "average people are in debt because they can't make a living wage."

    I don't think Krugman meant that families and firms were equivalent in levels of greed/morality/imorality by running up debt.  That's your interpretation of what he said.  It isn't mine.

    There is debt and there is excessive debt...the kind you can't pay back that leads to bankruptcy.  Whatever the reasons, greed or bad judgment, the result is the same for the individual and the family.


    Average workers make less now than in 1973 (5.00 / 1) (#36)
    by FoxholeAtheist on Mon Feb 16, 2009 at 07:04:18 PM EST
    This story from McClatchy News (02/13/09) lays it all out:
    Workers have been sacrificing for years. Average worker paychecks are worth less now than in 1973, but CEOs and other rich Americans not only make much more, they pay less in taxes.

    Average full-time workers made $41,198 in 1973 and $37,606 in 2008, adjusted for inflation.

    CEOs made 45 times as much as workers in 1973 and more than 300 times as much as workers now. The top tax rate was 70 percent in 1973 and just 35 percent now; taxpayers pay the top rate on the portion of taxable income that falls within the highest bracket and pay lower rates on income below that. The top rate for capital gains on the sale of stock and other assets was 36.5 percent in 1973 and 15 percent now.

    That's what I meant when I said: "average people are in debt because they can't make a living wage".


    I do not dispute your numbers... (none / 0) (#38)
    by oldpro on Mon Feb 16, 2009 at 08:39:40 PM EST
    ...only your interpretation.

    If you think 37,000 isn't a living wage then we can't have this conversation.  If a family cannot 'live' on $37,000 without going into debt, then we are doomed.


    Well, whether a family can live on $37k annually, (none / 0) (#40)
    by FoxholeAtheist on Mon Feb 16, 2009 at 09:39:26 PM EST
    without going into debt, depends on a number of factors, including: the size of the family; the relative cost of living in a given area; whether the family has an affordable health care plan; whether the family hopes to send kids to college, etc, etc.

    Depending on how those factors shape up, a family of five could be living in poverty. Furthermore, if an average breadwinner lived on $41k in 1973, it's just not reasonable to expect an average family to live, debt-free, on $37k in 2009 - unless they have a sub-par standard of living.

    Imo, that's not an acceptable state of affairs to most of our citizenry.

    Perhaps we should just agree to disagree on this issue.


    Yes...agree...let's move on. (none / 0) (#43)
    by oldpro on Tue Feb 17, 2009 at 12:39:39 AM EST
    GOP Talking Point (5.00 / 2) (#29)
    by squeaky on Mon Feb 16, 2009 at 03:19:45 PM EST
    Did you make that one up? Also have you been sleeping for the last several years of the so called boom where housing prices soared and money was borrowed at super low rates.

    Do you think this is a GOP talking point too?:

    At one level this should come as no surprise. For most of the last decade America was a nation of borrowers and spenders, not savers. The personal savings rate dropped from 9 percent in the 1980s to 5 percent in the 1990s, to just 0.6 percent from 2005 to 2007, and household debt grew much faster than personal income. Why should we have expected our net worth to go up?

    You seem to be out of touch, imo, if you think that most Americans did not borrow and spend as if there was no tomorrow.



    I would tend to agree (5.00 / 2) (#39)
    by CoralGables on Mon Feb 16, 2009 at 08:44:07 PM EST
    not everyone of course, but I know many people that saw their home equity as their own personal piggy bank by regularly refinancing with cash out to improve their lifestyle. And that's all well and good as long as they don't now have to sell the house that has a bigger debt than it's worth.

    The problem with the above method of course, folks that live that way also prefer ARM's and balloon mortgages and think a credit card that isn't maxed out is cash just waiting to be spent.

    What ever happened to saving for a rainy day?


    High school football fans - the Rules committee (none / 0) (#26)
    by scribe on Mon Feb 16, 2009 at 02:18:05 PM EST
    Chicago Sun Times (none / 0) (#30)
    by mmc9431 on Mon Feb 16, 2009 at 03:25:17 PM EST
    Article on ratings of presidents from a group of 65 historians:

    " GWB ranked 24th in the category of pursuing equal justice for all"
    I almost choked on my coffee.

    While Bill Clinton ranked 15th (none / 0) (#44)
    by oldpro on Tue Feb 17, 2009 at 12:42:42 AM EST
    overall...up from 21st.

    George Kennan (none / 0) (#45)
    by oldpro on Tue Feb 17, 2009 at 12:51:21 AM EST
    An amazing citizen with remarkable skills so often misunderstood, used and misused by his government and his countrymen...not unlike his friend at Princeton, J. Robert Oppenheimer.